Opening Bell: 08.04.14

Exclusive: Goldman group set to buy message system as alternative to Bloomberg (Reuters)
Wall Street firms led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc are close to buying a stake in chat and instant messaging startup Perzo Inc in pursuit of an alternative to a similar application from Bloomberg LP, sources familiar with Goldman’s plans said. Banks are trying to cut costs as sluggish trading volumes and higher regulation weigh on revenues. Bloomberg has dominated messaging on Wall Street for years, but its application is part of a data, trading and news terminal that costs about $20,000 a year. The Perzo applications are free. Several banks and asset managers are considering an investment in Perzo, including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC, BlackRock Inc and the hedge fund Maverick Capital Ltd, said two sources briefed on the matter who declined to comment publicly…Goldman Sachs has been looking at alternatives to Bloomberg’s messaging program for years, and launched a project internally called “Babel” in early 2013 to develop a competitor, according to two sources. As that project was underway, the bank learned that reporters in Bloomberg’s news division had access to information about bank professionals that it assumed had been private, such as when an employee had last logged into his or her terminal, the sources said.

London Banker Jobs Decrease as Large Firms Slow Hiring (Bloomberg)
Job vacancies at London’s financial-services companies fell by 8 percent in July from the previous month as hiring by large securities firms slowed, according to a survey by a recruitment firm. The number of openings in the City and Canary Wharf financial districts decreased to 2,000 in July from 2,190 in June, London-based Astbury Marsden said in a statement today. However, smaller companies such as high-frequency and algorithmic trading firms, are “actively” creating new positions and adding employees, according to the recruiter.

TPG Is Said to Seek $12 Billion Fund After Boom-Era Busts (Bloomberg)
The total amount for TPG’s seventh buyout pool would include $2 billion the firm already obtained for a bridge fund, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The predecessor fund raised $19.8 billion in 2008, just before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. triggered a global financial meltdown. TPG gathered $15.4 billion for its fifth fund in 2006 at the peak of the buyout boom.

BofA’s 2 Hour Rosneft Trade Halt Shows Sanction Confusion (Bloomberg)
Bank of America Corp. and Nomura Holding Inc. (8604)’s electronic-trading unit Instinet temporarily banned trading in Russian energy stocks OAO Rosneft and OAO Novatek last month after the U.S. sanctioned the firms over Russia’s policy on Ukraine, four people with knowledge of the matter said. Bank of America suspended trading in both stocks for about two hours as a precautionary measure after the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions on July 16, said two people, who asked not to be identified because the information hasn’t be made public. Nomura placed a ban on both companies’ shares for 24 hours on July 28, one of the people said. “The first reaction for risk managers will be to cut trading when these sanctions occur,” Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow-based consulting firm Macro Advisory and former chief strategist at Sberbank CIB, said in an interview. “We will see this trend of voluntary prohibitions repeated because there are no medals for bravery, and risk managers will err on the side of caution.”

German schoolboy drops phone on fishing trip, drains entire pond to look for it (Metro)
A boy enjoying a fishing trip with a group of friends accidentally dropped his iPhone over the side of the boat – so he decided to drain the entire pond. The 16-year-old took matters into his own hands after the angling club refused to let him use his diving suit to retrieve the device, sneaking back later that night armed with a powerful pump and two hoses. ‘I thought two pumps would drain enough of the water from the pond so I could find my cellphone,’ he told his local paper in Cologne. ‘I knew the phone was probably dead but wanted to get the data card back with the numbers, pictures and videos of my friends.’ The youngster thought that if he directed the water into the angling club toilet he may get away with his plan – but he failed to notice that the toilet wasn’t attached to a sewage system. When the owner arrived to a flooded car park he quickly found the cause and called police. The boy was ordered to pay for the damage for the toilet, the clean-up operation and the water to refill the pond. And though he didn’t recover his phone, he was unapologetic. ‘It almost worked,’ he insisted.

New York Muscles Ahead of Hong Kong in Cross-Border IPOs (Money Beat)
Last year Hong Kong exchanges had $15 billion of listings for offshore companies, driven by $14.5 billion of business from China. The U.S. fared poorly by comparison, drawing in only $5 billion of offshore IPOs and a paltry $900 million in Chinese business. Already the trend has reversed in the first half of 2014. U.S. exchanges had $8 billion of cross-border IPOs, nearly tripling the amount from the same point last year. Of that, IPOs by Chinese companies on U.S. exchanges drew in $3.5 billion for the first half of the year. This compares with just $6 billion for Hong Kong exchanges so far in 2014, all of which came from China.

Activist Firms Join Tax-Deal Push (WSJ)
Adding the latest in-vogue deal maneuver to their playbook, activist investors are pressing for overseas mergers that can slice tax bills. In the latest example, Marcato Capital Management LP hired an investment bank to try to drum up interest from U.S. hotel companies that could possibly cut down on their tax bills by buying U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, according to people familiar with the matter. The $3 billion activist hedge fund says it owns about a 4% stake in InterContinental and has already publicly called on the owner of the InterContinental and Holiday Inn chains to explore a deal. Now, the people said, Marcato is trying to ramp up the pressure by hiring the bank, Houlihan Lokey, and focusing on the possibility of a tax-beneficial merger.

US could lose $20B in tax revenue from corporate ‘inversions’ (NYP)
Apple, critics say, is an expert in complex tax arrangements, saving billions by having a large workforce in Ireland. Apple has come in for criticism by Washington for paying corporation taxes that, via complicated loopholes, may be as low as 3 percent. Senate investigators recently showed how Apple saved taxes on $44 billion of offshore income over several years. Google, another significant employer in Ireland, is said to employ the “Double Irish” tax arrangement. That has resulted in the majority of its worldwide profits avoiding income tax anywhere, experts say. Google’s worldwide income-tax bill was reportedly slashed by $2.2 billion in 2012.

Woman Walks Naked Boyfriend On Leash (HP)
Authorities are mulling whether to charge a West Virginia couple for a “consensual sex game” that startled many of their neighbors. The sight of a man wearing only a hood on his head and crawling on all fours as a nightgown-wearing woman led him down the street on a leash prompted witnesses to call police on July 29. The man’s feet were also bound and apparently an unidentified object protruded from his anus, according to a police report obtained by the Smoking Gun. It was “the weirdest day ever,” Ohio County Sheriff’s Lt. Nelson Croft said. After searching the area around the busy intersection in Wheeling where the fetishistic couple was seen, deputies identified Barbara Jean “B.J.” Geardello, 53 and her boyfriend Robert Deyell, 56, as the exhibitionists. Deyell bore ligature marks on his ankles, but complained of no injures. “They said it was consensual sex, a consensual sex game,” Croft told CBS Pittsburgh. And, in fact, the couple had a complaint of their own to share with authorities. “They were offended that people were stopping and calling them freaks,” Croft said.

14 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (14)

  1. Posted by woof | August 4, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Shaz got a girlfriend!

  2. Posted by Guesteban | August 4, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    BJ and Rob: call me.

    — J. Gunds

  3. Posted by Guest | August 4, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    They were offended that people were calling them freaks? What exactly did they expect their neighbors reaction would be…?

  4. Posted by Guest | August 4, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Well, if dogs are free to be naked outdoors why cannot man be naked. Aren't humans > dogs?

  5. Posted by FourLegAlphaMonster | August 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I think you've confused ">" and "<"

    -Wilbur F, MD, Animal Farm Capital Advisors

  6. Posted by Guest | August 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Do less

  7. Posted by Shaz's beard | August 4, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    or Mrs. Shazzy met someone at the VFW last night

  8. Posted by Dad | August 4, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    I would bet my last deustche mark that that kid had an extensive collection of nudies on that phone

  9. Posted by Lloyd Christmas | August 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    I desperately want to make love to a German school boy!

  10. Posted by Levine Fanboy | August 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    No roundup from Matt this morning, must have taken a long weekend in the Hamptons. Sad day!

  11. Posted by Guest | August 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    liar, lier, pantsu on fire.

  12. Posted by guest | August 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    as someone with a creepy crush on ML, one would think that you'd clearly know he's not a hamptons guy.

  13. Posted by guest | August 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    gunds?

  14. Posted by guest | August 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    too much.