Citibank Shops the Use of Its Asian-Pacific Branch Network to Life Insurers and 2 Other Hot Stocks to Watch

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C): Current price $50.86

Inside sources said Thursday that Citigroup’s Citibank division will move to sell access to its Asian-Pacific branch network to life insurers needing a distribution channel in an arrangement that could raise up to $5 billion. Ideally, Citibank would permit a “small number” of life insurers to sell their products via its regional branches, which number in excess of 600. The bank expects to begin approaching interested parties in the next few weeks, according to the sources. If the venture is successful, it could form one of the biggest bank-based insurance-distribution networks in Asia.

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Volterra Semiconductor Corp. (NASDAQ:VLTR): Current price $22.80

On Thursday, the chipmaker Maxim Integrated Products Inc announced that it will acquire Volterra Semiconductor for roughly $605 million so as to reinforce its unit that manufactures low-energy chips. The buyer said that the power management market is the quickest-growing product business in the analog chip market, citing market-research firm Databeans. Maxim’s chips are employed in Samsung Electronics Co.’s high-end Galaxy smartphones like the S4 and Note 2. The acquisition offer of $23 per Volterra share marks a premium of 55 percent to the Wednesday close.

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BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY): Current price $10.93

According to Zacks Equity Research, BlackBerry launched BlackBerry 9720 smartphone “on an old BB7 platform.” The new device should become available in the coming weeks in the emerging countries of Latin America, Asia, and EMEA. The new smartphone contains both a QWERTY keypad and touch screen support with a far advanced user interface, along with a 5 -megapixel camera combined with 512-megabyte RAM support, and social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and BBM.

However, Zacks observed that, “Despite so many popular features, the mobile phone lacks the popular BlackBerry Hub and video chatting facility, which are available in the new version of BlackBerry smartphones based on BB10 platform. We believe that the price of the new smartphone will be kept below the newly-launched BB10-based Q5, Q10, and Z10 devices.”

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