Financial Markets Update: Over the Weekend

It might have been a weekend, but there’s no rest for attorneys. At least not those involved in the Wachovia-Citigroup-Wells Fargo dispute. A judge has granted Citi an injunction blocking further Wachovia-Wells Fargo negotiations until this Friday, but that might not change anything in the not-so-long run, especially if Citigroup ultimately feels obliged to up its offer for Wachovia. The Federal Reserve wants the two suitors to divide the company along geographic lines, and according to the Wall Street Journal, talks between the parties continued through the weekend toward that end, without resolution. Wachovia is no small prize, with a network of over 3,300 branches nationwide. Herb and Marion Sandler, the former owners of Golden West — the mortgage lender that Wachovia bought for $24 billion before the housing bubble popped — are reportedly miffed that Saturday Night Live described them as “people who should be shot” on its October 4 program. “I have been listening to this crap for two years,” Sandler told the AP in an interview Sunday morning. One would think that as billionaires, the Sandlers could afford to buy a sense of humor. The Domino Effect: Ping An Insurance Co., a major insurer in China, has seen its stock in free fall in Hong Kong trading after revealing that it will take an impairment charge of $2.3 billion in its third-quarter results because of losses from its stake in Fortis. The Belgian-Dutch banking and insurance group Fortis imploded recently, and over the weekend the Dutch government modified the terms under which it’s participating the bailout of Fortis by saying that it will take full control of the company’s operations in the Netherlands — that is, nationalization. France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, will take control of Fortis in Belgium. Elsewhere in Europe, the German government and various banks have re-formulated a rescue package for Hypo Real Estate Holding — the federal republic’s second-largest property lender — to the tune of 50 billion euros ($68 billion). Last week, Hypo received a credit line of 20 billion euros from the Bundesbank, while a consortium of other financial companies agreed to contribute another 15 billion euros. The new plan has consortium doubling its credit line to Hypo to 30 billion euros. On Sunday, Germany said it would guarantee all private bank accounts. something that Ireland and Greece have already done. Thus far, however, Europeans remain jittery about the worldwide financial mess, with money pouring out of euro-denominated investments and into the likes of US Treasury bills. The dollar hit a 13-month high against the euro (about $1.36 per euro) as of the weekend.