Last night after an important meeting, a source made me and Carney go to an ML fixed income holiday situation, which sucked…then he made us go to a no-words-for-it-bad-but-worse-than-the-holocaust-is-a-start club in the meat packing district that I ended up ditching them at (forgetting, rather idiotically, to ask JC for some cash, meaning I got to walk from 29th and 10th to 33rd and Park when it was -10 degrees out, which, if you haven’t tried it, is delightful). Prior to that, though, someone gave the driver the wrong address and we ended up outside of Scores…thinking to myself that I’d rather go there than nightlife equivalent of a catheter with spikes, I asked 3 of the bouncers, “What’s the crowd like tonight?”…two of them were like “great crowd, great crowd, come in,” but one just sort of mumbled “great crowd” with an attitude and didn’t make eye contact, which I took issue with. You probably don’t know this, on account of my never having shared it before, but people who don’t make eye contact seriously piss me off. So I said, as we walked away, “Next time make eye contact, maybe you would’ve made the sale.” I think I made a real impact on him. In retrospect, I should’ve added, “fat boy,” but what can you do. If you found this post to be a phenomenal waste of your time, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the DB headquarters, and I’ll mail you back 5 dollars. Quick, though, before I change my mind, or take a nap under my desk.
Band Of Harvard Students Plan To Shame UBS By Asking Tough Questions At An Information Session About The One Thing UBS Isn’t Ashamed Of, Thinking Twice About Going To Work For The Bank That Hasn’t Yet Offered Them JobsBy Bess Levin
A bunch of Harvard students who think UBS is pro-genocide because it underwrote PetroChina’s listing on the Shanghai stock exchange this past month are taking a stand. They’re going to show up at a recruiting event being held by the Swiss bank tomorrow night at the Faculty Club and “get as much information as possible regarding UBS’s complicity in PetroChina’s ties to Sudan” and “rigorously question representatives [on the firm’s] role in securing the Sudanese government’s greatest benefactor such a lucrative deal.” While we encourage subversive demonstrations of any kind, and have in fact been told by sources from within UBS that they plan on giving the kids detailed information, including pie charts, on the various ways in which it is complicit with, nay, in favor of, funding murder, we at DealBreaker can’t help ask—are Harvard students really that dumb?
MarketWatch’s David Weidner has finally narrowed down the choices and now you must choose between the two: liar or genocidal maniac?
Human-rights groups said they were disappointed Darfur didn’t figure into Buffett’s decision. Don’t believe a word of it…If it were all about the profit, Buffett, by his own admission, left money on the table. “I still sold it way too soon,” he said. This doesn’t sound like investing the Warren Buffett way. Berkshire owned more than 11% of PetroChina when it bought its stake in 2006. So, with the stock rising, he sells all of it in a matter of months after an investor protest at the Berkshire annual meeting? Unlikely. Warren Buffett was uncomfortable with this investment. And if he wasn’t? Then he’s as deluded as the sick people who are profiting from the suffering in Africa.
Not to influence your choice, but we’ve received no fewer than five emails to tips at dealbreaker dot com more or less implying that the Oracle has the heads (like, the skulls) of several Amnesty International officials in his basement meat locker. But he’s also looked Food and Drug Administration officials in the face and flat out lied about the fat content in one of Dairy Queen’s large Oreo Blizzards (he says zero grams, they counter that it’s more like 25). So this is a tough call.
Oracle and PetroChina [MarketWatch]
Warren Buffett has once again—for the fourth time—reduced Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in PetroChina, to 7.99 percent from 8.21 percent. Though he claims it’s just about money, Buffett’s actions are indicative of a desire to distance himself from a company which human rights activists have a problem with because of its investments in the Sudan, a region that is currently going through a restructuring of its population. Just as nauseatingly, the sale also hints at Buffett’s intent to raise cash in order to buy up a bunch of Bear Stearns (though that has less to do with a dwindling interest in genocide than it does the early stages of dementia). The man cannot be helped. We are done.
Earlier: Why Doesn’t Warren Buffett Want To Fund Genocide Anymore?
Somebody Save Warren Buffett From Himself, Bear Stearns
Buffett Further Cuts PetroChina Stake [AP]
Warren Buffett’s petition for membership to the egalitarian brotherhood of People Who Are Fucking Nuts has been officially accepted. Last year, he decided that Berkshire Hathaway-owned Geico would not take part in the Caveman sitcom. Last week he reduced his company’s investment in genocide to an embarrassingly trivial 8.93 percent. Today comes the news that he’s in serious talks to buy a stake in Bear Stearns. Three times = a trend, this one being WB’s insanity.
The New York Times reports that Buffett first approached James Cayne about the purchase last month, when the bank’s stock was about to celebrate its one-year low of $100. Deals have faltered in the past because the bridge player (first, CEO second) has often insisted on premiums as high as 40 percent above share price from outside investors. This time, and no one can say for certain but it may have something to do with two failed hedge funds, a 61 percent decline in third quarter profits and the fact that BSC can no longer afford its much-needed cleaning staff, Cayne is reportedly holding out for a premium of only around 20 percent.
Bear’s shares jumped on the rumors of possible sale this afternoon, with the stock trading up over 8 percent. Punk Ziegel analyst Richard Bove upgraded BSC from “sell” to “market perform.” Spokesmen for both Bear and Buffett declined to comment, which generally means they’re up to something, though CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino said that he “doubts” the reports are true. (Gasparino also noted with what sounded like hurt feelings that “Jimmy Cayne has not returned my calls,” presumably because it’s a beautiful day for golf.)
In 1987 Buffett took a 12 percent stake in Salomon Brothers, a move he later regretted, finding the “brash Salomon culture of big egos, big risks and even bigger salaries to be out of step with his down-to-earth demeanor.” Hopefully he can be reminded of the bad taste SB left in his mouth, which not even a dozen Oreo Blizzards could purge, before it’s too late. Carney’s got the keys to his house– everyone meets there tonight at 8 for an intervention (power of attorney papers have already been drawn up). We lost him on the Sudan. Let’s not lose him on this.
Earlier: Why Doesn’t Warren Buffett Want To Fund Genocide Anymore?
Buffett Among Those Said to Consider Bear Stake [New York Times]
For reasons totally lost on us, Warren Buffett has once again scaled back Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in PetroChina. In July, Berk sold holdings in the company worth $27 million. Last week, it was $136 million. And just today, 28 million shares valued at $40 million, reducing BRK’s interest to a paltry 8.93 percent from over 11 percent this year.
For those of you who don’t know what this means, we’ll tell you what this means: slowly but surely, Warren Buffett is distancing himself from a government-run company that human rights activists claim has extensive involvement with the Sudan oil industry, and perpetuates what they call “the humanitarian crisis” in Darfur. (This is an overly dramatic way of spinning the truth, which is simply that the region is going through a restructuring of its population.)
Until fairly recently, Buffett had stood up to the anti-genocists, including BRK shareholder Judith Porter, who told WB that cutting ties with PTR would “send a signal to China and to the Sudan that there are costs for continuing this destruction.” Buffett argued that he and Berkshire had nothing to do with the “situation,” and that Judy and everyone else ought to quit their bitching. And when asked if today’s and last week’s and July’s sale had anything to do with a decision to take responsibility for aiding and abet serial killers, he said no. And analysts are in agreement: they think it’s just about “the money.”
But we know they’re lying. Nobody wants to admit it, but something’s going on with that old kook, and he’s going soft. Is it the new, young, probably liberal wife’s influence? A sudden fear that John Carney, against all odds, might’ve been onto something when he asked, “is Warren Buffett going to hell?” The fact that in May, two months before he started selling, we called him an “Equal Opportunity Genocide Supporter”? (That was a compliment!) A near-death, life-changing experience? An Oreo Blizzard epiphany?
Don’t answer that. ‘Cause we don’t want to know why this happening, we just want it fixed. Let things go back to the way they were, and no one gets hurt (except maybe the Sudanese. Whatever: details). If we isolate the problem now, we may be able to salvage this thing, but we have to act fast. Today he sells a percentage of his stake in PetroChina for allegedly purely monetary reasons. Tomorrow it could be standing up in a local Dairy Queen and saying “not on my watch.” I just pray it’s not too late.
Earlier: Warren Buffett Is An Equal Opportunity Genocide Supporter
Warren Buffett Trims PetroChina Stake for Third Time [CNBC]