Companies in Brief
ExxonMobil: Drill, Baby, Drill—Then Drill Some More
In oil, the name of the game these days is how long can you go. On Apr. 16, ExxonMobil (XON) said it had completed a well that reaches 7,000 feet below the sea and extends 6.3 miles across. That adds up to more than 37,000 feet, a North American record. Output from the well, which is off the coast of California, will be equivalent to 5.8 million barrels of oil per year.
Oracle: Larry Ellison Writes Another Big Check
The world's No. 2 software maker announced on Apr. 16 that it is buying Phase Forward (PFWD) for about $685 million. The Waltham (Mass.) company markets software that helps drug companies conduct clinical trials. Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison has spent some $42 billion over the past five years on acquisitions aimed at boosting the company's profile in industries such as retail, telecom, and now health care.
Arcelor Mittal/Posco: A Declaration of Independence
Vertical integration is back in vogue in steel, as the industry tries to break the stranglehold of iron-ore and coal suppliers. ArcelorMittal (MT), the world's No. 1 steelmaker, plans to triple output at its iron-ore mine in Brazil by 2014. South Korea's Posco (PKS), meanwhile, has earmarked $5 billion for investment in overseas mines. The race to find other sources of key materials has taken on new urgency as iron-ore producers have exploited their market power to dramatically raise prices.
Lionsgate: Icahn's Roars Get Louder
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn raised his hostile offer for Lionsgate (LGF) from $6 to $7 a share on Apr. 15, in a bid to gain majority control of the independent film and TV production company. Icahn wants to boot out Lionsgate managers, whom he has criticized for trying to buy other Hollywood studios at a time when movie libraries are losing their value. Lionsgate says it's no longer in the bidding for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and has no designs on Walt Disney's (DIS) Miramax unit.
EADS: Flying Solo on an Air Force Tanker Deal
The European consortium that is the parent of Airbus said on Apr. 20 that it plans to bid on a $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force. There had been speculation that EADS might drop out of the contest after its junior partner, Northrop Grumman (NOC), pulled out in March. The pair beat out rival Boeing (BA) in a 2008 tender for the same contract, but the result was annulled after Boeing complained it had been unfairly disadvantaged. EADS has plans to build a plane assembly plant in Alabama as part of an effort to create a larger presence in the U.S.
Charles Schwab: Brokerage Settles with Investors
Charles Schwab (SCHW) has agreed to pay $200 million to settle claims that it misled investors on the amount of mortgage-backed securities held by its Schwab YieldPlus Fund (SWYSX), according to an Apr. 20 statement. A class action filed in 2008 alleged that the San Francisco-based brokerage incorrectly described the short-term bond fund, once the largest of its kind, as "safe." The case, in which plaintiffs sought damages of as much as $802 million, had been scheduled to go to trial in May.