Bank of America seeks to void verdict in $1.27 billion ‘Hustle’ case (Reuters)
Bank of America Corp on Thursday asked a federal judge to throw out a jury verdict finding it liable for fraud over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit that resulted in a $1.27 billion penalty. The bank urged U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan to rule for it as a matter of law or order a new trial, arguing that the evidence at trial did not support the jury’s October 2013 verdict. Bank of America said prosecutors were required at trial to prove that loans originated by Countrywide Financial Corp in a process called “Hustle” that were then sold to government mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not as good as the lender represented. “The trial evidence, even viewed in the light most favorable to the government, did not prove fraud under this standard,” the bank’s lawyers wrote.
Russian Recession Risk Seen at Record High Amid Sanctions (Bloomberg)
The chance of Russia’s economy tipping into a recession is rising as the escalating crisis in Ukraine raises the risk of the government in Moscow retaliating with further import bans, according to a survey of analysts. The probability of a recession in the next 12 months rose to 65 percent from 50 percent, the highest since the first such Bloomberg survey in June 2012, according to the median estimate of 26 economists in the poll. Russia will enact additional restrictions in retribution for sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union, according to 15 of 25 economists. Of those, 12 expect Russia to target cars and consumer goods.
Project Funway: Code Names Help Spice Up the Art of the Deal (WSJ)
“Project Swift” sounds like the name of a military invasion or an Olympic marathoner’s training plan. But it is actually the code name for a corporate buyout, inspired by a private-equity associate’s fondness for singer Taylor Swift. Labels like Project Token, the name Apollo Global Management LLC used to mask its purchase of children’s restaurant favorite Chuck E. Cheese, or Project Fusion, the code for Kinder Morgan Inc.’s consolidation of its oil-and-gas holdings into a single company, are designed to keep reporters, traders and even rival companies from sniffing out deal news before formal announcements are made. For the young bankers who get to choose them, code names are an amusing diversion from the financial modeling and PowerPoint presentations that fill their days. But one deal-making powerhouse is putting an end to the name game, opting instead to automate the process to avoid the pitfalls that go with the territory. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now requires bankers to use name-generating software that offers 10 random options like Project Calculator or Project Daniel. The new system has been phased in across the bank over the past two years, according to people familiar with it.
Angry Birds Chief To Step Down (WSJ)
Finland’s Rovio Entertainment Ltd., maker of the Angry Birds mobile game, said on Friday that Chief Executive Mikael Hed will step down in January—a move that comes amid the company’s recent struggles to refresh its games lineup and revenue model. Mr. Hed will be replaced by former Nokia Corp. executive Pekka Rantala, who joined Rovio’s executive team earlier this year. Rovio and its iconic Angry Birds games franchise has struggled in recent years amid stiff competition from a new breed of mobile games developers, such as Supercell Oy and Anglo-Swedish King Digital Entertainment PLC, the maker of the “Candy Crush Saga.” Mr. Hed, 38, has tried to overhaul the Finnish company’s games revenue model, making downloads free and charging users for purchases made in the games, but recent games haven’t made much of an impact.
Falcone’s tactics in buying steel company draw fire (NYP)
Phil Falcone couldn’t play by the rules on Wall Street — so now he’s playing where there aren’t any rules. That’s the charge from critics as the hedge fund tycoon moves to take over a little known but profitable steel fabricator whose shares are traded in the loosely regulated over-the-counter market. Falcone, who last year agreed to an $18 million settlement with federal regulators for misconduct that got him barred from the securities industry for five years, is using ruthless tactics to acquire the company, Phoenix-based Schuff International, on the cheap, according to rankled investors. Last week, Falcone’s new investment vehicle, HC2, created this spring from a shell company that’s also off the exchanges, floated a tender for Schuff shares to consolidate its ownership in the firm. That’s less than three months after a surprise May 30 announcement that HC2 had acquired a 65 percent stake.
Residents Of Noiva Do Cordeiro, Almost All-Woman Town, Seek Bachelors (HP)
Life is pretty sweet for the women of Noiva Do Cordeiro. According to the Telegraph, they have constructed a society in the southeast part of Brazil that is communal, egalitarian and almost all-female. But some of the women in the town say it would be nice to have a few more dudes in the mix. “I haven’t kissed a man for a long time,” Nelma Fernandes, 23, told the Telegraph. “We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don’t want to have to leave the town to find a husband. We’d like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours. But first they need to agree to do what we say and live according to our rules.” Read more »