Archive for September 8th, 2008

Coke’s China Deal

September 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

What’s your over/under on the close date for Coca Cola’s proposed $2.4 billion acquisition of China Huiyuan Juice Ltd?

The deal would allow Coke to control 37% of the Chinese juice market, up from a 28% share today. It involves acquiring a government-designated “nationally famous brand.” 80% of respondents to a recent sina.com survey oppose the deal.

What is more, the Coke deal would be the first to test China’s new antitrust law, the one Beijing enacted last month. Before then, Chinese federal law did not include an overarching antitrust policy, and matters involving antitrust were typically handled ad hoc by agencies more suited to regulating M&A and competition.

China’s new antitrust law isn’t ready for prime time. The Chinese government has not released clarifying implementation rules for example, and the Ministry of Commerce, which will oversee the law, is not yet staffed.

Coke’s CFO Gary Fayard estimated last week that the deal will gain approval in Spring, 2009.  I’ll take the over.

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Toxic Metals in Ayurvedic Products

September 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: JAMA

People who purchase Ayurvedic medicines online may want to consider buying something else.

That’s because Boston University scientists tested 200 Ayurvedic products purchased over the Internet, and found that 20% of them contained detectable levels of arsenic, lead or mercury. Sometimes the levels of these metals were dangerously high.

Ayurveda is an herbal-based health practice that began 2,000 years ago in India. Its origins are linked to the legendary Dharvarhari (pictured) who received insights directly from Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. More than 80% of Indians practice Ayurveda right now, and the practice has gained popularity in the US.

Ayurvedic medicines are categorized into herbal only and Rasa Shastra by the methods used to prepare them. To create Rasa Shastra medicines, practitioners deliberately add metals, gems and minerals to the herbs.

The BU investigators found that samples from both categories of Ayurvedic medicines contained toxic metals, but the Rasa Shastra samples were twice as likely to contain them, and they contained higher levels of the metals.

Rasa Shastra practitioners believe their medicines are safe if prepared properly. The BU researchers think otherwise. They want regulators to establish “safe levels” of these toxic metals in herbal supplements and require that manufacturers get their products tested before they are released to market.

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Again the Broads Step Up

September 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: LA Times

West coast philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad announced Thursday that they plan to give $400 million more to the Broad Institute, a genetics research center that is jointly run by MIT and Harvard.  

In 2003, The Broads donated $200 million to establish the Cambridge-based facility. Their cumulative contribution was described by foundation officials as the largest gift in support of a university-based biomedical research facility in the world.

The Broad Institute convenes and supports 1,200 researchers with ties to Harvard, MIT or the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, also in Cambridge. Researchers are usually affiliated with one of the Institute’s Scientific Programs (e.g. cancer, psychiatric disease) and with one of its Scientific Platforms (e.g. genetic analysis, chemical biology) in order to foster idea cross-fertilization.

The Broad’s initial investment was designed to finance the institute for 10 years. There is hope the investment income generated by the new donation can sustain the Institute indefinitely after that.

The Broad Institute secures plenty of funding on its own. Less than a week ago for example, it landed an $86 million NIH grant to develop molecular probes to study biochemical processes that are fundamental to human health and disease.

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