Opening Bell

Holiday Bell: 12.27.13

Falcone Regains Upper Hand In LightSquared Bid (NYP)
Phil Falcone is taking what likely is one last shot to save his biggest investment, and his Harbinger hedge fund. On Christmas Eve, he met the 5 p.m. deadline — by four minutes — to present a new restructuring plan to hold onto his bankrupt telecom provider, LightSquared. Falcone is partnering with Fortress Investment Group’s Wes Edens, who has committed to inject $1.25 billion in new equity into LightSquared. That is as long as the FCC approves LightSquared’s application to grant it access to a new spectrum band in exchange for him giving up his right to deploy a band the FCC has blocked him from using. That FCC decision is still likely more than six months away, making Falcone’s plan less than certain to fly through the bankruptcy court. The 11th-hour move by Falcone steals the momentum from Dish’s Charlie Ergen — who has presented a competing $2.2 billion offer…If Falcone prevails, he may conversely seek to refuse to pay Ergen his $1 billion in LightSquared’s debt — at least until a lawsuit over the legality of his purchase is resolved.

Millions of Tons of Metals Stashed in Shadow Warehouses (WSJ)
Banks, hedge funds, commodity merchants and others are stashing tens of millions of tons of aluminum, copper, nickel and zinc in a hidden system of warehouses that span the globe. These facilities are known to some in the industry as “shadow warehouses” because they are unregulated and don’t disclose their holdings. They operate outside the London Metal Exchange system of warehouses, the traditional home for these metals. As of October, a record seven million to 10 million tons of aluminum were being housed in these facilities, in countries as far apart as Malaysia and the Netherlands, according to estimates from several analysts.

Martoma’s lawn faint shows guilt: prosecutors (NYP)
Former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Mathew Martoma doesn’t want jurors in his upcoming insider trading trial to know he fainted when FBI agents first approached his Florida mansion, court papers show. The disgraced hedge fund honcho — accused of participating in the biggest inside trade ever — passed out on his front lawn after two G-men approached him on Nov. 8, 2011, and told him they wanted to talk about his involvement in the alleged 2008 felony.
Prosecutors, in a flurry of filing ahead of the scheduled Jan. 6 start of Martoma’s trial, maintain the fainting is “evidence of his consciousness of guilt.” But defense lawyers told the judge that talk of the faint would add up to taint. Fainting has been admitted as circumstantial evidence of consciousness of guilt in only one case, Martoma’s lawyers noted. “Evidence of Mr. Martoma’s fainting is not probative of his guilt or innocence and would serve only to distract the jury with sensational but irrelevant facts,” they wrote in a Dec. 23 memo supporting their motion to exclude the fainting evidence.

Latin America’s Rout Seen Extending Into Next Year (Bloomberg)
Foreign investors are betting the worst rout in Latin American currencies since 2008 will extend into next year as commodity export prices slump and rising U.S. bond yields lure money out of the region. The Bloomberg JPMorgan Latin America Currency Index of the region’s six most-traded currencies fell 9.6 percent this year and touched 94.6 today, within 1 percent of a four-year low. International investors boosted wagers to a record $21.7 billion this week that Brazil’s real will keep falling, data compiled by BM&FBovespa SA show. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg only forecast Mexico’s peso will avoid further losses in the region next year.

600 People Involved in Movie Theater Brawl (ABC)
Five teenagers were arrested when a 600-person brawl broke out in a Florida movie theater’s parking lot on Christmas night. Described by police as a “melee,” the fight occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville when a group tried to storm the theater’s doors without purchasing tickets, police said. Several had rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard. The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Soon after the pepper spray was used, “upward of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot about the size of a football field began fighting, disrupting and jumping on cars,” she said. Sixty-two police officers were called to the scene to break up the brawl, “sequestering them and separating them,” Smith said. Only minor injuries and damage to property were reported. No gunshots were fired, according to Smith.

Swiss private bank Lombard Odier signs up to U.S. tax deal (Reuters)
Lombard Odier & Cie on Friday became the latest Swiss bank to say it would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on Swiss lenders suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through hidden offshore accounts. The Geneva-based bank with 203 billion Swiss francs ($227 billion) in client assets is the biggest privately-held firm so far to say publicly it will take part in a government-brokered scheme to make amends for aiding tax evasion. The deal between the United States and Switzerland is part of a U.S. drive to lift the veil on bank secrecy in the Alpine country, the world’s largest offshore finance center with more than $2 trillion in assets.

Herbalife spent $1.34M on lobbying in 2013 (NYP)
Herbalife is spreading around the cash to beat back Bill Ackman’s claim it is a pyramid scheme. The controversial protein shake seller this year for the first time spent more than $1 million lobbying in Washington, DC. The multilevel marketing (MLM) company has long been known for its strong presence in the nation’s capital — but the $1.34 million it spent in 2013, as of Oct. 28, dwarfs its typical spending, records show. The previous record was in the election year of 2008, when it spent $880,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It spent $810,000 in 2012.

China Banks Keep The Fees Flowing (WSJ)
Wall Street made millions of dollars taking Chinese banks public during the boom years when the economy was riding high and the country’s lenders were reaping big profits. Those same investment banks are raking in fees again, but this time by helping China’s financial system raise capital as it grapples with bad debts and thin capital bases. “Is China the gift that just keeps on giving for investment banks?” asked Keith Pogson, financial-services managing partner for Asia Pacific at Ernst & Young. “Overall, probably not as originally was hoped, but does it keep giving, yes.”

Anthony Weiner’s sexting partner Sydney Leathers wants to go to Bill de Blasio’s New Year’s Day inauguration (NYDN)
The sex kitten who deflated Anthony Weiner’s dreams of running the Big Apple wants to shimmy her way into the hottest political event of the season. Sydney Leathers popped up on Twitter Thursday to try to score a ticket to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s Jan. 1 inauguration — arguing that she rescued the city from a Mayor Weiner…“In my mind, de Blasio will bring me out like a show pony & give me a key to the city for saving it from Weiner,” she tweeted. “If you’re not taking me as your date to de Blasio’s inauguration, I hate you,” she wrote in another cheeky post, trying to extend her 15 minutes of fame.

Programming Note: We’re on an abbreviated, vacation-esque schedule. Opening/closing wraps and sprinkles of moral support should we be struck with the urge to reach out and touch you (or Wilbur Falcone takes Sydney leather’s to DeBlasio’s inauguration).

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23 Responses to “Holiday Bell: 12.27.13”

  1. Guest says:

    Is that an elf outfit on LisaMaria or is it the latest Dior Couture?

  2. segoviacobain says:

    Fight involving 600 people and the first I hear about it is on DB's morning bell. Wonderful.

  3. Guy who digs Becky says:

    I'm curious, what movie do you think the people involved in that fight were going to see?

  4. Rebecca M. says:

    The prosecutors are correct in regards to Mr. Martoma. After binge drinking some 151, I to passed out; and yes, I was guilty of having a good time.

  5. Short, But Long says:

    "Defense lawyers told the judge that talk of the faint would add up to taint."

    I don't follow this mathematical logic, unless they mean:

    Taint + Lawn = Faint

    In which case, I agree. Play ball!

  6. KingCo says:

    “In my mind, de Blasio will bring me out like a show pony.."

    Sorry Sydney – show ponies have more than one trick.

  7. Negotiating Strength says:

    "That is as long as the FCC approves LightSquared’s application to grant it access to a new spectrum band in exchange for him giving up his right to deploy a band the FCC has blocked him from using."

    Wow. The FCC ought to be all over that offer.