June 17, 2024

DealBook: Carlyle-Led Group to Take Chinese Hotel Chain Private

A group led by the Carlyle Group agreed on Friday to buy 7 Days Group Holdings, a Chinese low-cost hotel chain, for about $689 million, taking the company private.

The sale by 7 Days comes as many Chinese companies that sought listings in the United States several years ago have been running into problems — with some of these entities facing heightened regulatory scrutiny.

When 7 Days went public on the New York Stock Exchange in late 2009, Chinese companies were increasingly finding rapturous greetings by American investors seeking to tap into the enormous growth in that country.

Since then, many of these Chinese companies have run into trouble from both regulators and investors, and their stock prices have largely fallen. Shares in 7 Days have slid 16 percent over the last 12 months.

Under the terms of the agreement, Carlyle and its partners, Sequoia Capital and Actis, will pay $13.80 per American depositary share, a slight bump from 7 Days’ Thursday closing price. It is also 30.6 percent higher from the company’s closing price on Sept. 25, the day before 7 Days first received a buyout proposal.

JPMorgan Chase and the law firms Baker McKenzie and Maples and Calder advised a special committee of 7 Days’ board, while the company itself was counseled by O’Melveny and Myers.

The buyers consortium was advised by Nomura and the law firms Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher Flom; Kirkland Ellis; Conyers Dill Pearman; and the Han Yi Law Offices.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/carlyle-led-group-to-take-chinese-hotel-chain-private/?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Markets Edge Back From Recent Rally

The stock market drifted lower in thin trading on Monday, pulling the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index back from a five-year high.

With little in the way of market-moving news, the S. P. 500 slipped 0.92 of a point to close at 1,517.01. Last week, the broad-market index edged up slightly to its highest level since November 2007.

Seven of the 10 industry groups within the S. P. 500 dropped.

Now, with major indexes near record highs, many think the stock market’s six-week rally is ready for a pause.

“The consensus seems to be that we’re due for a correction,” said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at the Cetera Financial Group. “If you compound the increase we’ve had so far, this year would be the best year ever for stocks. And nobody thinks that that’s going to happen.”

The best year ever for stocks? For the S. P. 500 index that was 1933, when the index rebounded 46 percent in the middle of the Great Depression.

Among other stock indexes on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 21.73 points to 13,971.24. The UnitedHealth Group led the Dow lower, losing 62 cents to $57.12.

The Nasdaq composite fell 1.87 points to 3,192.00.

Trading volume was light, with 2.6 billion shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange. That stands in contrast to a two-month moving average of 3.4 billion.

Solid earnings reports have helped feed the rally in recent weeks. Of the 342 companies in the S. P. index that reported results through last week, two out of every three have beaten Wall Street’s earnings estimates, according to research from Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Gendreau gave three reasons he believed that stocks still had room to run. Even after the market’s recent surge, he said, the typical stock looks fairly priced when compared to underlying earnings. Corporations keep finding ways to increase profits, which helps push stock prices higher. And Americans looking for places to put their savings have few attractive alternatives.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say that I think earnings growth, attractive valuations and pent-up demand will add up to a fairly strong year for equities,” Mr. Gendreau said.

Apple’s stock gained $4.95, to $479.93, after The New York Times reported that the technology giant was developing a wristwatchlike device — in essence a smart watch — that would run the same operating system used for iPhones and iPads.

The stock market raced to a stunning start this year. The Dow and the S. P. 500 have already gained more than 6 percent for the year. The Nasdaq is up 5.7 percent.

Among the companies in the news on Monday, the Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk dropped 14 percent after the Food and Drug Administration refused to approve the company’s proposed diabetes treatments until it received more data, which the drug maker said it could not supply this year. Novo Nordisk’s depositary receipts lost $26.89, to $165.40.

Loews fell 34 cents, to $43.51, after it reported on Monday that it lost $32 million in its fourth quarter, hurt by insurance losses from Hurricane Sandy and sliding prices for natural gas. Loews, a holding company with dealings in insurance, oil and gas and hotels, is largely controlled by the Tisch family of New York.

Carnival, the cruise-ship operator, slipped 29 cents to $38.72 after an engine room fire over the weekend left its cruise ship Triumph stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the bond market, interest rates showed little change. The price of the 10-year Treasury note fell 4/32, to 97, while its yield rose to 1.96 percent, from 1.95 percent late Friday.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Jeffrey Sprecher’s Improbable Path to Buying the N.Y.S.E.

It was January 2000, and Mr. Sprecher had been cold-calling Wall Street for weeks. He was searching desperately for someone to back his small company in Atlanta, a business that was eating up his money and years of his life.

That’s when a black limousine pulled up in front of the bar, Jake’s Dilemma. The limo had been sent by the mighty Goldman Sachs to fetch Mr. Sprecher, and as he sank into the back seat that winter day, he set off on an improbable journey that has since taken him to the pinnacle of American finance.

Today Mr. Sprecher, a man virtually unknown outside of financial circles, is poised to buy the New York Stock Exchange. Not one of the 2,300 or so stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange (combined value of those shares: about $20.1 trillion). No, Jeff Sprecher is buying the entire New York Stock Exchange.

It sounds preposterous. A businessman from Atlanta blows into New York and walks off with the colonnaded high temple of American capitalism. But if all goes according to plan, his $8.2 billion acquisition, announced a few days before Christmas, will close later this year. And with that, 221 years of Wall Street history will come to an end. No more will New York be the master of the New York Stock Exchange. Instead, from its bland headquarters 750 miles from Wall Street, Mr. Sprecher’s young company, IntercontinentalExchange, will run the largest stock exchange in the nation and the world.

Mr. Sprecher, 57, certainly plays the role of a wily upstart. He may wear power suits and a Patek Philippe watch, but he comes across as unusually casual and self-deprecating for a man in his position. He pokes fun at himself for his shortcomings — “I don’t know how to manage people,” he says — and his love of obscure documentaries.

How the New York Stock Exchange fell into Mr. Sprecher’s hands is, at heart, a story of the disruptive power of innovation. ICE, as IntercontinentalExchange is known, did not even exist 13 years ago. It has no cavernous trading floor, no gilded halls, no sweaty brokers braying for money on the financial markets. What it has is technology.

Like many young companies that are upending the old order in business, ICE has used computer power to do things faster and cheaper, if not always better, than people can. Its rapid ascent reflects a new Wall Street where high-speed computers now dominate trading, sometimes with alarming consequences. New, electronic trading systems have greatly reduced the cost of buying and selling stocks, thus saving mutual funds — and, by extension, ordinary investors — countless millions. But they have also helped usher in a period of hair-raising volatility.

Mr. Sprecher (pronounced SPRECK-er) has probably done more than anyone else to dismantle the trading floors of old and replace human brokers with machines. Along the way, he and ICE have traced an arc through some of the defining business stories of our time — from the rise and fall of Enron, to the transformation of old-school investment banks into vast trading operations, to the Wall Street excesses that not long ago helped derail the entire economy. Now, after a series of bold acquisitions, he is about to become the big boss of the Big Board.

Does it really matter who owns the New York Stock Exchange and its parent company, NYSE Euronext? For most people, stock exchanges are probably a bit like plumbing. Most of us don’t think much about them — until something goes wrong. But lately, some things have gone spectacularly wrong.

One sign of trouble came in 2010, when an errant trade ricocheted through computer networks and touched off one of the most harrowing moments in stock market history. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 900 points in a matter of minutes, and a new phrase entered the lexicon: flash crash.

Since then, flash crashes in individual stocks have been remarkably common, as the centuries-old system of central exchanges has given way to a field of competing electronic systems.

ICE wasn’t involved in any of these problems. In fact, it has been praised as one of the first exchanges to put limits on lightning-quick, high-frequency trading. This points to Mr. Sprecher’s deftness in piloting his company through periods of regulation, deregulation and now re-regulation.

While many banking executives have clashed with Washington, Mr. Sprecher has sensed the changing winds and tacked accordingly. He also stays close — some say too close — to the powerful Wall Street firms that are his customers.

It is perhaps unsurprising that some of the people who make their living on the Big Board’s floor are a bit nervous about the exchange’s new boss. But Mr. Sprecher says they have nothing to fear. His friends and business associates say he could actually turn out to be the best hope for restoring trust in the stock market. After all, he has beaten the odds before.

“There were a number of times when the odds were long, but he wasn’t deterred from stepping in,” says James Newsome, who was Mr. Sprecher’s regulator at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission before becoming his competitor as chief executive of the New York Mercantile Exchange. “A lot of people, if they don’t think they will win, they won’t participate. Jeff doesn’t operate like that.”

For now, Mr. Sprecher is still spending much of his time at ICE’s headquarters in suburban Atlanta. The contrast with the New York Stock Exchange is striking. Behind its neoclassical face, the Big Board is a sprawling labyrinth of historic oil paintings, gilded leather chairs, stained wood and elegant dining rooms — all set amid crowds of gawking tourists.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/business/jeffrey-sprechers-improbable-path-to-buying-the-nyse.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Markets Swing in Tune With Fiscal Crisis Developments

Stocks fell for a fourth day on Thursday, but recovered most of their losses after the House, in the barest sign of progress, said it would come back to work on the fiscal crisis this weekend.

It was a ragged session for stocks, with shares falling more than 1 percent after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, warned that a deal was unlikely before the deadline, only to rebound on news that the House would reconvene Sunday, a day before the Dec. 31 deadline when tax increases and federal spending cuts would be mandated.

“There’s no conviction in the move or the overall market, based on the across-the-board reduction we’ve seen in volume,” said Joseph Cangemi, managing director at ConvergEx Group, in New York. “But there will be continued weakness until there’s sustained positive direction coming from our leaders.”

The market has been prone to quick reactions to headlines and those moves have sometimes seemed more pronounced because of reduced trading volume. About 5.12 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, formerly known as NYSE Amex, well below the daily average this year of about 6.48 billion shares.

Investors are looking for any hint that lawmakers will avert the $600 billion in tax increase and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect next week and that could push the nation’s economy into recession.

“Markets turned around in a heartbeat, as the House session is the first announcement of anything getting done,” said Randy Bateman, chief investment officer of Huntington Asset Management, in Columbus, Ohio, which oversees $14.5 billion in assets. “I’m not convinced it will result in a deal, but you could get enough concessions by both parties to at least avoid the immediacy of going over the cliff.”

In a sign of the anxiety, the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, rose above 20 for the first time since July, suggesting rising worries, but ended down 0.4 percent as the stock market rebounded.

Stocks in the materials and the financial sectors, which are more vulnerable to the economy’s performance, bore the brunt of the selling before recovering. Shares of Bank of America fell 0.6 percent to $11.47 while Freeport-McMoRan Copper Gold fell 0.7 percent to $33.68.

Some of 2012’s biggest gainers bucked the broader trend and rallied, a sign of year-end “window dressing.” Expedia, the online travel agency, was the top percentage gainer in the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index, climbing 4.1 percent to $60.30. The price of its stock has doubled this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 18.28 points, or 0.14 percent, to 13,096.31 at the close. The S. P. declined 1.73 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,418.10. The Nasdaq composite index fell 4.25 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 2,985.91.

The Marvell Technology Group, the chip maker, fell 3.5 percent to $7.14 after it said it would seek to overturn a jury’s finding of patent infringement. The stock fell more than 10 percent in the previous session after a jury found that Marvell had infringed patents held by Carnegie Mellon University and ordered the company to pay $1.17 billion in damages.

The four-day decline was the S. P. 500’s longest losing streak in three months. The index has lost 1.8 percent over the period as investors grappled with the possibility that a budget deal might not be reached until next year.

President Obama arrived back in Washington from Hawaii to restart stalled negotiations with Congress. The House speaker, John A. Boehner, and other Republican leaders were to hold a conference call with other Republican lawmakers. The expectation was that lawmakers would be told to get back to Washington quickly if the Senate passed a bill.

The Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, announced the first of a series of measures that should push back the date when the federal government would hit its legal borrowing authority, a limit known as the debt ceiling, by about two months.

Economic data seemed to confirm worries about the impact of the budget impasse on the economy.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer confidence in December fell to 65.1 as the budget crisis restrained growing optimism about the economy. The gauge fell more than expected from 71.5 in November.

Interest rates were lower. The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note rose 5/32, to 99 1/32 and the yield fell to 1.73 percent from 1.75 percent late Wednesday.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

ICE Deal for N.Y.S.E. Creates Global Powerhouse

Today the New York Stock Exchange building at Broad and Wall Streets in Lower Manhattan is not much more than a television studio. Soon it seems likely that it will not even be owned by a New York company.

The owner of the exchange, NYSE Euronext, agreed on Thursday to be acquired by IntercontinentalExchange, an Atlanta-based upstart that has prospered by trading derivatives over the Internet, for $8.2 billion in cash and stock.

The transformation of the New York Stock Exchange from its position at the apex of the world financial system to an asset to be bought and sold like any other — and one that is not deemed to be worth as much as it would be if it traded more modern derivative securities rather than old-fashioned stocks — has been going on for decades, but has accelerated in recent years.

Along the way the exchange lost its pre-eminent market position to newer competitors, gave up most of its regulatory responsibilities, and stopped being owned by the brokers who traded there.

An institution that began as an attempt to limit competition prospered most when it was able to exert monopoly control. Its power and authority withered as regulators and changing technology forced it to compete.

The exchange traces its history to the Buttonwood Agreement in 1792 — an agreement that was nothing more than an effort to fix the commissions that brokers charged their customers at a quarter of 1 percent, or $2.50 on a $1,000 bond. In the beginning, there was just one stock, the Bank of New York, and a handful of bonds that were traded.

The buttonwood tree — actually a sycamore — under which the agreement was signed lasted until 1865, long after the exchange moved indoors.

By the 20th century, the exchange had established its pre-eminent role. There were exchanges in other cities, but important companies were listed in, and traded in, New York.

The brokers who were “members” of the exchange agreed they would not trade any stock listed on the Big Board anywhere except on that exchange. In practice, that meant there was no competition. If you wanted to buy or sell shares in ATT or General Motors, the trade would take place at 18 Broad Street, in the 1903 edifice designed by George B. Post. The huge sculptures on the pediment were titled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man.”

Commissions were fixed, just as they had been in 1792.

The exchange was virtually unregulated until the 1930s, and for decades after that it was a “self-regulatory” organization that monitored and supervised its own trading under the sometimes cursory supervision of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Big Board cultivated a high-class image, in which only the best companies were allowed listings. The reality did not always match the image, but a N.Y.S.E. listing became a symbol of quality that reassured investors around the world.

The monopoly began to break down in the 1960s, as brokers who were not members of the exchange found ways to use computers to trade shares listed on the exchange for less than the Big Board charged. A pioneer in that business was Bernard L. Madoff, who would go on to infamy many years later as the creator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Then the government banned fixed commissions, and the exchange was forced to allow its members to trade N.Y.S.E.-listed securities anywhere. It lost market share, but remained the dominant marketplace, the one that set the price of any security it traded. If the N.Y.S.E. halted trading in a stock, so did every other exchange. Without price discovery within the walls of 18 Broad Street, no one could be sure what market prices were.

But the financial world was changing, and the Big Board was not keeping up. Options on stocks began trading in the early 1970s. The Big Board could have dominated that market, but instead it sniffed at it and the market became centered in Chicago, where commodity exchanges had long existed, trading wheat and corn contracts. As financial futures were created, on things like currency values and interest rates, they too were traded in Chicago.

Within the world of stocks, more and more exchanges moved to computers. The N.Y.S.E. moved as well, but it tried to maintain the dominance of its members, particularly the specialists who were required to always be ready to buy or sell any stock listed on the exchange. It found it hard to keep up with competitors in speed or cost. Competitors did not have to finance their own regulatory apparatus, and the Big Board decided to follow, merging N.Y.S.E. Regulation into Nasdaq’s operation to create Finra, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The Big Board became less distinctive.

In 2006, the exchange stopped being owned by its members and went public. It acquired exchanges in Europe and renamed itself NYSE Euronext. It acquired a computerized market.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/business/global/ice-deal-for-nyse-creates-global-powerhouse.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: New York Stock Exchange Reopens Smoothly, Reassuring Investors

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.Robert Caplin for The New York TimesMayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

9:00 p.m. | Updated

Judging by the day’s closing stock index numbers, Wednesday seemed boring for the markets. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite index both fell less than 1 percent.

But by a more important measure — that they were up and running at all, with few visible glitches — it was a hugely significant day.

All the major American stock markets opened for trading on Wednesday, after Hurricane Sandy and its aftereffects led to a two-day shutdown.

Global investors were eager to see how the United States indexes would react after two days without trading. With power failures, destruction and disruptions still gripping much of the Northeast, the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange served as a small sign of reassurance and resilience.

For the 9:30 a.m. opening bell, a bevy of television news crews and camera-toting tourists thronged the exchange. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York was on hand to ring the bell, flanked by NYSE Euronext’s chief executive, Duncan L. Niederauer, and a deputy mayor, Robert K. Steel. When the mayor pressed the button, a small cheer broke out from the floor.

The dozen or so staff members at the ramp, an important nerve center on the floor of the exchange, scanned a wall of monitors to check on market activity but they showed a relatively normal amount of activity.

Hurricane Sandy Multimedia

S and P 500 Index
Duncan Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE EuronextLucas Jackson/ReutersDuncan Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext.

As far as the investor reaction to the shutdown, panic did not seem to sweep the markets. The Dow ended the day down 10.75 points, or 0.08 percent, at 13,096.46. The Nasdaq closed down 10.72 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,977.23. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index, meanwhile, ended fractionally higher, closing at 1.412.16, up 0.02 percent.

As may have been expected, shares of insurers were down. The Travelers Companies, for instance, whose stock had been trending down for several days, closed down 0.87 percent to $70.94.

Prices of Treasuries, which investors normally buy in a flight to safety, were stable. The price on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 8/32, pushing its yield down to 1.69 percent.

Trading volume was average, with about 6.3 billion shares exchanging hands. The daily average for 2012 through last Friday was 6.51 billion shares, according to Thomson Reuters.

The relatively flat close of the markets was an improvement on opening days after previous unplanned market closings. The S. P. 500 fell 4.9 percent after markets reopened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to Standard Poor’s Capital IQ. However, it rose 0.79 of a point the day after the Big Board closed because of Hurricane Gloria in 1985, the last market closing because of weather.

Investors will now most likely focus on macroeconomic factors like the economy. Some delayed government economic reports are due to be released later this week. And on Friday, the monthly unemployment data will be out, which may sway voters during the presidential election. In an indication that the economy could be losing some of its steam, the Dow was down 2.5 percent for the month of October, while the Nasdaq was off 4.5 percent and the S. P. was down 2 percent.

For their part, exchange officials were pleased with the trading on Wednesday. Lawrence E. Leibowitz, NYSE Euronext’s chief operating officer, wandered about the floor, checking on operations.

“There have been very few, very isolated problems,” Mr. Leibowitz said. He pointed to blank monitors that were shut off because the data provider, Thomson Reuters, was delivering incorrect market data.

“If that’s the worst of our problems,” he added, “we’re in good shape.”

The specialists who handle market orders for the Big Board were back as well, darting about the trading pits in their usual colored jackets. Many gathered outside — not to smoke, but to try to grab a cellphone signal that was impossible to find inside. But getting to the relative calm of Wednesday’s open took significant work. For days, exchange officials traded lengthy conference calls with trading firms, regulators, and city and state officials about how best to resume trading in the nation’s financial heart.

Originally, the officials had planned to open the electronic exchange but not the trading floor on Monday, after having consulted with regulators, city officials and other exchanges. But, Mr. Niederauer said, the trading industry quickly asked for a full trading halt, citing the potential danger to employees called into work.

Still, preparations were well under way days before the storm hit. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Wall Street’s main trade group, ran multiple calls throughout the weekend to coordinate plans for reopening the markets. An executive of the group was stationed at the city’s command center in Brooklyn, along with Bloomberg administration officials.

The group dispatched emergency fuel to firms in Jersey City that needed to jump-start their generators on Tuesday night in preparation for trading on Wednesday.

Staffing was a concern for Big Board officials, too. The exchange dispatched 20 cars on Tuesday to bring in critical personnel before the opening. Others, like Mr. Niederauer, dialed in remotely but went in Wednesday morning at 5:15 a.m.

Jonathan D. Corpina, a senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners, came armed with a flashlight to navigate the darkened streets of Lower Manhattan. But he found it easy to find the exchange, which was illuminated by power from backup generators.

“We’re here filling orders, and it’s business as usual,” he said.

Some hiccups emerged, however. One issue was the reliability of member firms’ data connections, something that had been tested repeatedly Monday and Tuesday. At about 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Mary L. Schapiro, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, held a call with exchange officials to discuss potential problems with Verizon’s network.

Ultimately, both sides concluded that the problems were not severe enough to delay trading.

“The connectivity testing gave us comfort,” Mr. Niederauer said. “There was always concern that it may not work.” Verizon technicians were on hand to patch spotty communications and network connections, while many trading firms resorted to sharing working Internet and phone lines.

The day ended with relatively little pomp. To recognize their work during Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Niederauer asked members of the exchange’s facilities and security teams to ring the closing bell.

Susanne Craig and Ben Protess contributed reporting.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 1, 2012

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article had the incorrect price of the 10-year Treasury note. The price rose, not fell, 8/32 on Wednesday.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/stocks-little-changed-as-market-reopens/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Disney Buying Lucasfilm for $4 Billion

George Lucas in 2005, flanked by stormtroopers from his Richard Lewis/European Pressphoto Agency George Lucas in 2005, flanked by stormtroopers from his “Star Wars” films.

8:22 p.m. | Updated LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Company, in a move that gives it a commanding position in the world of fantasy movies, said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Lucasfilm from its founder, George Lucas, for $4.05 billion in stock and cash.

The sale provides a corporate home for a private company that grew from Mr. Lucas’s hugely successful “Star Wars” movie series, and became an enduring force in the creation of effects-driven science fiction entertainment for large and small screens. Mr. Lucas, who is 68 years old, had already announced he would step down from day-to-day operation of the company.

Combined with the purchase of Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009 and of Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion in 2006, the acquisition solidifies Disney’s status as a leader in animation and superhero films. And it strengthens the legacy of Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, who has become known for his aggressive expansion of the company since taking charge in 2005.

Mr. Iger is set to step down as chief executive in March 2015, but will remain with Disney in a lesser role under an employment deal he reached with Disney last year.

Like the Marvel acquisition, the Lucasfilm purchase caught Hollywood and Wall Street by surprise. It was announced on Tuesday afternoon, while the New York Stock Exchange was closed because of Hurricane Sandy.

In a hastily convened conference call with investors late Tuesday, Mr. Iger said Disney planned to revive the Star Wars franchise and release a seventh feature film in the series in 2015, with new films coming every two or three years thereafter. Mr. Lucas will be a consultant on the film projects, Mr. Iger said.

Mr. Iger said Disney acquired a detailed treatment for the next three “Star Wars” films as part of the acquisition. He noted that the last film in the series, “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” was released in 2005, a period that he said has created “pent-up demand.”

Jay Rasulo, the company’s chief financial officer, said Disney’s financial calculations in agreeing to purchase Lucasfilm were driven almost entirely by the potential of the “Star Wars” series, which already has a place in the Disney theme parks. Lynne Hale, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lucas, said he was on a flight back to San Francisco from Los Angeles and could not immediately be reached. “It’s now time for me to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers,” Mr. Lucas said in a statement.

The companies said Disney would pay approximately half of the purchase price in cash, and would issue about 40 million shares of stock to cover the balance when the deal closes. Mr. Rasulo said Disney expects within two years to repurchase those shares. Lucasfilm, he said, should begin enhancing Disney’s earnings by 2015.

With the acquisition, Disney will acquire Lucasfilm’s live-action production business, along with its Industrial Light Magic effects business, its Skywalker Sound audio operation and its consumer products unit, among other things. Ms. Hale noted that Mr. Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and other physical properties in Marin County, Calif., were not part of the deal, and would remain with Mr. Lucas.

Kathleen Kennedy, a longtime associate of Steven Spielberg who recently agreed to become co-chairwoman of Lucasfilm, will now be its president, reporting to Alan F. Horn, the chairman of Disney’s movie studio.

Lucasfilm is based in San Francisco, and now, in combination with Pixar — which operates across the San Francisco Bay in Emeryville — it will give Disney, based in Burbank, a major presence in Northern California.

After the release of the first “Star Wars” film in 1977, Mr. Lucas’s Industrial Light Magic took the lead in developing effects technologies that were used in a generation of science fiction and fantasy films. Eventually, other companies, including Weta Digital, a New Zealand company co-owned by the filmmaker Peter Jackson, rose to prominence in that field.

Asked about the future of Industrial Light Magic, Mr. Iger said: “Our current thinking is we would let it remain as is.” In a later interview, Mr. Iger said Disney would be prudent in handling the Lucas operations, but was also mindful of the need to “reap the value” it sees there.

Along with “Star Wars” and its many iterations on movie screens, in television programming, in video games and elsewhere, Mr. Lucas has been a partner in the “Indiana Jones” series, and, occasionally, in an unrelated film, like “Willow,” though Disney executives said they were not relying on those films for future profit.

Mr. Rasulo told analysts that Lucasfilm’s consumer products licensing revenue, about $215 million this year, is roughly comparable to the amount of licensing revenue Marvel had when Disney bought it three years ago.

Currently, Mr. Rasulo added, Lucasfilm’s licensing revenue comes mostly from toys and heavily from North America. Disney, he said, is positioned to extend the licensing business to other products and to strengthen it internationally.

Asked by an analyst about Mr. Lucas’s reasons for selling at this point, Mr. Iger said, “I don’t want to put words in George’s mouth.” But he noted that Mr. Lucas has said he began planning his retirement four or five years ago.

Speaking later, Mr. Iger said talks were conducted personally between Mr. Lucas and himself, and began about a year and a half ago in Orlando, Fla., where the two spent time while reopening a “Star Wars” attraction at Disney World.

Of Mr. Lucas’s willingness to put his creative legacy in Disney’s hands, Mr. Iger said: “There was a lot of trust there.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 10/31/2012, on page B1 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Disney Is Buying Lucasfilm.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/disney-buying-lucas-films-for-4-billion/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Bracing for Storm, U.S. Stock Markets Close

The normally busy trading floor will be empty on Monday.Richard Drew/Associated PressThe normally busy trading floor will be empty on Monday.

12:50 a.m. | Updated

All United States stock and options markets will close on Monday as Hurricane Sandy approaches, as Wall Street braces for the storm to barrel through the heart of the country’s financial center.

The decision, made on Sunday night, leaves the American stock markets closed for weather conditions for the first time in nearly three decades. The New York Stock Exchange had previously planned on closing only its physical trading floor, while allowing for trading on its Arca electronic exchange. It has now decided to halt all trading.

The Nasdaq and BATS stock markets, which are built on electronic trading, also decided to close. The CME Group, which operates the Nymex commodities exchange, said it would halt trading on its physical commodities floor and on its electronic stock futures and options exchanges.

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The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or Sifma, said in an e-mailed statement that it was calling for bond trading, which is all done electronically, to close at noon Monday, though it left the final decision to member firms.

The N.Y.S.E. last closed trading for weather reasons in 1985, when Hurricane Gloria lashed the metropolitan area. The opening of trading has been delayed a number of times, including during a blizzard in January 1996. The exchange was closed for three days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hurricane Sandy Multimedia

Since then, the business has largely moved onto electronic systems that are meant to work without the traditional army of floor specialists barking out orders. Exchanges had hoped that computerized platforms would allow the markets to open without endangering even a smaller number of staff members.

But after daylong discussions with city and state officials, brokerages, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Sifma, the market operators decided to be even more cautious and halt trading for the day, according to a person briefed on the matter.

“We support the consensus of the markets and the regulatory community that the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority,” the N.Y.S.E. said in a statement on Sunday.

The decision came late: Nasdaq made its final determination around 10:30 Sunday night, according to a person briefed on the exchange’s decision.

Under the N.Y.S.E.’s contingency plan, traders would have routed their orders onto the company’s electronic exchange, while electronic options trading would operate normally. Volume was expected to be muted, and the decision over whether to open on Tuesday was to be determined later.

A spokesman for the N.Y.S.E., Robert J. Rendine, said the company’s data center in Mahwah, N.J., which handles all trade orders, is intended to withstand a storm of Hurricane Sandy’s strength. It also has generators and enough fuel to run for almost a week at current levels, with emergency plans in place to procure more fuel if needed, he added.

Since 2007, the N.Y.S.E. has offered a “hybrid” model that allows trades to be completed either by humans or by computers through the Arca system. That gave the exchange a contingency plan that was previously unavailable, said Duncan L. Niederauer, the chief executive of NYSE Euronext. The company has tested the backup plan regularly, most recently in March.

Many big banks are letting their employees work remotely, mindful of the suspensions of major transit systems and school closures.

Goldman Sachs and Citigroup said their major offices in Lower Manhattan — which house the firms’ enormous trading floors — would be closed to all but essential personnel. Some Goldman staff members will be asked to work from special centers in Greenwich, Conn., and Princeton, N.J., though the majority of employees at both firms will be allowed to work from home, according to internal memorandums.

“Citi has contingency plans in place including locations that can be utilized to ensure continuity of operations,” Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman for the firm, said in an e-mail statement. “Citi is committed to providing uninterrupted service to our clients during the storm and seeks to minimize any possible impact.”

JPMorgan Chase plans to close an office in Lower Manhattan that is in a potential flood zone, though its other offices will remain open and ready to run off backup generators if necessary.

Decisions on which Chase retail bank branches would be closed were still being decided on Sunday night, according to a person briefed on the matter. Chase also said it would waive overdraft and late fees for customers in seven states affected by the hurricane, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Ms. Bell of Citi said that the firm’s branches in affected areas would be closed.

Several of these firms plan to run some of their technology and trading operations through offices in Europe and Asia.

A version of this article appeared in print on 10/29/2012, on page B1 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Bracing for Storm, New York Stock Exchange to Close Trading Floor.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/nyse-plans-to-close-its-trading-floor/?partner=rss&emc=rss

City Room: Arrests Near Stock Exchange Top 100 on Occupy Wall St. Anniversary

A protester was arrested on Monday in Lower Manhattan on the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.Marcus Yam for The New York Times A protester was arrested on Monday in Lower Manhattan on the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Updated, 12:32 p.m. | More than 100 arrests were reported on Monday, the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as protesters converged near the New York Stock Exchange and tried to block access to the exchange.

Demonstrators had planned to converge from several directions to form a “human wall” around the stock exchange to protest what they said was an unfair economic system that benefited the rich and corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Police officers and protesters squared off at various points, with protesters briefly blocking intersections and sidewalks before being dispersed and sometimes arrested.

The police appeared prepared to counter the protesters’ blockade with one of their own, ringing the streets and sidewalks leading to the exchange with metal barricades and asking for identification from workers seeking to gain access.

Meanwhile, Occupy supporters marched through the streets waving banners and accompanied by bands playing “Happy Birthday.”

Police officers repeatedly warned protesters that they could be arrested if they did not keep moving. Most of those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct, the police said.

At one point, at Broad Street and Beaver Street, a police commander grabbed a man from a crowd. Protesters tried to pull the man free, but officers surged forward and wrested the man back and placing him in handcuffs.

One of the more tense episodes took place as several hundred people marched slowly along Broadway. As part of the group passed Wall Street, a line of officers separated the marchers into two parts. A few moments later, officers approached a man who had been objecting loudly to the metal barricades that cordoned off Wall Street. The officers grabbed the man, who yelled “I did nothing wrong,” then removed him. As they were leading him away, a line of officers pushed a crowd, which included news photographers, away from the arrest.

One officer repeatedly shoved photographers with a baton and a police lieutenant warned that no more photographs should be taken. “That’s over,” the officer said.

By midday, 124 people had been arrested. The arrests were mostly on disorderly conduct charges “for impeding vehicular or pedestrian traffic,” according to Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. On Saturday and Sunday, the police arrested 43 people in connection with the protests, Mr. Browne said. While most of those arrests involved charges of disorderly conduct, he said that some were on assault and resisting arrest charges.

Police vans were parked on side streets throughout the financial district and helicopters buzzed overhead. Men in suits walking to work passed contingents of officers posted on corners.

One early gathering spot on Monday was the Vietnam Veterans memorial on Water Street where about 400 protesters assembled. About 200 people had gathered at Zuccotti Park, which protesters took over last year and used as an encampment.

At the veterans memorial plaza Oren Goldberg, 32, from Bushwick, Brooklyn, said, “It’s exciting to see any group of people attempting any sort of change,” adding that Occupy participants were interested in “working toward a greater good than profiteering.”

Next to him, Grace de la Aguilera, 27, a graduate student in Spanish who is also from Bushwick, said she had decided to join the protest out of “dissatisfaction with the economy.”

Soon lines of police officers wearing helmets arrived at the plaza. They stood in ranks near Water Street as the protesters gathered in a circle and held a meeting.

One organizer, Austin Guest, urged people to travel in groups for their own safety.

“Hey, everyone, we’re going to shut down Wall Street today,” he shouted as the protesters clapped and cheered. Mr. Guest warned that arrests were possible.

“Our target is William and Wall Street,” he said. “We are going to split up and assemble back there.”

Near Water Street police commanders wearing white shirts consulted and officers on horseback lined up in a row. The protesters continued to discuss their plans and announced in unison a telephone number for legal help, which many of them wrote with markers on their arms.

Late in the morning the various marches disbanded and many protesters gathered between Bowling Green and the National Museum of the American Indian, where they held meetings and planned for the afternoon.

Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.

Article source: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/protests-near-stock-exchange-on-occupy-wall-st-anniversary/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: 3M and Avery Dennison ‘Committed’ to Deal Despite Antitrust Issue

3M is the maker of Post-it notes and Scotch Tape.Scott Eells/Bloomberg News3M is the maker of Post-it notes and Scotch Tape.

3M‘s acquisition of an Avery Dennison unit was in limbo on Wednesday, as the companies scrambled to clear regulatory obstacles.

The Justice Department balked at the $550 million deal, threatening to file a civil antitrust lawsuit against the companies, which sell labels and sticky notes. On Tuesday, the department announced that 3M had “abandoned” its takeover plans in the face of a court battle.

But just hours later, the companies vowed to keep fighting. In a statement late on Tuesday, 3M and Avery Dennison clarified that they “voluntarily” withdrew the paperwork for the deal as they sought to appease the Justice Department’s concerns.

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The companies said they were “committed to working together to explore options” for completing a deal with regulatory approval. “The companies continue to believe the transaction would benefit customers and consumers,” the statement said.

The all-cash deal was announced in January. 3M, the maker of Post-it notes and Scotch Tape, agreed to buy the office and consumer products business of the Avery Dennison Corporation, which makes folder dividers, labels and a popular brand of highlighters. While the deal excluded some of Avery Dennison’s sticky notes business, the Justice Department argued the company would no longer “compete effectively in the sticky notes market.”

Avery Dennison officials at the New York Stock Exchange in 2010.Jason Szenes/European Pressphoto AgencyAvery Dennison officials at the New York Stock Exchange in 2010.

“The proposed acquisition would have substantially lessened competition in the sale of labels and sticky notes, resulting in higher prices and reduced innovation for products that millions of American consumers use every day,” the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Regulators said the two companies were each other’s closest competitors in the adhesive label and sticky notes business. And under the terms of the deal, according to the Justice Department, 3M’s share of the market would have jumped to more than 80 percent.

The deal was part of a broader acquisition spree for 3M, a manufacturing conglomerate. Last year. the company bought Advanced Chemistry and Technology, a maker of aerospace sealants; assets from Zargis Medical, a medical software maker; and Hybrivet Systems, which makes lead detection products.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/3m-and-avery-dennison-committed-to-deal-despite-antitrust-issue/?partner=rss&emc=rss