- RIM races to head off BlackBerry bans. Research In Motion (RIMM) reached a deal to delay the BlackBerry ban in Saudi Arabia while it installs and tests three servers in the country that will let authorities check BlackBerry users’ data. The company is now rushing to head off potential BlackBerry bans elsewhere. Lebanese officials reportedly want access to BlackBerry user data as well, while India could take action as soon as this week after the company's offer to provide metadata failed to allay officials' security concerns. RIM officials denied last week that certain countries were allowed special access to the BlackBerry system and promised not to compromise the system's security.
- GDF Suez nears takeover of International Power. GDF Suez (GDFZY.PK) and International Power (IPRPY.PK) are reportedly on the verge of a deal that would see France's No. 2 utility take control of the British company. The deal could be worth 400 pence per share, equivalent to an enterprise value of £11.2B ($17.9B), and GDF Suez would pay International Power shareholders a special £1.3B dividend. The firms are pushing to reach a deal before they report earnings tomorrow.
- U.S. firms zero in on Australia's Whitehaven. Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) and private equity firm First Reserve are considering a $2.75B buyout of Australia's Whitehaven Coal. The two firms are seeking support from the AMCI group, which holds a 15% stake in Whitehaven, and First Reserve already owns a 27% stake. Whitehaven confirmed it's in talks with third parties about potential deals, but wouldn't provide further details.
- AstraZeneca agrees to Seroquel payout. AstraZeneca (AZN) announced an agreement in principle to settle U.S. product liability litigation over its Seroquel antipsychotic drug for around $198M. The agreement's terms are confidential but are not expected to affect expected 2010 earnings of $6.35-6.65 per share. Premarket: AZN +0.4% (7:00 ET).
- Sara Lee CEO steps down. Sara Lee (SLE) Chairman and CEO Brenda Barnes will step down permanently to focus on improving her health; she has been on medical leave since May 2010 after suffering a stroke. Marcel Smits will continue as interim CEO while the company looks for a replacement, who will be tasked with completing a sweeping restructuring launched by Barnes.
- BP's well, but not its costs, are successfully capped. Following continued testing, BP (BP) believes the static kill and cementing procedures on the Gulf well have been successful, and expects the first relief well to be completed by August 15. The company's cleanup and containment costs to date have risen to $6.1B. In a development that could be potentially significant in the blame game between BP (BP) and Transocean (RIG), the Sunday Times said it had gained access to an internal BP audit, conducted seven months before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which detailed the rig's severe safety shortcomings and a lengthy maintenance backlog. Half of the audit's 60 pages contain a detailed list of items that "do not comply with BP policies and standards." Premarket: BP +0.2%, RIG +1.3% (7:00 ET).
- U.S. investors boost Treasurys holdings. For the first time since the financial crisis began in 2007, U.S. investors own more Treasurys than foreign holders. According to the most recent data available from the Treasury, U.S. investors held 50.2% of the $8.18T market in May. The climb in U.S. demand for Treasurys reflects the current stagnation in consumer spending and income and the increasing savings rate.
- Universal Corp., Alliance One settle bribery charges. Tobacco companies Universal Corp. (UVV) and Alliance One International (AOI) agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle bribery charges from the Justice Department and SEC. According to the allegations, the two firms had paid more than $5M in bribes to government officials in Thailand and other countries in order to illegally obtain sales contracts. The firms will pay a combined $28.35M in disgorgement and fines.
- Higher pay-outs to lure more whistleblowers. Wall Street firms are bracing for a surge in whistleblower allegations, as new incentives in the financial reform law could net informants multi-million dollar payouts. The SEC explained that "the scale of the awards reflects the high quality of whistleblower we hope to get," but companies are concerned the potential seven-figure rewards will cause a jump in rogue tip-offs.
- Friday's failure. Regulators closed just one bank on Friday, bringing this year's bank failures to 109 so far. The closure of Ravenswood Bank of Chicago is expected to cost the FDIC's insurance fund $68.1M.
Earnings: Monday Before Open
- DISH Network (DISH): Q2 EPS of $0.57 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $3.17B (+9.3%) vs. $3.13B. (PR)
- Macerich (MAC): Q2 EPS of $0.57 misses by $0.04. Revenue of $181.9M (-11.7%) vs. $173.9M. (PR)
- In Asia, Japan -0.7% to 9572. Hong Kong +0.6% to 21802. China +0.5% to 2673. India +0.8% to 18288.
- In Europe, at midday, London +1.4%. Paris +1.5%. Frankfurt +1.2%.
- Futures: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.3%. Crude +1.1% to $81.60. Gold +0.2% to $1208.20.
Monday's Economic Calendar
- 10:00 Employment Trends Index
- Notable earnings before Monday's open: DISH, GLG, HPT, KG, KWK, MAC, TSN
- Notable earnings after Monday's close: CLNE, CTRP, GSS, MBI, MDR, NUAN, QGEN, RAX, TWTC
Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.
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