Ackman Says Investigation Finds Herbalife Violates Chinese Laws (Bloomberg)
Billionaire Bill Ackman, renewing his attack on the nutrition and weight-loss company Herbalife Ltd., said its investigation into the business’s Chinese operations found that they violate direct-selling laws. Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management LP, hired OTG Research to evaluate Herbalife within China, he said yesterday during a more than two-hour webcast. Pershing said Herbalife pays people illegally based on the number of recruits they amass. The company’s “hourly consulting pay” is key to showing that it violated laws, Pershing said, citing the OTG probe. “They defraud millions of people,” Ackman said during the presentation. “Their portrayal of their China business in their SEC filings is materially false and misleading.”
Plan for Mortgage Giants Takes Shape (WSJ)
The plan, by Senate Banking Committee leaders Tim Johnson (D., S.D) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), calls for replacing Fannie and Freddie with a new system of federally insured mortgage securities in which private insurers would be required to take initial losses before any government guarantee would be triggered. The agreement, which faces a long road to approval, represents the most concrete step so far to resolve the last major piece of unfinished business from the 2008 financial collapse.
Puerto Rico Buys Some Time With Bond Sale (WSJ)
Completing Puerto Rico’s largest-ever bond sale affords the government some breathing room after the prices of its outstanding bonds tumbled last year, sending yields sharply higher amid investor fears that the island faced a cash squeeze. Puerto Rico officials have said they intend to honor all the island’s obligations. The commonwealth has been fighting to break a string of budget deficits by cutting spending, boosting taxes and making changes to pension programs. “We’re looking to get a year to a year-and-a-half of liquidity” from Tuesday’s bond sale, said David Chafey, chairman of the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, or GDB, the island’s financing arm.
Singapore Broker Exodus Seen Quickening (Bloomberg)
The number of stockbrokers in Singapore fell 8.4 percent percent to 3,973 at the end of last year from 4,336 in 2011, according to data from the bourse, as the industry was buffeted by declining trading volumes and commissions as well as competition from online trading platforms. The city’s benchmark Straits Times Index trailed all its major developed-market peers in the past 12 months and slid 1.8 percent this year.
Pope’s Popularity a Blessing for Media (WSJ)
As Pope Francis approaches the first anniversary of his election this week , his popularity is generating a boom for a media niche that rarely gathers much notice. “We are just working night and day to satisfy demand,” said Monsignor Dario Vigano, head of the Vatican’s broadcaster, Vatican Television Center, or CTV, which shadows the pope and supplies papal newscasts and images for both Catholic and lay broadcasters. Revenue at CTV leaped 40% in 2013, as broadcasters as far afield as Tanzania now want the recordings of the pope’s weekly audiences. The windfall has allowed CVT to splash out on more modern cameras and a new €1.8 million ($2.45 million) control room. Last week—on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent — Mondadori SpA, the publishing house controlled by the family of media magnate-turned-politician Silvio Berlusconi, launched a new weekly dedicated to the pope. The magazine, Il Mio Papa, which will initially cost 50 euro cents a copy, will include a pullout centerfold with Francis quotes and will print three million copies for its first month of publication.
Justin Bieber believes deposition video was a ‘set up’ (NYP)
Justin Bieber believes he was set up in his videotaped deposition by lawyers who baited him with insulting questions and planned all along to leak the tape to humiliate him. The pop superstar was shown acting insolent and angry during the taped deposition in the California lawsuit over his bodyguard allegedly beating up photographer Jeffrey Binion. Just two days after the deposition, the tape was leaked to TMZ, and Bieber’s outraged team is demanding to know if a payment was made in exchange for the tape. A source exclusively tells Page Six: “The video was leaked so quickly that Justin’s legal team believes it was all a setup. The questions Justin was being asked, including questions about Usher, had nothing to do with the case…Bieber was seen behaving like a brat as he was being grilled in the bodyguard-beatdown case. He appeared to be disrespectful of Usher, the man who made him a superstar. When quizzed if he even knew Usher, Bieber was nonchalant: “Yeah, Usher. That [name] sounds familiar.” Then, asked directly if Usher discovered him and was “instrumental” to his career, Bieber took all the credit, with one slip-up: “I was found on YouTube. I think I was detrimental to my own career.” At another point, Bieber almost lost it when asked about off-again, on-again flame Selena Gomez. With a stone-cold, angry glare, he said, “Don’t ask me about her again.” Read more »