Opening Bell

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: 06.06.14

Lawsky Said to Seek BNP Executive Dismissals in Probe (Bloomberg)
New York’s top banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky is pressing BNP Paribas (BNP) SA to dismiss one of the bank’s top executives as part of settlement negotiations with the U.S. over alleged sanctions violations, according to a person familiar with the matter. Lawsky wants the bank to remove Chief Operating Officer Georges Chodron de Courcel, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Lawsky is also seeking the departure of another senior executive and about 12 other bank employees, the person added. Chodron de Courcel and the others haven’t been accused of wrongdoing.

BofA in Talks to Pay At Least $12 Billion to Settle Probes (WSJ)
At least $5 billion of that amount is expected to go toward consumer relief—consisting of help for homeowners in reducing principal amounts, reducing monthly payments and paying for blight removal in struggling neighborhoods, these people said. The North Carolina bank’s total tab to end government probes and lawsuits related to its precrisis conduct is increasingly likely to surpass the record $13 billion that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. paid last year to settle similar allegations, these people said. Bank of America has already struck a $6 billion settlement, by the Justice Department’s measure, with the Federal Housing Finance Agency. If finalized, a settlement on that scale would mark another major penalty for a large financial institution, as the Justice Department presses a number of cases against global banks.

S&P, RBS Lose Appeal on Ruling They Misled Australian Towns (Bloomberg)
Standard & Poor’s and a Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc unit are liable for investment losses on securities bought by Australian towns, an appeal court judge ruled today, upholding a 2012 verdict they misled investors. S&P’s rating of the securities was “unreasonable, unjustified and misleading,” Justice Peter Jacobson, who dismissed the appeal at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, wrote in a 473-page judgment.

Pimco hit ‘rough patch,’ moving ahead: Bill Gross (CNBC)
The Pimco Total Return Fund posted $4.3 billion in net outflows in May, its 13th straight month of investor withdrawals, according to Morningstar data. The fund has seen $59.6 billion in outflows since May of last year. “Pimco had a rough patch, I guess, towards end of 2013, now it’s not a rough patch,” Gross said in an interview with CNBC’s “Street Signs.” “We’re moving ahead. I couldn’t be more confident by the end of this year that Pimco will be close to the top of the pack in terms of the bond market. And those that are taking money out, well, hopefully they will be putting it back in real soon.”

Fake Cop Pulls Over Real Cop, Real Cops Say (AP)
Police say a man impersonating an officer face charges after signaling a real detective to pull over on a road in Florida. St. Johns County authorities say 20-year-old Matthew Michael Lee McMahon activated a red and blue light Monday while driving behind an unmarked sheriff’s car. Detective Chance Anderson pulled over and was shocked to see an unknown face behind the wheel of the other car. First Coast News reports that during his more than 10 years of service the detective has arrested several police impersonators. But none had ever ordered him to stop his car. 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 »

Opening Bell: 05.29.14

Ackman Plans Public Hedge Fund (Dealbook)
While hedge funds typically raise funds privately, the founder of the $13 billion Pershing Square Capital Management is planning to tap the public stock market. Mr. Ackman is aiming to raise billions of dollars for a closed-end fund that could list on the London Stock Exchange as soon as this summer, according to three people briefed on the matter but not authorized to discuss it. Mr. Ackman, 48, was in London in late April to drum up support among European investors for the fund, according to two of the three people who were briefed.

Snapchat CEO ‘Mortified’ by Leaked Stanford Frat E-Mails (Bloomberg)
Snapchat Inc. Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel apologized for e-mails he sent during his fraternity days that celebrated getting drunk and convincing sorority women to perform sexual acts. The profanity-laced e-mails were published Wednesday by Gawker Media LLC’s Valleywag blog and mostly related to Spiegel organizing Stanford University fraternity parties for Kappa Sigma in 2009 and 2010. In one missive, Spiegel recounts being so drunk he peed on a woman in bed with him. “I’m obviously mortified and embarrassed that my idiotic e-mails during my fraternity days were made public,” Spiegel said in an e-mailed statement. “I have no excuse. I’m sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them. They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.”

Goldman blames economy for trading slide (FT)
Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs, blamed the world economy rather than regulation for sharp declines in trading volumes at his bank and across Wall Street, but said “we’re not just waiting for things to get better”. In remarks to a Sanford Bernstein conference on Wednesday, Mr Cohn said regulation and fiscal and monetary policy played a role in the slide in overall fixed income volumes this year. He added: “We firmly believe that economic fundamentals more than any other factors are responsible for the current operating environment.” But Mr Cohn also sought to combat the perception that Goldman executives were sitting around waiting for an upturn. Headcount in fixed income trading, the misfiring engine of investment bank profits, has been reduced by 10 per cent since 2010, he said, while risk-weighted assets in fixed income, currencies and commodities had dropped by $90bn since June 2012.

Rio Jilts World Cup as $11 Billion Bill Sours Brazil (Bloomberg)
Almost every one of the 12 stadiums being built or remodeled for the event has cost more than anticipated and several promised urban mobility projects have either been scrapped or delayed. During the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event held last year, more than a million people took to the streets in the biggest protests in a generation. They demanded schools and hospitals reach the same standards as stadiums being created to meet soccer governing body FIFA’s criteria. “Tourists: Don’t get sick. We have stadiums but we don’t have hospitals,” reads graffiti across the street from the Pedro Ernesto hospital just 800 meters (2,600 feet) from from the Maracana stadium.

Ziffs Shut Down Hedge Fund, Shift Way Wealth Is Managed (WSJ)
The billionaire Ziff brothers are shutting down the last multibillion-dollar hedge fund that invests their family fortune, one of the biggest such pots of money in the U.S. The three brothers, heirs to the wealth created by their grandfather’s magazine-publishing empire, are shutting the second of their two hedge funds and stepping away from the one-for-all, all-for-one investing style they followed for more than two decades, according to people familiar with their plans. Dirk, Robert and Daniel Ziff, ages 50, 47 and 42 years old, respectively, are closing their London-based hedge fund after its veteran portfolio manager, David Fear, decided to strike out on his own, the people said.

Apollo Uses Wedge Maneuver to Save Caesars (WSJ)
In its efforts to salvage the $1.7 billion-plus it has invested in Caesars Entertainment Corp., Apollo Global Management is employing a tactic often used by the Roman emperor of the same name: divide and conquer. Turf wars between owners and creditors often flare up over financially troubled firms, but in this case Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan and his team are aligning with some funds that have bought into Caesars’s roughly $23 billion of debt and is clashing with others. Some creditors snapped up Caesars debt at discount prices and hope to take away control of the casino company from Apollo if Caesars files for bankruptcy protection.

Molly Schuyler downs two 72oz steak meals in under 15 minutes (TDC)
A mother of four and competitive eater consumed a 72oz steak and all the sides — twice in under 15 minutes. According to The Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant in Amarillo, Texas, Molly Schuyler, of Bellevue, Nebraska, ate the first meal in under five minutes and the second in just under 10. Schuyler, who was listed as being 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 125 pounds at an eating contest in January, said she rushed to consume the first medium-rare steak and its sides, which including a baked potato, shrimp, a salad and a bread roll, but slowed down on the second meal, the Amarillo Globe News reported. “We witnessed history,” Big Texan co-owner Danny Lee told reporters. “If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I want to stay away from this girl.” The previous record was held by competitive eater Joey Chestnut. Schuyler told the newspaper that she plans to return to the Big Texan with the goal of eating three of the steak dinners in one sitting. Read more »