RBS Sees Widened Loss (WSJ)
The bank said Thursday that it slumped to a 2011 full-year net loss of nearly £2 billion ($3.13 billion) as the euro-zone crisis continued to weigh on its investment banking division and restructuring costs hammered the U.K. bank’s bottom line. RBS which is 83%-owned by the U.K. government, saw full-year revenue tumble 11% to £26.6 billion despite lower impairment charges and a hefty gain on the fair value of its own debt. Despite media and political pressure to lower remuneration, the bank paid out nearly £1 billion in bonuses for the year. Chief Executive Stephen Hester said the results showed that the bank was progressing in the right direction and defended the RBS’s bonus pool, saying it was important to incentivize staff. “Our job is to defuse the biggest-ever time bomb put in a banking balance sheet,” he told a conference call. “In this respect, we are making progress.”
Credit Agricole posts Q4 loss as Greece bites (AP)
Credit Agricole SA reported a euro3.07 billion ($4.06 billion) net loss in the fourth quarter on Thursday, as an intensifying European debt crisis drove down the value of its Greek bonds and shaved billions off the bank’s bottom line. Credit Agricole — hit by the Greek debt crisis largely through its ownership of Greek bank Emporiki — said fourth-quarter net profit plunged nearly tenfold from a loss of euro328 million in the last quarter of 2010. It also posted a net loss for 2011 of euro1.47 billion.
SEC May Ticket Speeding Traders (WSJ)
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said a large portion of equities trading has little to do with “the fundamentals of the company that’s being traded.” She said it had more to do with “the minuscule aberrational price move” that computer-assisted traders with direct connections to the exchange can “jump on” in fractions of a second. Such activity “worries me,” Ms. Schapiro said in a breakfast meeting Wednesday with reporters. One solution would be forcing high-frequency traders to pay for the canceled trades that make up nine-tenths of all orders, she said.
Investigators Probe a Rush at MF Global to Move Cash (WSJ)
Federal regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. bankruptcy trustee for MF Global’s brokerage unit are examining two separate transfers from customer accounts, including a previously undisclosed $165 million transaction, said people familiar with the matter. They said some of the investigators are poring over emails and records related to these and other money transfers.
Goldman Sachs experiencing executive exodus (NYP)
Yesterday, Chaim Howard Wietschner, 44, became the latest partner to leave. An internal announcement revealed that the senior hedge fund honcho was set to bolt. Named a partner in November 2002, Wietschner will follow more than 50 partners who have opted to “retire” over the past several months. Indeed, Wietschner’s departure is the third in the past two weeks.
Facebook Insiders Push $100 Billon Value (Bloomberg)
“Facebook is a blue-chip stock and it’s not even public yet,” said Kevin Landis, portfolio manager for the Firsthand Technology Value Fund in San Jose, California. Facebook jumped as high as $44 this month in private trading, valuing the company at $103 billion and leaving it higher than when Landis bought stock at about $30 to $31 in October. He said he aims to add to his holdings.
Prostitution-themed Wódka vodka billboard near Hunts Point is removed (NYDN)
A day after Bronx community leaders blasted a billboard selling vodka with a pitch about prostitution, the sign came down. The ad for Wódka vodka read “Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing” and hung over the Bruckner Expressway leading to Hunts Point, an area still battling an image as a place to buy sex. After learning neighbors were fuming over the sign, the ad’s creators agreed to nix it. Read more »