Bad News Bear

March 18, 2008

People enter the Bear Stearns building after JPMorgan Chase & Co said yesterday it was buying Bear Stearns for $2 a share, in New YorkThe aftershocks of Bear Stearns’ collapse are front and center. China’s CITIC Securities is moving on, formally calling off its $1 billion strategic tie-up; JPMorgan is moving in, ditching plans for a new office building now that it owns the $1.5 billion Bear Stearns HQ.

The Federal Reserve — hours away from the most aggressive rate cut in years — is arranging shotgun weddings for failing financial institutions, but policy makers might be running out of eligible suitors. “There may be some potential buyers left, but the list is looking pretty thin,” said Adam Compton, co-head of global financial stock research at RCM Global Investors.

Across the Atlantic, the European Commission said that while it was not asking for job cuts at stricken British mortgage lender Northern Rock, the bank would have to slim down to be a viable business in the future without state support. UK newspapers reported that one-third of staff could be axed.

Delta Air Lines’ pilots union confirmed that has failed to reach an agreement with Northwest Airlines’ pilots union on how the groups would resolve issues like seniority if the companies merged, the Atlanta Journal Constitution. throwing the long-anticipated deal into doubt. Look for heaps of comment today, as senior execs from the industry debate the future of aerospace at the JP Morgan aviation conference.

India’s Tata Motors has signed a deal to receive a $3 billion one-year bridge loan from Citigroup and JPMorgan to help finance a potential purchase of luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover, according to sources familiar with the deal. “It is signed, but it’s still at an early process,” said one of the sources, who was not authorised to speak to the media. Tata is expected to agree on a deal by the end of the month to purchase the two well-known UK brands from U.S. auto maker Ford Motor, according to media reports in India.

Chinese aluminum giant Chinalco, which earlier this year led a $14 billion investment in Rio Tinto, is more likely to raise its stake than reduce it. Chinalco and U.S. aluminum firm Alcoa jointly purchased 12 percent of Rio’s London-listed shares, or 9 percent of the total equity of the firm at an average price of almost 59 pounds per share. The shares closed at 50.61 pounds on Monday.

Saudi Telecom plans to spend about $15 billion acquiring firms and licenses outside its home market during the year, according to a report in London-based MEED magazine. The Middle East’s largest telecom company by market value will target mobile phone licenses in Bahrain and Lebanon, and also wants to win the second fixed-line licence in Egypt.

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