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  • 02 Apr 2014 at 9:00 AM

George Soros Could Do This All Day

In 2006, George Soros was a new-ishly divorced bachelor about town. As a 75 year-old billionaire with a libido that would not quit, Soros wasn’t looking for anything too serious. So when he met a young woman named Adrianna Ferreyr in the Hamptons, he intended to keep things light, and for the next five years, he did, engaging in what he and his lawyers would later describe as “on-again, off again and non-exclusive.” Oh sure, he promised to buy Ferreyr an apartment on East 85th street, but when your net worth has 10 zeros attached to it, giving a woman a 2-bedroom condo carries no more weight than tossing her a twenty for cab fare after informing her she can’t spend the night. Which probably explains why Soros, after “heartlessly dumping” and then “briefly reconciling for a romantic night,” didn’t think it was a big deal to lean over and whisper that he’d given the place away to another woman (who would later become his third wife). Soros was subsequently treated to a piece of Ferryr’s mind and after that, allegedly “slapped Ferreyr across the face and proceeded to put his hands around her neck in an attempt to choke her…then…attempted to strike her with a glass lamp, and though he narrowly missed, it smashed on the floor and she cut her foot, which required three stitches,” according to a lawsuit filed by Ferryr in August 2011, which sought $50 million in damages.

In the two and half years that have followed Soros has:

  • Strongly denied the accusations and refused to give Ferryr a dime
  • Offered to settle for a trifling $250,000
  • Prosed to the woman– Tamiko Bolton– he let have Ferryr’s apartment
  • Claimed that he was the one who was assaulted and that after hearing Bolton was getting her apartment, an “enraged” Ferreyr “picked up a nearby lamp that was made partly of glass and…attempted to strike Soros with it” (according to this version of the story, the lamp allegedly made contact with his arm before shattering on the floor)
  • Gone ahead and married Bolton
  • Watched Ferryr, during a deposition in February, yell “expletives” at one of his lawyers, tell another lawyer he was “going down” and “should go to prison and get beat up,” kick one of his aids in the shins, and, finally, hit him in the face with such intensity that she knocked off his hearing aid

At this point in the story, Soros is 83 years old. He has a new bride. His Quantum Endowment made $5.5 billion last year. Has he had enough? Does he want to spend however many years he’s got left in peace? Does he decide to just give Ferryr what she wants, a figure that is roughly the amount of cash he carries around in his wallet? Or does he choose to send a message– to any women from his past thinking of coming out of the wordwork to demand an apartment1 or, should things not work out with Tamiko, the women of his future who would do the same– that George Soros rolls over for no one? Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.02.14

JPMorgan Assailed by Russia as Bank Blocks Payment (Bloomberg)
The biggest U.S. bank thwarted a remittance from the Russian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, to Sogaz Insurance Group “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States,” the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website. Sogaz lists OAO Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based lender facing U.S. sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, as a strategic partner on its website. Interfering with the transaction was an “absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd decision,” Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman, said in the statement.

Virtu Said to Delay IPO Amid Furor Spurred by Michael Lewis Book (Bloomberg)
Virtu Financial Inc., the high-frequency trader that announced plans last month to sell shares, has delayed the deal, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Virtu’s bankers won’t start marketing the initial public offering until after April 20, delaying the process from this week, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the decision is private. The delay comes amid unprecedented scrutiny of high-frequency traders. “Flash Boys,” the Michael Lewis book released yesterday, argues that high-speed traders, Wall Street brokerages and exchanges have rigged the $23 trillion U.S. stock market. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is examining privileges such as enhanced data feeds marketed to high-speed firms, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether those traders are breaking U.S. laws by acting on nonpublic information.

SEC Investigations Into High-Frequency Trading Under Way (WSJ)
U.S. securities regulators are examining whether some rapid-fire trading firms are engaged in unlawful trading practices, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White said Tuesday. Ms. White, testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, said the SEC currently has “a number” of ongoing investigations regarding “market integrity and structure issues, including high-frequency traders.” She declined to provide specifics about the investigations, but said they have been under way for “quite some time.” “We’re very much focused on any abuses in that space,” she said.

High-Frequency Hyperbole, By Cliff Asness (WSJ)
A few nights ago, CBS’s “60 Minutes” provided a forum for author Michael Lewis to announce that Wall Street is “rigged” and for the sponsors of a new trading venue called IEX to promise to unrig it. The focus of the TV segment was high-frequency trading, or HFT, an innovation now over 20 years old. The stock market isn’t rigged and IEX hasn’t yet generated a lot of interest. In our profession, what we saw on “60 Minutes” is called “talking your book”—in Mr. Lewis’s case, literally.

Bitcoins aren’t cash, so Silk Road creator’s clean: lawyer (NYP)
In papers seeking to dismiss the feds’ case against Ross Ulbricht, lawyer Joshua Dratel said the IRS recently ruled Bitcoin is property – and not a “monetary instrument” – so the money laundering charges against his client should be tossed. “Bitcoins, the exclusive means of payment on Silk Road, do not qualify as ‘monetary instruments,’ and therefore cannot serve as the basis for a money laundering violation,” Dratel wrote.

French artist starts fortnight inside bear (BBC)
Abraham Poincheval first performed Dans La Peau de l’Ours – Inside the Skin of the Bear – at the CAIRN Centre for Contemporary Art in Digne last year. He is now reprising the piece at the Hunting and Wildlife Museum in Paris, where he will remain until 13 April. Poincheval previously spent a week in an underground hole beneath a bookshop in Marseilles in October 2012. According to the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, Poincheval is a performance artist “familiar with extreme situations”. The performance piece will see him eat, drink, sleep and relieve himself inside the sterilised carcass of a bear while being filmed by two cameras. Read more »

Write-Offs: 04.01.14

$$$ ‘Epic’ debate on high-frequency trading between Michael Lewis, Brad Katsuyama and William O’Brien [MarketWatch]

$$$ Citigroup Says It Fired Two Banamex Traders Last Year [WSJ]

$$$ Preet Bharara rejects corporate America’s doomsday cries [AP]

$$$ Sheryl Sandberg slashes Facebook holdings [FT]

$$$ Starbucks apologizes to Louisiana woman for alleged Satanic symbols in coffee foam [TA] Read more »

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Michael Lewis thinks high-frequency traders are bad guys. But he also thinks that Brad Katsuyama is a good guy. And Brad Katsuyama thinks that, as bad guys go, Virtu Financial—which just happens to be planning an IPO—is pretty good. Which adds up to something, we’re sure, that Virtu would be happy to let you know about during its whistle-stop/barnstorming “we’re the best you’ve got” tour. Read more »

  • 01 Apr 2014 at 3:32 PM
  • Banks

Bob Diamond Is So Very Close To Running A Bank Again

The former Barclays chief’s new hobby is buying financial firms in Africa. Read more »

As you have more than likely heard, Michael Lewis’s 14th book was released yesterday. In Flash Boys, Lewis explores the world of high-frequency trading, focusing on a Canadian named Brad Katsuyama who left the Royal Bank of Canada to create trading platform called IEX, which “slow[s] down customers’ orders to stymie high-frequency traders,” who Katsuyama (and Lewis) believe hurt non-HFT investors. Some people, like the co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading, have applauded Lewis’s latest effort (“We believe Lewis’s book can have a big impact on complex market-structure issues that have been simmering for years,” he told Bloomberg). Others think it’s a piece of garbage they wouldn’t use as liner in their parakeet’s birdcage. Read more »

Ching Hwa Chen and Tyrone Hawk know what we’re talking about. Read more »

Société Générale was, like Goldman Sachs, allegedly much better at coming up bribes than it was as managing the Libyan sovereign wealth fund’s wealth. Read more »