- Sirius soars as approval looks likely. Shares of Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI) are +17.7% in early pre-market trading. FCC chief Kevin Martin appears ready to approve its merger with XM Satellite Radio (XMSR), on condition it caps its service fees and options for three years. "I am recommending that, with the voluntary commitments they've offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest," the FCC Chairman said. The two will also have to agree to offer 8% of its channels to non-commercial stations, and to license their technology more widely to third-party device makers. WSJ notes Martin may not have the votes needed to seal the move.
- Ailing AIG boots CEO. Insurance giant AIG (AIG) ousted CEO Martin Sullivan. Incoming CEO, Chairman Robert Willumstad, promises to decide by Labor Day what business AIG should stay with. Stephen Bollenbach, an AIG director with the support of billionaire investor Eli Broad and other activist shareholders will be named lead director. Willumstad says he plans to get the unwieldy AIG focused on the areas it knows best; he also plans on making units more efficient and accountable. Shares of AIG are down 41.4% YTD and almost 53% over the past year amid huge subprime losses. Shares are up 1.7% in the pre-market.
- Barclays jumps on strong earnings, share offering. Shares of Barclays (BCS) are up 5.6% in early pre-market trading. Two bullish events: It said last month's income was well ahead of last year, and that it will allow shareholders to avoid dilution by 'clawing back' new shares at the same prices offered to outsiders in an upcoming £4B pound offering.
- Icahn changes tune. Normally grouchy Carl Icahn told Reuters the Yahoo (YHOO) Google (GOOG) search-ad tie-up "might have some merit" and "seems to be better than the 'alternative' deal proposed by Microsoft (MSFT)." Icahn won't say whether he plans to forge ahead with his planned proxy battle to replace Yahoo's board. An Icahn victory would entitle Google to walk away from the venture.
- InBev tells BUD to back away. InBev warned Anheuser-Busch (BUD) Sunday that "no alternative transaction that you could effectuate would create more value for your shareholders," referring to the possibility of A-B buying the 50% of Mexican brewer Gruopo Modelo it doesn't own to make itself too expensive. InBev offered $46.3B ($65/share) for A-B last week. The UK Guardian said yesterday Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) owns 5% of BUD, is expected to discuss the deal with A-B executives this week. Sources say Buffett's concerned Anheuser may drag its feet in considering the offer.
- Battery shortage hold back hybrids. Toyota (TM) says its green cars are being held up by its inability to make enough batteries. Toyota is the number-one hybrid seller, having sold 1.5M vehicles since introducing the Prius ten years ago.
- Teva's drug looks to be first Parkinson's disease-modifying treatment. Teva (TEVA) says its phase 3 trial successfully demonstrated Azilect retards the progression of Parkinson's. Analyst Limor Gruber says sales could hit $1B over the next few years on the heels of the successful trial. Shares are up 4.35% in pre-market trading.
- Link-up talk boosts ASMI. Applied Materials (AMAT) said it was pleased by ASM International's (ASMI) willingness to explore 'alternative arrangements' after refusing a bid for part of its business last week. AMAT is mainly interested in ASMI's front-end wafer process. Shares of ASMI opened 12% higher in Amsterdam.
- Maguire selling Park Place to pay off debt. Maguire Properties (MPG) hopes to raise hundreds of millions by selling its 105-acre Orange County, CA Park Place office park. CFO Martin Griffiths and two other senior executives are also set to announce their resignations this morning. Maguire has a crushing $5B debt load, much of which it used to finance Park Place last year just before the real-estate market went into a downturn.
- IBM, Japan's TOK to develop solar technology. IBM (IBM) and semi process company Tokyo Ohka Kogyo will jointly develop more efficient solar power technologies. The JV will seek to double the efficiency of thin-film solar modules.
- Chesapeake paying $178M for Haynesville Shale lease. Chesapeake (CHK) will pay $178 million to Goodrich Petroleum (GDP) as part of a JV to develop Goodrich's Haynesville Shale oil and natural gas acreage in Louisiana.
- Greenfield nets $426M. Market research firm Greenfield Online (SRVY) agreed to be acquired by private-equity firm Quadrangle for $15.50/share ($426M) - a 17% premium to Friday's close.
- EU inflation picks up speed. Eurozone inflation hit a 16-year high of 3.7%, higher than the 3.6% expected. "With policy makers adamant on keeping a lid on inflation expectations, these more-difficult choices mean economic growth will face significant headwinds in the short term," Dublin economist Deidre Ryan said. Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said food high prices are "here to stay," though perhaps not a recent peak levels.
- Asian markets posted their strongest collective gains in two months, lead by Japan. Nikkei +2.72%. Hang Seng +1.94%. Shanghai +0.18%. BSE +1.51%.
- Europe markets are flat at midday.
- Futures at 7:15 AM point to a steady open. Dow +0.09%. S&P +0.17%. Nasdaq -0.04%. Crude +0.26% to $135.19. Gold +0.95% to $881.30.
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