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TIME Exclusive: Icahn Files Apple Shareholder Proposal

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 1:58pm
Subscribe to TIME here. Veteran investor Carl Icahn is opening a new front in his quest to persuade Apple to part with more of its massive cash stockpile. Icahn believes the technology giant should share more of its wealth with stockholders. So to push Apple, he now wants stockholders to vote on whether the company should spend more of its billions to buy back its own shares on the public market. A buyback would almost certainly drive up the price of Apple’s stock—and increase the value of Icahn’s holdings along with those of all Apple investors. Icahn tells TIME he filed a shareholder proposal with Apple on Nov. 26, three days before the deadline for measures to be voted on at the company’s next annual shareholders meeting. His measure calls for a share buyback and is in the form of a precatory proposal, which means that even if a majority of Apple shareholders approved, it would not be binding on the company’s management. That’s the typical approach for shareholder resolutions, even those coming from investors who are at odds with management. For his part, Icahn says he doesn’t consider his proposal an indictment of Apple CEO Tim Cook, or the company’s management, per se. “Tim Cook is doing a good job with the business,” Icahn tells TIME. “I think he’s good whether he does what I want or not.” But, says Icahn, referring to the company’s huge cash stockpile, “Apple is not a bank.” Photograph by Platon for TIME Icahn has the option of withdrawing his proposal if he and Apple can come to terms. If not, the situation could turn into a proxy fight against Apple, even if it is not a particularly hostile or aggressive one. The two sides would vie to persuade stockholders to vote their way. (The term proxy fight refers to the fact that shares from stockholders who cannot attend the annual meeting in person can be voted by proxy. In practice, waging a proxy fight means persuading big institutional investors to support a measure.) Apple
Categories: Financial News

Turquoise Hill Founder to Participate in Rights Issue

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 1:41pm
Robert Friedland will participate in the $2.4 billion rights issue of Turquoise Hill, the mining company that discovered the Mongolian Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit.
Categories: Financial News

Economy Growing at 'Modest to Moderate' Pace

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 1:40pm
The U.S. economy expanded at a "modest to moderate" pace in recent months, with strength coming from the manufacturing sector and consumer spending, according to the Federal Reserve's survey of regional economic conditions.
Categories: Financial News

Gazprom to Address EU Competition Concerns

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:21pm
Russian energy company OAO Gazprom will present draft proposals responding to European Union competition concerns.
Categories: Financial News

Super Bowl Ads Are Sold Out

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:37am
Commercial time for next year's Super Bowl XLVIII is sold out, according to Fox network. Marketers are paying up to $4 million for 30 seconds during the game.
Categories: Financial News

New-Home Sales Surge

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:33am
Sales of new homes picked up in October and inventory fell, a sign the housing market may be stabilizing after a sharp summer slowdown.
Categories: Financial News

General Motors Selling Remaining Stake in Ally

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:26am
General Motors Co. is severing its ownership ties with Ally Financial Inc. by selling its remaining stake in its former lending arm, according to people familiar with the matter.
Categories: Financial News

EU Clears Microsoft-Nokia Deal

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:21am
Microsoft won unconditional approval from the European Union to buy Nokia's mobile-phone business, a deal the U.S. software company hopes will propel it into the market for digital devices.
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Vodafone to Invest $3 Billion in India

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:18am
Vodafone Group PLC plans to invest $3 billion in India over the next two years to expand its networks and retail presence.
Categories: Financial News

IKEA in Spain Swamped by Job Demands

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:16am
(MADRID) — An IKEA store in Spain says it has received 20,000 applications for just 400 jobs, an unprecedented rush that crashed its computer servers and illustrated the desperation the country’s 6 million unemployed people face. Company spokesman Rodrigo Sanchez said Wednesday the online applications received since Monday were for jobs as store workers in a shop to be opened next year outside the eastern city of Valencia. He said the most applications the company had received before in Spain were 50,000 in southern Jerez, but that was over a period of a month. Official figures show Spain may be beginning to emerge from a more than two-year recession but the government admits it will take years to bring down the 26 percent unemployment rate.
Categories: Financial News

Survey: U.S. Companies Add 215K Jobs, Most in Year

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 11:15am
(WASHINGTON) — A private survey shows U.S. businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, powered by big gains in manufacturing and construction. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. And ADP said private employers added 184,000 jobs in October, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000. The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government’s more comprehensive report. Last month, the Labor Department said private businesses added 212,000 jobs in October. The Labor Department will report on November job growth Friday. Still, the figure suggests that hiring remained healthy in November after picking up in the prior three months. Manufacturing and construction firms each added 18,000 jobs. That was the biggest gain for manufacturers since early this year. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the figures show that employers shook off the partial government shutdown in October and kept hiring, despite a drop in consumer confidence. Moody’s helps compile the ADP data. “That’s very encouraging as we make our way into next year,” Zandi said. Other economists also said the hiring boost was a good sign, but noted that the ADP figures are not always a reliable guide to the government’s figure. “Take this with a grain of salt, but if the direction is right, it is good news,” said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. Many analysts noted that if Friday’s government report is as encouraging as the ADP figures, the Federal Reserve might be more inclined to reduce its monthly bond purchases when members meet later this month on Dec. 18 and 19. The Fed has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month to try to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending. Employers of all sizes added jobs, the report found. And services firms added 176,000 jobs, the most in a year. The government says public and private employers have added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October. That
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Trade Deficit Drops to $40.6 Billion in October

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:58am
(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. trade deficit fell in October, helped by America’s energy boom that lifted overall exports to an all-time high. The trade gap narrowed to $40.6 billion in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s 5.4 percent lower than the September gap of $43 billion, which was higher than initially estimated. Exports rose 1.8 percent to a record $192.7 billion, buoyed by a 6 percent gain in petroleum exports. Imports rose 0.4 percent to $233.3 billion, the highest since March 2012. Oil imports rose 1.5 percent. The U.S. is benefiting from an energy revival, which has lessened its dependence on foreign oil. U.S. petroleum exports are up 9.3 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with the same period in 2012. At the same time, petroleum imports are down 11.1 percent. The drop in oil imports has been helped by lower global prices. A smaller trade deficit can boost economic growth. It typically shows that American companies are earning more from sales overseas while U.S. consumers are buying fewer products from their foreign competitors. Through October, the deficit is running 10.6 percent below last year’s pace. The deficit is smaller because exports have risen 2.7 percent while imports are basically running at the same pace as last year. The overall economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the July-September quarter. That figure will be revised on Thursday and many analysts believe growth will be boosted to a 3.1 percent rate. However, much of the third-quarter strength came from a buildup in business stockpiles. Businesses are expected to have slowed inventory building in the final three months of the year. For that reason, many economists believe overall economic growth has decelerated to a 2 percent annual rate. But some economists said the smaller trade deficit in October could mean overall economic growth will be a bit stronger than expected. Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said growth in the October-December quarter could be a little higher than 2 percent, based on
Categories: Financial News

Philip Morris Buying Stake in Megapolis for $750M

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:48am
(NEW YORK) — Philip Morris is buying a 20 percent stake in Megapolis Distribution BV, the holding company for its Russian cigarette distributor, for $750 million. Megapolis focuses mostly on the distribution of tobacco and beverages. It handles about 70 percent of the cigarettes sold in Russia through distribution agreements with Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Group. The agreement also includes an additional payment of up to $100 million based on Megapolis’ operational performance over the four fiscal years after the deal’s closing. “This investment paves the way for infrastructure expansion and improved operating efficiencies in the strategic area of distribution in Russia, and will therefore benefit our wide portfolio of leading brands,” Miroslaw Zielinski, Philip Morris’ president of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa region and PMI Duty Free, said in a statement. Philip Morris International Inc., which sells Marlboro and other cigarette brands overseas, said Wednesday that it expects the transaction to add to its earnings per share as of 2014′s first quarter. The deal is targeted to close by year’s end. Philip Morris International shares finished at $85.76 per share on Tuesday. Its shares are up 2 percent so far this year.
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Fertilizer Company CF Industries' Stock Soars

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:28am
Shares of CF Industries Holdings Inc. surged Wednesday after the fertilizer maker indicated it may return more cash to shareholders.
Categories: Financial News

ECB Likely to Stand Pat

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:28am
With little latitude for further rate cuts, European Central Bank may need to look at other stimulus options.
Categories: Financial News

If You Hate People, Today Is the Best Day to Go Holiday Shopping

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:20am
It’s safe to hit the mall. According to a firm that tracks foot traffic at shopping centers, Wednesday, December 4, is the best day of the season for holiday shoppers that want good deals—and want to avoid big crowds. According to a Consumer Reports poll, the most popular reason consumers decided against shopping in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday weekend was the obvious one: the desire to avoid crowds. Of those who said they wouldn’t go shopping last weekend, 70% said they would be staying home in order to skip the mayhem caused by the masses descending on the malls. (MORE: This Is What Ford’s All-New 2015 Mustang Really Looks Like) If you were among this sensible bunch, take note that the coast appears to be clear. ShopperTrak, a firm that tracks shopper traffic, has predicted that Wednesday, December 4, will be the absolute best day of the season for those eager to avoid crowds. Don’t fret if shopping today isn’t possible. ShopperTrak data indicates that there are several other days coming up that should also be fairly quiet at the mall. Like next Wednesday, for instance, and several other weekdays going forward. Essentially, ShopperTrak analysts give the obvious advice that it’s wise to stay away from shopping centers on weekends. “Historically, the majority of shoppers flock to malls on the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” a press release explains. “The weekdays will see stores with fewer crowds and more attentive sales staff offering shoppers an opportunity to complete some of their holiday shopping without competing with the crowds.” (MORE: Why the Next Three Weeks Will Be a Bargain Shopper’s Dream) In addition to December 4, most weekdays next week (Tuesday and Wednesday especially) are good options for people-hating shoppers. Nearly all weekdays for the December 9 to 13 week make it into ShopperTrak’s top 10 for that magic combination of small crowds and good discounts this season.
Categories: Financial News

PayPal Launches Digital Gift Store With Only One Client: Apple

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 10:07am
Payments giant PayPal is hoping to coax holiday shoppers’ gift card spending out of brick and mortar stores and into its digital wallet instead. Here’s the catch: only if it’s an Apple iTunes gift card. The eBay-owned company rolled out a digital gift store exclusively with Apple on Tuesday, allowing PayPal customers to purchase iTunes gift cards ranging from $25 to $100 by linking directly to users’ PayPal accounts. The launch comes just one week after PayPal announced it would accept prepaid gift cards—including Visa, American Express, MasterCard or Discover—and a month after it shared its app had gift card capabilities. The strategy is intended to help PayPal boost payments by tapping into the rising mobile market. The race to develop a widely-used digital wallet has goaded companies into trying to process the most consumer transactions possible, says Matt Davies, director of the Gift Card Network and head of a gift card consulting firm. The goal is to create a secure app where customers can manage gift cards, check balances and send others digital gifts, according to Patrick Gauthier, PayPal‘s head of emerging retail services. But with Apple as sole client, what makes it different than simply purchasing from the iTunes store? Gauthier tells TIME the platform is adding more merchants—including physical retailers—in early 2014. The initial partnership with iTunes seemed “natural,” due to Apple’s major presence in the digital market with music, movies and apps. ”If you going to pick one you’re going to pick one that has the farthest reach,” says Dan Schatt, formerly general manager of financial innovations at PayPal and an industry expert. (MORE: This Is What Ford’s All-New 2015 Mustang Really Looks Like) PayPal also wants to help retailers lure shoppers through targeted advertising. One way that might work:  reminding users they have unused cards or if they have a remaining balance, Gauthier says. ”There’s a huge market for gift cards and PayPal couldn’t ignore it anymore,” says Adil Moussa, a payment industry expert. In fact, 80% of holiday shoppers will purchase gift cards this season, reaching an estimated $29.8 billion in spending, according
Categories: Financial News

Europe Fines Banks $2.3 Billion for Fixing Rates

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 9:45am
The European Union has fined eight banks, including behemoths like Deutsche Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland, a total of 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) for their part in an interest rate rigging scandal that rocked the financial world last year. The LIBOR, which stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate, refers to a set of interest rates banks that pay each other to borrow money for very short periods of time. It is a so-called “benchmark” rate from which trillions of dollars in common financial instruments like high yield debt or students loans are priced, and banker are accused of manipulating the rate for years. The penalty announced Wednesday in Europe is just the latest in a series of regulatory actions which have now cost big banks more than $5 trillion in penalties. The infractions took place between 2005 and 2008, according to European authorities, though some lawsuits currently in litigation allege that LIBOR rigging continued as late as 2011. Banks are accused of intentionally submitting lower interest rates than they actually were paying in order to appear more financial sound during the crisis, and fixing rates up and down in order to profit from derivatives trades through advanced knowledge of where the LIBOR rate would land. The investment bank Keefe Buyette and Woods estimates that when private litigation is included, the scandal could cost banks as much as $35 billion. That’s a large chunk of change, but banks this big can afford to pay. As Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism has argued, the most important thing for regulators to do is severely punish the individual traders responsible for the misconduct. She estimates that the misdeeds could have netted “an average of $2.9 to $3.6 million in extra bonuses” for each individual responsible. With that kind of financial incentive to skirt the rules, only severe criminal penalties will dissuade future misconduct. That next shoe may be dropping soon: Reuters reported last week that criminal charges in the U.S. and Europe are imminent. [FT]
Categories: Financial News

This Is What Ford’s All-New 2015 Mustang Really Looks Like

Time Magazine Latest Money News - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 9:16am
Fifty years after Ford first unveiled the Mustang at the New York World’s Fair, the American automaker is betting a total redesign can make the vehicle appeal to drivers around the world. TIME got an exclusive look into the sixth-generation Mustang’s development, including these never-before-seen images of the car Ford will formally reveal tomorrow. The vehicle, which will go on sale next year as a 2015 model, is lower, sleeker and wider than the current Mustang. The most notable difference: this is the first Mustang to be produced for foreign markets, as Ford tries to turn an American icon into its global flagship. Ford executives and engineers told TIME they found themselves straining to satisfy the demands of drivers in Europe and Asia, produce a Mustang with right-side steering for the U.K., India and Australia, while retaining the performance American customers expect. At one point the project had to be rebooted because original designs were not meeting these requirements, TIME has learned. That cost Ford millions. The new Mustang will also have a surprise under the hood: an optional 4-cylinder, turbo-charged engine. It’s a nod to Europe, where gas prices are twice those in the U.S. but also risks undercutting the Mustang’s marketable heritage as a V8 power machine. Now, by producing a Mustang for sale around the globe, Ford will be extending its strategy of building so-called world cars that can be sold profitably in a wide array of markets with arguably its most recognizable brand. The full story will be available tomorrow on Time.com and in the 12/16 issue of TIME. Thomas Prior for TIME Thomas Prior for TIME
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Banks Again Fail to Comply With Parts of Mortgage Settlement

Wall Street Journal Online - Wed, 12/04/2013 - 9:11am
Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citigroup each fail at least 2 metrics.
Categories: Financial News

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