Opening Bell

Holiday Bell: 11.28.14

canine massageMysterious ‘Batman’ of Wall Street is taking down fraudsters (NYP)
A 32-year-old Staten Island investor — who likens himself to the Caped Crusader, patrolling Gotham for corporate wrongdoing — has become the hottest Wall Street whiz of 2014. Daniel Yu, whose Gotham City Research is a tip of the cowl to his favorite comics character, has emerged as one of the Street’s most controversial figures as well. Yu, in lengthy short-selling reports, targets what he believes are frauds — and has taken down three European companies this year. The stocks of the companies have fallen an average of 76 percent. That makes him the year’s best short seller, according to an analysis by database ShortActivists, which tracks short sellers who make their research public.

Hedge Funds Seek to Tie Up Money for Longer (WSJ)
Two-thirds of new hedge funds demanded a lockup of one year or more in 2013, a 30% increase from the previous year, according to the most recent data available from research firm eVestment. The average fund has a lockup of 377 days, eVestment said. Those pushing for longer terms include funds managed by industry stalwarts like Fir Tree Inc., GoldenTree Asset Management LLC, Trian Fund Management LP and Viking Global Investors LP, said people with knowledge of the funds.

New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs (WSJ)
Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company’s Facebook page several times a week. “Steals in the Shop! I have a TON of new 36-inch-long necklaces, most priced at $15, available in amethyst, lapis, watermelon tourmaline, turquoise…. Shop them all here,” she wrote in a recent marketing post on a Facebook page for Earthegy, the business she runs from her home in rural Kent Store, Va. She also included photos and links to the products, hoping the business’s 70,000 Facebook fans would share the posts with their own Facebook friends. But small-business owners like Ms. Bossie will soon get less benefit from the unpaid marketing pitches they post on Facebook. That’s because, as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates. The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs like Ms. Bossie, the founder of four-year-old Earthegy, to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising. Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change.

Shia LeBeouf: Woman raped me at gallery (NYP)
The “Fury” star made the surprising admission in a series of emails with a journalist from Dazed and said the incident took place during his #IAMSORRY event in Los Angeles. During the event in February, LaBeouf sat silently in a gallery for five days with a paper bag on his head and members of the public were invited to visit him, one by one, and spend some time with him. But not all of the public encounters were pleasant, according to LaBeouf. “One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me,” said LaBeouf in an email to the Dazed journalist. “There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well. “On top of that my girl was in line to see me, because it was Valentine’s Day and I was living in the gallery for the duration of the event — we were separated for five days, no communication. “So it really hurt her as well, as I guess the news of it traveled through the line.

Argentina Accuses HSBC of Aiding People in Tax Evasion (AP)
Argentina’s tax agency accused the HSBC bank on Thursday of helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts. The head of country’s AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens had evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts. Mr. Echegaray contended that some of those accounts in Geneva were owned by HSBC Argentina’s president and other bank executives.

Too much makeup sex led to millionaire’s restraining order (NYP)
Breaking up is hard to do — especially when your girlfriend is a pretty brunette 20 years your junior. That’s what a Wall Street trader said Tuesday, explaining in Manhattan Family Court why — after several attempts to end the relationship only led to makeup sex — he got an order of protection against his gal pal of five years. “I attempted to break up several times and somehow was convinced not to,” multimillionaire private equity investor Brad Zipper, 50, admitted on the witness stand. The burly, 6-foot, 200-pound former hockey player glared at his petite ex, Nicole Raef, 28, from the witness stand, admitting “nobody forced” him to stay in the relationship. Zipper even said he “laid in the same bed” with his girlfriend just days before filing an order of protection against her in September, but claimed amnesia when he was asked by Raef’s lawyer if the two had sex on that occasion. “On Sept. 5, did you sleep in the same bed with her?” Raef’s attorney, Brett Kimmel, asked. “I laid in the same bed with her at some point, I think,” a blushing Zipper said. “Did you engage in sexual intercourse with her?” Kimmel pressed. “I don’t recall,” Zipper said…Kimmel said he was trying to understand why Zipper didn’t end things then if Raef had acted as crazy as he has alleged — setting his oven on fire in 2012 and dousing his electronics with water. Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.26.14

jefferiesJefferies Bumps Up Against Big Rivals as It Looks to Expand (WSJ)
As Jefferies evolves from its roots as a trading firm to a midtier investment bank, it is knocking up against far larger financial firms vying for business, often from companies Jefferies helped to expand. Jefferies has often worked with smaller firms on transactions that bigger rivals may not pursue. As these customers get larger, the competition intensifies as they are courted by bigger financial firms. In 2014, Jefferies has been a lead underwriter on 25 U.S.-listed initial public offerings of health-care-related companies, topping all other investment banks, according to data provider Dealogic. But Jefferies ranks just eighth in net revenue generated by U.S. health-care banking overall—which includes stock and bond offerings, loans and merger advice—generating $196 million in revenue, trailing No. 1 J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s $639 million. “Investment banking has always been highly competitive,” Jefferies Chief Executive Richard Handler said in an interview at his office, just off the trading floor. The firm isn’t attached to a bank holding company and therefore has more flexibility in how it structures deals and compensates employees. This entrepreneurial structure was part of the allure when Mr. Lorello moved to Jefferies in 2009 with more than 30 health-care bankers, according to people familiar with the firm. Jefferies is a unit of Leucadia National Corp. and has net revenue topping $3 billion. “Our competitive advantage has never been stronger in the 25 years I have been at Jefferies,” Mr. Handler said.

Steven Cohen’s Ex-Wife Gets Outside Financing for Lawsuit (Dealbook, related)
Helping to fuel the long-running legal battle is Asta Funding, a financial backer of a Beverly Hills, Calif., firm that has provided litigation financing to Ms. Cohen, according to court documents and people briefed on the matter. Asta and the firm that is financing Ms. Cohen’s lawsuit — Balance Point Divorce Funding — have an agreement to share in the proceeds of legal recoveries by clients. All of this would appear to give investors in Asta, a publicly traded company based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a reason to cheer on Ms. Cohen, whose lawyers are scheduled to take a deposition from Mr. Cohen on Dec. 10. Balance Point, founded in 2009 by Stacey Napp after her own acrimonious divorce, signed a deal with Ms. Cohen in the summer of 2013 to provide Ms. Cohen with about $1.2 million to continue her litigation, said people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak about a private transaction. While the specific terms of Balance Point’s arrangement with Ms. Cohen could not be determined, court filings in an unrelated lawsuit reveal it is common for Balance Point to get up to 25 percent of any legal recovery by a client in return for the financing provided. Balance Point is part of a niche business that provides financing in drawn-out matrimonial cases to litigants with wealthy spouses. Only a handful of companies provide such financing in the United States.

Uber Said Close to Raising Funding at Up to $40B Value (Bloomberg)
T. Rowe Price Group Inc. is in discussions to be a new investor, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. Existing investor Fidelity Investments is also set to participate in the funding, they said. Uber is raising at least $1 billion, the people said.

Shorting Chickens Becomes Hot Trade After Prices Surge (Bloomberg)
Short sellers have found a new asset to bet against: chickens. With no futures market to speculate on chicken-price movements, they’re turning to the equity market, borrowing record amounts of shares of two U.S. poultry producers that they in turn sell in anticipation of declines. The percentage of outstanding shares of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (PPC), the second-biggest U.S. chicken producer, that were sold short by investors has soared more than six-fold since Sept. 30, while the ratio for Sanderson Farms Inc. (SAFM) has almost doubled. The success, or failure, of the trade comes down largely on whether the eight-month surge in chicken, which has fattened producers’ profit margins, is over or not.

U.K. Banks Seen Facing Decades to Tackle `Toxic Culture’ (Bloomberg)
U.K. banks will need at least two decades to clean up a “toxic culture” that has cost them more than 38.5 billion pounds ($60 billion) in fines and compensation, Cass Business School said in a report. Banks were forced to make provisions of at least 27 billion pounds to compensate customers for improperly sold insurance products from 2010 to 2014, according to the report commissioned by New City Agenda. The mis-selling of interest-rate hedging products has cost lenders 4.1 billion pounds. “It has become clear that having an aggressive sales culture, which ripped-off customers, has cost banks dearly,” David Davis, a Conservative member of Parliament, said in the statement. “A toxic culture which was decades in the making will take a generation to turn around.”

Siberian police consider deputizing reindeer (AP)
Officials in northwest Siberia said police could soon be deputizing reindeer to help chase down criminals in the region. Irina Pimkina of the Yamalo-Nenets region’s Interior Ministry said police in the area, which is located in Russia’s Arctic tundra, often find themselves at a disadvantage when chasing down local criminals, who often employ reindeer as getaway rides. “Of course we have snowmobiles in service, but one should understand that a machine is a machine,” Pimkina told the Izvestia newspaper. “A snowmobile can break down or get stuck in the tundra, but the deer will run at all times.” The deer would join the animal ranks of about 150 donkeys and mules employed by the Russian Defense Ministry to serve in mountain brigades. The legislation governing the animals also allows for reindeer to be used for law-enforcement purposes. Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.25.14

heritage-turkeysFBI Files Say Hedge Fund Analyst Made Millions on Tips From Dell Insider (Bloomberg)
The FBI files spell it out: An analyst at Citadel LLC, the hedge fund with $23 billion in capital invested globally, told agents he made millions of dollars trading on information from a company insider. It was December 2011, and the Justice Department was deep into a seven-year investigation into illegal stock tips. As authorities homed in on people at several other hedge funds over leaks from a Dell Inc. employee, agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation began questioning the Citadel analyst about the friendship he formed with the same Dell insider. In confidential FBI reports summarizing those interviews, agents recounted how the Citadel analyst received market-sensitive information from the Dell employee in 2008 and 2009. In one trade he told agents he made, the analyst bet against Dell after learning it would announce disappointing earnings, bringing in $5 million to $6 million when the company’s shares fell by more than 10 percent. He told agents he later discarded records. The analyst discussed helping the Dell employee hunt for a Wall Street job, the agents wrote. “It became an ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’” relationship, they wrote in a summary of a Jan. 4, 2012, interview with the Citadel analyst.

Twitter’s CFO misfires with a private tweet (CNBC)
Anthony Noto, who joined the social network as its chief financial officer in July, appears to have posted a public tweet intended to be a private message, presumably intended for a fellow Twitter executive. “I still think we should buy them. He is on your schedule for Dec 15 or 16—we will need to sell him. I have a plan,” Noto tweeted. The post was quickly deleted but not before it was screengrabbed by some his savvy 8,700 followers. It is unclear at this time which company Noto was referring to as a potential Twitter acquisition. For what it’s worth, the last tweet favorited by Noto belongs to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who reportedly turned down a $3 billion cash offer from Facebook in 2013. It’s also worth noting that a handful of the accounts recently followed by Noto feature employees from a news startup called Mic.

New Jersey’s richest man plans to give billions back to investors (NYP)
Hedge fund titan David Tepper is having a tough year, but he’s still planning to return billions of dollars to his investors. Tepper, who is the richest person in New Jersey, may give $2 billion to $4 billion back to investors in his $20 billion Short Hills-based Appaloosa Management funds this year, a source close to the firm told The Post. The news was first reported by Institutional Investor’s Alpha. The givebacks are coming as Tepper’s Palomino hedge fund is down 2.3 percent for the year through October. It’s quite a comedown from last year, when Palomino gained 42 percent, making Tepper the highest-paid hedge fund manager in the world for the second year in a row. In 2013, the hedgie had a $3.5 billion payday, putting his net worth at $10 billion.

Citigroup ‘Idea Dinners’ Cited in Finra Fine Over Tips (Bloomberg)
At a July 2011 dinner for Citigroup Inc. (C) clients, a research analyst identified a stock to bet against. In his last research notes before that gathering, he upgraded the shares, advising investors to stick with them. The analyst was among several cited yesterday in an action by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which fined Citigroup $15 million. The employee offered similar tips at six subsequent “idea dinners” on stocks that he had rated as hold or neutral, Finra said.

Russians dumping rubles for… Rolls Royces? (CNBC)
Even as Rolls Royce hits speed bumps in China, the ultra-luxury carmaker is breaking new sales records in Russia as consumers look to diversify away from the beleaguered ruble. “With the weak ruble, people are investing into real assets,” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of the BMW-owned British car brand told CNBC on Tuesday. “We’ve seen very good business this year; Russia is at new record levels.”

A Thanksgiving Turkey for the .01 Percent (Bloomberg)
Unlike commercial turkeys, which are artificially inseminated, heritage turkeys are left to naturally mate with other heritage birds.

Girlfriend dumped with restraining order after a ‘girls weekend’ (NYP)
A Manhattan fashion consultant says she returned from a girls weekend in California to her boyfriend’s Hamptons mansion — only to be greeted by a process-server who slapped her with an order of protection. “I was 100 percent shocked,” a heartbroken Nicole Raef told The Post. “I was like, ‘I don’t understand, who breaks up with someone this way?’ ” Raef, 28, has been homeless ever since her boyfriend of five years abruptly threw her out of his $1.7 million Long Island summer home and his $6 million Manhattan town house. “Everything was fine when I left,” Raef said, adding that she had to pawn her diamond earrings to afford legal counsel. “We’d been arguing, but we’d worked things out,” the slender brunette said. But court papers filed by her boyfriend, hedge-fund-executive-turned-private-investor Brad Zipper tell a different story. Zipper, 50, former head of Zinc Capital Management, paints his decades-younger ex as an abusive, emotionally unstable stalker. In an application for a temporary restraining order, Zipper says he came home in December 2012 to find his oven on fire and Raef passed out in the guest room. “When she woke up, she was delirious and didn’t even remember driving and getting into an accident with my car that night,” the suit says…Raef’s attorney, Brett Kimmel, denied Zipper’s claims. “The allegations that are set forth in the pleadings are clearly embellished and to a large degree untrue,” he said. “This is a wealthy man breaking up with his girlfriend and doing it in a really untasteful way.” Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.20.14

pucker upGoldman fires staff for NY Fed breach (FT)
Goldman Sachs has fired an investment banker who allegedly accessed confidential information from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his former employer. Goldman said it had fired Rohit Bansal, a junior employee, in September and then fired his supervisor Joe Jiampietro, a better-known senior banker in the financial institutions group, which advises other banks. Mr Jiampietro was himself a former government official – a top adviser to Sheila Bair when she was chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The New York Fed said: “As soon as we learned that Goldman Sachs suspected one of its employees may have inappropriately obtained confidential supervisory information, we alerted law enforcement authorities.”

Justice Dept. Sets Record in Penalties for Fraud (NYT)
The Justice Department collected a record $24.7 billion in penalties from fraud and other cases in the 2014 fiscal year, the agency said on Wednesday, as fines against banks for financial misconduct soared. Collections from civil and criminal actions, including money collected on behalf of other agencies, was $8 billion in 2013, and $13 billion in 2012. Collections in 2014 were bolstered by multibillion-dollar payouts from JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup to resolve claims they misled investors about the quality of mortgage bonds in the run-up to the financial crisis, and include $11 billion in payments made to federal agencies or states. Payouts in the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, also include hundreds of millions of dollars in fines levied on UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ex-Chief of Iceland Bank Sentenced to Jail for Role in 2008 Crisis (Dealbook)
The former chief executive of Landsbanki of Iceland was sentenced to prison on Wednesday, the third of the top executives of the country’s three largest banks that the government has successfully prosecuted and jailed for misconduct during the financial crisis. Sigurjon Arnason was ordered jailed for a year at a hearing at the Reykjavik District Court on Wednesday, but nine months of his sentence were suspended and will be served as probation. Mr. Arnason couldn’t be located for comment on Wednesday. Iceland was one of the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis and was forced to nationalize its three largest lenders in 2008.

Uber May Need Adult Supervision as Controversy Builds (Bloomberg)
Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, 38, is dealing with a wave of criticism this week from remarks that one of his top lieutenants, Emil Michael, made about snooping on journalists. The situation took another turn yesterday when online publication BuzzFeed said one of its reporters was tracked by an Uber Technologies Inc. executive without her permission. Uber is now investigating that manager, a person with knowledge of the matter has said. Uber in August hired David Plouffe, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, who now directs communications at the startup. The deepening debate suggests that Kalanick might need even more experienced hands to guide him and the San Francisco-based company, which is the most highly valued technology startup in the U.S. “Uber has earned some frat culture publicity, and could benefit from hiring a woman on the board or an Eric Schmidt-type of executive,” said Brian Solis, an analyst at technology research firm Altimeter Group, referring to the former Google Inc. CEO who was brought in to aid founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the search company’s early years.

GoDaddy seeks nearly $4.5B IPO valuation, talks diversifying (NYP)
GoDaddy.com is pushing ahead with an initial public offering early next year that would value the world’s biggest domain registration service at roughly $4.5 billion, The Post has learned. CFO Scott Wagner met last week with analysts to give an update on GoDaddy since it first filed paperwork to go public in June, a source said. The company, backed by buyout giants KKR and Silver Lake, is trying to woo investors even as the 800-pound gorilla moves into its territory. Just a few weeks after GoDaddy filed for an IPO, Google began testing a domain registration service. In its meeting with the Street, GoDaddy stressed its desire to diversify — building Web sites for customers and helping them to process transactions on their sites, for example — before Google or another rival makes a more serious push.

Loud Rooster Might Cost Owners $3,000 In Fines (AP)
It was just the first of Mr. Rooster’s problems that he was first believed to be a Ms. His crowing has given him away, though, and his owners in Cornelius, Oregon, have been dinged six times in five months for violating city ordinances. At a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Dan and Megan Keller could be fined as much as $3,000. Megan Keller told The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/1yTecdO) that she thought she was buying two females at Easter time in 2012 for her granddaughters to show at 4-H. But there was a shipping mix-up that became evident as Mr. Rooster grew up. Keller said, though, that the birds had arrived during a tough patch in her life, and “those two brought me a lot of comfort.” Cornelius is a western Portland suburb of about 12,000 people proclaimed on its website as “an agricultural paradise, where rolling hillsides, vineyards and farms abound.” The town doesn’t, as other cities do, ban roosters outright. But it has an ordinance against animals that annoy or disturb neighbors. In June, a neighbor complained about Mr. Rooster. In August, a judge handed down a $250 fine and ordered that the bird get a new home. Keller sent Mr. Rooster to a farm owned by friends. Along went the other bird from the 2012 shipment, known as Mrs. Rooster. Megan Keller said that didn’t go well: The birds lost their feathers, and then a hawk attack left Mrs. Rooster dead and Mr. Rooster injured. So she retrieved Mr. Rooster. As the injured bird rested his head calmly on her shoulder recently, Keller said she’s sure she did the right thing: “Who would I be if I would have left him up there?” Read more »

Write-Offs: 11.18.14

$$$ U.S. Has Record Inflow of Portfolio Investments in September [Bloomberg]

$$$ Moody’s Joins Fitch Slamming Subprime Auto Bonds [Bloomberg]

$$$ Goldman Ousts Currencies Trader Connected to Probe [WSJ]

$$$ BNP Officials Examined in Insider-Trading Probe [WSJ]

$$$ Joe Melendez, Canseco’s manager, says his client has the video of the finger falling off and may sell it to media outlets for the right price, CNN reports. Canseco also claims he’s planning to auction both the fallen finger tip and the gun that shot it off to the highest bidder. [HP] Read more »

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Opening Bell: 11.18.14

William AckmanSnapchat Teams Up With Square to Offer Money-Transfer Feature (Bloomberg)
Snapchat Inc., developer of a mobile application for sending disappearing photos, is teaming up with payments company Square Inc. so that users can send cash to each other. Snapchat, which recently received an investment from Yahoo! Inc. that values the startup at $10 billion, will make the new feature, called Snapcash, available for users who are 18 or older with a debit card, it said in a blog post yesterday. The deal gives Square access to Snapchat’s users, who send more than 700 million disappearing “snaps” a day. Snapcash joins other apps such as Venmo in offering people a way to send and receive money quickly, such as when diners split a restaurant bill. This is Los Angeles-based Snapchat’s second potential revenue-generating product in addition to advertisements, which debuted last month.

Ackman ‘loses’ Allergan, pockets $2.7B profit (NYP)
Ackman’s Pershing Square hedge fund will make $2.7 billion from the $66 billion deal between Botox maker Allergan and Irish drugmaker Actavis. The profit of Pershing Square, which took a 9.7 stake in Allergan last spring and tried to help Valeant Pharmaceuticals buy it, is based on the difference between its average $126-per-share cost and Actavis’ $219-a-share winning bid. The Allergan investment, which accounts for about 30 percent of Pershing Square’s near-$20 billion in assets, had already helped earn his investors a 40 percent return this year as of Nov. 11, the latest numbers available.

Mega-Mergers Popular Again on Wall Street (Dealbook)
Mergers worth $100 billion, made on Monday, put Wall Street on pace for a year of deal-making rivaling those during the dot-com bubble and the private equity upsurge just before the financial crisis. The announcement of two more mega-deals — the $66 billion acquisition of the Botox-maker Allergan by Actavis , and the $34.6 billion takeover of the oil field services firm Baker Hughes by a bigger rival, Halliburton — made Monday a symbolic tipping point. With those transactions on the books, about $1.5 trillion in deals targeting American companies have been announced this year, the most since 2000, according to Thomson Reuters, the financial information company.

Goldman Fund Said to Fall 5.6% on Interest Rate Position (Bloomberg)
A $3.2 billion Goldman Sachs Group Inc. hedge fund that pools some of the firm’s best ideas declined 5.6 percent last month as a bet on the direction of U.S. interest rates went wrong, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Goldman Sachs Global Opportunities Fund, which invests based on the trade ideas from the money-management unit’s fixed-income team, took a position that interest rates would rise, only to see them decline, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

No. 1 With a Bullet: ‘Nadeshot’ Becomes a Call of Duty Star (NYT)
Matt Haag, a professional video game player, makes close to a million dollars a year sitting in a soft chair smashing buttons. It is a fantastically sweet gig, and he will do about anything to keep it. That is why, on a recent morning, he was in a bungalow in Venice Beach, Calif., making pancakes. Not just regular pancakes, but high-protein pancakes with ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds, whose balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein was created by a dietitian hired to teach him how to eat more healthily. The pancakes were just the beginning of a monthlong training session that Red Bull, one of Mr. Haag’s sponsors, organized for him and his team, OpTic Gaming. Over the next several days, he and his fellow players gave blood while riding stationary bicycles, had their brains mapped by a computer and attended an hourlong yoga class where they learned, among other things, how to stretch their throbbing wrists. The purpose of all this: to help them get better at blowing their opponents away in video games. Three years ago, he was flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Today Mr. Haag, 22, skinny and blindingly pale, makes his living playing Call of Duty, a popular series of war games where players run around trying to shoot one another. Mr. Haag has 1.5 million YouTube subscribers along with a lucrative contract to live-stream his daily game sessions online. Known as Nadeshot (shorthand for “grenade shot”), he travels the world playing tournaments as spectators pack arenas to see him. At home near Chicago, he has a problem with fans showing up at his house.

Woman Pulled Dentures From Rival’s Mouth: Police (AP)
A Massachusetts woman is accused of yanking the false teeth out of another woman’s mouth and throwing a beer bottle at her. Caterina Froio-Chaput, of Oxford, was released on $100 bail after pleading not guilty to assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Police say Froio-Chaput was refused a drink Wednesday at an American Legion and told to leave. They say she started hitting the bartender in the face, then pulled the false teeth from her mouth before hitting her in the chest with the bottle. The Telegram & Gazette reports Froio-Chaput told police she confronted the bartender who she believed was having an affair with her estranged husband. When police found the teeth in her pocket, she said they had been planted there. Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.17.14

markzuckerbergoffice-260x271Actavis Nears Deal to Acquire Allergan (WSJ)
Actavis PLC is nearing a deal to acquire Allergan Inc. in a tie-up that would likely be the year’s largest and could help shield Botox maker Allergan from a hostile takeover. The boards of Actavis and Allergan are expected to meet in coming days to review a cash-and-stock takeover, people familiar with the matter said, and an announcement is expected this week. The price under discussion couldn’t be learned, but likely would be at a premium to Allergan’s market capitalization of $59 billion. Closing such a deal is still a big if, however, in part because hostile suitor Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. could improve its offer for Allergan, which Valeant already has done several times. And buying Allergan would be a chunky bite for Actavis, whose $64 billion market value is barely bigger than its target’s.

Facebook seeks foothold in your office (FT)
Facebook is secretly working on a new website called “Facebook at Work” to get a foothold in the office that will see the social network of more than 1bn people compete directly with Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn. The Silicon Valley company is developing a new product designed to allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents, competing with Google Drive and Microsoft Office, according to people familiar with the matter. High quality global journalism requires investment. The new site will look very much like Facebook – with a newsfeed and groups – but will allow users to keep their personal profile with its holiday photos, political rants and silly videos separate from their work identity.

Trading desk bonuses coming from grunts, expenses ‘capped’ (NYP)
The huge swarms who do grunt work for the masters of the universe must rein in costs — because their bank and brokerage employers need more cash for a slimmed-down bonus season, according to financial services pros. From support staff to supervisors, firms are slashing expense accounts — even pulling the plug on once-lavish holiday parties — as they shore up finances for the annual ritual of payouts and year-end bonuses. Overall comp, including cash and stock, will remain flat, according to one analyst, dipping as much as 10 percent from last year for equity, bond and many hedge-fund professionals. Of course, that’s not shabby compared to the traders in hard-hit sectors like commodities. Commodity payouts will be abysmal, said several pros. Wealth management, bolstered by the expanding fortunes of America’s richest families — and served by financial advisers who can earn multimillion-dollar annual pay packages — is the most surprisingly tight fisted, according to one recruiter. Advisers will have a superlative year, but thousands who support them are mad as hell. “It strikes me that the wealth management industry is still behaving and compensating their people as if we are still in a bear market,” recruiter Danny Sarch told The Post. Sarch pointed to Morgan Stanley, which apparently is acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas. “I am hearing there’s a cap per person there on holiday parties, and on what employees can expense elsewhere,” he said. “Employees have to submit an original receipt, say for a meal with a client, rather than a copy, that kind of thing. They are not trusting the employee.” Sarch said employees must grin and bear it. “They are comparing it to the pre-Crash days,” he said, adding that the pattern may be systemic across the Street.

Silk Road kingpin appears to send tweets from jail (NYP)
Blake Benthall — churchgoer by day, alleged drug kingpin by night — appears to be sending tweets from his jail cell asking for money. “Donate bitcoin,” read a recent plea from Benthall’s Twitter page, just days after his arrest for allegedly running online drug bazaar Silk Road.

Forex fines show still much to do on UK banking reform: lawmakers (Reuters)
Regulators last week imposed fines totaling $4.3 billion on HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, UBS AG and Bank of America Corp, for failing to stop traders from trying to manipulate the forex market, following a year-long global investigation. Last year Britain’s Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS), set up to look at improving behavior at banks in the wake of scandals including the rigging of interest rate benchmarks such as Libor, recommended a range of reforms. “These reforms are badly needed to tackle serious lapses in banking standards and a collapse of trust in the industry. The forex scandal has exposed how much work there is still to do,” lawmaker Andrew Tyrie, who led the PCBS, said.

Fresno State student accused of having sex with sheep: police (NYDN)
It was his first time. With a sheep. That’s what a Fresno State University student told police early Tuesday after he was caught on top of an ewe with his pants down. “Am I going to be expelled for this,” the 23-year-old man, only described as a fifth-year computer engineering student, told police. He’s now accused of bestiality, according to a KMPH-TV report. A spooked student had called Fresno State police after hearing strange noises near the Fresno Sheep Unit. Officers found the student in the barn, apparently having sex with the defenseless farm animal. The student claimed he had been wrestling with cattle, according to a police report, but when there was obviously not a cow in sight, he referenced the sheep and admitted, “it was all the same,” KMPH-TV wrote. Read more »