Struggling to escape the lengthening shadow of Google (GOOG), Internet pioneer Yahoo! (YHOO) replaced CEO Terry Semel on June 18 after a six-year reign. The move wasn't much of a surprise, coming six days after an annual meeting in which shareholders slammed the onetime Hollywood mogul's $72 million pay package and Yahoo's declining profits. But his replacement was: co-founder Jerry Yang, who has not run Yahoo since its earliest days.
Semel will stay on as nonexecutive chairman, and Yang will have help from former Executive Vice-President Susan Decker, who becomes president. Analysts aren't sure how permanent Yang's appointment is, but he has big jobs ahead: shoring up search services and reviving growth in the mainstay online display-ad business. Meanwhile, news broke on June 20 that News Corp. has explored trading its MySpace unit for a stake in Yahoo.
See "Street to Yahoo: Be Aggressive"
This could get interesting. Publishing giant Pearson (PSO) is hunting partners to make a run at Dow Jones (DJ), said The Wall Street Journal on June 16. One prospective investor: GE (GE). On June 20 the Dow board, miffed at the slow pace of talks, said it was taking them over from the Bancroft family. On the same day, former MySpace (NWS) CEO Brad Greenspan proposed a Dutch auction for 25% of Dow at $60 a share.
Watching the subprime housing market is a bit like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Back in February, one subprime lender after another went bust. Two weeks ago a Bear Stearns (BSC) hedge fund posted a 23% decline because of bad bets on bonds backed by subprime mortgages. Ever since then, the fund has been teetering on the brink. Merrill Lynch (MER) auctioned off some of its assets on June 20, but other banks kept negotiating. The outcome could have huge ramifications for other funds that invested in similar subprime bonds.
See "Bear Stearns' Subprime Bath"
Could Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) buy Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), creating the world's largest drug company? Talk heated up on June 19 after a federal judge in New York upheld patent protection on Plavix, the $6 billion-a-year anticlotting drug that the two co-market. But Sanofi's position has weakened since merger rumors first bubbled up early this year: Its stock has dropped nearly 10% since then, while Bristol's has risen 19%.
See "Who Might Be Eyeing Bristol?"
Airbus, pushing to regain altitude, announced more than $60 billion in deals during the Paris Air Show that opened on June 18. The tally includes a crucial 136 orders for its new A350 jet, which has struggled against Boeing's (BA) all-composite 787 Dreamliner. Boeing fired back with an $8.8 billion Dreamliner deal, fattening that plane's order book to over 630, more than four times its rival's.
See "Airbus' Big Curtain-Raiser"
Swallowing Chrysler apparently wasn't enough for Cerberus Capital, which also has talked with Ford (F) about buying its Jaguar and Land Rover operations. The private equity outfit hasn't made a formal offer. Fiat (FIA) and Renault also chatted up Ford about the Brit brands but backed off.
See "Jaguar, Land Rover: Synergy for Cerberus?"
Not so fast, Stephen Schwarzman. The CEO of private equity firm Blackstone Group has an IPO pending, but Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley (Iowa) introduced a bill on June 13 that would hike the tax rate for many partnerships that go public from 15% to 35%. Blackstone would be grandfathered in for five years, but the measure could still hurt demand for shares.
The Supreme Court handed Wall Street a bulwark against investor lawsuits on June 19, shielding broker syndicates from antitrust complaints. In a 7-1 opinion in Credit Suisse (CS) Securities v. Billing, the Justices said that what could look like collusion by banks, brokers, and big investors might in fact be justified in pursuit of capital formation or big public offerings.
Maybe they'll toss in a free Frosty with candy crumbles. Still losing ground to McDonald's (MCD) and Burger King (BKC), Wendy's (WEN) reiterated on June 18 that it's willing to sell the company, a notion it first floated in April. The No. 3 burger chain may have cooled the appetites of would-be buyers by cutting its 2007 earnings projection by 10% as sales growth has stalled.
Another remnant of former CEO Robert Nardelli's stormy tenure got cast off on June 19 (see BusinessWeek.com, 3/22/07, "Golden Parachutes: Cut the Cords"). The home improvement giant agreed to sell its wholesale supply unit to three private equity firms for $10.3 billion. While the move allows Home Depot (HD) to focus on its core retail business, it leaves the company more exposed to the shaky housing industry.
It may be time to fade to black for HD DVD, one of two competing formats for high-definition DVDs. Blockbuster (BBI) said most of its stores will stock only DVDs using the Blu-ray format being promoted by Sony (SNE) and partners instead of the HD format being pushed by Toshiba (TOSBF), NEC (NIPNY), et al. The Blu-ray group, which already has more Hollywood studios lined up, is lobbying Wal-Mart (WMT) and other retailers to choose sides.
After much fevered speculation that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might run for President as a third-party candidate, he announced on June 19 that he had severed his ties to the Republican Party. The billionaire founder of the financial data and media empire that bears his name continues to say he has no plans to run, but it sure looks like he's putting the pieces in place. In the past few months he has boosted his national profile, taking forceful positions on a number of hot-button topics such as gun control (he likes it) and delivering speeches west of the Hudson River. Political analysts say his businesslike approach to running New York may appeal to Americans tired of partisan bickering and a lack of accountability. But third-party Presidential candidates have always faced an uphill slog. Remember that other rich guy with big ambitions? Ross Perot captured just 19% of the popular vote in 1992.
See "Bloomberg: The CEO Mayor"