Tim Cook forgoes $75M. While some top executives have taken huge payments despite failing on a grand scale, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is giving up $75M by excluding himself from a program that enables staff to accumulate dividends on their restricted stock units that are still vesting. Cook has 1.125M such units that are due to vest over the next 10 years. Opinion: Protected covered call for Apple.
Dell eyes Quest Software. Dell (DELL) is in talks to buy Quest Software (QSFT), Bloomberg reports, as the PC maker continues its strategy of shifting its focus to higher-end business customers, a task made more acute by its weak PC sales in FQ1. In March, Quest agreed to sell itself to P-E firm Insight for $2B although it then received other offers during a "go-shop" period. Opinion: The real problem with Dell's earnings miss.
Japanese core inflation inches up. Japan's core CPI rose 0.2% on year, identical to its gain in March and above expectations for a 0.1% increase. Overall CPI rose 0.4%. Inflation is still well below the Bank of Japan's target of 1%, and so it could continue to find itself under pressure to further ease policy. Opinion: Deflation expectations return.
Top Stock News
The madness behind the method of H-P's job cuts. Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) is conducting its layoffs on the basis of salary and it isn't weighing factors such as skills and performance, upset employees tell Business Insider. Cronyism is also apparently playing a big role in the firing decisions. Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore notes that past restructurings have done little to improve H-P's competitive position or cut its dependence on weak markets. Opinion: H-P's outlook positive for new investors.
BlackRock, Icahn pile into Chesapeake. BlackRock (BLK) has increased its holding in embattled Chesapeake (CHK) to 4M-5M shares, or 3%-4%, from 883,000 at the end of March, CNBC reports. Carl Icahn has taken a stake of at least 4%, according to Bloomberg. With Icahn's record, change could be afoot. Opinion: The media has confused investors about Chesapeake's problems.
Dish, broadcasters go to battle over ad-skipping technology. Fox (NWS), NBC (CMCSA) and CBS have sued Dish Networks (DISH) over its commercial-skipping "AutoHop" technology, claiming copyright and licensing violations. The satellite provider had already filed its own suit seeking court authorization to use the technology. Subtle questions over who controls the skipping could dictate whether Dish faces the fate of ReplayTV: being sued out of existence. Opinion: Dish is cheap and financially strong.
No Turkish delight for Citigroup as it takes loss on bank stake. Citigroup (C) has sold a 10.1% stake in Turkey's Akbank (AKBTY.PK) for $1.15B as part of the U.S. bank's program to sell assets in order to meet Tier 1 capital requirements. Citigroup will hold a remaining 9.9% stake for 3 years. The bank will take a post-tax $243M loss on the sale, having bought the 20% holding in 2007 for $3.1B. Opinion: Citigroup: Cheap for a reason.
Lehman wins battle for Archstone. Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK) has confirmed that it has agreed to buy the 26.5% stake it doesn't own in apartment giant Archstone from Bank of America (BAC) and Barclays (BCS) for $1.58B. The deal ends the high-stakes chess match between Lehman and Sam Zell's Equity Residential (EQR) for control of Archstone. Zell won't walk away empty handed, though, as his firm will get $150M. Opinion: Top 10 U.S. real estate ETFs.
Bankia expected to ask for €15B. Bankia shares have been suspended in Madrid amid reports that the Spanish lender plans to ask the government for over €15B following a board meeting later today. Spain already said earlier this week that it will inject around €9B ($11.4B) to cover the provisioning needs of Bankia, which was bailed out two weeks ago. Opinion: A Bankia rescue is credit negative.
Total, Inpex look to raise $20B for LNG development. Total (TOT) and Japan's Inpex (IPXHF.PK) are seeking $20B in loans for Ichthys, their Australian LNG project, Reuters reports. It would be the largest set of project finance loans in the world, although it's made more attractive by Inpex already having secured sales contracts with Japanese utilities that need a replacement for nuclear power. Opinion: Total looks extremely cheap.
Alibaba to go private. Alibaba.com (ALBCF.PK) shareholders have approved a plan to take parent company Alibaba Group Holding private in order to be free of some of the "pressures" of a public listing. Alibaba Group will pay HK$13.50 a share for the 27% of Alibaba.com it doesn't already own - another step towards its autonomy following a buyback deal with Yahoo (YHOO). Opinion: Yahoo, Alibaba and the way forward.
Top Economic & Other News
World slowing down in sync. With the focus so strongly on Europe, China and the U.S., it has been easy to miss the data pointing to economic trouble in India, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere. The specter of renewed crisis looms large if activity is slowing in sync around the globe and not just in isolated regions. Opinion: Fed: Ready to twist and shout this Fall?
Police to Greeks: Cash safer in banks than under the mattress. The slow-motion train wreck continues in Greece, with police urging citizens to keep their money in the banks rather than sowing the seeds for a wave of home thefts. Greek banks have seen almost 25% of their deposits drained out over the last two years, and are likely to be shored up today or on Monday with €18B of bailout funds that are well overdue. Opinion: Have the bears taken the euro low enough?
Fannie Mae focuses on two candidates for CEO. Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) has narrowed its CEO search down to two candidates, the WSJ reports, with Fannie's general counsel Timothy Mayopoulos in the lead. To get Mayopoulos, Fannie may have to renege on its promise to cap executive pay at around $500,000. The other candidate is Radian (RDN) CEO S.A. Ibrahim. Opinion: Fannie Mae's ugly sibling: Sallie Mae.
Iran, world powers agree to meet again. After two days of discussions, the most Iran and the P5+1 could agree to was to meet again in June. That's an achievement given that over a year had passed without talks and that Iran now seems to be engaging with the main issue of its enrichment program. With sanctions set to take effect in July, oil markets are watching things closely. Futures were +0.35% premarket. Opinion: Oil in a downward trend.
In Asia, Japan +0.2%. Hong Kong +0.3%. China -0.7%. India flat.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.4%. Paris -0.2%. Frankfurt +0.1%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +0.35% to $90.98. Gold +0.3% to $1562.80.
Today's economic calendar:
5:30 Fed's Plosser: Monetary Policy
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
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