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Frontrunning: September 19

  • Scots spurn independence in historic vote but demand new powers (Reuters)
  • Salmond’s Journey as Scotland’s Leader Ends Short of Destination (BBG)
  • European Stocks Rally to 6 1/2-Year High on Scottish Vote (BBG)
  • Jack Ma Planning Personal Roadshow With Clinton to Immelt (BBG)
  • Some consumers say Apple is losing its 'cool' factor (Reuters)
  • Gold IPhones at $3,600 as China Delay Fuels Black Market (BBG)
  • This Man's Job: Make Bill Gates Richer (WSJ)
  • Mom-and-Dad Banks Step Up Aid to First-Time Home Buyers (BBG)
  • France says it launches first air strikes in Iraq (Reuters)
  • China Construction Bank Chief Confirms PBOC Cash Injection (WSJ)
  • Tiger Global Bets 2300% Gain for Bitauto Isn't Over (BBG)
  • GM to Build New Cadillac Model in Detroit (WSJ)
  • BBC Journalists Attacked Investigating Servicemen Deaths in Russia (WSJ)
  • China hands drugmaker GSK record $489 million fine, sentences executives (Reuters)
  • Brazil's Rousseff closes in on Silva ahead of October vote (Reuters)



Overnight Media Digest


* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd shares priced Thursday at $68 apiece, putting the Chinese company on track for an initial public offering that will raise at least $21.8 billion. The price was at the top of the company's expected range of $66 to $68, which was increased from an initial $60 to $66. (

* The U.S. is tracking multiple terror plots based out of Syria that target the West-threats that current and former intelligence officials say have been traced to Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate and not to Islamic State, the extremist group that has seized the world's attention. Disclosures about the plots, which include bombings, are raising new questions about whether U.S. military strategy focusing on Islamic State militants could end up missing part of the threat Western countries face from Syria. (

* Larry Ellison, a college dropout who built Oracle Corp into one of America's largest and most prominent technology companies, is stepping down as chief executive. Mark Hurd, 57, and Safra Catz, 52, two of Ellison's deputies, will take over as co-ceos. (

* A handful of longtime traders for Steven A. Cohen left his firm Point72 Asset Management in recent weeks, continuing a stream of high-profile departures from one of Wall Street's most prominent hedge-fund firms. (

* Apple Inc began sales of its newest iPhones on Friday with consumers in Australia becoming the first globally to get their hands on them. (

* Early returns in Scotland's heated independence referendum provided some signs that voters could be moving toward rejecting a breakup with the U.K., though a final verdict hadn't been rendered as the hand-counting of votes proceeded slowly following the emotional ballot to decide the country's future. (

* Home Depot Inc said 56 million cards may have been compromised in a five-month attack on its payment terminals, making the breach much bigger than the holiday attack at Target Corp. (

* Nike Inc executives fielded concerns about risks in the company's athletic endorsements at their annual shareholder meeting Thursday, in the wake of several high-profile suspensions of sponsored athletes for violent behavior. Within the past month, Nike has terminated or suspended contracts with three prominent athletes over issues of domestic violence. (



Britain's leading executive search firm Egon Zehnder said it planned to increase the number of female chief executives at Britain's top 100 companies to 25 by 2025. The executive search firm said only 9 percent of top executives at British companies now are women.

Jeremy Bennett, head of Nomura Holdings Inc's European arm, has warned that Western banks have been cutting off poorer countries' access to capital after some lenders were slapped with multibillion-dollar fines for money laundering and violating sanctions.

Malaysian-owned British sports carmaker Lotus said it would cut more than a quarter of its global workforce as part of a broad restructuring of its business.

Phones 4u's plans for a debt-for-equity swap have been hurt after the company's administrator said there was "no realistic chance" of success.

British publishers are said to have called for a competition inquiry into Amazon's dominance, citing that the domestic retail book market "suffers from a chronic and debilitating imbalance for authors, publishers and booksellers". The move is the latest attack on the company which is already battling French publisher Hachette and a competition complaint from German booksellers.



* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese Internet juggernaut, raised nearly $21.8 billion in its initial stock sale on Thursday, as investors flocked to buy a piece of the company that is poised to continue dominating China's burgeoning e-commerce industry. The company priced its shares at $68 each, at the top end of an already raised range. At that level, the online market operator will have a market value of about $168 billion. (

* Lawrence Ellison on Thursday announced his retirement as chief executive of Oracle Corp, a company he founded in 1977 that has transformed the way businesses use technology and made him one of the world's richest people. The move, effective immediately, is one of the last times that one of the tech industry's first generation of celebrity executives is exiting the role of chief. (

* Home Depot Inc said on Thursday that the account information of 56 million cardholders was compromised in what is the largest known breach of a retail company's computer network. (

* Despite being ordered twice by Congress to come up with training requirements for commercial truck drivers, the Transportation Department has yet to do so, leaving Americans sharing the road with big-rig operators who spend only 10 hours in a classroom before hitting the highways. (

* Argentina is holding a gun to the head of Citigroup Inc , a lawyer for the bank told a three-judge panel in Manhattan on Thursday. The bank has found itself in an awkward position: It must decide between defying a New York court order or a sovereign government, a move that it says would result in "grave sanctions" from Argentina. (

* The Federal Reserve has reprimanded the United States unit of Banco Santander SA of Spain for paying a cash dividend to shareholders even though it was forbidden to do so. After failing the Federal Reserve's stress test in March, neither Santander Holdings USA nor any of its subsidiaries was authorized by the Fed to pay a dividend. (




** Despite union leaders admitting that the deal they negotiated for British Columbia's 41,000 public school teachers was not what they had set out to win, 86 percent of teachers voted Thursday to end a bitter five-week strike and reopen most of the province's classrooms by Monday. (

** Many federal authorities, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canada Border Services Agency, keep few or no records of their requests to telecommunications companies for Canadians' private information, newly released federal documents show. (

** Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd has launched legal action against the federal government in an attempt to overturn new regulations that the railways say slow the flow of goods and cost Canadian jobs. (


** The Alberta government says it will not reintroduce controversial pension reform bills when MLAs return to the legislature this fall. The government also announced plans to scrap the province's much reviled new licence plates. (

** Toronto Emergency Medical Services is changing its name to 'Paramedic Services' after nearly two decades, to give residents a better idea about "who's coming to your home" in a crisis, a spokesperson said on Thursday. (

** An analysis of downloading traffic on the Internet during evenings in Canada found that 30 to 40 percent of the data consumed was usually linked to Netflix Inc streams, which was higher than any other Internet activity. (




-- Beijing is closely watching and assessing the impact of Scotland's referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. Observers said the issue was tricky for Beijing because it could encourage discussion of whether the "people's choice" should decide the fate of Taiwan, Tibet and even Hong Kong. (

-- Some of Hong Kong's tycoons meeting President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week have been invited to speak at a seminar there on Hong Kong's constitutional development amid the brewing storm over electoral reform. Cheung Kong Chairman Li Ka-shing, Henderson Land Chairman Lee Shau-kee, New World Chairman Henry Cheng, and HSBC Chief Executive Peter Wong are among those invited. (

-- The Hong Kong government-appointed Financial Reporting Council showed its support for a government proposal to expand its power over accountants in a bid to match international standards and to address accounting scandals which have flared up in the past few years. But industry body the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants said it will fight the measure. (


-- The iPhone mania reaches new heights on Friday as Apple's new gadgets reach the shelves. Hundreds of people have been gathering outside several mobile retail stores, hoping to be among the first to pick up the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. (

-- Some Hong Kong students in Scotland are worried whether their degrees will be recognised should the Scots vote for independence. (

-- Online security breaches have tripled in the first half of this year, experts warned. A total of 1,618 cases were reported to the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre, up from 547 in the same period last year and exceeding the 1,593 cases for the whole of 2013. (


-- Tencent Holdings Ltd announced the establishment of Tencent Movie Plus as the online giant enters the film business aiming to produce seven movies initially, according to Chief Operating Officer Ren Yuxin.

-- China's largest car rental firm CAR Inc, whose initial public offering's retail portion was oversubscribed 200 times, saw its shares rise 14 percent in the grey market on Thursday prior to its trading debut on Friday.


-- Total advertising spend in Hong Kong rose 3 percent year on year in August to HK$3.74 billion ($482.5 million), but was down about 5 percent from July, according to advertising monitoring service provider admanGo.


-- Chinese clean energy operator CGN Meiya Power Holdings Co Ltd plans to raise up to HK$1.8 billion ($232.2 million) in an initial public offering in Hong Kong with trading debut scheduled on Oct. 3.


The Times

EUROZONE STIMULUS FALLS FLAT AS BANKS SHUN CHEAP LOANS A plan to breathe life into the moribund eurozone economy has got off to a disappointing start with commercial banks shunning a new type of cheap finance on offer for the first time from the European Central Bank. (

MONITISE DENIES SHARE SALE DECEIT The deputy chief executive of Monitise, the mobile payments technology company, cashed in more than 6 million pounds ($9.85 million) worth of stock only three days before a heavyweight backer cut ties with it and sent its shares into freefall. (

The Guardian

UK EXPORTS FALL AMID CRISES IN EUROZONE AND UKRAINE Orders for Britain's factories dried up as the slowdown in the eurozone and tension between Russia and the Ukraine led to a harsher climate for exporters. The monthly snapshot from the Confederation of British Industry found that firms were reporting a big drop in demand from overseas - falling to its lowest level since the start of 2013. (

The Telegraph

HINKLEY POINT NUCLEAR PLANT 'TO GET EU STATE AID APPROVAL' Plans to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation at Hinkley Point in Somerset are likely to gain EU state aid approval within weeks, according to reports. The European Commission has been examining the proposed 16 billion pounds ($26.27 billion) project since December amid concerns the UK has offered developer EDF Energy excessively generous subsidies. ( IRELAND LEAVES EUROZONE BEHIND AS EXPORTS BOOM Ireland's economy is growing at an explosive pace not seen since the glory days of the Celtic Tiger, setting off a scramble for Dublin property. Finance minister Michael Noonan said GDP surged 7.7 percent in the year to June as rising exports to the United States, Britain and China transform the former crisis-state into the eurozone's star economy, reaching "escape velocity" as the rest of the currency bloc languishes in a slump. (

Sky News

PHONES 4U RESCUE DEAL HOPES DASHED Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said it was in discussions with three parties over the potential sale of assets following the Phones 4u's collapse on Sunday. However, it said a proposed debt-for-equity swap in which bondholders would wipe out an estimated 760 million pounds ($1.25 billion) of debt to reopen contract talks with network operators EE and Vodafone Group Plc was not an option. (

The Independent


Bankers, traders and the technocrats at the Bank of England and the Treasury are gearing up for the busiest day since the heights of the global financial crisis as the market awaits the Scottish referendum result in the early hours of tomorrow. With the result expected at any time between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., City staff are being drafted in for extra long shifts to allow clients to trade in 24-hour markets like the pound. (


As voters head to the polls, it seems thousands of punters have already headed to the bookies as a huge increase in bets have been placed on the outcome in the past few days. Ladbrokes revealed it took a record 250,000 pounds ($410,425) worth of bets across the country on Monday, while Paddy Power said it was the largest non-sporting market ever for the company, taking over six figures yesterday. (


Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz


Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Leading indicators for August at 10:00--consensus up 0.4%



American Eagle (AEO) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Concur (CNQR) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
National CineMedia (NCMI) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
SABMiller (SBMRY) upgraded to Neutral from Reduce at Nomura
Texas Capital (TCBI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Wunderlich
Zions Bancorp (ZION) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James


Allstate (ALL) downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Evercore
Auxilium (AUXL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Auxilium (AUXL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
CARBO Ceramics (CRR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Copa Holdings (CPA) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Coty (COTY) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at B. Riley
Marchex (MCHX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Oracle (ORCL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Seadrill (SDRL) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Exane BNP Paribas
Vantage Drilling (VTG) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital


Alibaba (BABA) initiated with a Buy at Cantor
Cherokee (CHKE) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Columbia Property Trust (CXP) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Emerge Energy (EMES) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Iconix Brand (ICON) initiated with a Hold at Brean Capital
Ideal Power (IPWR) initiated with a Buy at Roth Capital
Restoration Hardware (RH) initiated with a Buy at CRT Capital
Sequential Brands (SQBG) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Williams-Sonoma (WSM) initiated with a Fair Value at CRT Capital
Xcel Brands (XELB) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital


Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison to step down from post, named executive chair, CTO; The Oracle board promoted both Safra Catz and Mark Hurd to the position of CEO
JetBlue (JBLU) announced Robin Hayes to succeed Dave Barger as CEO
Home Depot (HD) reported cyber attack put 56M unique payment cards information at risk. The company said it completed malware elimination, enhanced encryption of payment data
SAP (SAP) to acquire Concur (CNQR) for $129 per share
Clorox (CLX) promoted Benno Dorer to CEO, Don Knauss to continue as chairman 
FedEx (FDX) said potential adverse court ruling could impact results
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to pay GBP 297M fine to Chinese government
Navidea Biopharmaceuticals (NAVB) confirmed FDA orphan designation for Lymphoseek
AMD (AMD) announced that it expanded an IP partnership with Synopsys (SNPS)


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Red Hat (RHT)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Oracle (ORCL) sees Q2 adjusted EPS 66c-70c, consensus 74c
Home Depot (HD) raises FY15 EPS view to $4.54 from $4.52, consensus $4.50
Red Hat (RHT) raises FY15 EPS guidance by 1c to $1.53-$1.55, consensus $1.54
Red Hat (RHT) sees Q3 EPS approximately 40c, consensus 41c
TIBCO (TIBX) sees Q4 adjusted EPS 18c-24c, consensus 32c


Siemens (SIEGY) preparing at least $85/share bid for Dresser-Rand (DRC), Bloomberg reports
Exxon Mobil (XOM) suspends Arctic oil drilling due to sanctions, Bloomberg reports
GNC Holdings (GNC) considering sale after receiving private equity interest, FT says
Google (GOOG) planning to encrypt phone data in Android, Washington Post reports (AAPL)
Yahoo (YHOO) laying off 59 San Diego-area employees, Re/code reports
YouTube (GOOG) spending more money on original content, Re/code reports


Alibaba (BABA) 320.1M share IPO priced at $68
Blackstone Mortgage (BXMT) files to sell 8M shares of common stock
Broadway Financial (BYFC) to sell 9M shares of common stock in private placement
Chatham Lodging (CLDT) files to sell 5M shares of common stock
Eagle Rock Energy (EROC) files to sell 53.34M common units for limited partners
GasLog Partners (GLOP) files to sell 4.5M common units for limited partners
Gastar Exploration (GST) 17M share Secondary priced at $6.25
Glu Mobile (GLUU) files to sell 9.98M shares of common stock for holders
Warren Resources (WRES) files to sell 6.7M shares of common stock for holder