Morning Money Memo…
Time Warner is in play and its shares jumped 14 percent this morning after a published report said Twenty-First Century Fox, run by Rupert Murdoch, made a takeover offer. The New York Times' Deal Book column says the bid was rejected. But according to the report both Time Warner and Fox have hired separate teams of Wall Street financial advisers. Murdoch's "bold approach," says the Times "might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among the nation's largest entertainment companies." Together these two companies would create a TV and movie media giant. So there's been no comment on the report either Fox or Time Warner.
Once they were bitter rivals. Now Apple and IBM are in a big business alliance. The deal involves selling many more iPhones and iPads to corporate customers. The devices will be loaded with IBM business software. Apple's CEO Tim Cook calls it a landmark deal. The new alliance is big turnaround from the days when Apple mocked IBM as big brother in its iconic "1984? commercials. "For the first time ever we're putting IBM's renowned big data analytics at iOS users' fingertips," says Cook. "This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver."
A major announcement is expected in a deal that promises millions of dollars to support Detroit's retiree pensions while protecting city-owned artwork from possible sale as part of city's bankruptcy. The Detroit Institute of Arts says details will be released today. The DIA has pledged $100 million in backing for the agreement. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler already have said they collectively would give $26 million toward the museum's commitment. Foundations also have committed about $366 million, while the state will add $195 million. The deal is a piece of the city's bankruptcy restructuring plan. Retirees have voted on the plan. The money for the deal goes away if retirees voted down the plan. Ballot results are expected to be announced next week.
Small business optimism is on the rise. After years of uncertainty many firms are more confident about their sales: "They're doing well almost across the board. Sales were up, net margins are up, cash flow is up," says Brian Hamilton, chairman of the financial data firm Sageworks. "The average increase in sales for private companies right now compared to the same period 12 months ago is 8.3 percent." The growth rate for both earnings and sales is well above the normal average. "That is extremely healthy," says Hamilton.
Big changes may be on the way at many offices and factories. For the first time in 30 years, the federal government is issuing new guidelines designed to protect pregnant workers from on-the-job discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's update makes it clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment of pregnant women by employers is illegal. The guidelines were last updated in 1983. The issue has gained increasing attention as the Obama administration ratchets up its enforcement of the nation's anti-discrimination laws.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow