Archive for March 2006

Paulson Denies Treehugger Charges

An update to yesterday’s allegations that Hank Paulson is merely a tool of The Nature Conservancy’s nefarious environmentalist agenda:
DealBook reports that Paulson was nonplussed:

The resolution, from the Free Enterprise Action Fund, hoped to explore whether Mr. Paulson’s position as chair of the Nature Conservancy, among other things, was somehow working against shareholders’ interest. “I think we know how to make money,” he retorted at the meeting.

Paulson Melts Snow Talk, and More From Goldman Meeting [NYTimes]

Brock Has Left The Banking!

Brocking News.jpg
Dealbreaker is prepared to reveal that Brock, the young man whose profile from the Lehman Brothers careers website we shared with you yesterday, has switched groups.
Easy now. There, there. Settle down. We know.
In his profile Brock said he was incredibly satisfied working as a technology banker. He said that he was happy to work in an industry that was both converging and diverging.
And although we did not understand how something could converge and diverge at the same time, we believed him.
Now we hear that he has moved over to Lehman’s Fund of Funds, and we have to wonder:
Was Brock lying about his love for tech banking all along?
Was it just a change of heart?
Will we ever know?
In time, good reader.
In time.
Brock At The Lehman Brothers Careers Website

One of the greatest challenges in business journalism is actually getting the people who matter to sit down and speak frankly about their affairs. This causes many business journalists to find it difficult to land important interviews, and big stories. As a result, many of these men are lonely and unloved, with only their ethics to keep them warm at night.
Me? I play the ball where it lies.
When I find that I cannot get through to someone, I simply close my eyes and imagine what that person might have said had we actually spoken. I then report whatever I imagined as fact. My critics have called this practice bogus and dishonest, but down to a single man my detractors have changed their minds in subsequent conversations that I have imagined myself having with them.
I recently shared an afternoon with Manuel Medina-Mora, the Chairman and CEO of Citigroup Latin America. At ease and surrounded by a clutch of young women on the patio of his hillside villa overlooking Acapulco Bay, Mr. Medina was in a reflective mood, and let down his guard to this young journalist as few captains have industry have before.

Trip Paulson: Let me start off the interview by…
Manuel Medina-Mora: “No, you let me start. Cockroach! Because nobody starts nothing in Acapulco without Manuel Medina Mora!”
Awkward silence.
Manuel: “Now I change my mind. Go ahead. You start.”
Trip Paulson: Alright. Last year you did more deals in Mexico than…
Manuel: “Stop. No more. I cannot think, esay. I am in love with this woman, meng…”
Trip Paulson: You are?
Manuel: “Ay, cabron. She got me good! Like a bullet to the heart. I want to give her my chorizo and I can’t stop thinking about it. And last night, I call her to say I love her! Guess what?”
Trip Paulson: What?
Manuel: “She say she love me too!”
Trip Paulson: Congratulations, that’s just wonderful.
Manuel: (Points to three young women sunning themselves on far end of patio) “Watch this. Watch me, Trip. Puta esay, I’m going to make them kiss. Paola! Silvana! Mary-Carmen! Kiss!”

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Most Loathsome New Yorkers: Underperform

perelbarkin.jpgThe New York Press released their annual “Most Loathsome New Yorkers” list yesterday and unless you count a handful of real estate developers and Michael Bloomberg, they only included one Wall Street guy: Ron Perelman. And he wasn’t included for anything he did professionally; he was included because he spends time and money in St. Barth’s (or St. Bart’s, as the Press calls it) and playing musical wives.

But a trail of broken boards wasn’t the only thing this cigar-chomping Romeo wracked up. There’s also the trail of broken-hearted trophy wives: Claudia Cohen, Patricia Duff and even Ellen Barkin, twice! It seems as though it was only six months ago that Barkin was taking time out of the Palindromes junket to bill and coo about her man, who apparently approaches the pre-nup with the same humanitarian business sense he applies to the corporate takeover.

Only one Wall Street guy! This is a journalistic travesty! We can only assume that the Press neglected Wall Street because they don’t know who any of the people are. They’re too busy worrying about gentrification and how to make money off a free newspaper in a dying classifieds market.
But we’ll take over where the Press left off: Send your nominees and we’ll post a Most Loathsome, Wall Street edition. Send to tips AT dealbreaker DOT com.
Most Loathsome New Yorkers [NY Press]

The Retail Sector

Muffie Benson-PerellaMuffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a “Bulge Bracket” bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column “Heard in the Suite” is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
The people at work are entirely boring. No one goes out on Thursday.
The Managing Director in my group told me that I have to start thinking about industry areas I want to work in after my rotation in the Associate Ambassador program comes to an end. (I got into the Associate Ambassador program at work and it is just amazing, but that’s another story). Personally, I think it is stupid that they don’t let people be Ambassadors for their whole career, but Derek, my friend in the office, suggested that I should keep my opinion on this to myself.
I looked at the practice areas in the firm to see something that interested me. “Retail” seemed an obvious choice so yesterday I spent some time yesterday doing some research.

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Opening Bell: 3.31.06

gabelli.jpgCourt Rules Against Gabelli (NYT)
Mario Gabelli, mutual fund star, media staple, and Barron’s Roundtable fixture, suffered a setback when a judge agreed that Gabelli’s company illegally prevented an insider from selling his stake, paving the way for a trial to determine whether Gabelli Group Capital Partners should be legally dissolved. It’s been a tough time for the man from Rye, as the DOJ recently announced civil fraud charges against him, relating to federal wireless spectrum auctions. No word on whether he’ll be invited back to next year’s Barron’s Roundtable. We always skipped over his picks anyway.
House Members Condemn Immigration Bill (CNN)
For those who suggest that illegal immigrants do jobs that Americans don’t want, the anti-immigration wing of congress has one thing to say to you, “Let the prisoners pick the fruit!” Hmm… there’s a logic to that, although Rep. Steve King of Iowa said, “Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter ‘A’“. Is everyone who voted for the bill also an adulterer? Rep. Virgil Goode tried to match his colleague in the non sequitur dept., “I say if you are here illegally and want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico and wave the American flag.” With brilliant statements like these, it’s clear who has the facts on their side in this debate.
No IPO For Vonage? (CNN Money)
Despite the fact that they’ve filed their S-1, there’s been no amendments in 2 months, and that’s leading some to speculate (and it appears to be entirely speculation) that company is putting themselves on the block. The S-1 was received unenthusiastically as they’re already facing moderate churn and high customer acquisition costs (perhaps you’ve seen their ads?). So who would buy them? Maybe AT&T could get them cheap, and switch their customers to its Callvantage plan. An interesting development in this space was also Comcast’s recent announcement that they plan to charge over $50/month to some customers for their digital voice (VOIP) offering. Seems like quite a lot, a high enough price point to keep the Vonages of the world in the game.
J.P Morgan Wants Rivals’ Branches (WSJ)
J.P. Morgan is still really interested in physical bank locations. The company is looking to pick up 300 of Bank Of New York’s locations, probably via an asset swap, giving the nation’s oldest public company some of their corporate-trust division. This would probably work out for both, as it allows BONY to focus on their core business, while JP Morgan can invest the money to spruce up and improve the technology at the locations.

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  • 30 Mar 2006 at 6:10 PM
  • Disney

Cramer on Eisner

cramereisner.jpgWe’re not sure who at CNBC decided that Michael Eisner needed a talk show, but we suspect that it may be the same person who decided Tina Brown and Dennis Miller needed a talk show. We were passively watching it late Wednesday night when our cable provider decided to invoke the Emergency Broadcasting System siren, and the screeching buzzer was almost better TV.
We’ll admit that it was fun to watch Eisner interview Sir Howard Stringer and ask him questions about Michael Ovitz while trying not to flinch, and the preview for the next show–Regis Philbin grilling Eisner about why he pulled ‘Millionaire’–was entertaining if only because we don’t think Philbin could even get a meeting with Eisner when Eisner was still “working,” but…
Eisner is a charisma black hole. Where even the most loathesome people have a smidgen of charisma they can pull out in case of emergency/multi-million-dollar syndication deal/divorce court hearing, Eisner has a big empty void, a charisma abyss. On a scale of one to charismatic, Eisner is a negative 10 Clintons. It’s painful. And we’re apparently not the only ones who think so.
During the call-in portion of Jim Cramer’s show just now, a caller complained that he turned on CNBC at 9PM Wednesday, expecting to find Mad Money, but it wasn’t there. Cramer: “That’s Cramer being a team player!” [Cramer pushes a button, gratuitous sound effect.]
Caller: “Yeah, but how’s that guy gonna make me any money?”
Cramer: “That’s Cramer defaulting to teeeeam player!”
Somewhere at CNBC, a call screener is getting a slap to the back of the head.

Planespotting: A Dead Hooker Guide

planespottingMudflap_Girl.jpg = Dead hooker
planespottingMudflap_Girl.jpg X 1 = More mundane and predictable than Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism. (C’mon. Man Without A Face? Don’t even pretend you didn’t know that was a metaphor for Hitler.)
planespottingMudflap_Girl.jpg X 5 = Put her in a bag and walk promptly but cautiously out of the hotel. Drive to the docks. Make the drop with a guy named Snakes. Speak to no one. You were never here. Where? Exactly.