Opening Bell: 07.23.10

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UBS Hustles To Rebuild (WSJ)
Ten times over the past year, UBS AG Chief Executive Oswald Grübel has been called upon to speak personally with wealthy clients who were spooked by the Swiss bank's deep troubles and threatening to taking their millions elsewhere. Mr. Grübel talked each one of the clients through UBS's financial situation and sketched out his turnaround plan. All 10 ended up staying, according to Mr. Grübel. Under Mr. Grübel, UBS has set up an early-warning system to flag clients who make large withdrawals. It is deploying senior executives to soothe clients' concerns and reach out to departed clients.

Treasury to Sell 1.5 Billion More Citi Shares (Dealbook)
Treasury said in a statement that it has authorized Morgan Stanley to sell the additional shares at market prices between now and Sept. 30, before Citi enters an earnings blackout period. Over the course of the year, Treasury has sold 2.6 billion shares of the 7.7 billion it received as part of its Citi bailouts. So far, those holdings have been sold off profitably, raising $10.5 billion in gross proceeds, the department said.

Goldman Sachs Said to Give AIG-Hedging List to Investigators (Bloomberg)
“We want to know the identity of those parties, partly just to know where American taxpayer dollars went, but partly to assess Goldman’s claim,” said Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, in a Senate hearing this week. “We cannot evaluate the credibility of their claim that they had nothing at stake one way or the other in the AIG bailout.”

High Finance And Corporate Pot, California Style (Reuters)
Even the cops who most hate it see legal California marijuana as a different breed of drug -- and a game changer for the country. "The stuff we are getting in California is fricking leading the world," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Senior Narcotics Detective Glenn Walsh. "We already send marijuana all over the States, presumably all over the world."

SEC Watchdog Will Probe Goldman Settlement Timing (Reuters)
SEC Inspector General David Kotz said that he will look into "the circumstances surrounding the timing of the SEC's settlement reached with Goldman on July 16," according to a letter seen by Reuters. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa had asked Kotz to open an initial probe into the timing of the suit in April. The letter on Thursday which agreed to expand the probe to look at the settlement's timing was also addressed to Issa. Republicans questioned why the SEC case was filed just before the Senate was due to start formally debating a bill to usher in new rules for Wall Street.

Ratings Agencies Threaten Hungary with Downgrade (CNBC)
Moody's placed Hungary's Baa1 local and foreign currency government bond ratings on review, citing increased fiscal risks after the International Monetary Fund and the European Union suspended talks over their 20 billion euro ($25 billion) financing deal at the weekend. S&P said later it revised its outlook on Hungary to negative from stable, while affirming its BBB-/A-3 rating.

SEC Breaks Impasse With Rating Firms (WSJ)
Late Thursday the agency said it would temporarily allow bond sales to go ahead without credit ratings in bond offering documents, a move that would end an effective stalemate between ratings agencies and issuers.

Man wearing Darth Vader mask and cape robs L.I. bank with gun, shoves customer to floor (NYDN)
A bandit decked out in a Darth Vader costume strolled into a Long Island bank yesterday - and walked out with a wad of cash. The villain looked ready for Halloween, wearing the "Star Wars" scoundrel's signature mask and sweeping black cape. He lost some authenticity points for a pair of camouflage pants. The get-up struck one customer as so funny that he started joshing with the Darth Robber after he strode into the Chase bank in Setauket. "The customer thought it might have been a joke, and not a serious attempt at a robbery," said Suffolk County police Detective Sgt. William Lamb. But Darth wasn't kidding - and he wasn't going to be stopped by a non-Jedi Knight.

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