Carl Icahn says he isn’t paying a bill from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., on principle. … “These guys were hired to keep me from buying the company at $30 and they failed,” Mr. Icahn said in an interview. “But they are now demanding $18 million for having done nothing.”
Goldman’s suit says the bank “fully performed all of its obligations.”
This is about Goldman’s lawsuit against Icahn-controlled CVR Energy, which has refused to pay Goldman’s bill, and both of these statements are obviously true! CVR and Goldman signed an engagement letter to the effect of (1) Goldman will hold CVR’s collective hand because it is scared of Carl Icahn and in exchange (2) CVR will pay Goldman 0.525% of the purchase price if someone buys it (and also some money if no one does*). Hands were held, so Goldman fulfilled its end of the bargain. Icahn does not think that that was worth eighteen million dollars but it wasn’t him trembling in the night as corporate raiders circled outside his door, so he wouldn’t would he? Read more »
In an unusual move, the board of Credit Suisse Group AG Friday issued a statement to back Chief Executive Brady Dougan, saying it is confident management’s plans to bolster capital will ensure Switzerland’s No. 2 bank meets and exceeds regulatory requirements. Mr. Dougan’s problems have been building in recent days. Last week, he was caught up in an unusual public spat with Switzerland’s central bank over whether Credit Suisse’s capital cushion is adequate. Meanwhile, the Swiss bank’s stock has fallen sharply and some of its bankers are grumbling about Mr. Dougan’s performance as chief executive. The questions about Mr. Dougan have intensified in recent days and represent an unwelcome distraction for the bank, which has prided itself on avoiding much of the turmoil that has befallen its larger rival, UBS AG. The board has now moved to quell any speculation about Mr. Dougan’s future at the bank, saying it was comfortable with the progress that has been made toward meeting the Basel III capital requirements. [WSJ]
If you didn’t know Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, you might think he enjoyed not being compensated for the work he does at Citigroup because for quite some time, he wasn’t. And although the “I will only get paid $1/year until Citi turns a profit” exercise was fun for a while, he was pretty happy when the old jalopy started making money again, in part because it meant he could receive a paycheck. Then last April, his shareholders rejected the bank’s executive pay plan, claiming the Big C “lets Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit collect millions of dollars in rewards too easily.” And while it’s possible that Citi shareholders are just a bunch of pricks who chose to overlook the fact that Uncle Vikula didn’t collect squat for several years and once had an entire article written about the fact that lieutenants attributed a “new bounce in his step” to him daydreaming “the day when he is going to earn more than a $1 a year,” maybe they just assume that he doesn’t care about getting paid either way? Anyway, here’s Vickles, setting the record straight (and reminding anyone who forgot about the sacrifices he’s made): Read more »
Are we supposed to care about these downgrades? I like Glenn Schorr at Nomura, emphasis mine:
We think the net financial impact of these downgrades will be manageable as 1) potential collateral calls are small percentages of these firms’ liquidity pools; 2) counterparties have been preparing for this for some time and ratings downgrades have been an issue for the last 2+ years (there was little impact on Citi and BAC when they were downgraded back in September of 2011); 3) ratings are a relative game: given that Moody’s downgraded all capital markets firms, no single-firm is an outlier, so we don’t expect to see one company uniquely impacted. Yes, we get that counterparties looking to do long-dated derivatives might prefer a single-A rated entity, but as Basel III is implemented and more derivatives move to central clearinghouses, counterparty ratings should become less meaningful and clients will adapt (and not do all their business with JPM and GS).
It would be a serious misinterpretation of credit ratings to think of them as a global rank ordering of risks in the world. “A-rated things are of course safer than BBB-rated things,” you say, and get punched in the face repeatedly by life. A-rated things are not safer than BBB-rated things. A-rated RMBS CDOs were not safer than BBB-rated corporates, A-rated corporates are not safer than BBB-rated municipalities, and A-rated banks are it goes without saying not safer than BBB-rated software companies. Nobody really suggests otherwise – if they did, this graph would be a huge embarrassment to Moody’s: Read more »
Citigroup Leads Wall Street Banks In Moody’s Downgrade Dismissal (Bloomberg)
Moody’s two-grade cut of Citigroup’s ratings was unwarranted, arbitrary and failed to recognize the lender’s financial strength, the New York-based bank said in a statement. Investors shouldn’t rely on “opaque” credit ratings, it said. “Moody’s approach is backward-looking and fails to recognize Citi’s transformation over the past several years,” said the bank. “Citi believes that investors and clients have become much more sophisticated in their credit analysis over the past few years, and that few rely on ratings alone — particularly from a single agency — to make their credit decisions.”
Moody’s Downgrade of Banks ‘Absurd,’ Says Dick Bove (CNBC)
“This is one of the most absurd things that Moody’s has ever done perhaps in the history of the company,” said Dick Bove, Vice President of Equity Research in the Financial Sector at Connecticut-based Rochdale Securities.
Ratings Downgrade Cuts Deeply At Morgan Stanley (NYT)
In an e-mail sent to staff members after the downgrade was announced, Mr. Gorman tried to reassure employees about the bank’s future. “While we do not believe that this outcome reflects all of the transformative changes we have made to the firm, there is an acknowledgment in Moody’s decision today that real progress has been made at Morgan Stanley, in what is an extremely difficult environment for our industry,” he wrote.
Hedge Funds Mask Identities (WSJ)
It is the latest in-vogue accessory among hedge-fund managers: a “masked fund.” Bridgewater Associates has “ZQPGGAV00000,” John Paulson has “Paulson Fund 1″ while Cliff Asness’s AQR Capital Management prefers “805-1355888867.” The cryptic monikers, more product barcodes than real handles, enable the hedge-fund managers to shield the identities of their funds from the prying eyes of regulators and outsiders in forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission…The practice, allowed under a new SEC instruction that lets firms preserve the anonymity of their clients in certain cases, has irked some investors and their advisers. They argue that hiding funds’ identities in regulatory filings undermines Washington’s efforts to make the reticent world of hedge funds more transparent and hinders investors’ efforts to keep tabs on the firms that manage their assets.
Emails Ties Goldman Manager, Rajaratnam (WSJ)
A current Goldman managing director exchanged emails with Galleon founder Raj Rajaratnam ahead of a daily “morning meeting” at Galleon, according to previously undisclosed emails and wiretapped phone call transcripts reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In the emails, the Goldman manager offered what he called “tiddie biddies” about some top technology firms, including Apple and Intel Corp…In the emails, Mr. Loeb often addressed Mr. Rajaratnam with nicknames like “Dr RR” and “big daddie” and signed off his emails with CBF, which colleagues have said stands for “chunky but funky.”
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the debt ratings of 15 major international banks and securities firms on Thursday, a move that could cost the banks billions of dollars in extra collateral…U.S banks that were downgraded included: Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley. “All of the banks affected by today’s actions have significant exposure to the volatility and risk of outsized losses inherent to capital markets activities,” Moody’s said in a statement. “However, they also engage in other, often market leading business activities that are central to Moody’s assessment of their credit profiles,” the firm added. “These activities can provide important ‘shock absorbers’ that mitigate the potential volatility of capital markets operations, but they also present unique risks and challenges.” [CNBC, related]
Sell-side M&A work is mostly a pretty good and lucrative business model but it has a few flaws. Try to spot a key one here:
(1) you represent a target;
(2) you spend your days fighting tooth and nail with the buyer to try to make them pay more and give up optionality, and generally to get more of the benefits of the deal for the target than for the buyer;
(3) then the buyer acquires the target, fires all the directors and officers, changes the locks, and replaces the stationery;
(4) then you get paid.