Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 06.11.14

Bank of America Mortgage Settlement Is Said to Be Deadlocked (Dealbook)
Bank of America and the Justice Department have reached an impasse in negotiations over a multibillion-dollar settlement deal, raising the stakes in an investigation into the bank’s role at the center of the mortgage crisis. The talks stalled on Monday after the bank’s latest offer — more than $12 billion to resolve state and federal investigations into its sale of mortgage investments that later imploded — fell far short of prosecutors’ demands, according to people briefed on the matter. The Justice Department, which had imposed a Monday evening deadline for the bank to deliver its near-final offer, has sought a settlement worth roughly $17 billion, which would be the largest payout by any bank to date.

Detroit Denies Last-Minute Reprieve for Goats (Dealbook, earlier)
The hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel has been denied a last-minute reprieve for his guerrilla urban farming project. And now, the 18 baby goats that he brought to the Brightmoor section of Detroit, to help clean up the overgrown area blighted by the city’s financial crisis, will now be sold to the butchers…The city’s decision signals the end of a campaign by Mr. Spitznagel, which began last Thursday, to bring as many as 60 goats from his farmstead in Northport, Mich., to Brightmoor to promote urban farming.The Idyll Farm Detroit plan, named after Mr. Spitznagel’s farm, was to enlist the help of local residents, paying previously unemployed adults to help herd the goats. Mr. Spitznagel and his team had not sought preapproval for the project from Mayor Mike Duggan’s office. Instead, they hoped to persuade the local government by moving ahead with their plan. The goats, however, were not well received by some local officials, and by Saturday, the goats were back on a truck heading out of Detroit.

Gross Raises Government-Related Debt to 50% of His Flagship Fund (Bloomberg)
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross raised his holdings of Treasuries and government-related debt in May to half his flagship fund’s total as the securities gained the most in four months. The proportion of the securities in the $229 billion Total Return Fund (PTTRX) was 50 percent last month, up from 41 percent in April, data on the company’s website showed. It was the highest since 54 percent in July 2010 for the world’s biggest bond fund. Gross, 70, is seeking to stanch 13 straight months of redemptions, saying the fund that’s trailed 62 percent of peers during the past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, will again rank at the top by the end of the year. Pimco is betting on a “new neutral” era characterized by global growth converging toward lower, more stable speeds and interest rates that remain below their pre-crisis equilibrium.

World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast After ‘Bumpy’ 2014 Start (Bloomberg)
The Washington-based lender predicts the world economy will expand 2.8 percent this year, compared with a January projection of 3.2 percent. The U.S. forecast was reduced to 2.1 percent from 2.8 percent while outlooks for Brazil, Russia, India and China were also lowered. The setbacks may be temporary: the 2015 estimate for world economic growth was unchanged at 3.4 percent.

Venture capitalist guru eyes bitcoin boon (CNBC)
Saul Klein played a key role in starting up Lovefilm International, which has been dubbed the “Netflix of Europe”, becoming the company’s original CEO before it was acquired by Amazon in 2011 for a reported $317 million. He’s also held a position at Skype, acquired by eBay, and was co-founder at startups Kano and Seedcamp. But now, Klein told CNBC, he is being increasingly drawn to the world of virtual currencies and the potential they have for disrupting the mainstream with the advent of the smartphone. “It’s very, very transformational,” he said of bitcoin – the virtual currency which has already received attention from central banks, policymakers and regulators from around the globe. “Bitcoin has its own ecosystem…(and) is light years ahead of the other (payment) networks.”

Cops locate, ticket driver in Lamborghini crash-and-burn near GWB (NJ)
Police, unraveling the mysterious crash-and-burn of an expensive Lamborghini sports car near the George Washington Bridge early Monday, have located and charged its owner and driver in the incident. Deankarte E. Ditchfield-Agboh, a 33-year-old Palisades Park resident, has been issued summonses for abandoning a vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident, said Joe Pentangelo, an agency spokesman. Ditchfield-Agboh was interviewed by Port Authority police and is due in Fort Lee Municipal Court on Aug. 6, Pentangelo said. The Port Authority had been investigating the crash since finding the pricey, rare vehicle burning about 2 a.m. near Bridge Plaza North on the Turnpike westbound, meaning the car would have been leaving New York City, Pentangelo said. It was “burned extensively,” he said. Pentangelo initially said the car “showed evidence of a collision, but it’s unclear where the collision took place.” Efforts to reach Ditchfield-Agboh for comment at his home were to no avail. And an employee at his business, East Coast Auto Group in Lodi, said Tuesday afternoon that he was gone for the day. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.10.14

Goldman Shuns ‘New Neutral’ After Doubting ‘New Normal’ (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs economists led by Jan Hatzius and Dominic Wilson are questioning the bet made last month by investor Bill Gross that Federal Reserve monetary tightening will be much less aggressive than in the past — when it comes. “We do not disagree that the Fed funds rate will on average be at least modestly lower over the next 20 years than it was over the 20 years preceding the crisis,” New York-based economist Kris Dawsey wrote in a June 6 report. “We lean towards the view that the difference will not be drastic.”

Uber Protests Spread Across Europe as Taxi-App Backlash Grows (Bloomberg)
Uber Technologies Inc. is set to draw more than 30,000 taxis and limos across Europe tomorrow in the region’s biggest protest against the smartphone app that is threatening to upend the car-service industry. At least 3,000 Parisian drivers are planning to block the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports as well as the A1 highway that circles the French capital starting at 6 a.m. local time. Similar demonstrations are planned in Madrid, Milan and Berlin. In London, between 10,000 and 12,000 black cabs and private hire cars are expected to descend on the tourist hubs of Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square at 2 p.m.

Hedge fund billionaire splits with wife of almost 30 years (NYP)
David Tepper, the world’s highest-paid fund manager for the past two years, has split with his wife of nearly 30 years, Page Six can exclusively reveal. In what could be one of the most expensive hedge fund divorces yet, Tepper, 56, who runs $20 billion Appaloosa Management in Short Hills, NJ, and his wife, Marlene, have separated after 28 years of marriage, multiple sources confirmed. We’re told David and Marlene, who married in 1986 and have three adult children, have yet to formally file for divorce. A source said, “They have separated and are telling friends the marriage has run its course. They hope to settle things quickly, quietly and amicably.” But the split could prove extremely costly. Tepper, a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has an estimated net worth of $10 billion.

SEC Official Points to Disclosure Failings by Private Equity Firms (WSJ)
Igor Rozenblit, co-head of the SEC’s private funds unit, called the private- equity industry to task over its communication and transparency with investors, saying at an industry conference in Boston Tuesday morning that there “does appear to me at least that there is some sort of disconnect between what [general partners] think their [limited partners] know and what LPs actually know.”

Unhappy with sex services? Don’t call us, Singapore says (CNN)
A foreign minister clearly frustrated with some of his own countrymen has taken to Facebook to expose some of the stranger requests received by consular staff. “Can the government get involved if a Singaporean gets illegal sexual services overseas, but is not satisfied and wants a refund? The answer seems obvious,” writes K. Shanmugam, the country’s minster for foreign affairs, with an almost audible sigh. The exasperated minister went on to list other examples with the plea: “We have to draw the line between what is personal responsibility and what’s not.” Personal responsibility could include the lovelorn citizen who asked the foreign office to convince his girlfriend to marry him. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.09.14

Sex, Drugs and GDP: the Challenge of Measuring the Shadow Economy (WSJ)
The U.K., Ireland and Italy are among the nations now moving to include illicit doings when tallying their gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services across an economy. The U.K. could add as much as $9 billion to the value of its GDP by including prostitution and about $7.4 billion by adding illegal drugs, by one estimate, enough to boost the size of its economy by 0.7%. Not to be outdone, Italy will include smuggling as well as drugs and prostitution. Both changes will begin later this year. Other nations in Europe are also poised to fall in line with a European Union call to standardize and broaden GDPs. The EU is following a “best practices” directive laid out in 2008 by the United Nations.

Valeant not just a serial acquirer: Bill Ackman (CNBC)
Valeant Pharmaceuticals is not just a roll-up vehicle that has to keep buying other companies in order to grow its business, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman told CNBC on Monday. He appeared on “Squawk Box” to defend his efforts to help Valeant takeover Botox-maker Allergan. “A bad roll-up is a company that uses an over-inflated stock price and a high multiple and non-cash GAAP earnings, heavily promoted by a CEO, to acquire companies at lower multiples,” he argued. Valeant Chairman and CEO J. Michael Pearson has built a business that “looks a lot more like a Colgate or Procter & Gamble than your typical pharmaceutical company,” Ackman cited as a reason he’s behind Pearson’s vision.

Credit Suisse Said to Mull Selling Stake in Fixed-Income Venture [Bloomberg]
The electronic platform, Wake USA LLC, is a joint venture with high-frequency trading firm Tower Research Capital LLC for U.S. Treasuries and other fixed-income products, according to a regulatory filing showing that the unit gained approval to operate earlier this year. Credit Suisse is in the process of moving clients over to that unit and may sell part of its majority stake to reduce capital requirements, said the person, asking to remain anonymous because sale talks are preliminary.

Lagarde Says IMF ‘Got It Wrong’ on Rallying U.K. Economy (Bloomberg)
The International Monetary Fund underestimated the strength of the U.K. economy when warning against the government’s austerity program, Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. “We got it wrong,” Lagarde told the “Andrew Marr Show” on BBC Television yesterday. “We acknowledged it. Clearly the confidence building that has resulted from the economic policies adopted by the government has surprised many of us.”

Second Wall Street bank picks Brazil in World Cup (NYP)
UBS picked host country Brazil as the odds-on favorite to win the soccer tournament, which starts Thursday. While the Swiss bank is picking the legendary squad to win, it isn’t as sure as the bankers at Goldman Sachs — which issued a report on the World Cup last week. UBS said Brazil has a 30 percent chance of winning — Goldman put the odds of Brazil hoisting the trophy at 46.5 percent.

Hershey sues Colorado edible pot company (AP)
The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker. The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC. It alleges TinctureBelle’s Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey’s Almond Joy, Heath, Reese’s peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.05.14

New York attorney general takes deep dive into ‘dark pools’ (Reuters)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking information from exchanges and alternative trading platforms about their relationships with high-frequency trading firms, as part of its probe into allegedly unfair trading practices on Wall Street, sources have previously told Reuters. Broker-run trading systems known as dark pools, where participants are anonymous and trading information is hidden until after the trades are completed, are a key focus, said Chad Johnson, head of the agency’s Investor Protection Bureau. “We remain highly interested in this area,” he said at a conference held by Sandler O’Neill and Partners.

Wall Street Adjusts to the New Trading Normal (WSJ)
Trading volume on the major U.S. exchanges last month tumbled to its lowest level for May since the financial crisis. A daily average of 5.7 billion shares changed hands, the least for the month since 2007, according to Credit Suisse Trading Strategy. The slowdown in trading comes as investors see little reason to make big changes to their portfolios amid an expanding but unspectacular U.S. economy, lackluster first-quarter earnings reports, and above-average stock valuations as a share of projected company earnings.

Exclusive: Deutsche Bank cap hike delay due to court bottleneck – sources (Reuters)
Deutsche Bank’s plans for an 8 billion euro ($11 billion) capital hike came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday when a procedural bottleneck in a German court forced Germany’s flagship lender to delay the issue by several days. The bank’s biggest investor, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani of Qatar, has made his first contribution to the capital hike, paying 1.75 billion euros for 60 million shares, but a Frankfurt court has taken longer than expected to enter the purchase into the shareholder registry, three market sources told Reuters. Until that paper jam is cleared, the second part of the capital hike plan – a 6.3 billion euros rights issue – cannot proceed, putting the whole 8 billion euro exercise on hold but not threatening it in any way, the sources said.

Australian Investors Sell Bank Stocks Before Capital Rules (Bloomberg)
“The story for the banks is not as positive as it was before,” said Shane Oliver, who oversees about $133 billion as Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. “It does make sense to have a decent exposure to the banks, but not at the same level as before. As time goes by, it’s going to be difficult to increase the dividends because of the capital adequacy ratio.”

Citigroup doesn’t have to admit wrongdoing (NYP)
Citigroup doesn’t have to worry about being forced to admit wrongdoing in a three-year-old regulatory settlement after a federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled it didn’t matter. The Securities and Exchange Commission has wide latitude to settle cases and allow defendants to sidestep the issue of guilt, the appeals court ruled. “Trials are primarily about the truth,” the court ruled in a much-anticipated 28-page ruling. “Consent decrees are primarily about pragmatism.” The appeals court ruling overturns a decision by trial court judge Jed Rakoff — who refused to rubber-stamp Citi’s $285 million settlement with the SEC because, without addressing guilt, he couldn’t know if the penalty fit the crime. The appeal court ordered the case back to Rakoff — who is now expected to approve the settlement.

Regis: I was Einhorn’s best summer intern ever (CNBC)
Taking up a recent offer for a summer internship at David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, television legend Philbin revealed what his day was like Tuesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” “Yes, so I went up to the David Einhorn offices, met everybody,” he said. “Happens to be a very nice guy. We had a long, long talk. And I tell you how it ended: They thought I was the best summer intern they ever had.” Last week, Einhorn said on air that he had been impressed by one of Philbin’s winning stock picks and offered the former TV show host an internship. Known as “the hardest working man in show business,” Philbin said that his duties at the firm consisted of doing legwork on three companies. “I suggested to David that we call Micron Tech, MolyCorp, Lululemon, and we had some very interesting conversations with the Micron Tech people,” he said. “And incidentally, I don’t think it’s going to bounce down much anymore. I think it’s on its way to at least $30. I think it almost touched $29 today.” [...] Einhorn had been rumored to be short LULU, although his most recent 13F filing does not show a position. Philbin said that they had called three different Lululemon locations—”and not one of them answered!” “I’m still in the stock, but I’m very disappointed that they didn’t take the calls when we made them, for crying out loud,” he added. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.04.14

Judge Rules in Favor of States in Suits Against S&P (WSJ)
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lost a bid to combine more than a dozen state lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with a U.S. federal judge ruling that the cases be dealt with separately in the state courts. “The State Cases arise solely under state law and Congress has not authorized federal courts to hear such cases,” U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman said Tuesday in a court filing. S&P, which is a division of McGraw Hill Financial Inc., wanted the lawsuits, filed by 17 U.S. state attorneys general, to be merged into one trial and heard by a New York federal district court. But the ruling from Judge Furman, who is based in New York, means that S&P will face each case individually, likely leading to higher legal fees with a state-by-state legal battle.

Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
A federal insider-trading investigation could complicate a potentially large deal being negotiated by activist investor Carl Icahn, according to a person familiar with the matter. Federal investigators are examining whether over the past three years Mr. Icahn tipped Las Vegas bettor William “Billy” Walters about potentially market-moving investments by Mr. Icahn’s company and whether Mr. Walters passed stock tips on to golfer Phil Mickelson. All three men have denied wrongdoing. Mr. Icahn said he always adheres to legal requirements and said reports about the investigation are “irresponsible.” Mr. Walters said he is innocent and said it is “preposterous” to think he would engage in insider trading. Mr. Mickelson said he did nothing wrong and is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ackman’s winning streak stretches into May (NYP)
Ackman continued his hot streak in May, with his Pershing Square eking out a 2.9 percent gain in a tough month for hedge funds, according to investors. The $14 billion Pershing Square is up 22.5 percent this year, making it the top performing fund in the US, according to HSBC’s widely followed ranking.

Fed Officials Growing Wary of Market Complacency (WSJ)
The Fed’s growing worry—which could influence future interest rate decisions—is that if investors start taking undue risk it could lead to economic turbulence down the road. “Volatility in the markets is unusually low,” William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a member of chairwoman Janet Yellen’s inner circle, said after a speech last week. “I am a little bit nervous that people are taking too much comfort in this low-volatility period. As a consequence, they’ll take more risk than really what’s appropriate.”

50 Cent Responds to Aziz Ansari’s Claim He’s Never Heard of Grapefruit (Jezebel)
As you may or may not know, Aziz Ansari famously tells a story in which he sat near 50 Cent in a restaurant and the rapper didn’t know what a grapefruit was. After a long, long silence, the rapper has finally SPOKEN OUT TO CLEAR HIS NAME. During a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, the rapper finally addressed the subject: “my grandma used to get me grapefruit juice as a kid. he’s a comedian. Ima have his ass whoop if he keeps saying that lol.” That’s not saying much, unfortunately, as 50 Cent similarly joked about another one of his meme-ed moments — his miserable pitch at the New York Mets game. “I have a skeletal muscle injury on my left shoulder from excessive mastur_bation so take it easy lol,” he wrote. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.03.14

Taste for Risk Fueled Career of Sports Bettor Billy Walters, Now in Trading Probe (WSJ)
Mr. Walters once was a pool player and illegal bookie in Kentucky. “I was a bookmaker without a license,” he said in the 2007 interview. Moving to Nevada in the early 1980s, but retaining his Southern drawl, he became part of the first serious computer-betting syndicate, which used algorithms to crunch sports data. Today, he presides over a network of analysts who provide him information about games, and of associates he calls “partners” to place bets, according to Mr. Walters and people familiar with his methods. Gamblers and bookmakers closely watch his patterns. “I worked in the books for 20 years, and I never met the man once,” said Micah Roberts, a former sports-book director in Nevada. “He was like a shadow. But when he makes his bet, you respect it so much that you move the line accordingly and kind of scrap everything you’ve booked already.” His information seems so good that sports leagues are concerned people close to teams tip him off about injuries or other matters that could affect games, said Mark Lipparelli, a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Getting inside information on sporting events isn’t illegal in Nevada, Mr. Lipparelli said.

News of alleged insider trading means investigators can’t use wiretaps (NYP)
The feds are unlikely to be able to conduct wiretaps as part of the insider trading probe into the activities of golfer Phil Mickelson and investor Carl Icahn now that news of the investigation has leaked, sources told The Wall Street Journal. Probers had been considering using electronic surveillance in their investigation, the Journal reported Sunday. But that plan evaporated once news of the case started to become public, according to WSJ sources. Wiretapping Icahn could have been an uphill battle, anyway, sources said. He’s part owner of a telecommunications firm that might have been used to conduct the surveillance.

Hedge-Fund World’s One-Man Cash Machine (WSJ)
In the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, one man is building a moneymaking machine that rivals some of the hedge-fund industry’s biggest names. Calls to his office go unreturned even from those eager to fork over eight-figure sums, potential investors say. One industry veteran referred to him as “a unicorn,” as few people have ever seen him. The hedge-fund manager, David Abrams, has personally become a billionaire, and earned billions more for his wealthy investors, over the past five years running what is effectively a one-man shop, according to company and investor documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people who have worked with him. His firm, Abrams Capital Management LP, manages nearly $8 billion across three funds and is discussing raising money for a fourth fund that could help push its assets past $10 billion…The firm employs three analysts and a small back-office staff, but Mr. Abrams approves all trades personally, according to people that have worked with him. Other firms of comparable assets can have hundreds of employees. He also built his fortune with the equivalent of one hand tied behind his back: His firm uses no leverage, or borrowed money, and often sits on billions in cash. It currently holds about 40% of its $8 billion under management in cash, investor updates show.

Bank of America Says Mistake Inflated Reported Size of Dark Pool (Bloomberg)
Bank of America said it sent incorrect data to a U.S. regulator that made its private stock trading platform look bigger than it actually is.

NJ faces another credit rating slash: S&P (Reuters)
New Jersey could be downgraded again because of its growing budgetary imbalance and underfunded public pension, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services warned on Monday. S&P had already cut the state’s rating to ‘A+’ in April. Wall Street’s two other main credit rating agencies soon followed in slicing the state to a single-A rating. That put New Jersey among the three lowest-rated states, along with California and Illinois.

Prankster Vitalii Sediuk: I never hit Brad Pitt (AP)
The ex-journalist who was arrested after jostling with Brad Pitt at a film premiere last week said Monday he was merely trying to give the actor a hug and didn’t mean him any harm. Vitalii Sediuk, a former Ukrainian television reporter, told The Associated Press in an interview that was in a fan area of the event that was open to the public when he went in to give the actor a hug. Sediuk, 25, has gained a reputation for outlandish pranks on red carpets in Moscow, Los Angeles and last month, at the Cannes Film Festival when he crawled underneath America Ferrera’s dress at a film premiere. His contact with Pitt, which caused the actor to lose balance while he was signing autographs at the “Maleficent” film premiere on Wednesday, led to Sediuk’s arrest. He spent two days in jail before pleading no contest to battery and unlawful activity at a sporting or entertainment event and was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and a year’s worth of psychiatric counseling. “I’m a normal guy,” Sediuk said. “I’m not crazy.” The 6-foot-2 native of Boryspil, Ukraine said he initially wasn’t near the front of the fan area where Pitt was signing autographs last week, but saw paparazzi leave one area and headed for it. He said he stood on a metal railing and reached over to give Pitt a hug, toppling onto the carpet area as security grabbed him. Sediuk, who has hugged the crotches of Bradley Cooper and Leonardo Di Caprio and crashed the 2013 Grammy Awards said the primary purpose for his pranks is entertainment. “I’m doing this for fun,” he said. Read more »

Opening Bell: 05.30.14

Ballmer’s $2 Billion Offer Said to Win Clippers Bidding (Bloomberg)
Donald Sterling’s approval wasn’t needed as his wife completed the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, people familiar with the process said. Guidelines established in a family trust allowed for Shelly Sterling to unilaterally make the record-shattering deal, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the bidding was private…Ballmer, 58, outbid at least four other suitors. Each of the bids shattered the previous record sale price for an NBA team of $550 million paid in April for the Milwaukee Bucks.

M&A Party Attracts Uninvited Guests (WSJ)
As merger activity heats up this year, hostile or unsolicited approaches by companies undeterred by private brushoffs are also rising. Buyers have gone public with unsolicited takeover bids totaling $97.3 billion so far this year, representing about 7% of all global deals by dollar amount, according to Thomson Reuters. That’s the highest percentage since 2007.

U.S. probing 15 banks, payment processors for fraud (Reuters)
The Justice Department’s investigation, known as “Operation Choke Point,” is more than a year old and aims to crack down on fraud by going after firms that handle and move money for various suspect businesses. According to documents released on Thursday by the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee, the DOJ had criminal probes open of four payment processors, one bank and several officials as of November 2013.

Kentucky’s Big Whiskey Investment: Is the Bourbon Boom a Bubble? (Corporate Intelligence)
A bourbon shortage today reflects decisions made many years — or decades — ago, leaving companies with few good options. Last year Beam Inc. faced a furious backlash from fans of its Maker’s Mark brand when the company said it would reduce the strength of the spirit to make limited supplies stretch further. It eventually backtracked on the decision, but not before panicking customers stockpiled supplies of the bourbon, sending sales up 44% in the quarter. Today’s big distillery expansions will put a flood of new bourbon on the market years from now. Will we still be drinking bourbon by then? Julian Proctor Van Winkle, the chief of the family business that makes Pappy Van Winkle, explained why his company is taking a conservative approach to adding capacity. “They legalize marijuana, and nobody is drinking bourbon anymore,” he said in an interview with Louisville Magazine. ”I don’t want to get caught with a bunch of whiskey.”

Realty Investors Flock to Spain (NYT)
As one of the most moribund housing markets in Europe, Spain has become a magnet for global bargain hunters. Real estate prices are down as much as 50 percent from their peak during a housing bubble, and investors from Asia to the United States and Britain are flocking to Spain to try to catch the uptick. British Airways flights to Madrid are packed with London-based real estate executives. The hedge fund Baupost is buying shopping centers, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone are buying apartments in Madrid, and Paulson & Company and George Soros’s fund are anchor investors in a publicly listed Spanish real estate investment vehicle. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts just bought a stake in a Spanish amusement park complex. Big-name private equity firms and banks are teaming up with and competing against one another on huge loan portfolios with names like Project Hercules and Project Octopus. “It’s surreal,” said Dilip Khullar, a 25-year veteran of Spanish real estate investing and director of Cadena, an investment fund. “One day it’s the worst place in the world to buy real estate and the next, it’s the best.”

UC Irvine Gives Anteaters ‘Superfan’ the Boot (WSJ)
A small crowd of UC Irvine parents and alumni cheered for their Anteaters. But the applause was drowned out by the hoots and hollers of one fan who looked like a California-bred cave man. He was deeply tanned, with thick, cascading blond hair, and wore a full get-up of UC Irvine gear—including fingernails painted in the team’s signature blue and gold colors. “‘Eaters in the house!” he yelled. The rabid reaction came from Keith Franklin, known around UC Irvine as “Superfan.” He has been a zany fixture at the team’s Anteater Ballpark, often clawing the net behind home plate, since 2006. He has nicknames for the players, and knows their statistics and families as if they were his own. Beyond his loud vocal stylings, Superfan is known for a repertoire of stadium theatrics. He has a special cheer for each batter, as well as for every run scored. He also celebrates with physical gusto, high-fiving people up and down rows of seats, even headbanging over the dugout. At dire moments when a run is sorely needed, he calls on the crowd to join him in breaking wind to spark a rally. Those days may be over. Mr. Franklin has been effectively banned from the team’s home games, which means he can only cheer the Anteaters at road contests…Superfan’s antics finally backfired several months ago, after some fans complained, according to the university. Security guards started asking him to behave, as Mr. Franklin recalls it, like “an ordinary fan.” [...] Mr. Franklin’s official ejection has many of UC Irvine’s former players crying foul. They say he had a habit of showing up in unexpected places to shore up the team. He made it onto the field after two UC Irvine players, Matt Summers and Andrew Thurman, pitched no-hitters in recent seasons. He helped with chores like unspooling the stadium’s tarp over the infield. Once, he appeared on campus at 2 a.m. to welcome the Anteaters home after a road trip. Read more »