Signs Point to Healthier Job Market in 2014 (WSJ)
Is 2014 the year the U.S. job market kicks into higher gear—and stays there? Recent strength in gross domestic product, industrial production and construction all underpin employment’s momentum going into next year. These indicators also support the case that, absent an economic shock, total jobs finally could surpass their prerecession peak by mid-2014.
Icahn ready to bake Apple in Feb. 28 showdown (NYP)
Set the date on your iPhone calendar, the Apple annual meeting and Carl Icahn-Tim Cook showdown will be Feb. 28 at noon EST. Icahn’s High River Limited Partnership has proposed that shareholders approve a non-binding resolution that Apple commit to completing not less than $50 billion in share repurchases during Apple’s fiscal year ending September 27, 2014, a proxy filing released Friday said. Apple recommended against the proposal in a polite fashion. “[We] believe that capital should be returned to shareholders on an efficient and sustained basis, and that the evaluation of capital return should be performed regularly and carefully with the best long-term interest of the business and shareholders in mind.”
Wells Fargo to Pay Fannie Mae $591 Million to Resolve Claims (Bloomberg)
Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, agreed to pay Fannie Mae $591 million to resolve repurchase demands on loans originated before 2009 and sold to the government-backed firm. Wells Fargo paid $541 million in cash to Fannie Mae after adjusting for prior repurchases, the San Francisco-based lender said today in a statement. The firm had set aside funds to cover the full cost as of Sept. 30, according to the statement.
Hedge fund titan to pocket $3B for 2013 (NYP)
The founder of Appaloosa Management, with more than $20 billion under management, is looking at a possible $3 billion-plus payday in 2013, which could make him the highest paid hedgie…Tepper’s Palomino fund was up 38 percent, after fees, as of Nov. 30, according to an investor, making the 56-year-old one of the few in his business to post a return higher than the 29.1 percent gain of the S&P 500. Also in the running for highest-paid hedgie is John Paulson, whose $20 billion firm is experiencing a comeback after years of double-digit losses. One of Paulson’s funds has gained 55 percent, but others are still below their high-water mark.
Secret Handshakes Greet Frat Brothers on Wall Street (Bloomberg)
Conor Hails, head of the University of Pennsylvania’s Sigma Chi chapter, was in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom last month for a Barclays Plc (BARC) recruiting reception. A friend pointed out a banker from their fraternity. Hails, 20, approached with a secret handshake. “We exchanged a grip, and he said, ‘Every Sigma Chi gets a business card,’” Hails recalled. “We’re trying to create Sigma Chi on Wall Street, a little fraternity on Wall Street.” [...] The network sometimes works so well that it can help accidentally. Jeff Librot, a former head of the University of Delaware’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, wasn’t looking to use its connections when he applied for a Bank of Montreal (BMO) equities internship, he said. A banker there sent him an e-mail with the frat’s secret motto, “Phi Alpha.” Librot was picked.
Italy presses Monte Paschi to complete $4 billion cash call (Reuters)
The Italian government has urged Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena to complete its planned 3 billion euro ($4 billion) cash call and avoid the threat of a state takeover after a stand-off between management and shareholders. The world’s oldest bank, reeling from derivatives losses and weakened by years of economic crisis, needs fresh capital to pay back part of the 4.1 billion euros in aid it received this year from the government under former Prime Minister Mario Monti. But plans for the rights issue were disrupted on Saturday when the main shareholder foundation forced a share sale to be delayed until mid-May, defying Chairman Alessandro Profumo who was pressing for the operation to be wrapped up in January.
SEC Asks Insurers for Detail on ‘Captives’ (WSJ)
The Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing life insurers to disclose the potential cost if they are forced to halt use of controversial “captive” entities, according to regulatory filings and people familiar with the matter. At least five large publicly traded companies have exchanged letters with the SEC in recent months about their use and funding of the entities, and the possible impact if state insurance regulators prohibit their use. Captives are reinsurance entities that take on business only from their parent companies. State regulators, including New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, have raised concerns over the past two years that some companies may be masking their financial health by moving business to such related entities.
Crocs Shares Rise as Blackstone Takes $200 Million Stake (Bloomberg)
Crocs has been trying to revive its fortunes after consumers tired of its trademark clogs, knockoffs cut into sales and U.S. consumer spending slumped. The Blackstone stake comes after Crocs attempted to find a buyer for the whole company, people familiar with the situation said in November.
Giant Clams Spark Trade Spat (WSJ)
This normally is peak season for divers like Joe Williams, who search the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest for giant clams called geoducks that are a delicacy in China. But Mr. Williams and fellow clam harvesters are now scrounging to replace their usual winter haul of hundreds or thousands of dollars a day, after China halted imports this month of geoducks and other shellfish from the U.S. West Coast because of alleged contamination. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of anything like this,” said Mr. Williams, who has been plumbing the depths of Washington’s Puget Sound for nine years. “Some guys are crabbing. I’m harvesting sea urchins and sea cucumbers now, but they’re nowhere near as lucrative as geoduck.”
Nasdaq to pay up for botched Facebook IPO (Reuters)
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc will compensate firms on Dec. 31 for qualifying claims related to Facebook Inc’s botched May 2012 initial public offering, the exchange operator said in a note to traders on Friday. Nasdaq said previously it would pay up to $41.6 million in claims to market participants that lost money when a glitch in Nasdaq’s system during the IPO prevented timely order confirmations for many traders, leaving them unsure about their exposure for hours and, in some cases, for days afterwards. Nasdaq said a total of $41.6 million in claims qualified for compensation, even though market makers estimated they lost $500 million collectively.
Woman Busted For Attacking Live-In Boyfriend When He Refused To “Cuddle” In Bed (TSG)
Shavonna Rumph, 31, and Henry Price, 33, “had been drinking together at their residence and had been doing so throughout the night,” according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report. The couple subsequently quarreled, a deputy reported, “over Henry refusing to ‘cuddle’ with Shavonna when they went to bed.” The argument “turned physical when Shavonna grabbed Henry by the shirt, causing it to tear.” Price then attempted to leave the couple’s Bradenton residence to “prevent any further argument and Shavonna didn’t want him to leave.” On a section of the sheriff’s report describing weapons used during the alleged attack, a deputy wrote “Knife/cutting Instrument.” Rumph was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and booked into the county jail, from which she was released Sunday.
Programming Note: We’re on an abbreviated, vacation-esque schedule. Opening/closing wraps and brief sprinkles of moral support, should we be struck with the urge to reach out and touch you (or a Master of the Universe takes a shiv to the eye for refusing to cuddle).