US equities sagged, a bit. The S&P 500 fell 0.2 per cent and the DJIA dropped 0.3 per cent, its second down day (Wall Street Journal). Under-par existing home sales figures wiped out early gains (Financial Times).
Alaska and three oil giants may strike a deal as early as next week on developing a $40bn gas pipeline. BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips are in discussions about settling a long-running lease dispute over Point Thomson, a key Alaskan oil and gas field (Financial Times). A large gas pipeline to Alaska’s southern coast could ship LNG from the field to China and other Asian countries.
Watson Pharmceuticals is close to an almost-$7bn bid for Actavis. A deal would expand Watson’s markets in European emerging markets, and mark another stage in the generic drugmaker industry’s race to find economics of scale (Reuters). Actavis launched an acquisition spree after being taken in private in 2007, causing a debt load which came under pressure after the 2008 crisis (Wall Street Journal).
Hartford Financial has bowed to John Paulson’s demands for asset sales. The insurer plans to exit its individual annuities business and is seeking buyers for its individual life unit (Bloomberg). Paulson, whose fund is Hartford’s biggest shareholder, has pressed the insurer to split off its life business from the property and casualty unit (Financial Times). Paulson & Co likely still faces $150m paper losses on its investment despite Hartford’s shares rallying 37 per cent year to date (WSJ Deal Journal).
Zynga spent $200m on acquiring OMGPOP, an online games company whose big seller was released mobile devices only six weeks ago (Reuters, Zynga’s press release). The ‘Draw Something’ game has attracted a million users in nine weeks, taking off after landing in Apple’s iTunes store. The acquisition takes Zynga somewhat further beyond reliance on Facebook as a gaming platform (AllThingsD).
Kraft will call its separating global snacks company ‘Mondelēz’. The word is a Latin hybrid meaning ‘delicious world’, apparently. (Financial Times)
US initial jobless claims. As ever, watch out for continuing claims (3.4m at last count, the lowest readout since August 2008).
Further further reading
– Corporate America: rammed with cash, running out of names, as Abnormal Returns notes.
– Goldman once held the world record for biggest group hug, oddly.
– Market Folly on some sage words from Howard Marks re investor intuition…
– Is Apple’s dividend really monetary easing?, asks Scott Sumner.
– The Monkey Cage with a nice take on whether (Iranian) financial sanctions work.