Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 03.25.14

Loneliness of Kiev Bond Trader Shows Market Was Wiped Out (Bloomberg)
Not long ago, Ukraine was one of the hottest spots in emerging markets, posting returns of 24 percent on its dollar-denominated notes in 2012 and luring foreign firms led by Franklin Resources Inc. Those returns turned negative last year as the tug of war between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the West for control of Ukraine began to take shape amid the protests. The value of stocks traded on the Ukrainian Exchange has dropped 27 percent this year to 970 million hryvnia ($91 million), according to data on the bourse’s website. The benchmark equity gauge is up 9.3 percent over the past year after tumbling 69 percent the previous two years.

Morgan Stanley investors await Fed’s buyback blessing (Reuters)
Morgan Stanley shareholders will find out this week whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will allow the bank to start returning capital to shareholders in a meaningful way for the first time since the financial crisis. But even if the Wall Street bank gets the Fed’s blessing to buy back more shares and potentially raise its dividend, it is unlikely to hit a shareholder return target Chief Executive James Gorman set out for this year, analysts and investors said.

S&P Downgrades Brazil Credit Rating, Citing Weak Growth (WSJ)
The downgrade marks a turnaround from 2008, when Brazil’s bonds were awarded investment-grade status amid the global financial crisis. The South American nation seemed to shrug off much of the global downturn, spurring an investor frenzy for Brazilian securities. Brazil soared to 7.5% growth in 2010.

SEC Is Probing Dealings by Banks and Companies in Loan Securities (WSJ)
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether a Wall Street boom in complicated bond deals is creating new avenues for fraud, according to people close to the probes. SEC investigators are looking at whether banks and companies are using the bond deals to hide certain risks illegally, said the people close to the probes. A number of likely cases in that area are in the pipeline, one of the people said. Separately, the government has expanded an inquiry into how Wall Street banks sell the deals, the people added. The securities being examined aren’t traded on any exchanges or open platforms, and their prices are negotiated privately between buyers and sellers.

For Power Suits in Executive Suites, the Latest Accessory Is Rainbow Loom (WSJ)
Until his grandchildren got Rainbow Loom kits, Ralph Fatigate had never owned a bracelet. Now he has nine, all made of tiny colored rubber bands. He wears them to meetings with bankers around the world. Still, enough is enough. “I will wear no more than four at a time,” said Mr. Fatigate, a former New York state banking regulator. Rainbow Loom bracelets are all the rage among the tween set, and now they are gaining favor among businessmen who can’t say no to a handmade gift from their kids—or their grandchildren…Attorney Greg Keating has an even larger bracelet collection, with about 20 pieces he can choose from when getting dressed for work. Mr. Keating represents companies in employment litigation as a shareholder at law firm Littler Mendelson PC in Boston. His 11-year-old daughter Caroline started working with a looming kit last August. Now Mr. Keating said “she’s probably approaching a black belt in Rainbow Loom” and recently made her dad a bracelet of glow-in-the-dark bands. Now he’s noticing that other men in the workplace are wearing these bracelets, too: He’s spotted them in his office elevator, at business meetings and even in the courtroom…During trials, lawyer Donald Migliori, a member at firm Motley Rice, wears two Rainbow Loom bracelets made by his children. He said he is reluctant to wear other kinds of jewelry that might distract jurors, but the loom bracelets are a welcome reminder of his kids during the more than half of the year he spends on the road for work. His 7-year-old daughter, Gloria, made him a purple, yellow and red Rainbow Loom ring recently. That’s where Mr. Migliori, who has been involved in major litigation involving terrorism and tobacco, had to draw the line. The rubber accessories “are beautiful and meaningful,” Mr. Migliori said. “But the ring is so thick that I can’t even close my hand with it on.” Still, he added, “it makes a nice little keychain.”

Hurt in Crisis, TPG Pursues Smaller Deals (Dealbook)
For TPG, which still has several soured deals from the pre-crisis era in its portfolio, including huge losses on a troubled energy utility, the new approach involves moving beyond the gigantic acquisitions. Instead, it is looking more at buying minority stakes — common in the world of venture capital but rarer in the realm of buyout titans. None of TPG’s transactions since the financial crisis have topped the $5.2 billion that TPG and two partners spent in 2009 for IMS Health, which on Monday disclosed more information about its coming initial public offering.

Delaware judge calls for end to ‘deluge’ of activist votes (FT)
The chief justice’s proposals, in an article in the latest issue of the Columbia Law Review, include limiting the frequency of say-on-pay votes and charging investors to submit proposals to a company’s annual shareholder meeting. Without such curbs, Mr Strine says, investors could “turn the corporate governance process into a constant ‘Model United Nations’ where managers are repeatedly distracted by referenda on a variety of topics proposed by investors with trifling stakes”.

Adam McKay to direct finance drama ‘The Big Short’ (AP)
In a shift to drama, Adam McKay will write and direct an adaptation of Michael Lewis’ financial crisis best-seller “The Big Short:The Doomsday Machine.” Paramount Pictures announced Monday it will produce”The Big Short” along with Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company. McKay is best known as the director of comedies, including the two “Anchorman” films, “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers.”

Kim Dotcom to list online venture in NZ$210m reverse takeover (FT)
Kim Dotcom, the flamboyant internet entrepreneur accused of masterminding the largest copyright infringement in US history, is planning to list his latest online venture on the New Zealand stock exchange. Mega Limited said on Tuesday that it had agreed to acquire TRS Investments, a shell company listed on the New Zealand stock exchange, in a reverse takeover. The all-share deal would value Mega at NZ$210m (US$180m). It remains conditional upon TRS obtaining shareholder approval. “A lot of people and other companies have expressed a desire to invest in Mega or even buy the company, so a listing is a natural step. It creates a currency,” said Mr Dotcom. He said Mega had sufficient funding to operate regardless, but that listing would enable investors to participate in the growth of a company that provided unique technology to combat “mass surveillance” by governments and corporations.

For sale: Warren Buffett’s head, only $29.99 (CNBC), which sells oversized stick-on decals—usually of popular athletes—said on Monday it would launch a “Warren Buffett Big Head.” The proceeds of the $29.99 decal, which measures 1’7″ by 2′, go two Detroit charities. “I was flattered, and frankly surprised, that anyone would want to purchase a Big Head with my face on it,” Buffett said in a statement.

Oklahoma Girl Breaks Girl Scout Cookie Sales Mark (AP)
Katie Francis of Oklahoma City sold 18,107 boxes in the seven-week sales period that ended Sunday night. The previous mark was set by Elizabeth Brinton, who sold approximately 18,000 one year in the 1980s. The sixth-grade student told The Oklahoman newspaper last month that there were only three ingredients needed to rack up large sales: a lot of time, a lot of commitment and asking everyone she met to buy.

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26 Responses to “Opening Bell: 03.25.14”

  1. Guest says:

    Mouseover excellence.

  2. guestie says:

    7AM? Am I on Dealbreaker?

  3. Guest says:

    Ah. Puzzle solved. Probable cause of OB's Monday and Friday delinquency– Shazza's pre-occupied making his bro-celets and mewellery.

    Shazza– can u do me up a DB Starburst bracelet?

  4. Guest says:

    18107 boxes in the sale period, 411boxes a day, 35 boxes an hour[12 hour workday, weekends included]–maybe someone needs to call OSHA…

  5. KingCo says:

    "During trials, lawyer Donald Migliori, a member at firm Motley Rice, wears two Rainbow Loom bracelets made by his children."

    I am not so sure trial lawyers should be reminding juries (or anyone) that they breed.

  6. Phil F. says:

    So my friendship bracelet is out of style now?

  7. Shaz's beard says:

    The rubber accessories “are beautiful and meaningful,” Mr. Migliori said. “But the ring is so thick that I can’t even close my hand with it on.”

    Go on…

    -J Gundlach

  8. Gowanus Guest says:

    Nothing worse in the morning than stepping on a shit covered shingle with nail on it.

  9. 2007 Guest says:

    Did I miss something? Are LiveStrong bracelets out of style now?

  10. Guest says:

    Obama, bama, banana.

  11. reuters says:

    This just in.Girl scout refuses offer as Global Head of Sales and Trading for UBS. Says, "the leads are weak".

  12. UBS sucks guy says:

    "Kelly, Slater and Jesse's Buddy Bands has nothing to worry about"

    -UBS Retail Analyst

  13. meeami says:

    Laxbro steals his bracelets out of the kids' rooms of the slams he spends the night with.