The Latest

Opening Bell: 1.22.15

big footFamily Dollar shareholders approve Dollar Tree deal (Reuters)
Family Dollar Stores Inc’s shareholders approved the discount retailer’s deal to be bought by Dollar Tree Inc (DLTR.O), effectively putting Dollar General Corp out of the race to buy the company. About 84 million shares were voted in favor of the deal, representing 74 percent of the total outstanding shares.

Schneiderman makes another splash in Barclays dark pool (NYP)
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an amended complaint against the British bank, claiming that two of its top executives aren’t cooperating with the office’s investigation into one of its “dark pools.” The complaint also names additional instances of when Barclays misrepresented its trading platform to investors. The new accusations come as the AG’s office has combed through hundreds of thousands of additional documents since making its initial accusations in June, according to an official from the AG’s office who wasn’t authorized to speak about the case. The complaint points to William White, head of electronic trading, and his second-in-command, David Johnsen, head of product development, as refusing to cooperate with the probe. It’s the first time any names have been singled out in the case.

How Greece and Germany Brought Europe’s Long-Simmering Crisis Back to a Boil (WSJ)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, under pressure at home to end his country’s financial bailout regimen, sought help last spring from German Chancellor Angela Merkel about relieving some of Greece’s debt. Ms. Merkel asked an interpreter to translate the phrase “debt relief,” according to people familiar with the meeting. Then she told Mr. Samaras: “It doesn’t sound as good in German.” The retort was an early sign Greece could expect little clemency from its German-led creditors.

Best Hedge Fund in Sweden Posts Historic Volatility Returns (Bloomberg)
“It’s become more exciting,” Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Svante Bergstroem said in an interview in Stockholm. “The second half of 2014 was very positive for us and since April we have had nine consecutive months with a plus, which we have never had in the history of the fund.” The $5.5 billion fund has profited from disruptions caused by a slumping oil price, central bank stimulus and even sanctions against Russia. The fund’s investments are determined by its proprietary model, which tracks patterns in financial markets, Bergstroem said.

Patriots Deflation Scandal May Cost Team NFL Draft Pick, Fine (Bloomberg)
The New England Patriots face a potential fine or loss of draft picks if a National Football League investigation finds the team broke rules by deflating footballs used in its conference championship game victory. The NFL’s probe found that 11 of the 12 balls supplied by the Patriots and used by their offense in the 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18 were underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch below the league’s 12.5 to 13.5 PSI requirement, according to ESPN. Balls inflated to less than the required weight may be easier for a quarterback to throw and receivers to catch, particularly in wet or cold conditions.

Meth-Drone Crashes Near US-Mexico Border (AP)
Police in a Mexican border city said Wednesday that a drone overloaded with illicit methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot. Tijuana police spokesman Jorge Morrua said authorities were alerted after the drone fell Tuesday night near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico’s border with California. Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border. Read more »

Write-Offs: 1.21.15

$$$ Bank of Canada Cuts Rates to Protect Its Hot Housing Market [Bloomberg]

$$$ Chris Rokos, who generated more than $4 billion as a trader at Brevan Howard Asset Management, will start his own hedge fund with the backing of his former employer after settling a lawsuit against the firm. [Bloomberg]

$$$ Hold the Garlic: How to Feed the World Elite at Davos [Bloomberg]

$$$ EBay Announces Job Cuts, Icahn Pact [WSJ]

$$$ Man, 20, Cops Plea To Lewd Act With Stuffed Horse Inside Walmart [TSG] Read more »

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It may not have kept anyone from going to Davos, but people are still pretty pissed at the Swiss over the whole surprise-scrapping-of-the-franc-euro-cap thing. Granted, those people are mostly ones who lost a great deal of money in the ensuing surge in the franc, but such people are legion. For instance, BlueCrest Capital’s Peter von Maydell and COMAC Capital’s Colm O’Shea, who no longer have hedge funds to run. Or Fortress Investment Group’s Mike Novogratz, who hasn’t quite lost as much on the franc as he has on the bitcoin, but who still already has an 8% hole to dig out of this year. Or Interactive Brokers Group, which is pretty sure the $120 million it has lost on the mess isn’t coming back. Read more »

lucarelliEarlier today, a man was given a platform to make some brief remarks and ended up telling a rambling story that surprised onlookers with its non-sequiturs, bizarre details, and, at times, volume. Was he doing so during a hearing in federal court or at a bar in downtown Manhattan (let’s just call it The Patriot)? Based on the following clues, you tell us:

  • The man name dropped many a super model he claimed to have worked with
  • He bitched about his boss
  • He worked in a story about getting into– and winning– a fistfight with his father when he was 16
  • Not on this occasion but one past ones, he’s been known to pair flip-flops with sweatpants
  • He spoke of the marriage troubles/bedroom problems associated with having a wife 20 years one’s junior
  • There was a brief aside about coke
  • He was told at least twice to keep it down, because he was yelling

Read more »

Barack ObamaLast night, President Obama asked 535 people to understand that “a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.” Well, the 300 of them that identify as the latter have a somewhat different understanding of a better politics, as their not one, not two, but five State of the Union responses amply demonstrate. Read more »

How-to-Write-a-Formal-LetterIn the grand tradition of hedge fund letters to clients informing them that the money they invested is pretty much all gone, many a manager has a difficult time doing a credible rendition of an apology. Even if the words “apologize” or “sorry” actually do appear on the page, they’re typically followed by 1) A positive spin such as “Your one dollar at the beginning of this year is now 4 cents!” and 2) Long paragraphs about how outside forces lost the clients’ money, or how, sure, it’s been an annus fucking horribilis but there are still 14 trading days left on the calendar to turn it around, or how the ass bleeding the fund has suffered is strictly due to the market’s ridiculous mispricing of equity and in no way the investment theses of those in charge. So when a hedge fund manager actually sounds like he really is sorry about incinerating his clients’ money? It feels like you’ve got to give him a least a smidge of credit, relative to his peers. Sure, he bet big and lost it all, but he feels bad about it! Grading on a curve, that’s something. Read more »

bitcoinThe less bitcoins are worth, the more people want to invest real money with people doing business in the fake stuff. And what people, too: The New York Stock Exchange! And Vikram Pandit! Read more »