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Morning Market Roundup: BP Ready for Criminal Charges, Alibaba Wants Yahoo

Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:

China: China is looking for foreign investments in hospitals and financial firms instead of automobile factories or polysilicon plants, according to guidelines set by its National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The list, sitting on the agency’s website, notes the sectors for foreign investors that will be either encouraged, restricted or banned beginning on January 30, 2012.

”The focus is to optimize the foreign investment structure, push forward technology innovation and industrial upgrading,” said the NDRC in a statement.

(Related: Italy Auctions €7B in Long-Term Debt as Yields Fall.)

Alibaba.com: The company appears to really want a deal with Yahoo. Alibaba has hired the Washington lobbying firm Duberstein Group. The move is seen as a sign that the company would be open to making a bid for all of Yahoo, along with some private equity firms, if efforts to buy back Yahoo’s Asian assets doesn’t succeed.

Global merger and acquisitions dropped to their lowest levels in more than a year during the fourth quarter. It has dropped 16 percent from the previous quarter to $457.1 billion, with activity last seen since in mid-2010. Year to date, takeover volume has increased less than three percent to $2.25 trillion, according to Bloomberg.

Looking ahead to 2012, a merger and acquisition recovery doesn’t look promising thanks to the current volatile market, the euro zone’s debt crisis, and tighter credit markets deterring cash-heavy companies from making transactions.

BP Oil: U.S. prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against BP PLC employees in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors at looking at Houston-based engineers and at least one of their supervisors but the extent of the investigation isn’t known. They contend that that workers could have given false information to regulators about the risks associated from the Gulf of Mexico well when drilling was going on.

(Wall St. Cheat Sheet)

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