Billionaire investor Carl Icahn says the struggling Trump Taj Mahal casino “will almost certainly close.” The would-be purchaser of the casino told the Associated Press on Thursday night that the casino’s finances are dire. Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos have closed this year, and the Taj Mahal would be the fifth. Mr. Icahn, sounding very much like a man growing tired of the whole topic, said that even though he won’t back out of a deal he made with owner Trump Entertainment Resorts to acquire the Taj Mahal and pump $100 million into it, he wishes he never answered the phone when the company first called him about it. “One overriding fact is perfectly clear: The Taj is quickly running out of money and will almost certainly close,” Mr. Icahn said. [WSJ]
Some words you don’t often hear senior Wall Street execs say aloud are “I have never defecated or urinated in bed, on the floor or a wall.” And yet, Sage Kelly, Global Head of Healthcare Investment Banking at Jefferies, said exactly that in court papers this week, in response to allegations by his wife that he’s mistaken all of those places for a toilet, in addition to other stuff re: copious drug use, “foursomes,” and “wife-swapping.” Read more »
Airbnb valued at $13B ahead of staff stock sale (FT)
Airbnb’s valuation is set to rise to $13 billion, up from $10 billion earlier this year, as it prepares an employee stock sale, according to people familiar with its plans. The valuation would make the accommodation site second only to Uber in the rankings of Silicon Valley’s most valuable private companies, at a time when some venture capitalists are becoming concerned about the rate at which start-ups are spending capital. Airbnb, which overhauled the design of its site and apps this summer, is without a chief financial officer after the departure of Andrew Swain last month, which may make an initial public offering unlikely in the near term.
Paul Allen To Give $100 Million To Tackle Ebola Crisis (NYT)
The billionaire Paul G. Allen said on Thursday that he would donate $100 million to the fight against Ebola, which has killed almost 5,000 people so far and crippled Western Africa. The amount roughly quadruples his earlier commitment of about $26 million to nonprofit groups and government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making him one of the largest individual donors in the Ebola crisis. “Everybody feels called sometimes to really pursue a certain thing that resonates with them, and this has resonated with me,” Mr. Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. He said when he first began hearing about the Ebola outbreak in July, he had a “nagging sense” that it could spiral out of control. “We’re up against an extremely tough opponent here,” he said. “The exponential nature of the growth of this disease is really a challenge — we’ve already seen in the U.S. where one case quickly became two.”
KKR Signals Buying Opportunities Amid Volatile Markets (WSJ)
Echoing sentiments from other private-equity executives, one of the top lieutenants to KKR co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts on Thursday said recent whipsawing markets could work to the firm’s advantage. “We like investing in complex situations when other investors may be nervous,” said Scott Nuttall, head of KKR’s global capital and asset management group, during a Thursday earnings call with analysts. “We’re hopeful this environment will lead to more opportunities. So, if the world gets difficult, we’ll be ready to capitalize.”
Unused vacation days at 40-year high (CNBC)
U.S. workers are using only 77 percent of their paid time off, according to the research group’s report released Tuesday. And the decline is not just tied to recent economic worries; use of vacation days are at their lowest point in the past four decades. In 2013, U.S. workers took an average of 16 days of vacation compared with 20.3 days in 2000, according to the report.
Thirty-one banks prepare for Fed tests (FT)
Global banks will have to show how they can withstand a spike in oil prices, a rise in the US unemployment rate and an increase in risky corporate loans as part of the 2015 Federal Reserve stress tests. Passing the stress tests and related capital planning review is a top priority for banks, because this determines whether they can pay additional dividends or buy back shares. Companies that fail the test, which is aimed at showing how a bank would deal with a crisis situation, can also take a reputational hit. Citigroup suffered an embarrassing blow when it failed to pass the last review, and executives are determined not to repeat that mistake in 2015. The US units of HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander, which took the tests for the first time last year, also failed. Fed officials have warned they will continue to raise the bar on expectations for banks, putting additional pressure on them. Thirty-one banks will participate in the 2015 capital planning scenarios, including Deutsche Bank for the first time. It is already under pressure from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which has told it in a private letter that its regulatory reports were “low quality, inaccurate and unreliable”.
Supermarket Says Sorry For Selling Hitler Coffee Creamer (AP)
A leading Swiss supermarket chain is apologizing for what it calls an “unforgivable blunder”: distributing mini-containers of coffee cream bearing portraits of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Migros, which also sells electronics and household goods, says it is immediately withdrawing boxes containing hundreds of the coffee cream containers and is breaking all ties with Karo-Versand, the small Swiss company that designed the collectible series of 55 different motifs — including likenesses of the German and Italian fascist dictators. In a statement Wednesday, Migros described the incident as an internal failure and vowed to “tighten our controls for these products drastically” to ensure no more such mistakes. Read more »
$$$ Rajaratnam’s Brother Settle’s SEC Lawsuit for $840,000 [Bloomberg]
$$$ ‘Humongous’ Treasury Future Surge Suggests Math Error [Bloomberg]
$$$ Options investors see good times rolling for Facebook [Reuters]
Luring the Triple Crown of Newport Beach to Denver comes at a cost. Read more »
The interview began at 2 p.m., and [Jim] Grant went straight after the elephant in the room — the Valeant-Allergan deal. “May I call you Bill, or do you prefer ‘Alpha’?” Grant asked playfully before launching into a series of questions. Before we go any further into this story, you should know that short-seller Jim Chanos, CEO of Kynikos Associates, was sitting in the crowd. Chanos is famously short Valeant. He says it is an accounting rollup that lacks organic growth. Ackman knew Chanos was in the crowd, because during the lunch lecture (about 20 minutes before Ackman’s interview), Chanos asked a question in front of everyone present. Now, back to Ackman’s interview. As Grant asked the same questions about Valeant-Allergan that critics have been asking for months — “Does the company actually make money?” “Does Valeant overpay for its acquisitions?” “Doesn’t it need to spend money on R&D?” — Ackman started to bristle a bit. Suddenly, he turned toward Grant. “Are you short because your daughter is working for Jim Chanos?” he asked pointedly. [BI]
George Soros’s Daughter-In-Law Wants To See The Part Of The Pre-Nup Where She Isn’t Entitled To Every Last CentBy Bess Levin
WhatsApp Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum, whose mobile-messaging company was acquired by Facebook Inc. for $22 billion this year, is apologizing for behavior that led to a restraining order against him in 1996. The order was granted in February 1996 in state court in San Jose, California, after a civil harassment claim from an ex-girlfriend who details multiple incidents from June 1995 to January 1996 in which she said Koum verbally and physically threatened her, according to court documents. The incidents included changing her school records and preventing her from attending college classes, according to the documents. “I feel I was irrational and behaved badly after we broke up,” Koum said in a statement today. “I am ashamed of the way I acted, and ashamed that my behavior forced her to take legal action. I am deeply sorry for what I did.” [BusinessWeek]