Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 07.08.14

At Goldman, Board Samples New Guard (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has stepped up its efforts to groom a new generation of leaders, as it broadens the list of executives who could eventually run the Wall Street firm. As part of those plans, Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, has been arranging private dinner meetings between younger managers and the firm’s directors, according to people familiar with the matter. The gatherings, which began last year, are designed to showcase the executives’ expertise on a variety of topics that fall outside formal reviews of their businesses and share the firm’s views on important issues, the people said…The push comes as Mr. Blankfein, who took over in 2006 when Henry Paulson became Treasury secretary, has shown no interest in stepping down soon. “A job like this is hard to come by,” Mr. Blankfein, 59 years old, said in November at an industry conference. “I’ll be slow to get out of it.” Were Mr. Blankfein to retire suddenly, Gary Cohn, the firm’s 53-year-old president, remains the board’s choice for the top job, people familiar with the matter said. But the open-ended nature of Mr. Blankfein’s commitment increases the chance that Mr. Cohn’s window to run the firm will close before a successor is needed, current and former Goldman executives said…The board dinners thus far have featured leaders of the firm’s major divisions, including Pablo Salame, co-head of Goldman’s securities arm, as well as others such as Paul Russo, co-COO of equities, and Anthony Noto, a technology banker who left the firm in June and was recently named finance chief at Twitter Inc., a former client, the people said.

Returns From Activist Hedge Funds Are Causing a Stir (WSJ)
Activists are once again at the top of the hedge-fund heap, after a profitable stretch of clashes with companies around the world. Activist managers gained 6.5% in the first half of the year, almost double the total for the average hedge fund, according to data to be released this week by research firm eVestment. Activist investing, in which managers buy stakes in companies and then agitate for changes in the form of buybacks, divestitures or management shakeups, was also the top-performing strategy among hedge funds in 2013. The fund managers could earn millions for themselves—and billions for their investors—if the gains stick through the end of the year.

Soros Hedge Fund Sued by Ex-Manager Seeking Back Fees (Bloomberg)
George Soros’s hedge fund was sued by a former portfolio manager who claims the firm wrongfully withheld at least $19.5 million in unpaid fees after firing him without explanation eight months into the job. Aaron Cowen, who joined Soros Fund Management LLC in 2010 after serving as portfolio manager and chief investment officer at SAC Capital Advisors LP, had a “stellar” track record at Soros’s firm before being terminated in November 2011, according to a complaint in Manhattan state Supreme Court. “Shockingly, Cowen’s employment was terminated despite his positive returns, when other Soros portfolio managers were failing,” according to the complaint filed July 3 and made public today. Soros, 83, invited Cowen to his home in South Hampton, New York, days after the termination and told the former employee during a 30-minute conversation that he didn’t know why he’d been fired, according to the complaint.

American Apparel, Charney Sued Over Alleged Misconduct (Bloomberg)
American Apparel Inc. (APP) and ousted Chief Executive Officer Dov Charney were sued by shareholders over claims directors ignored Charney’s misconduct that violated the company’s sexual harassment and discrimination policies. The lawsuit cites a June 18 letter by directors suspending Charney as CEO and describing how he authorized severance packages to former employees, and raises and bonuses for current employees, in exchange for agreements protecting him from personal liability for sexual misconduct. American Apparel, a Los Angeles-based maker of casual clothing, has racked up about $270 million in net losses since 2010 and had to raise capital several times. The removal of Charney, who has grappled with sexual-harassment allegations and drawn flak for suggestive advertising, has added to the turmoil.

The Letters That Warren G. Harding’s Family Didn’t Want You to See (NYT)
in 1964, after the historian Francis Russell gained access to letters from Harding to his longtime mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, the Harding family sued to halt their publication. Rumors of the affair were not new, but the letters — written between 1910 and 1920, before Harding assumed the presidency — confirmed the infidelity in startling detail. The Harding family feared that publishing them would further tarnish Harding’s legacy and hurt the entire family…In 106 letters, many written on official Senate stationery, Harding alternates between Victorian declarations of love and unabashedly carnal descriptions. (While Phillips’s notes and some drafts of her letters have been preserved, her actual replies were not.) The president often wrote in code, in case the letters were discovered, referring to his penis as Jerry…Sept. 15, 1913: “Wouldn’t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake — for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses? Wouldn’t you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in morning communion at Richmond?…Oh, Carrie mine! You can see I have yielded and written myself into wild desire. I could beg. And Jerry came and will not go, says he loves you, that you are the only, only love worthwhile in all this world, and I must tell you so and a score or more of other fond things he suggests, but I spare you.” Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.07.14

A Mad Scramble for Young Bankers (NYT)
This summer, dozens of junior bankers in their early to mid-20s will start jobs in private equity after spending their first two years out of college working at investment banks. Private-equity firms use billions of dollars of cash and plenty of debt to buy entire companies. They are seen by many young strivers as the next rung on an elite career ladder, promising higher status and more pay — around $300,000 a year, including salary and bonus, roughly double what a second-year banker might earn at Goldman. But for junior bankers, who are known as analysts, securing such a job means stepping into the middle of a Wall Street struggle that has intensified since the financial crisis. The whirlwind process of interviews, which this year started in February, far earlier than many in private equity had expected, requires analysts to sneak around and often miss work. It bears little resemblance to the orderly on-campus career fairs they attended in college. “It is not a normal search process — that, certifiably, everyone would agree with,” said Adam Zoia, the chief executive of Glocap Search, one of the recruiting companies involved.

Lion Capital Said to Want Return of American Apparel CEO (Bloomberg)
Lion Capital LLP is threatening to call in a $10 million loan to American Apparel Inc. unless the retailer reinstates ousted Chief Executive Officer Dov Charney, according to a person familiar with the situation. Barring an investigation that finds illegal or immoral activities by Charney, the hedge fund believes his return would be best for American Apparel because it would stabilize the chain in the short term, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public.

IEX Pricing Aims to Drain ‘Dark Pools’ (WSJ)
The upstart firm will allow broker-dealers, including most Wall Street banks, to trade for free when their buy and sell orders match up on the exchange, Chief Executive Brad Katsuyama said in an interview. The desire to avoid trading fees is a primary reason many banks established dark pools in the first place. All other trades at IEX would be charged the same flat fee—nine cents per 100 shares for each buyer and seller—rather than be subject to the complex system of rebates in place at existing exchanges. As part of its “broker priority” pricing system, IEX will let broker-dealers jump to the front of the trading queue. This would put other groups, including retail investors, mutual-fund firms and high-frequency traders, at a disadvantage as it means there will be a greater chance their orders would go unfilled. IEX, which currently operates as a relatively small dark pool, is looking to make a bigger splash in the markets by becoming a stock exchange registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Katsuyama said IEX intends to “imminently” submit its application. With the pricing plan, Mr. Katsuyama—a protagonist of Michael Lewis’s best-selling book “Flash Boys” and a prominent critic of the current U.S. market structure—said he is trying to give the operators of dark pools an incentive to shut those trading venues down. If that happens, he said, most investors would benefit more from the reduced fragmentation in the market than they would lose by ceding the first spot in line to broker-dealers. It isn’t clear if the SEC will approve the company’s pricing structure, or if big banks will abandon their dark pools. The SEC declined to comment.

DoJ vows financial sector crackdown (FT)
The US Department of Justice will be “appropriately aggressive” and seek to bring “timely” cases, including against financial institutions, the chief of its criminal division told the Financial Times. Leslie Caldwell, who was confirmed as chief of the DoJ’s criminal division in May, is returning after a decade spent helping defend corporations against civil and criminal investigations. She said it is no accident that financial institutions are facing inquiries across their business units. “The government has gotten more sophisticated and more willing to investigate complicated fraud. We’ve learned a lot from cases that we’ve done. We have more knowledge in how to do these cases in a more timely way,” Ms Caldwell said. “We’ve seen evidence of criminal activity at a lot of financial institutions. We don’t decide which types of things we investigate. We follow the evidence where it leads.”

France not worried about U.S. probe of other banks: minister (Reuters)
France’s finance minister said on Sunday he was not worried about French banks being investigated by U.S. authorities after a record fine was imposed on BNP Paribas for violating U.S. sanctions against several countries. On Tuesday, BNP pleaded guilty in the United States to two criminal charges and agreed to pay almost $9 billion to settle accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran. According to U.S. sources, French banks Societe Generale and Credit Agricole and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are being investigated for having potentially violated U.S. economic sanctions. Asked if he was worried about the French banks being probed, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said: “No.”

Finnish Couple Wins Wife-Carrying Race (AP)
A Finnish couple has narrowly won the 19th World Wife Carrying Championships – a quirky competition in which men race to be the fastest while carrying a female teammate. Ville Parviainen and Janette Oksman cleared the grueling 253.5 meter (278-yard) obstacle course in 63.75 seconds on Saturday, less than a second ahead of Britain’s Rich Blake Smith and Anna Marguerite Smith. Thirty-six couples from a dozen countries including Australia, Japan, and the United States took part in the race, which was held in the central Finnish municipality of Sonkajarvi, north of the capital, Helsinki. The rules stipulate that the woman must be over 17 years of age and weigh at least 49 kilograms (108 lb). Despite the event’s name couples don’t have to be married, and organizers say male contestants could “borrow a neighbor’s wife” if they didn’t have a female companion. The men can carry their teammate in various ways, though a popular method is for the woman to hang upside-down with her legs around the male contestant’s shoulders. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.03.14

Goldman says Google has blocked email with leaked client data (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs Group on Wednesday said Google Inc has blocked access to an email containing confidential client data that a contractor sent to a stranger’s Gmail account by mistake, an error that the bank said threatened a “needless and massive” breach of privacy. The breach occurred on June 23 and included “highly confidential brokerage account information,” Goldman said in a complaint filed on Friday in a New York state court in Manhattan. Goldman did not say how many clients were affected. It has been seeking a court order compelling Google to delete the email, which it said on Wednesday had yet to occur. “Google complied with our request that it block access to the email,” Goldman spokeswoman Andrea Raphael said. “It has also notified us that the email account had not been accessed from the time the email was sent to the time Google blocked access. No client information has been breached.” A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. According to Goldman, the outside contractor had been testing changes to the bank’s internal processes in connection with reporting requirements set forth by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Goldman said the contractor meant to email her report, which contained the client data, to a “gs.com” account, but instead sent it to a similarly named, unrelated “gmail.com” account.

Exclusive: SEC official dissented on BNP Paribas waiver (Reuters)
An official at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) broke ranks with other commissioners, and voted against granting BNP Paribas a critical waiver to continue operating several investment advisory units in the United States. Kara Stein, a Democratic SEC commissioner who has recently demanded more accountability for big banks who break the law, was the sole dissenting vote on Monday on the temporary waiver, according to a document made public this week. BNP’s application was granted the same day that BNP, France’s largest bank, pleaded guilty to criminal charges it violated U.S. sanctions. The temporary waiver will become permanent, unless an “interested person” in the matter is granted a hearing. The deadline for requesting a hearing is July 25.

Barclays Probe Casts Ugly Light on Dark Pools (BusinessWeek)
The ultimate promise of a dark pool, however, was that no matter who was invited inside, prices weren’t immediately reported—in theory, at least, limiting the impact a large trade can have on the market. In public exchanges, by contrast, bids and offers are displayed (often at varying speeds depending on which feeds you buy) and prices are reported immediately after a trade is executed. This information can create ripples across the market, allowing faster firms to trade ahead of a big order and make a profit. This was the problem that dark pools sought to fix. By keeping orders in the dark, effectively blinding traders to what was happening around them, there were no ripples. Or if there were, they went unnoticed. The picture Schneiderman paints is much worse. There’s still a room filled with blindfolded traders buying and selling to each other. But now there’s a speed trader or two lurking in the corner, secretly watching everything that’s going on.

JPMorgan Investors Show Support for Dimon in Cancer Fight (Bloomberg)
The bank has deep contingency and succession plans, and Dimon’s illness may serve as no more than a valuable “fire drill,” said Michael Farr, president of Farr Miller & Washington LLC, a Washington-based asset manager that oversees more than $1.1 billion, including JPMorgan shares. “The good news is that every indication is that they will never be needed and that Jamie Dimon has many years to work and that he’ll retire on his own schedule as a much older man,” Farr said. “It feels unfair to watch someone who has really been through so much have to suffer through this.”

Owners send dogs to ‘fat farms’ as more pets become obese (AP)
Growing rates of obesity in pets have led to the emergence of fat farms offering ‘‘pawlates,’’ ‘’doga’’ and ‘‘Barko Polo,’’ doggie versions of Pilates, yoga and Marco Polo to help slim down man’s best friend. In the U.S., 53 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, up from 45 percent four years ago. In cats, the figure is almost 58 percent, said Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and founder of the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention in Calabash, North Carolina. Overweight pets can suffer diabetes, joint problems, heart disease and decreased life expectancy, just like obese people, he said. Most luxury pet hotels and spas nationwide will customize a fitness program for a pudgy dog or cat, but only a few facilities have fat camps for large groups. For golden retriever Ceili, it was easy to fatten up when living with a boy who pushed tasty morsels over the edge of his high chair. The extra weight led Eileen Bowers of Bedminster, New Jersey, to sign up the more than 100-pound pooch for a five-day fitness camp last month at Morris Animal Inn. Besides the ‘‘pawlates,’’ the camp was filled with swimming, nature hikes, treadmill trots, facials, massages and healthy treats like organic granola, string beans and carrots. It was designed to give Ceili and 40 other dogs a head start on a healthier life, said Debora Montgomery, the New Jersey facility’s spokeswoman…the ‘‘Barko Polo’’ pool game varies from its human inspiration: A staffer will shout ‘‘barko’’ and whichever dog-paddling pooch yelps first gets a toy. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.01.14

Argentine Debt Team to Meet With Mediator (WSJ)
Argentina said Monday night that it will send a delegation to meet with a court-appointed lawyer on July 7 as it tries to resolve a dispute with a small group of creditors that could see the South American country default for a second time in 13 years. Argentina’s long-running battle with hedge funds in U.S. courts entered a critical phase after U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa on June 27 blocked the country from making $539 million in interest payments that were due on some of its bonds Monday. Argentina will likely default if it can’t get that money to bondholders before a 30-day grace period expires in July. The judge has ruled that Argentina must pay the hedge funds that are suing to collect on defaulted bonds at the same time it pays investors who own bonds the country issued after its 2001 default.

Peltz’s Trian Plants Its Flag in BNY Mellon (WSJ)
The sleepy world of back-office banking is about to get a bit of action following Trian Fund Management LP’s purchase of a large stake in Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Trian, led by Nelson Peltz, said Monday that it has bought a position valued at $1.05 billion in BNY Mellon, representing a 2.5% stake. The move is rare in the world of activist investors, who typically avoid regulated businesses such as banks.Mr. Peltz, 72 years old, and Trian haven’t had any discussions with the bank’s leaders, according to a person familiar with the matter, but plans to reach out to management to discuss ideas for creating more shareholder value.

Economy could accelerate substantially: Summers (CNBC)
There’s a prospect that the economy could accelerate “quite substantially” over the next couple of quarters, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “That would be an important and obviously positive development,” he said Monday. “[There’s] no assurance that will be the case, but I think that could be a surprise.” However, while he is concerned that rapid economic growth could lead to a market bubble, he doesn’t think the U.S. is in one yet despite the narrower credit spreads and certain asset prices that are inflated.

Not looking at pot as ‘windfall’ for economy: Colorado Gov. (CNBC)
Colorado’s increased tax revenue from the sale of marijuana isn’t necessarily a windfall, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday. Instead, he’s looking to use that money to maintain the state’s high quality of life.

I’m Sorry, I Think I’m Allergic to You (WSJ)
As with a lot of allergies, it’s the repetition that gets to us. “The first time you are seated next to a co-worker who is loudly snapping bubble gum, you don’t care,” says Michael Cunningham, a psychologist and professor of communication at the University of Louisville. “After three weeks, you are praying they’ll choke on it.” According to Dr. Cunningham, who has studied the phenomenon for more than 15 years, social allergens can be grouped into four main types, depending on whether the behavior is intentional or not, and whether directed personally at an individual or not. The first grouping is uncouth habits. They are unintentional and they aren’t directed personally. They include noisily chewing gum or talking loudly into a phone in a crowded public space. “The person isn’t really thinking of you, even though the behavior has implications for you,” Dr. Cunningham says. The second category is egocentric actions, he says. These behaviors aren’t necessarily intentional, but they are directed personally at you. There’s the friend who keeps you on the phone for 45 minutes after you said you can only talk for five, or the family member who never orders dessert at a restaurant but eats all of yours (you know who you are). This person still isn’t thinking about you, but the behavior affects you specifically. The third category, norm violations, encompasses offensive behaviors that are intentional but impersonal. Examples include smoking right outside the front door, talking in a theater during the show or texting while driving. The fourth, and most irritating, social-allergen group includes actions that are both intentional and directed personally, Dr. Cunningham says. It may be an imperious command (“Bring me some coffee, will you?”) instead of a request for a favor. Often, it is a backhanded complaint or criticism: “Are you really going to eat that?” or “You bought a car? I thought you were saving for college.”

Formerly Tubby Police Horse Turns Life Around, Chases Down First Suspect (AP)
Murphy, carrying Officer Cassandra Wells, chased down a man suspected of breaking into a building last week and kept him trapped next to a building until officers could cuff him. The Oregonian reports Murphy galloped about six blocks. Murphy was added to the mounted patrol last year, but when he arrived at the barn he weighed 1,900 pounds. The unit didn’t have a saddle big enough for him. After losing 200 pounds he went through training and is now on Portland streets. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.30.14

Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ)
Blackstone LP LP is quietly laying plans to start a hedge fund that will make big, bold bets, an effort it hopes will eventually rival some of the largest firms in the business, according to people familiar with the plans. The private-equity firm will fund several teams of traders with hundreds of millions of dollars to place a relatively small number of large, highly concentrated wagers, the people said. The strategy is notable now as many hedge funds are shying away from making such outsize bets. Combined, the teams’ investments will form a multistrategy hedge fund to be pitched to wealthy clients. New York-based Blackstone is confident the firm can hedge the overall risks, according to people familiar with the firm’s plans.

BNP Paribas board approves record $8.9B settlement (FT)
BNP Paribas has secured a partial concession on the eve of a record $8.9 billion settlement over alleged sanction violations that US authorities are expected to announce on Monday. The board of France’s biggest bank by market capitalisation met over the weekend to give final approval to the settlement, people familiar with the matter said. On top of the fine for allegedly concealing about $30 billion of transactions for clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba to dodge Washington’s economic sanctions, the bank is due to submit a guilty plea. However, the people said BNP had negotiated a concession with US authorities who plan to impose a rare suspension for as much as a year on its ability to clear US dollar transactions, which is crucial for its international wholesale banking activity.

Ex-SAC Capital COO Kumin to Start Hedge-Fund Firm (WSJ)
A former senior executive of SAC Capital Advisors LP is planning to start a new stock-trading hedge-fund firm, potentially with a big chunk of funding from Leucadia National Corp., according to people familiar with deal discussions. Solomon “Sol” Kumin, who was SAC’s chief operating officer, is in advanced talks over a deal with Leucadia that would make the company Mr. Kumin’s biggest investor and owner of a substantial portion of his firm, the people said. In total, Mr. Kumin plans to start with between $800 million and $1 billion, which would make it one of the largest hedge funds to launch this year. “I’ve enjoyed the past five months spending time with my family,” Mr. Kumin said when reached by telephone Friday. “I’m looking forward to getting back into the hedge-fund business in September.”

Ergen Sidelined in Battle With Falcone Over LightSquared (Dealbook)
The bitter battle between the billionaires Charles W. Ergen and Philip A. Falcone over LightSquared, the bankrupt wireless broadband company, appears to be nearing an end. The twist is that Mr. Ergen is no longer involved. LightSquared has devised a plan to emerge from bankruptcy with the participation of all of its creditors except Mr. Ergen, the satellite television mogul and chairman of Dish Network and EchoStar, according to a court-appointed mediator, Judge Robert D. Drain. Mr. Ergen, who left one of the three mediation sessions with creditors without Judge Drain’s permission, had not “participated in the mediation in good faith” and “wasted the parties and the mediator’s time and resources,” the judge wrote in a memorandum filed on Friday afternoon.

Beer Makers Pray for a Fruitful Summer (WSJ)
Roughly a third of beer sales in the U.S. take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day, often making or breaking the year. The most critical week is that of July Fourth, when sales traditionally are 30% to 40% higher than the average week, according to industry estimates. High temperatures are a bigger deal for brewers than distillers, which have been converting beer drinkers to cocktails for more than a decade, and are partly responsible for the decline in American beer consumption in four of the past five years.

Drugs not a factor in Shia LaBeouf’s ‘Cabaret’ meltdown (NYP)
Shia LaBeouf’s highly publicized meltdown last Thursday was not influenced by drugs. While drugs didn’t play a part in the awkward showdown, alcohol certainly did, according to E! News. “Drinking and Shia do not mix well,” said a source about the 28-year-old. “But he definitely wasn’t on any kind of drugs.” Before heading to a performance of “Cabaret,” LaBeouf was spotted drinking at least four strawberry margaritas at New York’s Iguana Club. Shortly after, LaBeouf began taunting a homeless man in Times Square for his McDonald’s food. He soon headed to “Cabaret” where he was escorted out in handcuffs after being arrested for disorderly conduct. He allegedly told a cop, “I’ll f—k you up,” and called another officer a “f-g.” According to sources, the famous child actor was muzzled with a face mask for spitting. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.26.14

Dark Pool Greed Drove Barclays to Lie to Clients, N.Y. Says (Bloomberg)
Barclays was so bent on lifting its private trading venue to the upper ranks of Wall Street dark pools that it lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders, according to New York’s attorney general. Barclays falsified marketing materials to hide how much high-frequency traders were buying and selling, according to a complaint filed today by Eric Schneiderman. Barclays runs one of Wall Street’s largest dark pools, a private trading venue where investors can trade stocks mostly anonymously.

Barclays pulls bond offering after lawsuit emerges (Reuters)
Barclays pulled a US$1.5bn bond offering on Wednesday after it emerged that the New York attorney general was preparing to sue the UK bank for securities fraud. It had already amassed more than US$4.5bn in orders for the 10-year subordinated deal, market sources said, when reports of the lawsuit hit trading screens. “Investors just baulked,” one portfolio manager who had been looking at the deal told IFR. “If something dire does come out the suit, then that could mean that the deal has to be nullified anyway – so it was just better to pull it.”

Greek Bonds Beat Lottery as Funds Surge on Smashed Glass (Bloomberg)
The economy will expand this year after the worst downturn in peacetime, the highest unemployment in the region has peaked and investors are buyers of Greek bonds again. The yield on benchmark 10-year government debt is 5.79 percent, down from the high of 44.2 percent in March 2012 — a return better than most winning lottery tickets.

Soccer Break: Why It Pays to Watch the World Cup at Work (CNBC)
Americans aren’t really known for their devotion to soccer, but come Thursday, there are going to be a lot of worker bees stuck in a quandary when the United States faces off against Germany at noon, Eastern Time. Perhaps surprisingly, HR is on your side here. “It’s an inspiring and motivating thing that’s going on, and we need to take advantage of that,” said Monique Honaman, founding partner of HR consulting company ISHR Group.

Puerto Rico Moves to Restructure Debt (WSJ)
Puerto Rico paved the way to overhaul the finances of its power and transportation agencies, potentially saddling investors with losses on about $13.6 billion of debt. Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla proposed legislation Wednesday that would allow some debt-laden public entities to restructure their bonds. The proposed bill doesn’t include a way for the island’s general-obligation bonds and sales-tax debt to be restructured. The step, if approved, would be the first significant move since the Puerto Rico government hired advisers this year to help it find a way to turn around its utilities, which are heavily indebted and face mounting deficits. The island, which has about $70 billion in obligations, has labored under rising unemployment and declining tax revenue.

Man Sues British Airways After He’s Sent To Grenada Instead Of Granada (AP)
A Maryland dentist who said he hadn’t had a vacation in two years, is suing British Airways after a booking mistake landed him in Grenada in the Caribbean instead of Granada, Spain, according to NBC News. Edward Gamson said he told the British Airways booker he wanted to go to Spain and didn’t notice the error on his ticket because it didn’t have an airport code or the flight duration printed on it. He only learned that he was headed to the tiny island nation after his connecting flight in London was in the air and the flight map showed his plane flying west. Gamson said he wasted 375,000 frequent flyer miles for the trip and was only offered $376 for him and his partner and 50,000 miles for their trouble. He is now suing the airline for $34,000 to cover the cost of “pre-booked hotels, trains and other tours” he and his partner had planned, according to NBC. Read more »

Opening Bell: 06.25.14

Fight Breaks Out on Floor of New York Merc in Throwback to Bygone Era (The Street)
People who work on the floor of the Merc in lower Manhattan told TheStreet that two traders in the so-called ‘open outcry pits,’ where investors sell futures and options of precious metals, crude oil and natural gas, engaged in what might be euphemistically called a physical confrontation but which a half-dozen people interviewed described as including shoving or throwing punches. The altercation became quite heated, according to four traders, one of whom said someone’s shirt was ripped during the fracas. Two other traders called it a “fist fight.” The two men were subsequently escorted from the building by security, said two security guards. A source said that one trader walked-up to another trader to tell him to get out of “his spot” in the pits. When the “spot” was not vacated, the first trader shoved the other man, another trader said. “We’re not in the schoolyard and you can’t push anybody, and that’s it,” he said. “Once you put your hands on somebody then that’s like the real no-no, so that’s what happened.”

Potential BNP Penalty Worries European Banks (WSJ)
The prospect of a gigantic U.S. penalty against BNP Paribas is sowing fear in the executive suites of other top European banks that also are under investigation for allegedly doing business in countries subject to U.S. sanctions. Officials at Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Italy’s UniCredit SpA and France’s Crédit Agricole are all now bracing for bigger penalties than they had previously expected to resolve investigations into alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, industry officials say.

SEC Is Gearing Up to Focus on Ratings Firms (WSJ)
Thomas J. Butler, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Credit Ratings, said he has referred multiple cases to the agency’s enforcement division and is helping complete several industry regulations to address quality and transparency in how big debt deals are rated. Those moves signal a potential flurry of regulatory activity involving ratings firms, which have been largely untouched as government oversight has increased in most other financial sectors in recent years.

Ghana Sends Plane With $3 Million to Calm World Cup Team (Bloomberg)
Ghana has sent a plane carrying more than $3 million in cash to Brazil to pay the World Cup appearance fees owed to the national soccer team, known as the Black Stars. “The players insisted that they will want physical cash,” Deputy Sports Minister Joseph Yammin said in comments broadcast by Accra-based Citi FM. “Government had to mobilize the money and a chartered flight to Brazil. The money is in excess of $3 million.” Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for payment were made after, the Ghana Football Association said in a statement on its website. The players will be paid today and government will be reimbursed by money awarded to Ghana by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, the association said.

GoPro Brings Rare Gadget Deal to Hot IPO Market (WSJ)
As the bull market in initial public offerings rolls on, video-camera maker GoPro Inc. is cuing up the largest stock debut by a consumer-electronics company in 23 years. San Mateo, Calif.-based GoPro, along with early investors, plans to sell as much as $427 million of stock in the IPO late Wednesday. That would mark the largest consumer-electronics IPO since battery company Duracell International Inc.’s 1991 debut raised $433 million, according to data provider Dealogic. Gillette Co., now a unit of Procter & Gamble Co., bought Duracell in 1997. GoPro is the latest consumer business to cash in on investor demand for U.S. stocks, which has given the likes of microblogging service Twitter Inc., perfume maker Coty Inc. and theme-park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. a window to float shares in the past year and a half.

Drunk Driver Falls Out of Own Vehicle, Runs Over Self (KX News)
30-year-old Robert Alan Pullar is charged with DUI, driving with a suspended licence, and refusal to submit to a chemical test. The incident happened early Saturday morning. Police say Pullar was driving on Hiawatha Street near 15 1/2 Ave SE when he fell out onto the street. Police say his vehicle continued forward, striking him. He was able to get back in the vehicle and drive away, but officers tracked him down later and made the arrest. Read more »