September 2012

  • Ken Lewis made this face at Merrill but didn't tell anyone about it.

    News

    Banks Win Some, Lose Some In Shareholder Lawsuits

    A surprising percentage of conversations at Dealbreaker HQ go like this: Bess: Can you really sue someone for [thing someone is suing someone else over]? Matt: Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Bess: Did you even go to law school?1 What you don’t learn in law school, though, is that “what the law says” and […]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 6:40 PM
  • News

    Bloomberg TV: So You’re Thinking About Banging A College Kid

    If you want to make things easy on yourself, go after an economics major, says Bloomberg TV, which cautions people to avoid philosophy, education, and earth science concentrators, who make up “the least promiscuous majors.” Just don’t get too excited about your odds, though, warns anchor Scarlet Fu, noting that “we are far from the […]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 6:02 PM
  • News

    These Things Happen

    Kareem Serageldin, the ex-global head of Credit Suisse’s CDO business charged in a bonus-boosting fraud tied to a $5.35 billion trading book, plans to fight extradition to the U.S. until he reaches a plea deal. Serageldin’s lawyer told a London court yesterday that his client’s arrest this week outside the U.S. Embassy was a result […]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 3:04 PM
  • News

    Harbinger Capital-Backed LightSquared: What If We Told You We Could Build A Wireless Network That Doesn’t Kill People Via GPS Interference? Does That Sound Like Something You’d Be Interested In?

    As many of you know, the last year or so has been a pretty tough one for Phil Falcone. In addition to a civil suit against him by Harbinger Capital investors, DWAI’s on the home front, and the pesky matter of being charged with securities fraud by the SEC, which would like to see him banned from the industry, what’s really been plaguing him has been the opposition encountered by LightSquared, his dream and the thing he’s more or less staked all his and his investors’ money on. Before it entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, the most serious charge against the company was that while it may seek to create “convenient connectivity for all,” in doing so, the odds are high it would GPS interference that would result in boats getting lost at sea; “degrade precision services that track hurricanes, guide farmers, and help build flood defenses“; and, according to the FAA, “cost 794 lives in aviation accidents over 10 years with disruptions to satellite-aided navigation.” Now, four months later, the would-be wireless network has come back with a plan: LightSquared, but without all the bad parts (for now).

    Philip Falcone’s LightSquared on Friday made a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission that the company hopes will solve the regulatory issues surrounding its wireless satellite network and help it build its business faster without abandoning its long-term goals…LightSquared filed to modify its license application so it can use its five megahertz of spectrum that haven’t caused GPS worries. It also seeks to use another five that it would share with federal-government users. The other filing, a rulemaking petition, calls for LightSquared to forego using the “upper” 10 MHz that have caused GPS concerns. In the meantime, it still wants the FCC to consider use of that 10 MHz but agreed to wait for and cooperate with “operating parameters and revised rules for terrestrial use of this spectrum.”

    Don’t get them wrong, they *want* to use the stuff that’s possibly GSP harmful, but in the meantime will be happy to use the stuff that isn’t, if that works for everyone.

    LightSquared Proposes Sharing Wireless Network With Government [DowJones]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 2:29 PM
  • News

    Jeffrey Gundlach’s Babies Come Home

    Just a week after putting out an AMBER alert that several of his beloved pieces of art had gone missing during a heist on his home and a mere four days after an emotional press conference pleading with the public to help him find them, bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach’s most prized possessions, after his Sexy […]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM
  • NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP

    News

    It’s The Beginning Of The End For Danish Kroner Libor

    Why would you want to be a Libor bank? It’s unpaid work, in that every day you need to get on the phone to Reuters and say where you can borrow across 150 tenors and currencies in which you mostly don’t borrow, which one assumes taxes the imagination. And there’s potential badness, though the specifics […]

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM
  • Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 09.28.12

    Bank Of America Reaches Settlement In Merrill Lynch Acquisition-Related Class Action Litigation (BW)
    Under terms of the proposed settlement, Bank of America would pay a total of $2.43 billion and institute certain corporate governance policies. Plaintiffs had alleged, among other claims, that Bank of America and certain of its officers made false or misleading statements about the financial health of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Bank of America denies the allegations and is entering into this settlement to eliminate the uncertainties, burden and expense of further protracted litigation.

    Greece Seeks Taxes From Wealthy With Cash Havens in London (NYT)
    At the request of the Athens government, the British financial authorities recently handed over a detailed list of about 400 Greek individuals who have bought and sold London properties since 2009. The list, closely guarded, has not been publicly disclosed. But Greek officials are examining it to determine whether the people named — who they say include prominent businessmen, bankers, shipping tycoons and professional athletes — have deceived the tax authorities by understating their wealth.

    Libor Riggers May Be Criminal, Even If Acts Not Illegal at Time (CNBC)
    Those who took part in the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor), the key benchmark rate, could face criminal prosecution even though Libor manipulation is not yet a criminal offense. Martin Wheatley, who is advising the U.K. government on what changes could be made to Libor to stop manipulation in the future, said that U.K. regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is considering prosecuting those who took part under “broad principles of conduct.” He also recommended that the government should give the FSA power to prosecute future Libor manipulation.

    Libor Furor: Key Rate Gets New Scrutiny (WSJ)
    “There’s a concern that if you’re going to base financial decisions on a particular interest rate” it should be a measure that responds to changes in market conditions, “and that’s not Libor,” said Andrew Lo, a finance professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Macquarie Bonuses Whack Profit (WSJ)
    Macquarie Group may have lost its reputation as the Millionaire’s Factory as profits slumped since the onset of the global financial crisis, but according to Citigroup analysts the bank’s net profit could have been 60% higher last financial year if not for a dramatic rise in bonus payments to staff…Wes Nason estimates that while the bank’s return on equity fell to 6.8% last financial year-–hitting its lowest level since it listed in the first half of fiscal 2012 and compared with a 10-year average of 18.4%—-its average bonus payments almost tripled to A$73,000 a head, up from A$26,000 in 2009.

    Replacement referee Lance Easley stands by touchdown call (NYDN)
    Lance Easley has been vilified for awarding the Seattle Seahawks a touchdown on its Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds of Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers even though pretty much everyone in the country saw that the pass had been intercepted. “I processed everything properly,” Easley told the Daily News Thursday. “It was supported on video. But the bad thing is, people don’t understand the rules in that whole play. “But that play rarely ever happens, it rarely happens in the field of play and it never happens in an NFL game,” he added. “And here I got stuck in the middle of it.” The call was reviewed on instant replay — and, amazingly, upheld, despite the refs also missing a pass interference infraction by a Seattle player. Since then the 52-year-old Bank of America banker has been swept up in a whirlwind of national outrage — one that forced the NFL to end a seven-week lockout of its unionized refs early Thursday. But Easley said he and his replacements did a good job in their stint in zebra stripes. “I know where I stand,” he said. “Everything I did … I got support from all the referees and everything, and replay and our league office and anybody else that understands the rules and how those plays function.

    Spanish Rescue May Throw Crisis Spotlight on Italy (Reuters)
    Italian government bonds risk being thrown back into the spotlight of the euro zone debt crisis once Spain decides to request aid and secures central bank support for its debt. A partial bailout for Madrid would probably trigger the European Central Bank’s bond-buying plan, lowering Spain’s borrowing costs and increasing investor appetite for riskier assets in general, including debt issued by Italy. But Italy could then return to the forefront of market concern as the next weak link. “The risks increase that you will get a contagion into Italy,” said David Keeble, global head of fixed income strategy at Credit Agricole.

    Cyber Attacks On Banks Expose Computer Vulnerability (WSJ)
    Cyber attacks on the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., have breached some of the nation’s most advanced computer defenses and exposed the vulnerability of its infrastructure, said cybersecurity specialists tracking the assaults.
    The attack, which a U.S. official yesterday said was waged by a still-unidentified group outside the country, flooded bank websites with traffic, rendering them unavailable to consumers and disrupting transactions for hours at a time. Such a sustained network attack ranks among the worst-case scenarios envisioned by the National Security Agency, according to the U.S. official, who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly. The extent of the damage may not be known for weeks or months, said the official, who has access to classified information.

    Fitch Ratings Cuts China, India 2012 Growth Forecasts (CNBC)
    In its September Global Economic Outlook, the ratings agency said it now expected China’s economy, the world’s second largest, to grow 7.8 percent this year, down from a forecast of 8 percent made in June. It also lowered its forecast for economic growth in India to 6 percent in the financial year ending in March 2013 from a previous estimate of 6.5 percent.

    CIT Chief Tries To Rescue Reputation (NYP)
    John Thain yesterday said he brought up executive compensation at the time his firm was getting bailed out by taxpayers not for selfish reasons but to determine how much control Washington would have over his company. “One of the issues we were worried about at the time was, if you take government money how much say does the government have in how you run your business?” Thain said during an interview on CNBC. Days earlier, Thain was trashed by former bank regulator Sheila Bair, who, in her upcoming book, “Bull By the Horns,” accuses the Wall Street veteran of being fixated on pay during the height of the financial Armageddon. Bair, the former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. boss, wrote that Thain “was desperate for capital but was worried about restrictions on executive compensation.” “I could not believe it. Where were this guy’s priorities?” she wrote, referring to Thain. The CEO, who was tapped to run the troubled lender in 2010, also addressed during the CNBC interview rumors that CIT was looking to sell itself to a large bank. “It’s absolutely not true,” Thain said yesterday.

    Canada Cheese-Smuggling Ring Busted (BBC)
    A Canadian police officer was among three people charged as the country’s authorities announced they had busted a major cheese-smuggling ring. A joint US-Canadian investigation found C$200,000 (£125,600) of cheese and other products were illicitly brought over the border into southern Ontario. The smugglers sold large quantities of cheese, which is cheaper in the US, to restaurants, it is alleged. The other two men charged were civilians, one a former police officer. The charges come three days after CBC News first reported the force was conducting an internal investigation into cheese smuggling. A pizzeria owner west of Niagara Falls told CBC that he had been questioned by police over the issue, but assured them he had not bought any contraband dairy. “We get all our stuff legit,” said the restaurateur. “We thought it was a joke at first. Who is going to go around trying to sell smuggled cheese?”

    / Sep 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  • News

    FSA Willing To Give Guy Who Poses “Extreme Risk To The Market When Drunk” Second Chance

    Although not authorized to invest company cash in trades, Steve Perkins, a long standing, senior broker at PVM Oil Futures, had managed to spend $520 million on oil futures contracts throughout the night of June 30, 2009, the FSA said today. On the morning of the 30th, an admin clerk called Perkins to ask why […]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 7:10 PM
  • News

    Layoffs Watch ’12: Bank Of America Australia

    The House of Moynihan has said goodbye to a bunch of employees down under.

    Bank of America Merrill Lynch has begun a new round of job cuts in Australia, a person familiar with the matter told Deal Journal Australia, becoming the latest investment bank to cut costs amid light deal flow and sluggish equity markets due to the stuttering global economic recovery. Fewer than 10 staff from the bank’s equities sales and trading division have been let go, the person said, without elaborating further.

    Bank of America Merrill Lynch Cuts Staff in Australia [Deal Journal]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 5:24 PM
  • News

    John Thain Kept His Promise To Never Redecorate An Office To The Tune Of $10 Million Again

    In February 2010, a year after he’d been fired from Bank of America Merrill Lynch for redecorating his office with $90,000 area rugs, $1,500 garbage cans, and $20,000 light fixtures, and just before he started his job as CEO of CIT Group, John Thain made a bold claim. “I think I’ll keep my office exactly the way it is,”  he told Bloomberg TV. At the time, we went on record saying that there was no way Thain would stick to this pledge, because like any other junkie with a substance abuse problem– in Thain’s case, fabulous furniture– he was at the stage of the recovery process when you have no idea how truly brutal and demanding the road ahead will be. You want to overcome the demons, and you’ll certainly try, but you’re naive enough to think that you’re bigger than the drugs and it’ll happen on the first attempt. We assumed that, like most fiends, he would relapse at least once or twice, especially considering the high risk environment he was about to go into, which was the hideous office of his predecessor at CIT, a place that had never met good taste. Today, however, we stand corrected.

    According to Fox Business News’ Senior Interior Decorator Charlie Gasparino, who first rose to fame with his report on Thain’s decorating spree at Merrill, JT has kept his word.

    “Sources tell the FOX Business Network that Thain’s new office is a low-key affair, far different than the $1.22 million renovated palace he had as CEO of Merrill Lynch that became the object of scorn during the financial crisis. ‘Lots of plastic and formica, and no expensive paintings or area rugs,’ is how one visitor described it to FOX Business. Gone are the $35,000 ‘commode on legs’ and $1400 ‘parchment waste can,’ according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. ‘It looked like an insurance office…he seems to have learned his lesson,’ this person said.”

    He may have broken out in hives for the first three weeks, he may have wanted to rip the wallpaper down in a psychotic rage, he may have been serious when he came home after Day 1 and told his wife, “I may have to quit my job tomorrow,” but, god damn it, he stuck to his promise and for that we should reward him.

    CIT GROUP CEO JOHN THAIN’S OFFICE LOOKS “FAR DIFFERENT” FROM MERRILL LYNCH OFFICE [FBN]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM
  • I will sell this house today

    Sleep Where Erin Callan Hath Slept

    If Joe Gregory’s Lloyd Harbor manse isn’t your style, or the $22 million asking price seems excessive for a place with only 8.5 baths, take a moment to consider the former Lehman Brothers CFO’s East Hamptons pad.

    Callan is asking $3.95 million for the place, where she holed up following the financial crisis and where love blossomed with firefighter Anthony Montella, who she married last January. For you’re money you’ll get 7 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 5,000 square feet, 2 acres, a heated gunite pool, a barn, garden vineyards, “majestic trees,” and a little piece of history. Make her an offer

    Former Lehman CFO Lists East Hampton Home…Again [Curbed via Dealbook]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 3:43 PM
  • PO Box 1658, Chicago, IL, 60690-1658, (312) 588-1685, GIVE THEM ALL YOUR MONEYS

    News

    First Hedge Fund Advertisement Objectivist, Maybe Illegal, Not On Dealbreaker

    Novelty currency dealer and possibly somewhat hedge-fund-esque entity CapitalistPig Asset Management have made some mistakes in their time – sending us unsolicited Nazi coins,1 quoting Ayn Rand in public, advertising their hedge fund in Crain’s Chicago Business, doing it before the SEC’s proposed rules allowing hedge fund advertising go into effect – but they were […]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 2:49 PM
  • News

    Four Years After Shuttering Fund, Long Island Asset Manager/Hooters Franchise Owner/Frederick’s Of Hollywood Devotee Not Ready To Part With Investor Money Just Yet

    In 2008, Fursa Strategic Alternatives, an asset management firm run by Massapequa resident William F. Harley III, informed investors that it would be closing its doors and returning everyone’s money. As some money managers can likely attest though, making the decision to close up shop (and writing people to say as much), doesn’t mean you’re emotionally ready to do so. Harley, for example, couldn’t shake the feeling that he was put on this earth to be an investor and, god damn it, he was going to invest until the day he died. So he did what any rational human being in his position would, and decided to just, you know, hang on to his clients’ money for a while. Of course, the pesky little varmints kept calling, so he had to disconnect the phones and to avoid an awkward confrontation wherein they appeared at the firm’s building demanding their cash in person, he moved HQ into the basement of one of his other businesses, a Hooters restaurant. That got people off his tail for a while but, unfortunately, they popped up again and this time are taking legal action.

    The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation filed the lawsuit last month in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County, Pa. It has since been moved to federal court in the western district of Pennsylvania. The charity said in its lawsuit that William F. Harley III continued operating Fursa Strategic Alternatives from the basement of a Hooters restaurant on Long Island after saying in 2008 the fund would close and the charity’s money would be returned. Federal filings show Fursa in January was the largest investor in lingerie company Frederick’s of Hollywood Group. A spokesman for Harley said lawyers for the fund sought unsuccessfully to contact the charity last year. Harley could not be reached for comment at his home Wednesday…The lawsuit points to Fursa’s investment in Frederick’s of Hollywood as evidence the company continued operating instead of returning its money. Fursa Alternative Strategies owns 46 percent of Frederick’s, according to the company’s proxy statement.

    While a spokesman for Harley has not denied most of the allegations, he does take issue with claim that Fursa has any sort of legitimate set-up at any of his four Hooters, telling Newsday that he “occasionally has business meetings at them, but doesn’t run an office there.”

    Charity lawsuit accuses Massapequa man of mishandling $2M investment [Newsday]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 2:18 PM
  • This creepy fellow is Tim Cahill, former Treasurer of Massachusetts

    News

    Goldman Munis VP’s Commitment To Client Service Extended To Breaking The Law To Run A Political Campaign Out Of His Office

    Today’s story of the Goldman VP who underwrote a bunch of Massachusetts bond deals while also running the Massachusetts Treasurer’s gubernatorial campaign is rather charming. He was hired to be, like, a little bit corrupt, and got in trouble for being too corrupt, and also for oversharing over monitored electronic communications, a complex of failings […]

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM
  • Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 09.27.12

    Spain Gears Up For Day Of Cuts After Riots (Reuters)
    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will enact further cutbacks as his efforts to bring down one of the euro zone’s largest public deficits have been undermined by falling tax revenues in a recession. “We know what we have to do, and since we know it, we’re doing it,” Rajoy said in a speech in New York on Wednesday. “We also know this entails a lot of sacrifices distributed … evenly throughout the Spanish society,” Rajoy said in an address to the Americas Society. Thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators demanding that Rajoy resign gathered for a second night on Wednesday in Madrid near the national parliament, which was guarded by hundreds of police.

    Ex-Credit Suisse Banker Arrested In UK (WSJ)
    U.K. authorities arrested Kareem Serageldin, former global head of the Swiss bank’s Structured Credit Trading business. He was taken into custody Wednesday by the Metropolitan Police in London outside the U.S. Embassy. Mr. Serageldin, 39 years old, was among three people charged criminally in the U.S. in a high-profile case in February. Mr. Serageldin, a U.K. resident, didn’t formally answer the charges. His lawyer said then he did nothing wrong. Mr. Serageldin represents the highest-level Wall Street executive to be charged in a case relating to the 2008 financial meltdown.

    No Plans For Twitter IPO Or Sale (AP)
    FYI: Twitter is not readying a stock public offering, nor is it seeking to be sold to another group, CEO Dick Costolo said yesterday. In an interview on CNBC, Costolo brushed aside any suggestion of an imminent initial public offering or sale. The question of an IPO is “a decision we’ll make when we think the time is right for us,” he said.

    M&A Slumps to Lowest Level Since Financial Crisis’s Nadir (Bloomberg)
    “Executives have the cash, but they don’t have the conviction,” said Andrew Bednar, head of advisory at Perella Weinberg Partners LP, the New York-based investment bank. “I don’t see any miraculous change in the M&A markets for the foreseeable future.” This quarter’s slowdown has been most pronounced in Europe, where takeovers accounted for about $92 billion, or 21 percent, of global activity, the continent’s lowest share since 2010. The Americas accounted for $248 billion of transactions, and there were $104.5 billion in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Shark Attacks Spark Kill Orders To Protect Aussi Beaches (BW)
    The government of Western Australia said it plans to track, catch and if necessary kill sharks threatening beachgoers after a record five fatal attacks in the state in the past year. Officials will be allowed to destroy sharks “posing an imminent threat,” Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said in an e- mailed statement today as he announced a A$6.85 million ($7.1 million) protection, research and education program. Previously the state only issued kill orders following a shark attack. Tourism operators in Western Australia are attempting to lure domestic and international visitors to the state’s 12,000- kilometer-long (7,500-mile) coastline, which is studded with pristine beaches. The most recent attack saw a 24-year-old surfer taken by a five-meter great white shark on July 14 off an isolated beach about 160 kilometers north of the state capital Perth.

    Hedge Fund Managers Face Lower Pay In Wake Of Weak Returns (NYP)
    As of the end of the second quarter, only 43 percent of hedge funds had cleared the performance hurdle known as high-water marks over the past 12 months, according to data from fund tracker Hedge Fund Research. For many, those that fail to hit their marks by the end of the year will forgo their usual fee of 20 percent of profits until clients have recovered from losses.

    SEC Looks For The ‘Kill Switches’ (WSJ)
    The Securities and Exchange Commission has in recent days requested details from major broker-dealers about the internal controls of their automated trading systems, which direct the buying and selling of shares on exchanges and electronic-trading venue, according to people with knowledge of the review. The agency also wants to know about any recent malfunctions and how they were handled as well as how firms can override their computers and shut them off.

    Jobless Claims Fall More In US To Two Month Low (Bloomberg)
    Applications for jobless benefits decreased 26,000 to 359,000 in the week ended Sept. 22, the lowest since July, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 375,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. There was nothing unusual in last week’s data, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released to the press.

    Ed Sullivan window-smasher back in court for punching straphanger (NYP)
    Two months after pleading guilty to a late night, drunken, window-smashing rampage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, James Whittemore was back in Manhattan Criminal Court today for allegedly socking a fellow straphanger in the nose on a Harlem A-train platform. “I lost it,” the diminutive 23-year-old admitted to The Post of throwing the first punch at an apparently deranged homeless man who’d gotten “in my face.” “It’s the Irish in me.” The would-be NYC actor had won his 15-minutes of fame — and a mention on David Letterman’s Top 10 list — two summers ago, after he was found passed out drunk on the broken-glass-covered and urine-soaked carpeting of the lobby of the theater, home to the “Late Show.”

    / Sep 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  • Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 09.26.12

    $$$ IMF, EU clash over Greece’s bailout prospects [Reuters]

    $$$ No Prison Time Likely For Accused Manhattan Madam [WSJ]

    $$$ U.K. authorities arrested a former Credit Suisse investment banker on Wednesday in connection with U.S. allegations that he and others at the Swiss bank conspired to inflate the values of mortgage bonds during the financial crisis. [WSJ]

    $$$ U.S. Banks’ Leverage Should Be Halved to Cut Risks, Bair Says [Bloomberg]

    $$$ Man pulled over by cops blames reckless driving on pet squirrel [DM]

    $$$ Hong Kong Tycoon Seeks Husband for Lesbian Daughter [GP]

    $$$ Bank of America VP Called Seahawks’ Disputed Touchdown Pass [Bloomberg]

    $$$ Rumble On the Docks: Contract Pits Pinstriped Pinheads Against Roughneck Roustabouts [NYO]

    $$$ Poll: Romney Ahead in Presidential Race, Say Replacement Refs [New Yorker]

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM

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