Unstructured Finance

EA Sports looking to score with new toy lines

easports12If you want your football or baseball to cheer for you after a great play, EA Sports has just the toys for you.

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EA Sports, a unit of Electronic Arts, is introducing its first line of products beyond the company’s popular video games, offering sports toys and equipment to appeal to the young sports lovers in the house. 

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The EA Sports-branded equipment, made by Toy Island, is rolling out now in Target and Toys “R” Us stores. Terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed.    

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“We’re expanding the brand to give young and future EA Sports fans a realistic and innovative experience in the real-world of sports, just as you can in the interactive world by playing an EA Sports video game,” EA Sports vice president Glenn Chin said in a statement.

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The products use infrared motion, touch sensors and voice command technologies. 

BSE Sensex surges past 17,000

The Sensex rose 1.5 percent on Wednesday to close above the 17,000 mark for the first time since May 2008.

The rise in the benchmark was led by SBI, Maruti Suzuki, BHEL and ICICI Bank. INDIA-STOCKS/

On the sectoral front, the banking sector led the indices gaining 3.6 percent followed by the Auto index, which rose 2.1 percent. The Capital Goods ended 1.7 percent higher.

India’s benchmark index hit a 16-month high last week. It has gained over 70 percent in the current year and almost 18 percent in September quarter.

Check Out Line: Holiday time in Toyland

Check out Toys R Us hiring 35,000 for the holiday season.
 
dinosaurs-treeThe toy store giant said it would keep its U.S. store hiring plans at the same level as the last two years, even though industry watchers expect a relatively bleak winter.

Toys R Us, the New Jersey-based chain with nearly 70,000 permanent associates around the globe, is preparing for what it expects will be “another busy holiday shopping season.”  Besides hiring about 35,000 for the season, current Toys R Us employees will also be given the chance to work extra hours, the company said.

So far, we haven’t seen any must-have toys, but the battle has clearly begun.
 
Also on Wednesday, Walmart unveiled its plans to cut prices on toys once again this holiday season.  The world’s largest retailer said it would have a $10 toys section in all U.S. stores today, offering more than 100 toys at that price.

Time for Kraftiness

It’s official. Kraft has until Nov. 9 to say whether it will make an offer for Cadbury. If it doesn’t, it had to back off for six months. In the three weeks since Cadbury turned up its nose at Kraft’s $16.3 billion cash-and-share offer. In that time, price talk has centered on how much Kraft will, or is able, to raise that bid by.

Rhys Jones reports that analysts see compelling logic to a potential deal adding Cadbury’s high-growth emerging market business to Kraft’s wide-ranging distribution system, with few overlaps that would prompt competition concerns.

Cadbury reiterated its rejection of Kraft’s approach, but with other potential suitors so far mum, chief executive Todd Stitzer may have to settle for whatever Kraft comes up with. The market has taken the stock up to 800 pence, about 7 percent above the offer price for the share component. And if Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld (pictured above) wants to keep her own shareholders – including Warren Buffett – happy, she will be sure to contain any impulse to aggressively sweeten the deal.

Man Group still waiting for the wave

Shares in Man Group, the world’s biggest listed hedge fund firm, are up strongly today after it finally reported a rise in assets.

rtxabt1Like many hedge fund firms, Man has suffered during the industry’s downturn, with assets falling from $70.3 bln a year ago to $43.8 bln currently.

However, the current figure marks a small gain, helped by currency movements and, importantly, a slowdown in outflows.

Deals du Jour

French food group Danone has agreed to sell its 51 percent stake in its joint ventures with China’s Wahaha group, putting an end to legal proceedings related to the disputes between the two. In 2007, Danone accused Wahaha of illegally setting up parallel business outside their ventures. 

McGraw-Hill Cos is leaning toward selling its money-losing BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg LP, a person familiar with the matter tells Reuters. Bloomberg Markets, a financial news magazine that produces feature stories, and the 80-year-old BusinessWeek could be blended to make a title that would expand Bloomberg’s presence beyond its financial data clients and reach a mainstream audience.

For more on these stories and the rest of the latest deals news from Reuters, click here .

Morning line-up

Hedge fund stories from the past 24 hours from Reuters and elsewhere:

rtxcg5sLondon loses HF market share to NY – Hedge Fund Journal

Funds FAIL! - FT Alphaville

‘No truth’ to CIT-IndyMac talk - Reuters

Uptick in new hedge funds - NY Times DealBook

TCS gains 3.9 percent

Shares in India’s top IT services firm by sales gained nearly 4 percent in a broader market that ended 0.96 percent up at 16,853.

The stock which carries over 2 percent weightage in the main index, closed at 610 rupees with volumes of 0.58 million.

The BSE IT Index ended 2.2 percent higher, led by gains in TCS, Infosys and Oracle Finance.

A “remote, silent whirlwind”?

We may have just lived through the biggest financial crisis in 80 years, but its impact may still not have been big enough for people to learn the right lessons for next time.

rtr1t6liPhilip Wood, special global counsel at Allen & Overy, told today’s Reuters Restructuring Summit in London’s Canary Wharf that the effects on the Western world’s populace of the credit crisis, while large, have simply not reached the proportions of 80 years ago.

“Do people remember (the lessons from a crisis)? Sometimes they do.”

CIC braves U.S. distressed assets

China is no stranger to rolling the dice on risky U.S. investments. But like most big investors, it has been staying away from the tables for a while. Now we have word that its $200 billion sovereign wealth fund is pouring $2 billion into three funds focused on U.S. distressed assets. The funds are run by Goldman Sachs, Oaktree Capital and a third, as yet unidentified manager.

At only 1 percent of its portfolio, the balance of risk to Chinese wealth is small. CIC has pumped up its investment volume recently, buying a 14.5 percent stake in commodities trading firm Noble Group for $850 million just last week. Resources may seem like a better investment for a Chinese state-linked fund than distressed U.S. assets, given the country’s gaping hunger for commodities. But China’s macroeconomic exposure to the U.S. economy is at least as important to its future as its ability to source foreign raw materials. And with the dollar against the ropes, distressed U.S. assets may offer China a better bang for its buck.

CIC made a profit of $10 billion last year as it benefited from staying largely in cash and avoiding new investments in Western banks, a source close to the fund told us in February. But it lost over half of an initial $8 billion it ploughed into private equity firm Blackstone and Morgan Stanley when the fund was set up in September 2007.

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