Opening Bell: 10.29.18

Angel Merkel gettin' out the game; IBM does totally sane deal at totally sane price; Warren Buffett horny for Fintech; Disney sick of cleaning up human remains; and more!
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By א (Aleph) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

By א (Aleph) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Merkel to Quit as Party Chief as Her Chancellorship Wobbles [Bloomberg]
The unexpected reversal by Merkel, 64, signals the beginning of the end of an era during which her command of Germany put its stamp on Europe and beyond for more than a decade. Even so, Merkel’s term as chancellor runs until 2021 and Merkel has said she intends to serve it out. She is scheduled to speak to the media at 1 p.m. local time in Berlin.
The chancellor told a leadership meeting of her Christian Democratic Union on Monday that she won’t run again as party chairwoman at a convention in December, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was closed.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty insists the 63% premium the tech giant is paying for Red Hat is a 'fair price' [CNBC]
"I don't think the world realizes that Linux is the number one platform," Rometty said on CNBC's "Squawk Box," a day after Big Blue made its largest acquisition and the third-biggest U.S. technology deal ever.
"For us it's all about resetting the cloud landscape," Rometty said. "This is to create the number one company that will be the number one hybrid cloud provider."
"This is about lifting all of IBM," she continued. Rometty reiterated that IBM aims to be both a "cognitive and cloud company."

Trump’s Iran sanctions resolve faces test from oil-thirsty China, India [Reuters]
The strategy is meant to cripple Iran’s oil-dependent economy and force Tehran to quash not only its nuclear ambitions, but this time, its ballistic missile program and its influence in Syria.
With just days to go before renewed sanctions take effect Nov. 5, the reality is setting in: three of Iran’s top five customers – India, China, and Turkey - are resisting Washington’s call to end purchases outright, arguing there are not sufficient supplies worldwide to replace them, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Far-Right President-Elect, Turns Crisis Into Opportunity [NYT]
Mr. Bolsonaro’s broadsides against women, gay people, Brazilians of color and even democracy — “Let’s go straight to the dictatorship,” he once said as a congressman — made him so polarizing that he struggled to find a running mate until early August. Traditional parties and politicians considered him too extreme.
“Elections won’t change anything in this country,” he said during one of his seven terms in Congress. “Unfortunately, it will only change the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do, killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die. I will even be happy if I die as long as 30,000 go.”

Warren Buffett’s Firm Invests Millions in Fintech [WSJ]
Berkshire bought a roughly $300 million stake in Paytm in August and bought Stone shares in the company’s initial public offering this week. Both Paytm and Stone fit the mold of typical Berkshire investments in at least two ways: They dominate their local markets and operate in regulated industries.
Stone, which launched in 2014, is already the fourth-largest payment processor in Brazil by volume, according to its securities filings. Paytm says it has more than 300 million users, more users than PayPal Holdings Inc. has around the world.
Berkshire’s investments demonstrate the maturity of the financial-technology industry, which has grown from a curiosity in Silicon Valley in the wake of the financial crisis to a sector that has attracted nearly $35 billion in venture capital globally in the first nine months of 2018, according to preliminary data from Dow Jones VentureSource. Berkshire doesn’t typically invest in early-stage startups.

London forex traders found not guilty in U.S. rigging case [Reuters]
Chris Ashton, Rohan Ramchandani and Richard Usher, who worked at Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co, respectively, were acquitted of all charges by a jury in Manhattan federal court after a trial of conspiring to violate the Sherman Act, a federal antitrust law.
“Delighted with the verdict,” Jonathan Pickworth, a lawyer for Usher, told reporters outside the courtroom. “Richard can now go home to his lovely family.”
“Chris Ashton and his trial team are extremely grateful for the jury’s decision in the case,” David Schertler, one of Ashton’s lawyers, said in an email. “We were firmly convinced of Chris’s innocence from the outset.”

Disney World’s Big Secret: It’s a Favorite Spot to Scatter Family Ashes [WSJ]
When a manager radios for a “Code V” cleanup, it means a patron has vomited. “Code U” signals urine.
No code is kept more under wraps at Walt Disney World and Disneyland than the call for a “HEPA cleanup.” It means that, once again, a park guest has scattered the cremated ashes of a loved one somewhere in the park, and an ultrafine (or “HEPA”) vacuum cleaner is needed to suck them up.
Disney custodians say it happens about once a month.

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