Best of the Blogs: Wal-Mart Beats NewsCorp for Most Damaging Public Scandal
By Kathleen Culliton Apr 23, 2012 11:40 am
Minyanville's daily roundup of some of the best financial commentary from around the Web.
This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary from around the Web each day. Use our comments section to post your own suggestions for blog content that you've read or written.
Huffington Post: Carl Pope
"OK, we now know that Walmart's meteoric rise to Mexico's biggest retailer and employer appears to have been fueled by a massive bribery scheme. We know that millions of dollars were apparently paid to "gestores," fixers whose job was to ensure that local zoning and environmental laws didn't slow the approval of new stores. We know that when a whistleblower brought the scandal to the attention of Walmart headquarters in Arkansas, the company's general counsel and compliance officers called for a full-fledged investigation. And we know that company's senior leadership allegedly not only refused to allow such an investigation but strategically and intentionally defanged the ability of its investigative units to pursue such problems in the future. As the New York Times investigation that brought all this light summarized, it found 'credible evidence that bribery played a significant and persistent role in the Wal-Mart's rapid growth in Mexico.' We know in short that Walmart's much heralded commitment to ethical behavior has once again proven to be a pathetically flimsy shield against the driving imperative of its 'grow at any cost' business model." (Also read Looking at the Wal-Mart of the Future.)
"Earlier this year we reported quite a bit on Aereo, a New York startup that offers customers the ability to watch network TV (the free stuff you get over rabbit ears) on any internet connected device. They are now embroiled in a court battle with the big networks. Today another Silicon Alley startup, NimbleTV, announced that it is bringing customers TV on any internet connected device, but the pitch is a little different. Nimble is much closer to "TV Anywhere" the service from the cable companies which never really took off, that allows users to get their favorite programming on any internet connected device, at any time, so long as they can prove they are paying cable customers.Individuals can start signing up for the private beta today, and it sounds like Nimble wants to avoid the legal wrangling that Aereo embraced. "Our model is predicated on the belief that providers and content producers should be paid. NimbleTV is a solution that's both consumer friendly and industry friendly," said CEO Anand Subramanian." (For related content, see Still Worried About Cord Cutting? Premium Networks Add 2.2 Million Subscribers.)
New York Times: Deal Book
"If mergers activity rises this year, as ever-optimistic deal makers say will happen, health care transactions will help lead the way. Monday alone brought forth two major announcements: the long-awaited sale of Pfizer's infant nutrition unit to Nestlé for $11.9 billion and AstraZeneca's $1.26 billion takeover of Ardea Biosciences Inc. They follow SXC Health Solutions' $4.4 billion merger with Catalyst Health Solutions; GlaxoSmithKline's $2.59 billion unsolicited offer for Human Genome Sciences; Roche Holding's failed $6.2 billion takeover bid for Illumina; and Amylin Pharmaceuticals' nascent efforts to sell itself after rejecting a $3.5 billion overture from Bristol-Myers Squibb. All these transpired over the last week or so."
"'Countries were additionally asked about the amount of state guarantees. These do not form part of government debt, but are a contingent liability.' -Eurostat. I am asked so often about this that I wanted to print out the exact wording from the European Statistics office. In fact, no contingent liabilities are calculated in any government's debt to GDP ratio in Europe nor are their liabilities (ownership) at the European Union or the European Central Bank. They not only do not include any of these numbers but state guaranteed bonds and bank guaranteed bonds and derivatives contracts also are not part of any debt to GDP ratios in Europe. Right, wrong or indifferent; this is the way Europe does its calculations. The numbers speak for themselves. The contingent assets are trumpeted from the plains of Heaven. The contingent liabilities are lame mutes living in the "sounds of silence." The proffered songs could not be more distinct." (Also Read The Euro's Next Step Should Be a Big One.)
Wall Street Journal: Driver's Seat
"Detroit has shown it has the chops to compete in the U.S. passenger car market. Now it needs to show it can compete profitably. High gasoline prices and changing consumer preferences are fundamentally altering the way the Unet.S. car business works. The decades-old trend towards buying more pickups and sport-utility vehicles has reversed. In 2005, passenger cars made up just 46% of the U.S. light vehicle market, according to the Commerce Department. In the first quarter of 2012, they accounted for a seasonally adjusted 53%. It is a shift that Ford Motor and General Motors, after years of treating the small-car market as an afterthought, were at first ill-prepared to deal with. But they have been catching up. At both companies, the share of light vehicle sales coming from passenger cars and crossovers-smaller SUV-style vehicles such as the Ford Escape-are up significantly from 2005."
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