Archive for March 2006

The Vatican Knows All, but Nothing of Martin Frankel

Insurance Journal is second only to Star for candid shots of Nicole Richie, and reports that a federal appeals court in Jackson, Mississippi has rejected the contention that the Vatican is responsible for the actions of Monsignor Emilio Colagiovanni, who was found guilty of deceiving regulators in connection with the Ponzi-scheming, insurance fraud of Martin Frankel.
Frankel you know as the Greenwich-based money manager with a history of sexual perversion and money-laundering. For a period in the late 1990’s he claimed to speak with total authority on matters of investments.
The Vatican you know as the Rome-based Holy See with a history of sexual perversion and money-laundering. For the past two-thousand years it has claimed to speak with total authority on matters of conscience.
I’ve no idea how these two managed to find one another.
Miss. Dealt Setback in Bid to Link Vatican to Frankel Fraud [Insurance Journal]

  • 22 Mar 2006 at 11:58 AM
  • Microsoft

Gates YouTubes Self; Minions Laugh

I can’t decide what I find creepier: Bill Gates making self-deprecating jokes or the hollow, soulless laughter in the background.
Also: is YouTube-ing yourself the new self-Googling?

While We’re Asking…

CNBC asks [live on Squawkbox]: If your boss were a stock, would you buy, sell or hold?
A valuable question. If we know who your boss is.
Feel free to answer and feel free to be specific. Send to tipsATdealbreakerDOTcom.

Jamie Dimon Cuts Your Costs

jdimon.jpgFrom Fortune’s Jamie Dimon profile:

Dimon became president of J.P. Morgan Chase (Research) in mid-2004 when it acquired Bank One, where he had been CEO. Soon after, he convened an emergency meeting and ripped into his new colleagues for “letting pay get totally out of hand.” … Among the examples that set him off: Regional bank managers at J.P. Morgan earned around $2 million — five times the $400,000 that comparable Bank One people made. Morgan’s human resources chief was pocketing better than $5 million. Outraged, Dimon announced he was slashing comp for hundreds of staff positions by 20% to 50% over two years. “I’d tell people they were way overpaid,” Dimon recalls, “and guess what? They already knew it.” The kicker: Most of the managers stayed on despite the cuts.

The real kicker: most of the managers had no choice but to stay on despite the cuts. But Dimon’s historically a cost-cutter. (Goodbye gym, goodbye fresh flowers, goodbye bonus…) Top line revenue growth, not so much.
In This Corner! The Contender [Fortune]

Opening Bell: 3.22.06

chuckprince.jpegCitigroup’s Weill to Retire Next Month (WSJ)
The drawn out coronation will finally be complete, as Citigroup chairman, Sandy Weill, will give up his seat to CEO Chuck Prince. Weill’s been looking to hightail it out of there for some time, and the board is ready to grant him his wish. Everyone at the company seems pretty positive on Prince for “sharpening their strategic focus” and “nurturing the company’s core platform”, though it hasn’t exactly translated to the bottom line, as witnessed by the company’s moribund stock performance of late.
Hedge Fund Manager Fears Football Players He Defrauded (CNN Money) (via Dealbook)
One (allegedly) fraudulent hedge-fund manager messed with the wrong clients. Attorneys for manager Kirk Wright have told papers that his client is hiding out, on the lam, fearing retribution from various current and ex-NFL players. The attorney claims that some of them even found the man’s house, and harassed workers there, asking where Wright was. The Atlanta-based manager, who has his own arrest warrants out, probably wishes he lived in Greenwich right now.
Morgan Stanley To Move Research Jobs To Asia (WSJ)
Aah, so it begins. Mack the knife, picking some fat off the bone, will move 50 or 60 research (read: glorified data entry) jobs to India, to reflect the reality that electronic trading has been cutting commissions. Yes, 50 or 60 jobs is nothing, but it’s bound to get bigger and the effect of Morgan’s restructuring will reverberate around the street. Given how much excess there is at all the major houses, investors will clamor for the improved margins and cost-reductions they’re seeing done at Morgan. Damn, there goes our base. Next Up: Dealbreaker Bombay.
Making Speculation Fun And Affordable (Forbes)
Forbes has an interesting profile of Thomas Peterffy, who wants to take advantage of the bull market in speculation. Instead of the usual 50% margin requirements on retail stock investing, he wants to drive it down to 20%, making it much easier to place risky, highly-leveraged bets on securities. There’s no doubt that consumers want it. Thirst for this kind of leverage has pushed the mom and pop investor to dabble in more exotic markets, like crude futures, Forex, and futures on the German DAX, etc. Basically, people really like to gamble (witness the rise of poker over the last few years), why not let them do it on Wall St. ? Besides, they provide liquidity, right?

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  • 21 Mar 2006 at 12:45 PM
  • NYSE

Gratuitous Probing

The more I see Dick Grasso’s mug plastered on TV and in the papers, the more I think he reminds me of someone:
That said, the Post’s John Crudele seems a little too enthusiastic in pushing for a criminal investigation of trading improprieties under Grasso’s watch. Grasso pleaded the Fifth with regard to issues about his compensation, and Crudele is content to indict him with that, even though (A) a it’s not an admission of guilt and (B) it was done in regard to an entirely different issue. As Gary Weiss points out, if trading improprieties are the issue, Grasso can stand in line behind a number of other Big Board execs.
But he certainly looks evil. Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

  • 21 Mar 2006 at 11:09 AM

Tom’s of Bling

Tom’s of Maine, the maker of natural toothpastes and hygiene products, announced today that it will sell to Colgate-Palmolive for $100 million in cash. [Chicago Tribune]
Tom’s was founded in Kennebunkport in 1970 by the Chappell family. We can most likely assume that they were hippies when they did this, because most everything that was done in Maine in the 1970’s was done, at least in part, by hippies.
We can also assume that they are hippies no more, because they are about to receive $100 million from a company that quite often puts glitter in its toothpastes before having them tested on animals.
In other news, Ben & Jerry are said to be considering an all-cash bid from Raytheon.

  • 21 Mar 2006 at 10:38 AM

Merrill Acquires… Sir Ivan?

Wilzig140x170.jpgWe weren’t actually blogging last week, so we missed the Merrill Lynch talks with North Fork, but it is truly unfortunate that it didn’t work out because Merrill missed the opportunity to acquire North Fork’s most precious hidden asset:
Ivan Wilzig, or “Sir Ivan” or “Peaceman” as he is known in certain circles. North Fork acquired New Jersey Trust Co. a few years ago, which was founded by his father, Siggi Wilzig. Ivan works there in some capacity–when he’s not wearing an applique cape and throwing raves as techno artist Sir Ivan. Ivan’s raison d’etre: “What Bob Geldof does for the rock and roll community,” Sir Ivan said, “this is what I want to do for the rave community.”

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