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Opening Bell: 3.3.08

United Technologies Proposes Acquisition of Diebold for $40.00 Per Share in Cash
In case you missed it last night: yet another hostile offer with a monster premium. UTX is willing to value ATM-maker DIebold at $40.00 per share, 66 percent more than what the market had on mind on Friday. Do check out the above press release: UTX actually printed a number of back-and-forth letters between the two companies, which is something we don't recall seeing. Still no response from the company that threw the 2000 election.
Buffet Weighs In on Dollar’s Decline, Sovereign Wealth Funds (Research Recap)
Given the coverage of Warren Buffet's annual shareholder letter, it's not like you need to read the whole thing. Frankly, we like his writing more in the good times, cause he strikes as more of a grumpy contrarian. Research Recap covers a few choice bits. Paul Kedrosky also has a cool way of visualizing the letter.
In Oscars, No Country for Hit Films (NYT)
You already knew that this year's Oscar's got low ratings. Everyone just saw it coming. And of course the movies that won were no big hits at the box office: "While there is much to be admired in the five best-picture nominees, all told, they have pulled in around $313 million so far at the box office, a few million less than “Transformers” did alone." There's a part of us that thinks the award for best picture should just go to the movie that got the most money at the box. It's hard to make any other argument for best picture than which one got the most money.This is also a good line about the movies that become Oscar contenders: "As a result, the so-called Oscar movie is a very precise business exercise: it must be reviewed ecstatically, be seen by loads of adults and receive love at the warm-up awards shows before the Oscars. These kind of films have no toy revenues, no prequels or sequels, and little penetration with youth audiences (give or take the occasional “Juno”). With that kind of math, it’s a little like playing nickel slots with half-dollar coins."
Medvedev Wins, but Will He Lead? (WSJ)
As Russian last names go, Medvedev is not the hardest one to say. It's actually really straightforward. Yet we've heard so many folks on TV, including one who's running for President, flub his last name. Anyway, so he won, as expected. Got about 70 percent of the vote. Finally a new day emerges.

Microsoft Expands Online Services (WSJ)
Only a matter of time, really... Microsoft is planning to introduce new web-based versions of its software, a la Google and Eventually it had to had happen, though the old blogosphere has been buzzing about this for a few days now. The WSJ says it's true, which still carries some water. An announcement is expected in Seattle, with the first invites going out today.
E*Trade Names Layton CEO (WSJ)
E*Trade is hiring its chairman, Donal Layton, to be its CEO. Layton has served in the Chairman post since November, which Citadel took a big stake in the ailing online broker. He also is a past Vice Chairman at JP Morgan. Interim boss Jarrett Lillien will stay on as Pres and COO. In an interview, Layton suggested that a sale of the company was possible, if that's what made the most sense for shareholders.
Hedge fund to sue SEC over advertising ban (FT)
A hedge fund manager is planning to sue the SEC of a ban on advertising. And of course it's the same manager who sued before on the matter of hedge fund registration. Let it be known, this guy is principled. Phil Goldstein told FT: "We want to be able to have a website like any other business. The only websites required to pre-qualify people are hedge funds and pornography . . . gun shops are allowed to advertise, the Massachusetts state lottery is allowed to have a website. We want to be treated like any other business.”" Given Tim Sykes' deep belief in more 1st Amendment freedoms regarding hedge funds, we fully expect he'll be filng an Amicus Curae in this case.
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson Wins NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship (Wicked Chops)
Not technically finance-related, but the ultimate thinking man's poker player Chris "Jesus" Ferguson won the heads-up poker championship, which is cool. Ferguson is a mathematician and a game theory expert and heads up poker, being the best place to apply game theory in poker, is the guy's back. And finally he broke through and won the damn tournament. Congrats from DB.