Opening Bell: 05.18.10

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Goldman Sachs Seeks Bigger Share Of US Retirement Savings (Bloomberg)
The bank is promoting alternative asset funds and designing target-date funds that provide guaranteed income to grab a bigger piece of the $2.7 trillion 401(k) market, said Bill McDermott, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and head of its defined-contribution business. “We understand risk and we understand asset allocation,” said McDermott, who joined the firm in February to strengthen its retirement-plan products and marketing. “We’re looking to leverage that for the 401(k) market.”

Steve Jobs Was Robbed (MarketWatch)
That's gonna leave a mark: "Jobs held 15 million options at an exercise price of $9.15, which meant they started to gain value only if Apple stock exceeded that price, and 40 million options at an exercise price of $21.80. Apple at the time was little more than $7 a share. (These prices have been adjusted to reflect the subsequent stock split.) Total value: $12.8 billion. In other words, Steve Jobs missed out on $10.3 billion in extra profits."

ShoreBank Gets Shot At Survival (WSJ)
Give it up for Lloyd: As of late Monday, people familiar with the situation said Goldman was committing to at least $20 million and as much as $25 million; Citigroup was in for $20 million; J.P. Morgan was in for at least $15 million; Bank of America had increased its commitment to $15 million from $5 million; and Morgan Stanley had increased its commitment to $10 million from $3 million to $4 million.

Mapley Urges Action Against Goldman Sachs (The Australian)
David Mapley, a former non-executive director of the local Basis Yield Alpha Fund, said the Australian Securities & Investments Commission should closely examine the role of the investment bank's local arm, Goldman Sachs JBWere, in marketing a mortgage-related investment product that ultimately led to the fund's demise in August 2007. "I don't know if the regulator in Australia is looking at this trade but they certainly should," the British-born fund manager told The Australian from his base in Switzerland yesterday.

Feds eye David Lerner for 'excessive' bond pricing (NYP)
Long Island brokerage firm David Lerner Associates -- famous for radio ads that tell investors to "take a tip from Poppy" -- has been tagged by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which accused the firm and its head trader, William Mason, of charging customers "excessive" markups on normally safe municipal bonds and high-grade mortgage-backed securities.

Canada To Voice International Bank Tax Opposition
(AP)
Prime Minister Harper said Canadian banks were required to maintain higher capital ratios and invest more prudently because of government regulation. ''They were not able to exploit some of the opportunities that got so many of these other western banks into trouble,'' Harper said. ''That's why we think it would obviously be unfair to come in and now say Canadian banks and other banks, who weren't part of the problem, now have to further limit their opportunities by paying tax.''

Seeking Less Scrutiny, Hedge Funds Flock To Asia (Reuters)
Pack your bags, ladies.

England To Win World Cup, Says JPM Quant Model (FT Alphaville)
"Ultimately our Model indicates Brazil as being the strongest team taking part in the tournament. However, due to the fixture schedule our Model predicts the following final outcome: 3rd: Netherlands, 2nd: Spain, World Cup Winners: England."

Doubling Bonus Taxes in U.K. Sends British Bankers to Accountants, Lawyers (Bloomberg)
“Increasing the rate of capital gains cuts across that policy initiative to encourage people to receive bonuses in share form,” said Neal Todd, a tax partner at London-based law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. “Many people who are sitting on large potential gains will be seeing if they can offload those shares rather quickly to trigger their gain.”

Calpers Votes For Splitting Chairman And CEO Roles At JPMorgan (Reuters)
Take this crap to Goldman Sachs. Jamie isn't interested.

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Opening Bell: 04.16.12

Downgrades Loom For European Banks (WSJ) Under pressure from banks, Moody's Investors Service said Friday that it is delaying until early May its highly anticipated decision on whether to downgrade the credit ratings of 114 banks in 16 European countries. Moody's announced the review in February, saying it was needed in light of the banks' weak conditions and the tough environment in which they're operating. It had planned to start unveiling the decisions this week. Obama Bid to End Too-Big-to Fail Undercut as Banks Grow (Bloomberg) Two years after President Barack Obama vowed to eliminate the danger of financial institutions becoming “too big to fail,” the nation’s largest banks are bigger than they were before the credit crisis. Five banks-- JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs-- held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, according to the Federal Reserve. Five years earlier, before the financial crisis, the largest banks’ assets amounted to 43 percent of U.S. output. The Big Five today are about twice as large as they were a decade ago relative to the economy, sparking concern that trouble at a major bank would rock the financial system and force the government to step in as it did during the 2008 crunch. “Market participants believe that nothing has changed, that too-big-to-fail is fully intact,” said Gary Stern, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Carlyle Takes Cautious Approach in IPO Price (WSJ) Carlyle Group plans to sell 30.5 million shares priced between $23 and $25 in its initial public offering, which could come before the end of the month, according to people familiar with the matter. Those shares would represent about 10% of the Washington, D.C., private-equity firm, in a deal that would value Carlyle at more than $7 billion, these people said. That value is toward the lower end of what earlier had been expected...Carlyle is putting less emphasis on pricing shares high at the IPO, instead hoping they rise in value once they are traded, according to people familiar with the matter. Bond Recipes Use Fresh Ingredients (WSJ) With risk-taking in vogue again, Wall Street is betting on the revival of a market for bonds made out of everything from "The English Patient" to fried chicken. The amount of so-called esoteric bonds backed by unusual assets has nearly doubled this year compared with the same period a year ago, according to Credit Suisse. Thus far this year, there have been $5.6 billion in deals done, more than twice the $2 billion in the same period last year. Over the past several months investors have bought bonds backed by revenue from Domino's Pizza DPZ +0.34% franchises, Miramax films, patents for drugs like Clarinex and Flumist and loans to buyers of Wyndham vacation time-shares. The deals show investors are becoming comfortable again with Wall Street's engineering skills, after many were hammered during the financial crisis by losses on bonds backed by subprime home loans and complex debt pools known as collateralized-debt obligations. The esoteric sales also mark a rare growth area for giant banks that have been hit hard by a slowdown in deal-making and trading. Four-year-old Heidi Hankins joins Mensa with 159 IQ (BBC) A four-year-old girl from Hampshire has been accepted into Mensa with an IQ just one point below Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Heidi Hankins from Winchester has a 159 IQ. She taught herself to read and was able to count to 40 at two years old. British Mensa chief executive John Stevenage said Heidi's parents "correctly identified that she shows great potential." According to Mensa, the average adult IQ score is 100. Geithner Rebuts Romney on Women and Jobs (WSJ) As the fight for women voters intensified in recent days, Mr. Romney took a swipe at Mr. Obama by saying women had borne the vast majority of job losses over the past three years. Labor Department data show women do account for 92.3% of the workers who have lost jobs since Mr. Obama took office in January 2009. But men suffered deeper job losses than women in the year before Mr. Obama's inauguration and men have gained more jobs than women since the recovery began in 2009. "It's a ridiculous way to look at the problem," Mr. Geithner said of Mr. Romney's criticism. Mr. Geithner on Sunday also defended the Obama administration's efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit, and said there was "no risk" that the U.S. would go through a debt crisis in the next two years like the one Greece is experiencing. But he had a warning for Congress, when asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about whether Congress would act to raise the government's debt ceiling again at the end of this year. "This is Congress's obligation to do as they have always done in the past," he said. "It would be good for the country this time if they did it with less drama." Barclays' Tax Deal Faces US Scrutiny (FT) Barclays’ controversial tax planning business will come under fresh scrutiny in a U.S. court this week over whether a transaction designed by the bank cost the U.S. government more than $1 billion in lost tax receipts. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service claims that complex, cross-border deals Barclays structured for several mid-tier banks in the last decade were an abusive tax shelter that exploited loopholes between U.S. and U.K. tax laws. Prime Brokerages Consolidate After 'Big Bang' (Reuters) Hedge funds are cutting back on the brokerage accounts they hold as the prime brokerage industry begins to consolidate more than four years after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy blew the sector wide open. Goldman Sachs Said to Raise $2.5 Billion in ICBC Sale (Bloomberg) The Wall Street firm is selling $2.5 billion of shares at HK$5.05 each, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. It sold 3.55 billion shares, or 4 percent of ICBC’s Hong Kong-traded shares, to Temasek, the Singapore state-owned investment group said. Temasek, which is increasing stakes in China’s biggest banks, paid $2.3 billion for the stock, based on the per-share price and stake size. 'Hug Me' Coke Machine Asks for Hugs, Delivers Free Coke (MFDC) Coca-Cola's global marketing campaign dubbed "Open Happiness" takes on a new twist with a Coke vending machine that asks passers by to give it a hug. The big red and white machine, located at the National University in Singapore, has "Hug Me" written across its front side. And people are actually hugging it...and given free Cokes.