Calpers takes stake in tech buyout firm
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pensions plan, agreed to buy 9.9 percent of tech-oriented private equity firm Silver Lake Partners for $275 million, according to The New York Times. The deal values Silver Lake at about $2.75 billion. (The New York Times, free registration) Calpers, which holds more than 400 private equity investments, is looking to streamline its assets under fewer fund managers, said Nick Arnotta at Private Equity Intelligence Ltd., “and to do that, they need to take substantial positions in these funds.” (Bloomberg) The deal is not expected to lead to a Silver Lake IPO. (Reuters)
Apple levels EU iTunes pricing
Apple agreed to cut 10 percent off the price of digital media downloads at its U.K. iTunes Store to match prices at other country-specific stores in the European Union. The decision settles a complaint from the EU’s top antitrust regulator. Customers can only purchase from iTunes in their country of residence. (Reuters) Apple is also reportedly expanding the number of studios that will rent out movies through iTunes. Joining Fox and Warner Bros. in the deal, expected to be announced next week, are Paramount, Walt Disney, and Lion’s Gate. “Once a couple of studios do it, how long can the others resist?” said Pali Capital analyst Richard Greenfield. (Bloomberg)
Retailers see red ink
After an unexpected decline in holiday sales, Britain’s largest clothing retailer, Marks & Spencer, saw its shares plummet 21 percent today, its largest drop in at least 19 years. The company reported that same-store sales fell 2.2 percent in the last quarter, even though total sales rose. “To see them decline to such an extent has really surprised the market,” said Bryan Roberts at Planet Retail in London. (Bloomberg) Large U.S. retailers were also downbeat, after Bear Stearns downgraded Best Buy and Circuit City reported an 11 percent drop in same-store sales. Despite a rougher retail climate, the Consumer Electronics Association sees U.S. electronics sales rising by $10 billion this year. (Reuters)
Celebrating the brain drain
Not all companies are bitter when talented executives leave for greener pastures. In fact, some companies revel in their reputation for grooming talent. Having former executives do well at other companies can help your firm attract new high-caliber employees, they say. Baxter International had even hosted reunions for its alumni who have made CEO at other firms. “I expect other companies will go to great lengths to recruit our best people,” says Textron chief executive Lewis Campbell, an alum of General Motors. “In a way, it is an indication that we are considered to be among the best of the best.” (USA Today)