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Risk Consolidation, Price-Hike Celebration
February 21, 2008
NEWS AT A GLANCE
Reed Elsevier scoops up risk firm ChoicePoint
Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier, which owns the LexisNexis database, agreed to buy U.S.-based risk-management firm ChoicePoint for $4.1 billion, including $600 million in assumed debt. (Reuters) The $50-a-share price is 49 percent higher than ChoicePoint’s closing price yesterday. Reed Elsevier will fund the acquisition in part by selling a unit that publishes 135 trade magazines, including New Scientist. “We believe this to be a sensible move,” said Merrill Lynch analyst Paul Sullivan, “with a shift from cyclical, print-driven business to a more resilient, workflow-focused business.” (Bloomberg)
Nestle price hikes raise profits
Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, reported a 14 percent rise in profits in the second half of 2007, to $5.2 billion, on broad price increases. The results beat analysts’ forecasts. The average 3 percent rise in prices for Nestle products in 2007 followed rising costs for raw ingredients, including milk, sugar, cocoa, and wheat. (Bloomberg) For the full year, Nestle profits rose 15.8 percent, to $9.7 billion, and CEO Peter Brabeck said the company would see strong growth this year, with or without a U.S. recession. “The overall picture of Nestle is excellent,” said ING analyst Marco Gulper. “Nestle is able to pass on rising commodity prices to consumers.” (Reuters)
Feds scuttle 3Com buyout
Bain Capital Partners and China’s Huawei Technologies pulled the U.S. security approval request for their $2.2 billion takeover of U.S. networking firm 3Com, amid U.S. concerns. (MarketWatch) 3Com owns TippingPoint, which makes security software used by the U.S. military and government agencies, and the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States looked set to block the deal. Huawei is seen to have ties to China’s military. “Huawei’s challenge is that they’re just perceived as an extension of China,” said Duncan Clark at Beijing-based investment firm BDA, and China is perceived “as somewhat of a menace or unknown threat.” (Reuters)
Hotels enforce ‘No Smoking,’ at $250 a butt
As U.S. hotels increasingly go completely smoke-free, smoking enforcement is increasing, too. Walt Disney World Resort Hotels top the list of cigarette cops, charging $500 an infraction, but $250 fines are increasingly common. Some hotels, like the Swissotel Chicago, gives a $10 bonus to maids who find telltale butts, since evidence is key to drawing confessions from protesting guests—and countering disputed credit card charges. But if there’s no proof, hotels usually give guests the benefit of the doubt. “We don’t want to really upset guests, leave a bad taste in their mouth,” said Karen Colliton-Thomson of the Westin New York. (The Wall Street Journal)
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