Opening Bell: 06.23.14

BNP Paribas nears up to $9 billion settlement with U.S. authorities: source (Reuters)
French bank BNP Paribas SA is likely to pay $8 billion to $9 billion as part of a potential settlement with U.S. authorities over violations of sanctions, according to a person familiar with the matter. U.S. authorities are probing whether BNP Paribas evaded U.S. sanctions relating primarily to Sudan between 2002 and 2009, and whether it stripped out identifying information from wire transfers so they could pass through the U.S. financial system without raising red flags, sources have said.

Insider-Trade Probe Eyes Call With House Aide (WSJ)
About an hour before stock trading closed April 1, 2013, a lobbyist at the center of a federal insider-trading probe spoke on the phone with a senior House health-care aide. The disclosure of that conversation represents the latest twist in a long-running federal investigation into whether congressional aides or other federal officials leaked word of a change in health-care policy to traders or anyone seeking information on behalf of investors. The conversation between the lobbyist, Mark Hayes, and Brian Sutter, staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee’s health-care subpanel, was revealed Friday in court filings by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has taken the unusual step of seeking to enforce subpoenas for documents and testimony from Mr. Sutter and the committee led by Rep. David Camp (R., Mich.). The agency on Friday said for the first time it believes Mr. Sutter could have been a source for Mr. Hayes. According to a series of articles by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Hayes sent an email predicting the change to a Washington-based investment-research firm shortly before the announcement on April 1, 2013, citing “very credible sources.” Health-insurance stocks jumped moments before the government announced the news, a surge prompted by an alert the research firm sent to its clients on Wall Street.

Harvard Seeks Fund Chief for the Long Haul (WSJ)
Jane Mendillo, 55, told Harvard Management Co. board members months ago that she was leaving, before a succession plan was in place, according to a person familiar with the matter. At least two directors tried to convince her to stay on longer but she agreed to remain only through the end of the year, according to people familiar with the conversations. Ms. Mendillo’s decision leaves Harvard Management, which oversees the world’s largest endowment, searching for its fourth chief executive in nine years.

Banks speed up shift to forex automation (FT)
Banks including Barclays and UBS are accelerating a shift towards automation in foreign exchange and rates trading as they move to slash costs and reduce the risk of further price manipulation scandals.
Senior bankers are aiming to minimise human intervention because traditional trading over the phone has come under an intense regulatory spotlight. Authorities around the globe are investigating alleged manipulation of benchmarks such as currency fixes and interbank lending rates.

Inflation Is Back on Wall Street Agenda (WSJ)
If inflation returns to more normal levels and stays there, that could signal a stronger economy, which could be good for stocks. But an inflation uptick also could mark the end of the decadeslong bond rally that has kept bond prices up and yields down since the early 1980s. It would mean higher interest rates, which are bad for home buyers, businesses and holders of existing, low-yielding bonds. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen played down the news last week, saying the data were distorted by statistical “noise.” She reiterated that the Fed intends to keep interest rates exceptionally low for a long time.

Sexy mugshot guy’s wife ‘furious’ over social media fervor (NYP)
Sexy mugshot felon Jeremy Meeks has set hearts aflutter on social media but his wife isn’t quite so happy with the attention he is receiving. CBS Sacramento reports that she is furious people can only talk about his chiseled good looks while he is languishing in prison away from his family. The father appeared in court last week after he was arraigned on 11 felony counts. A friend, Simon Johnson, said Meek’s wife was “upset and furious.” “Her man’s in there, and people are taking it as a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see her at all in the cameras, because she’s upset.” Meeks internet fame began after police posted his mug shot on their Stockton Police Department Facebook page. His good looks and piercing blue eyes quickly attracted thousands of likes, appreciative comments, lustful memes and sent #JeremyMeeks trending on Twitter. Meeks has a long rap sheet and is an alleged gang member, although his family say he has turned his back on gang life and discovered religion…There are already plans afoot by his internet fans to free Meeks. His Facebook page has more than 120,000 fans.

Lululemon Founder Fights for Company Control (WSJ)
Lululemon Athletica founder Dennis “Chip” Wilson is working with bankers at Goldman Sachs as he weighs options for shaking up the company’s board and gaining more influence over the yoga gear maker’s operations, people familiar with the situation said. The founder could launch a proxy fight to win additional board seats or partner with a private-equity firm in a buyout, another person familiar with the matter said. Alternatively, he could sell his stake, this person said. So far, Mr. Wilson hasn’t made any decisions on further steps, said a different person familiar with his thinking who wouldn’t elaborate on what is under consideration…The moves suggest Mr. Wilson intends to exert influence over how the maker of fashionable yoga gear is run even though he stepped down as chairman last month and relinquished his role as CEO in 2005. Earlier this month, he announced that he was voting his 28% stake against the company’s new chairman and another director at its annual meeting.

U.S. Increases Scrutiny of Employee-Stock-Ownership Plans (WSJ)
The Labor Department is the plaintiff in 15 lawsuits related to employee-stock-ownership plans, with “virtually all” the cases alleging shoddy estimates of what a company’s shares are worth, said Timothy Hauser, a deputy assistant secretary at the agency’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Hedge-Fund Hack Part of Bigger Siege: Cyber-Experts (Bloomberg)
The attack on a U.S. hedge fund’s network, which a cybersecurity contractor said last week disrupted the firm’s high-speed trading and stole its data, is but one among many. That is the assessment of more than a half-dozen computer security experts, who in recent interviews characterized the hedge-fund industry as the target of multiple attacks, many successful. Over the past two years, computer networks at dozens of banks, hedge funds, law firms and other Wall Street companies have been infiltrated by hackers mainly from Eastern European countries, these people said. The hackers’ methods range from crude to sophisticated: Would-be attackers sought to gain entrance to networks through websites often visited by fund workers — so-called watering-hole attacks — or tried “spearphishing” by sending e-mails with malicious links that would open virtual doors to the outsiders, according to these people.

Student gets stuck in giant stone vag!na in Germany (The Age)
What was meant to be a funny dare turned into an utter embarrassment for an American exchange student, who found himself trapped in a giant stone vag!na in Germany. Firefighters had to be called in to deliver the man, head-first, to safety after his feet became trapped in the large marble sculpture at Tubingen University in Germany. The unnamed man is believed to have been dared to climb inside the sculpture, which sits outside the university’s institute for microbiology and virology. But his legs soon became wedged in the carving and, despite labouring to free himself, the experts had to be summoned…A total of 22 firefighters, five fire engines and a number of paramedics were sent to the scene, and quickly freed the man “by hand without use of equipment”, the newspaper reported.

33 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (33)

  1. Posted by Womenlooklikecows | June 23, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    Americans and their giant vaginas…

  2. Posted by Chelsea Clinton | June 23, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    You can be forcefully extracted from a giant, stone-cold vagina and still lead a normal life. He's fine.

  3. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    From blue to green,

    Pretty sure I have already tapped that, yes, yes

  4. Posted by ThatsWacc | June 23, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    No, you didn't tap that

    - Billy Madison, CFA

  5. Posted by Single in FiDi | June 23, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Bess changed her profile pic yesterday

    -FB creeper

  6. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    go on.

    -jeff gunds

  7. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    swing and a miss.

  8. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    "His good looks and piercing blue eyes quickly attracted thousands of likes, appreciative comments, lustful memes and sent #JeremyMeeks trending on Twitter. Meeks has a long rap sheet and is an alleged gang member"

    man, if I had a nickel for every time I've been there…

  9. Posted by Im_a_Dude | June 23, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    stalker.
    but thanks for the update

  10. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    everyone should do themselves a favor and click through to see the picture of the guy stuck in the vag. it is pure gold.

  11. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    really hoping that becomes that guy's new e harmony pic.

  12. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    great job bnp! you got 'em down to a mere nine billion!

    -guy who thought the french were going to pay 17

  13. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    that guy is going to be swimming in conjugal visits.

  14. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    bnp finally learns how to deal.

  15. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    tough but fair.

    -frenchman

  16. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    whatever blue shirt in the yoga pic is doing…she should keep doing.

  17. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    co-signed.

    -assman

  18. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    clarification needed: are you a guy who likes asses or cliff?

  19. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    The former. Though I can't speak for cliff…

  20. Posted by guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    T but F.

  21. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Harvard Management turnover is the new normal.

  22. Posted by Danni C | June 23, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Raj Rajaratman's mug shot is far sexier.

  23. Posted by Flarky | June 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Africa Boompasta!

  24. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    If you like your Bess pic, you can keep your Bess pic.

  25. Posted by Hans Burgundy | June 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Germany is German for whale's vagina.

  26. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    But you could imagine what it would have been like if he had.

  27. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    In other news, exchange student applications are way down at the University of Mufftrappingen

  28. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    The psychic clam must die. For his faulty prediction, he must be dropped in a cauldron of hot, boiling water.

  29. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Offal

  30. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    and lots of prison showers

  31. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I like the cliff assness of it all.

  32. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I am Watson, beep, beep. What is your currency order please, beep, beep.

  33. Posted by Guest | June 23, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Portuguese Hammer Taco!