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Sep 9, 2011

Analysis: Deloitte lands at center of U.S.-China clash

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A clash between U.S. regulators and a Chinese arm of accounting giant Deloitte is ratcheting up pressure on auditors doing work in China and complicating efforts to stem accounting scandals there.

In an unusual step, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday asked a federal court to force Shanghai-based Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd to hand over its audit records on Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd, which is under investigation for possible fraud.

Sep 2, 2011

U.S. firms challenged to get “intangibles” on the books

/NEW YORK (Reuters) – With intangible assets such as patents dominating so much of the modern economy, why are they still largely off the balance sheets of America’s largest corporations?

Some headline-grabbing patent sales have reignited interest in the question. Among them: the $4.5 billion auction of Nortel’s wireless patents on July 1 and Google Inc’s (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) $12.5 billion August 15 bid for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and its 24,500 patents and pending patent applications, and other assets.

Aug 31, 2011

Insight: Motorola deal offers Google tax, patent benefits

/CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Reuters) — Google Inc’s (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) blockbuster acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will bring an unusual stable of tax and accounting benefits to the search-engine giant, already one of Corporate America’s most savvy users of such perks.

The deal also underscores a trend by technology companies to snap up patents in a bid to stave off competitive threats and patent-infringement lawsuits. Google’s patent portfolio is seen as one of the weakest in the industry.

Aug 31, 2011

Motorola deal offers Google tax, patent benefits

, Aug 31 (Reuters) –
Google Inc’s (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) blockbuster acquisition of Motorola
Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will bring an unusual stable of
tax and accounting benefits to the search-engine giant, already
one of Corporate America’s most savvy users of such perks.

The deal also underscores a trend by technology companies
to snap up patents in a bid to stave off competitive threats
and patent-infringement lawsuits. Google’s patent portfolio is
seen as one of the weakest in the industry.

Aug 8, 2011

American estate-tax crusader sees a good fight ahead

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Reuters) – It has been a good year for Dick Patten, the leading opponent of estate taxes in the United States. A bill to end federal estate tax is taking shape on Capitol Hill. Victories in the states are adding momentum to the fight he leads through his Washington-based lobbying group, the American Family Business Institute.

Buoyed by an anti-tax mood that helped turn governors’ mansions and statehouses Republican in 2010 and that fueled the debt-ceiling debate in Congress, states are taking action despite weak economies that would seem to make revenue sources sacrosanct. Ohio axed its estate tax. Maine doubled the size that an estate must be before it can be taxed. Oregon and North Carolina fought off plans to increase estate taxes.

Aug 1, 2011

Special Report – China’s shortcut to Wall Street

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A spate of spectacular collapses of Chinese stocks listed on American exchanges has cost U.S. investors billions of dollars. The fiasco has sparked multiple investigations. Accusations are swirling in Washington and Beijing.

It all began with an email sent out of the blue a decade ago to a Texas businessman named Timothy Halter.

Aug 1, 2011

SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. middlemen paved way for troubled Chinese stock listings

August 1 (Reuters)-A spate of spectacular collapses of
Chinese stocks listed on American exchanges has cost U.S.
investors billions of dollars. The fiasco has sparked multiple
investigations. Accusations are swirling in Washington and
Beijing.
It all began with an email sent out of the blue a decade ago to
a Texas businessman named Timothy Halter.
The email came from Shanghai native Zhihao “John” Zhang. The
former medical student introduced himself and asked: Was Halter
interested in helping bring Chinese companies to the U.S. stock
market? Zhang proposed using a backdoor method that the Texan
had mastered for American firms: buying dormant shell companies
listed on U.S. exchanges.
Soon, Halter and Zhang brought two Chinese firms to market in
America: a manufacturer of power-steering systems and a maker of
vitamins, weight-loss supplements and household cleaners.
The email led to a boom for a niche industry of advisers who
specialize in a brand of deals, called the “reverse merger,”
that use shell companies to give clients easy entry into U.S.
capital markets. More than 400 Chinese companies seized the
chance.
Leading the way was Halter, a slim, salt-and-pepper-haired man
who played a direct or indirect part in 23 deals; staked his
name on at least 20 other deals done by his Shanghai partner,
Zhang; and paved the way, through conferences in China, for
dozens of other deals.
It was a lucrative gambit: Halter lives with his family on a
50-acre ranch in Texas, where he breeds bass. His firm, Halter
Financial Group, threw splashy “summits” to promote the
industry, including a gathering headlined by former President
George W. Bush in 2010. Its website boasts: “Reverse Merger
Experts!”
But deals birthed by Halter and his imitators are now blowing
up.
Investors have alleged widespread accounting irregularities and
other problems at dozens of the Chinese companies that
reverse-listed in the U.S., causing share prices to nosedive.
Since March, some 30 Chinese firms have seen their auditors
resign and at least 25 have been delisted from U.S. exchanges.

$18 BILLION GONE
A Reuters examination of a cross-section of 122 Chinese reverse
mergers on U.S. markets found that between each stock’s peak
trading price and July 10, 2011, those companies saw a total of
$18 billion of their market capitalization vanish.
Reuters interviewed nearly 100 industry participants and
examined financial records of dozens of Chinese companies to
paint the most detailed picture yet of the network of dozens of
players involved in the reverse-mergers boom.
That industry hinges on a handful of leading “shell brokers”
such as Halter who purvey paper companies; investment banks who
specialize in financing a firm after a reverse merger; and
auditors, usually small shops, who are lightly regulated in the
U.S.–and not at all in China and Hong Kong.
The controversy has stirred up new tensions between Washington
and Beijing, which held talks on the matter in July. The Public
Company Accounting Oversight Board, the U.S. auditing watchdog,
issued a report in March about potential problems with the
audits of Chinese companies formed through reverse mergers. The
Securities and Exchange Commission has set up a working group to
examine Chinese reverse mergers, and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation has opened its own broad investigation, say people
familiar with the situation.
The Chinese reverse-merger boom and bust offer insight into a
little-understood corner of American business: the widespread
use of shell companies, which can offer their owners a way to
minimize regulatory scrutiny. The U.S. in recent years has
called for much greater transparency in global business
transactions. But on American shores, opaque shell companies are
rife.
“It appears that some Chinese firms have seen a way to access
the strongest public markets in the world, but through the
weakest area of enforcement,” says Republican Rep. Patrick
McHenry, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform.

Jul 5, 2011

Audit watchdog, SEC plan Beijing visit

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. regulators will talk to authorities in Beijing about the oversight of China-based auditors amid growing concern about a highly publicized string of alleged accounting scandals.

U.S. audit watchdog PCAOB and the SEC both confirmed meetings would take place. Neither said when. Bloomberg News reported from Beijing they would take place on July 11 and 12.

Jul 5, 2011

U.S. audit watchdog, SEC plan Beijing visit

NEW YORK, July 5 (Reuters) – U.S. regulators will talk to
authorities in Beijing about the oversight of China-based
auditors amid growing concern about a highly publicized string
of alleged accounting scandals.

U.S. audit watchdog PCAOB and the SEC both confirmed
meetings would take place. Neither said when. Bloomberg News
reported from Beijing they would take place on July 11 and 12.

May 6, 2011
via Reuters Money

The end of buy and hold?

Photo

This post was originally published at Portfolioist.com.

Since the market turbulence of the late 2000s shot investors’ faith in more traditional investing, there’s been quite a lot of discussion of┬áTactical Asset Allocation.

This form of investing focuses on allocating certain portions of your portfolio to different asset classes, and then ramping up or pulling back on any one of those classes depending on certain factors.