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Opening Bell: 03.31.09

JP Morgan Takes The Lead In Rights Offers (Bloomberg)
JP Morgan is pretty much kicking the shit out of their nearest competitor in arranging rights this year - they're sitting at $12.8B to Goldman's $6.3B (UBS is tied for third with an Italian bank at $3.1B).
"There's a massive shift in terms of market share among the investment banks," said Patrick Lemmens, who helps manage about 10 billion euros ($13 billion) at Robeco Group in Rotterdam, including JPMorgan shares. "The also-rans will get substantially less market share, and JPMorgan has the advantage of being able to use its balance sheet better than others."
MS Close To $6B For Real Estate Fund (Reuters)
"Morgan Stanley (MS.N) is close to raising $6 billion for a new global property fund, falling short of its earlier target of $10 billion, sources with direct knowledge of the plan said.
The Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund VII Global, the latest in a series of its international property investment funds, originally targeted to raise $10 billion, Reuters reported in September."
Google Launches VC Fund (WSJ)
"Google Inc. announced more details about its highly anticipated venture-capital fund, in which it plans to commit roughly $100 million over the next year, said people familiar with the matter.
In a blog post Monday night, the company announced William Maris, a former entrepreneur whom Google hired to start the fund, and Rich Miner, a former executive in its mobile unit, as managing partners with the fund. Their roles and the expected announcement were previously reported in The Wall Street Journal."
Fortis Posts $37B Loss (NYT)
The former Belgian powerhouse reported a $37B loss for 2008, proving it can play with the big boys - now all they're waiting on is a takeover by the French.
"The company and the Belgian government reached a revised deal on March 6 with BNP, under which the French bank would pay €2.9 billion in shares for 75 percent of Fortis Bank; that's about €510 million more for shareholders than in the previous offer. The new deal also provides guarantees that the insurance unit will remain in business. BNP Paribas will become the largest euro zone bank in terms of deposits if the deal goes through."
It's Not Just An American Thing (WSJ)
The French, not to be outdone by their American counterparts, are seeking to limit executive pay and kill stock option disbursement until the end of 2010. The article cites the need to quell French public anger over pay, but the French people bitch incessantly about any and everything, so I can't imagine that's the only thing that was at play here. Or maybe it was.
"To avoid further flare-ups, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde urged Medef, the country's largest business group, to set up a "committee of wise men" to help companies adjust managers' pay when they cut jobs. But, in a letter to Medef, Ms. Lagarde didn't specify what the government might consider appropriate pay for managers at such companies."
Global Banks To Write Down $17B More (Reuters)
"J.P. Morgan Securities forecast global wholesale and investment banks to incur additional pretax writedowns of $17 billion for the rest of 2009 to reach mark-to-market valuations of structured credit assets.
The brokerage said it saw the highest need for further pretax writedowns at Deutsche bank (DBKGn.DE) ($4.9 billion) and Barclays Plc (BARC.L) ($3 billion)."
Contracts Now Seen As Being Rewritable (NYT)
"The depth of the recession and the use of taxpayer dollars to bail out companies have made it politically acceptable for overseers to tinker with employment agreements.
So federal and local governments are looking for ways to pare payouts, endangering the promises made before the financial storm to people like Wall Street traders, automobile workers and garbage collectors."