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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Hedge fund takes $2 billion stake in Microsoft

Category : Business, Stocks

Activist hedge fund ValueAct took a big stake in Microsoft, saying the company’s future lies in enterprise software and the cloud.

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Apple sued by activist shareholder

Category : Business

An activist shareholder is demanding Apple share out more of its $137bn (£87bn) cash pile to its investors.

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Another win for Icahn: Chesapeake surges

Category : Business, Stocks

Several stocks owned by activist shareholder Carl Icahn have soared this year. His latest victory? Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon will step down and the stock popped on the news.

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Fracking debate draws Yoko, Lennon and Sarandon to rural battlegrounds

Category : Business

Artists Against Fracking board bus for magical mystery tour of Pennsylvania as New York and New Jersey decisions draw near

Yoko Ono might not seem the most likely bus traveller. Northern Pennsylvania, on a cold, snowy January day, might not seem a likely destination.

Yet the threat of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its impact on the farm she and John Lennon bought in New York spurred Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, into action. On Thursday the pair, a group of activists and the actress Susan Sarandon formed an improbable troupe for a road trip through towns which have been affected by fracking.

The expedition travelled under the banner of Artists Against Fracking, the group Ono and Lennon set up last summer, when governor Andrew Cuomo was originally due to rule on whether to allow fracking in New York State. Thanks no doubt to the star power of its founders, the group quickly managed to attract backing – from regular celebrity activists such as Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo to Alec Baldwin, the two living Beatles and Robert DeNiro. They also earned the support of the Scissor Sisters.

“It was an incredible response,” Ono said, as the bus picked its way along narrow lanes. “All these artists are starting to come together. These days artists are very much into, and very sensitive to what is happening in society, not just what is happening with their work.”

It was the potential impact of fracking on rural parts of New York State that prompted Lennon and Ono to get involved in the anti-fracking cause last summer. Cuomo eventually delayed his decision, pending further investigation into the practice; he is now due to rule on whether to allow fracking as early as 27 February, following a four-and-a-half year ban.

Ono and Lennon clambered aboard the bus – in fact a relatively luxurious coach – on Thursday as part of their bid to persuade the governor against the practice. Ono and Lennon still spend time at their rural farm, which was bought in the years before John Lennon died. While the farm might have inspired Ono to take up the cause, she said the campaign now went beyond that.

“It’s not just for me, but for New York State and New York City as well. But also when we lose this game we’re losing not just for New York State but for the United States and for Britain. I’m getting letters from Britain saying, ‘Yoko, please do something, they’re starting to frack here.’”

The pair keep secret the exact location of their farm, where Ono and John Lennon famously tended a herd of cows, but they will say that it is in prime fracking territory. The pair established Artists Against Fracking in August and organised the bus tour to show the impact fracking has had in Pennsylvania.

Fracking involves drilling a hole into shale rock deep underground, then blasting in water mixed with sand and chemicals. This creates fissures in the rock, releasing natural gas that is captured in a well at the surface. Problems can arise if the cement casing around the well-hole is inadequate, allowing chemicals to leak into water supplies. Those who support fracking say that with tougher regulation and stricter controls on the drilling process the practice is safe, although opponents argue that this is too much to risk.

‘Our water was bubbling in our well’

The home of Michael and Tammy Manning in Franklin Forks was one of the bus tour’s first stops – after four attempts to climb a particularly icy hill. The couple say the water in their home, which is sourced from their own well, like many homes’ water supply in this region, became contaminated after fracking was carried out nearby.

“Our water was bubbling in our well. It looked like a full running boil in our well,” said Tammy Manning, 45. Four generations of their family live in the house, a two-storey wood-paneled structure set in perhaps an acre of land. Video taken by Matthew Manning and shown as the anti-fracking entourage crammed into the Mannings’ small living room showed water spurting out of the top of their well as from a fire hydrant. Inside the house, the water ran brown.

Pennsylvania’s department of environmental protection tested the Mannings’ exploding well soon after it began erupting. It found extremely high levels of methane, and told the family to keep all windows and doors open when running the taps or taking a shower – any build-up of the gas could be dangerous. The Mannings said they have received little help beyond that, and have to buy mineral water for drinking and cooking. They shower in tainted water.

“We don’t want to have to leave,” Tammy Manning said. “We just bought the house. But if we’ve no water what can we do.” The reality is that the family has few options. “I don’t think we can sell it with no water. We’re stuck.”

Supporters of fracking argue that the process can produce cheap fuel, promote energy independence and create jobs. The roads of Susquehanna County were certainly busy on Thursday, activists on the bus shouting out “sand truck” or “water truck” time and again, as heavy goods vehicles bearing the key elements of fracking passed by.

Some spoke of the tension within small towns and villages that has been caused by differing opinions over fracking. Companies pay good money for access to mineral rights, but one or two neighbours resisting the deal can deter companies from becoming involved with a whole street or community.

Representing ‘the 1%’?

As the bus arrived in Dimock, where the department of environmental protection ruled in 2010 that fracking wells drilled by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp had leaked into 18 drinking wells, a man who identified himself as living locally shouted and gesticulated animatedly at the members of Activists Against Fracking as they disembarked. The man, who left before the Guardian could ask his name, insisted loudly that money from fracking had paid for his wife’s cancer treatment.

He was not the only fly in the ointment. Filmmaker Phelim McAleer, a vocal critic of those opposed to fracking and something of a courter of controversy, approached the bus with a cameraman, loudly accusing Ono, Lennon and Sarandon of acting in the interests of the “1%” in their opposition to the practice.

As McAleer jogged and jostled for position, heckling Ono, Lennon and Sarandon and being heckled back by activists, the Irish filmmaker – who made the news recently after accusing Matt Damon, the actor whose new film, Promised Land, deals with the subject of fracking, of being a “liar” – became separated from his trilby hat, which he had to collect from the muddy slush.

McAleer shouted to the group that the drinking water in Dimock was safe, citing EPA studies that activists say are incorrect. In any case, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp agreed in December 2010 to pay a $4.6m settlement that required it to fix its leaking wells. The Pennsylvania DEP ruled that Cabot could resume fracking near Dimock in August last year.

McAleer’s arrival marked the only time Ono took advantage of a large V12 Mercedes-Benz which an aide drove behind the coach for the entire trip, and which might raise some questions over the environmental soundness of the exercise. Ono got into the back of the black car as McAleer made himself known nearby, later popping her head out of the window to check all was clear before clambering back on to the bus for the ride home.

‘I’m not an activist by nature’

Artists Against Fracking have already given Cuomo plenty to consider ahead of his February ruling. In addition to the clutch of celebrity supporters, the group and other anti-fracking organisations collected 200,000 messages during a 30-day public consultation period in December and January. Ono and Lennon helped to deliver the messages to the governor in Albany on 11 January.

The campaign could have an impact in New Jersey too. The Garden State’s year-long moratorium on fracking expired on Thursday, and governor Chris Christie is due to make an announcement on the immediate future of the process before the end of the month.

“I’m not an activist by nature, I’m a musician. What I’m interested in is making music and art,” Lennon said on the bus. “I had no desire to be spending any of my time researching things like benzene, methane and uranium and well-pits and well-casings and what percentage of well-casings fail over how many years.”

Lennon said he had been moved by the stories of people who face having to leave their homes because of a lack of clean water, but like those people, he had the sense of a personal threat. His family’s farm draws fresh water, unfiltered, from its own well, just like the Mannings’ house and the homes in Dimock. To Lennon, fracking poses a risk to the farm at which he can remember spending time with his father as a young boy.

“It would actually change my life,” he said. “I think on some level I might have to consider leaving. I’m so into nature and the country, and having a place in the country where I could drink my own water was really essential to my feeling safe, it means a lot to me. So if that changes, I might leave.”

Lennon said he was unsure if he would leave New York, or leave the US entirely – he has both American and British passports and describes himself as an Anglophile. “But I don’t want to be in a place where I feel like I can’t drink clean water,” he said.

Why Bill Ackman is targeting Herbalife

Category : Business

It’s an epic corporate showdown. Hedge fund manager and activist investor Bill Ackman versus vitamin and nutritional supplements company Herbalife.

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Netflix adds poison pill to shares scheme

Category : Business

Netflix shareholder rights plan, which could scupper any takeover bid, comes as activist investor snaps up 10% stake

Netflix, the online video company, has inserted a poison pill into its share structure less than a week after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a stake of nearly 10%.

The shareholder rights plan is designed to make it difficult, or even impossible, for someone to take over the company without an agreement from the board. When the provision is triggered, additional shares flood the market and make it prohibitively expensive for a takeover.

Netflix, which has more than 1 million subscribers in the UK, said the provision would be triggered if a person or group acquires 10% of the company, or 20% in the case of institutional investors, in a deal not approved by the board.

“Adopting a rights plan is a very reasonable thing to do in light of the recent accumulation of a lot of Netflix stock by an activist shareholder,” its spokesman Jonathan Friedland said on Monday.

Icahn disclosed last Wednesday that he spent some of his $14bn fortune on his 10% stake. The documents he filed did not disclose why Icahn and his investment funds have been buying 5.5m Netflix shares since early September. But it is likely that he would press Netflix to make dramatic changes to boost its stock price.

The company has been stumbling since it raised its US prices by up to 60% last year. The move triggered a backlash that resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands customers and raised concerns on Wall Street that its chief executive and co-founder, Reed Hastings, would have trouble paying for an ambitious plan to expand the company’s service into dozens of other countries.

Netflix takes Icahn poison pill

Category : Business, World News

DVD rental firm Netflix adopts a “poison pill” share-issuance plan to ward off a hostile takeover by activist investor Carl Icahn.

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Soros to Germany: Be part of the solution, or leave

Category : Business

Billionaire financier and political activist George Soros said Germany should lead the European Union in a different direction, or be persuaded to leave the euro currency so other nations can move forward.

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KIT Digital ([[KITD]] +22.7%) takes off after disclosing activist investors Seth Hamot and Peter Heiland have been added to its board (director Joseph Mullin is stepping down), and that their funds (Costa Brava and JEC Capital) now respectively hold…

Category : Stocks, World News

KIT Digital (KITD +22.7%) takes off after disclosing activist investors Seth Hamot and Peter Heiland have been added to its board (director Joseph Mullin is stepping down), and that their funds (Costa Brava and JEC Capital) now respectively hold 7% and 8% stakes in the beaten-down IP video software provider. KIT says its board will now “address several expressions of interest” regarding a sale of part or all of the company. (PR) (previous) Post your comment!

Read this article: KIT Digital ([[KITD]] +22.7%) takes off after disclosing activist investors Seth Hamot and Peter Heiland have been added to its board (director Joseph Mullin is stepping down), and that their funds (Costa Brava and JEC Capital) now respectively hold…

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Greenpeace activists shut down 74 UK Shell petrol stations

Category : Business

Activists protesting against the company’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic have targeted London and Edinburgh

Greenpeace activists shut down 74 Shell petrol stations in Edinburgh and London in a protest against the company’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic that saw 24 campaigners arrested on Monday.

The campaigners are attempting to shut off petrol to London’s 105 Shell stations and Edinburgh’s 14. Seventy-one have been closed in London and three in Edinburgh.

There have been 24 confirmed arrests, 18 in London and six in Edinburgh. The police in Edinburgh have reportedly parked cars outside all Shell stations across the capital.

Protesters have scaled the roof of the Shell station on Queenstown Road near Battersea Park in London and on Dalry Road in Edinburgh, with police and fire crews attending the scene in Edinburgh.

Activists arrived at the Battersea Park branch at 6.45am and used the station’s barriers to close down the forecourt. They have since covered the Shell sign with a Save the Arctic banner and positioned a life-sized polar bear model on the station’s roof.

The activists are shutting down the stations by using an emergency shut-off switch to stop petrol going to the pumps and then removing a fuse to delay it being switched on again. The organisation has since posted a picture of an activist posting one of the fuses to Shell’s head of Arctic drilling, with the message: “We’re being careful not to destroy property. Even the carefully removed components will go back to Shell.”

The protest is part of Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign, which is aiming to prevent oil drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic by having the region recognised as a world park. The organisation understands that Shell is going to begin drilling in the Alaskan Arctic in the coming weeks, with the Russian oil company Gazprom also due to work in the region.

The campaign group’s website is running a TV talkshow-style live broadcast covering the protest and showing interviews and videos about the Arctic campaign.

Sara Ayech, a campaigner at the Battersea Park station, said: “It’s time to draw a line in the ice and tell Shell to stop. That’s why today we’re going to shut down all of Shell’s petrol stations in the capital cities of London and Edinburgh. We’ve got dozens of people who will hit over 100 Shell garages throughout the day.”

Graham Thompson is another campaigner who helped shut down the station: “The staff were very pleasant and very reasonable. Obviously they’re not entirely happy about what’s going on but they’ve responded in a very civilised way.

“Obviously, we need to ratchet up the pressure, we need to let Shell know that this isn’t just a publicity campaign, we’re going to put pressure on them until they agree to stop what they’re doing,” said Thompson, commenting on future plans.

Simon Bateson, a student, saw news of the event on Greenpeace’s Facebook page and joined the demonstration at the Battersea petrol station. “There’s no one else doing what Greenpeace are doing,” he said.

A spokesman for Shell said: “Shell recognises that certain organisations are opposed to our exploration programme Offshore Alaska, and we respect the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations.

“Recognising the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including the general public and Shell personnel, in mind.

“Shell has met with numerous organisations and individuals who oppose drilling offshore Alaska. We respect their views and value the dialogue. We have extended this same offer for productive dialogue to Greenpeace.”

The Metropolitan and Lothian and Borders police were unavailable for comment.

Protests are also taking place across Europe, with activists targeting Shell stations in Denmark and Germany. On Twitter, @greenpeace_ch have posted a picture of a protester dressed as a polar bear picketing the home of Shell chief executive, Peter Voser.

Last Friday, 13 Greenpeace activists were detained by police in The Hague, Netherlands, after they blocked access to Shell’s headquarters. According to the organisation, 70 activists took part in the demonstration, which involved hanging a Stop Shell, Save The Arctic banner across the building and occupying the office of Voser.