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CNBC's Schacknow: Good Omens For Merck, Cott -- And Me

Friday, 13 Apr 2007 | 6:57 PM ET

Lucky Friday the 13th
As I’ve often detailed, there are many moving parts to getting breaking news on the air. "Friday the 13th" is the last day one might think the stars would decide to align to our benefit, but they did.

Beverage maker Cott had been the subject of speculation all day, focusing on a possible merger with Cadbury Schweppes. It was halted before the New York Stock Exchange open for “news pending,” which, of course, only served to fuel that speculation.

Just as the second hour of "Power Lunch" was beginning, Cott issued its statement: it had been approached by interested parties -- whom it would not name -- but for the time being has made “no change in strategy.”

As luck would have it, NYSE reporter Bob Pisani was scheduled to go on within a minute. I quickly messaged producer Robert Hum and Bob with the details, and within seconds, he was ready to go and had a full report on the breaking news at the top of his segment. Breaking news rarely gets on this cleanly, as anyone who has ever sat in a producer’s chair will attest.

The only disappointing part is that the “news pending” wasn’t some spectacular deal that would give us something new to talk about on a Friday afternoon. “News pending” always gets the adrenaline flowing: we sit there trying to figure out what it might be. Sometimes it’s nothing. And sometimes it’s really something. Today it turned out to be somewhere in the middle.

Lucky To Have Hucky
Stories involving the pharmaceuticals industry can be quite confusing, which is why it’s great to have a full time pharma reporter, Mike Huckman, on hand.

He helps keep us straight when we’re sorting out the difference between an FDA panel approval for a drug versus approval by the full FDA, the difference between “approved” and “approvable,” and whether a story that a drug company might be trumpeting is really worth our time.

It’s especially handy to have Mike around when lawsuit news involving Merck breaks. Because of the Vioxx withdrawal, Merck is in the middle of so many suits that it’s tough to tell what’s new, what’s old, and what’s important.

Luckily, the man we fondly call "Hucky" was right there when another lawsuit-related Merck story broke: a investor class-action suit involving Vioxx was dismissed, because the statute of limitations had run out. Mike was on the air minutes after the story broke, right at the top of “Squawk On The Street,” and remained vigilant in keeping everyone straight on the details.

Have a lucky weekend!


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