- Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013 (Reuters)
- South Africans Flock to Nelson Mandela’s Home to Mourn His Death (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden? Obama says won’t choose between them for 2016 (Reuters)
- Fukushima water tanks: leaky and built with illegal labor (Reuters)
- Sears Holdings Files to Spin Off Lands’ End Business (WSJ)
- Way cleared for landmark global trade deal (FT)
- U.S. Oil Prices Fall Sharply as Glut Forms on Gulf Coast (WSJ)
- German Factory Orders Decline in Sign of Uneven Recovery (BBG)
- FCC Unlikely to Bless a Comcast-TWC Deal: Regulator (WSJ)
- Local banks lacking capital to absorb troubled assets (Philly Business Journal)
- Soros Venture Urges Denmark to Ignore EBA Covered Bond Plan (BBG)
- GM may consider S.Korean exports to Australia after Chevy shake-up (Reuters)
- German Central Bank Raises Economic Growth Forecast (WSJ)
- CIA-backed Palantir valued at $9bn (FT)
- Unemployed Greeks Reconnect as Underground Electricians Defy Law (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* Nelson Mandela, who rose from militant anti-apartheid activist to become the unifying president of a democratic South Africa and a global symbol of racial reconciliation, died at his Johannesburg home.
* The U.S. Gulf Coast – home to the world’s largest concentration of petroleum refineries – is suddenly awash in crude oil. So much high-quality oil is flowing into the area that the price there has dropped sharply.
* What’s good news for shareholders is often bad news for bondholders, or so the adage goes. It is a lesson owners of Time Warner Cable’s bonds are learning the hard way.
* Microsoft took action against what it says is a major ad-fraud “botnet,” working with law enforcement overseas to cut off communication links to servers considered the mega-brain for an army of zombie computers.
* Edward Lampert, struggling to stem heavy losses at Sears, is facing an exodus of money from his hedge fund, which is returning billions to clients of Goldman Sachs.
* U.S. auto maker General Motors will pull Chevy from Europe to focus on promoting Opel, its German car brand as part of a broader move to reverse a steady loss of market share in the region.
* The Volcker rule will require bank executives to guarantee their firms are in compliance with the regulation, said people familiar with the rule, another setback for Wall Street firms that lobbied against such a requirement.
* The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into JCPenney Co’s controversial offering of about $800 million in stock this fall.
* Banks are increasingly looking to algorithms to help root out illegal behavior by traders. On trading floors, declaring “I want Chinese take-away” doesn’t seem so innocent anymore. The firms are tapping a cottage industry of software companies that use complex algorithms to monitor traders’ calls and emails – looking for catch phrases as well as changes in tone – to try to detect signs that traders may be colluding or placing unauthorized bets.
* Retailers on Thursday reported weaker-than-expected sales in November as a slew of deals and promotions, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, weren’t enough to entice shoppers to open their wallets.
Anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who served as a former South African president, passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday.
Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it had cancelled a proposed gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in the United States as costs rose and the company reins in spending.
A Facebook Holdings filing shows that its Irish unit Facebook Ireland Ltd used a tax avoidance scheme to escape paying corporation tax to the tune of 1.9 million euros last year.
Unilever Plc said it would downsize its product portfolio by up to 40 percent by 2014-end in an effort to become more efficient in saving and confront the world economic slowdown.
The Chief Executive of British budget airline EasyJet is set to receive a bonus of 1.2 million pounds and another 4.6 million pounds under a long-term incentive plan besides her basic salary in 2013.
BoxNation, the world’s only television channel dedicated to boxing, will float an initial public offering on the AIM market to raise 5 million pounds.
* Illicit activity is rising in the virtual currency market, where there is an increasing amount of real money but few rules and even less oversight.
* Two companies, Merck and Stallergenes are asking the Food and Drug Administration for approval to market tablets or liquids to treat allergies, drugs that are already available in Europe.
* The SEC led a discussion that examined the growing clout of proxy advisers, the potential for conflicts of interest, and the transparency and accuracy of the firms’ recommendations.
* A big part of the American auto industry’s comeback has come from rising exports of vehicles made in the United States for sale in international markets.
* Following criticism over its all-male board of directors, Twitter has added the former chief executive of Pearson to the board.
* Jon Horvath said at the trial of his ex-boss Michael Steinberg, formerly of SAC Capital Advisors, that he didn’t tell him the data he had obtained about Dell was insider information.
* Kirk Radke, known for his work on private equity deals, is moving to Willkie Farr & Gallagher after a long tenure at Kirkland & Ellis.
* A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Rajat Gupta, the former managing director of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co, who had accused a former longtime friend of trying to stop him from having a say over a private equity fund they started together.
* Glassdoor, a job listings site that lets employees anonymously rate and dish on their companies, said on Thursday that the latest round of financing nearly doubled its total fund-raising to $93 million.
* An employee of Deutsche Bank’s Japanese brokerage unit, Shigeru Echigo, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of showering a local pension fund manager with expensive meals, golf outings and trips overseas in return for some 1 billion yen in investments.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* The Parliamentary Budget Office says a large part of Ottawa’s planned surplus is based on keeping Employment Insurance premiums at higher rates than necessary.
* Suggestions by police that Mayor Rob Ford tried to buy a video that shows him smoking crack cocaine are “potential hearsay” and an “outright lie,” Ford and his lawyer said on Thursday – even as Toronto Police launched a media blitz to defend its handling of the investigation.
* Ontario and the federal government have begun to resolve their differences over the Ring of Fire, after a tête-à-tête between Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The pair met on Parliament Hill on Thursday afternoon to discuss issues including ambitious plans to develop Northern Ontario resources.
Reports in the business section:
* Tiff Macklem, the Bank of Canada’s No. 2 official, is leaving the central bank seven months after losing out to Stephen Poloz in the race to succeed Mark Carney as governor.
* After 13 years at the top, Royal Bank of Canada chief executive officer Gord Nixon will retire next summer. Dave McKay, currently the head of personal and commercial banking, has been named the new CEO.
* Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, died on Thursday at the age of 95. He was a champion of freedom, who spent one-third of his life in a prison cell; a revolutionary who espoused armed conflict against the state, yet became a global icon of peace and moral virtue.
* As Quebec’s euthanasia law inched closer to adoption in the National Assembly, legislators this week raised the possibility that the province would become a destination for people in other provinces seeking an end to their suffering.
* John Thornton admits it – building relationships with Barrick Gold Corp’s shareholders did not go as smoothly as he planned this year.
* With the release Thursday of Douglas Eyford’s roadmap to address aboriginal concerns over energy projects in Alberta and British Columbia, First Nations have come to a fork in the road.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
– The mainland’s central bank has barred financial institutions from trading in bitcoin. This is the first step towards regulating the virtual currency, which has seen a surge in value because of its popularity with mainland investors. (link.reuters.com/xab35v)
– Kwong Siu-hing, the 84-year-old matriarch who controls Sun Hung Kai Properties, has confirmed that she has transferred shares worth an estimated HK$33 billion ($4.26 billion) to the families of two sons, who are co-chairmen of the HK$260 billion business empire. (link.reuters.com/jeb35v)
– Police in China shut down six public relations companies and detained dozens of suspects in a recent crackdown on businesses deleting online posts, which help clients to delete negative information online by offering bribes to website editors and technicians, according to state media report. (link.reuters.com/beb35v)
– The 3 billion yuan ($492.51 million) worth of Chinese sovereign bonds meant for Hong Kong retail investors were fully oversubscribed within one week, the Bank of China (Hong Kong) revealed. (link.reuters.com/qeb35v)
– Cathay Pacific announced an average pay rise of 4.5 percent, an offer described by staff unions as acceptable. (link.reuters.com/peb35v)
– Hong Kong Television Network chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who was denied a free-to-air TV license last month, is believed to be negotiating with ATV investor Wong Ching to buy a majority stake in his station. (link.reuters.com/reb35v)
HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL
– Kerry Logistics Network, a spinoff of Kerry Properties Ltd, said 51 percent of the proceeds to be raised from its Hong Kong IPO will be used to fund expansion and acquisition but it has no immediate plan to team up China’s online market Taobao in pursuing logistics initiatives.
MING PAO DAILY NEWS
– Healthcare services group Town Health International Investments had bought 46.93 million shares of Convoy Financial Services in the open market on Dec. 3, raising its stake in the firm to 14.49 percent from 4.35 percent, according to a disclosure from the Hong Kong bourse.
AUTUMN STATEMENT 2013: HEDGE FUNDS MAY RELOCATE AFTER CRACKDOWN ON PARTNERSHIPS
UK-based hedge funds may be driven overseas, experts have warned, after a clampdown on corporate partnerships became the centrepiece of the government’s 9 billion pounds assault on tax avoidance, evasion and fraud.
JOHN LEWIS-STYLE BUSINESSES RECEIVE EXTRA 25 MILLION POUNDS BOOST
Efforts to encourage more employee-owned businesses such as The John Lewis Partnership have been boosted by a further 25 million pounds a year of tax incentives announced in the Autumn Statement.
VINCE CABLE BACKS INDEPENDENCE OF TOMLINSON REPORT ON RBS
Vince Cable has been forced to defend a report drawn up by one his advisers which accuses Royal Bank of Scotland of deliberately forcing viable businesses to the brink to make profits for the bailed-out bank.
FACEBOOK CAUGHT IN CONTROVERSY OVER EARNINGS EXPORTED TO CAYMAN ISLANDS
Facebook is facing a fresh controversy over its tax contributions after company filings revealed the social network exported an estimated 645 million pounds earned in the UK and other overseas markets to the Cayman Islands tax haven last year.
M&S BREAKS 90-YEAR TIES WITH AUDITOR AMID THREAT OF REFORM
Marks & Spencer has dropped PwC as its book-keeper after a relationship spanning nearly 90 years as lawmakers in Europe continue to deliberate over a radical shake-up of the market for auditing elite companies.
EASYJET CHIEF PAID 6 MILLION POUNDS FOR HITTING HEIGHTS
It describes itself a budget airline but easyJet has splashed out 6.43 million pounds on a bumper pay package for its chief executive, turning Carolyn McCall into one of Europe’s highest-paid aviation bosses.
Aviva Boss Lands In FirstGroup Driving Seat
The head of Aviva will on Friday be named as the next chairman of FirstGroup, the transport operator behind Greyhound buses and the First Capital Connect rail franchise.
BLOCKBUSTER TO SHUT WITH 1,200 JOB LOSSES
The movie and games rental chain Blockbuster is on course to be closed down by the end of the year with the loss of the remaining 1,200 jobs, it has been confirmed.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Dollar General (DG) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Franco-Nevada (FNV) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Granite Construction (GVA) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Intel (INTC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
LinkedIn (LNKD) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Merck KGaA (MKGAY) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Societe Generale
Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley
Parker-Hannifin (PH) upgraded to Buy from Sell at Goldman
Precision Drilling (PDS) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Actuate (BIRT) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
Agnico-Eagle (AEM) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Bonanza Creek (BCEI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
C.H. Robinson (CHRW) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein
Dana Holding (DAN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Family Dollar (FDO) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Gap (GPS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Manitowoc (MTW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Telefonica (TEF) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Exane BNP Paribas
Ulta Salon (ULTA) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Acadia Healthcare (ACHC) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Allergan (AGN) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
Baker Hughes (BHI) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Bofi Holding (BOFI) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
Chevron (CVX) initiated with an Overweight at HSBC
Curis (CRIS) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Diamond Offshore (DO) initiated with an Underperform at FBR Capital
Dril-Quip (DRQ) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
EverBank Financial (EVER) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Exxon Mobil (XOM) initiated with an Underweight at HSBC
FMC Technologies (FTI) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Forum Energy (FET) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Frank’s International (FI) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Halliburton (HAL) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Helmerich & Payne (HP) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Home Depot (HD) initiated with a Neutral at Wedbush
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Laredo Petroleum (LPI) coverage assumed with a Buy at Brean Capital
Lowe’s (LOW) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Lumber Liquidators (LL) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Mellanox (MLNX) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
National Oilwell (NOV) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Progressive Waste (BIN) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
RPC, Inc. (RES) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Rowan Companies (RDC) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) initiated with an Overweight at HSBC
Salesforce.com (CRM) initiated with a Buy at Pivotal Research
Schlumberger (SLB) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Sprague Resources (SRLP) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Springleaf (LEAF) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Synergy Resources (SYRG) coverage assumed with a Buy at Brean Capital
Tesco (TESO) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Total (TOT) initiated with an Overweight at HSBC
Twitter (TWTR) initiated with a Market Perform at Bernstein
Vanguard Natural (VNR) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Vantage Drilling (VTG) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Verisk Analytics (VRSK) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Barnes & Noble (BKS) disclosed SEC investigation into restatement, segment reporting
J.C. Penney (JCP) disclosed letter of inquiry from SEC regarding liquidity, offering
Lionsgate (LGF) vice chairman told CNBC stock buybacks, dividends on the table
LKQ Corp. (LKQ) to acquire Keystone Automotive Operations for $450M
Southwest (LUV) acquired 12 takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia (AAMRQ, LCC)
Nestle (NSRGY) to sell stake in Givaudan
Boeing (BA), Saab signed Joint Development Agreement
Big Lots (BIG) to exit Canadian operations
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Rally Software (RALY), Esterline (ESL), Mitel (MITL), Veeva Systems (VEEV), Finisar (FNSR)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Cubic (CUB), SeaChange (SEAC), Big Lots (BIG), Ulta Salon (ULTA), Cooper Companies (COO), Zumiez (ZUMZ), Ulta Salon (ULTA)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Casella Waste (CWST), Pacific Sunwear (PSUN), Five Below (FIVE)
- Any effort by Comcast (CMCSA) to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) would face significant hurdles in Washington, according Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the FCC, casting doubt on a cable-industry consolidation scenario that has grabbed Wall Street’s attention, the Wall Street Journal reports
- The U.S. Gulf Coast, home to the world’s largest concentration of petroleum refineries, is suddenly awash in crude oil. So much high-quality U.S. oil is flowing into the area (TRP, EOG, VLO, MPC, NGL) that the price of crude there has dropped sharply in the past few weeks and is no longer in sync with global prices, the Wall Street Journal reports
- GM (GM) may consider shipping more South Korean-made cars to Australia, sources say, as part of a global restructuring that will see its Chevrolet brand in Europe dropped and production in Australia potentially scrapped, Reuters reports
- GE (GE) has no plans to buy an oil or natural gas producer, CEO Jeff Immelt told Reuters. Ever since the conglomerate bought oil pump maker Lufkin earlier this year for nearly $5B, speculation has swirled that he wanted to buy an energy producer amid the fast-paced growth of the North American shale boom, Reuters reports
- Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) were accused of discriminatory mortgage lending by the city of Los Angeles, which seeks damages for reduced property tax revenue and the costs of maintaining foreclosed properties, Bloomberg reports
- Nissan Motor (NSANY) forecast its growth in China will outpace industry wide sales in the country for the first time in three years as consumers in the world’s largest auto market return to Japanese brands, Bloomberg reports
BitAuto (BITA) 2.749M share Secondary priced at $30.00
Golar LNG Partners (GMLP) files to sell 8.5M shares of common units
Noodles & Company (NDLS) 4.5M share Secondary priced at $39.50
Ring Energy (REI) 5M share Secondary priced at $10.00
U.S. Silica (SLCA) to offer 4.53M shares for selling holder