Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Three brief items

1. Delaware state bar discussing corporate law change

The Delaware State Bar Ass'n has under consideration a proposal to amend the famously-influential Delaware General Corporate Law. If the bar association approves of them, the changes will be submitted to the General Assembly.

The proposed amendments include the creation of two new DGCL sections, Sections 112 and 113, that would (I quote a memo available through the website of Schulte Roth & Zabel) "greatly increase access to a corporation's proxy statement and the right to reimbursement for nominating directors to the corporation's board."

2. The Mark Cuban case

Mark Cuban is the defendant in an insider-trading complaint brought by the SEC in the US district court, northern district of Texas last fall. The SEC's theory of the case pushes at the outer boundaries of what had been considered 'insider trading,' or even 'tippee' status. That's enough reason to send a cheer or two his way.

I discussed the case when it was filed and won't repeat myself unduly.

Instead, I'll simply note that the judge hearing the matter, Sidney Fitzwater, has signed a scheduling order.

The parties have until July 1, 2009 to join other parties.

The party with the burden of proof on a given issue has until September 1 to designate its expertwitnesses, and the other party has until November 1 to designate its rebuttal expert witness.

They have until March 1, 2010 to file their motions for summary judgment.

After all that is disposed of, if nobody gets a summary judgment, the judge will consider the question of a date for trial.

3. Rambus antitrust case

The U.S. Supreme Court, on Monday, rejected a request by the FTC to review an appeals court ruling in favor of Rambus Inc. and against FTC's antitrust allegations. This should put an end to the controversy, underwy for seven years now, about whether Rambus, the owner of the patents to certain memory chips, had improperly manipulatred an industry standards setting group with anti-competitive intent.

The standards setting group was known as the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (or JEDEC), and the allegation was in essence that Rambus' participation in the deliberations of JEDEC was that of a classic "mole." JEDEC was trying to enable its members to avoid patent hold-ups, and enable members of the industry to move ahead with common standards and without a lot of litigation. Rambus supposedly hid information about its own plans to patent certain technologies, so that in time it could say "aha!" to firms that had acted in the belief they could rely upon JEDEC standards.

In April 2008 the appeals court sided with Rambus, not because it rejected the general view that anti-competitive conduct could take that form but because the FTC had failed to show that Rambus's behavior gave it unlawful monopoly power.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PL Capital and BARI

PL Capital Group is callenging the board of directors of Bancorp Rhode Island (Nasdaq: BARI), soliciting proxies from fellow shareholders for its own slate of three nominees to the board of directors.

One of those nominees, Daniel J. Mullane, said in a statement, "I believe I fully understand, and know how to meet, the challenges of growing a financial services organization in New England, including meeting the financial services needs of individuals and businesses, while enhancing the profitability andvalue of the business."

The principals of PL Capital (John Palmer and Richard Lashley) are taking the third swing at the ball. They've waged two proxy fights in the last couple of years trying to get seats on this board, to no avail.

Mullane seems to be a new convert to their cause.

In an SEC filing, Palmer and Lashley have explained their persistence this way: "The fact that we lost the proxy contest in the past two years does not invalidate our views. It just means that many shareholders (and ISS) gave BancorpRI the benefit of the doubt in the prior years’ elections. In hindsight, this appears to be a mistake, in our view, given the results."

That's the spirit!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sun-Times Media Group

In mid-January, as my readers may recall, Davidson Kempner announced the success of its consent solicitation campaign with regard to the Sun-Times Media Group. I blogged as much here.

On January 22, the Group acknowledged the receipt of the requests in a brief press release: "Okay, we see that we've lost. Bye."

Well, not exactly in those words, but that was the spirit of the announcement. Subsequent press releases from the Sun-Times have been posted presumably by appointees of the incoming bosses.

Question: What has the switch to new management done to the stock chart (OTC: SUTM)?
I posted a chart in my Jan. 21 entry, should post another one here. There's been no miraculous post-DK takeover turnaround. The stock is now selling for around $0.05 a share.

On a related subject, L. Gordon Crovitz has a very intelligent, insightful column in today's Wall Street Journal under the heading "Information Wants to be Expensive," about the troubles of the newspaper industry today, the costs of being hip about your on-line presence, and the belated rise of the for-subscription model.

Crovitz says that managers have to ask themselves, "What kind of journalism can my staff produce that is different and valuable enough that people will pay for it online?"

Good question. Good point.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The David Bowie theory of the recession

this is from The Rolling Stone.

Presented without further comment.

"David Bowie is to blame for the recession and the current credit crunch, the U.K. press reports today. According to a BBC Today host, it was the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust himself, who opened the flood gates for the current economic problems, all thanks to his “Bowie Bonds.” Back in 1997, Bowie issued “Bowie Bonds” as a way of getting his royalty money up front. He sold bonds of his future royalties to his fans for an immediate sum of money, figuring they’d be more patient about waiting for the royalties, plus it’d give them a stake in Bowie’s catalog.

"Economically, the term for this action is “securitization.” The article speculates that banks were inspired by Bowie’s foresight and started to do the same thing, except with mortgages instead of Hunky Dory. The plan was so successful for banks that they lowered the bar on who got loans, figuring a deadbeat would be the problem of whoever scooped up the security, or the bundle of mortgages. Repeat this and multiply it by several thousand and you’re faced with one of the main reasons for the current recession."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The mellow lifestyle of extreme stores?

Adrenalina wants to hook up with Pacific Sunwear.

They're both in the retail business. Adrenalina is a Florida-based company that calls itself "the extreme store," and it sells a variety of products to the devotees of various sports -- apparel, accessories, surfboards, mountain bikes.

In October 2008 it offered $4.50 a share for PacSun. That was rejected. It offered $5. That, too, was rejected.

I'm not sure about the synergy. PacSun describes itself as a "lifestyle specialty retailer rooted in the youth culture and fashion vibe of southern California." So they might sell surfboards too, but I'm getting "mellow" vibes from the one side and harsher vibes from the "extreme" side, dudes.

Anyway, since the two rebuffs of October, Adrenalina has taken another approach, nominating four directors for the board. I'll take their bios directly from the proy materials.

Rob Gordon has served as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Warner Bros. Records Inc. since April 2005. Prior to joining Warner Bros. Records Inc., Mr. Gordon served as Vice President of Global Marketing at Capitol Records from January 2002 to March 2005. Mr. Gordon received a B.S. in Management/Marketing from California State University.

Craig Lark Craig Lark has served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Member of Hoven Sunglasses and Ammon Watches since December 2003. He has been extremely successful in building and marketing some of the world’s hottest brands. He has pioneered the rise of the premium sunglass industry, and has been a driving force in keeping it at the forefront of the action sports market for the past twenty years. Mr. Lark received a B.S. in Accounting from California State University.

Scott Oshry Scott Oshry has served as Partner in Zorbit Resources, a branding, design and manufacturing company for the beauty and cosmetic industry, since founding Zorbit Resources in 2002. The company produces many different types of products and branding for some of the largest cosmetic companies in the world. Some clients include the Estee Lauder companies, Limited brands, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Bath and Body Works, BPI, Louis Vuitton / (LVMH), and many others. Mr. Oshry received a B.S. in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design.

Vanessa Rousso Vanessa Rousso is a professional poker player and owner of No-Limit Management, Corp., a celebrity and sports figure management agency. Ms. Rousso received a B.S. in Economics from Duke University where she became interested in Game Theory. Ms. Rousso is a self-described “adrenaline-junkie” who regularly goes skydiving and bungee jumping.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A household name, and a yummy one

Kenneth L. Wolfe has resigned as non-executive chairman of The Hershey Company.

The chairman of Hershey Trust, LeRoy S. Zimmerman said in a statement yesterday, Monday, that The Trust is grateful for Mr. Wolfe's "steady leadership during this important time. And on behalf of the Trust, I extend to himour heartfelt thanks."

Despite the nice words, all is not sweetness at the famous candy company just now.

The Hershey Trust is the controlling shareholder of The Hershey Company.

As the Trust's statement acknowledged, Wolfe had come out of retirement to take this position. He was the chairman of Hershey Company from 1994 to 2001, and then retired just in time to be out of the limelight when it turned harsh. In 2002, the Trust announced plans to sell the Company to another confectionary, Wrigley. All heck broke loose.

The Trust had to shelve those plans, and when things had quieted down just a bit, in 2005, the Company asked Wolfe to return to the job. So he's been at it for more than three years since ten, providing his "steady hand," and he has retired again. Except hat he hasn't. This isn't another "retirement" it is a resignation, and he resigned because the Trust asked him not to stand for re-election at the Company's next annual meeting of shareholders this April.

The statement Monday said that the Trust is "pleased to support the election of Jim Nevels to succeed Ken as non-executive Chairman of The Hershey Company’s Board of Directors. Jim will work with President and CEO Dave West and the Board of Directors to help to grow the Company for the benefit of all its shareholders."

The Company and Trust are themselves only two entities within a fairly large organizational tree that is also enmeshed in the life of namesake town in Pennsylvania. Here's an organizational chart.

I wonder if there are going to be any fireworks in April.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chapter 11 avoidance actions

The court of appeals for the fourth circuit has decided a potentially important case about the limits of avoidance actions in bankruptcy cases.

The decision, by a three judge panel of the 4th circuit, came down February 11, in Huston v. DuPont.

Named plaintiff Richard M. Huston is the trustee for Natural Gas Distributors LLC, a company that filed for bankruptcy more than three years ago: January 20, 2006 to be precise. He has filed complaints against more than 20 former customers of Natural Gas, including DuPont.

My astute readers have probably heard the expression "possession is 9/10ths of the law," and may have even wondered what is the other tenth. Well ... bankruptcy law is the other tenth. Avoidance actions brought by trustees present a case in which possession, even possession honestly obtained, doesn't necessarily give one title.

This is easy to understand in a simple case. Suppose an individual with a lot of debt gives me a very valuable antique car he has had sitting in his garage. I am one of his debtors, and he gives me this car as an in-kind payment to settle his account with me.

I say "thank you," and transfer the car to my garage.

The next day, this debtor declares bankruptcy.

I have taken possession of the car, and by stipulation I have done so honestly, but the trustee of the estate will file a lawsuit demanding that I return the car to the estate. He'll want to sell it, add the proceeds to the kitty with the rest of the assets of the state, and then I can stand in line with the other creditors to await liquidation and my proper share.

That is called an "avoidance" action, and that is the sort of action Huston brought against DuPont.

One of the defenses, though, to a action in avoidance is the claim that the transfer at issue was part of a "swap contract." The definition of a "swap contract" for this purpose is extraordinarily complicated, covering several dozen enumerated contracts and transactions, as well as combinations on them, options on them, and the catch-all inclusion of "similar" contracts and transactions.

The portion of the definition relevant to the NGS/DuPont transaction is that a swap includes an agreement on "a commodity index or a commodity swap, option, future, or forward agreement."

The NGS/DuPont transaction involved the sale of natural gas. There was a standard form contract, plus a series of telephone conversations and confirming e-mails between representative of the corporate parties in which they determined the price of future deliveries of natural gas to DuPont during specified time periods.

The natural gas contracts and their prices were independent of the day-to-day fluctuations of the spot markets, and indeed were intended to protect DuPontagainst the possibility of spikes on the spot markets. So was the delivery of the natural gas pursuant to these contracts in the period just prior to the bankruptcy filing anything like the delivery to me of a car by my hypothetical debtor in the situation above? Or was it in the language of the statute a "forward agreement" on a commodity, and thus a "swap"?

The bankruptcy court had originally struck down DuPont's use of the "swap agreement" defense, contending that the deal at issue wasn't a swap agreement because it was a physically settled contract, NOT something traded in the financial markets, and thus outside what Congress presumably intended to protect in the language quoted above. The district court agreed.

But the appellate court disagreed, remanding the matter for further proceedings. It has not determined as a matter of law that this was a swap agreement. But it has said that the courts below were wrong to treat the manner of settlement (physical delivery) as dispositive. In the further proceedings, the bankruptcy court is instructed to allow the customers "to attempt to demonstrate factually and legally that their natural gas supply contracts were swap agreeents...."

I think the general reasoning of the appellate decision is sound. I wish the court had gone further than it did, and had held that these WERE swap agreements, removing that issue from further consideratioon by the bankruptcy judge. IMHO the threat of avoidance claims creates a great deal of uncertainty at the micro level in the US economy at present, and may significantly worsen downturns. Avoidance claims, and the damage trustees can do with them, HAVE to be limited. And if expanding the notion of a swap agreement is what it takes to do that, let's do it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The next big thing

The new President's first legislative victory is in the record books. He has his stimulus plan. Happy President's Day, Mr. President!

The biggest domestic issue on his agenda now is the one that most impacts the concerns of this humble blog. The Obama administration and its allies in Congress will turn to an overhaul of the financial-regulatory system.

What does "overhaul" mean? Right now it means a swirl of different and contending ideas. Some would have the CFTC combine with the SEC into one agency, along the lines of the Financial Services Authority in the UK.

Some would have the banking regulators, too, brought into the recharting.

But, so that it won't be just a re-charting, most plans would involve a beefing up of money and people devoted to the enforcement of regulations and the pursuit of lawbreakers.

Here's a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month reviewing some of the ideas and some of the participants.

My own view? Frankly I've completely lost confidence in my predictive abilities of late.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cleveland IT Contractor negotiating w/Ramius

Agilysys, Inc., an IT contractor headquartered in Ohio (Nasdaq: AGYS), faces a proxy contest from Ramius LLC, in connection with the company's annual meeting scheduled for March 26.

Three members of Agilysys' (staggered) board will stand for re-election at that meeting. The Ramius/challenge slate consists of: John Mutch; Steve Tepedino; James Zierick.

Their grievance? In the words of their proxy statement: "In light of the Company’s continued poor operating performance, we believe that it is imperative that management and the Board immediately commit themselves to: realigning the cost structure of all three business units to achieve margins on par with industry peers;
significantly reducing corporate overhead; and refraining from making any further acquisitions."

It appears that negotiations are underway. In a statement, Agilsys' chief executive, Martin Ellis, said recently: "We are always willing to work with shareholders and on many occasions we have met with Ramius representatives to conduct negotiations to avoid a potential proxy contest. We hope these discussions can continue in good faith."

The negotiations are aimed at a "standstill agreement." Not, in other words, making Ramius happy but giving it enough in terms of board representation so it will agree to a standstill into 2010. This seems likely to involve conceding two of the three positions now contested, which would represent 2/9ths of the overall board.

The three incumbents each, pending any such dea, seeking re-election are: Thomas A. Commes; R. Andrew Cueva; Howard V. Knicely.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Selectica Goes Nuclear?

When we checked in January, Selectica had "exercised the poison pill" as the expression goes. Logically, shouldn't one say that it has swallowed the poison pill, thereby carrying the metaphor forward?

Anyway, it had doubled the number of shares of common stock held by all of its shareholders except for the would-be acquirers, Versata and Trinity.

It had also decided that it would be the plaintiff in the inevitable litigation, rather than waiting to become the defendant. Selectica filed in Delaware Chancery Court looking for a declaratory judgment patting it on the back for this.

On January 16, Versata and Trilogy jointly filed their answer to the complaint.

As I read the answer, the lawyers involved seem to ave worked rather hard to come up with an intensified form of the "poison pill" metaphor for what Selectica has done. They came up with "nuclear pill" and "reloaded nuclear pill." Sounds rather awkward, but hey ... I'm sure they gave this literary endeavor their best shot.

Appended to the Answer is a Counterclaim, which is the course in such a battle.

Here's some emphatic language from the Counterclaim.

"The case of Selectica reflects a 'how-to' for directors seeking to breach and rebreach the fiduciary obligations owed to shareholders of a public company. Selectica has a long and undistinguished history. It began auspiciously in March 2000, however, when the company commenced an initial public offering at an offering price of $30.00 per share. On the first day of public trading, per share prices increased over 371% and closed at $141.23 per share. Since that promising beginning, the company has executed a poorly-managed business strategy and has experienced consistent losses. Indeed, the nearly nine-year public company record of Selectica is replete with unfulfilled and unrealized promises. From a trading high of $154.44 in March 2000, Selectica’s stock price has utterly disintegrated, reaching a record-low closing price of $.69 on January 5, 2009 (since that date, trading in Selectica stock has been halted)."

Part of the problem, the defendants continue, is that Selectica has spent "time and resources resolving patent infringement claims related to its use, licensing and sales of its sales configuration software. Between April 2004 and October 2007, Selectica was required to defend itself in two suits claiming infringement of patents held by Trilogy and Versata."

Whoa! I hadn't been aware that patent infringement was a part of this case at all. My bad.

Frankly it seems bizaare to me that party A, owning an equity interest in party B, should sue B for patent infringement and then complain in a shareholders' lawsuit that B violated its fiduciary duty by spending time and money to resist that lawsuit. It means what? that the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit can have a fiduciary duty to allow a default judgment?

Monday, February 9, 2009

PS IV not the "roach motel" after all.

Readers in my age cohort may remember the old commercial for a Black Flag insect trap. "Roaches check in, but they don't check out."

Some hedge funds have been like that of late, dropping redemption "gates," or announcing the suspension of payments. "We'll take your money, but we'll be damned if we'll give it back!"

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning, page C1, that William Ackman, principal of the Pershing Square hedge fund group, will soon inform his investors that he'll allow them to withdraw from one of those funds, PS IV, afer all, despite talk last week that he was going to limit such redemptions.

Pershing Square IV was set up to benefit from an expected rise on the price of the stock of Target, the big-box retail chain.

The story quotes Ackman himself, "reached at his office Sunday night," saying that PS IV is down 90% and that is nothing to be proud of. But the story doesn't quote Ackman confirming the gist of what the reporters are telling us, which is that Ackman will be putting $25 million of his own cash into the fund in order to allow it to settle with the impatient, and apparently to reward the patient as well. The specifics are attributed to that old reporter's friend, "a person familiar with the matter."

During the past 13 months, Target's shares have declined in value by 38%. Pershing Square IV has been investing through stock options, not through the shares themselves, and this has had an amplifying effect on the loss.

My hunch, reading the story (and this is ONLY a hunch, a guess, a speculation, call it what-you-will) is that Ackman himself is the "person familiar with the matter." The story reads like a one-interview job to me. At parts of the interview, Ackman probably just said, "now this next bit you can't attribute to me by name" -- while at other parts he said, "now THIS bit is what you should quote me on."

The final graf of the story notes that Ackman's non-Target funds lost betwen 11% and 13% in 2008. Give how disastrous a year it was, that actually sounds like a respectable performance.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Proxy access

Another round in the proxy access debate coming our way?

In late 2007 I was blogging here about proxy access rules then under considerationby the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At that time, the SEC adopted the narrowest of the access rules it had under consideration, making life more difficult for shareholder activists seeking change in the election procedures.

It now appears (judging from a story Reuters carried Friday, while Congress continued its struggles with a stimulus bill) that with the new administration we might get a revival of this argument with special emphasis on "sharehlder democracy" as a tool for limiting CEO pay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bless the Cassandras

Much that has happened in recent days has persuaded me to speak today to the conflict between stock market optimists and pessimists, pollyannas and cassandras, bulls and bears, in the broadest of terms. There is a general thesis to be uncovered here, one that has its basis deep in human psychology and has a rather intense manifestation just now in pop culture, and what passes for economic discussion, in the US. The thesis is: we need more cassandras, not fewer: correspondingly, we need to encourage those we have, not chase them about with sticks.

Ideally, I suppose, pessimists and optimists could be partners, taking on the common search for truth about the economy, about particular companies, about stock prices, etc., from distinct but complementary perspectives. Every glass that is half empty is also half full. For that matter, every glass that is three-quarters empty is one-quarter full. No glass is entirely full, no benefits in this world come without costs. So why need bull and bear compete when it is so much more important and interesting to inquire?

But we as human beings want to be optimists. Sociobiologists could trace it to the survival instincts on the Serengeti -- the pessimist who saw every source of water as contaminated and dangerous would die of thirst and pass along no genes. At least the optimists would drink -- they wouldn't die of thirst -- and although some of them would die of the contaminants others would live and pass along those optimist's selfish genes. If you accept such reasoning then, you'll suspect that optimism is by now the greater danger, and the pessimism discouraged by genes needs to be encouraged by memes.

Even if you don't accept such reasoning, you can and should look about you at American pop culture and see where the danger comes. Every incarnation of "Miracle on 34th Street" teaches that belief, even gullibility, is good and skepticism is a condition that requires magical cure. More contemporary movies, like Jim Carrey's "Yes Man" convey the same message. Saying "no" is bad. Sum up such influences, and then let your inner contrarian take over. When everyone is telling you how wonderful it is to be a bull, then perhaps the perspective of the bear is the one that needs reinforcement.

Yet again: look at the recent history of the stock analysts' vocation. When someone predicts a stock will rise, and it rises, is he roundly condemned as a huckster and hype artist? No ... he is praised for getting the call right of course. On the other hand, when someone predicts a stock will fall, and it falls, is he generally praised for getting the call right? No ... he is accused of "talking it down," defrauding those who bet the other way ... he is sued. This is not a theoretical concern. People who expressed reasonable (and as it turned out, accurate) concerns about Novastar Financial Inc., for example, were ridiculed and reviled, their points routinely dismissed. When Novastar tanked, did the dispensers of that ridicule feel, well ... ridiculous? of course not. The bias toward hype and the prejudice against skepticism is so widely shared it can survive any number of such disconfirmations.

All of this is only to say that we tend to blow ourselves bubbles, and then when the bubbles burst as they must we respond by blaming those who had warned us of the fragility of the bubble at the moment of its prime. This blame is irrational, and since what we need most from an economy is an evenness of rotation, an end to the boom-bust nonsense, we must resist our impulses. We need to celebrate the bears.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Roche and Genentech

Roche has announced what it cals a "hostile bid" (hold that thought) for Genentech: $86.50 a share.

Roche, formally F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., of Switzerland, is a research-heavy pharma giant.

Genentech is the US (San Francisco) based genetic-research firm (sometimes called the "founder of biotech" as an industry separate from old-line pharma), the one that caused a lot of pop-cult buzz in 1979-80. It was THE hot stock in that era. Indeed, even the buzz from that era seems innocent nowadays.

I remember a Barney Miller episode in which a high-class call girl is in the departments, and Det. Harris tries to wheedle stock tips out of her. She's onto one big stock, but she's keeping mum about it.

"You don't have a lead on the next Genentech, do you?"

"I'm dumping all my Genentech to buy this," she replies. At this his eyes bug out.

But enough for my personal trip down memory lane. Roche has initiated a hostile tender offer for 100% of Genentech. What does this mean exactly? It strikes me as odd, since Roche already owns 55.8% of Genentech. One might naively expect that 55.8% serves as a controlling share, so this is a bit like wrestling with one's own left arm.

The point, though, is that US law offers certain protections for minority owners, and those minorities can make pains in the next of themselves. A majority-owned subsidiary isn't the same thing as, say, one of the parent company's operating divisions.

So far as I understand it, Roche is buying out the nuisance value of that minority stock. It has also lowered its offering price in recent days, to convey the message that irt won't be a roll-over for holdouts. Ouch. That's playing hardball, for a bunch of neutral Swiss yodelers!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Indian Film Company: Dispute Resolved

A group of dissident investors led by hedge fund Altima Partners had been demanding the removal of two of the directors of The Indian Film Company (IFC).

The IFC, by the way, is an investment vehicle itself, not a production company. It invests in Indian movies, as you might imagine -- especially those it seems designed to appeal to Indians in the rest of the world, outside of India.

The IFC's public relations firm (which is headquartered in London) put out a statement this weekend -- neither in India nor in London is Super Bowl weekend sacred -- saying that the two sides have agreed to adjourn an extraordinary general meeting which had been scheduled for this Thursday, Feb. 5.

"The board is delighted to reach an agreement in the interests of the shareholders," said the flack.

It seems that the two controversial directors -- Raghav Bahl and Alok Verma -- will stay on. The board will get two new members, one of whom is associated with Altima and the other who isn't (Atul Setia and Deepak Gupta, respectively).

This is worth mentioning chiefly because the business model is intriguing: investing in movies that might appeal especially to a particular country's diaspora, if you will.

This just reinforces my determination to see Slumdog Millionaire. I wonder if they've got a piece of that one.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Buffett "cult"?

Just a quick link for today, then I'm out of here.

It seems that there is a certain Richard Davenport-Hines who takes a dim view of the Americans who treat Warren Buffett as an oracle.

His squinting isn't, by the way, directed at Buffett himself. Not particularly, he says that Buffett "spends his days in a repetitive routine which most people would find mortifyingly banal," but he also finds that Buffett has his good points -- praising Buffett's "accurate warnings in 1999 about the false dot-com boom," and so forth.

It is just the cultists to whom he objects. Make of it all what you will.

I link, you decide.