Opening Bell: 08.28.14

Mega-IPO to rekindle the ‘bromance’ behind Alibaba’s rise (Reuters)
Masayoshi Son’s nose for an investment has turned a $20 million start-up punt on Alibaba into a stake worth maybe $50 billion or more as the Chinese e-commerce giant co-founded and led by Jack Ma heads to what could be the biggest U.S. tech IPO of all time. Son, CEO of Japanese telecoms firm SoftBank Corp, also put money into a young Yahoo Inc, co-founded by Jerry Yang, in 1995, and Yahoo’s subsequent investment in Alibaba saw Ma, Son and Yang build Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N] into one of world’s biggest internet companies as China’s e-commerce market took off. “It was the look in his eye, it was an ‘animal smell’,” said Son of his decision to back Ma when they first met in 2000. “It was the same when we invested in Yahoo … when they were still only 5-6 people. I invested based on my sense of smell,” he quipped in a group media interview in May. Under pressure from investors, Yang quit Yahoo in early 2012 and gave up his seat on Alibaba’s board. He is now a founding partner of AME Cloud Ventures, a San Francisco venture fund. But next month, the three poster boys for Asian technology entrepreneurship, bound by a shared ambition and a taste for sushi and golf, are set to be reunited on Alibaba’s board following the firm’s long-awaited New York IPO.

Plan to slow ‘Flash Boys’ already has some holes (NetNet)
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the proposal Tuesday in which 1,200 small-cap firms will be divided into three equal-sized groups with different standards governing each. One group—the “control”—essentially would trade the same as before; the second would see stock prices quoted in 5-cent increments, as opposed to the penny increments currently used; and the third also would trade in 5-cent increments but also would follow a “trade-at” requirement in which trading centers couldn’t match prices unless they display the best bid or offer. Ostensibly, the program’s goal is to “enhance market quality for smaller capitalization stocks for the benefit of investors and issuers,” according to the SEC. More practically, the changes are aimed at thwarting high-frequency traders who have used the lightly traded small-caps to skim profits by getting lower prices on purchase and higher prices on sales than their slower competitors…Inside the market, the SEC’s effort got points for effort but still raised some worries. “What does concern me is there are a bunch of exceptions thrown in there, particularly on test group three,” said Joe Saluzzi, a partner in Themis Trading and outspoken advocate for trading reform. “There may be a need for some, but that to me smells a little bit like some interests are now being put into the rule.”

JPMorgan, Four Other Banks Hit by Hackers: U.S. Official (Bloomberg)
Computer hackers targeted JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and at least four other banks in a coordinated attack on major financial institutions this month, according to a U.S. official. The attack led to the theft of customer data that could be used to drain accounts, according to another person briefed by U.S. law enforcement. The two people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is continuing, discussed the incident after Bloomberg News reported a breach on banks earlier today. Hackers targeted customer and employee information, said a third person involved in the investigation, who was also briefed by the government. The theft involved gigabytes of data, said several people familiar with the attacks. The scale indicates a potential for significant financial fraud. Most thefts of financial information involve retailers or personal computers of consumers. Stealing data from big banks is rare, because they have elaborate firewalls and security systems.

FBI Examining Whether Russia Is Tied to JPMorgan Hacking (Bloomberg)
The sophistication of the attack and technical indicators extracted from the banks’ computers provide some evidence of a government link. Still, the trail is muddy enough that investigators are considering the possibility that it’s cyber criminals from Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Other federal agencies, including the National Security Agency, are now aiding the investigation, a third person familiar with the probe said.

Square Said in Talks for Funding at $6 Billion Valuation (Bloomberg)
Square Inc., the mobile-payments startup co-founded by Twitter Inc. Chairman Jack Dorsey, is in talks to raise financing at a $6 billion valuation, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The San Francisco-based company is seeking about $200 million, with some of the funding coming from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. That would push Square’s valuation up from about $5 billion earlier this year.

Amish Beard-Cutting Convictions Reversed (WSJ)
A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned the criminal convictions of 16 Amish men and women in a series of beard and hair cuttings, finding error in how the jury was instructed on determining whether a hate crime occurred. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the convictions on federal hate-crime charges and returned the case to the lower court. A spokesman for Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Ohio, said his office disagrees with the ruling and is reviewing its options, which include appealing the ruling, retrying the cases or dismissing the charges. The case against members of the eastern Ohio community of Bergholz involved a series of attacks in which other Amish were physically restrained while their hair and beards were shorn. Prosecutors charged those involved under the federal hate-crime law because the Amish consider the length of their hair a sign of religious devotion and the cuttings were to enforce a particular view of the religion. A jury in September 2012 found the 16 defendants guilty of hate crimes, including Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., who was sentenced later to 15 years. They all appealed the hate-crime conviction, but Wednesday’s ruling doesn’t affect the convictions of certain defendants on charges such as concealing evidence.

SEC’s civil case against SAC’s Cohen may get delayed again (NYP)
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to hold off on its decision about former hedge-fund kingpin Steve Cohen for three more months. Bharara asked SEC chief administrative law judge Brenda Murray to continue the stay of the civil proceedings against the former SAC Capital honcho, who is accused of failing to supervise former employees who were later found guilty of insider trading. The US Attorney had asked for a stay until all the criminal charges are settled. One outstanding issue is the pending appeal of convicted inside traders Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman. If their case is overturned, it would have implications for the appeal of former SAC money man Michael Steinberg, who was convicted of insider trading last December.

Banks’ $128B settlement tab is twice last year’s profits (NYP)
Bank of America, which bought subprime loan leader Countrywide Financial in 2008, has paid more to regulators for mortgage misdeeds than all the other big banks combined, the latest tally shows. CEO Brian Moynihan’s bank has paid north of $70 billion for credit and mortgage-related settlements since 2010, more than half of the roughly $128 billion collected from the six biggest banks, according to research from SNL Financial released Wednesday. The total tab for all the firms is about twice the $76 billion of profits the big banks made last year, according to data from Bloomberg. BofA’s latest settlement over soured mortgage-backed securities — a $16.7 billion deal with federal and state governments — was the largest Uncle Sam has levied against a single company.

$506 Billion Is Forecast for U.S. Deficit, a Slight Rise (NYT)
The federal government is expected to finish its fiscal year with a relatively modest budget deficit as the gap between revenue and spending continues a sharp decline, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. The improvement in the government’s financial health has shifted political debate in Washington, and arguments on the midterm campaign trail, from the level of federal spending to the uses of that money. It has frustrated economists who argue that the government’s restraint has held back the economic recovery. The budget office said that it now predicted a federal deficit of $506 billion during the fiscal year that runs through the end of September, modestly increasing its April projection that spending would exceed revenue by $492 billion. The change was attributed to lower-than-expected corporate income tax receipts.

Woman On Trial For Allegedly Setting Fire To Ex’s Home With Bacon (HP)
A Utah woman accused of using a pound of bacon to start a fire in her ex-boyfriend’s house will stand trial on arson charges. Police say Cameo Adawn Crispi, 32, repeatedly called and texted her former flame from his home in March, where she left the bacon over a lit burner. The Deseret News reports the man wasn’t home and called police saying he wanted Crispi out of his house. Officers arrived and saw smoke flowing out the front door. Inside, they found hot coals on the floor around an open wood stove and the burned bacon. Charging documents say Crispi’s blood-alcohol level was 0.346, four times the legal limit.

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

  1. Posted by Narcissus Bellicose | August 28, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    Seven AM opening bell? I literally had to check my calendar to make sure it was the 28th! They must have tossed the homeless from Penn Station early this morning.

  2. Posted by Guest | August 28, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Why do the druries hate ALS research so much? Shouldn't they be doing the Jefferies ice-bucket challenge by now?

  3. Posted by itswhyiliveinct | August 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    Since when do they toss the homeless from Penn Station?

  4. Posted by Crispi Bacon | August 28, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Nuff said

  5. Posted by HotKarl | August 28, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Blood alcohol level of 0.346?!?! Goddamn. Ironically, that's the same level as:
    – the inebriation level at which a SMU coed would actually sleep with SMUSecure
    – Geezer Oil Trader's blood alcohol level after the customary 8 martini Friday power lunch (where the fuck is he by the way?)
    – the level at which I seem to find myself in bed with fat chicks

  6. Posted by Guest! : ) | August 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    "You smell worse than that time the raccoon got in the copier! Here's $20M, go get'em Tiger!"

  7. Posted by Guest | August 28, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Always with the three names…

  8. Posted by Mmm Bacon | August 28, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    What is she going to do for her next Cameo?

  9. Posted by Hobbes | August 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    The real tragedy is that they're not fat chicks when you jump in bed with them at that blood alcohol level.

  10. Posted by UFO | August 28, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    The homeless tossed Shaznats from Penn Station this morning.

  11. Posted by UFO | August 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Because they suck at life

  12. Posted by UFO | August 28, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Yes they are.

    Banging a fat chick islike riding a moped: it's fun until your friends catch you.

  13. Posted by Rahodeb | August 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    You are still not funny.

  14. Posted by Rahodeb | August 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    You are not funny.