Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 07.23.14

Herbalife Bashing Brings Bill Ackman Behind Where He First Began (Bloomberg, earlier)
During a more than three-hour presentation yesterday, billionaire investor Bill Ackman choked up while describing his family’s immigrant beginnings, called Herbalife (HLF) Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Michael Johnson “a predator” and labeled that company “a criminal enterprise.” Herbalife stock rose 25 percent. The increasingly public spectacle of Ackman eviscerating a company on stage, television and online after betting $1 billion that it will fail is raising questions about his credibility on Herbalife and whether there are limits to how short sellers make their case…Ackman has denounced Herbalife as a pyramid scheme since December 2012, spending $50 million of Pershing Square Capital Mangement LP’s money for a probe that included undercover investigators. He has since predicted that Herbalife’s distributors would leave in droves and that auditors wouldn’t sign off on the company’s financial statements. So far he is wrong about both.

John Paulson Makes Almost $1 Billion on OneWest Sale (Bloomberg)
John Paulson’s hedge funds made almost $1 billion on his investment in OneWest Bank, which is being purchased by CIT Group Inc. (CIT) for $3.4 billion in cash and stock. The $21.4 billion Paulson & Co. owns the investment through its Recovery Fund, which was created in October 2008, and a credit pool, according to a memo sent to clients. The funds spent $400 million to purchase a 24.9 percent stake in Pasadena, California-based OneWest in 2009. The sale values that stake at $788 million and Paulson also received $551 million in dividends. The total gain for the funds is $939 million. The transaction will take six to nine months to close and Paulson & Co. will be restricted from trading the stock for six months, the firm wrote in the memo.

US warned of up to 25 groups eyeing foreign switch to cut tax (FT)
Up to 25 more US companies are considering relocating overseas to cut their tax bills this year, a Democratic senator has warned, as he assailed investment bankers for encouraging the idea. The prediction came as concern mounts in Washington over a rise in merger deals, known as inversions, which US multinationals use to move their headquarters to countries with lower corporate tax rates…Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate finance committee, intensified his attacks on inversions on Tuesday. “The inversion virus now seems to be multiplying every few days,” he said. “How many more infections can America’s economic body endure?” He complained that even as they hurt US employment and shrank the country’s tax base, the deals were being promoted by “fast-buck artists” such as investment bankers, private equity groups, lawyers and accountants.

Connecticut Supreme Court to Revisit Protection for Whistleblowers (WSJ)
The Connecticut Supreme Court will consider whether a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that restricted protections for workers who expose alleged wrongdoing by their employers should apply to cases brought under Connecticut law, which is friendlier than federal law on employee rights. Richard Trusz, 58, said he was fired from his Connecticut-based position as head of valuations at UBS’s real-estate investment arm, UBS Realty Investors LLC, in August 2008 after confronting senior management about properties that he considered overvalued, and therefore led to excessive fees for clients including state pension funds. The unit Mr. Trusz led was responsible for determining the market value of its real estate and mortgage investments. Mr. Trusz later sued the Swiss bank in federal court, saying his superiors engaged in “acts of intimidation and retaliation” and “treated him differently from others who didn’t complain” before terminating his employment. A UBS spokeswoman said recently that Mr. Trusz’s claims were “thoroughly looked into both internally and externally many years ago.” She declined to comment on Mr. Trusz’s valuation allegations and said the bank is continuing to seek dismissal of the lawsuit. The state will remain a haven for corporate whistleblowers if the Connecticut Supreme Court sides with Mr. Trusz. But if it applies the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the state will fall in line with the federal standard.

Dodd-Frank not final chapter on reform: Dodd (CNBC)
Four years after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law, its co-authors told CNBC the law was doing its job, but said it certainly isn’t the last chapter in regulating Wall Street and private equity firms. “We didn’t pass the Ten Commandments. We talked about a bill here, giving regulators the ability to modernize the architecture of our financial services industry,” said former Sen. Christopher Dodd, who authored the law with former Rep. Barney Frank.

Justin Bieber could face citizen’s arrest if illegal activity takes place at new Beverly Hills penthouse (NYDN)
Police have talked to folks at Bieber’s ritzy new Beverly Hills building about the possibility of placing him under citizen’s arrest if they see any illegal activity, the Daily News confirmed Tuesday. Cops discussed the option after being called to his posh penthouse a half dozen times Saturday night into Sunday morning for noise complaints related to a rooftop party, a police source said. “We responded six times this past weekend, as late as 3 a.m. Four were for the party, and two were calls for screaming fans outside,” Sgt. Max Subin with the Beverly Hills Police told The News. “Our officers went there and advised residents there are three ways to handle any situations of this nature,” he said. “We can give a citation for municipal code violations. There’s the possibility of arrest by us for something done in front of us. And the third way is a private person’s arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in police presence.”

SEC Is Set to Approve Money-Fund Rules (WSJ)
Under the SEC plan, “prime” money funds whose shares are held by corporations and large institutional investors will have to abandon a stable $1-a-share price and float in value like other mutual funds, according to people familiar with the matter. Investors in these funds would risk losing principal if the share price fell. Prime funds invest in short-term corporate debt. The plan also would allow all funds to temporarily stop investors from redeeming shares in times of market tumult or impose fees on them to do so, these people said, meaning corporations and other investors may not always have immediate access to their cash. The rules are aimed at training institutional investors to accept fluctuations in the value of their investments, as well as ensuring funds can stop a trickle of outflows from turning into a flood.

Donald Sterling Sues Wife, NBA in Fight Over Clippers (Bloomberg)
Sterling alleges in a complaint filed Tuesday that he’s the sole shareholder of LAC Basketball Club Inc., the corporation that owns the Clippers, and that his wife can’t sell the team to Ballmer without his consent. He asked for a judge to “freeze” the sale as well as for unspecified damages.

Bats President Who Rebuked Michael Lewis Leaves Exchange (Bloomberg)
Bill O’Brien, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who built Direct Edge Holdings LLC into one of the biggest U.S. stock exchanges, is leaving the firm after merging it with Bats Global Markets Inc…O’Brien, 43, played a central role in the debate spurred by Michael Lewis’s “Flash Boys,” which blasted Bats and other key players in the stock market. The Bats executive appeared on CNBC a day after the best-seller came out to spar with Lewis and IEX Group Inc. CEO Brad Katsuyama, the hero of the book. Their heated exchange captivated Wall Street. Later that week, Bats was forced to correct something O’Brien said about the speed of his company’s technology systems.

Ex-Goldman Trader’s Bitcoin Exchange to Fill Mt. Gox Void (Bloomberg)
When Kano, 38, left his job as a derivatives and convertible bonds trader in December, bitcoin had climbed to a record $1,151. Three months later, it was worth half that after a $530 million heist at Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bankrupted what was once the virtual currency’s largest exchange. “That’s one less competitor for us, but it also left many Japanese with a very negative impression of bitcoin,” Kano said in an interview in Tokyo on July 17. “We already had a company then and felt it was up to us to rebuild the trust.” Since Mt. Gox closed in February, acquiring the digital currency in Japan meant going to the city’s only bitcoin ATM machine or arranging a person-to-person deal. Kano’s bitFlyer website allows anyone with a Japanese bank account to buy and sell the coins. The service began in April and eschews the trading options used by other exchanges in favor of a simple interface that would appeal to beginners, Kano said, declining to give subscriber numbers.

This year’s wedding status symbol? A booking on 12/13/14 (NYP)
Couples are desperately hoping to tie the knot Dec. 13 — 12/13/14. Jennifer Krysiak, 31, who works as an educational director of a preschool in Queens, was inspired by a friend who married on 7/7/07. “I wanted to have a cool wedding date, too,” Krysiak says. “I always wanted a winter wedding, so I originally picked Dec. 6. But that wasn’t cool, and when I found out that 12/13/14 fell on a Saturday, I knew I had to pick it. We started planning as soon as we got engaged last September.” […] “We’ve had to turn a lot of people away,” says Julie Miller, the production manager at The Foundry, a popular venue in Long Island City (and where the character Jessa was married on HBO’s “Girls”). “We’ve gotten 20 requests for the day since we booked it [a few months back], and December is generally a quiet month for us.” New York-based DJ company Scratch Weddings says they’ve seen a 300 percent increase in requests over the same weekend last winter. Columbia University law student Zila Acosta called all over town looking for a venue to host her 12/13/14 wedding. “There were tons of places that I looked at that were like, ‘We’re booked. We’ve been booked,’ ” she says. “A lot of the main hotels told me, ‘We have, like, three interested couples ahead of you.’ ” […] And venues across the country are hoping to cash in. Many hotels and chapels in Las Vegas are advertising 12/13/14 wedding packages — Caesars Palace is offering a chapel ceremony with two buffet lunches for $1,213.14. And one lucky couple already snagged the “12, 13, 14 . . . Eternity” package on Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. The resort there offered the package for $195,000, which bought the pair the entire private island for the weekend.

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30 Responses to “Opening Bell: 07.23.14”

  1. Guest says:

    He went there with the Nazi reference. Pulling out all stops. Stock still rallied 25%. Hope you got your short off.

  2. Axes of Herbal Evil says:

    I predict the next Ackman HLF presentation will link the company to Kim Jong Un.

  3. Uncle Carl says:

    This schoolyard isn't big enough for the both of us.
    -Queens Heavyweight Champ

  4. Guest says:

    Instead of complaining about companies moving overseas, why don't the dems actually come to the table and try to figure out what to do about the disadvantageous tax code that makes companies want to move in the first place?

    – Guy who knows it probably isn't that easy, but is sick of all the complaining

  5. HotKarl says:

    12/14/14 = the day the blowjobs and Cincinnati bowties died

  6. HotKarl says:

    $195k for a private island wedding? That's worth more than my house!

    – UBS MD

  7. The Shaker says:

    Ackman tried to burn my god damn dick off!

  8. The Tunger says:

    I'm dying for some delicious yumplings.

  9. Bitch is nuts says:

    Being short herbalife > getting married to Jennifer Krysiak

  10. Guest says:

    Justin Bieber needs to merge with Shia Labeouf to survive.

  11. Captain Oblivious says:

    Getting your balls caught in your zipper then spilling a salted margarita on your lap>marriage

    Im starting to question how Paulson is becoming so "lucky"

  12. Johnny Wad says:

    I'm about to deliver a hot load of natural science to your face!

  13. Captain Oblivious says:

    QMM taking things too literally. Im a big fan of your work but not in this scenario. Other than that I am non plussed