Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 01.24.14

Fined Billions, Bank Approves Raise for Chief (Dealbook)
JPMorgan’s board voted this week to increase Mr. Dimon’s annual compensation for 2013, hashing out the pay package after a series of meetings that turned heated at times, according to several executives briefed on the matter. The raise — the details were not made public on Thursday — follows a move by the board last year to slash Mr. Dimon’s compensation by half, to $11.5 million.

Meet Warren Buffett’s Top Troubleshooter: Tracy Britt Cool (BusinessWeek)
When Warren Buffett bought half of a commercial real estate finance operation in 2009, he hired Tracy Britt Cool, a 25-year-old fresh out of business school, to keep tabs on the investment. Since then the company, now known as Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, has earned back most of the $217 million that his Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) spent on the deal. Its success has also helped propel Cool’s career…Along with Todd Combs, 43, and Ted Weschler, 52, who also were hired in the past four years, Cool is part of a triumvirate of aides Buffett calls the “Ts.” Both men ran hedge funds before joining Berkshire, where they help oversee a stock portfolio valued at more than $100 billion…As an undergrad at Harvard, [Cool] coached students who joined a women’s group she founded on how to write businesslike e-mails and behave on conference calls. “When I first met her I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this girl’s scaring me. She’s so professional,’ ” says Teresa Hsiao, a Harvard classmate. “Her idea of fun may not be what we consider fun, like looking at 10-Ks,” the annual reports corporations file with securities regulators.

Legal Marijuana Businesses Should Have Access to Banks, Holder Says (NYT)
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that lawful marijuana businesses should have access to the American banking system and that the government would soon offer rules to help them gain it. The rules are not expected to give banks a green light to accept deposits and provide other services, but would tell prosecutors not to prioritize cases involving legal marijuana businesses that use banks.

New Masters Of The Art Universe (WSJ)
Hedge-fund managers, who play a vital but disruptive role in the broader financial markets, are increasingly throwing their weight around the art market: They are paying record sums to drive up values for their favorite artists, dumping artists who don’t pay off and offsetting their heavy wagers on untested contemporary art by buying the reliable antiquity or two. Aggressive, efficient and armed with up-to-the-minute market intelligence supplied by well-paid art advisers, these collectors are shaking up the way business gets done in the genteel art world…All of this represents a major shift from a decade ago when only a handful of Wall Street investors such as Mr. Loeb and SAC Capital Advisors’ Steven Cohen were even going to auctions, much less buying art. Now, dozens of hedge-fund managers are joining the fray, including newcomer Alan Howard, whose burgeoning collection includes a $43 million Monet. Nearly all are applying their day-job tactics to their art shopping, dealers say.

Marshmallow crispy and cookie dough Oreos are coming (LA Times)
Snackers, prepare yourselves for cookie dough Oreos and marshmallow crispy Oreos. The cookie dough variety looks like a regular Oreo with cookie dough-flavored filling. A cookie filled with cookie dough is kind of like a chicken stuffed with eggs… but we have high hopes for this one. And the marshmallow crispy flavor has a rice crispy treat on the bag. These are the golden Oreo cookies with a white filling. Oreos and rice crispy treats on their own make a good combo while snacking. If you put the two together, it could be genius. Both flavors are expected to launch Feb. 3, but will be available only for a limited time.

Did Soros Just Predict a China Crash? (Bloomberg)
Soros has his eye on China. In a Jan. 2 op-ed for Project Syndicate, Soros didn’t say whether he’s shorting China. But he did connect the dots in a way that can’t make President Xi Jinping happy. To Soros, the main risk facing the world isn’t the euro, the U.S. Congress or a Japanese asset bubble, but a Chinese debt disaster that’s unfolding in plain sight. “There is an unresolved self-contradiction in China’s current policies: restarting the furnaces also reignites exponential debt growth, which cannot be sustained for much longer than a couple of years,” Soros wrote.

Investors Flee Developing Countries (WSJ)
The emerging-market slide reflects worries about outside forces—such as a shift in U.S. monetary policy, or China’s efforts to reorient its economy—colliding with domestic political and economic tensions, unsettling investors at home and abroad. Turkey, for instance, has been rocked by a deepening political crisis tied to corruption allegations. South Africa’s leadership has been under increasing fire for its failure to pull citizens out of poverty over the past two decades. Argentina’s struggle to right its course since its 2002 currency crisis has sent inflation soaring and weakened its international credibility further.

Mergers Could Clog Flow of Junk Bonds (WSJ)
Sprint Corp has been pursuing a possible $31 billion purchase of T-Mobile US Inc., and Charter Communications Inc. has launched an unsolicited $37 billion bid for Time Warner Cable Inc. Both would-be buyers have credit ratings below investment grade and each could sell enough bonds to break Sprint’s record $6.5 billion junk-bond sale, set last year. For years after the financial crisis, the thought of junk-bond-fueled megadeals would have been unthinkable, as Wall Street’s merger machine struggled to shake off the rust of the financial crisis. But the $49 billion bond sale in September from Verizon Communications Inc., an investment-grade deal that was the largest corporate-bond offering on record, showed corporate executives and bankers alike that almost any sum is within reach. Now, many investors say Sprint and Charter would likely have little problem selling the new bonds, underscoring the hunger for income-generating investments at a time of uneven economic growth, low interest rates and easy central-bank policy.

Billionaire ups ‘marriage bounty’ on lesbian daughter (New Zealand Herald)
A Hong Kong billionaire who offered £40 million to the man who married his gay daughter has now suggested he may double his ‘marriage bounty’, local media has reported. Shipping magnate and property developer Cecil Chao Sze-tsung made global headlines in September 2012 when he offered a reward to the man who could persuade his daughter Gigi to marry him, despite the fact she had already entered into a civil partnership with her female partner of almost nine years, Sean Eav. Mr Chao told The Financial Times in January 2013 that “anyone who comes along to pursue Gigi, we will give them a moderately deluxe life.” It has been reported that Mr Chao had intended to pass control of his business empire over to his daughter, but would consider handing it over to his two other sons if she does not marry. Now, the 77-year-old has reportedly told the Malaysian newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau that he would consider doubling the money offered to HK $1billion after his first offer attracted 20,000 unsuccessful responses.

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48 Responses to “Opening Bell: 01.24.14”

  1. Rebecca M. says:

    Photo Caption: "I was so mad, I could've choked the bitch…I mean dork….I mean whale"

  2. McKinsey says:

    Dear Mr. Chao,

    Just turn off the cash spigot, you fag!

    We'll collect the HK$1BN, which is our customary fee.

  3. Curious Guest says:

    I wonder what Tracy Britt Cool and the lesbian daughter look like.

  4. Guest says:

    40-80 mil pounds in HK = "moderately deluxe life"? I mean I knew that city was expensive, but that is insane! I would have thought that kind of dough would get you at least mildly deluxe!

  5. CAPM says:

    If Oreo's aren't doing it for you this morning, then go over to Bloomberg and check out Matt's breakdown of the Libya-GS deal. It's my favorite kind of DB.

    Footnotes, um's, meh's, high level valuation that get's you about 98% of the way there, "commenters" trying to correct Matt's methodology (please), but alas no Google spreadsheet. Nostalgic.

  6. SMU Secure says:

    Hong Kong is the goatse of the orient.

  7. Guest says:

    Dear Canada,

    You seem to have accidentally left your weather here; please take it back.

    Also, you seem to have left one of your pop stars here, but we may be detaining him for a bit before we return him – but trust us, we are definitely going to be sending him back at some point.

    Sincerely,
    The U.S.

  8. Anna Nicole's ghost says:

    Warren – call me.

  9. Obama says:

    Nat gas SNGR release!