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Opening Bell: 03.11.14

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Hedge funds look to put strategies into ETFs to lure more investors (Reuters)
More client-hungry hedge fund managers are looking to put their investment strategies to work in exchange-traded funds, a move that could exponentially expand their pool of investors but requires them to slash investment management fees. That is a tradeoff many managers of smaller hedge funds are willing to make, hoping Mom and Pop investors can fuel their growth. Smaller funds are often less able to attract assets from large pension funds and institutions that prefer the biggest hedge funds with billions in assets and long track records. "It's a matter of access," said Mebane Faber, chief investment officer at California-based Cambria Investments, whose global tactical hedge fund was shuttered and reinvented as the Global Tactical ETF in October 2010.

NYSE, Nasdaq Join to Push for Trading Rule (WSJ)
The two firms are pushing for a controversial rule to be added to a pilot program under consideration by the Securities and Exchange Commission to widen tick sizes, or the increments between price quotes, for certain companies. The proposed rule, known as "trade at," would mandate that trades for those stocks take place on the exchanges unless other venues offer significant price improvements. Many big players in the brokerage industry and exchange operator BATS Global Markets Inc. oppose the provision.

White House has optimistic growth forecast for 2014, 2015 (Reuters)
Under a White House projection, the U.S. economy is expected to expand by 3.1 percent this year, faster than last year's 1.7 percent. Growth would pick up to 3.4 percent in 2015, the White House said. The administration also forecast that unemployment would ease to an average of 6.9 percent in 2014. The jobless rate, which reached a high of 10 percent in 2009, fell to a five-year low of 6.6 percent in January.

Chiquita and Fyffes to Merge, Creating New Global Top Banana (WSJ)
Chiquita Brands International Inc. agreed to merge with Irish tropical-fruit company Fyffes PLC to create the world's largest banana company, catapulting it past Dole Food Co. In a $1.07 billion all-stock deal, the new company—to be called ChiquitaFyffes—would have 32,000 employees and $4.6 billion in annual revenue from sales of more than 160 million boxes of bananas. The deal reunites two companies that previously were together: Chiquita's predecessor company, United Brands, owned Fyffes until 1986.

Blackstone Said to Plan $5.5 Billion Gates Global Bid With TPG (Bloomberg)
Bids for Gates Global, which is being sold by Onex Corp. and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, are due later this week, said the person, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Gates Global’s owners have been working with banks on a sale or IPO and could fetch $6 billion, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in December. The company filed for a U.S. IPO later that month.

Colorado makes nearly $2 million in pot taxes (AP)
Colorado made roughly $2 million in marijuana taxes in January, state revenue officials reported Monday in the world’s first accounting of the recreational pot business. The tax total reported by the state Department of Revenue indicates $14.02 million worth of recreational pot was sold. The state collected roughly $2.01 million in taxes. Colorado legalized pot in 2012, but the commercial sale of marijuana didn’t begin until January. Washington state sales begin in coming months.

Real-life Popeye’s huge arms from oil injections (NYP)
Arlindo de Souza, a 43-year-old weightlifter, believes he’s grown the largest arms in his native Brazil. The bodybuilder’s biceps measure a staggering 29 inches around and are the product of a self-administered cocktail of mineral oil and alcohol. But while his biceps may look the part, they don’t act it. The bricklayer hasn’t gained any strength and is only able to lift normal weights. De Souza injected himself with the mixture for two months two years ago in his attempt to become the top dog at his gym in Olinda, a city on the country’s northeastern coast. Said to Plan IPO by July With Over $20 Billion Valuation (Bloomberg) Inc., the Chinese retailing website that filed for a $1.5 billion U.S. initial share sale in January, may kick off its offering in the second quarter, three people with knowledge of the matter said. In a vote of confidence ahead of its planned public offering, Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s largest Internet company, is taking a 15 percent stake in and will transfer its e-commerce business onto that site, according to a statement on March 9. In the deal, Tencent assigned a valuation of more than $20 billion by the time it goes public, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Facebook’s Share Rally Leaves Analysts Racing to Catch Up (Bloomberg)
“Facebook stock has just ripped past expectations,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG in New York, who in October recommended buying the shares with a $68 target over the next 12 months. At the time, Facebook was trading at $49. “We’re very happy with our rating upgrade to buy, but it has all happened super fast,” he said.

Chobani seeks to sell stake at $2.5 billion valuation -sources (Reuters)
Chobani, the Greek yogurt maker that has grown into a U.S. sensation, is looking to sell a minority stake in a deal that could value the company at around $2.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said. The company is working with Bank of America Corp as it considers selling roughly 20 percent, and is speaking to consumer companies and private equity firms to gauge their interest, the people said on Monday. Chobani, based in New Berlin, New York, previously held discussions with banks about pursuing an initial public offering, but switched gears in the face of mounting competition from other Greek yogurt companies, the people said.

Family calls 911 to report their cat ‘went over the edge,’ is attacking them (Q13Fox)
A Portland family with an infant shut themselves off in a bedroom and called 911 to report that their pet cat had gone crazy and was attacking them. Police were called to The Yards at Union Station complex on Northwest Naito Parkway just before 8 p.m. Sunday. The man who called 911 told the dispatcher the cat “went over the edge” and was charging at them every time they opened the door. “He’s trying to attack us,” he said. “He’s very, very, very, very hostile.” 911 operators confirmed the family’s baby did not need medical attention before sending officers to the scene. “The 911 operator stayed on the phone with the caller to ensure the family, including the dog, remained safe in the bedroom as the cat screeched in the background,” a Portland Police Bureau press release said. The responding officers snagged a dog snare to use in case it was needed to take the alleged cat criminal into custody. The cat, named Lux, weighs 22 pounds. When officers opened the door to the apartment, a black and white Himalayan darted into the kitchen, “attempting to flee custody,” police said. The dog snare came in handy, as it was used to put the cat in a crate. Officers then told the family it was safe to come out of the bedroom. A motive for the feline’s frantic behavior has not been revealed.


Not the victim in question By Niels de Wit from Lunteren, The Netherlands (1981 MOWAG B 300) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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