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Back in October, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb sent a letter William Ruprecht, to the CEO of Sotheby’s, in which he made the following points:

  • Sotheby’s is completely ignorant about contemporary art
  • Ruprecht is overpaid
  • Sotheby’s is a joke compared to Christie’s
  • In spite of all this, Sotheby’s future can be salvaged, but it’ll take firing Ruprecht and adding Loeb and a few directors of Loeb’s choice to the board

Shockingly, Sotheby’s did not appreciate the constructive criticism, and adopted a poison pill to ward off Loeb and Co. Last week, Loeb reiterated his position in an open letter to Sotheby’s shareholders, in which he underscored that, in his professional opinion, the auction house knows nothing about selling art. (He also reminded them to vote Loeb ’14 at the company’s annual meeting in May.)

Team Sotheby’s, apparently sick of Loeb’s shit, did what any corporate entity does when it’s decided its done play Mr. Nice Guy: assembled its top men and women in a conference room and declared that no one could leave until they’d come up with a 53-slide PowerPoint rebuttal.

Said rebuttal can be viewed in its entirety here, but it mostly boils down to: Read more »

Kai Lew was allegedly a little too open with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Read more »

  • 09 Apr 2014 at 12:57 PM

Mandy Drury Starts Her Morning Off Right


With a piping hot cup of coffee out of her Handbridge Capital mug and some Vegemite spread. [BI]

…and that $13.9 million in civil penalties, on top of the two years in prison he’s supposed to serve after being convicted of insider trading, plus the scratch he owes Goldman for sharing its material non-public information with a hedge fund friend, is taking things too far. Read more »

…on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Laura Swain is scheduled to punctuate the firm’s remarkable downfall when she rules on its plea to criminal insider-trading charges. If Judge Swain accepts the plea, as expected, the firm will pay an additional $1.2 billion in penalties, including the largest criminal fine ever in an insider-trading case. Since the guilty plea last November, portfolio managers who oversaw more than 10% of SAC’s capital have either left or announced plans to leave, according to people familiar with the firm’s operations. “How could I tell my kids I stayed at a firm that admitted to insider trading?” said one former employee. [WSJ]

Opening Bell: 04.09.14

Goldman Mulls Closing Dark Pool (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs s considering shutting down one of the world’s largest private stock-trading venues, according to people familiar with the matter. In conversations with market participants over the past several months, Goldman executives have broached the subject of closing its so-called dark-pool trading operation, known as Sigma X, the people said. Goldman executives are weighing whether the revenue that the firm generates from operating Sigma X is worth the risks that have been highlighted by a series of trading glitches and growing criticism of dark pools, the people said. No decision is imminent, and Goldman could keep the business, according to the people.

Sotheby’s comes out with defense in battle with Loeb (Reuters)
Sotheby’s (BID.N) on Tuesday published a 53-page slide deck in its defense against hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who has been trying to force his way onto the board of the auction house. Sotheby’s said Loeb, whose Third Point LLC is the biggest investor in the company with a 9.6 percent stake, and his nominees would add “no incremental, relevant skills, experience or expertise” to the company’s board, according to a regulatory filing. The auction house’s aggressive response comes after Loeb last week urged investors to support his board slate, arguing he and his fellow nominees would be better able to reinvigorate the company from within after years of poor governance.

Investors Brace for Weak Earnings Reports (WSJ)
Profits of S&P 500 companies are forecast to decline in the first quarter from a year ago, according to Wall Street estimates collected by data provider FactSet. If borne out, that would be only the second year-over-year decrease since the financial crisis.

FTC gives Facebook go-ahead on WhatsApp deal: source (NYP)
Facebook has gotten regulatory approval for its controversial acquisition of WhatsApp, a source close to the situation said. The Federal Trade Commission was close to hitting its deadline to approve the $19 billion deal or extend the merger review, sources close to the process said. Facebook announced Feb. 19 it was buying the mobile messaging service.

How Flappy Bird Is Ruffling Feathers in the Gaming Industry (Bloomberg)
“The mobile audience is humongous, and there are so many developers out there that now you begin to see a lot of experimentation,” said David Helgason, chief executive officer of Unity Technologies, which licenses tools for game developers. “Some games like Flappy Bird can be over in 10 seconds, while other games you see are much deeper. It’s that kind of risk-taking that makes it an exciting space to be in.”

Untaxed U.S. corporate profits held overseas top $2.1 trillion: study (Reuters)
Foreign profits held overseas by U.S. corporations to avoid taxes at home nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013 to top $2.1 trillion, said a private research firm’s report, prompting a call for reform by the Senate’s top tax law writer. “The new numbers … certainly highlight what is one of the key challenges for tax reform. I do think there need to be some reforms in this area,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden told reporters on Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Under U.S. law, corporations do not have to pay income tax on most of their overseas profits until they are brought into the United States. These earnings can be held offshore for years if they are classified as indefinitely invested abroad.

Syracuse surgeon slapped sedated patients, called them insulting names, feds say (Syracuse)
A doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center often slapped anesthetized patients on the buttocks and called them derogatory names before surgery, a government investigation alleges…The slapping and other inappropriate behavior by the surgeon went on for at least a year and the hospital did nothing about it until a complaint was filed with hospital administrators in December, the report says…That report says the surgeon would slap the buttocks or hips of some sedated patients before operating. Three staff members told investigators the doctor called patients names, such as “fat ___ ,” while slapping them hard. One staffer described seeing the doctor “almost wind up” to deliver the slap to a patient. Another said the slaps seemed to be done as a gesture to say “let’s get this procedure going.” The doctor said he slapped patients to test the adequacy of the spinal anesthetic, the report says. Eleven staff members interviewed told investigators they had never seen another doctor do this. Read more »

Write-Offs: 04.08.14

$$$ Big Banks to Get Order To Raise Capital Level [WSJ]

$$$ Greece Plans to Issue Long-Term Bond on Wednesday [WSJ]

$$$ Stanford Eclipses Harvard as Applicants Eye Innovation Focus [Bloomberg]

$$$ Banker Dumps Wall Street to Boost Taxes on New York Rich [Bloomberg]

$$$ E-cigarette explodes in English pub, nearly engulfs barmaid in flames [NYDN] Read more »

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If anyone felt the remarks went too far, well, James Kidney is sorry you feel that way. Read more »