Archive for September, 2010

Panel probes decisions made after Gulf spill

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Finance News


WASHINGTON – How well did the White House react to the Gulf oil spill disaster? A federal panel appointed by President Barack Obama starts its investigation Monday.

The two-day meeting of the presidential oil spill commission will look at the controversial use of chemical dispersants, a moratorium on deep-water drilling and Obama's plans to make the Gulf's environment better than it was before the huge spill. It will also examine who was in charge of making critical decisions — BP PLC or the federal government.

The April 20 explosion and fire killed 11 workers, sunk the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and unleashed 206 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. It also tested the oil industry's and government's capabilities to respond to a massive blowout in deep water.


Wal-Mart offers to buy Massmart for $4.25B

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Finance News

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering to buy South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd. for approximately $4.25 billion.

A deal would give the world's largest retailer an opening to expand in Africa, a fast-growing region.

"South Africa possesses attractive market dynamics, favorable demographic trends and a growing economy," Executive Vice President Andy Bond said in a statement.

Wal-Mart said Monday that it would pay 148 rands ($21.11) per share for Massmart, which has 201.5 million shares outstanding according to Thomson Reuters. Further details of the proposed deal were not disclosed.

Massmart, based in Johannesburg, runs 290 stores in 13 countries in Africa, with most in South Africa. It also manages eight wholesale and retail chains under various brand names.

The push to expand its presence in an emerging market comes as Wal-Mart faces sluggish sales in the U.S. Wal-Mart is aiming to pump up domestic sales with an aggressive push into urban markets, planning a small format that's a fraction of the size of its supercenters.

That expansion is expected to be detailed in October at Wal-Mart's meeting with analysts at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Wal-Mart has more than 8,500 stores under 55 different names in 15 countries. It has more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. Its fiscal 2010 sales were $405 billion.


Stock index futures inch higher as M&A in focus

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Finance News


NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a firmer open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.04 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.13 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.25 percent.

* On the M&A front, consumer goods giant Unilever Plc/N said it had agreed to buy United States-based hair care group Alberto Culver Co for $3.7 billion in cash. Shares of Alberto Culver traded in Frankfurt were up 15 percent.

* Wal-Mart Stores offered more than $4 billion for South African wholesaler Massmart as the world's largest retailer seeks to expand in fast-growing Africa.

* French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis is seeking to line up more funding to potentially raise its $18.5 billion bid for Genzyme Corp, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Genzyme shares traded in Frankfurt were up 1.4 percent.

* M&T Bank Corp's negotiations to buy Sovereign Bank, a unit of Banco Santander, have stalled over disagreements as to who would control the combined entity, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

* Pre-orders for Apple Inc's iPhone 4 in China have exceeded 200,000 units since the handsets went on sale on Saturday, China Unicom said, adding that it has stopped taking online orders because of strong demand.

* French conglomerate Vivendi said it had sold an initial chunk of its 20 percent stake in U.S. media group NBC Universal to General Electric for $2 billion as it shifts its acquisition strategy. Vivendi said it would sell the remaining 12.34 percent it owns in NBC to GE for $3.8 billion after the completion of a GE transaction with new NBC owner Comcast, as per an agreement set out in late 2009.

* On the earnings front, Jabil Circuit and Paychex feature among the companies due to report earnings. On the macroeconomic side, investors await the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for August and the Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index for August.

* European stocks were up 0.3 percent in morning trade, extending Friday's sharp gains, with food and beverages shares featuring among the top gainers on news that Unilever is to acquire Alberto Culver.

* Oil rose toward $77 a barrel, near a two-week high, supported by cautious optimism over the strength of U.S. economic recovery and the outlook for energy demand.

* U.S. stocks notched their fourth week of gains on Friday as investors used a rise in business spending to revive the September rally after three days of losses.

* The Dow Jones industrial average was up 197.84 points, or 1.86 percent, at 10,860.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index

finished up 23.82 points, or 2.12 percent, at 1,148.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 54.14 points, or 2.33 percent, at 2,381.22.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Michael Shields)