Unstructured Finance

Major League Soccer turns to training clubs’ ticket sales staff

mls1With new teams on the way and attendance rising, Major League Soccer has turned to a league-funded program to train its clubs’ new sales staffers to help drive ticket demand.

The new 45-day training program, dubbed the MLS National Sales Center, got its start last month with the graduation of 10 trainees to jobs with seven clubs. MLS calls it the first ticket sales school owned by a pro sports league.

A second session is underway with plans to run a third this year and another six or seven in 2011. The idea is to offer clubs more seasoned entry-level sales agents at a time when all forms of entertainment are fighting for their share of the consumer wallet.

“This is really a play around league expansion,” Bryant Pfeiffer, MLS vice president of club operations, said in a telephone interview. “There’s a need for sales people in this league.”

The MLS is in its 15th season with 16 teams and plans to add three more, including a franchise in Montreal, by 2012. Attendance is up 5 percent this year, and MLS officials expect the final average will be the second highest in league history after the initial year.

Reliance Ind slips on EIH stake buy

INDIAShares in Reliance Industries closed 3 percent lower on Tuesday, a day after the company pushed ahead with its diversification plan by acquiring a stake in hotel chain EIH for $217.5 million.

Reliance is already active in petrochemicals, refining, oil and gas, and retail.

Analysts said the deal was likely to thwart designs of EIH’s larger rival ITC, which holds a 14.98 percent stake in EIH, to raise its stake in the hotel chain.

Deals wrap: Is 3PAR a good deal?

File photo of a man inspecting a diamond at the Israel Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv December 15, 2009. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen Dell is expected to soon give up its pursuit of 3PAR, either ceding to HP’s last offer of $30 per share or giving up at a few dollars higher, according to a Reuters survey of eight technology investors and analysts. * View article *Columnist Robert Cyran asks: Is 3PAR an overpriced bauble for HP?  * An MSN article makes the case that both Dell and HP are certifiable.

AIG faces the prospect of looking for another buyer for its Taiwan unit after regulators threw out its proposed $2.2 billion sale of Nan Shan Life to China Strategic.  There have been suspicions in Taiwan about the connections of China Strategic with political foe China, and concern it did not have the experience to run an insurance business.  * View article

Some high-profile IPO’s are under water and this is not sitting well. “Investors are sick to the back teeth of being treated like idiots,” Dan Nickols, at Old Mutual Asset Managers, tells the Financial Times. *View FT article

Trimming equities in the summer freeze…

Leading investors around the world barely changed their exposure to assets in August, trimming equities slightly in favour of bonds, where they loaded up on top-notch corporates, Reuters polls showed on Tuesday.

Leading investors around the world barely changed their exposure to assets in August, trimming equities slightly in favour of bonds, where they loaded up on top-notch corporates, Reuters polls showed on Tuesday.

Watch the video by clicking the link below:


Check Out Line: Surprise, surprise, a discount retailer is doing well

dg1Check out the strong quarterly profit at discount retailer Dollar General.

The company, which prices most of its merchandise below $10, posted a stronger-than-expected profit thanks to bargain-seeking consumers who spent more per visit. Company executives talked of building sales momentum during the quarter and sales results in the current three-month period were encouraging.

As a result, Dollar General, which has received a boost from high U.S. unemployment rates, raised its full-year earnings forecast.

U.S. consumer spending rose in July at the strongest pace in four months, offering hope that consumers will be able to keep contributing to a modest economic recovery.

Morning line-up: FSA, risk and wise owls

News and views on the fund industry from Reuters and elsewhere:

RTR1SGF8So who’s regulating the people who regulate the regulators’ pay – FT

Hedgies tiptoe away – Reuters

Foot off the gas – Bloomberg

SA hedge funds get in on the act – Business Day

Altman is a hoot – Reuters

Starbucks adds spice to Via

schultzviaStarbucks is expanding its Via instant coffee line this autumn with cinnamon spice, vanilla, mocha and caramel flavors.

The move comes on the heels of the Seattle company’s rollout of Natural Fusions, a line of flavored ground coffees, at U.S. grocery stores this summer.

Starbucks for years avoided selling flavored brews, leaving the niche to its more mainstream Seattle’s Best Coffee brand. But it changed that high-brow stance when the U.S. economy hit the skids and consumers started saving money by drinking more home-brewed java.

Check Out Line: Burkle tells Barnes & Noble board to grow a backbone

Check out the latest salvo in the nasty battle over struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble.

Investor Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies thinks it’s high time the company’s directors stood up to Leonard Riggio, the chain’s chairman, founder and largest shareholder.

riggioBurkle, the company’s second-largest shareholder, launched a proxy war earlier this month to put three directors – including himself – on the board. 

Deals wrap: Turning down Sanofi

A sign points the way to the headquarters of Genzyme in Cambridge, Massachusetts August 3, 2010.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder   Genzyme broke its five-week silence to reject an $18.5 billion takeover proposal by French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, dismissing it as opportunistic and too low. *View article *View Genzyme’s letter to Sanofi-Aventis

Intel will buy Infineon’s wireless unit for $1.4 billion, enabling the chipmaker to boost its presence in the smartphone market. This is the second major deal for Intel within two weeks after the company announced its $7.7 billion offer for McAfee on Aug 19. *View article

Is Cisco in deal talks with Skype? A TechCrunch source says Cisco has made an offer for the Internet phone services provider. Earlier this month, Skype filed for an IPO. *View article

Tata Steel rises on sale agreement

TATASTEEL-RESULTS/Tata Steel ended 3.5 percent higher at 527 rupees after the company said on the weekend its unit Corus has reached an agreement with Thailands SSI on the potential $500 million sale of its mothballed Teesside plant.

Shares in Tata Steel were among the biggest gainer among the Sensex stocks and ended with volumes of 1.9 million shares on BSE.

For the year the stock has declined over 15 percent but for the month of August it had gained a little over 13 percent.