Dealbreaker

Posts by Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 10.21.14

JawsMisery Widespread At Hedge Funds (WSJ)
This month’s turmoil in financial markets has been a “bloodbath” for hedge funds, inflicting large losses at an array of multibillion-dollar firms in the industry’s worst stretch since late 2011. It isn’t unusual for one segment of the $2.8 trillion hedge-fund world to find itself caught in a downdraft. But in October, the pain has been widespread. There were casualties among funds that make bets based on their fundamental analysis of companies, events like takeovers and broad economic trends. The losses came amid sharp volatility in stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities. Top firms including Jana Partners LLC, Discovery Capital Management LLC and Paulson & Co. have posted losses ranging from 5% to 11% for the month, according to investors…One hedge-fund manager told clients Monday that market activity reminded him of a “familiar plotline” from the “Jaws” movies. “An idyllic investment environment amid an improving economy…and then cue the music…dun-dun…dun-dun…dun-dun,” Paul Westhead, chief executive of $4 billion fund Rimrock Capital Management LLC, wrote in a letter to investors.

Fed to Banks: Shape Up or Risk Breakup (WSJ)
Federal Reserve officials sent a warning shot across Wall Street on Monday, telling bank executives they must do more to curb excessive risk-taking and improve employee behavior at their firms or face stiff repercussions, including being broken into smaller pieces. Federal Reserve Gov. Daniel Tarullo and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley , in closed-door speeches Monday to bank executives gathered at the New York Fed, said Wall Street must clean up its behavior and image, according to copies of their remarks provided by the Fed. The regulators made it clear they aren’t satisfied with bank’s efforts in the six years since the financial crisis shattered public trust in big banks, citing ongoing probes of banks for currency-market and interest-rate manipulation, tax evasion and efforts to skirt international sanctions. Mr. Dudley raised the specter of breaking up big banks, saying if firms don’t prove they can comply with the law, “the inevitable conclusion will be reached that your firms are too big and complex to manage effectively. In that case, financial-stability concerns would dictate that your firms need to be dramatically downsized and simplified so they can be managed effectively.”

Private Equity Titans Open Cloistered World to Smaller Investors (Dealbook)
Carlyle, the Washington-based giant that Mr. Rubenstein co-founded in 1987, is at the forefront of an effort to open the cloistered and risky world of private equity to doctors, lawyers, well-heeled entrepreneurs and others with a brokerage account or, one day, a robust 401(k). The firm is close to establishing a new way to give individual investors direct access to a selection of Carlyle’s private equity funds, according to people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly about the private fund-raising campaign in progress. Not just anyone can jump in. Investors — who must be so-called qualified purchasers, or those who own at least $5 million in investible assets — are required to commit a minimum of $250,000, which is divided evenly across four of Carlyle’s current funds. But the structure sharply lowers the bar on a per-fund basis for direct investment with Carlyle.

Heroin blamed in Google prostitute murder case (AP)
Defense attorneys for a high-priced prostitute accused of giving a Google executive a fatal dose of heroin on his yacht say their client had also injected herself, clouding her judgment…Gerald Christensen, Tichelman’s second attorney, says the death was an accident and not malicious. Police say surveillance video shows Tichelman gather her belongings, casually step over the body of 51-year-old Forrest Hayes to finish a glass of wine, clean up a counter, then lower a blind before leaving the yacht on Nov. 23.

Microsoft CEO Nadella Received Pay Package of $84 Million (Bloomberg)
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella was given a compensation package worth as much as $84.3 million for the software maker’s latest fiscal year, about 11 times his pay from the previous year. Nadella was named CEO about five months before the end of the year, which ended in June. He was granted share awards potentially worth $59.2 million in connection with his promotion to CEO, according to a filing today. He also received a one-time retention award worth $13.5 million. The disclosure of Nadella’s compensation follows a gaffe about raises he made earlier this month at a women’s conference. He said he was advised early in his career to stop bucking for a promotion and that those who take the long view will eventually be rewarded. He later apologized for those statements, saying that they didn’t help to close the gender gap in pay.

Cops: Losers Of Beer Pong Match Opened Fire On Fellow Texas Partygoers (TSG)
The 1:20 AM shooting Sunday took place at a residence in Ames, a city 45 miles from Houston. According to the Liberty County Sherriff’s Office, investigators are searching for two men who allegedly shot up the party after losing at the beer pong table. Deputies identified the suspects as Decoris “Red” Rucker, 24, and Chris “Crazy Chris” Hackett. Rucker and Hackett were among a group of five men who became upset after losing a backyard beer pong game. The men, witnesses said, ran from the home while firing wildly at partygoers. An 18-year-old woman was shot in the thigh during the gunfire. Rucker, Hackett, and the other men fled in a 2006 Buick. Read more »

Write-Offs: 10.20.14

$$$ Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said the government will have to consider breaking up large financial institutions if Wall Street doesn’t stop excessive risk-taking and breaking the law. Mr. Dudley, in a speech sharply critical of bank behavior, also suggested top management bear the financial brunt of regulatory fines levied for wrongdoing. [WSJ]

$$$ Wall Street Wants Government Group On Cyber Security [FT]

$$$ Former Pimco Parent Pacific Life Moves Accounts to Janus [Bloomberg]

$$$ Chanos: Petrobras is a ‘scheme, not a stock’ [BloombergTV]

$$$ The case of the missing Count Chocula cereal boxes was solved Friday, when a craft brewer admitted to buying them to brew in a small-batch beer. Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins bought two Albertsons’ inventories of the iconic chocolate and marshmallow-bit cereal, puzzling at least one shopper in the process. “Every year I greatly look forward to the month of October when I can purchase a few boxes of this delicious chococlatey (sic) goodness,” Kristen Clark wrote in a letter to the Coloradoan. Clark is a “vegetarian and organic food eater for the most part,” but said she makes an exception once a year at Halloween for the 43-year-old General Mills cereal. Every year, that is, until this year. [Coloradoan] Read more »

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Opening Bell: 10.20.14

paulvolckerBillionaires and Mathematicians Crack Jokes at the Geekiest Event of the Season (WSJ)
Last week, at a glittering private hall in Manhattan steps from the East River, billionaires and socialites gathered for what one attendee called the “geekiest” event of the season: the Chaos Ball, the fundraiser for the National Museum of Mathematics. But it was also a night in which the nerds celebrated their revenge, as many in the crowd were among a coterie of the most secretive—and successful—money managers on Wall Street. So-called quantitative hedge funds are the squares of the investing world, numbers-obsessed firms that rely more on high-powered algorithms than old-school assessments of companies and their future prospects. These firms, known as “the quants,” are also notoriously tight-lipped about their strategies and their earnings—even among one another…The museum, or MoMath, is one of the few things that brings the quants together. James Simons, the Renaissance founder and 76-year-old former code breaker, was among the early backers of the museum, as was John Overdeck and David Siegel, the co-founders of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Two Sigma Investments LLC. Other quants in attendance represented firms such as the D.E. Shaw Group and MQS Management LLC…To keep their big brains busy, there were numerous math-themed activities and decorations in keeping with the museum, which sports a door handle in the shape of the Greek letter Pi and a square-wheeled tricycle that rides smoothly over a specially designed curved pathway. Attendees took part in the creation of a fractal—a phenomenon where smaller copies of a pattern are nested within each other, similar to a fern plant—made up of lights attached to a black board and sat on benches that could be unfolded from squares into triangles as the guests mingled during the cocktail hour.

Marc Andreessen quits eBay board ahead of PayPal spinoff (Reuters)
The Silicon Valley pioneer has been involved in a public war of words with activist investor Carl Icahn, one of eBay’s largest shareholders, who convinced the company to spin off PayPal after a long campaign. “After 6 years of service + completed decision to split, I’ve decided now is a good time to step off the eBay board of directors,” Andreessen tweeted on Monday…Andreessen, in an interview to CNBC this month, likened Icahn to an “evil Captain Kirk” and said that the activist investor cared little for the companies in which he became involved. Icahn, in an interview to CNBC a day after, said “Andreessen has screwed more people than Casanova.” He also said the eBay board member had a “high squeaky voice that only a dog can hear.”

Did Bank Rules Kill Liquidity? Volcker, Frank Respond (Bloomberg)
“When I hear complaints about less liquidity, remember there is such a thing as too much liquidity,” Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman whose calls to limit the ability of deposit-taking banks to bet with their own money inspired the rule that bears his name, said in an e-mail. “Traders’ and investors’ sense of an ability to sell anything instantaneously contributed to the excessive leveraging and risk-taking that led up to the crisis.” [...] “It’s a very good thing we don’t have AIGs that are willing to provide lots of liquidity and are buying this stuff now, so we won’t have to bail them out one day,” said Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman who was a co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act. “People felt comfortable with banks taking the risk pre-crisis because they were government-backed. Now they’re not comfortable selling to other players that aren’t government backed.”

SEC sniffing out pot companies for fraud (NYP)
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating fresh allegations that a coterie of financiers has been minting millions as they pump the shares of money-losing pot companies, The Post has learned. Weed-related firms that face the SEC’s sniff test include GrowBlox Sciences, a supplier to pot farmers, and DigiPath, a consulting outfit that trains people how to market marijuana, sources said. Also under scrutiny are Vape Holdings, which makes pot-vaporization gear; and GrowBlox Sciences, which peddles climate-controlled light chambers designed to grow green, glistening dope buds fit for medical use, according to a person briefed on the situation.

Cook’s ‘Sexy’ Shirtless Photos At Chili’s Get Him Fired (HP)
A Chili’s cook in Florida was fired after he popped his top and posed for several Facebook photos in the restaurant’s kitchen, The Denver Channel reports. The shirtless man, who calls himself Justin J Speekz online, labeled the photos “Sexy Cooks Of Chili’s” and even tagged his employer in the post. Two of the photos, taken at a Chili’s location in Valrico, show him lying on a table where food is prepared. Concerned customers quickly discovered the bizarre post. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees restaurant operations in Florida, reported that there were no official violations in the photos because no food was being prepared at the time. But a Chili’s Bar and Grill spokesperson told ABC Action News that “Speekz” was spoken to: “Chili’s clearly does not encourage this type of behavior in our restaurants. We maintain very high standards of food quality, safety and cleanliness and took immediate steps to ensure the restaurant continues to follow these requirements. Additionally, we ended this team member’s employment after learning of his conduct.” Read more »

Write-Offs: 10.17.14

$$$ Morgan Stanley’s Profit Climbs 89% [WSJ]

$$$ Party Planner CEO Now Promising One Hour Delivery of Liquor [ValleyWag]

$$$ Mark Cuban Says He’s Buying Netflix Stock, Sees Takeover [Bloomberg]

$$$ Greek Exit Plan Lacks Backing From Economists [Bloomberg]

$$$ A Dover man who underwent a colonoscopy awoke after the procedure to find he was wearing pink women’s underwear, according to a lawsuit. [DO] Read more »

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Write-Offs: 10.16.14

$$$ Goldman Sachs Posts Stronger Results [WSJ]

$$$ Volckerized Wall Street Dumping Bonds With Rest of Herd [Bloomberg]

$$$ Hedge-Fund Guys at the Silicon Valley Gate [BloombergView]

$$$ Short seller Carson Block mulls starting hedge fund management firm [Reuters]

$$$ Drunk College Student Broke Into Home Dressed As Zombie Santa: Cops [HP] Read more »

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Opening Bell: 10.16.14

Cyberattack at JPMorgan Chase Also Hit Website of Bank’s Corporate Race (Dealbook)
The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge website, which is managed by an outside vendor, has been conspicuously inaccessible since early August, with visitors to the site seeing only a lonely list of coming races. The link between the breach on that website and the broader attack, which the bank said did not compromise any financial information, has not been previously reported. The bank said it discovered the breach in the Corporate Challenge website on Aug. 7, about a week after it learned of the broader intrusion into its computer network. By infiltrating the race website, hackers were able to gain access to passwords and contact information for participants, the bank informed them.

Russian student selling ‘crystallized’ Mercedes on eBay (CNBC)
A London-based Russian business student took the phrase “bling, bling” to another level when she encrusted every inch of her Mercedes’ exterior in Swarovski crystals. Daria Radionova, 21, paid laborers to apply 1 million crystals by hand to the 2011 Mercedes CLS 350. “I love it!” she enthusiastically said via email. But apparently not enough to keep it. She’s selling it on eBay less than a month after commissioning it. The auction ends Thursday; the current highest bid stands at £154,600, or about $248,000.

Paul Singer drops Madeleine Albright’s firm amid Argentina conflict (NYP)
Albright, who has parlayed her extensive diplomatic ties into both a consulting firm and a hedge fund that invests in emerging markets, was hired by Singer to help in his rancorous debt dispute with Argentina, as reported exclusively by The Post. Albright, Singer hoped, would be able to bring Argentina officials to the bargaining table. The assignment backfired when Argentina President Cristina Kirchner publicly attacked Albright’s firm for meddling in the country’s affairs. Albright’s firm said Singer had a five-point plan to destabilize the Argentine government if it didn’t sit down and negotiate with the holdout creditors led by Singer, who won a court battle to get $1.6 billion, Kirchner claimed. Albright’s partner told officials that holdouts would hire journalists in Argentina and would delay negotiations until a new government linked to Singer’s interests was in power following the 2015 presidential election, the fiery Argentine president said. Albright’s firm, the Albright Stonebridge Group, denied delivering such a plan. But Argentina’s rebuff led Singer and Albright to end their association—at least for now.

Netflix CEO: ‘We get addicted … to beating our own numbers’ (CNBC)
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shrugged off the company’s 700,000 subscriber shortfall for the most recent quarter. “We get addicted sometimes to beating our own numbers. So, for the last three quarters we underestimated our growth and overperformed,” Hastings told CNBC. “This quarter, it was the other side.” Investors reacted to the disappointing subscriber growth and lower-than-expected fourth-quarter projections by sending Netflix shares plunging in after-hours trading.

Winklevoss Index Becomes Available For iPhone & iPod Touch (NewsBTC)
Wednesday, the Winklevoss twins — Cameron and Tyler — announced on Reddit that the mobile version of their popular bitcoin price tracker, the WinkDex (also known as the Winklevoss Index) is now available…The Winklevoss twins also note that users can expect a whole lot more from the app in the near future. “We have a lot of awesome things in the pipeline, so expect some great updates shortly,” wrote one of the twins on Reddit.

Halloween Candy May Contain Marijuana, Denver Police Warn (HP)
With marijuana now legal in Colorado and cannabis candy a big part of the scene, Denver police are issuing an unusual warning ahead of Halloween. In short, they want people to know that not all candy is for kids. “With edibles gaining in popularity we thought it was important to alert the community to the possibility that it’s easy to mistake what looks like regular candy with a marijuana edible,” Denver police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray told Fox31 Denver. The department recruited Patrick Johnson, owner of Urban Dispensary, to create a video showing how pot candies can resemble traditional candies. Johnson said some manufacturers of “knocked-off candy” buy sweets in bulk and then spray them with hash oil. Once the oil dries, there’s no way to tell the difference. “The problem is that some of these products look so similar to candy that’s been on the market, that we’ve eaten as children, that there’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused,” Johnson said in the video. He said that if kids bring home candy that don’t look like something from a recognizable brand, toss it. However, some believe this may be unnecessary fear-mongering. “This is just another way for those who most benefit from marijuana prohibition to try to convince the public that prohibition protects children,” wrote the Ladybud blog. “The real message here is that the average citizen should be wary of cannabis users; they might want to drug your kids and get them ‘hooked’ too.” Read more »

Write-Offs: 10.15.14

$$$ Gut Punch Bruises Hedge Funds [WSJ]

$$$ Hedge funds face worst year since 2011 [FT]

$$$ Yellen Said to Voice Confidence in U.S. Economic Expansion [Bloomberg]

$$$ India’s Smart Money Embraces Social Media as Tweets Move Markets [Bloomberg]

$$$ DWI Suspect Bribes Cops With Mountain Dew: Police [HP] Read more »

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Opening Bell: 10.15.14

BofA Posts Profit on Trading After Mortgage Settlement (Bloomberg)
Net income was $168 million, down from $2.5 billion a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said today in a statement. Adjusted earnings per share, which exclude an accounting gain, were 40 cents, beating the 32-cent average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, 55, who was named chairman this month, has booked more than $70 billion in costs tied to his predecessor’s takeovers of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. He’s said that the firm’s underlying earnings power would become apparent once the litigation costs subsided.

BlackRock Results Top Expectations (WSJ)
Analysts are closely watching the results of BlackRock to see how much the Sept. 26 departure of investor Bill Gross from Pacific Investment Management Co. has helped the world’s largest asset manager. BlackRock has been one of the beneficiaries of money flowing out of Pimco, and it said it saw $11.1 billion of investor inflows into its fixed-income division during the quarter, the most of any of its product segments.

Apple, Facebook to Pay for Female Workers to Freeze Eggs (Bloomberg)
Facebook started providing the benefit, which applies to employees and their spouses or domestic partners, in January. The Menlo Park, California-based social network offers full coverage, or as much as $20,000 in expenses, related to the procedure, which could include surrogacy or court fees. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said it will start offering similar coverage next year. In a statement, Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said the iPhone maker wants to “empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.” The decisions come amid a debate about the best ways to recruit and retain women in the technology industry, where women are underrepresented as a percentage of the total workforce. Apple and Facebook are among the first companies to offer an option to freeze eggs.

Where Do the World’s Wealthiest People Live? (RTE)
After the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany added more millionaires than any other countries last year. Of course, the U.S. has a lot of wealthy people because it’s a big country. But the analysis suggests that the U.S. is punching above its weight, even after accounting for population. Total wealth per adult increased by $340,340 in North America, or an increase of 10.2% from the prior year. Total wealth per adult grew by nearly $146,000 in Europe, an increase of 10.4%. By contrast, wealth per adult grew just 2.3% in China and it fell 1.9% in Latin America and 3.1% in India.

Fed Is Silent on Doomsday Book, a Blueprint for Fighting Crises (NYT)
The Doomsday Book, as it happens, is not a book. It is a collection of documents maintained by the New York Fed’s legal department. The contents include “an extensive legal history of Federal Reserve lending activities,” and memos on subjects that deal with the Fed’s authority to make loans to municipalities and restructure debts. There is no comparable collection in Washington. The New York Fed is the central bank’s firefighting department. The New York Fed keeps three full sets, plus an electronic version, and it circulates an index. These facts are on the first page of the index, which the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, David Boies, read aloud in the courtroom last week. Timothy F. Geithner, who led the New York Fed during the early stages of the financial crisis before becoming Treasury secretary, testified that he kept in his office an abridged version, in a binder about two inches thick, containing the index and a selection of memos. He said he had never seen the full work. Mr. Geithner in his testimony also played down the importance of the Doomsday Book, saying that he had consulted it infrequently during the crisis because the Fed was quickly forced to take measures beyond anything it had done before.

Prosecutor behind ‘crack hoes’ Facebook post cleared (MN13)
An investigation has cleared a prosecutor for Orange and Osceola County of any wrongdoing after he posted a controversial message on Facebook mentioning “crack hoes” on Mother’s Day. Assistant State Attorney Ken Lewis was demoted in May during an internal investigation to see if his comments or political views may have affected cases he worked on for the state of Florida. In an official letter obtained by News 13, Chief Assistant State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick told State Attorney Jeff Ashton she found no evidence that Lewis showed any bias related to his Facebook post in handling any cases assigned to him…Lewis later apologized to the public for his comments, admitting he used a “poor choice of words,” but adding his message was the same. Lewis said he didn’t think anyone but his Facebook friends would see the comment, but the post was published as public instead of Facebook’s optional “friends only” setting for status updates, photos, links and other information. Read more »