Opening Bell: 02.21.14

J.P. Morgan Holder Pulls Independent-Chair Proposal (WSJ)
A J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. shareholder has pulled a proposal calling for the largest U.S. bank to split the chairman and chief executive posts held since 2006 by James Dimon. A small Toledo philanthropic organization called The Needmor Fund had backed the nonbinding resolution asking J.P. Morgan to name an independent chair for its board. But J.P. Morgan said in a news release that it had reached an agreement with the group to withdraw the proposal. The decision by The Needmor Fund means that Mr. Dimon won’t face a vote from shareholders this month about whether they support the idea of having different people in the roles of chairman and CEO role, a company spokesman said. The bank said it agreed to an “ongoing dialogue” with the proponents and to hear any questions “directors might consider in reviewing the implications of combining or separating the roles of CEO and chair.”

Upstarts Hope to Make 2014 a Blowout Year for Hedge-Fund Debuts (WSJ)
A host of notable hedge-fund startups are expected to begin operating in 2014, each with at least $500 million—and in one case $2 billion—to invest. Bankers and lawyers who work with such funds say this is likely to be the busiest year for launches since the financial crisis. The resurgence comes even as the industry broadly has underperformed recently when compared with rebounding stock markets…Among the new entrants this year are veterans from established funds venturing out on their own, including Herb Wagner, formerly of Baupost Group LLC, Matthew Sidman, out of Highfields Capital Management LP, and Jim Parsons of Viking, according to people familiar with the matter. Baupost and Highfields are also closed, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Murdoch Buys 4 Floors of NYC Condo Tower for $57 Million (Bloomberg)
Murdoch, 82, who is also chief executive officer of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., went into contract to purchase two units at One Madison, a triplex penthouse spanning the 58th through 60th stories and another full-floor apartment beneath it, his spokesman, Steven Rubenstein, said. The properties total about 10,160 square feet (944 square meters), according to a statement from Related Cos., one of the developers of the tower on East 22nd Street in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood.

Energy Holdings Prepares for a Breakup (wSJ)
One of the biggest leveraged buyouts of an American company is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection, brought to its knees by heavy debt and a misguided bet on the direction of natural gas prices. Energy Future Holdings Corp., previously called TXU Corp., is lining up loans to keep two subsidiaries operating during bankruptcy proceedings after months of talks have failed to produce an agreement with creditors on reworking its $40 billion-plus in debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Loeb: Spirituality is good for Wall Street (NYP)
“Meditation, contemplation — it’s not just for monks and hermits,” Loeb told attendees at an American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

World’s Largest Oyster Is Size Of A Man’s Shoe (NPR)
The world’s largest oyster is nearly 14 inches long and resides in Denmark, according to the folks at Guinness World Records. And it’s still alive and growing, according to Christine Ditlefsen, the biologist at the Wadden Sea Centre whose world record was recently certified. The oyster was found in October in Wadden Sea National Park, a shallow area off of the North Sea on Denmark’s southwestern coast. Its size and shape could be said to resemble a huge plaintain. But when they found it, the Wadden staff compared the oyster to a large and sturdy shoe. “My staff called me immediately and said we’ve found this oyster that’s as big as a 44 shoe,” Klaus Melbye, the head of the Wadden center, told the food website Fine Dining Lovers in October, when the discovery was first reported. Here in America, a European size 44 is equal to a men’s shoe size of 11 (or a largish 10-1/2; shoe sizes aren’t the most scientifically calibrated things). But the oyster might outgrow that comparison, because it could live another 10 years.

In Pricey Facebook Deal for WhatsApp, Two Strong-Willed CEOs (WSJ)
Two years ago, Jan Koum, founder of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp, decried online advertising, saying it drives tech companies to write “better code to collect all your personal data.” On Wednesday, Mr. Koum agreed to sell his company to Facebook Inc., which built the world’s second-largest online advertising platform after Google Inc.’s by harvesting information users post on the social network…The men are divided by more than differing approaches to making money. A legacy of his childhood in Ukraine is Mr. Koum’s emphasis on privacy: WhatsApp doesn’t collect any personal information other than a mobile-phone number and address book, and it wipes out messages shortly after they are sent. Mr. Zuckerberg, by contrast, has riled users by changing Facebook’s privacy settings in ways that some thought exposed more of their personal information more widely.

Zuckerberg’s Data Stance Faces Privacy Backlash in Europe (Bloomberg)
In a survey on European attitudes toward privacy commissioned by Orange, 78 percent of respondents said they have little confidence that corporations will safeguard their personal data, though phone companies fare better than the titans of the Web. Some 41 percent of respondents said they trust their mobile carrier to keep their information safe, versus 20 percent for social networks like Facebook or Twitter Inc.

Comcast filings with regulators expected at end of March (Reuters)
Comcast Corp said on Thursday it plans to submit documents on its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc to U.S. regulators by the end of March, when antitrust and public interest reviews will be launched. The proposed merger between the two biggest U.S. cable service providers is expected to draw intense scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission, which reviews whether deals are in the public interest, and either the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission, which share antitrust oversight. The deal has drawn concern from consumer advocates and some lawmakers who worry that the new company’s size would give it too much power to decide what Americans can watch on TV and do online.

Rob Ford jumps for joy as Canada wins gold medal in women’s hockey at Winter Olympics (NYDN)
Toronto’s crack-smoking, binge-drinking mayor Rob Ford has found a new way to get high: watching Canadian women’s hockey. Ford jumped around on the Toronto City Council chamber floor like a madman Thursday afternoon as Team Canada won gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the United States.

Comments (16)

  1. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    Shazar's mom's inbox is my oyster.

  2. Posted by UBS sucks guy | February 21, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Rob Ford hasn't jumped that high since he moved out of his van down by the river

  3. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Spirituality, meditation and contemplation… but not morality.

  4. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Two strong willed CEOs bonded by chocolate dipped strawberries. It makes a difference.

  5. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    2 strong willed CEOs but 1 strong willed CEO 8 times richer than the other.

  6. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    And this is the product of Loeb's meditation:

    “New HLF Product: The Herbalife Enema administered by Uncle Carl,”

    I want to join his cult.

  7. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    2 strong willed CEOs + 1 box of chocolates + 1 cow + 2 pigs + 1 set of 250lbs dumbells < 1 strong willed CEO's wife

  8. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Seems like he meant to say "meditation and contempt."

  9. Posted by quant me maybe... | February 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Here in America, a European size 44 is equal to a men’s shoe size of 11 …

    >Which is why American women are unpleasantly surprised by the endowment of European men.

  10. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    However, American dudes have no balls.

  11. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Where's the reset button on this thing?

  12. Posted by Guest | February 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    This is great advertising for RP Martin
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2564706/V

    BANG! Video shows the moment balaclava wearing colleagues crept up on 'Wolf of Shenfield' on his first day back at work after recovering from real masked gun attack
    .

  13. Posted by London Banker | February 21, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Here in the UK, a US size 11 is equal to men's shoe size 9

    > Guy who knows why US women love an English 'accent'

  14. Posted by St. Copious | February 21, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Nice work on TXU you doofuses. $100+ million in "closing fees" to the funds, and now zilch to the LPs. Hang it up and go dig ditches or something.

  15. Posted by GeezerOilTrader | February 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    So I'm in a hurry to get to the office after a few brewhahas at Kay's Lounge late last night and while I'm tying my fucking tie I notice a thick fucking single black hair growing out the top of my right ear sort of like the old Mercury dime's figure had wings growing back out of his head, don't you know, and I make a swipe at that hair with the fucking Gillette 9-blade and FUCK if I don't CUT MY FUCKING EAR a bit in a not too smart move but DON'T FUCKING COMPARE ME and my smartness to the asshole shithead fuckbirds who slithered around that TXU deal with all their FUCKING INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL on display like goddam peacocks and oh, yes, those MULLETS at Exxon were watching that TXU deal closely, like a nearsighted man at a Tomball, TX, peephole into the ladies bathroom at an optometrist's office. Now, as the XTO people kept quiet, but silently were muttering whooooweeedoggies like that great oilman Jed Clampitt used to say when Ellie Mae came in from a late date with hickeys on her neck and explaining that she walked in front of a gas trader at a driving range by the name of Peter Trax. And HEY!! Why are all you gas trading shitbirds whining about the price of gas in a cold winter? If gas companies hired experienced people to trade that vaporous shit, they'd know what a real winter could be but instead they hire all these DESIGNER STUBBLED, tribal-tattooed, Taper-fade haircutted, Axe-wearing, G-Shock watch-wristed, square-toe shoe wearing, DUCKFACE making, nude selfie picture taking, chatroom conspiring FUCKHEADS in horizontal striped, business casual golfshirts who talk about their FUCKING VaR and risk buckets and co-locational Rho indicative, enhanced coupled strangle second derivatives against the "Widowmaker" who'll hang up the landline in front of their 20 fucking stacked data screens at their workstation and tell you it was another "headhunter" who won't leave them alone. Back in the 80s, when we were groovin to Eddie Rabbits' "Driving My Wife Away", you had to have a gray whisker or two before you made a big fucking bet with the company's money that there might not be a FUCKING WINTER even though you might tell your boss that there had to be a winter because your titty-dancer girlfriend at Baby-O's in Houston would report to you that she "got 8 inches" on a night it didn't snow. I mentioned that to our CEO in the trading room this morning and next thing you know, that old bulbous nose veined wildcatter is telling me that his new trophy wife woke him up with a blow job that very morning. He says, "She told me to wake my ass up and blow the leaves off the circular drive."

  16. Posted by not ashamed | February 21, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    seeing a post by you always makes my day