In a deal that will let the capital arm of GE expand its funding base and lessen reliance on wholesale markets, General Electric Co agreed to buy life insurer MetLife Inc’s online bank on Tuesday.
The speed of the move took some analysts by surprise as GE only three weeks ago said it wanted to start taking bank deposits from consumers.
“This acquisition gets GE Capital halfway to the stated (funding) goal, much faster than consensus expectations,” Sterne Agee analyst Ben Elias said in a research note.
“We’ve got it in other parts of the world. We haven’t done it in this country. We’re going to do that very soon, just to give us more diversification in terms of how we fund the business,” GE Capital Chief Executive Mike Neal said at an investor conference earlier this month.
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On Thursday, Asian shares fell and the single currency, euro, struggled as doubts remained over how much of the funds that banks raised from an inaugural long-term European Central Bank tender would actually flow into struggling euro zone economies and help restore confidence.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.7 percent and Tokyo’s Nikkei stock average .N225 ended down 0.8 percent.
The euro was virtually unchanged around $1.3043 after reaching a one-week high near $1.32 on Wednesday.
“The ECB’s funding operation is not a fundamental fix to the euro zone’s debt problems and is only a way to buying time, so flight-to-safety bids remain firmly in place,” said Shinsuke Kanabu, general manager at Central Tanshi, a Japanese money brokerage.
A confidentiality agreement has been signed between Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc, which allows the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Yahoo, which fired its chief executive in September, is undergoing a “strategic review,” for revamping its business and stagnant revenue growth.
Private equity firms KKR and TPG Capital have also signed confidentiality agreements with Yahoo, people familiar with the matter previously told Reuters. The firms are looking to potentially buy minority stakes in Yahoo of up to 20 percent, with an eye toward eventually taking over the whole company, the people said.
Silver Lake, another private equity firm, has also signed a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo, according to the technology blog AllThingsD.
Some private equity firms have balked at signing Yahoo’s NDA because of restrictions that would prevent them from forming consortiums, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
According to the source, Microsoft’s signing of a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo occurred “recently.”
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The telecommunications authority of Pakistan has sent a letter to cell phone companies and ordered them to block text messages containing what it perceives to be obscenities, Anjum Nida Rahman, a spokeswoman for Telenor Pakistan.
The authority also sent a list of more than 1,500 English and Urdu words that were to be blocked.
The order was part of the regulator’s attempt to block spam messages, said Rahman. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority refused to comment on the initiative.
Many of the words to be blocked were sexually explicit terms or swear words, according to a copy of the list obtained by The Associated Press.
It also included relatively mild terms like fart and idiot.
The reasons for blocking some words, including Jesus Christ, headlights and tampon, were less clear, raising questions about religious freedom and practicality. Any word could conceivably be part of a spam message.
The letter was dated Nov. 14 and gave cell phone companies seven days to implement the order.
While Tuesday’s growth figures did not include estimates for Greece and Italy, they clearly increased investors’ concerns about those countries. Both desperately need growth to pull out their crises.
The bad news pushed European shares and the euro down for the second day. In France, the CAC-40 fell 1.8 percent to 3,054, while Germany’s DAX retreated the same amount to 5,875. The FTSE index of leading British shares was down 1.0 percent at 5,465.33.
Borrowing rates rose worryingly, with Italy’s benchmark 10-year rate back over 7 percent and Spain’s up to 6.22 percent. Even the yield of France — considered one of Europe’s core growth engines — was edging up, touching 3.60 percent.
“This is an extremely worrying time for Europe as contagion is starting to become a very real possibility,” said Simon Furlong, a trader with Spreadex. “The stark reality (is) that there could very possibly be a Domino effect in Europe.”