Yesterday’s revelations that Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd directly approved a sting-operation against a reporter arose after the Washington Post got hold of some internal company emails.
Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Mark V. Hurd approved an elaborate “sting” operation on a reporter in February in an attempt to plug leaks to the media, according to an e-mail message sent by HP Chairman Patricia C. Dunn.
The document, one of more than two dozen e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, for the first time links Hurd to an internal investigation of media leaks that has led to criminal probes and will be the subject of a congressional hearing next week.
Internal e-mails show senior HP employees who were given the task of identifying anonymous news sources concocted a fictitious, high-level HP tipster who sent bogus information to a San Francisco reporter in an attempt to trick her into revealing her sources.
Just to keep things straight, let’s recap. Someone at H-P is leaking to the press internal documents about H-P’s investigation into who at H-P was leaking to the press. Clearly what H-P needs to do is investigate who is leaking information about the investigation about the investigation about who was leaking information about H-P. Ouch. It hurts just to think about that.
HP CEO Allowed ‘Sting’ of Reporter [Washington Post]
As we mentioned the other day, the Wall Street Journal has its business school rankings out this week. As usual, Michigan and Dartmouth are in the top slots. But then we started wondering: is this right? Or has the Journal’s methodology gone awry?
We asked some business school friends but they all fall into three camps. Coincidentally their opinions were very well correlated with where they went to school. The Dartmouth MBAs said the list was awesome except that Michigan isn’t better. The Wharton MBAs said the entire list had been broken for years. The Columbia MBAs were too busy to return our calls.
So here’s how we’re getting to the bottom of this. Below you’ll find the Journal rankings of the top ten. In the comments we invite you to place the schools in the order you think make the most sense.
1 University of Michigan (Ross)
2 Dartmouth College (Tuck)
3 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
4 Columbia University
5 University of California, Berkeley (Haas)
6 Northwestern University (Kellogg)
7 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
8 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
9 Yale University
10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
Well, it’s a Brian Hunter. But we have nothing but circumstantial evidence indicating it’s the Brian Hunter. He looks about the right age. Same name. And he’s in Canada. So, like, maybe, right?
The Financial Times delivers this news (but we picked it up from Crossing Wall Street):
Market gossip is to take on a more high-tech form thanks to a new automated system that will trawl through more than 40m internet sources – from blogs to regulatory filings – on behalf of hedge funds.
Due for an official launch early next year, the platform is being run by a former Deutsche Bank executive and has received financing from, among others, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the venture capital firm that backed Skype before it was sold to Ebay for $4.1bn last year. Ten hedge funds are trying out the system.
Called Monitor110, the platform acts as an aggregator and a filter for hedge funds trying to keep up with the explosion of information sources on the internet, such as blogs. The blog search engine Technorati currently tracks 50m blogs, with about 175,000 new ones created every day.
Note: if your hedge fund starts investing based on advice from, say, Muffie or Brock‘s DealBreaker articles, you might want to reconsider your choice of money managers.
Market gossip goes high-tech [Financial Times]
Boards of directors are so over [legal]
NYSE addressing concerns that Euronext deal will expand US regulatory reach, including SOX, into Europe [legal]
Amaranth: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before [legal]
Cablevision gave stock options to dead employee, backdated to when he was among the living [backdating]
Samsung official accused of price-fixing pleads guilty [legal]
M&A: [? = not yet closed, problems with the deal, lingering questions, etc.]
JP Morgan + Washington Mutual: ?
MTV + Harmonix Music Systems
Merck + Serono
Yahoo + Facebook:?
Hospira + Mayne Pharma
Lehman Brothers buys a minority stake in BATS Trading
For Sale/ LBOs/ Going Private/ Auctions/ Offerings:
Tribune to consider selling media properties [For sale?]
What is YouTube really worth to Yahoo? [For Sale?]
March & McLennan may be considering a breakup deal [Breakup?]
Dutch government sells its remaining 8 percent stake in Royal KPN [Sold]
KKR consortium planning big bond deal [Offering]
People & Moves:
Could Goshn end up with Ford? [Partnerships?]
Andrew Clarke has resigned from law firm Allens Arthur Robinson to become head of Citigroup’s Australian M&A group [Upgrade]
For the first time, it takes a minimum of $1B to get on Forbes 400 list [Wealth]
How much did he know? Focus is on Hurd as HP stock price reacts to troubles (San Francisco Chronicle)
As we anticipated in yesterday’s Opening Bell, the inclusion of CEO Mark Hurd in the scandal at HP took a shot at the company’s stock for the first time. All those traders who thought they were so damn clever for buying up HP as soon as the initial scandal broke are now down on their bets, because they weren’t clever enough to realize that this could be bigger than just the board. But while nobody likes trouble in the C-suites, maybe the real contrarian play is to realize that Hurd is not as important to HP’s success as everyone else believes. Or, maybe people should realize that HP’s turnaround is a bit of a fraud; by far the majority of its op income still comes from selling freakin’ printer ink. And when your competitor’s laptops blow up, yeah, you’re going to look like your doing ok.
Billionaires rule US richest list (BBC)
Awesome, for the first time everyone on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans is a billionaire. Finally the least means something. Of course, Bill Gates came in at #1, and Buffett at #2. But #3 might be a bit of a surprise, as it goes to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who had been #15th. What’s really interesting is that if you look at the global list (just keep clicking refresh on Forbes.com, they’re bound to have that list up soon, right?), the number of gambling related billionaires has skyrocketed. As the world gets richer, people like to throw their money down the toilet, it seems.
Cablevision Gave Backdated Grant To Dead Official (WSJ)
If the dead can vote, why shouldn’t they be allowed to receive stock options? Really, people are all up in arms — including self-appointed corporate governance experts — because Cablevision has admitted to backdating options to prior to a VP’s death. As one critic, a prof at Columbia, put it, “Trying to incentivize a corpse suggests they were not complying with the spirit of shareholder-approved stock-option plans.” Well, ok, maybe you can’t technically incentivize a corpse, we don’t really know.
Herman Miller as Contrarian Indicator (Infectious Greed)
Is it a worrisome sign that Herman Miller is once again reporting blow-out quarters? Oh, allow us to rephrase that. Is it a worrisome sign that the maker of the Aeron Chair is once again reporting blow-out quarters? Or is an Aeron chair no longer the luxury item it once was; is it really a requisite piece of furniture for the modern office. Really, what’s a few hundred dollars on a chair, if it means your employees don’t have to take off early once a week for a visit to the chiropractor.
Read more »
$$$34 year-old investment banker’s girlfriend needs a girlfriend. Help a brother’s sister out. [Craigslist]
$$$Dick Parsons: I wouldn’t wipe my ass with FaceBook, let alone pay $1 billion for it. [DealBook]
$$$Wear your Carolyn-hate on your sleeve: more Team Trump T’s [Cafe Press]
Unwinding Amaranth’s energy trades is getting more expensive everyday. Yesterday the losses were $4.5 billion. Today they are said to be $6 billion. It’s kinda hard to imagine those kind of numbers. So look at it this way. Yesterday Amaranth’s losses added up to a hole in the Caribbean opening up and swallowing the Bahamas. Today Barbados fell into the abyss too.
But Thursday wasn’t only about even bigger losses. Today came with news about a possible buyout, more trouble at pension funds, lawsuits and an analysts warning that JP Morgan might not be able to manage to energy positions it bought from Amaranth.
• Amaranth losses now at $6.5 billion. [Bloomberg]
• An analyst at Pru warns that JP Morgan might not have the expertise to handle the volatile Amaranth trades it just took on. [MarketWatch]
• Citigroup talks buyout/bailout with Amaranth. [Associated Press]
• Amaranth’s Wednesday letter to investors. [Reuters]
• Pennsylvania and New Jersey pension funds hit by Amaranth losses. [Associated Press]
• Amaranth readies itself for the inevitable lawsuits. Hires Skadden. [Financial Times]
• Banks still scrambling to ramp up their energy trading units. [Forbes]
We love the media cliché where you go and ask a murderer’s neighbors about him and they say, “He was a quiet boy. Kept to himself. I can’t believe he did anything like this.” We love it because it is so reliable. Happens almost every time.
Another reason for our love: because it is so creepy. Who doesn’t have a quiet neighbor who keeps to themselves?
So we’re hoping that this new one catches on. It’s the one where you ask the childhood friends of a financial bigshot to speculate on his finance prowess. Completely, wonderfully inane.
Anyway, here’s the Stamford Advocate’s version inspired by the meltdown of Nick Maounis’s Amaranth hedge fund.
Can Maounis lead Amaranth back? Rose said the boy who grew up next door is up for the challenge.
“I’ve been a neighbor for a long time, and I really have the utmost respect for his accomplishments.”
Hedge fund founder was ‘just plain Nicky’ at Westhill [Stamford Advocate]
We already know Amaranth sold off its energy portfolio to Citadel and JP Morgan Chase and had to liquidate about half its European bond portfolio to cover the energy trading losses. So what else is Amaranth selling off? A DealBreaker reader writes in with a firsthand account of Amaranth selling Asian assets.
Stuck here in HK, sitting next to our Asian converts trader.
Apparently, Amaranth’s death throes attracted a school of hedge fund sharks trying to gobble up their Asian converts portfolio. By the time we got in touch with the Amaranth trader, they had 16 bidders, mix of hedgies and banks. The guy basically told us, “too late, piss off.”
Nice to know his arrogance has survived the erasure of his deferred comp and job. In the end, the book traded to one buyer (identity not clear) at approx 2% discount “to where it was marked last week.”
Got anymore good (or bad or ugly, for that matter) Amaranth stories? Send ‘em our way. Tips (at) dealbreaker (dot) com. Thanks!
The finger pointing and buck-passing over Amaranths enormous–and still growing–losses has officially begun. We thought we’d get ahead of the game and settle the issue right now. And how do we arrive at the ultimate truths here at DealBreaker. By appealing to the highest authority: You!
That’s right. It’s time for another DealBreaker Reader Poll. Vote below and check back frequently for results. And remember, you can always vote other by leaving a message in the comments section.