Opening Bell: 09.17.10

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Hedge Fund Managers Set Up For Second Acts (NYT)
After shutting his giant fund following a humbling loss, Mr. Pallotta, the money manager who is an owner of the Boston Celtics, is doing what hedge fund types do in tough times: he is opening a new fund. “Will it be easy for him to raise money? Yes,” said Tim Berry, a head of hedge fund investments at Private Advisors, a Richmond, Va., firm that advises large institutions on their investments. “He has a long track record of success.” Others hoping for a comeback include Gabe Nechamkin, a former trader for George Soros, and John W. Meriwether, whose Long-Term Capital Management failed spectacularly in 1998. Mr. Nechamkin is on his second fund, Mr. Meriwether his third.

Judge Clears Countrywide's Mozilo Case For Trial (Reuters)
U.S. District Judge John Walter refused to resolve the case in Mozilo's favor on Thursday, ruling that the SEC had raised enough factual issues for it to be decided by a jury, according to court documents. The SEC presented evidence that Mozilo's stock sales in 2006 and 2007 were "significantly out-of-line with his prior trading plans or practices," Walter wrote. Thus a jury can decide whether Mozilo acted on inside information, Walter ruled, adding that Mozilo netted over $140 million from those transactions.

Obama to Tap Warren to Help Set Up Consumer Agency (WSJ)
Warren will be an assistant to the president and a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the statement said. The White House expects her to start immediately setting up the agency, which was established by this year’s Wall Street financial regulatory overhaul, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Push To Hire Bankers Accelerates (Dealbook)
Who wants a job?

JPMorgan Eyes London Lehman Tower In Potential Snub To Government
(Independent)
Property sources say the bank is ready to abandon its stalled £1.5bn project and relocate into the huge building that was occupied by Lehman, until its spectacular demise two years ago. The bank agreed a deal with Canary Wharf Group (CWG) in late 2008 for the development of new purpose-built offices, but has still not committed to the project. Sources close to JP Morgan, which employs Tony Blair, the former prime minister, as an adviser, admit that the delay is largely down to senior officials being furious at the UK Government's portrayal of the financial sector as the villain of the recession. It is understood that JP Morgan is also irritated that the criticism of the banking system has not abated since the Coalition came into office. Last year, sources warned it was considering scrapping the project over tax increases and an orchestrated campaign of "banker-bashing" before the election.

It's Getting Riskier To Be Rich (WSJ)
In the first year of the recession that began in 2007, the top 0.01% of earners in the U.S. saw their pre-tax income plummet by an average of 12.7%, compared to 2.6% for all earners, according to an analysis of data from income-tax returns by economists Jonathan Parker and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, in a paper being presented today at a Brookings Institution’s Papers on Economic Activity conference. Overall, since 1982, the income of the top 1% of earners has been about 2.4 times as volatile as the average for everyone, the paper’s authors find. That’s a big change from the years 1947 to 1982, when the income of the top 1% fluctuated about 30% less than average.

Manhattan Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing To Feed His Lottery Addiction (NYP)
A compulsive lottery player pleaded guilty today to stealing $2.3 million from condo and co-op buildings he managed in Manhattan to feed his love of randomly drawn ping-pong balls.

Dennis Kneale Set to Exit, Say Sources (DF)
Kneale is likely to leave after his current contract expires sometime in the next several weeks. "There's an outside shot that he could still work out a deal," says one knowledgeable source, but it's exceedingly unlikely as CNBC has made it clear it's unwilling to re-up him at anything close to his current salary, believed to be around $500,000 a year. Kneale did not respond to a message left on his cell phone, and a network spokesman declined to comment, citing a policy against discussing personnel matters.

London Funds Industry Under Threat, Bosses Warn (Reuters)
"The traffic lights ... are flashing red on tax (and) rhetoric around immigration," Dick Saunders, chief executive of funds industry body the Investment Management Association (IMA), told the Financial Services Authority conference. "The risk is not that big firms get up and move, leaving empty offices in Canary Wharf. That's not going to happen. The risk is rather one of attrition, of seepage, that individuals will move and functions will get offshored."

ECB Officials Point to Need to Act on Banking Issues (Reuters)
The financial crisis is not over and governments have more to do to pull banks off state support, although no euro zone country should default on its debt, European Central Bank officials said on Friday. ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny told reporters at a trade union conference that government action was needed to wean banks off the emergency supply of cheap cash the bank has provided since the crisis erupted in late 2008.

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Opening Bell: 05.08.12

When Facebook Met Wall Street (WSJ) On Monday, investors piled into the hotel to hear what Mr. Zuckerberg and his lieutenants had to say about the offering. At one point, the line, leading to a second-floor ballroom where the meeting was scheduled to be held at 11:45 a.m., stretched down to the first floor and spilled out of the hotel for nearly half a city block. At least one investor waiting in line said he didn't expect anything to be revealed that wasn't already in Facebook's securities filings. Rather, he was there to take in the show, and lunch (which was Cobb salad and grilled chicken). A 30-minute video about Facebook, which had been widely distributed before Monday, led the lunch, according to attendees. The next part of the presentation was briefly delayed by Mr. Zuckerberg's absence. The CEO was in the bathroom, explained Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman to attendees. (Mr. Ebersman wore a navy suit.) Yahoo CEO Apologizes in Memo, Board Meets (Reuters, earlier) Yahoo Inc's board convened on Monday afternoon to discuss the mounting upset surrounding Chief Executive Scott Thompson, who has apologized to employees after being accused last week by activist investor Daniel Loeb of padding his resume, a source with knowledge of the matter said..."I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you," Thompson wrote in his first extended memo to employees since the disclosures emerged on May 3. "We have all been working very hard to move the company forward and this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you." Billion-Dollar Traders Quit Wall Street For Hedge Funds (Bloomberg) Wall Street’s biggest banks have lost almost two dozen of their most-profitable credit traders in the past 13 months as regulators limit the kind of risk-taking that amplified the housing crisis four years ago. As banks slash or defer pay and reduce the amount they’re willing to wager, the traders are seeing better opportunities at hedge funds and investment firms that seek to profit in markets lenders are retreating from. Wall Street Banks Depressed In Secular Shift (Bloomberg) To Kevin Conn, who has been analyzing bank stocks for 15 years, the investment climate for Wall Street’s biggest firms has entered the realm of science fiction. “It’s like that Ray Bradbury short story where it rains for months in a row,” said Conn, who works for Massachusetts Financial Services Co., referring to “The Long Rain,” published in 1950. “It’s one of these terrifically depressing short stories where the weather just never changes.” Spain To Spend Billions On Bank Rescue (FT) Spain is planning a state bail-out of Bankia, the country’s third biggest bank by assets, in a move likely to involve the injection of billions of euros of public money into the troubled lender. In an abrupt reversal of policy, the Spanish government, which had previously insisted that no additional state money would be needed to clean up the country’s banking sector, confirmed that an intervention was being prepared. OWS Mom Snubs Plea (NYP) Occupy Wall Street protester Stacey Hessler, 39, arrested in November for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, yesterday refused an offer to have her charges dismissed and will instead face a trial...Hessler had originally planned to accept the judge’s offer of an adjournment contemplating dismissal, which erases the charge if the defendant stays out of trouble for six months, but later changed her mind, her attorney said. SEC Orders Probe Of Watchdog Office (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct by current and former staff working for its office of the inspector general, according to a person familiar with the matter. The complaint includes allegations that the misconduct compromised certain investigations of the SEC, according to the person familiar with the situation. Apollo's Profit More Than Doubles (WSJ) For the first quarter, Apollo reported a profit of $98 million, or 66 cents a share, up from a year-earlier profit of $38.2 million, or 33 cents a share. Economic net income rose to $1.10 from 99 cents a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 78 cents a share...Total revenue rose 12% to $776.7 million, far better than the $547 million expected by analysts. Bank of America Offers Principal Reductions to 200,000 Homeowners (CNBC) “If people get these things and toss them, they won’t be eligible,” says Ron Sturzenegger, the Bank of America executive charged with providing solutions to borrowers in need of mortgage assistance. But the offer is real, and eligible borrowers could get as much as $150,000 knocked off the balance of their mortgages. It is all part of the $25 billion settlement reached this year between federal and state agencies and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over fraudulent foreclosure document processing (so-called “robo-signing”). No Repeating Slowdown Seen by U.S. With Banks to Housing (Bloomberg) Rising auto sales, improving bank credit and stabilization of housing are among the signs the economy is more resilient now than it was around the same time in 2010 and 2011, according to Marisa Di Natale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “From where we sit right now, we think the economy looks fundamentally stronger,” Di Natale said. “Surveys of business and consumer confidence are better, the labor market data looks a lot better than it did last year, even some of the housing data looks better.” Ex-Tyco CFO: Gimme the $ I didn’t steal! (Reuters) Former Tyco International Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz, who is serving a prison sentence for looting the company, has sued for $60 million in retirement and other money he says he is owed. The lawsuit, which was made public yesterday, accuses Tyco of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not paying him some $48 million from an executive retirement agreement, $9 million in reimbursement for New York taxes, and other money. Winner Of Mexican Presidential Debate? Julia Orayen (AP) Who won Mexico's presidential debate? According to the media and Twitter frenzy, at least, the victor wasn't any candidate but a curvaceous model in a tight gown who puzzled millions by appearing on stage for less than 30 seconds during the showdown. Julia Orayen has posed nude for Playboy and appeared barely dressed in other media, but she made her mark on Mexican minds Sunday night by carrying an urn filled with bits of paper determining the order that candidates would speak. She wore a tight, white dress with a wide, tear-drop cutout that revealed her ample decolletage. The image was splashed across newspaper front pages and websites by Monday. "The best was the girl in white with the cleavage at the beginning," tweeted former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, who is also a New York University professor...Alfredo Figueroa, director of the Federal Electoral Institute responsible for organizing the debate, blamed the incident on a production associate hired by the institute to help with the debate. The institute later issued an apology to Mexican citizens and the candidates for the woman's dress.