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  • 04 Nov 2014 at 2:05 PM

Wharton Does Other Stuff, Too, You Know

Future entrepreneurs.Sure, sure: The nation’s first business is famous for producing famous financiers. But there’s more going on over at Huntsman Hall and Steiny-D, its newly-minted dean will have you know! Like, uh, financial entrepreneurship. Oh yea, and financial analytics and financial innovation and financial technology, to say nothing (it’s better that way) about actuarial science or football and basketball players “studying” marketing. Read more »

barry-dillerBack in July, it emerged via a lawsuit against Tinder chief Sean Rad for sexual harassment of a female executive that Rad had allegedly “described his boss, IAC/InterActiveCorp Chairman Diller, as a d–k and texting a drawing of Diller as such.” That Rad stayed on as head of the company when Diller could’ve easily fired him seemed evidence that, unlike some other CEOs, BD was not the kind to fire you for stuff like drawing his face on a penis. Now, though, it seems that he might be, he just takes his time when doing so. Read more »

Bob MercerDespite a purposefully reclusive life, Mercer has gotten attention several times for reasons he would probably prefer to keep private. In July 2013, members of his household staff sued for alleged underpayment of overtime hours and pay “demerits” for things like “failing to change the razor blades in the shaver” or “failing to level pictures,” according to the complaint. The case was settled out of court and is now closed. [NetNet]

Attention Paulson Investors John Paulson

Can finally afford to buy a new goin' out jacket.Your personal gold investment, also known as the PFR Gold Fund, is up double-digits through September. Not the kind of double-digits it was down last year, but, hey, ya gotta start somewhere. And also hope you hedged the hell out of it last month. Read more »

  • 04 Nov 2014 at 10:30 AM

British Still Paying For That Whole Empire Business

Like Russia, Britain is still paying for a Crimean War.The sun never set on the British Empire, until it did 60 years ago, give or take. Prior to that, the U.K. ran up a lot of debts to pay to defend it.

Well, things are going so well on the sceptere’d isle that Her Majesty’s Treasury want to take care of some of that old business. Crimean- and First-World-War-financing, three-hundred-year-old-bailout, perpetual-debt-issued-by-Winston-Churchill-when-he-was-Chancellor-of-the-Exchequer old business. Not because it matters, especially—the country never has to repay it, and we’re only talking about £218 million—but because it can. Or because someone walked past the Tower of London recently and remember that World War I started 100 years ago. Either way. Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.04.14

richard handlerJPMorgan Faces U.S. Criminal Probe Into Currency Trading (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it faces a U.S. criminal probe into foreign-exchange dealings and boosted its maximum estimate for “reasonably possible” losses on legal cases to the highest in more than a year. The firm is cooperating with the criminal investigation by the Department of Justice as well as inquiries by regulators in the U.K. and elsewhere, it said yesterday in a quarterly report. The largest U.S. bank said it might need as much as $5.9 billion to cover losses beyond reserves for legal matters, up $1.3 billion from the end of June, and the most since since mid-2013.

China Bankers Enjoy A Bumper Year (WSJ)
The world’s second-largest economy may be suffering its worst growth in five years, but a spate of mergers and bond and share sales by the country’s new tech stars and other privately-owned Chinese firms has sent fees for banks to their highest level since 2010. Big deals from tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings have sent a wave of fees to banks, marking a shift from years past when state-owned firms were banks’ top clients. “In China, there is no question this is a big year,” said David Chin, head of corporate client solutions for Asia at the investment-banking unit of UBS AG , the Swiss lender. The value of deals handled by investment banks—transactions ranging from bond sales to mergers—reached a record $679 billion so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data, up from $544 billion last year. Chinese companies listed their stocks not just in New York and Hong Kong, but also in Shanghai, which reopened its market for new listings in January after a moratorium on initial public offerings that lasted more than a year.

Herbalife slashes full-year forecast, shares slide (Reuters)
Herbalife, a maker of weight-loss and nutritional products, slashed its full-year revenue and adjusted profit forecast as it wrote down the value of its Venezuelan assets. Shares of the company, which also reported a 92 percent drop in third-quarter profit, fell 13 percent after the bell on Monday. The weak forecast underscores faltering sales at the company, which has been strenuously denying claims by activist investor Bill Ackman that it is a pyramid scheme.

Jury acquits ex-UBS exec in IRS probe (AP)
A jury in South Florida has acquitted a former top executive at Swiss bank UBS AG on charges of helping wealthy Americans hide billions of dollars in secret accounts from the Internal Revenue Service. The jury deliberated just over an hour before reaching its verdict Tuesday in the case of Raoul Weil. He had faced up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine if convicted of a count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Several former UBS bankers testified that Weil was deeply involved in hiding $20 billion in U.S. taxpayer assets from the IRS. Weil did not testify, but his attorneys blamed wrongdoing on lower-ranking bankers acting without Weil’s knowledge.

Sex and Drug Claims at Investment Bank Jefferies Draw Risky Retort (Dealbook, earlier)
Rather than just putting out a boilerplate statement saying that the firm doesn’t tolerate drug use, Mr. Handler defended Mr. Kelly, made an impassioned case that his firm was being unfairly smeared and somehow ended up marching an army of bankers into a drug test in the middle of the day after approaching other members of Mr. Kelly’s team…There’s something authentic and admirable about Mr. Handler’s reaction. He is an emotional, larger-than-life leader; he takes anything involving the firm personally and does so without any filter. He likes to confront challenges head on. But his passion may be overwhelming his logic in this case. He has ruled out acknowledging the possibility of a problem at the firm or even the chance that Mr. Kelly may have hidden demons; he denies them outright. Yet Mr. Kelly has acknowledged recreational drug use in the past. To some of his clients, Mr. Handler’s memo made him a hero who demonstrated his passion. For others, the memo and the drug test were a bizarre publicity stunt. (Despite some of Christina Kelly’s most outrageous accusations, she never actually contended that Jefferies’s headquarters was some kind of high-end crack den. The idea that Mr. Kelly’s colleagues passed the drug test is almost irrelevant.)

Couple holds wedding during Southwest Airlines flight (UPI)
Dottie Coven and Keith Stewart, of Croyden, Ind., fly so often for their work that they were inspired to get married on an airplane. Coven and Stewart had racked up so many frequent flier miles that they were able to buy tickets for about 30 family members and friends to attend their sky-high nuptials. The rest of the flight’s 141 passengers were strangers. A flower girl passed out peanuts and officiant performed the ceremony over the plane’s intercom. They said their vows somewhere over Arkansas. “We are gathered here today — whether you intended to or not — to celebrate the wedding of Dottie Coven and Keith Stewart,” he told the flight. “If anyone can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together let them push their flight attendant call button now,” he added. Read more »

Write-Offs: 11.03.14

$$$ JPMorgan Faces U.S. Criminal Probe Into Foreign-Exchange Trading [Bloomberg]

$$$ Jefferies’s ‘Scrappy’ Style Challenges Wall Street Norms [Bloomberg]

$$$ Herbalife Profit Falls 92%, Hurt by Charge Related to Venezuela Assets [WSJ]

$$$ Gross Says Deflation a ‘Growing Possibility’ Threatening Wealth [Bloomberg]

$$$ Surfer escapes shark after friend punches it in the nose [UPI] Read more »

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hank and snowflakeIt’s looking like Hank Greenberg (‘s lawyer) might actually convince people he was wronged. Read more »