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Write-Offs: 07.25.14

$$$ Cynk Plunges 85% as Trading Resumes After SEC Suspension [Bloomberg]

$$$ Facebook Gain Makes Zuckerberg Wealthier Than Google Guys [Bloomberg]

$$$ SEC Drops Probe Into Facebook for Pre-IPO Disclosures [WSJ]

$$$ Greenlight takes Lam Research stake, gains on Micron, Apple [CNBC]

$$$ Adam West thinks Ben Affleck will make a fine Batman [NYP] Read more »

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  • 25 Jul 2014 at 4:28 PM

Ace Greenberg Once Made Paper Clips Disappear

“I was just shown the results for our first quarter. They were excellent. When mortals go through a prosperous period, it seems to be human nature for expenses to balloon. We are going to be the exception. I have just informed the purchasing department that they should no longer purchase paper clips. All of us receive documents every day with paper clips on them. If we save these paper clips, not only will we have enough for our own use, but we will also, in a short time, be awash in the little critters. Periodically, we will collect excess paper clips and sell them (since the cost to us is zero the Arbitrage Department tells me the return on capital will be above average). This action may seem a little petty, but anything we can do to make our people conscious of expenses is worthwhile…Bear Stearns is probably going to sell stock to the public, and there is one guarantee that I would like to give the potential buyers of our stock – they are going to get the fairest shake from us that management can give any public shareholder. This place is going to be run tight, and the reasons are not all altruistic. We are not going public for the perks. We are going public for a number of reasons, and one is that we want the stock to appreciate.” [BI, earlier]

It certainly isn’t Carl Icahn. But Noster Capital’s Pedro de Noronha thinks Uncle Carl is in danger of losing a great deal of money some time before his 82nd birthday. Read more »

We’re about five-and-a-half days from Argentina’s second default in 13 years, and two days into the “continuous” “negotiations” ordered by a federal judge. So how are things going? Towards that default, obviously. Read more »

As you’ve probably heard by now, Alan “Ace” Greenberg, former Chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns, who was later named “vice chairman emeritus” of JP Morgan, died today at the age of 86. While he paid the bills with his finance gig, his true passion was magic. On this day, let us remember some favorite facts about Greenberg, vis-à-vis his time on the magic circuit. Read more »

Will Barclays reprise its role as sucker to take the hardest fall? Or has it learned its lesson and won’t be raising its hand first this time? Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.25.14

Sodastream trader makes 3,000% profit in two hours (CNBC)
Two minutes before 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, one options trader bought 500 weekly 30-strike calls in Sodastream for 15 cents each (or $15 per contract, given that each contract controls 100 shares) that expire Friday. It was by far the biggest Sodastream trade of the day in terms of the number of contracts. The purchase gives the trader the right to buy Sodastream shares for $30 at the close of Friday trading. The reason those options were so inexpensive is that the stock was trading at about $29.50 at the time, meaning the chance of the stock closing Friday above $30 was considered to be especially low. But then, shortly before noon, Bloomberg reported that the company is in talks with an investment firm about taking the company private. After a halt, the stock sailed as high as $36. The news created an instant windfall for the trader, as these options, which were bought for $7,500, became worth as much as $250,000.

RBS First-Half Profit Doubles, Sees 2014 Cost Cuts on Track (Bloomberg)
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said pretax profit almost doubled in the first half and forecast that it will meet a target to cut costs by 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) in 2014. The shares soared. Pretax profit at Britain’s largest state-owned lender may have increased to 2.65 billion pounds from 1.37 billion pounds a year earlier, RBS said in a statement today. Operating profit probably jumped to 2.6 billion pounds from 708 million pounds, according to the results, which were released a week early. Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan, 57, who took over from Stephen Hester in October, is setting up an internal bad bank, combining divisions and scaling back the investment bank as he strives to shore up earnings at RBS after the lender reported its biggest annual loss since the financial crisis last year. RBS said today that it’s still facing “significant conduct and litigation issues” that could hurt future profit.

Moody’s Profit, Revenue Rise (WSJ)
The firm posted earnings of $319.2 million, or $1.48 a share, up from $225.5 million, or $1 a share, a year earlier. Revenue improved 16% to $873.5 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had estimated earnings of $1.01 a share and revenue of $803 million. The company’s Moody’s Investors Service debt-rating operation—its biggest revenue contributor—posted a 16% increase in revenue to $621.7 million. Global corporate finance grew 22% to $320.9 million.

Goldman bankers to Babble on their own chatroom (FT)
Goldman Sachs is spearheading an effort among Wall Street’s leading banks to develop a chat tool called “Babble” that could replace the instant messaging service on Bloomberg’s ubiquitous terminals…The company’s internal messaging service, known as Instant Bloomberg, is one of the main ways for bankers and traders to keep in touch with their customers at pension funds, hedge funds and asset managers. Goldman’s chatroom project comes after tensions between big banks and Bloomberg were also heightened last year when senior executives at the bank confronted the company over its reporters allegedly using private terminal data to track bankers…The Babble project is said to be less about concerns over data privacy issues, and more about creating an alternative network which comes at a much lower cost and can also be plugged in to different systems and used by both banks and their clients.

A Divorce That Thrusts Ken Griffin and Anne Dias Griffin Into the Spotlight (Dealbook)
Divorces in Illinois play out in open court, though either party can request mediation or move to seal their file, according to James H. Feldman, the chairman of the family law practice at the law firm Jenner & Block. The split is unlikely to affect Citadel’s ownership structure, because Ms. Dias Griffin is neither an owner nor an investor in the firm’s funds. And the two signed a prenuptial agreement governing any split of their assets, according to the divorce petition. Under the agreement, Ms. Dias Griffin would be entitled to cash in the event of a split, but Mr. Griffin would retain the art and real estate, two people briefed on the matter said. But she could contest the terms.

Sniffing out a partner at a London pheromone party (AO)
In a bar in trendy east London, dozens of people mill about, sniffing from plastic bags. But there are no drugs inside – just slightly smelly T-shirts. These adventurous single men and women are at a “pheromone party”, an alternative dating trend based on the idea that smell plays a key role in the choice of a sexual partner. Each of them has agreed to wear the same cotton T-shirt for three nights in a row, with no deodorant or perfume, and to bring it to the party. The clothes, infused with the pure scent of the wearer’s body, are placed in transparent plastic bags with numbers on coloured labels – pink for women, blue for men. “Smell as many bags as you like, have fun!” encourages the organiser, Judy Nadel. There is some nervous laughter, then a sudden rush for the bags laid out on a big table in the middle of the room. Some people open the bags carefully, taking a timid sniff, while others plunge their noses right inside. “This one’s been worn for a few days,” quipped one young man, while his friend Steven Lucas, a 23-year-old law trainee, remarks that the clothes “all smell the same”. “It’s like sweat and a tiny bit of perfume, or just, like, clean,” he says. Those who get a sniff of their dream partner snap a picture of themselves with the bag. The images are then projected onto the wall, and the lucky owners of the chosen T-shirts have the chance to meet their admirers. Read more »

Write-Offs: 07.24.14

$$$ UBS Lashes Out at French Prosecutors [Dealbook]

$$$ KKR’s Quarterly Profit Surges [WSJ]

$$$ Schwartz, 32, looks much as he did when he was a student on the dean’s list at Cornell University, all the way back in the Aughts. He had no experience in fast food before going to Burger King; he spent almost a decade on Wall Street after college. And he’s surrounded himself with a similarly eager and fresh-faced inner circle. Josh Kobza, the chief financial officer, is 28. He and Schwartz are usually joined on conference calls by Alexandre Macedo, Burger King’s ancient 36-year-old president for North American operations, and Sami Siddiqui, the head of investor relations, who’s 29. Only one of the four saw a day of the Seventies. [BusinessWeek]

$$$ Bank of America Knew How to Sell a Basketball Team [BloombergView/Matt]

$$$ Judge tells Baldwin he’s a fan and to ‘be a good boy’ [NYP] Read more »

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