Skip to main content

Opening Bell: 12.02.09

  • Author:
  • Updated:

BofA Breakup Proposal Is New Snag in CEO Hunt (WSJ)
Not only does no one want to be CEO, but people are comfortable enough comparing the bank to Citi to the board's face: "At least two candidates for the top job at Bank of America Corp. told directors that the giant bank should consider breaking itself up, but board members in charge of the CEO search have rejected the idea at least for now, according to people familiar with the situation."
UK Treasury Take Control of RBS Bonus Pool (Reuters)
The Treasury has demanded the right to control the "quantum and shape" of 2009 bonuses at the bank as worry over the public backlash surrounding bonus pay for bankers continues.
Hedge Fund Veterans Start Anew (WSJ)
Four founding partners of former Citigroup hedge fund Old Lane, including its ex-chief executive Guru Ramakrishnan and Jonathan Barton, Jeff Moskowitz and Ajay Khanna, have launched the Meru Capital Group. Will Pandito join the fun or miss out on good times with the old gang?
Significant Risks To US Bank Stocks, Says Citi (NYT)
"Since there is above-average risk, we would remain very selective focusing on banks that have strong capital positions, while avoiding banks with the combination of relatively high commercial real estate exposure and questionable capital strength," Citigroup said in a note.
SEC Steps Up Insider Trading Probe (WSJ)
They're really mean it this time: The organization has sent at least three dozen subpoenas to hedge funds and brokerages within the past month in an expanding sweep of potential insider-trading violations.
Daughter Of Resigned GM CEO Attacks New GM CEO On Facebook (Jalopnik)
An Open Letter To Tiger Woods, by Larry Kudlow (CNBC)
So this happened: Fess up, Tiger. If you don't, the tabloids are gonna kill ya. By now everyone knows that something happened to you and your car outside your Florida mansion.

Some tabloids report that for some reason your wife Elin teed you up inside your home with one of your Nike golf clubs, and that you sought escape by hot-footing it outside at two-thirty in the morning to your Cadillac Escalade in the driveway but for some reason, you hit a fireplug and wrapped the car around a tree.
How you got your face scratched and wound up on the side of the road is still a mystery.
But the tabs and gossip sites like are saying a woman named Rachel Uchitel is the alleged home-breaker. That you have some kind of relationship with her. And that story is not going to die until you put it to rest one way or another by fessing up and telling all the details.
Adding fuel to these flames, you have pulled out of your very own tournament, the 2009 Chevron World Challenge, which is scheduled for this week. Tiger, my friend, one thing you need to consider is the business angle to this narrative.
The Daily Beast is running a story about your $100 million car crash. Investigative reporter Gerald Posner estimates that even if you take a 10 percent hit on your endorsement income, this incident could cost you $10 million a year, totaling $100 million over the next decade. At risk could be your contracts with Nike, Gatorade, and AT&T. There's also Accenture and the EA video-game series.
So, my friend, stonewalling, when even whispers of marital infidelity are involved, just doesn't pay.
South Carolina governor Mark Sanford tried stonewalling, but it didn't work out too well for him. His career is now finished. Another bad case is that of former North Carolina senator and unsuccessful presidential candidate John Edwards. He really had a bad time of it, with the tabloids literally chasing him into the bathroom. His career is finished, too. On the other hand, Nevada senator John Ensign did fess up -- about one half step ahead of the tabloids -- and he may well live to see another reelection day.
And then there's Bill Clinton, who stonewalled about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Woaaah! That caused one heck of a blow up, including impeachment proceedings in the House. Remember when he said that it "depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"? This was the worldwide sex-cover-up stonewalling attempt to end all marital-infidelity sex-cover-up stonewalling attempts.
Tiger, you don't want to go there.
That could be you. There are lessons to be learned about coming clean as fast as possible.
Even though I personally have only one-ten-thousandth of your media and business impact, perhaps my story will be helpful. Over 15 years ago, after missing a big speech and resigning from my career on Wall Street, the New York Times came after me with a story of serious alcohol and drug abuse. They were right. I believed then as I do now that honesty is a virtue, and I fessed up. I got sober. My saintly wife and I recently celebrated our 22nd marriage anniversary. And today I am fully employed at CNBC (for which I am eternally grateful). People forgave me. God redeemed me.
But in your case, if there is no alcohol, drugs, or infidelity, and if there is a better-sounding, truthful explanation of your events, you've gotta get out there and say it. As you know, your clean, serious, sober, near-perfect, golden-boy bloom is already off the rose. And if you insist on stonewalling, from now on it's damage limitation. And that will be no fun at all. Your bottom will be lower than anything you ever imagined.
Fans love the way you play, and so do I. Sunday afternoons are a treat watching you. But you're in a heap of trouble right now. Stonewalling, whether in business or politics, seldom pays.
C'mon Tiger. Be a mench. Fess up and clear the air. If you do it soon, you will be forgiven, and this too will pass.


Photo: Getty Images

Opening Bell: 9.22.16

Yellen signals 2016 hike coming; Bill Gross is 'verklempt' after Fed decision; Australian hot dog and hamburger combination 'hamdog' coming to U.S.; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.9.15

Wall Street braces for bonus cuts; Central banker says fed hike makes sense; "Rumblr, the 'Tinder for Fighting' app, to launch its beta trial on Nov. 9"; and more.

Opening Bell: 10.04.12

France’s LBO Firms See ‘Death’ From Hollande’s 75% Carry Tax (Bloomberg) Hollande, who released his first annual budget on Sept. 28, plans to tax fund managers’ share of the profit from their investments, known as carried interest, at a rate of as much as 75 percent, part of a wider effort to increase taxes on the wealthy and narrow the country’s deficit. France also plans to as much as double taxes on capital gains and restrict the amount of debt interest payments a company can deduct from its taxable income, a measure that will reduce returns on leveraged buyouts. Facebook Test Turns Users Into Advertisers (FT) Facebook is testing a new product in the US that allows ordinary users to pay to promote their own status updates, marking a shift in the social network’s willingness to charge its users for a core service. The product has potential to generate revenues, analysts said, but could also threaten the organic feel of the site as people pay to market their own social lives. Mark Zuckerberg Confirms: 'I wear the same thing everyday' (DL) "I mean, I wear the same thing every day, right? I mean, it's literally, if you could see my closet," Zuckerberg starts to explain, as Lauer asks if he owns 12 of the same gray t-shirt. "Maybe about 20," Zuckerberg admits, somewhere between discussing the future of Facebook, his daily routine, the iPhone 5, and his wedding to college sweetheart Priscilla Chan last May. The Facebook CEO says that he doesn't really have much in his closet — it's mainly used by his wife, who graduated from medical school at the University of California at San Francisco shortly before their marriage. Instead, Zuckerberg's identical t-shirt collection lives in the one drawer he's allotted. Tiger Global Up 22.4 Percent (Reuters) Tiger Global, one of the world's best-performing hedge funds, ended the third quarter with strong gains, leaving the fund up 22.4 percent for the year, two people familiar with the numbers said on Wednesday. The roughly $6 billion fund, run by Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan, has been the darling of the investment community for its string of strong returns at a time when the average hedge fund is delivering only low single-digit returns. In 2011, when most funds nursed losses, Tiger Global captured headlines with a 45 percent gain for the year after having made a good chunk of money on the short side, people familiar with the portfolio said. 'Dark Pool' And SEC Settle (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in its order that Boston-based broker-dealer eBX LLC allowed the third-party operator of its trading platform, called LeveL ATS, to use details on client orders, including the stocks involved and whether they were buy or sell orders, to its own advantage. That operator is Lava Trading, an electronic-trading unit of Citigroup, according to eBX. eBX agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the SEC's allegations. It did so without admitting or denying wrongdoing. Mohamed El-Erian: No corner offices at PIMCO (Fortune) "It doesn't matter whether you're CEO or whether you're an associate, you have the same size office. No corner offices. Just a conference room. And then I knew that I had made the right decision when my very first outing with PIMCO, I had come from the IMF, 15 years working on emerging markets. I had a swagger, I thought I knew what I was talking about. I put forward my view, and this summer intern felt safe enough to get up and say, "You know what? Mohamed is wrong and this is why he's wrong." The fact that PIMCO had created this safe zone where a summer intern could get up and question someone who was supposed to be an expert confirmed to me that I was in the right place." Bank-Friendly U.S. Regulator Shifts Focus to Revamp Reputation (Bloomberg) In a stately hearing room stuffed with senators and bankers, Thomas Curry began his apologies. His agency should have stopped a major bank from helping drug cartels launder cash. The violations went on for years while his agency was overly passive. “I deeply regret we did not act sooner,” he said. Curry had been on the job for just over three months on that day in July, so the mistakes hadn’t been made on his watch. His apologies were less a confession than a signal the new Comptroller of the Currency -- long seen as the most bank- friendly of U.S. regulators -- was changing course. “I’m not interested in what people thought about in the past,” Curry said in an interview. “My focus is going forward.” Since he took over in March, at least two key staff members closely associated with the agency’s pro-industry stance have departed, notably chief counsel Julie Williams. Williams, a 19- year OCC veteran, was known for helping nationally chartered banks resist state regulation by arguing they were preempted by often less-stringent federal rules. Curry has also raised the profile of consumer protection and shifted focus toward “operational risk” -- the idea that bank practices and management can pose as much of a threat to safety and soundness as external forces. Argentine Navy Ship Seized In Asset Fight (FT) An Argentine naval vessel crewed by more than 200 sailors has been seized in Ghana as part of an attempt by the US hedge fund Elliott Capital Management to collect on bonds on which Buenos Aires defaulted in 2001. A Ghanaian court ordered an injunction and interim preservation order against the ARA Libertad, a 100-metre long tall ship, following an application by Elliott subsidiary NML Capital on Tuesday. The hedge fund, run by the US billionaire Paul Singer, has been closely monitoring the course of the Libertad, according to sources familiar with the firm. Elliott had been waiting for the ship to stop in a port where it would have a chance to enforce legal judgments previously awarded by UK and US courts. The hedge fund declined to comment. Argentina slammed the interception of the Libertad as a “trick which these unscrupulous financiers” had pulled, adding that it “violates the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity”. Morgan Stanley commodities talks with Qatar hit snag (Reuters) Morgan Stanley's talks with Qatar's sovereign wealth fund over the sale of its commodities business have run into difficulty, and the deal may need to be reworked if it is to go ahead, banking sources said. One of the top banks in commodity trading over the past 30 years, Morgan Stanley has been in discussion for more than a year with Qatar over the sale of at least a majority stake in the energy-focused trading business, the bankers said. "There have been some differences, and Qatar is a bit lukewarm about it," one said. "It's not dead yet but definitely not imminent." Maple syrup stolen in Quebec seized by police in New Brunswick (The Star) Quebec police have seized between 700 and 800 barrels of maple syrup from a New Brunswick exporter, linking the drums to August’s massive heist of the sweet stuff. Étienne St-Pierre, owner of S.K. Exports in Kedgwick, N.B., told the Star that police executed a search warrant Sept. 26 and hauled away the barrels. “They said they were searching to find some stolen drums from Quebec,” he said. “It was a surprise. That was the first news I received.” St-Pierre said each barrel weighs about 270 kilograms and holds 170 litres of syrup, meaning police seized at least 119,000 litres of gooey Quebec gold. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec, Sgt. Bruno Beaulieu, confirmed a search warrant had been executed in Kedgwick but said he could not comment on the investigation. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has never revealed the amount of syrup stolen from its secure St-Louis-de-Blandford, Que. warehouse in August. The facility held about 3.75 million litres of syrup, enough to fill one and a half Olympic swimming pools. St-Pierre said he obtained the barrels from a regular Quebec supplier, who he refused to identify.