Opening Bell: 03.26.14

King Raises $500 Million in ‘Candy Crush’ Maker’s U.S. Offering (Bloomberg)
King and shareholders Apax Partners LLP and Index Ventures sold 22.2 million shares for $22.50 each, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, after offering them for $21 to $24. The IPO price values King at $7.09 billion.

ECB Mulls Bolder Moves to Guard Against Low Inflation (WSJ)
European Central Bank officials sent strong signals Tuesday that they are willing to consider dramatic steps to guard against dangerously low inflation, suggesting the bank is prepared to shed some of its traditionally cautious approach. The possible tools, cited by some top policy makers from different parts of the euro zone, include effective negative interest rates—meaning rates so low that commercial banks would essentially pay the ECB to park their extra cash overnight. They also include purchases of government or private-sector debt to hold down long-term rates and spur lending.

Facebook to Buy Virtual Reality Firm Oculus for $2 Billion (WSJ)
Facebook made its second blockbuster acquisition of the year, agreeing Tuesday to acquire Oculus VR Inc., a 20-month-old maker of virtual-reality goggles, for $2 billion in cash and stock. Like Facebook’s $19 billion purchase last month of text-messaging service WhatsApp, the deal is part of the social-networking company’s vast ambition to connect people across all kinds of devices and modes of communication. The deal also highlights the intense competition among big technology companies for promising startups, even when those startups, like Oculus and WhatsApp, have little revenue. Oculus’s headset, called Rift, today is a visual device for playing videogames. But Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that the social network has bigger plans for it. “We’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a statement.

BlackRock’s Fink Sounds the Alert (WSJ)
In a shot across the bow of activist investors, BlackRock Inc. BLK +1.66% Chief Executive Laurence Fink has privately warned big companies that dividends and buybacks that activists favor may create quick returns at the expense of long-term investment. In so doing, the head of the world’s largest money manager by assets lent his voice to a popular criticism of activist investors, even as his firm sometimes aligns with and may benefit from their efforts. “Many commentators lament the short-term demands of the capital markets,” Mr. Fink wrote in the letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, sent to the CEO of every S&P 500 company in recent days, according to BlackRock. “We share those concerns, and believe it is part of our collective role as actors in the global capital markets to challenge that trend.”

Former Co-op bank boss recounts ‘hellish’ months after drugs revelation (Guardian)
Paul Flowers, the former Co-operative Bank chair and methodist minister exposed last year for allegedly taking drugs and booking male prostitutes, has spoken publicly for the first time about his addiction – revealing he spent a month in a rehab clinic, and describing the storm around his private and professional life in recent months as “hellish”. Flowers said he spent 28 days before Christmas at a well-known hospital tackling his drug habit, and he was still making weekly visits for treatment. He said that while still chairman of the bank, he had come under “considerable pressure” from ministers to conclude the Co-operative’s much-publicised agreement to buy 600 branches from Lloyds.

Ukrainian women launch sex boycott against Russian men (NYP)
The sex boycott is called “Don’t Give It to a Russian,” and organizers are calling on Ukraine’s “female heroes [to] fight the enemy by whatever means.” The campaign was named after a line from a poem by Ukrainian national hero Taras Shevchenko called “Kateryna” that reads “Fall in love, O dark-browed maidens, but not with the Moskaly [Russians].” Katerina Venzhik, an editor of the Russian news Web site Delo.UA who lives in Kiev, said the no-sex pledge was deadly serious. “We’ve used this campaign to draw attention to the chaos done by the Russians in Crimea: kidnapping, limiting the rights of people, preventing journalists from doing their work. And yes, Ukrainian women prefer Ukrainian men,” she told The Independent.

China Banks Drained by ‘Vampire’ Internet Funds (Bloomberg)
It has been labeled a “blood-sucking vampire” by a prominent commentator on state-run television. Executives at China’s largest banks have called for regulators to curb its rapid expansion. The focus of this ire is Internet financing, specifically Yu’E Bao, the fund pioneered nine months ago by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s online-payment affiliate Alipay. Its ease of use, involving a few taps on a smartphone, has drawn deposits from 81 million customers, more than the population of Germany, as they chase returns higher than China’s banks can offer. The total exceeded 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) as of Feb. 28, according to the official Xinhua news agency, double the amount reported by Alipay in mid-January.

Corzine loses bid to dismiss lawsuit over MF Global’s collapse (Reuters)
US District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan said on Monday the trustee may pursue damages over claims that Corzine, former chief operating officer Bradley Abelow and former chief financial officer Henri Steenkamp breached their duties of care and loyalty to the company.

E-Trade CEO pockets $13.5 million after just a year (Reuters)
In its annual proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, the New York-based bank and brokerage firm said Paul Idzik, a former Barclays Bank retail banking executive who joined in January 2013, received $4.42 million in cash and $9 million of stock that vests over four years.

So what happens to Rex Ryan’s tattoo of his wife wearing nothing but a Mark Sanchez jersey? (NJ.com)
The Jets seem to have a hole at cornerback. There will be a quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Geno Smith. And there’s still plenty of time for the rest of the roster to take shape. But forget all that. At Tuesday morning’s coaches breakfast at the NFL’s annual meetings in Orlando, Fla., Rex Ryan answered the franchise’s most pressing question of the offseason: What’s he going to do with that arm tattoo of his wife wearing nothing but a Mark Sanchez jersey? “The tattoo is still there,” Ryan said, rolling up his sleeve to show the reporters gathered at his table. “I’m not going to say anything about the Sanchez tattoo. It was my tattoo, and it’s still my tattoo.” He then let out a hearty laugh…”I may alter it, who knows,” Ryan also said of the tattoo. “I’m going to put 75 on it to honor Winston Hill [the great left tackle from the Jets' Super Bowl III championship team]. I think that’s the idea. That’s what I’m going to do.”

23 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (23)

  1. Posted by Guest | March 26, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    You know, you should really think about taking a little bit more time to write the opening bell.

    This opening bell sucks!

  2. Posted by Aristophanes | March 26, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    The sex boycott is called “Don’t Give It to a Russian,” and organizers are calling on Ukraine’s “female heroes [to] fight the enemy by whatever means.”

    Original idea.

  3. Posted by Quant me maybe ... | March 26, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    I'm not an expert on IPOs but it seems to me in the case of King, the underwriter could make a lot more money allocating shorts to their big clients rather than the crappy stock.

  4. Posted by Fat Bastard | March 26, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    E-Trade CEO pockets $13.5 million after just a year

    – I dinnae care about the money, just give me the baby

  5. Posted by guest | March 26, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    run along now, you don't want to be late for home room.

  6. Posted by guest | March 26, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    great contribution to the conversation.

  7. Posted by Guest | March 26, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Thanks.

  8. Posted by Minty Meadow VP | March 26, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    They're crushin it.

  9. Posted by WWI Afficionado | March 26, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Our women never give it up anyways

    -G Kasparov

  10. Posted by Ty Webb | March 26, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    You do drugs Shazzy?

  11. Posted by Guest | March 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    In Soviet Ukraine sex fucks you.

    -i'll be here all day until 11:17am.

  12. Posted by Dubious Gas Trader | March 26, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    "The Jets seem to have a hole at cornerback."

    "… a hole at cornerback…."

    "….a hole………"

  13. Posted by Australia | March 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    We don't need lube when we bend over for America.

  14. Posted by London Banker | March 26, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Is this a joke about them being convicts?

    – Wishful thinker

  15. Posted by Lavernicus Shamwow | March 26, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    It's obviously a joke about the Lone Dinosaur pounding Barney in the butt.

  16. Posted by Texashedge | March 26, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    The Russians managed to put forth a remarkably successful reverse sex boycott when they rolled through East Prussia in '45.

  17. Posted by P. Fly for a Fat Guy | March 26, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    He asked for a thirteen but they drew a thirty-one

  18. Posted by TheJokeBriefer | March 26, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Perhaps I might be allowed to waltz in at this juncture to as we examine the joke that boomeranged back to us in the posit by London Banker? Like a Macquarie trader reading Penthouse magazine, let's take a long look down under the bonnet of the aforementioned "bon mot". I recommend a fresh mind in this effort so don't go down to the local head shop and bill a bong to the company credit card. It's that kind of swag, man, that can get you in trouble even in Colorado, but I digress. As we look at the comment by "Australia" pertaining to bending over for America and referencing "lube", London Banker was quick to parry with the query concerning the "convict" ancestry of those initially shipped off to that Continent in south 30s and 40s. Your Joke Briefer thinks that the influx of American baseball interests into the land down under's 22 million people is part of "Australia"s comment. Competing with cricket, soccer and rugby, American baseball is getting a solid handhold in the "backblocks" if not the bush of the locals, pardon the expression. It is though baseball's first chorus of "Begin the Bogan" is starting to play to 'Strine crowds. It reminds your Joke Briefer of the story of the British trader from Goldman's London office arriving in Sydney and going through customs:

    'A pom who works for Goldman Sachs, fresh off the plane at Sydney airport, is trying to negotiate Australian customs. Finally, when it's his turn to get his passport stamped, the customs officer starts rattling off the usual questions:
    C.O. – How long do you intend to stay?
    POM – 1 week.
    C.O. – What is the nature of this trip?
    POM – Business.
    C.O. – Do you have any past criminal convictions?
    POM – Really? I didn't think we still needed to have them these days!
    ———————————
    "Quo vadis", you ask? Let's look at the literature and say g'day:

    1. "Backblock Dumbasses: Failed American Utility and Commodity Trading Company Expansion into Australia 1995-2005, Green and Green, University of Omaha Press, 2008, 675 pages.

    2. "Six and Brists – How Australians Took Over Americar", Barbie Hogan, This Is A Knife Press, Matilda Press, 333 pages.

    3. "Australia Is Like an 84 Year Old Female Groin: Everyone Knows It's Down There but Nobody Cares" by Cecil Jumblies, Tasmaniacal Press, 255 pages.

  19. Posted by mrp | March 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    welcome back.. thank God you're back!!

    mrp

  20. Posted by H Lamarr | March 26, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    The ol' Number 6 Dance strategy

  21. Posted by Guest | March 26, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    JokeBriefer works for Morgan Stanley?

  22. Posted by Quant me maybe... | March 26, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Where the hell you been for the past year? I figured you and _fkapimco disappeared about the same time so you two must have run off to some island somewhere with no power and no internet.

    > Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  23. Posted by VonSloneker | March 27, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    No words…no words…

    Please let this be an extended engagement.

    – Dr. E. Arroway