Merrill turns to Asian coffers
Merrill Lynch is close to securing a $5 billion investment from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, The Wall Street Journal reported. (Reuters) Asian and Middle East governments have invested some $25 billion in Wall Street firms since the recent subprime losses started surfacing. The state-run funds “are making use of the crisis to buy some of these banks on the cheap,” said Nicholas Yeo at Aberdeen Asset Management in Hong Kong. “Whether they’re buying cheaply enough is hard to say.” (Bloomberg) UBS shareholders are threatening to reject more than $11 billion in infusions from Singapore and Saudi Arabia, saying the terms are not good for existing investors. (Financial Times)
BlackBerrys ring in RIM profits
Research In Motion Ltd. shares rose 12 percent in extended trading after the Canadian company reported a higher-than expected $370.5 million quarterly profit. That’s an 111% increase over the same quarter last year. (MarketWatch) A new line of BlackBerry smart phones aimed at consumers rather than the business community helped RIM avoid a slowdown in corporate spending. RIM’s consumer-oriented handhelds include features like cameras and music players, helping the BlackBerry compete with Apple’s iPhone. ( “You can expect them to get more into the multimedia world,” said analyst Peter Misek at Canaccord Capital in Toronto. (Bloomberg)
Stewart and Colbert head back to work
Comedy Central talk-show satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are going back on the air Jan. 7, even if their writers are still on strike, joining most of the other major late-night talk show hosts. David Letterman’s production company is scheduled to meet with the striking Writers Guild of America today to try and negotiate a separate peace for his show. (AP in USA Today) Stewart and Colbert, both WGA members, will have to improvise most of the show. “We would like to express our ambivalence,” the hosts said of the decision, “but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence.” (The New York Times, free registration required)
The hard sell on catalogs
The new environmentalist group Catalog Choice is trying to give people a way to opt out of having unwanted catalogs delivered to their door. But the catalog industry trade group, the Direct Marketing Association, is encouraging its members to ignore the lists of people who asked to be removed from specific mailing lists through Catalog Choice’s free Web site. The DMA says consumers can use its own opt-out service, which costs a dollar and requires submitting a credit card number. Catalog Choice chief Chuck Teller says retailers should respect the wishes of the 300,000 people who have signed up so far. But “if they don’t, we’ll tell our members who is not honoring them,” he adds. (