Safeway surges on $5.7B sale of Canadian unit. Safeway (SWY) shares defied the global rout and jumped 21% premarket after the supermarket retailer said it has agreed to sell its Canadian unit for C$5.8B ($5.7B) to Empire's (EMP.A) Sobeys subsidiary. Safeway will use $2B of the proceeds to repay debt and most of the rest on buybacks. "The higher multiples attributed to Canadian supermarket companies" contributed to Safeway's decision to do the deal.
Clearwire backs Dish bid. Clearwire's (CLWR) special committee has endorsed Dish's (DISH) $4.40-a-share offer, calling it in the "best interest of Class A stockholders," and said it unanimously opposes Sprint's (S) $3.40-a-share proposal. Even if Sprint's merger with SoftBank (SFTBF.PK) goes through, a large minority interest in Clearwire - in which Sprint holds a majority stake - should give Dish leverage to strike a favorable 4G network deal.
Top Stock News
RBS drops sharply following CEO exit. RBS (RBS) shares slid 2% premarket after dropping 3.8% yesterday following the surprise news of the departure of CEO Stephen Hester, who this morning denied that he was forced out. RBS confirmed it will cut further jobs as part of a restructuring of its investment bank, with reports putting the number at around 2,000.
Coty owners raise $1B in IPO. Coty (COTY) is due to start trading on the NYSE today after its owners raised $1B in the company's IPO by selling 57.1M shares at $17.50 each, giving the beauty products conglomerate an enterprise value of about $8.6B including net debt. The IPO price was at the mid-point of the proposed range of $16.50-18.50.
Lululemon chairman sold shares as CEO quit. Lululemon (LULU) Chairman Dennis Wilson sold $49.5M worth of the company's stock as part of a prearranged 10b5-1 plan on Friday, the day that the board was notified that CEO Christine Day intended to leave. Shares plummeted 17% on Tuesday after Lululemon announced Day's departure on Monday. Wilson had no influence on the trades that were made, Lululemon said.
Future of France Telecom CEO uncertain. French Digital Economy Minister Fleur Pellerin has said that the future of France Telecom (FTE) CEO Stephane Richard is in doubt after he was placed under formal investigation over his role in a €285M government arbitration payout to a businessman in 2008. France Telecom's board is due to meet early next week to discuss Richard's situation. The government owns 27% of the carrier and has three seats on its board.
#Longoverdue? Facebook finally adds hashtag support. Facebook (FB) is embracing the concept of hashtags, with an eye towards enabling the kind of "public conversations" that have contributed greatly to Twitter's rise. Users will be able to click and search for Facebook hashtags, and click on hashtags from third-party services such as Netflix (NFLX). And although overuse has hurt the utility of many hashtags, it's hard to deny their popularity, while they could also enable new ad products.
Blackstone raises $1.5B for $4B Asia fund. Blackstone (BX) has reportedly carried out the initial closing of its first Asian property fund, receiving capital commitments of $1.5B out of a total target of $4B. Blackstone intends to start putting the money to work immediately, focusing on China, India, Australia and Japan.
HMA mulls its options. Health Management Associates (HMA) has confirmed that it's considering its strategic options following the accumulation of a 14.6% stake in the company by Glenview Capital, which has said that it doesn't intend to bid for HMA. The board has also formed a committee to search for a replacement for retiring CEO Gary Newsome. Shares rose 3.2% in AH trading.
GSK finds no wrongdoing in China bribery probe. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been looking into claims from an anonymous tipster that its Chinese sales staff bribed doctors to prescribe drugs between 2004 and 2010, including for unauthorized uses. However, GSK said that it has so far not found any evidence of corruption or bribery. The allegations come after GSK recently reached multi-billion dollar settlements with U.S. authorities over its drug-marketing tactics.
Cable incumbents try to stop Internet rivals. Time Warner Cable (TWC) is reportedly one of the most aggressive of the incumbent TV broadcasters that are trying to strangle the emergence of Internet competitors at birth. The broadcasters are attempting to prevent media companies from selling their content to the likes of Intel (INTC) and others, including through the use of financial incentives and penalties, and contract clauses that forbid the sale of channels to Internet distributors.
Amazon goes 3D. Amazon (AMZN) has launched a dedicated portion of its Web site to 3D printers in a move that could help the burgeoning technology hit the mainstream. The company lists 3D printers and accessories from major brands in the section.
Top Economic & Other News
U.S. states to end fiscal year in good shape. U.S. states are expected to end their fiscal year on June 30 with a combined surplus of $23.7B after taking in stronger-than-expected revenues. However, the future is more uncertain, as income this year may have been boosted by residents selling assets ahead of a capital-gains tax rise. Going forward, states will also have to cope with federal spending cuts, an expansion of Medicaid, and increasing pension and retirement obligations.
How two seconds can be worth millions. The WSJ shines a light on the high-speed traders who receive access to various non-government economic reports two seconds before everybody else, allowing them to make tens of millions of dollars through algorithmic trading. When a recent University of Michigan consumer report came in below expectations, for example, various firms bet nearly 7M shares that stocks would decline, which they did. And it's all perfectly legal.