Microsoft authorizes proxy fight: The battle for Yahoo is expected to cost a mere $20 million to $30 million, which is considerably cheaper than Microsoft raising its $44.6 billion bid, according to the NYT's DealBook. Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s original offer as undervalued.
As the software giant’s stock has fallen 12.8 percent since announcing the offer two weeks ago, so has the nominal value of the deal, to about $41 billion. Many Yahoo shareholders, including Bill Miller of Legg Mason, have said that Microsoft must raise its bid to strike a deal. But raising the $31-per-share offer would cost Microsoft an additional $1.4 billion for every dollar added. ‘’We sent them a letter and said we think that’s a fair offer. There’s nothing that’s gone on other than us stating that we think it’s a fair offer,'’ Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, told The Associated Press on Monday. ‘’They should take a hard look at it.'’ By contrast, waging a proxy fight to oust Yahoo’s directors is comparatively cheaper. Much of the cost involves the hiring of a proxy solicitor and preparing mailers for Yahoo shareholders.
Undercover in slaughterhouse: The unidentified investigator for the Humane Society provides a bleak portrait on what went on at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., the Chino slaughterhouse that's at the center of a federal investigation into the treatment of sick cattle. From the LAT:
By day, the investigator said, he helped drive cattle from trucks and pens into a chute that led to the killing floor. But at the same time, he employed a tiny, hidden camera to film the alleged brutalization of animals too weak or sick to walk to slaughter. Under federal regulations, only animals able to walk on their own can be used for meat. At night, the agent said, he retired, exhausted and manure-flecked, to an Ontario motel to chronicle his findings in a notebook and lock his videotapes in a closet safe. "It was so blatant, so commonplace," he said, speaking from a location he wouldn't reveal. "It was so in-your-face . . . they were pushing animals we felt never should have qualified for human consumption."
Peeking at LAT numbers: The NYT profile of David Hiller discloses some pretty terrible financials. Last year, the LAT had earnings (before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation) of $192 million, down from $240 million the year before. This year's forecast was about $150 million - before the announced job cuts. (Tribune does not disclose financials for specific properties.) Also, profit margins are said to be in the mid-teens, compared with over 20 percent two or three years ago. The company apparently wants the LAT to match last year’s cash flow, but it's hard to see how that will happen.
Ports differ on pollution plans: Long Beach officials surprised most everyone with a plan to slash truck-related diesel pollution by allowing trucking companies to use employee drivers, independent contractors or a combination - just as they do now. Both environmentalists and the Teamsters were pushing for trucking and shipping companies to actually hire the truckers. The L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners hasn’t decided how it will go. (Up until now, both ports had been in agreement on a landmark plan to reduce pollution by phasing out all the old diesel-belching trucks.) From the LAT:
Underlying one element of the dispute are opposing views of a continuing effort to try to unionize the ports' independent truckers. Change to Win, a Washington, D.C.-based labor coalition has partnered with the Teamsters to expand union membership. The coalition in late December gave $500,000 to Villaraigosa's Prop. S campaign, a $243-million telephone tax passed Feb. 5. Critics of the employee provision of the clean truck program, however, are concerned that it could be used by the Teamsters as a springboard to launch unionization efforts at ports nationwide.
Supremes talk energy: Consumer groups and state utility regulators will be duking it out today in a case that could impact consumers more than just about anything else on the court's agenda. The backdrop is the California energy crisis of several years ago, with its skyrocketing costs, spot shortages, and rolling blackouts. During the crisis, Western utilities entered into long-term contracts with energy suppliers. When the crisis ended, energy prices dropped but the utilities were bound by the long-term contract prices. The utilities filed complaints with federal officials, to no avail. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and the case wound up in the Supreme Court. From National Law Journal:
So just how sacred are these long-term, "forward" energy contracts? Riding on the Supreme Court's answer for the Snohomish utility district is about $153 million over the life of its contracts, said its high court counsel, Christopher J. Wright, a partner at Washington's Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis. It is a significant amount for the district, but pales next to the $1.4 billion at stake in California's contracts. "These contracts are not sacrosanct," said Wright.
Online-video company sold: L.A.-based Revver, which stood out from the YouTube wannabees by focusing more on video professionals and amateur artists, is being bought by online-entertainment network LiveUniverse for less than $5 million. In the small world department, LiveUniverse is led by former Intermix Media Inc. CEO Brad Greenspan, who helped start MySpace.com. Investors had sunk nearly $13 million into Revver, according to the WSJ. Among those investors: Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Bessemer Venture Partners.
Since 2002, venture capitalists have poured more than $282 million into at least 27 video-sharing Web sites, according to VentureSource, a research firm owned by Dow Jones & Co., which publishes this newspaper. Some of the most prominent include Revver, Metacafe Inc. and Veoh Networks Inc. No online-video start-up has managed to attract the number of viewers and amass the content YouTube has.
Production problems delay Daily News: Print editions were not delivered to Simi Valley, Antelope Valley, Glendale and parts of Los Angeles.
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Kari Moran (Steve Julian is away) covers home prices, the Chino slaughterhouse scandal, and the high price of advertising during Sunday's Oscar ceremony. If you missed the live segment at 7:05, there's always the Web site or podcast.