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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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 […]

    / 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
  • News

    Bank Of America To Fire A Bunch Of Employees Just For Fun

    Actually, we don’t know several dozen employees in  the bank’s global markets unit in Asia are going to be fired, only that these cuts are not part of Project New BAC (the company’s plan to save $8 billion by laying off 40,000), so “just for fun” is one possibility.

    Bank of America plans to cut about 40 jobs at its global markets unit in Asia, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The reductions aren’t part of the Project New BAC program announced last year to pare expenses, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential and declined to provide additional details. Shirley Wong, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, declined to comment.

    [Bloomberg]

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 7:18 PM
  • News

    The Upside To Larry Fink Being Appointed The Next Treasury Secretary Is That It Puts Charlie Gasparino One Step Closer To Sleeping In The Lincoln Bedroom

    “My survey of Wall Street executives [shows] Jack Lew in the running for this job…They […]

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 6:55 PM
  • News

    Layoffs Watch ’12: Bank of America

    More cuts are expected at the House of Moynihan this week.

    “Project New BAC axe is rumored to be coming out tomorrow. Expecting major headcount reduction in Equity Sales + Trading amongst other things.”

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 3:10 PM
  • Lock up your Hamptons Houses

    Goldman Sachs To Offer More Would-Be Partners Opportunity To Go David Tepper On An Executive’s Ass This Year

    Each year, after a long and very comprehensive background check, a lucky group of Goldman employees are abducted from their desks, blindfolded, gagged, and led by candlelight through a dark hallway and into a subterranean conference room. Standing on the table before them are Lloyd Blankfein, Gary Cohn and the rest of the management committee, who ask if they are prepared to pledge their devotion to the firm above all else. Those who agree have their nether regions dipped in a vat of gold, genuflect before Cohn’s groin, and, at the stroke of midnight, are inducted into the Brotherhood of the Sach. While there are many ways that becoming a member of the club will change one’s life, the most important one involves the partaking of astronomical profits on payday. As a result, when people are not invited to join the group, they tend to get very upset. For instance, hedge fund manager David Tepper, who became a billionaire many times over after leaving the firm, was still so upset about the snub twenty years later that he bought and bulldozed the house of the guy who passed him over. Others probably wouldn’t have even gone to the trouble of buying the place first, and operated the wrecking ball themselves. Which is why we say in full seriousness that the Partnership Committee might want to watch its back.

    Goldman Sachs has begun vetting potential new partners and is expected to appoint a smaller number of bankers to its upper echelons this year, according to senior executives involved in the process… The nomination process for new partners ended during the summer. The internal vetting process began earlier this month and is expected to last until mid-November when the new class of partners will be announced. The vetting process is known within the bank as “cross-ruffing”, in reference to a manoeuvre from the card game bridge and typically sees a team of partners deployed to every division to talk to employees who know the candidates.

    [FT, related]

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 2:13 PM
  • News

    RBS Trader Whose Instant Messages Clearly Show Him (Allegedly) Engaging In Libor Manipulation Not Going Down Without A Fight

    One thing that most people probably agree on is that having their instant messages, e-mails, and phone calls end up court would be cause for at least a little embarrassment. Everyone’s thrown in an emoticon they aren’t proud of, some of us have used company time to chat with significant others about undergarments, and the vast majority of workers have spent a not insignificant amount of the workday talking shit about their superiors. Of course, the humiliation gets ratcheted up a notch in the case of people who ‘haha’ (and in extreme circumstances “hahahah’) their own jokes* which, just for example, involve habitual Libor manipulation. Tan Chi Min knows what we’re talking about:

    “Nice Libor,” Tan said in an April 2, 2008, instant message with traders including Neil Danziger, who also was fired by RBS, and David Pieri. “Our six-month fixing moved the entire fixing, hahahah.”

    And while having such an exchange become public would be tremendously awkward for most, you know what’s really ‘hahaha’ about this whole thing is that 1) Tan was the one who wanted people to read the above, which was submitted as part of a 231-page affidavit earlier this month and 2) He’s trying to use it as evidence that he didn’t deserve to be fired.

    The conversations among traders at RBS and firms including Deutsche Bank AG illustrate how the risk of abuse was embedded in the process for setting Libor, the benchmark for more than $300 trillion of securities worldwide……Tan, the bank’s former Singapore-based head of delta trading for Asia, [is] suing Britain’s third-biggest lender by assets for wrongful dismissal after being fired last year for allegedly trying to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

    Tan, who ‘allegedly‘ tried to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, also included this conversations as part of his defense:

    “What’s the call on Libor,” Jezri Mohideen, then the bank’s head of yen products in Singapore, asked Danziger in an Aug. 21, 2007, chat.

    “Where would you like it, Libor that is,” Danziger asked, according to a transcript included in Tan’s filings.

    “Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense,” another trader responded.

    “The whole HF world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower,” Tan said, referring to hedge funds.

    “OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can,” Danziger replied.

    And this:

    In another conversation on March 27, 2008, Tan called for RBS to raise its Libor submission, saying an earlier lower figure the bank submitted may have cost his team 200,000 pounds.

    “We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,” Tan said.

    Tan also asked for a high submission in an Aug. 20, 2007, instant message to Scott Nygaard, global head of RBS’s treasury markets in London.

    “We want high fix in 3s,” Tan said in the message. “Neil is the one setting the yen Libor in London now and for this week and next.”

    Also this:

    “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money or lose if opposite,” Tan said on an Aug. 19, 2007, conversation with traders at other banks, including Deutsche Bank’s Mark Wong. “It’s a cartel now in London.”

    And this philosophical one, for good measure:

    “This whole process would make banks pull out of Libor fixing,” Tan said in a May 16, 2011, chat with money markets trader Andrew Smoler. “Question is what is illegal? If making money if bank fix it to suits its own books are illegal… then no point fixing it right? Cuz there will be days when we will def make money fixing it.”

    The defense rests.

    RBS Instant Messages Show Libor Rates Skewed for Traders [Bloomberg]

    *Although actually people who do this probably don’t even have the good sense to be ashamed of themselves.

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM
  • Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 09.26.12

    Spain Prepares More Austerity, Protesters Battle Police (Reuters)
    Protesters clashed with police in Spain’s capital on Tuesday as the government prepared a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget to be announced on Thursday. Thousands gathered in Neptune plaza, a few metres from El Prado museum in central Madrid, where they formed a human chain around parliament, surrounded by barricades, police trucks and more than 1,500 police in riot gear. Police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons, first as protesters were trying to tear down barriers and later to clear the square. The police said at least 22 people had been arrested and at least 32 injured, including four policemen.

    Facebook’s Next Fight: Suits And More Suits (WSJ)
    About 50 lawsuits have been filed against Facebook, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and underwriters of Facebook’s May IPO, according to lawyers involved in the cases. In addition, securities lawyers who represent Facebook investors say they expect hundreds of arbitration claims to be launched against brokers and securities firms that pitched the company’s shares.

    Credit Suisse Said to Consider Merging Its Asset-Management Unit (Bloomberg)
    The bank is considering combining its asset-management unit with the private and investment banking divisions, a person familiar with the matter said.

    SAC Capital Fund Manager Said To Be Uncharged Conspirator (Bloomberg)
    The role allegedly played by Michael Steinberg emerged in court papers filed by the U.S. in the securities-fraud case of Jon Horvath, a former technology analyst at Cohen’s $14 billion hedge fund who Steinberg supervised. Steinberg, who hasn’t been charged with a crime, is the fifth person to be tied to insider trading while employed at SAC. Horvath faces trial Oct. 29 in Manhattan federal court along with two other portfolio managers for his part in what Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called a “criminal club:” a conspiracy of hedge fund managers, co-workers and company insiders who reaped millions of dollars on illegal tips about Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp. “The government added four additional co-conspirators,” prosecutors wrote in a Sept. 6 letter filed with the court, with the names blacked out. One of them, the U.S. said, is “the portfolio manager to whom Jon Horvath reported at his hedge fund.” That person was Steinberg, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

    UK Group To Give Up Libor Oversight (WSJ)
    The council of the BBA, a private trade association, voted earlier this month to give up management of Libor, according to people familiar with the matter. The move clears the way for what is likely to be the biggest change in Libor’s 26-year history, and introduces the possibility that British or international regulators could be in charge of overseeing the rate, which is tied to trillions of dollars of financial contracts.

    Rent-a-reptile: Florida company adds alligators to kids’ pool parties (NYDN)
    Bob Barrett gives Florida kids pool parties they’ll never forget — because they get to swim with real live alligators. Jump houses? Pizza parties? Boring, says Barrett. “You jump for a while and that’s it, we’ve had that party before,” he told the Daily News. “Clown party, Chuck E. Cheese party, they’ve all been done.” Barrett, who runs Alligator Attractions in Madeira Beach — where visitors get to hold gators — was already bringing his reptiles around to birthday parties when he was inspired to take the next step. “We would do [an alligator demonstration] at someone’s house and they would have a pool,” he explained. “And I said, you know, ‘Hey, let’s put ‘em in the pool.’”

    Hedge Fund Skeptics Warn on ‘QE Infinity’ (FT)
    “A man’s got to know his limitations,” says “Dirty Harry” Callahan, the gun-toting, rule book-ignoring cop immortalized by Clint Eastwood in “Magnum Force.” It is a principle the U.S. Federal Reserve – which earlier this month embarked upon its own, third bout of “unorthodox” enforcement, “QE3” – could learn from, according to Stephen Jen, the former Morgan Stanley foreign-exchange guru turned hedge fund manager. “The Fed officials are some of the smartest economists around,” he wrote in his most recent note to clients. The trouble is, said Mr. Jen, “they know everything except their own limitations.”

    Irish Bank Offers Properties For 70% Less Than 2007 Value (Bloomberg)
    RBS’s Irish unit offered to sell properties, including 640 apartments and a hotel, for about 70 percent less than their value at the market’s 2007 peak, according to the broker managing the sale. The Gemini portfolio, containing buildings in the Irish cities of Dublin and Cork, has an asking price of 75 million euros ($97 million), according to Domhnaill O’Sullivan, a director at Savills Plc (SVS)’s Dublin office.

    MIT Miscounts Its New B-School Students (WSJ)
    After realizing they had a student surplus, school officials emailed the incoming class on Aug. 7, offering “guaranteed admission to the class of 2015 for the first 20 admitted students who request it.” The school gave them until Aug. 13 to respond, according to one student’s copy of the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. But it didn’t get enough takers. So, like an airline offering vouchers to travelers willing to hop off oversold flights, the school put money on the table, offering students who expressed an interest a $15,000 scholarship to be applied to next year’s tuition. Students still balked, and on Aug. 21, a day after pre-term refresher courses began, Sloan raised the offer to $20,000 for the first 10 respondents. (Tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year is $58,200, with total expenses—including books, housing and food—estimated at just under $89,000.)

    NFL replacement referee who blew touchdown call in Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game is a full-time banker (NYDN)
    …fans, particular those in Wisconsin, said the 52-year-old southern California banker with no previous professional or major college refereeing experience should have never left his desk to become a replacement during the NFL’s lockout of unionized refs. Even the Lingerie Football League piled on, revealing that some of the scab refs weren’t qualified to work its games. “Due to several on-field occurrences of incompetent officiating, we chose to part ways with a crew which apparently is now officiating in the NFL,” said Mitch Mortaza, commissioner of the female bra-and-panty league. “We have a lot of respect for our officials, but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations.”

    / Sep 26, 2012 at 8:15 AM
  • News, Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 09.25.12

    $$$ Eurozone deal over bank bailout in doubt [FT]

    $$$ U.K. Bankers Group to Stop Overseeing Libor [WSJ]

    $$$ The Smith Barney Name Still Lives (Sort of) [Deal Journal]

    $$$ Mason Capital may lose money on its delightful Telus trade [DealBook]

    $$$ Actually, business and political leaders aren’t that stressed [LAT]

    $$$ “I’ve had to sit here all night staring at a whale,” [Jes] Staley said last night, a few hours into a gala for the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases and Center for Musculoskeletal Care. He was accepting an award for corporate leadership. Staley then suggested the whale could be replaced with the squid in the room, which, he clarified afterward, meant Goldman Sachs Group Inc., represented by his friend Gary D. Cohn, chairman of the dinner and the hospital’s advisory board. Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi called Goldman a “vampire squid.” All this took place about 20 feet from a diorama depicting a battle between a sperm whale and a giant squid. Which creature will triumph is unclear, though squid have been found in whales’ stomachs. [Bloomberg]

    $$$ Macquarie’s Credit Solutions Group, a distressed and special situations financing group, is looking for a 2nd or 3rd-year analyst in New York [DBCC]

    $$$ Or just be an event coordinator for Breaking Media [Fashionista]

    $$$ Uber Bear Sees S&P at 800…Just Not Yet [CNBC!]

    $$$ Eighth Grader Says He Vandalized Congressman’s Office [NYT]

    $$$ Mitt Romney Stops Supporters from Chanting ‘Ryan’ to Ensure They Say His Name Too [Gawker]

    $$$ Police launched investigation into the ‘suspicious’ moon [Telegraph]

    / Sep 25, 2012 at 6:59 PM
  • Isn't it weird that robot traders are sort of perceived as dorky math-nerd robots but actual traders all, like, played lacrosse? This robot probably plays lacrosse.

    News

    Broker Fined For Helping Some Robots Rip Off Other Robots

    What is your model of the SEC’s recent crackdown on the naughty forms of high-frequency […]

    / Sep 25, 2012 at 5:57 PM
  • News

    Kweku Adoboli’s Weather Tracker Didn’t Account For Cloudy With A Chance Of Severe Losses

    John Hughes, the former senior trader on the ETF desk, said Adoboli told him in […]

    / Sep 25, 2012 at 4:46 PM