Opening Bell: 12.29.08

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Credit Suisse Investors May Have Lost ~$1B With Madoff (Reuters)
So, Credit Suisse didn't actually invest with Madoff, and the Hedge Funds they use/sell didn't invest in Madoff, but their client base did. Is it possible the Credit giant knew better than to invest with Madoff, and if they did know better, what did they know?
Bernie Madoff A Ripoff 'Victim' (NYP)
Finally, this is getting interesting. According to a Palm Beach police report, a 5 foot copper statute of two lifeguards, valued at $10,000, was stolen out of Bernie Madoff's backyard in Florida last week. No word on suspects, though you can probably take a crack at it (we're leaning toward it being an inside job perpetrated to drum up sympathy).
The five-foot, copper artwork overlooked the Madoffs' inground pool, and portrays two young lifeguards sitting on a raised stand.
PE Firms Close To IndyMac Deal (NYT)
J.C. Flowers, Dune Capital Management, and Paulson & Company are teaming with the FDIC and some ex Lehman Brothers bankers to put together the deal, though specifics aren't known. IndyMac, you'll remember, was one of the first "Too Big To Fail" banks that went on to fail, joined eventually by Wachovia and Washington Mutual. How? Oh, I'm glad you asked:
"The seizure came after panicked customers withdrew more than $1.3 billion of deposits over 11 business days. The withdrawals came after comments in late June by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, questioning IndyMac's health."
NY Back On Top Of IPO Gambit (FT)
For the first time since 2005, NY is kicking China's ass in something: with $25.4B in IPOs in 2008, we've dethroned China ($22B). Granted, $19.8B of that was Visa.
Japanese Insurers Look to Merge (Reuters)
"Shares of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group Holdings Inc, Aioi Insurance Co and Nissay Dowa General Insurance Co surged on Monday on hopes that a merger would increase profits and reduce competition.
The three aim to reach a basic agreement by March 2009, a company source said, which would produce the country's largest non-life insurer."
Unions Look To Pick Up Perks Under Obama (NYT)
The recent hand down from Congress to the auto workers had some interesting caveats built in, included among them the haircut for labor. It didn't take long for the UAW to tell the world they'll be looking for better terms under the Obama administration, suggesting to me that they believe they've effectively bought their survival via election donations.

Latins Quiet About Madoff Losses
(WSJ)

In a profile of Mr. Piedrahita last week, Poder, a Colombian business magazine, said that local investors may have lost as much as $200 million to Mr. Madoff's apparent scam through the Fairfield Sentry fund, which had been promoted by Mr. Piedrahita in Colombia for the past 15 years.
"A lot of wealthy Colombians got burnt," said one leading Bogota businessman. But to date, no Colombian investor has acknowledged losing money in the Madoff affair. Colombia has a history of kidnappings and businessmen are generally wary of talking about their wealth in the media.

Related? You tell us.
GMAC Isn't Saying (WSJ)
No word from GMAC on whether or not the $38B debt restructuring had been backed. The deal would have them (GMAC) swapping $38B of debt for new debt (less) and preferred shares/cash.

--William Richards


*Programming Note (in case you missed it): We're on an abbreviated vacation-esque schedule 'til '09 (opening/closing wraps and very limited updates whenever the urge to reach out and touch you moves us). We still want to hear from you, though, so if Bernie Madoff slips in the shower and you've got pics, do not hesitate to let us know.

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