Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Paperstand (CVC, WMT)

According to the WSJ, ClearBridge Advisors, the largest institutional shareholder in Cablevision (CVC), plans to vote next week against the Dolan family's bid to take the co private, delivering a potentially crippling blow to the $10.6bn effort. ClearBridge owns about 14% of Cablevision's public stock. Three other large institutional shareholders that together control about 20% of the vote have already indicated their intention to oppose the buyout.

According to the "Heard on the Street" column, a planned king-size investment pool to acquire mortgage assets and bolster sputtering credit mkts is gaining participants, despite hesitation from some banks and securities firms about joining the effort. The 3 lead banks, Citigroup (C), JP Morgan (JPM) and BofA (BAC), are aiming to round up commitments totaling at least $80bn to make the plan fly. While some people briefed on the plans say that target is fluid, others say that without the kind of critical mass of that large a fund, "it's unlikely to happen," as one put it. The 3 lead banks expect to ante up less than half the total, the same person said. Some other financial-services firms said they plan to steer clear. Rick Waddell, the new CEO of Northern Trust (NTRS), said in an interview yesterday his co has no interest in participating in the superfund as lender or investor, particularly since it has no exposure to the kind of investment vehicles that hold the mortgage securities in question. Mr. Waddell also described the creation of the fund as an aid to Citigroup, which has the greatest exposure of any bank to such structured investment vehicles. "It really is JP Morgan and BofA helping out Citibank," he said.

Barron's Online discusses Wal-Mart (WMT), whose shares are down 23% over the past 5ys. Blame slowing sales, strategic missteps and cash-strapped consumers for the stock's woes. Yet efforts over the last 6mo's to improve margins, increase cash flow and reward shareholders are showing early signs of success. And with multiples bouncing off 10y lows, investors have little to lose, and could gain returns of 20-30% over the next 12mo's. "I haven't liked Wal-Mart for a while, but I think now we have to take a look at it," says Pete Kwiatkowski, portfolio manager of Fifth Third Dividend Growth Fund. "It remains a 'show me' stock. But if they're going to outperform, this is when they will do it."

"Inside Scoop" section reports that 3 insiders of Liberty Global (LBTYA) have decided to take profits in co's shares. Charles Bracken, senior VP and co-CFO, sold 45K of series A and series C shares, for $1.9m on Thu. He retains direct ownership of 38K shares. On Wed W. Gene Musselman, president and COO sold 17K of series A and C shares for $729K. He continues to hold 19K shares directly, with another 5K shares in 401(k) holdings. Mauricio Ramos, president, Liberty Global Latin America, exercised and sold 40K series A and C shares for $1.6m. He continues to hold 7K shares directly, with another 2K shares in 401(k) holdings.

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