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Gambling Wynn, Wachovia headhunt
Casino tycoon Steve Wynn is mulling a $3 billion Hong Kong listing, with an eye to Macau. Wachovia reports a new boss and a big loss. And why Abu Dhabi’s U.S. trophy hunters are not like the Japanese a decade ago.
 

NEWS AT A GLANCE

Wynn explores Hong Kong bet, eyeing Macau casinos

Casino and hotel billionaire Steve Wynn is exploring a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange that could raise $3 billion for his planned expansion into Macau, the South China Morning Post reported. That would likely be the biggest IPO on the Hong Kong exchange this year. (MarketWatch) Wynn, who already owns one casino hotel in Macau, has started building a second, 400-suite complex there and is planning a mammoth, 1,200-suite casino resort on the Macau coast. But his ambitions have run up against the faltering U.S. economy. (Forbes.com) Casinos across the U.S. have been hit by lower consumer spending; Wynn Resorts' shares are down more than 30 percent this year. (Reuters)

Wachovia names new CEO, warns of loss

Wachovia, the No. 4 U.S. bank, named senior Treasury Department official Robert Steel as its new CEO, and said mortgage and legal problems will lead to a quarterly loss of $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion. Analysts had been expecting a profit. Most of the loss is tied to Wachovia’s 2006 purchase of ailing mortgage lender Golden West Financial. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Steel has no commercial bank experience, but he was a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs. Ex-CEO Ken Thompson was ousted five weeks ago, amid steep losses and a 62 percent slide in shares this year. “Steel is starting at an ideal time because he can’t do anything worse to this company than has already been done,” said Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. analyst Richard Bove. (Bloomberg)

Yahoo unveils new collaborative search strategy

In a move to cut into Google’s growing domination of the Web search business, Yahoo is opening wide its own search technology to outside developers. The BOSS, or build your own search service, initiative allows developers to create customized search engines for their sites without having to invest the $300 million needed to build one from scratch. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) In return, Yahoo will sell ads on those new search engines. The strategy could eat into Yahoo’s own search business, but the embattled firm is willing to risk it. “This is being done as a public-facing move to show that Yahoo has an idea for how to get traction in online search,” said Gartner analyst Allen Weiner. “The overall concept is very sound.” (The New York Times)

The great U.S. trophy hunt

As global commodities soar and the dollar sinks, cash-flush investors from countries like Russia, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi are scooping up trophy assets in the U.S. The assets include slices of Wall Street banks, Florida beachfront mansions, and, as of Tuesday, New York’s iconic Chrysler Building. The shopping spree is reminiscent of Japan’s trophy hunt in the early 1990s, which ended unprofitably. But while some of the new investments are looking shaky—see Abu Dhabi’s $7.9 billion Citigroup buy-in last year—oil-rich Middle Eastern investment funds have to put their growing surpluses somewhere abroad. And unlike the Japanese, they can afford to be very long-term investors. (The New York Times)

 

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