- Cablevision to buy Bresnan. Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) announced it will buy Bresnan Communications for $1.36B. Bresnan, which is majority-owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, was put on the market following last year's death of founder William Bresnan. Minority stakeholders include Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and private equity firm Quadrangle Group.
- Mosaic may move on Mexican fertilizer firm. Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) is reportedly in talks to buy Grupo Fertinal SA, a Mexican fertilizer producer, for as much as $1B. Mosaic is betting that recent economic troubles won't affect global long-term demand for grain and other agricultural products, and a Grupo Fertinal purchase will allow Mosaic to expand its access to phosphate rock for use in making fertilizer. Talks have been ongoing for around six months, but could still fall apart.
- Escrow account urged as BP's spill costs rise. In its latest update, BP (NYSE:BP) said its clean up and containment costs have risen to $1.6B so far, reiterating that "it is too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident." The White House plans to ask BP to put "substantial" funds into an escrow account to cover claims by local businesses and residents, effectively taking some of the compensation decisions out of the company's hands. In a further sign that the government is trying to take a stronger stance on the spill, industry and regulatory analysts believe BP may lose control of its U.S. wells and be barred from doing business with the federal government as a punishment for the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Separately, BP's board will meet today to discuss whether to reduce or defer its second-quarter dividend. Premarket: BP -4% (7:00 ET).
- AXA may sell part of U.K. unit. AXA (OTCQX:AXAHY), Europe's second-largest insurer, is in talks to sell part of its U.K. life insurance unit to Resolution Ltd. for £2.75B ($4B). AXA would receive £2.25B in cash and provide £500M in loans to Resolution to help finance the transaction. European insurers are increasingly trying to free up capital reserves backing policies in slow-growth markets like the U.K. in order to fund growth in Asia, where the margins are wider.
- KKR invests in shale gas. Private equity firm KKR is reportedly planning to invest $400M in a joint venture with Hilcorp Energy Co. to develop shale gas in Texas. Both private equity firms and foreign investors have shown intense interest in North American shale gas, investing billions of dollars in the last few months in U.S. production of the resource. An announcement from KKR is expected as soon as today.
- TPG's heavy paper losses. Private equity firm TPG has billions of dollars of paper losses on investments it made during the leveraged-buyout boom. Though the performance of TPG's Partners V fund was "relatively flat" in the quarter ending March 31, TPG has nearly $2.9B in paper losses on just four buy-outs: Energy Future Holdings, Freescale Semiconductor, Harrah’s Entertainment and Univision Communications. TPG's situation is illustrative of how firms are facing heavy writedowns on their investments as a result of the excesses of earlier years.
- Euro's strength hid crisis. EU President Herman Van Rompuy said a strong euro in recent years was to blame for blinding the region to its underlying fiscal problems. However, European leaders have now pulled back from the brink of crisis, Van Rompuy said, and realize that the solution is to implement unpopular but necessary economic reforms such as opening up the labor market and raising the retirement age. "What went wrong wasn’t what happened this year. What went wrong was what happened in the first 11 years of the euro’s history. In some ways we were victims of our success."
- U.K. watchdog cuts growth forecast. The U.K.'s new budget watchdog painted a bleak picture of Britain's economy, cutting its forecasts for the country's economic growth ahead of painful austerity cuts. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that economic growth will reach 2.6% in 2011 vs. the 3.25% government estimate.
- Friday's failure. Just one bank was closed on Friday, marking the year's 82nd failure so far. The Seattle bank's closure will cost the FDIC's insurance fund $158.4M.
- In Asia, Japan +1.8% to 9880. Hong Kong +0.9% to 20052. China +0.3% to 2570. India +1.6% to 17338.
- In Europe, at midday, London +0.6%. Paris +1.5%. Frankfurt +1.2%.
- Futures: Dow +0.7%. S&P +0.8%. Nasdaq +0.7%. Crude +2.1% to $75.33. Gold +0.1% to $1231.80.
Monday's Economic Calendar
Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.
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