Greek Prime Minister Now Willing to Step Down for National Unity
The first day of the G20 meeting of the world's economic leaders in Cannes was overshadowed by rapidly changing events in Greece. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou indicated he is willing to step down and make way for a negotiated coalition government if his Socialists back in him a confidence vote on Friday, Reuters reports. Papandreou had called for a referendum on a bailout agreement that was negotiated last week, but backed off after EU leaders raised the prospect of Greece's expulsion from the euro. On Wednesday, French and German leaders warned him that Athens would not receive any more aid until it met its commitments to the euro zone. It will run out of money in mid-December if it does not get the loan.
Italy Accepts Monitoring
In other G20 news, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to have the International Monetary Fund and the EU monitor Italy's progress with reforms of pensions, labor markets, and privatization. The move gives Berlusconi a reprieve, Reuters reports, after more loyalists defected on Thursday and brought his government close to collapse.
Groupon Tops Google in Initial Public Offering
Groupon Inc., the pioneering "daily deals" site, raised $700 million after increasing the size of its initial public offering, Reuters reports. It became the largest IPO by an Internet company since Google Inc. raised $1.7 billion seven years ago. The three-year-old site is now valued at $13 billion after saying it increased the offering by 5 million shares to 35 million in total and pricing them at $20 each. Groupon will be trading on the Nasdaq on Friday under the ticker GRPN. At $12.8 billion, Groupon's price tag is more than twice what Google offered to buy the company last year, Reuters said.
NBA Players Plan Threatens to End Season
About 50 players, including some All-Stars, are planning a drive to dissolve their union if new negotiations to end the NBA lockout break down, The New York Times reports. Talks are scheduled to resume on Saturday. Decertification of the union would allow players to sue the NBA under federal antitrust law, and could force the owners to end the lockout, the Times said. But the process could take two months, which could spell the end of the 2011-12 season. The 50-player faction is essentially demanding that the union make no more concessions and reject any new restrictions on contracts and free agency. Some see this as a ploy to motivate owners to compromise and make a deal.
Starbuck Profits Percolate
Starbucks customers visited the cafes more often and spent there more money in the third quarter. Profits for the Seattle-based company profits rose slightly more than expected, Reuters reported. Global sales at cafes open at least 13 months jumped 9 percent, Sales at U.S. cafes, which account for about four-fifths of Starbucks' revenue, rose 10 percent. Despite higher coffee prices, Starbucks held the line or slightly raised prices on mainstay drinks such as brewed coffee, but boosted prices on such specialty drinks as blended Frappuccinos.
Anglo American Increases Stake in De Beers
Mining group Anglo American announced it will pay $5.1 billion in cash to acquire the Oppenheimer family's 40 percent interest in the diamond company De Beers, the New York Times reports. The deal will increase Anglo American's stake in De Beers up to 85 percent from its current stake of 45 percent. The Oppenheimer family has been in the diamond industry for more than a century. The deal includes pre-emption rights for the Botswana government, to increase its stake in the company to 25 percent. If Botswana exercises this right, Anglo American's share of De Beers would increase to 75 percent.