What's Important in the Financial World (2/6/2013)

Cruise shipHackers Hit the Fed

Hackers have scored another victory in a series that has extended from Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) China site, to the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) site, to The Wall Street Journal and to several government suppliers. The latest victim is the Federal Reserve.

While it is not clear what hackers might do with Fed data, that data might include information on banks the agency oversees or forecasts for future action meant to improve the economy. The Fed reported:

"The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Fed spokeswoman said.

"Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system," the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals effected by the breach had been contacted.

One of the yields of the attacks may be information on as many as 4,000 executives at U.S. banks.

Liberty Global Gets Virgin Media

Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ: LBTYA), controlled by American billionaire John Malone, made a successful offer to buy huge U.K. cable firm Virgin Media Inc. (NASDAQ: VMED). The media has pegged the price as high as $23 billion. With debt backed out, the number is closer to $16 billion. The press has made out that the Malone move is a challenge to Rupert Murdoch, who also has TV interests through his large ownership in BSkyB. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Virgin Media, the U.K.'s No. 2 pay-TV operator with close to five million customers, said earlier Tuesday that it was in talks with Liberty Global "concerning a possible transaction," without detailing what form any deal would take.

Liberty and Virgin said they expect about $180 million in annual cost savings once the companies are fully integrated. "We think we've been conservative with that number," Liberty Chief Executive Mike Fries said in an interview. "The synergies are traditionally coming from areas like network and IT and procurement. What we do every day is buy technology from the same vendors and negotiate contracts from the same programmers."

HP Welcomes Dell Customers

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is among the tech companies that had comments on the leveraged buyout of Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL). The comments mostly were directed at Dell customers and future customers, who might consider the buyout as a sign that Michael Dell's company is somehow wounded. If that is true, why would anyone do business with it. HP offered:

Dell has a very tough road ahead. The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell's customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity.

Dell probably took the same position with customers when HP was in the midst of one of its several restructurings and false steps to diversify.


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: DELL, featured, GOOG, HPQ, LBTYA, NYT, VMED

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