Tag Archive | "france"

Tech Up In Early Trading As World Equities Rise

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The U.S. stock market returns on an “up” note as world stock indices rise, following what had been a mixed market overseas on Monday. Europe’s FTSE 100 is up 0.9%, while France’s CAC 40 is up 1.5%, The Hang Seng is up 2%, and the Nikkei 225 is up 2%.

S&P 500 futures are up 10.7 points at 1,340.60, and Nasdaq 100 composite futures are up 24.5 points at 2,357.

Shares of most major techs are rising, albeit less than some other sectors such as banks and basic materials, with Intel (INTC) up 31 cents, or 1.4%, at $22.52; Microsoft (MSFT) up 19 cents, or 0.8%, at $24.95; Cisco Systems (CSCO) up 13 cents, or 0.8%, at $16.59; Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is up 24 cents, or 0.7%, at $37.20; and Apple (AAPL) is up $2.10, or 0.6%, at $339.51.

And the new young tech is doing well as well: LinkedIn (LNKD) is up 68 cents, or 0.8%, at $89, and Netflix (NFLX) is up $2.04, or 0.8%, at $266.55.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Solar: Japan ‘Sunrise’ Targets Panel Expansion

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Nice bit of news for solar energy technology vendors: Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan is expected at this week’s meeting in France of the Group of Eight leaders to unveil the “Sunrise Plan” to extend installation of solar panels to all of Japan’s rooftops, for eligible buildings and homes, according to a report today by Kyodo News. The time frame is by 2030, the report says.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Hedge Fund Manager Elena Ambrosiadou Accused Of Hiring Extremely Skilled But Occasionally Scatterbrained Spy To Perform Recon On Former Employee,…

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Remember Elena Ambrosiadou? She’s the IKOS Asset Management chief who founded the London-based firm with her ex-husband, Martin Coward, in 1993, prior to their marriage hitting the skids and Coward quitting, which caused a bunch of investors to leave as well. Sometime after that Ambrosiadou made the executive decision to have the keys to a private jet Gover was flying confiscated, stranding him in France (with his new gal-pal) and firing the research team that worked under him. And according to one of the employees who got the boot, she was just getting started.

A UK High Court claim from a former money manager at Ikos, the $3bn (£1.8bn) fund run by Elena Ambrosiadou, alleges that the Greece-born businesswoman ordered “large scale” surveillance operations against ex-staff, including Martin Coward, her estranged husband…In the court filings, Mr Gover alleged that his former employer hired an undercover agent to infiltrate his family life. Other alleged activities included a surveillance project launched in Monaco in late 2009. Mr Gover says the operation – codenamed Apollo – was focused on him, Mr Coward “and others” with the aim of “gathering evidence for use in litigation.”

According to Gover, in November 2009 he and his wife started to wonder if a woman who’d they’d met not too long ago and who quickly became not only a “close family friend” but someone who they “trusted with the care of their child” was maybe someone hired to spy on them? It turned out that “Laura Maria van Egmond” was actually Laura Merts, who Ambrosiadou had paid to “monitor” the couple. The Govers realized something was up when Laura (who is trained “in evasive driving and unarmed combat”) accidentally sent them “an e-mail from her personal account, rather than that of her alter ego.” The takeaway here is that if you’ve been suspecting that your boss has been running surveillance on you, possibly via a person who was somehow able to dupe you into treating him/her like a member of the family in a matter of months, wait for said suspicions to be confirmed with a seriously rookie mistake.

Hedge fund chief in ‘surveillance operation’ of top staff [FT]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.12.11

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JPMorgan, BofA Earnings May Show Weaker Revenue (Bloomberg)
“While loan growth tends to be seasonally weak in the first quarter, this quarter is tracking worse than seasonality would suggest,” Barclays Capital Inc. analysts led by Jason Goldberg wrote in an April 8 report. “We fear companies have been disappointed.” Profits may have increased even with declining revenue as lenders set aside fewer funds to cover loan losses and in some cases released reserves they’ve already built up, said Matt Burnell, a banking analyst at Wells Fargo. Cost reductions may also help the bottom line in a smaller way, Burnell said.

Goldman Sachs Accused by Marvell Founders of Margin Call Fraud (BW)
Sehat Sutardja, Marvell’s chief executive officer, and Weili Dai, the company’s former chief operating officer, said they were duped into selling shares in 2008 that are now worth $141.5 million, according to a complaint filed yesterday in state court in San Francisco. Goldman Sachs pressured them by claiming a regulatory rule, which didn’t exist, required them to sell their stock, according to the complaint.

US Lawmakers Reach Agreement On $38 Billion In Cuts (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, high-speed rail and law enforcement are among the programs that would get reduced funding as part of a budget deal to avert a government shutdown, according to legislation unveiled this morning that identified specific cuts.

BofA Kept Executives In Dark On Dividends (WSJ)
The March 23 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission was more explicit than an earlier news release. It showed that the Federal Reserve had “objected” to the proposed dividend increase following a “stress test” of all major U.S. financial institutions. Shares of Bank of America, the only bank to disclose the Fed’s outright objection, dropped almost 4% in three days after the filing. But Chief Financial Officer Chuck Noski and Chief Accounting Officer Neil Cotty didn’t see the filing before it went to the SEC, people familiar with the matter said. Head of investor relations, Kevin Stitt, found out late the night before, according to one of these people.

Gupta Says His SEC Suit Should Be Heard In Federal Court (Bloomberg)
…instead of dismissing the complaint as the agency has requested.

Sokol Knew Lubrizol’s Board Would Be Told of Berkshire Interest (Bloomberg)
Sokol knew Dec. 17 that Lubrizol Corp Chief Executive Officer James Hambrick planned to notify his board of directors about Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s possible interest in acquiring the company. Sokol, who had inquired about Lubrizol through Citigroup Inc. bankers, was informed of Hambrick’s intention by the same bankers, according to a Lubrizol regulatory filing yesterday.

Hedge Funds Attract $35 Billion In February, Heaviest Inflow On Record (Barron’s)
Hedge funds attracted net inflows of $34.9 billion in February, their heaviest monthly inflow total on record, according to BarclayHedge and TrimTabs Investment Research. That helped to raise industry assets to $1.73 trillion, the highest level since October 2008.

Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl (NYT)
The decision to raise the alert level to 7 from 5 on the scale, overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is based on new estimates by Japanese authorities that suggest the total amount of radioactive materials released so far from Fukushima Daiichi since the beginning of the crisis had reached that threshold.

Fed Plays Down Inflation (WSJ)
At the Economic Club of New York on Monday, Janet Yellen, the Fed’s vice chairwoman, said U.S. monetary policy “continues to be appropriate.”

Super Jumbo Jet Clips Another Plane At JFK (WSJ)
The wing of an Airbus A380—the world’s largest passenger airliner—scraped against the tail of a much smaller regional jet at JFK Airport Monday night. The A380 was an Air France flight bound for Paris. It had left the terminal and was headed for the runway. Meanwhile, a Bombardier CRJ7 jet operated by Comair, which operates flights for Delta Air Lines, had just arrived from Boston and was taxiing toward its gate. As the two planes crossed on intersecting taxiways, the Airbus’s wing hit the rear of the smaller jet.

Facebook Claimant Says He Has Email Proof He Owns Half (Bloomberg)
Paul Ceglia alleges that Zuckerberg defrauded him, lying about the early success of “The Face Book” at Harvard University, where Zuckerberg was a student at the time. Ceglia claims he is entitled to half of Facebook…Ceglia claims in his complaint that he contributed “his time, ideas, knowhow, and other ‘sweat equity’” to the start of Facebook.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

ENER Plunges: Don’t Infer Too Much, Says Jefferies

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Shares of solar energy technology provider Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) are down 77 cents, or 24%, at $2.39, after the company yesterday afternoon warned that changes in subsidies in France and Italy may cut its revenue this quarter by as much as 50%.

CEO Mark Morelli remarked, “The dramatic and abrupt shift in the French and Italian solar incentive structures has impacted our business and forced us to reconsider our near-term financial outlook.”

However, Jefferies & Co.’s Jesse Pichel warns against drawing too broad a conclusion from Energy Conversion’s woes.

The company is “uniquely worse off in Italy,” he writes, with the 75% of its sales coming from that country and from France. Italy was in fact 45% to 50% of the December quarter’s sales, he notes.

“Tier One brands can reallocate,” he believes, and projects will resume in Italy in the second half of this year once subsidy issues are settled.

Pichel recommends Satcon (SATC), Sunpower (SPWRA), Yingli Green Energy (YGE), and Trina Solar (TSL).

Shares of solars are broadly lower this morning, albeit in a generally weak market: First Solar (FSLR) is off $1.05, or 0.8%, at $139; Sunpower is down 67 cents, or 5%, at $13.99; Trina is down 35 cents, or 1.4%, at $24.47; YGE is off 16 cents, or 1.5%, at $10.22; and SATC is down 12 cents, or 3.6%, at $3.36.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Google’s One Pass takes on Apple’s digital subscriptions

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stack-of-newspapersGoogle has announced a payment service for online digital subscriptions that hopes to be more publisher-friendly –and cheaper– than the one unveiled by rival Apple on Tuesday.

Dubbed Google One Pass,  the new service will allow online publishers to hawk their digital content on the Web and through mobile apps using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout.

Readers would then be able to access that content on a variety of devices using only their Google e-mail address and password.

The pricing is a direct take-on of Apple’s subscription service on iTunes, under which Apple would keep 30 percent of any sale of digital content, like newspapers and magazines, within an iPhone or iPad app — compared to the 10 percent slice of the sale price Google is offering under its service.

When publishers use One Pass, which for now is limited to online newspapers and magazines, Google will also share the customer’s name, ZIP code and e-mail address, unless a user decides to opt out.

With Google One Pass, publishers can then customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them. This could mean offering subscriptions, metered access, “freemium” content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps, said Google.

The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free or discounted access to digital content.

Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had earlier said of its new service that it was more interested in bringing in new subscribers, not charging publishers.

“Our philosophy is simple – when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Jobs on Tuesday. ”All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same – or better – offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one click right in the app.”

Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Opening Bell: 01.13.11

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JPMorgan Reserve `Bleeds’ Distort Record 2010 Earnings (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan will probably report record earnings of about $16.7 billion for last year boosted by a reduction in reserves for future losses. Fourth-quarter results, which the New York-based company plans to announce tomorrow, are likely to show a profit of $4.2 billion, or $1 per share, based on the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. About 40 percent of earnings for the first nine months came from money taken from loss reserves as U.S. banks dip into their funds, at least temporarily, and mask a revenue squeeze.

US Unlikely To Recoup GM Bailout, Panel Says (WSJ)
The U.S. government is unlikely to recover its entire $50 billion investment in General Motors Co., in part because the Obama administration unloaded a big block of shares in the company’s initial public offering at $33 a share rather than wait for a higher price, a federal panel said Wednesday.

Geithner says China needs faster yuan rise (Reuters)
“China still closely manages the level of its exchange rate and restricts the ability of capital to move in and out of the country,” Geithner said. “These policies have the effect of keeping the Chinese currency substantially undervalued.” He described China as focused on taking greater advantage of U.S. investment opportunities, gaining easier terms of market access and being able to buy U.S.-made high tech goods. “We are willing to make progress on these issues, but our ability to move on these issues will depend of course on how much progress we see from China,” Geithner said in an address delivered at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.

AIG Share Sale May Place Investor Focus on CEO Succession Plan (Bloomberg)
Who wants this gig when Bobby’s done with it?

Moody’s Urges U.S., U.K., Germany, France to Control Spending (Bloomberg)
“All four countries face dramatic increases under their existing policy commitments arising from aging-related pension and health-care subsidies,” the ratings company said today in an e-mailed report from New York. “Future costs must be brought under control if these countries are to maintain long-term stability in their debt-burden credit metrics.”

Home Foreclosures Top 1 Million for First Time in 2010 (Reuters)
Banks foreclosed on 69,847 properties in December, bringing the year’s total to 1.05 million, topping the prior record of 918,000 homes seized in 2009.

Spanish Banks Not Reliant On ECB, Says Finance Minister (CNBC)
“If you are talking about financial assistance, for sure, not. But of course any of the countries of the euro area, we need all the others because we have to improve our economic governance so we have to work together. But if you are talking about a bailout, definitely not,” Salgado told CNBC.

‘Con’ Man Was Undie Suspicion (NYP)
A bumbling con man was caught with a big bulge in his pants — $500 in fake bills, cops said yesterday. Michael Lewis, whose undies were stuffed with the wad, and his pal Orville Stacy, both 24, were busted after a four-store Midtown spending spree Thursday in which they allegedly spent the funny money on food, including chips, guacamole, a protein bar and a can of soda — and got real money as change. The duo’s small purchases from stores close in proximity drew suspicion from cops on patrol, who began tailing the pair. They watched the men buy snacks from four shops near West 56th Street and Sixth Avenue, with Lewis allegedly passed bogus $20 bills while Stacy acted as a lookout. After the last stop, a Subway sandwich shop, cops stopped the men and examined the bills in Lewis’ pants — and noticed they had missing watermarks and incorrect coloring, sources said.

Crumbs Cupcake IPO Offers Hope For A New Bubble (Bloomberg)
Before long, sophisticated investors may once again line up to throw money at sure-fire concepts like iron-on T-shirts and collectible plush toys. This must be good news, whether you’re a central banker or a maxed-out office worker buying a caramel apple on credit. It’s evidence that our global economic leaders’ master plan is working. That would be to spend our way out of the last bubble’s wreckage with money we don’t have, until we can create a new bubble to wealth-effect our troubles away.

Goldman’s Pieties Go Too Far (FT)
“To Goldman’s credit, this week’s purification has brought fresh honesty about how lucrative these bets are. In the first nine months of last year, proprietary investing and lending accounted for a fifth of the bank’s pre-tax earnings: in one quarter they amounted to a remarkable 59 per cent. Since every investment or loan represents an opportunity that Goldman’s clients might have wanted, why even pretend that customers come first?”

Banks Pass Hurdles But Face More (WSJ)
For many bankers, who have been begging regulators to give them the go-ahead, they can’t raise their dividends soon enough. “It’s high time that we provide a return on your investment,” Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive John Stumpf told investors recently. “I am in violent agreement that it is time we get back to a quote unquote more normal basis.” But big banks may be swapping one set of problems for another. They are grappling with mounting demands to repurchase bad mortgage loans and new regulations expected to cost billions of dollars annually. Executives are scrambling to replace the lost proceeds with new fees that will test their relationship with customers. The other half of the industry—smaller institutions that haven’t enjoyed the bounce that big banks have—suffers additional problems of low valuations and persistent difficulty in raising new capital.

Brett Favre’s Sister Arrested At Meth Lab (WLBT)
Once Narcotics agents entered the condo, they were shocked at what they found. “When we arrived, there were a couple of people coming out of the house and the chemical smell was just overwhelming. It was pretty bad. And then we discovered the full lab in the bathroom; it was still cooking. I think we collected pretty close to ten grams of finished product, which, that’s a lot of meth.”

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Dating service SmartDate raises $5M from major French angels and firms

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Online dating site SmartDate announced today that it has raised an additional $5 million in its first fundraising round today to help promote its French online dating site and compete with other giants like OKCupid and Match.com.

SmartDate bills itself as an international dating site. Most other dating sites do have operations internationally but aren’t localized, whereas SmartDate is localized for Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The site started in France, where it has become the number-one online dating site according to some metrics.

The site is free to use, but there are advanced settings users can change if they pay for them. OKCupid, one of the largest dating sites in the world, operates using a freemium model. Other sites like eHarmony and Match.com are pay-to-play sites, but still offer users a taste of the experience for free. SmartDate caps the number of messages users can send out to potential flings and petite-amies in order to entice them into paying for the premium model.

If the company has designs on the U.S. market, it faces a lot of competition. OKCupid is one of the biggest and has already raised $6 million. Match.com is another significant competitor run under the umbrella of oft-maligned media giant Barry Diller. But there’s also plenty of catty in-fighting happening between dating sites lately, judging from lawsuits flying back and forth between Match.com and competitor Plentyoffish.com. So now may be as good a time as any to try to break into new markets like the U.S.

French angel investors Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Pierre Krings, both founders of the major French e-commerce site PriceMinister, led the most recent fundraising round. The company had earlier raised a seed funding round led by International Business Angels and 360 Capital. The company has around 25 employees.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Seedcamp, Europe’s Y Combinator, closes $4 million fund

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Seedcamp, a seed fund that is best described as Europe’s version of Y Combinator, just announced the closing of its second fund of $4 million. This fund is 50 percent larger than the first fund, raised in 2007.

New investors include Notion Capital in the UK, 360 Partners from France, Team Europe in Germany, Ahti Heinla from Skype, and Lars Hinrichs the founder of Xing. Existing investors such as Atlas Venture and Index Ventures are also on board. According to Seedcamp CEO Reshma Sohoni, the objective was not only to raise new money but to add investors who can widen Seedcamp’s geographical reach.

Seedcamp provides seed investment of up to $67,000 in exchange for 8 to 10 percent of the startup in question. The fund stages events all over Europe and beyond that culminate in 20 or so companies being selected to participate in the annual Seedcamp week in London. Following an investment, startups spend three months in London working with mentors to develop their product.

Seedcamp’s ideal trajectory for a startup is that it will attract an external investment of $340,000 – $1.35 million within 3-6 months of receiving the Seedcamp investment. Erply (received funding of $2.7 million) and Zemanta (received funding of €3.18 million) are among the most successful investments made by Seedcamp in its three-year history. Two companies, Jordan-based Talasim and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Mobclix, have had successful exits.

Since Seedcamp launched, it has received over 1,500 applications but invested in only 22 companies. The selected companies have so far come from 12 countries. Many of the startups that attracted venture backing came from tech-talent hotspots like Estonia, Romania and Slovenia.

The new fund will allow Seedcamp to make more investments and extend its geographical coverage. In the next year, Seedcamp events are planned in New York, Singapore, India and South Africa. The fund also intends to work more closely with corporations. IBM’s Smartcamp competition, whose global finals take place this week in Dublin, is a Seedcamp “clone” focused on entrepreneurs that are working on technology for a smarter planet.

Seed investing is a growing trend in Europe. Techstars‘ first affiliate outside the U.S., Copenhagen’s Startup Bootcamp, just put the first batch of startups through its three-month program. It’s striking how few of the teams in the program are Danish. Like Seedcamp, they come from all over Europe and as far afield as South America. Another established seed investment program in Europe is Italy’s H-farm. And Index Ventures announced a seed investment fund in April this year that will also cover Europe.


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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Google Ventures funds vacation rental player HomeAway

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Vacation home rental matchmaker HomeAway just received a reported $25 million investment from Google Ventures, as corporate venture arms increasingly look for ways to invest in high-revenue, pre-IPO companies.

The New York Times first broke the story. Neither Google Ventures nor HomeAway could be reached for confirmation of the monetary amount of the deal.

Though the amount of the investment was not disclosed, TechCrunch quoted an unnamed source today as saying Google’s year-old venture arm had plunked down as much as $25 million at a $1.4 billion valuation.

However much the actual investment was, the deal is yet one more chapter in a closely watched controversy over just how active super angels and corporates have been this year.

Austin, Texas-based HomeAway offers a site for homeowners to list their properties for potential travelers to rent while on vacation or long-term business.

The company makes money by charging homeowners to feature their properties and via various advertising and sponsorship deals. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that HomeAway was bringing in around $200 million in revenue, with about $70 million in profit.

The vacation home rental company conducted a major buying spree to become one of the dominant players in the space. This included snatching up more than a dozen similar vacation rental websites including HomeAway.co.uk and OwnersDirect.co.uk in the United Kingdom; HomeAway.de in Germany; Abritel.fr and Homelidays.com in France; HomeAway.es in Spain; and AlugueTemporada.com.br in Brazil.

It also bought out U.S. competitor VacationRentals.com in 2007 and VRBO a year later. The company has been a go-getter from the start, money-wise: Thus far, it has raised $470 million in five years and is rumored to be eyeing a 2011 IPO.

Two years ago, the U.S. vacation rental marketplace alone was valued at more than $24 billion, according to a research study by Illuminas, an international research consultancy that did the research on behalf of HomeAway.

The company said today it will use the money to revamp its website and push more aggressively into the Asian and Australian markets.

HomeAway said Google Venture’s relative youth made it a good fit for a company trying to shift its focus from business building to brandmaking.

“Google is a product and engineering-centric company that is growing up and becoming more of a business,” founder and chief executive Brian Sharples told the New York Times. “HomeAway came from more of a business, deal-making culture and now we’re trying to move the company to more of an engineering and product culture.”

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals