Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 08.11.14

Hedge Funds Are Digging Gold Miners (WSJ)
The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, which tracks 39 gold-mining companies, has soared 26% so far this year, compared with a 8.9% rise in gold and a 4.5% increase in the S&P 500. The gold-miner rally is a boon for high-profile hedge-fund managers such as George Soros and John Paulson—as well as traditionally gold-focused traders like Peter Palmedo and Eric Sprott. Their gold bets were pummeled last year, when a rise in bond yields and muted inflation dulled gold’s allure, sparking a stampede that drove the precious metal’s price down 28% and the gold-mining index down 54%.

Judge in Argentina default case slams Singer lobbyists (NYP)
Federal court Judge Thomas Griesa said the ads run by the lobbying group, Task Force Argentina — financed by Singer to help fight his decade-long legal and political battle to win the right to collect on defaulted Argentina debt — were “wrong” to attack the country’s New York lawyers. One ad claims that one of the lawyers, Jonathan Blackman, of Cleary Gottlieb, personally called Argentina President Cristina Kirchner to suggest the country default — while a second displays a drawing of the lawyer’s head on a vulture…Griesa called the hearing after seeing two-page “legal notices” in US newspapers, placed by Argentina, saying it had paid its bondholders. The ad referred to the $539 million Argentina wired in late June to make a payment to the vast majority of its bondholders who accepted a debt swap years ago. But the court would not allow the payment to be made unless Argentina also pays Singer and other creditors the $1.65 billion they demand on defaulted debt they own. The payment to Singer wasn’t made, so Argentina defaulted on $15 billion in debt. “False and misleading statements by Argentina must cease,” said Griesa in an hour-long monologue. The 84-year-old judge said if the false statements don’t stop, he might consider holding the country in contempt.

Putin Starving Companies of Cash They Can’t Obtain Abroad (Bloomberg)
Russia is limiting corporate access to domestic financing even as the escalating Ukraine crisis increasingly isolates companies from overseas sources of cash. The government’s about-face on its pledge to end a freeze on pension cash being used by private money managers risks raising corporate borrowing costs as it deepens the country’s economic slowdown. Some of Russia’s biggest issuers are already locked out of international capital markets as punishment for what U.S. and European leaders say is President Vladimir Putin’s support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Kinder Morgan to Consolidate Empire (WSJ)
Kinder Morgan Inc. is consolidating its vast oil-and-gas pipeline empire into a single company in a $44 billion deal amid investor worries about the enterprises’ growth prospects. The reorganized company will abandon the financial structure it helped popularize in the late 1990s: the master limited partnership. These complex tax-oriented offerings have caught on among energy companies facing substantial investments in infrastructure because of the U.S. oil and gas boom. But Kinder now is so big that the MLP structure is limiting, said Richard Kinder, the companies’ founder and chief executive. Combining all four of its publicly traded units into one corporation, he said in an interview, “will allow us to further expand the reach of the kind of projects we can do.”

The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Spoiled 23-Year-Old (Bloomberg)
Rich people have enough money to solve almost all their problems but one: children who grow up to be entitled, materialistic and unhappy slackers. Wealth advisers to the rich see this all the time, says Coventry Edwards-Pitt, who helps clients manage their affairs at Ballentine Partners, a wealth advisory firm outside Boston. Often, children of rich parents can’t seem to strike out on their own, she says. They start doomed businesses and give up on one job after another, all while draining Mom and Dad’s bank account (or their own trust fund) into their 30s and beyond. It’s a phenomenon many parents and tax advisers do a lot to enable, albeit unintentionally, Edwards-Pitt argues in a new book, “Raised Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” Most parents want their kids to become successful, self-sufficient adults. But smart tax planning can sabotage good parenting. To avoid the estate tax, the wealthy are told they can and should give their children $14,000, or $28,000 per couple, each year, which they’re allowed to do tax-free. That’s hardly enough to retire on, but it’s a cushion most people don’t have. Young wealthy adults may go from job to job as they seek their “passion” without putting in the hard work to actually get anywhere.

Man Armed With Leaf Blower Arrested For Doing Yard Work In The Nude (TSG)
A Massachusetts homeowner was arrested Monday for “open and gross lewdness” after passing motorists spotted him–leaf blower in hand–doing yard work in the nude, according to cops. As Richard Capra, 69, worked on the curb appeal of his Shrewsbury home, “several vehicles were slowing down taking photographs,” according to the Shrewsbury Police Department. Responding to 911 calls, Officer Timothy Charland spotted Capra “completely nude, blowing off his driveway with a leaf blower.” Capra was “intoxicated and belligerent towards police” when questioned. Capra, arrested on a misdemeanor charge, was later released from custody after posting $500 bail. He is scheduled for an August 15 appearance in Westboro District Court. Future arrestees will be happy to learn that Capra was “issued clothing” prior to being placed in a Shrewsbury patrol car. Read more »

Opening Bell: 08.08.14

Goldman, JPMorgan in Senate’s crosshairs for commodities holdings (Reuters)
U.S. Senator Carl Levin is preparing a last push to bring Wall Street’s big commodity traders to heel during his final months in office, wrapping up a nearly two year-long probe that could potentially reveal abuses in energy and metals markets. Levin’s investigators have met with representatives from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase in recent weeks, according to sources familiar with the matter. Executives from those companies may appear at a hearing as early as September, during which Levin’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations would present the findings of the probe, the sources said…Specifically, Senate investigators have explored whether Wall Street has abused its commodities holdings at the expense of clients, consumers, the environment or the health of the market, according to the people familiar with the probe.

Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (Bloomberg)
Wealthy Muscovites will have to forgo favorite dishes such as Australian steak and sushi with Norwegian salmon and will pay more for substitutes because of President Vladimir Putin’s import ban. Putin decreed that imports of meat, fish, vegetables, cheese and dairy products from the U.S., European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia be stopped, effective yesterday, and called to replace them with local products. The ban applies to countries that imposed sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

Power Network Draws Rich Families to Chicago Banker Byron Trott (Bloomberg)
Five years after leaving Goldman, Trott, 55, is parlaying longtime links to the moneyed elite into an investment and advisory firm that specializes in helping rich families get richer. BDT — for Byron David Trott — plays two roles for its well-heeled clients. It provides advice on whether to merge, expand or sell businesses, as it did for Alberto. And it raises money from them to invest in other mainly family-led companies, either directly or through BDT’s private-equity funds. BDT managed $6.3 billion in client assets as of Dec. 31 and is raising $5.2 billion more, according to regulatory filings. “Byron’s got a blue-chip list of people who trust him,” says John Canning, chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, the largest Midwestern private-equity firm. “He’s played a key role in Chicago. Since most large investment banks are headquartered elsewhere, he’s been able to establish a unique practice advising on extremely large transactions.” Warren Buffett, the third-wealthiest person in the world, is the biggest name on Trott’s prestigious list.

Argentina pulls US into debt dispute with hedge funds (NYP)
Argentina is trying to rope Uncle Sam into its debt dispute with a group of “vulture” hedge funds. The embattled country sued the US in the Hague, contending that America’s court system has “committed violations of Argentine sovereignty and immunities.” The suit was filed in the International Court of Justice, which is the judicial organ of the United Nations. The Hague-based court said no action will be taken unless the US agrees to have the case heard in that court.

Developer Who Sued Zuckerberg Cites E-Mail Showing Offer (Bloomberg)
A property developer who sued billionaire Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly failing to assist him with business networking as part of a real estate deal produced an e-mail mentioning that the Facebook Inc. founder offered to help him in a “light” way. The e-mail and others filed in a lawsuit against Zuckerberg show the executive knew he made the promise and reneged on it, David Draper, the attorney for developer Mircea Voskerician, said in court filings. Voskerician says he gave the Facebook chief executive officer a 40 percent discount in 2012 on a $4.3 million property located behind Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto, California, home because he was promised introductions and referrals to boost his business. After trying and failing to reach Zuckerberg, Voskerician sued in state court in San Jose, California, to get the house back, claiming fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation, according to the complaint.

Judge Says Man Wasn’t Specific Enough About Alleged Penis Amputation (AP)
A judge threw out a lawsuit filed by an Alabama man who claims a botched circumcision resulted in the amputation of his penis, ruling Thursday that the complaint wasn’t specific under state malpractice law. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jim Hughey III ruled after a brief hearing that the suit filed Johnny Lee Banks Jr. and his wife lacked sufficient details but could be filed again to include specific times and dates of alleged actions…Banks and his wife last month sued Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham plus Drs. Michael Bivins and Alan Aikens and their employers. Banks alleges that he awoke from what was supposed to be a routine circumcision in June to realize his penis was gone. Attorneys for the doctors and hospital contend the medical procedure alleged in the suit never happened and predicted the lawsuit will be dismissed again if Banks pursues the claim. The defense filed sworn statements from two nurses who said Banks had a circumcision at the hospital in February, months before he claimed in the suit, but there was no record of any amputation. Read more »

Opening Bell: 08.07.14

BofA Said Nearing Up to $17 Billion Mortgage Settlement (Bloomberg)
Under the proposed terms, the bank would pay about $9 billion in cash and the rest in consumer relief to settle federal and state claims, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Details of the proposed accord, such as the relief and a statement of facts, are still being negotiated, the person said. The outlines of the deal were reached last week after a phone call between Attorney General Eric Holder and Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, the person said. During the July 30 call, Holder said that the government was ready to file a lawsuit in New Jersey if the bank didn’t offer an amount closer to the department’s demand of about $17 billion, according to the person.

Banks’ Failure on ‘Living Wills’ Frays Relations With Regulators (WSJ)
The failure of the biggest U.S. banks to convince regulators they can go bust without bringing down the financial system is likely to further strain an already tense relationship between Wall Street and Washington. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. told 11 of the largest banks to address significant shortcomings in so-called living wills they submitted showing how they can be dismantled under bankruptcy and without government support. Bank officials were surprised by the public rebuke. A senior executive at one of the banks noted his firm got a 19-page memo less than three hours before the public release by the Federal Reserve and FDIC. The executive said there was no communication with regulators beforehand.

Portugal Bans Short Selling in Banco Comercial Português Stock (WSJ)
Portugal’s market regulator has banned short selling in shares of Banco Comercial Português SA, as the rescue earlier this week of one of the bank’s biggest domestic rivals continues to reverberate through financial markets. The regulator said late Wednesday that the ban would take effect on Thursday morning and last until 11.59 p.m. The move follows a 15% drop in BCP’s share price on Wednesday.

Argentina’s Wall Street Fixers Joined by Deutsche Bank for Talks (Bloomberg)
Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) joined JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. (C) and HSBC Holdings Plc in talks with Argentina’s holdout creditors to seek an agreement that would allow the country to resume paying its bonds, according to a person briefed on the meetings. Deutsche Bank joined an Aug. 1 meeting between the banks and hedge funds including Elliott Management Corp. that won a U.S. court order for full repayment on debt from Argentina’s 2001 default, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Banks are proposing to buy at least a portion of the defaulted bonds, he said.

Finger Wrestling Championships Feature Lederhosen, Beer (HP)
…in Germany, finger wrestling is the reason locals don their lederhosen and chug pilsner on weekends. The Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen just hosted the 55th Finger Wrestling Championships, celebrating a sport that dates back to the 17th century. Dozens of finger-flexing athletes lock their digits in a tug-of-war. The object is to pull your opponent across the table using only one finger — usually the middle one — that fits into a strap. Mashable reports that there are actual techniques to Fingerhakeln, but really it’s all about pain tolerance and strength. Plenty of giant Bavarian and Austrian dudes end up dislocating their wittle fingohs, though. Read more »

Opening Bell: 08.05.14

Argentina launches investigation into holdouts’ investments (Reuters)
Argentina’s markets watchdog on Monday launched an investigation into what it believes may have been unlawful speculation by holdout creditors whose litigation against the country for repayment of their defaulted bonds pushed it into a new default last week. The government also reiterated its fierce criticism of the mediator in debt talks with the holdout hedge funds for being “biased” and a “spokesman of the vulture funds”…The head of Argentina’s Securities Commission Alejandro Vanoli said it had asked its U.S. counterpart for information on trade of Argentina’s sovereign debt and credit default swaps (CDS), derivatives used to insure against default.

AIG Posts Rise in Profit, Settles Crisis-Era Suit (WSJ)
Outgoing American International Group Inc. Chief Executive Robert Benmosche left parting gifts for his successor, delivering strong earnings and settling a large piece of crisis-era litigation. In the last earnings report overseen by Mr. Benmosche, the New York-based insurer on Monday posted a 13% jump in second-quarter profit, aided by solid results in its core operations and a gain from the last of a series of divestitures prompted by its 2008 government bailout. Separately, AIG agreed to pay $960 million to settle claims that it misled investors about its financial health from 2006 to 2008, in one of the largest settlements of investor litigation stemming from the financial crisis.

Golf Resorts Change Course to Attract Younger Generation (NYT)
“Meeting people my own age, they end up being surprised that I golf,” said T. C. Green, a New York City business analyst who organizes golf outings for young professionals. Mr. Green, 31, said participants had told him they were glad to find a group of like-minded people their own age. “I get that all the time,” he said. “Now people have a venue to meet other people who golf.” Mr. Green acknowledged that he was in the minority, though. “I’ve been looking for different ways to get people to come out,” he said. Resorts are pondering that question, too, making changes that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago, adding speakers to golf carts and Wi-Fi access on the course, building high-tech training centers and miniature golf putting courses, and peppering corporate golf events with tangentially related activities like using golf clubs to hit marshmallows or throwing Frisbees around the course.

Credit Agricole Net Falls 98% on Banco Espirito Santo (Bloomberg)
Net income fell 98 percent to 17 million euros ($23 million) from 696 million euros a year earlier, France’s third-biggest bank said in a statement. Ignoring the 708 million euros in costs related to its 14.6 percent Banco Espirito Santo stake and some one-time charges, profit rose to 1 billion euros.

Murdoch’s Fox expected to push for Time Warner deal on Wednesday (Reuters)
Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox is expected to make an aggressive case for merging with Time Warner during its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, though people familiar with the company’s plans have said it would not use that forum to raise its bid…Though Fox is expected to raise its offer it will not rise beyond the range of $90 to $95 per share, a person familiar with Fox told Reuters on July 25. The timing of another offer is unclear. Some analysts have said that an even higher bid would be needed to win over Time Warner management and shareholders.

Gator Knocks On Florida Couple’s Door (HP)
A Coral Springs, Florida, couple were perplexed when they heard a knock on their door early Thursday morning. But their confusion soon turned to shock when they found a 9-foot alligator camped out on their doorstep. “It was nuts, I couldn’t believe it,” resident Luann Alonso said, according to NBC Miami. “I thought it was not real.” Her husband, Jorge, heard a racket outside and thought it was a raccoon. He turned the porch lights on to scope out the scene and saw the huge gator. “As soon as I turned the light on, I saw that big gator right in front of the door,” Alonso told WFOR. “The tail was facing the front window and his body was against the door and we couldn’t get out.” Alonso, who usually walks the family dog early in the morning, said he’s lucky he didn’t stumble across the animal. The couple called police, who had a trapper get rid of the gator. The 9-foot reptile is considered a nuisance and will not be returned to the wild, according to CBS Miami. Read more »

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. Read more »

Opening Bell: 08.01.14

Argentina Unopposed to Bank Deal With Hedge Funds (Bloomberg)
Argentina’s Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said the government wouldn’t oppose a third-party solution to its dispute with a group of hedge funds who successfully sued the country for $1.5 billion. A U.S. judge has blocked Argentina from paying its debt — including an interest payment due July 30 on $13 billion of bonds — until the hedge funds led by Elliott Management Corp. get their money. Standard & Poor’s declared the country in default while Moody’s Investors Service placed its rating on negative outlook.

Gross Left Behind in Pimco Return to Top as Deputies Rise (Bloomberg)
Bill Gross promised in May that funds managed by his Pacific Investment Management Co. would be back on top by the end of the year. So far, his prediction is looking good — unless you count the funds that Gross himself runs. Nine of Pimco’s 15 largest mutual funds are beating at least 75 percent of peers so far this year, according to data compiled by Chicago-based research company Morningstar Inc. None of those top performers are managed by Chief Investment Officer Gross. Of the four funds trailing more than half their rivals, three including the Pimco Total Return Fund are run by the 70-year-old investor known as the bond king.

Tax-Averse French Seek Shelter in Portugal (BusinessWeek)
Under Portugal’s so-called non-habitual-resident program, foreign pensioners who come to live in the country have their pension income exempt from taxes as long as the income is paid from a foreign source. A foreigner has to live at least 183 days a year in Portugal to qualify as a tax resident. France only taxes citizens who live in the country—not French who live abroad. “This means that the pension income may end up not being taxed at all,” says Luis Filipe Sousa, a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Lisbon.

SEC probes its own leak but can’t find culprit (CNBC)
The inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted an intensive, months-long dragnet in 2013 and 2014 involving phone, email and security searches to determine who inside the agency allegedly leaked information to the media about a closed commission meeting discussing the massive JPMorgan “London Whale” settlement, CNBC has learned. Investigators at the Office of the Inspector General produced a 16-page report detailing their findings in March, but that report has never been made public. A copy of the report was obtained by CNBC on Thursday. The document paints a picture of an SEC in which commission members are at odds with one another and investigators scrutinize their colleagues, staff and the media. It also details just how far the inspector general went to learn how information about a Sept. 12, 2013, executive session commission meeting about JPMorgan had apparently been given to a Reuters reporter, Sarah Lynch.

Fired Miami Beach cop gets job back after blaming cocaine test on sex-aid cream (MH)
After Miami Beach police Detective Reinaldo Casas tested positive for cocaine, he insisted that the drug had been unwittingly absorbed into his blood through an erection-enhancing cream he applied to his genitals. His defense worked. An arbitrator this week ordered Casas, who was fired last year because of the positive drug test, be reinstated with complete back pay. “There is no evidence in the record to show that [Casas] was aware the cream contained a controlled substance,” according to the arbitrator’s report, which was released Thursday. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.31.14

BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
The French lender said on Thursday that a provision of €5.75 billion ($7.70 billion) set aside to help cover a nearly $9 billion U.S. fine—the largest-ever paid by a bank in a sanctions case—had pushed the group deep into the red in the second-quarter. BNP Paribas, France’s largest listed bank by assets, reported a €4.32 billion net loss in the three months through June, compared with a €1.77 billion net profit a year ago. “The group has learned lessons from these past events and is implementing a major reinforcement of its internal control,” said Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé in a statement. Despite the substantial size of the penalties, which also include a one-year ban on certain dollar-clearing transactions, BNP Paribas said it had enough cash set aside with central banks and capital to absorb any potential future losses.

Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (Bloomberg)
The nation missed a deadline yesterday to pay $539 million in interest after two full days of negotiations in New York failed to produce an accord with creditors from its last default in 2001. A U.S. judge ruled that the payment couldn’t be made unless those investors, a group of hedge funds led by Elliott Management Corp., got the $1.5 billion they claimed. As Economy Minister Axel Kicillof returns to Buenos Aires with no set plans for further discussions with the hedge funds he described as “vultures,” other creditors must decide whether to invoke a clause that entitles them to demand their money back. While an 11th-hour attempt last night by a group of Argentine banks to avert a crisis by purchasing the securities from Elliott fell through, bondholders probably will give the parties more time to reach a settlement, according to Bank of America Corp.

First round of Buffalo Bills bids tops $1 billion (NYP)
A Pennsylvania fracking mogul bid more than $1 billion for the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday — making it likely the team will attract a record sales price for an NFL team, The Post has learned. Terrence Pegula, who owns the NHL Buffalo Sabres, is one of only two known bidders for the storied football franchise, which was put on the block last spring following the March 25 death of owner Ralph Wilson Jr. Donald Trump also made a first-round bid for the Bills — bids were due by 5 p.m. Tuesday. It could not be learned whether other bids were received by Morgan Stanley, which is running the auction. A bidding group fronted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi that includes Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA Toronto Raptors and the NHL Maple Leafs, and the Canadian telecom titan Rogers family, which controls Rogers Communications, was expected to bid. The Bon Jovi group is expected to try to move the team to Toronto. That has made Bon Jovi Public Enemy No. 1 in the western New York city, which loves its NFL team. “Man, f–k Bon Jovi,” legendary Bills receiver Andre Reed, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, told New York Magazine. “You might as well just take this city, throw it in the river, and let it go down Niagara Falls.”

Barclays Under U.S. Pressure (WSJ)
On Wednesday, the British bank presented better than expected second quarter earnings, with its shares rallying over 4% on the news that its investment bank performed well. But the numbers were partly overshadowed by a number of litigation and conduct issues which rather than fading, seem to be getting worse. Barclays said it had to put aside another £900 million ($1.5 billion) to cover potential claims from customers who were wrongfully sold insurance products. It also disclosed that U.S. authorities extended for one more year an agreement that essentially puts the bank on probation while the government looks into allegations that the bank rigged foreign-exchange markets.

Buyout Shops Look to Rivals for Deals (WSJ)
Private-equity firms have all but stopped buying public companies, retreating from a cornerstone of their business as rising stock prices push acquisition targets out of reach. Public companies taken private accounted for 3.5% of the $89 billion of U.S. leveraged buyouts in the first half of this year, the lowest share on record, according to data tracker S&P Capital IQ LCD. In the first half of 2008, at the apex of a buyout boom, these types of deals represented about 68% of all buyouts by dollar volume. Instead, private-equity firms are buying companies from one another, a shift driven in part by the relative simplicity of completing an acquisition of a private company compared with a publicly traded one. Transactions between private-equity firms have made up 60% of U.S. leveraged buyout volume through June, according to S&P. That is a higher percentage than the ratio for any full year tracked by the firm, whose data date to 2002.

Greenspan Says Stocks to See ‘Significant Correction’ (Bloomberg)
“The stock market has recovered so sharply for so long, you have to assume somewhere along the line we will get a significant correction,” Greenspan, 88, said Wednesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu. “Where that is, I do not know.”

Flight Attendant Warns Travelers To Flush Their Drugs Before Landing (AP)
An Australian airline apologized on Wednesday for a warning a flight attendant gave passengers who might have been flying high that there were drug-sniffer dogs awaiting them at Sydney airport. Many of the 210 passengers aboard the Jetstar flight from Gold Coast city on Sunday night had attended the Splendour in the Grass weekend music festival at Byron Bay and were returning home. “We have been told there are sniffer dogs and quarantine officers waiting in the domestic terminal,” Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday quoted the attendant as telling passengers via the Airbus A320’s public address system. “If you need to dispose of anything you shouldn’t have, we suggest you flush it now,” he added. The newspaper said the warning prompted passengers to rush for the toilets. Jetstar spokesman Stephen Moynihan confirmed the newspaper report was accurate. He said the public response to the announcement had been “mixed.” The airline said it routinely makes quarantine announcements on such flights that cross state borders. “The crew member’s words were poorly chosen and are plainly at odds with the professional standards we’d expect from our team,” Jetstar said in a statement. “We apologize to customers offended by the comments.” Read more »