November 2012

  • News, Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 11.30.12

    $$$ Plaintiffs’ lawyers somehow turn nonbinding “say on pay” votes into shakedown opportunity [Reuters, related]

    $$$ How a desperate HP suspended disbelief for Autonomy deal [Reuters]

    $$$ Virtu, Getco Start Examining Knight Trading’s Books [Deal Journal]

    $$$ Carl Icahn and the Oshkosh board are still fighting [WSJ]

    $$$ National Bank of Poland Working Paper: “Would it have paid to be in the eurozone?” (Spoiler: no) [NBP]

    $$$ John Cochrane and Cliff Asness critique Warren Buffett on taxes [Grumpy Economist]

    $$$ Somebody’s using bitcoins [BBW]

    $$$ A financial institution is looking for a risk manager in Charlotte [DBCC]

    $$$ Detroit on the Verge of Insolvency, Again [WSJ]

    $$$ Duke Energy’s Latest C.E.O. Drama [DealBook]

    $$$ Goldman Pushes Subprime ABX Index as Housing Rebounds [Bloomberg]

    $$$ BlackRock, Rialto Dump Some of Their ‘Skin’ in CMBS Game [MarketBeat]

    $$$ Lindsay Lohan Gets Unsolicited Legal Advice from Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis [NYO]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 7:04 PM
  • News

    CEO Sentenced To 50 Years In Prison For Defrauding Investors Wishes He’d Made His Intent To Screw Them A Bit More Clear, In Retrospect

    Timothy S. Durham, the onetime chief executive officer of National Lampoon Inc., was sentenced to 50 years in prison for defrauding investors in an unrelated company he partly controlled. Durham, who was also the CEO of Indianapolis-based buyout firm Obsidian Enterprises Inc., and an accomplice, James Cochran, 57, were convicted in June of taking money […]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM
  • cows, possibly European

    News

    EFSF Conveniently Downgraded

    Here are two tiny little puzzles about Moody’s’s’s downgrade of the European Financial Stability Facility from Aaa to Aa1 just now. But first, here is some math on EFSF guarantees; basically every €100 of EFSF bonds has €165 of member guarantees, of which €103ish were Aaa-rated and €62ish were not. Until Moody’s downgraded France last […]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 6:17 PM
  • What? Can *YOU* name the current head - sorry, Acting Chairman - of the FDIC? No Googling.

    News

    Some Banks Hoping To Be Too Small To Fail

    I feel like if I were the Financial Services Roundtable and I wanted to send a letter to Congress telling them to get rid of a rule that gives lashings of government support to little banks at the arguable expense of, um, this cast of ne’er-do-wells, I would do it anonymously. Or, like, I’d try […]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 5:29 PM
  • Madame+Tussauds+Unveils+Wax+Figure+Jennifer+HeTfrf2H53vl

    News

    Those Were The Days

    In 2006, one unnamed US finance firm was said to have held its London Christmas party at Madame Tussauds. Following the event, it was found that two of the waxworks had lost their heads and Jennifer Aniston was missing a finger. [eF]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM
  • jeffreygundlachbarrons-260x173

    News

    You Can Add The FBI To The (Long) List Of People Impressed With Jeffrey Gundlach’s Brain

    There is no denying that Jeffrey Gundlach is a hugely talented man whose IQ would rank among the highest in the world if he ever had it tested. “What’s it like having lunch with a genius,” he once asked a colleague, who presumably answered, “To be honest, it’s giving me an inferiority complex just breathing the same air as you, knowing that your brain is the standard for how intelligence will be measured from now until the end of eternity.” Until recently, however, the application of Gundlach’s brilliance was largely confined to bond management. According to a new profile by Bloomberg Markets, though, Gundlach’s intellectual prowess is just as if not more impressive when it comes to crime solving.

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 2:54 PM
  • jamesgormanmorganstanleytradingfloor-260x143

    News

    James Gorman Will Say Something Nice About Wall Street When Wall Street Earns It

    If you’re looking for a cheerleader, go bark up another tree.

    “Say you want to be out ahead of it and give a lot of speeches and talk about all the good we’re doing,” Gorman said today at an industry conference in New York. “And then some trader does some stupid thing like this guy at UBS did and he’s in jail and all bets are off,” Gorman said. He was referring to Kweku Adoboli, the UBS AG trader convicted of fraud this month in the largest unauthorized trading loss in British history…Traders at New York-based Morgan Stanley had too much latitude in the past, “what I call having an outsized sandbox,” Gorman, 54, said at the conference, which was sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. “Until we can be really confident we’ve got discipline around the sandboxes, I think you have to be really careful not to be holier than thou,” Gorman said. “We’re going to be in the doghouse for a while.”

    Incidentally, this would a good time to mention that Gorman’s bonus policy instituted last January– STFU or GTFO– still stands.

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM
  • Get out your yardsticks.

    News

    New York Times Finds A Weird Way To Kick Steve Cohen When He’s Down

    As you may have heard, things have not been going tremendously well for Steve Cohen of late. Two days before Thanksgiving, the government went public with its case against a former SAC Capital employee, Mathew Martoma, who it accused of masterminding the largest insider trading scheme ever. Cohen was neither charged nor mentioned by name in the criminal complaint, but he did make an appearance playing the role of “Portfolio Manager A,” a part we have previously mentioned one does not want to portray, if it can be avoided. Then on Wednesday, it was disclosed that SAC had received a Wells notice, indicative of the SEC’s plan to sue the fund and if that wasn’t enough, sources also claimed investigators are considering naming Cohen personally in the suit, to boot. So things are not exactly going his way right now and what he could really use is a break. The government dropping all charges against Martoma and publicly stating it will stay out of the Big Guy’s business forever starting right this second seems out of the question but even some small act of kindness would probably help. Allowing him to pass you on 95. Telling him he looks nice today. Asking, “Have you been working out?” Sending him humorous YouTube videos with a sweet note like, “Hang in there, bud. You’re in my thoughts…”

    On the flip side, you know what he doesn’t need? Wildly libelous claims that it’s going to take a lot more than a “Correction” to forgive.

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM
  • Carson Block of Muddy Waters. Not to be confused with a cow.

    News

    Skeptical Investor Puts Trust In Ratings Agency

    You may be aware that noisy Asia-focused short-seller Muddy Waters is in a fight with Singaporean agricultural commodity trader Olam. Muddy Waters thinks that Olam is “an extreme example of an increasingly important conflict in modern finance: the clash between accounting and business reality,” and that “it is instructive to view Olam through the lens […]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 11:36 AM
  • News

    This Is Happening: Dealbreaker Dramatic Reading Night

    Do you want to hear something that Matt and I have been up to the last couple weeks, when we aren’t writing stories for this website? Holding a series of auditions with actors, who we asked to read vintage Dealbreaker posts in a dramatic fashion. As much as I would like to say that we […]

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM
  • BURGER KING IPO

    Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 11.30.12

    Germany Approves Greek Aid (WSJ)
    German parliamentarians approved with an overwhelming majority a package of new aid measures for Greece Friday, clinching support for a plan to close a €14 billion ($18.17 billion) gap in the heavily indebted nation’s finances and to ready a near €44 billion tranche of promised aid. The vote shows that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been able to consolidate the support of her center-right coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats, many of whom have expressed skepticism that Greece can be saved without significant costs to German taxpayers. Her coalition voted 90% in favor of the measures.

    Leave “fairy world” behind, Draghi tells euro zone (Reuters)
    “We have not yet emerged from the crisis,” Draghi told Europe 1 radio. “The recovery for most of the euro zone will certainly begin in the second half of 2013.” “The crisis has shown that we were living in a fairy world,” the ECB chief later added at a conference with top financial officials, pointing to the unsustainable debts, weak banks and poor policy coordination that gave birth to the crisis three years ago.

    Obama Takes ‘Fiscal Cliff’ on the Road; Republicans Stew (CNBC)
    President Barack Obama, reapplying his re-election campaign theme of protecting the middle class, heads to Pennsylvania on Friday suggesting that Republicans could spoil Christmas by driving the country over the “fiscal cliff.” The president’s road trip, visiting a factory that makes Hasbro’s [HAS 38.60 — UNCH ] Tinkertoys, is infuriating Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner called it a “victory lap” as he rejected Obama’s proposals to avoid the cliff, the combination of tax increases and spending cuts set to start taking effect in January.

    Berkshire Hathaway, CaixaBank Agree to Reinsurance Deal (WSJ)
    Berkshire Hathaway will pay CaixaBank SA million €600 million ($778.7 million) for the future cash flow from a portfolio of life insurance policies, the Barcelona-based bank said Friday, a rare dip into a fiscally stressed euro-zone country for the investment firm run by Warren Buffett.

    If You Like Late Nights, Try Being an Analyst in Hungary (WSJ)
    As the clock ticked toward midnight on a recent night, stock analyst Gergely Gabler sat sleepily in his pajamas at the small desk in his bedroom, waiting. Then, just after 12, he sprang into action, evaluating the newly released earnings report of Hungary’s largest bank. For the next two hours, Mr. Gabler worked on a report about OTP Bank’s performance for clients of his firm, Hungarian brokerage Equilor Investments, before catching some shut eye, only to awake about 3½ hours later so he could be in his office to field questions by 7 a.m. Burning the midnight oil is a painful quarterly tradition for analysts and financial journalists in Hungary, where the country’s biggest blue-chip companies publish their results in the wee hours, after markets in New York have closed and long before they open anywhere in Europe. “I’m a night owl, so I don’t mind staying up,” Mr. Gabler said. The hard part, the 28-year-old said, is getting out of bed the next day. That morning, he grabbed a red-and-black can of Hell, a caffeine-laden Hungarian energy drink, to fuel his workday.

    Moody’s Puts Aston Martin on Watch for Downgrade (NYT)
    “The review was prompted by a significant deterioration in Aston Martin’s liquidity profile as per end September 2012, caused by a much weaker cash generation and operating performance in the third quarter than anticipated by the company and compared to Moody’s expectations,” Falk Frey, a Moody’s analyst, said in a statement.

    Harvard Approves BDSM Group (Crimson)
    It started last October with a meal in Currier dining hall with a handful of friends who shared something in common: an affinity for kinky sex. More than a year after the group first began informally meeting over meals to discuss issues and topics relating to kinky sex, Harvard College Munch has grown from seven to about 30 members and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by the Committee on Student Life this Friday. Michael, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson to protect his privacy, is the founder of Munch, an informal lunch or dinner meeting for people across the kink community. For him, the recognition will provide a sense of ease for current and future members, knowing they are receiving institutional support. “It’s a little hyperbolic for me to get teary-eyed and paternal about sophomores, but it’s really a joy to see the experience they will have now,” Michael said. Michael said there are many benefits to being officially recognized on campus such as being able to poster for events and promote Munch’s presence…But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.” Mae, a member of the organization who asked to be identified by her middle name, said since its formation the group has provided her with a comfortable space to discuss her interests. “I didn’t think that anyone was even remotely interested [in kink] on campus,” Mae said. “It’s a community where you can feel safe, and you can feel comfortable talking about [kink].”

    Cohen’s Damage Control (NYP)
    Beleaguered hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen held a conference call yesterday for his roughly 1,000 employees to explain potential civil charges against his firm, SAC Capital Advisors. The call with SAC’s employees went over similar talking points as the call with investors the previous day, according to a person familiar with the call. In the latest call, officials notified employees that last week, the $14 billion Stamford, Conn., hedge fund received a Wells Notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission tied to trading by a former portfolio manager who was arrested Nov. 20 on insider trading charges.

    McDonald’s Starved for Ideas as Burger King Lures Diners (Bloomberg)
    Burger King has been excelling at a game McDonald’s worked to perfect years ago, introducing a steady stream of new menu items, such as snack wraps and gingerbread sundaes for the holidays. McDonald’s has “not had anything to talk about of substance,” Michael Kelter, a New York-based analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an interview. “People are going elsewhere.”

    Hong Kong IPOs Generate Little Excitement (WSJ)
    Hong Kong appears unlikely to regain its position as the world’s top venue for initial public offerings anytime soon. In recent days, the city’s biggest IPO in two years drew only lukewarm support, while another deal ran up against insufficient demand and a third was postponed.

    Recession Left Baby Bust as U.S. Births Lowest Since 1920 (Bloomberg)
    The country’s birth rate fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a Pew Research Center report. The rate dropped 6 percent for U.S.-born women and plummeted 14 percent for foreign-born females since 2007, the onset of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The decline continued last year to the lowest point since records began in 1920.

    Rogue caviar fugitive Mario Garbarino admits his guilt in fishy egg smuggling scheme (NYDN)
    Isidoro (Mario) Garbarino, 69, who went on the lam 23 years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to smuggling $10 million worth of Russian and Iranian savruga and beluga to New York more than two decades ago. Garbarino’s plea deal requires him to pay $3 million in restitution. He also faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced in January. Garbarino, a supplier to fancy gourmet shops including Zabar’s, was indicted in 1987 for cheating the government on import duties. Feds say his Bronx company, Aquamar Gourmet Imports, engaged in an elaborate scheme to smuggle more than 100,000 pounds of the expensive delicacy from 1984 to 1987. As part of the plot, Garbarino switched the high-quality caviar with much cheaper American caviar which he then sold to Pan Am, other airlines and cruise ships operators as the real thing. In 1989, Garbarino fled. He was nabbed two months ago in Panama and extradited to New York.
    “Isidoro Garbarino ran his high-end importation business in a low-end way — cheating the government out of millions of dollars in tax revenues and defrauding his international clients who paid top dollar for exotic caviar they did not receive,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara…Garbarino admitted he “occasionally misrepresented the nature of the caviar” to avoid paying the required taxes.

    / Nov 30, 2012 at 9:29 AM
  • Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 11.29.12

    $$$ Boehner Urges Obama to ‘Get Serious’ About Cliff Talks [Bloomberg] $$$ SAC’s assets increased despite indictment [AR] $$$ SAC Capital holds call with employees, says essentially the same thing it said to investors yesterday [CNBC, earlier] $$$ Savers’ lament: The complex effects of low interest rates on consumption and investment [Economist] $$$ Record Corporate […]

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 6:57 PM
  • best option

    News

    Insider Trading Pro Tip: IMing “i don’t want to go to jail” Won’t Make It Happen

    Once again we need to talk about insider trading. This SEC press release is about a pretty garden-variety case – allegedly, Thomas Conradt learned about IBM’s planned acquisition of SPSS from his roommate, told his friend David Weishaus, and the two of them bought lots of SPSS stock and call options and made what in […]

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 3:09 PM
  • Credit Suisse

    News

    Layoffs Watch ’12: Credit Suisse

    Cuts are said to be going down circa now at the Swiss bank.

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 2:45 PM
  • steve-cohen-SAC-Capital

    News

    SAC Capital Invites Employees To Gather ‘Round For A Chat That Could Simply Be To Notify Everyone They’re Switching Fleece Manufacturers

    What? Anything is possible and that would be grounds for an all-staff call. You don’t know.

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 12:42 PM
  • not to scale

    News

    Bank Of England, Everyone Else, Thinks Banks Are Lying About Capital

    Aaahhh I love the Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability Report. I mean: I haven’t read it, per se. But it follows the wonderful official-sector-report layout of blandly apocalyptic text running down the right side and lovely charts running down the left, so you can close one eye and it’s a delight. The charts are […]

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM
  • Bob-Diamond415

    News

    Barclays Has Fired All The Employees Involved In Libor Manipulation That Didn’t Slip Out A Side Door And Beat Them To The Punch

    Barclays has fired five employees following its internal investigation of the rigging of Libor interest rates and disciplined another eight people, the head of its investment bank said on Wednesday. Rich Ricci, chief executive of Barclays’ corporate and investment banking, said “a lot” of the individuals identified in its internal probe had left the bank […]

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM
  • mikecorbatweightlifting

    News

    Layoffs Watch ’12: Citigroup Has Begun The First Phase Of Its Total Body Makeover

    Back in October, new Citi CEO Mike Corbat’s personal trainer predicted that Vikram Pandit’s replacement would waste no time whipping the place into shape, just like he whipped himself into shape in 2010 with the fat-torching Spartacus Workout. Whereas someone else might’ve let the bank have until the new year to get serious, allowing for one last season of pigs in a blanket and egg nog and late night pizza and entire gingerbread houses, Citi’s day’s of “I’ll start the diet tomorrow” are over. Corbat’s  transformation plan starts TODAY.

    / Nov 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM

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