Greece’s four big, systemic banks will need another €5.8 billion ($8.0 billion) to shore up their fragile balance sheets, the country’s central bank said Thursday, in order to cope with a growing mountain of bad loans that have become another painful legacy of Greece’s protracted debt crisis.
In a statement, the Bank of Greece said the four banks— National Bank of Greece SA, Piraeus Bank SA, Alpha Bank AE and Eurobank Ergasias SA—would need to present plans by mid-April detailing how they would raise that capital, such as by selling assets, going to the capital markets or appealing for further state aid.
As you have probably heard by now, late last week Pimco co-founder Bill Gross made an inadvisable call to Reuters, the details of which can be found here. In short, Gross was responding to a Journal article that highlighted tension around the office that likely contributed to CEO Mohamed El-Erian choosing to depart his post; things like Gross’s insistence on absolute silence on the trading floor, letting it be known that employees are not to look him in the eye, slashing people’s bonuses for forgetting to number presentation pages, telling someone to cut him a check for $10,000 to make up for failing to stand when clients were in the office, and uttering the words “If only Mohamed would let me, I could run all the $2 trillion myself…I’m Secretariat…Why would you bet on anyone other than Secretariat?” while holding court with a bunch of traders.
Perhaps in a somewhat misguided attempt to get his side of the story out to the press, Gross told Reuters that the Journal article, written by Greg Zuckerman and Kirsten Grind, had actually been authored by El-Erian, as part of a campaign to “undermine me,” “indicated that he had been monitoring El-Erian’s phone calls,” and when it became apparent that the news outlet was not simply going to run a story vindicating Gross without any kind of supporting evidence that El-Erian had indeed ghost-written the Journal story, “You’re on his side. Great, he’s got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger.” (According to a spokesman for Pimco, “Gross…categorically denies saying this firm ever listened in on Mr. El-Erian’s phone calls or that Mr. El-Erian ‘wrote’ any previous media article.”)
So! Probably kind of an awkward day to be working out of the Newport Beach office. For employees who live in fear of saying the wrong thing– or saying anything, period– in front of Gross in good times, anxiety is likely running high. For them, some tips re: how to make it out alive in the coming weeks with your body parts and bonuses intact: Read more »
At a meeting with Sprint Corp. executives in October, the chief executive of parent company SoftBank Corp. lost his temper about the mobile carrier’s advertising, complaining that it wasn’t luring enough new customers. “Are you stupid?” yelled Masayoshi Son, who engineered the Japanese company’s takeover of the No. 3 wireless provider in the U.S. last year for about $22 billion, according to three people in the room. He slammed his fist on a table and suggested that Sprint fire all its ad agencies and start over. One person who was there says some Sprint executives told Mr. Son later that the company couldn’t just cancel its advertising contracts…He has been working on a possible bid for T-Mobile, people familiar with the matter say. But U.S. antitrust officials have expressed strong opposition, saying a takeover could reduce competition. It has been about two years since the Justice Department rejected AT&T’s $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile. For now at least, that leaves Mr. Son to fix what he calls a “loser” mentality at Sprint and complacency at the mobile carrier’s headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., a person close to him says…Defenders of Mr. Son say he congratulates as often as he criticizes, occasionally hugging employees. [WSJ]
Exclusive: Pimco’s Gross declares El-Erian is ‘trying to undermine me’ (Reuters)
Gross told Reuters that he had “evidence” that El-Erian “wrote” a February 24 article in the Journal, which described the worsening relationship between the two men as Pimco’s performance deteriorated last year, including a showdown in which they squared off against each other in front of more than a dozen colleagues at the firm’s Newport Beach, California headquarters. Gross, who oversaw more than $1.91 trillion in assets as of the end of last year and who is known on Wall Street as the ‘Bond King’, said in a phone call to Reuters last Friday: “I’m so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me.” When asked if Reuters could see the evidence about El-Erian and the allegation he was involved in the article, Gross said: “You’re on his side. Great, he’s got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger.” He said he knew that El-Erian, who had been widely seen as the heir apparent to Gross but is now due to leave in mid-March, had been in contact with Reuters as well as the Wall Street Journal. Gross indicated he had been monitoring El-Erian’s phone calls…A Pimco spokesman said in an emailed statement: “Mr. Gross did not make the statements Reuters attributes to him. He categorically denies saying this firm ever listened in on Mr. El-Erian’s phone calls or that Mr. El-Erian ‘wrote’ any previous media article.”
Putin Sparking Worst Stock Rout Since Moscow Crackdown (Bloomberg)
The last time Russian stocks fell as much as they have this week was when President Vladimir Putin cracked down on protesters following his election in May 2012. Putin’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region, like the imprisonment of demonstrators following his return to the presidency two years ago, is sparking investor concern that Russia’s economic growth will falter as the U.S. and Europe threaten the country with sanctions. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the most-traded Russian companies in the U.S. has fallen 5.1 percent this week, the most since the measure dropped 11 percent in the five days to May 18, 2012.
Man called Bitcoin’s father denies ties, leads LA car chase (Reuters)
In the afternoon, the silver-haired, bespectacled Nakamoto stepped outside, dressed in a gray sport coat and green striped shirt, with a pen tucked in his shirt pocket. He was mobbed by reporters and told them he was looking for someone who understood Japanese to buy him a free lunch. Newsweek estimates his wealth at $400 million. “I’m not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute, I want my free lunch first. I’m going with this guy,” Nakamoto said, pointing at a reporter from AP. “I’m not in Bitcoin, I don’t know anything about it,” he said again while walking down the street with several cameras at his heels. He and the AP reporter made their way to a nearby sushi restaurant with media in tow, before leaving and heading downtown. Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno followed the pair and described the chase in a running stream of tweets. Eventually, the pair dashed into the Associated Press offices in downtown Los Angeles.
Washington state issues first legal-marijuana business license (AP)
Sean Green, who has operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, proclaimed the document “beautiful” as it was handed to him at a state Liquor Control Board meeting in Olympia. The license will allow him to grow 21,000 square feet of cannabis at his Spokane facility — the first pot that will be grown for sale under the highly taxed system approved by voters in 2012. The possession of marijuana became legal for adults over 21 soon after the vote, but it’s still illegal to grow or sell it for recreational use until pot shops open in the state later this year. Green plans to start by raising marijuana starter plants to sell to other growers, and later expand to growing buds for retail pot shops. “Cannabis prohibition is over,” Green declared to applause from a room packed with his supporters. “I’m coming home with jobs, Spokane.”
Martha Stewart Gives Sex Advice, Says She Had a Prison Name in Reddit Ask Me Anything (USW)
Stewart’s fans didn’t waste any time, asking her about bedroom secrets to abide by. “Always take a bath before and after,” Stewart said. When one suggested to just do the dirty during a bath, she quipped: “That’s good too, and don’t forget to brush your teeth.” She added: “What’s a d*ldo?” when asked how to clean the bed sheets afterward. Stewart’s AMA had its TMI moments, but she also chatted about her famous pals. “I wish I were closer friends with Snoop Dogg,” she admitted…Stewart braved the slew of questions, but also seemed to reach her limit when asked of her 2004 stint in jail. “I think I did, but I can’t remember,” she said on whether or not she had a prison name. “I don’t think about the past.” Read more »
$$$ Biggest Billionaire Losers in Crimea Crisis: Russians and Louis Vuitton [BusinessWeek]
$$$ Picking Up the Pace at the S.E.C. [NYT]
On the off chance that the Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange or CEO Mark Karpelès have any assets, real or imagined, in the U.S., the guy suing them—you know, over the small problem it’s had, re: losing all of the bitcoins it was supposed to be keeping tabs on—would like those assets to stay put, whatever that might mean. Read more »