Richard Handler

Like all amazing movies, miniseries, other works of art, the clip of Richard Handler accepting and taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a slow burn to an amazing finish. Oh, to be sure, it starts out leaps and bounds ahead of any other videos of its kind: that is, in Handler’s penthouse bathroom, in front of his jacuzzi. It’s just that at every turn, it gets exponentially better, in ways you can’t imagine, ’til you’re at the end and saying to yourself, “This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.” Obviously, this must be watched in full, many times over the course of the day and possibly on loop and in place of whatever your firm is showing in TVs throughout the building. But, if we might, here are our favorite moments:

:01: We’re in Richard Handler’s bathroom. Why is that? Most of the head honchos taking part in this challenge (Marissa Mayer, senior execs at JP Morgan, etc) take the plunge on the street in front of their company or in someone’s backyard. No matter, here we are, in Richard Handler’s bathroom.

:05: Handler is narrating this video in his boxers and an old tee-shirt.

:12: He lays out the rules, we’re still in his bathroom.

:56: He nominates Carl Icahn to take the challenge, and Icahn’s wife to dump the ice (Icahn later takes to Twitter to say he’s too god damn busy.)

1:15: He starts ripping open plastic bags of ice and dumping them into the tub. It takes a while, because, again, he’s doing the challenge 1) in a jacuzzi and 2) in a jacuzzi that looks like it can seat 7. “It’s a lotta ice,” he tells the camera.

2:02: Even though he just dumped 8 or 9 bags of ice into the tub, he dumps a hotel-style wicker ice bucket into the bath, just for good measure. Read more »

  • 20 Dec 2013 at 3:23 PM

Bonus Watch ’13: Jefferies

Last year, a li’l investment bank that could called Jefferies paid out bonuses comprised entirely of cash. This proved pretty popular, so this year, CEO Dick Handler has decided to do it again. Read more »

  • 02 Apr 2013 at 3:24 PM

Richard Handler Is Sorry You Had to See This

Jefferies Chief Executive Officer Richard Handler said he sued to stop construction of a roof deck across the street from his Tribeca apartment on behalf of his neighbors, according to an e-mail to employees. “I took the lead to help our neighborhood oppose what we know will be a major nuisance and disruption to our lives,” Handler, 51, said in the March 31 correspondence, the contents of which were confirmed by a Jefferies spokesman. “You can be assured we are not going after the city in any way and are only asking for their help in dealing with a huge potential problem.” Handler told employees he wrote the e-mail to apologize for “recent distractions in the media concerning me,” including stories that portrayed him as a “tone-deaf one-percenter.” [Bloomberg]

I’m mesmerized by this JPMorgan research chart showing that big banks shouldn’t be broken up because they lend so much more to businesses and consumers than small banks do. See:

Basically for every dollar of normalized capital, JPMorgan has extended $12 of credit between March 2010 and September 2012, according to this note by JPM’s Michael Cembalest. Whereas the small banks have loaned out only about $2. Get with the program, small banks!

The trick here – besides “normalized capital”1 – is that “credit extended” means (1) “changes in commercial and consumer loan balances” plus (2) syndicated loan, corporate bond, muni bond, etc. underwriting. That is, if you stand between a company looking for money and the market that provides it, you get, um, credit for extending credit, whether you do that standing-between in traditional banking ways (take deposit, make loans) or in traditional investment banking ways (match bond buyer with bond issuer). “See, we’re lending,” says JPMorgan. “We’re just not lending our money.”2

As a rhetorical move, I say: A+. Read more »

  • 29 Jan 2013 at 5:17 PM

Bonus Watch ’13: Jefferies CEOs

Dick Handler ended up doing pretty okay for himself. Read more »

Back in the day, as in pre-crisis, bonus season on Wall Street was a happy time. Sure, you still had your miserable pricks who would bitch and moan about the fact that they hadn’t gotten as much as the guy who sat next to them, even they the guy who sat next to them was a “non-contributing zero who wouldn’t recognize alpha if it bit him in the ass,” but prior to to fall 2008, anyone who was unhappy about his or her bonus was a) quibbling over receiving a huge sum of money instead of an imperial fuck-ton of money and b) in a position to actually make good on a threat to jump ship, since firms were hiring. Now, with a few exceptions, bonus season makes people feel sad. Angry. Powerless. Frustrated. Confused. Like the world is out to get them. Not only has the total amount of one’s bonus come down, but many companies have decreased the cash portion, while increasing the deferral period on stock to, in some cases, almost half a decade. Then you have Jefferies. Last year it let employees decide between an all stock bonus or an all cash bonus with 25% lopped off.  This year the investment bank-cum-butcher shop isn’t even forcing anyone to choose, instead dumping a bag of cash on people’s desk and reminding everyone who loves ‘em. Read more »

Leucadia National Corp., which EDGAR tells me is in the “Lumber & Wood Products (No Furniture)” business but which also processes beef, drills for oil, owns a Mississipi casino and develops biopharmaceuticals, is getting out of one business:

Leucadia National Corporation (NYSE: LUK) and Jefferies Group, Inc. (NYSE: JEF) today announced that the Boards of Directors of both companies have approved a definitive merger agreement under which Jefferies’ shareholders (other than Leucadia, which currently owns approximately 28.6% of the Jefferies outstanding shares) will receive 0.81 of a share of Leucadia common stock for each share of Jefferies common stock they hold. …

Leucadia will continue to operate in its current form, except that the merger agreement contemplates that Leucadia’s Crimson Wine Group, with a book value of $197 million, will be spun out in a distribution that is intended to be tax-free to current Leucadia shareholders prior to the completion of the merger.

I assumed that the spinoff was driven by some sort of regulatory impediment (alcoholic or financial), though on the analyst call for the merger Jefferies said that Crimson was just “less synergistic” to the combined business than … I guess, than the casino or the slaughterhouse? Still, I like it: you can combine a casino and a wine business, or a casino and an investment bank, but not a wine business and an investment bank. Do you think the investment bankers are prudes, or the winemakers?

What are the investment bankers up to anyway? It makes a lot of sense for a low-investment-grade wee investment bank who recently overcame a near-death experience re: Eurozone sovereign bonds to sell itself to a highly rated financial conglomerate – a “baby Berkshire Hathaway” no less – with a big balance sheet that can provide cheap funding for its bond-market misadventures. But this isn’t that: Leucadia’s rating is 2-3 notches lower than Jefferies’, and its balance sheet is smaller, though Moody’s is talking about upgrading Leucadia on the deal.

Here is Moody’s affirming Jefferies’ Baa3 rating: Read more »