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MGM and Dubai Plan Share Buyback; Marks and Spencer Suffers Weak Shopping Season; Microsoft Makes Bid For Fast Search and Transfer; Alcoa Trumps 4Q Estimates
- MGM Mirage (MGM) announced yesterday (Wednesday) that is launching a joint tender offer with Dubai World to repurchase up to 10 million shares of MGM Mirage common stock priced between $75 and $80 a piece, the Associated Press reported. Tracinda Corporation the investment company for billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, which owns 52% of MGM, has said that it will not sell back any shares. As a result Tracinda’s ownership is expected to increase above its current level. Under the terms of the agreement, if the full 10 million shares are tendered, MGM and Dubai will purchase 5 million shares each, which would raise Dubai World’s stake in MGM to 6.7% of shares outstanding. Gambling is illegal in Dubai and the company is prohibited from building or operating casinos. MGM shares were up 3.5% in midday trading in New York following the announcement.
- Marks and Spencer Group PLC (MAKSY) announced yesterday (Wednesday) that its sales had fallen 2.2% over the 13-week period that ended December 29th. It was the worst quarterly performance for the retail group in over two years. According to a report by the Associated Press, general merchandise sales in the clothing and housewares division were down 3.2% for the period while food sales dropped 1.5%. A combination of high housing prices and energy costs have weighed heavily on retail activity, as have increased individual debt levels in the United Kingdom. Earlier this month DSG International PLC (DSITY) and Next PLC announced slowing sales reports and lowered 2008 forecasts. The British Retail Consortium said that overall British retailers had their worst Christmas selling season in three years. Marks and Spencer shares fell 19% in London to close at $8.02.
- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has announced a $1.2 billion bid for Fast Search and Transfer ASA, an Oslo, Norway-based corporate search firm, the New York Times reported. Fast Search makes sophisticated search engines that allow employees to quickly search through corporate documents. Jeff Raikes, the president of the Microsoft unit making the bid, said that Fast Search’s technology would complement Microsoft’s existing Sharepoint, a content management and search program aimed at mid-market companies and would be available in software and online services.
- Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. (AA) said yesterday (Wednesday) that fourth-quarter net profit rose 76% on favorable restructuring and tax benefits, offsetting lower aluminum prices, Reuters News Agency reported. The results were well ahead of expectations and sent shares soaring 2.4% in after-hours trading. While revenue dropped to $7.39 billion from $7.84 billion, net income rose to $632 million from $359 million last year. “We battled substantially higher material input and energy costs and currency impacts, while simultaneously continuing to execute on the largest capital investment program in our history,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Alain Belda.