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Frontrunning: October 8

  • Turkey says Syria town about to fall as Islamic State advances (Reuters)
  • Only now? Growth worries grip stocks, oil (Reuters)
  • Hong Kong Protest Leaders ‘Furious’ at Agenda for Talks (BBG)
  • Earthquake Damages Thousands of Homes in Southern China (BBG)
  • Keystone Be Darned: Canada Finds Oil Route Around Obama (BBG)
  • Where Is North Korea's 31-Year-Old Leader? (BusinessWeek)
  • Australia to Revise Employment Data (WSJ)
  • Americans Living Longer as Fewer Die From Heart Disease, Cancer (BBG)
  • A 401(k) Conundrum: Can You Make Cash Pile Last for Life?  (BBG)
  • China Services Sector Slows in September (WSJ)
  • Constancio Sees $1.3 Trillion Limit for ECB Asset Program (BBG)
  • Buffett Says ‘No-Brainer’ to Get Mortgage to Short Rates (BBG)
  • Europe Sacrifices a Generation With 17-Year Unemployment Impasse (BBG)
  • Finance minister warns Russia can't afford military spending plan (Reuters)
  • Traders Losing Faith Send Sears Bearish Bets to Record (BBG)
  • Valeant, Pershing Square to Boost Allergan Bid (WSJ)
  • Trading Houses May Sit on $13 Billion Risk, Daiwa Says (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* U.S. stocks tumbled on escalating concerns about global growth prospects, especially in Europe, as new data showed deepening stresses in the continent's economy and remarks from a leading policy maker highlighted the lack of consensus in dealing with the slowdown. (on.wsj.com/1sckWDk)

* Turkey and the United States warned that a major Syrian border city was in imminent danger of falling to Islamic State, with the two countries putting the onus on the other to halt the extremist group's advance. (on.wsj.com/1qemBT0)
 
* Wal-Mart is cutting health insurance for another 30,000 part-time workers and raising premiums for its other employees, as U.S. corporations push to contain costs in the wake of the federal health-care law. (on.wsj.com/1t1VimL)

* Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist investor William Ackman plan to boost their offer for Allergan Inc by $15 per share, trying to keep the Botox maker from striking a rival deal. (on.wsj.com/1pOvVxG)

* Puerto Rico is expected to sell up to $1.2 billion of notes this week to large banks that have agreed to hold the debt until it matures in June, forestalling the heavy selling that followed a March bond issue. (on.wsj.com/1y4ntme)

* Several companies that agreed this year to buy others have ended up as the prey - targeted by even bigger fish seeking to gobble them up before their own purchases close. (on.wsj.com/ZssINK)

* Ivan Glasenberg has been digging around for another big deal. The former coal trader, veteran deal maker and now one of the world's biggest mining moguls, has made his boldest move yet to expand trading and mining company Glencore. He approached Rio Tinto about a merger that could have created the world's biggest mining company. (on.wsj.com/1oPfq4c)

* Timothy Geithner, one of the highest-ranking government officials during the financial crisis, testified in federal court Tuesday that he thought a failure of American International Group Inc would have had catastrophic consequences. (on.wsj.com/1pOyzn8)

* The world's largest buyout firm will curb a controversial fee practice that is under scrutiny from regulators and investors. Blackstone Group LP, which manages $279 billion, no longer will pocket extra consulting fees when selling or taking public companies it owns, according to a written exchange between the company and one of its fund investors. (on.wsj.com/1yLEXVR)

 

FT

* A senior banker at a leading British bank has pleaded guilty to in connection with the manipulation of Libor benchmark interest rates, becoming the first person in the UK to plead guilty to such an offence.

* Goldman Sachs has been ordered to pay the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) 200,000 pounds (321,900 US dollar) in legal costs as part of a lawsuit brought by the fund over $1 billion in trades that ended up worthless.

* Glencore Plc said it is no longer actively considering a merger with Rio Tinto Plc. Glencore had made an informal offer in July which was put before Rio's board. The offer was unanimously rejected and Glencore was informed in August.

* Two directors of HSBC Holdings Plc's British business are set to leave the bank because they are unhappy with new rules that can result in jail sentences for senior bankers.

* Dutch lender Rabobank has suspended two foreign exchange traders in London following an internal investigation into the bank's currency trading practices.

 

NYT

* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Pershing Square Capital Management are planning to raise their offer to acquire the Botox maker Allergan Inc by $15 a share, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. (http://nyti.ms/10Nmby5)

* A judge in London's High Court ordered Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Tuesday to pay some of the Libyan Investment Authority's costs for fighting the bank's efforts to dismiss a lawsuit that the authority filed against Goldman in January. (http://nyti.ms/1ncqH33)

* Coty Inc said on Tuesday that it had made a binding offer to buy the Bourjois cosmetics brand from Chanel for 15 million Coty shares, or about $239 million. (http://nyti.ms/1vRY2ji)

* The International Monetary Fund, showing heightened concern over a slowing world economy, said on Tuesday that cash-rich countries like Germany needed to step up large public investments to help keep the flagging global recovery on track. (http://nyti.ms/1yK5EKk)

* As Europe confronts new signs of economic trouble, national leaders, policy makers and economists are starting to challenge as never before the guiding principle of the Continent's response to six years of crisis: Germany's insistence on budget austerity as a precondition to healthy growth. (http://nyti.ms/1t20SW8)

* In July, Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of Glencore Plc approached the London-based mining company Rio Tinto Plc, about a merger with Glencore, both companies acknowledged this week. Uniting Glencore and Rio Tinto, with a combined market value of $160 billion, would create an equal to BHP Billiton Plc, the world's largest natural resources company. (http://nyti.ms/ZQEm5L)

 

Britain

The Times

FIRSTGROUP LOSES SCOTRAIL FRANCHISE TO ABELLIO

The Scottish government has awarded the £2.5 billion ScotRail train franchise to an offshoot of the Dutch railways in the latest blow to the incumbent operator, FirstGroup PLC . (http://thetim.es/1t1N9i9)

EUROPE STALLS AS BOOMING BRITAIN TAKES OFF - IMF

Britain is booming and leaving behind most of the world's leading economies, the International Monetary Fund declared yesterday while sounding the alarm about the prospects for the eurozone. (http://thetim.es/1uyMYt8)

The Guardian

BRITISH BANKER PLEADS GUILTY TO LIBOR RIGGING

A senior employee from a leading UK bank has pleaded guilty to a Libor-fixing conspiracy charge brought by the Serious Fraud Office. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faces up to 10 years in jail. On Friday he became the first banker to plead guilty to criminal manipulation of Libor in Britain. (http://bit.ly/1vQQqgM)

RISE IN LUXURY LONDON HOMES COULD TRIGGER CONSTRUCTION CRUNCH

A record number of luxury homes worth 60 billion stg are being built in London, creating a construction crunch that could lead to many of them being delayed or even ditched, a report shows. (http://bit.ly/1nYQpJl)

The Telegraph

EBOLA: NHS HOSPITALS PUT ON STANDBY

Major NHS hospitals across the country have been put on standby, as health officials warn of a "real risk" that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to Britain. Prime Minister, David Cameron will convene a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee on Wednesday morning to discuss the growing threat to the UK from the spread of Ebola. (http://bit.ly/ZcxGxC)

EE TO LAUNCH TV SET-TOP BOX

EE, Britain's biggest mobile operator, is expected to introduce its own set-top box on Wednesday as it aims to keep pace with telecoms rivals such as BT Group PLC and TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC, who have been gaining customers with their moves into television. (http://bit.ly/1sat2fx)

Sky News

HSBC DIRECTORS QUIT IN PROTEST AT JAIL THREAT

Two directors of HSBC Holdings PLC's UK arm are poised to quit in protest at new Bank of England rules that pave the way for lengthy jail sentences to be imposed on senior managers of failed lenders. (http://bit.ly/1nbz3Il)

CABLE TURNS UP THE HEAT ON ALL-MALE BOARDS

Britain's biggest pubs operator and one of the country's largest sportswear retailers are to be targeted by Vince Cable in a renewed focus on bolstering boardroom diversity. Sky News understands that the Business Secretary plans to write to the chairmen of approximately 30 FTSE-350 companies which have all-male boards more than three years after an initiative was launched to increase the number of women directors. (http://bit.ly/ZQsqkw)

The Independent

TESCO PROBE: FIFTH EXECUTIVE SUSPENDED AMID INVESTIGATION INTO 250 MLN STG PROFIT HOLE

A fifth Tesco PLC executive has been suspended as part of the on-going 250 million stg black hole accounting scandal. Kevin Grace, the supermarket's commercial director, was removed from his position yesterday as investigators from Deloitte and law firm Freshfields continued combing through the emails of every buyer at the company's head office. (http://ind.pn/Zskgy4)

EBOLA OUTBREAK: BRITAIN NEEDS TO START SCREENING FOR THE VIRUS, SAYS HOME OFFICE MINISTER

A Home Office minister has said Britain should consider introducing screening for Ebola carriers arriving at airports, after a Spanish nurse became the first person to have caught the virus in Europe. (http://ind.pn/1s7LzsA)

Corporate Finance

* Telecom Italia's Brazilian unit is considering investing an extra 750 million euros ($948.53 million) over three years to improve its local mobile phone network, according to a person with knowledge of the plan, as the Italian company tries to regain momentum in a key market.

* Deutsche Bank is preparing to sell a $2 billion portfolio of U.S. commercial real estate loans as the North American property markets heat up, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

 
* Dutch private equity group Waterland is in exclusive talks to buy Median Kliniken, Germany's largest private sector chain of health rehabilitation clinics, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

* The trustee of Hubbell Inc's controlling family trusts is evaluating alternatives for their holdings, which may lead to a shakeup at the $7.2 billion U.S. electrical equipment maker, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Irish cement maker CRH Plc has teamed up with Mexican rival Cemex to explore a bid for all the assets industry giants Lafarge and Holcim must sell to get the go-ahead for their planned merger from competition watchdogs, according to several people familiar with the matter.

* Telecom operator Swisscom AG is considering a possible sale of its Italian broadband firm Fastweb, which is worth up to 5 billion euros and has been a target for Vodafone , sources familiar with the situation said.

* Actavis Plc plans to approach Allergan Inc again about a potential merger, as the Botox maker warms up to the possibility of a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

* Buyout firm Vista Equity Partners is in talks to acquire TransFirst Inc, a payment processing company that has filed for an initial public offering, for as much as $1.5 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Germany's Bertelsmann plans to increase its stake in book publisher Penguin Random House as early as next year, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

* Global miner Anglo American Plc is planning to initiate the sale of its three smallest copper mines in Chile and a smelter worth $1 billion by end of the year, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

* Security software maker Symantec Corp is in advanced talks to split its business into two entities - one that sells security programs and another that does data storage, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

* Royal Dutch Shell Plc's 327,000-barrel-per-day (bpd), joint-venture Deer Park, Texas, refinery has pushed back the planned restart of its 70,000 bpd gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit to the end of the week, sources familiar with refinery operations said on Tuesday.

* U.S. private equity fund TA Associates is in advanced talks with the promoters of Famy Care Ltd and private equity investor AIF Capital to purchase a 35 percent stake in the unlisted Mumbai-based generic oral contraceptive pills and hormone drug maker for $200 million, the Economic Times reported, citing people familiar with the deal. (bit.ly/1oP6V9o)

* India's largest power producer NTPC Ltd is evaluating a proposal to buy stranded power assets worth $5 billion, in contrast with its earlier strategy of taking the greenfield route to add capacity, the Times of India reported, citing sources. (bit.ly/1CTvwSQ)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS
Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
FOMC minutes for September 16-17 meeting to be released at 14:00
 
ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

ADTRAN (ADTN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Calamos (CLMS) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette
Calix (CALX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Cogent (CCOI) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Coty (COTY) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at B. Riley
Greif (GEF) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
PHH Corp. (PHH) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Royal Gold (RGLD) upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at HSBC
Rush Enterprises (RUSHA) upgraded to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James
Vocera (VCRA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital

Downgrades

Aegion (AEGN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
GoPro (GPRO) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
National Oilwell (NOV) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC
Ryland Group (RYL) downgraded to Underweight from Hold at KeyBanc
Silver Spring (SSNI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Walter Energy (WLT) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley

Initiations

ARM Holdings (ARMH) initiated with an Outperform at Northland
ARRIS (ARRS) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Affimed Therapeutics (AFMD) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Altera (ALTR) initiated with a Market Perform at Northland
Atlas Resource Partners (ARP) initiated with a Market Perform at Raymond James
Cadence Design (CDNS) initiated with an Outperform at Northland
Colony Financial (CLNY) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
Cummins (CMI) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Euroseas (ESEA) initiated with a Buy at Maxim
GrubHub (GRUB) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Inphi (IPHI) initiated with an Outperform at Northland
Intel (INTC) initiated with a Market Perform at Northland
McKesson (MCK) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Power Integrations (POWI) initiated with an Outperform at Northland
Tesla (TSLA) initiated with a Neutral at Tigress Financial
 
COMPANY NEWS

Yum! Brands (YUM) reported Q3 China SSS down 14%. In an update on China activity, the company said "While sales are rebounding, they continue to be negative. Our brands have proven resilient over time and we expect this to be the case with this situation as well"
TheStreet (TST) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Management Diagnostics for approximately $21M
Kraft Foods (KRFT) raised quarterly dividend to 55c from 52.5c per share
 
EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Costco (COST)
 
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Yum! Brands (YUM), Mistras (MG)
 
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Landec (LNDC)
 
Yum! Brands (YUM) lowers FY14 EPS growth ex-items to 6%-10%
Landec (LNDC) sees FY16 net income increasing 70% vs. FY15 to $1.00 per share
Landec (LNDC) expects FY15 net income to decrease 15% vs last year, consensus 70c
Interface (TILE) sees Q3 EPS ex-charge 12c-14c, consensus 25c
 
NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Symantec (SYMC) in advanced talks to split company in two, Bloomberg reports
Actavis (ACT) plans new approach to Allergan (AGN), Reuters reports (VRX, SLXP)
Valeant (VRX), Pershing Square plan to raise Allergan (AGN) bid by $15 a share, WSJ says
GT Advanced (GTAT) bankruptcy hearing scheduled for Thursday, Reuters reports (AAPL)
Cisco's (CSCO) reorganization affects up to 25,000 employees, Business Insider reports
Yahoo (YHOO) lays off 400 employees in India, WSJ reports
Container Store (TCS) still looks expensive, Barron's says
 
SYNDICATE

Dynegy (DYN) 22.5M share Secondary priced at $31.00
Premier (PINC) to conduct direct offering on behalf of selling stockholders
ZaZa Energy (ZAZA) files to sell 2.98M shares for warrant holders