Opening Bell: 02.13.14

Comcast Said to Agree to $44 Billion Time Warner Cable Deal (Bloomberg)
Comcast Corp. agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $44 billion, combining the largest two U.S. cable companies in an all-stock deal, according to four people familiar with matter. Philadelphia-based Comcast is paying about $159 a share in the transaction set to be announced this morning, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations were private.

Third Point blasts Dow Chemical’s ‘lack of transparency’ (Reuters)
Dow Chemical’s lack of transparency makes it difficult to determine whether the petrochemical giant should be split up or kept together, billionaire hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Capital said Wednesday. Last month, Third Point announced a major stake in Dow Chemical, the largest U.S. chemical maker, saying that the company should spin off its lucrative but slow-growing petrochemical unit and focus on specialty materials. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday night, Dow Chemical said it had conducted an internal review and concluded that breaking up the company would not help shareholders. Third Point said Wednesday that it was prepared to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Dow Chemical in order to review the company’s records and arrive at its own conclusion.

Bullard Says Fed Is ‘Cautious’ About Altering Tapering Pace (Bloomberg)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Fed officials will probably be careful about altering the pace of their reductions to bond buying because of a potentially significant impact on markets. “If we move off our baseline, it’s going to have pretty big repercussions,” Bullard said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “We’d be cautious in using that — it’s going to have to be a situation where you’re pretty sure things are moving off track.”

Britain warns Scotland: Forget the pound if you break away (Reuters)
Britain will warn Scotland on Thursday it can’t keep the pound if it votes for independence, its boldest attempt yet to scuttle a nationalist bid to break the 307-year-old union with England. In the latest salvo of a choreographed campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, George Osborne will seek to play on Scottish fears of losing the pound to argue that secession would put Scots’ prosperity at risk, pushing them into a tempest of volatility.

Krawcheck Says Women on Wall Street Have ‘Gone Backwards’ (Dealbook)
It has long been a feature of Wall Street that women are underrepresented in the executive ranks. But since the financial crisis, the situation has gotten worse, according to one former big bank executive. “It’s not that we’ve even gone sideways, as we have in corporate America,” Sallie L. Krawcheck, a former executive at Bank of America and Citigroup, said in an interview on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday. “We’ve gone backwards.” Ms. Krawcheck, a prominent voice on the subject of women in finance, who owns the women’s network 85 Broads, said that the crisis tended to make banks more homogenous, reiterating an argument that she has made in the past. “What I saw when I was on Wall Street is it’s not, ‘Well, let’s get rid of people who are different from us because they’ve got cooties,’” she said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s more, ‘Yeah, I know the numbers around diversity, and the diversity adds to business results in theory, but we are in a crisis mode and I need that person who I can trust today.’”

Sky dines in style at Sardi’s after winning Best in Show at Westminster (NYDN)
America’s top dog celebrated her Westminster win Wednesday by wolfing down a platter of gourmet chicken at legendary Midtown eatery Sardi’s. Sky, the 5-year-old ginger-and-white fox terrier who won Best in Show on Tuesday night at the fabled Westminster Kennel Club, took her accolades in stride. Licking her silver platter to a sparkling sheen, the Sky hopped into her spacious silver Best in Show trophy to entertain the gaggle of media. Her handler Gabriel Rangel said the wiry terrier regularly eats chicken — which is why he chose that for her celebration luncheon…The terrier beat out an impressive 138 dogs to take her title, a feat one of her owners likened to “winning an Oscar.”

RBS warned of credit rating ‘downgrade’ (Telegraph)
Moody’s said it had put RBS’s debt “on review for downgrade” pointing to the taxpayer-backed lender’s “weaker than previously anticipated regulatory capital position”. The move comes after RBS’s unscheduled announcement on January 27 of £3.1bn of extra provisions for issues ranging from its sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance and interest rate hedging products.

Bank of England Sees Growth Spurt Ahead, but Hazards Too (WSJ)
The Bank of England forecast that the U.K. will be one of the fastest-growing advanced economies this year, while also stressing that the quality of the recovery needs to improve if it is to last. The warning Wednesday underscored concerns that, six years after a housing bubble popped, Britain still relies too much on debt-fueled consumer spending, spurred by rising house prices, rather than productive investment. “As yet the recovery is neither balanced nor sustainable,” Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said at a news conference. Mr. Carney predicted the U.K. would grow by 3.4% this year and said the bank would keep interest rates low until much of the spare capacity in the economy disappears. Though the unemployment rate has fallen faster than expected, many people can find only part-time work when they would prefer a full-time job.

Ackman Takes Aim At Herbalife Distributor (NYP)
Leslie Stanford, a member of the company’s top-level “Founder’s Circle” and a former member of its board, is a “key player in Herbalife’s recruitment schemes,” who makes “blatantly false claims about making money through Herbalife,” Ackman’s report claimed. Ackman’s report, the third in a series focusing on distributors, quotes Stanford as saying she has a significant presence in her native Canada…Stanford recently took over the business of Shawn Dahl, the controversial Herbalife distributor whose lead-generation business led him to leave the nutritional-supplements distributor in June. Dahl was recruited by Stanford, according to Ackman’s report, and has been a distributor since 1981. She couldn’t be reached for comment. “I’m really sad for what brought us to this call, it’s difficult to see Shawn go,” Stanford is quoted as saying on a call to Dahl’s downline distributors. Stanford told them she would now oversee them. Distributors were also told they could still use Dahl’s banned lead-generation business, Online Business Systems, according to Ackman’s report. Stanford also runs a side company, “Success Connection,” that teaches recruiting methods, according to the report. On videos attached to the profile, she is shown giving lessons on how to recruit distributors, the report claims.

Top 50 Cities for Singles Looking for Love (WSJ)
With Valentine’s Day approaching, we asked Facebook for some help settling a perennial debate: Where is the best place in America to live if you are single and looking for love? Many have tried using U.S. census data to rank cities based on each one’s singles population. But Facebook, with 201 million users in the U.S. and Canada, has something the Census Bureau doesn’t: Real-time relationship statuses for about half of Americans. Over a one-month period, Facebook ranked major U.S. cities according to the percentage of singles that went from “Single” to “In a relationship.” Finding a partner is an evermore complicated endeavor in the U.S. Researchers say more people are postponing serious relationships in favor of careers and considering more factors as they search for the ideal mate…More choice isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to relationships, says Justin Garcia, a professor in the department of gender studies at Indiana University and a researcher at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. “Sometimes when you’re in a big city and there are thousands and thousands of people you might find attractive, it becomes so overwhelming that you don’t engage in the dating culture at all,” he says…Overall, Facebook found that big, cosmopolitan cities with highly educated populations—places like New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami—tend to have the highest percentages of single people. Those cities also tended to have the lowest couples rates. A lot of cities with high relationship rates are in the South, Mr. Develin notes. Trailing Colorado Springs on the list are El Paso, Texas; Louisville, Ky., Fort Worth, Texas, and San Antonio.

28 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (28)

  1. Posted by Guest Monarch | February 13, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Scotland, you can adopt Bitcoin if you go independent. Bitcoin, wee bit Scotland…. the name is there already.

  2. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    "Bullard said Fed officials will probably be careful about altering the pace of their reductions to bond buying because of a potentially significant impact on markets."

    Markets? Try Fed balance sheet.

  3. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    Sallie Krawcheck sounds like a real hoot to work with.

  4. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Yeah…..
    She'd be a real winner on the sell side.

  5. Posted by fauxLaxbro | February 13, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    I took a woman on Wall Street backwards once

  6. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    Did she 'lean in'?

  7. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    #LittleDogs – for people too insecure to own a cat.

  8. Posted by guest | February 13, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    … and not hip enough to own one of those horse-dogs.

  9. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Great comment. The ellipses really bring it home.

  10. Posted by ROR | February 13, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Did you hear about the new Asian cookbook? "100 ways to wok your dog"

  11. Posted by Ad Lib | February 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Murray Hill’s top slam celebrated her 13th Step closing-time win Wednesday by wolfing down a platter of gourmet tacos at legendary Midtown eatery Blockhead’s. Britney, the 21-year-old ginger-and-white fox who won Best in Show on Tuesday night at the fabled 13th Step Best Ass, took her accolades in stride. Licking her silver platter to a sparkling sheen, Britney hopped into her spacious silver Best in Show under garments to entertain the gaggle of media. Her handler, Laxbro, said the wiry slam regularly eats tacos — which is why he chose that for her celebration luncheon…The slam beat out an impressive 138 slams to take her title, a feat one of her owners likened to “winning an Oscar.

  12. Posted by Como ? | February 13, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Ya Sally, balancing

    I want to do do some reverse PnS on your open position

  13. Posted by SMU Secure | February 13, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    You saying you want a piece of me ?

  14. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Yeah….. They'd have to call it the 'FUK'

    >for Formerly United Kingdom.

    >I'm here all day, maybe all night due to the snow.

  15. Posted by HotKarl | February 13, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Why is there a picture of Lynn Tilton
    along with Opening Bell this morning?

  16. Posted by Tory Toff | February 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Lop off poor, socialistic rust-belt. Seems like a good trade for English Conservatives. Maybe can just turn it over to Argentina in exchange for final dropping of claims on the Falklands

  17. Posted by guest | February 13, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Yes, No, Yes.

    -Guy who's been knocking back tallboys all morning in celebration of snow-day whos pretty sure thats a potrait of A. Jolie/M. Fox in the background.

  18. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    So shouldn't it be Yes, No, No? Wait do you mean Megan or Michael J? Cuz looks more like MJF to me.

  19. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    If you worked at a hedge fund you'd know that only scotch is permitted before lunch.

    >Because that's all the sales guys from the brokerages bring over around Christmas.

  20. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Christmas? Know how we know you don't work at a hedge fund….

  21. Posted by Im_a_Dude | February 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    I miss Lax

  22. Posted by Quant me maybe... | February 13, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Like anyone would drink Arak before lunch.

    > Guy who got a bottle of that shit — Just once.

  23. Posted by gay radar... | February 13, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Know how we know you're gay?

  24. Posted by Reuters | February 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    They say things went bad with a disgruntled slam over at Cowan back in the fall.

    He's just a filthy tragic listless figure now.

  25. Posted by SMU Insecure | February 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Hey, I resemble that remark.

  26. Posted by fauxLaxbro | February 13, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    brit's my "woof of wall st"

  27. Posted by Guest | February 13, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    Depends on if the portrait is blurry due to camera focus or the shakes.

    – UBS Resolution Quant

  28. Posted by تحويل الفيديو HD | February 14, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    the name is there already.