The Latest

Write-Offs: 10.10.14

$$$ A Wells Fargo employee asked the CEO for a raise — and cc’d 200,000 coworkers [WaPo]

$$$ Pimco’s assets under management drop five percent in third quarter [Reuters]

$$$ SEC delays decision on SAC fund for burned investors [NYP]

$$$ On his second day of testimony in federal court, Mr. Bernanke maintained that officials sought to save AIG. “The company was on the brink of default, and our intervention would spare it the discipline of the market,” Mr. Bernanke said. [WSJ]

$$$ World’s Most Expensive Burger Is Only $1,768 [HP] Read more »

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Changing jobs can be very stressful. I’m not going to get into what I did before I won the coveted Dealbreaker Chef de Cuisine post, but let’s just say my julienning skills were more than a tad underutilized.

The first week on a new job is a brutal mishmash of emotions, whether you’re a line cook, a Chef de Cuisine, or yes, even a bond fund manager. (This is especially true when most of the money from you old gig doesn’t make the trip with you to your new one.) It takes a while to learn the rhythms of the new office, figure out whether your no-eye contact policy freaks people out, or whether insulting a colleague’s French accent will drive him into the Croque Monsieur business.

In terms of making new friends and finding his way in the new space, the fact that Bill Gross is working remotely from Malibu, and not at his new employer’s headquarters in Denver, puts him at a disadvantage. But it also offers him an opportunity. While I’m contractually barred from discussing my clients, let’s just hypothetically say Bill was one, and the two of us were sitting in his office in Newport Beach, right before hopping on the short flight to Colorado to meet some of his new colleagues, or he called me after landing, pleading for advice re: how to interact with people. The setting doesn’t matter, my advice to him would be the same: Give them a taste of Denver. Let them know you appreciate their home.

As a rookie, I’m not suggesting Bill whip up a few servings of Rocky Mountain oysters, the deep-fried testicles of bull calves that Coloradoans love so dearly. No, that could make for a bit of an awkward first impression.

When I tell Bill to “give them a taste of Denver,” I mean one thing: “Get yourself an apron and a chef’s hat and set up a Denver omelette station. Set it up IMMEDIATELY.” Read more »

Darden Board Gets What Was Coming To Them

So, the people who were Darden Restaurants directors yesterday are no longer Darden directors today, what with every single one of them having been handed a much-deserved ass-kicking by hedge fund Starboard Value. The activist hedge fund correctly predicted that boards which (a) produced an ill-conceived plan to sell one thing for a song to stave off a couple of activist hedge funds and then (b) refuse to allow shareholders to vote on that plan even though most of them make very clear they’d like to are rather vulnerable when it comes to annual meeting time, which time was today. And while you can prevent shareholders from voting on ill-conceived sales, it is likely to incline them against you when you cannot keep them from voting, at annual meetings, say. Read more »

The thrill of the IPO, it seems, goes only so far. Read more »

Naturally, the details of this event lead his latest (and inaugural at Janus) Investment Outlook. Read more »

As its name indicates, Deutsche Bank is not a Swiss bank. But it does have a Swiss banking unit, for the same reason every other bank has a subsidiary in a country home to fewer people than New York City, which is the reason why said country of eight million people living on top of mountains has exactly one notable industry: banking. Historically speaking, the kind of banking that means you might not have to pay taxes.

Of course, this sort of banking has run into some troubles, recently, not least of all from Deutsche Bank’s home country. And without Angela Merkel’s willingness to throw down á la François Hollande with Barack Obama, and frankly without much risk to itself, the Frankfurters aren’t putting up a fight. Read more »

Carl Icahn may have dashed his son’s hope of managing other peoples’ money by the beach in Miami, but he’s still a proud papa. In between telling a company that he thinks is so well run exactly how to run things, he notes that Tim Cook and the rest of Apple have young Brett Icahn to thank for having to read the 4,000-word missive. But Brett and his partner David Schechter aren’t just keeping his dad enjoyably busy in the sunset of his life: They’re also making him more money than he can possibly spend, even if he lives another 78 years. Read more »

Opening Bell: 10.10.14

Trading Activity Likely to Buoy Banks (WSJ)
The pickup in action was driven by signs of an improving U.S. economy, the European Central Bank’s push to stimulate growth and Scotland’s bid for independence. Choppier markets helped lift trading revenue for banks that had previously been leaning more heavily on lending and investment-banking deals to increase profits. Banks face an easy comparison from a year ago when trading volumes slumped amid uncertainty about when the Federal Reserve could move to raise rates. But trading “hasn’t been the albatross it had been in past quarters,” said Devin Ryan, an analyst with JMP Securities, referring specifically to the long slump in trading revenue in bonds, currencies and commodities.

Johnson Controls Fires Consultant After Affair With CEO (Bloomberg)
Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) fired a consulting firm after learning that one of its principals had an extramarital affair with Chief Executive Officer Alex Molinaroli. Molinaroli, 55, told his family about his affair with Kristin Ihle, a 45-year-old psychologist, in late May, according to the transcript of a court hearing at which Ihle unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against the CEO’s estranged wife. Ihle’s Milwaukee company, which helps businesses with leader development and succession planning, had been working with auto supplier Johnson Controls for years, according the consulting firm’s website…On May 29, Molinaroli’s wife of 28 years, Patsy, 59, sent an e-mail to Ihle: “I will destroy you, your family, and business just as you have done to me,” according to the transcript of the hearing. Later that day, while her husband was absent, Patsy Molinaroli fired a .38 caliber pistol at least four times in their Brookfield, Wisconsin, home, according to the criminal complaint. She also smashed window panes, a Pac Man arcade game and a china cabinet, leaving holes consistent with an aluminum baseball bat found in the kitchen, according to the complaint.

Fuld Advises on Deal to Buy National Stock Exchange (WSJ)
A little-known company called OpenMatch Holdings LLC agreed to buy the 130-year-old National Stock Exchange in a deal in that was advised by former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. CEO Richard Fuld, according to people familiar with the plans. The Jersey City, N.J.-based NSX, which is part-owned by the CBOE Stock Exchange, closed down at the end of May amid low trading activity. It handled roughly 13 million shares on its last day of operations, or about 0.2% of all U.S. stocks traded…Mr. Fuld, who was chief executive of Lehman Brothers when it collapsed in 2008, has played a role in the acquisition talks, the people said. Mr. Fuld’s firm, Matrix Advisors LLC, is advising OpenMatch on the deal.

Bill Ackman adds to Fannie, Freddie stakes (NYP)
Ackman has added to his Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bets since the stocks got clobbered by a federal court ruling last week, The Post has learned. Ackman’s Pershing Square hedge fund said it added to its 10 percent stakes in the two mortgage giants. Pershing Square quit reporting its Fannie and Freddie holdings earlier this year, so it’s unclear how big the stake has become. Uncle Sam owns 80 percent of both companies.

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Plans To Only Hire People Who Believe Biblical Flood Actually Happened (Reuters)
The developer of a Noah’s Ark-based theme park in Kentucky said on Wednesday he would fight for his religious rights after state officials warned he could lose millions in potential tax credits if he hires only people who believe in the biblical flood. Ark Encounter, which is slated to open in 2016 in Williamston, Kentucky, is not hiring anyone yet, but its parent company Answers in Genesis asks employees to sign a faith statement including a belief in creationism and the flood. State officials and Ark Encounter lawyers have exchanged letters in which the state threatened not to proceed with tax incentives for the park if there was discriminatory hiring practices, a state official confirmed on Wednesday. The letters between the parties came to light after the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader obtained them through open records requests. “We’re hoping the state takes a hard look at their position, and changes their position so it doesn’t go further than this,” Ark Encounter’s Executive President Mike Zovath told Reuters. Read more »