Opening Bell: 05.31.11

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2nd banker in hotel sex bust (NYP)
Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar -- the 74-year-old former chairman of Egypt's Bank of Alexandria -- allegedly groped and "gyrated" against the maid in Room 1027 at The Pierre hotel on Fifth Avenue, a law-enforcement source told The Post. He was wearing a bathrobe at the time, but it was not clear what, if anything, he had on under it.

Greek Aid Package To Be Decided By June (Bloomberg)
Inspectors from the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are set to wrap up a review of Greece’s progress in meeting the terms of last year’s 110 billion-euro ($158 billion) bailout in coming days. The EU will then formulate its plan for further aid to Greece, which remains shut out of financial markets a year after the rescue package.
“We are waiting for their final judgment,” Juncker, who is also Luxembourg’s prime minister, said yesterday in Paris after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “Their position will partly determine our position, so it’s too early. We will try to solve the Greek problem by the end of June.”

Japan recovery takes hold, but debt downgrade looms (Reuters)
Japan's economy offered more signs of recovery from the deadly March earthquake on Tuesday, but Moody's ratings agency warned both growth and government action may fall short of what is necessary to bring Tokyo's ballooning debt back under control.

Goldman Sachs names ex-Sen. Gregg to advisory post (Businessweek)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Friday that it has hired former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg as an international adviser.

Libya's Goldman Dalliance Ends in Losses, Acrimony (WSJ)
In early 2008, Libya's sovereign-wealth fund controlled by Col. Moammar Gadhafi gave $1.3 billion to Goldman Sachs Group to sink into a currency bet and other complicated trades. The investments lost 98% of their value, internal Goldman documents show…In an effort to make up for the losses, Goldman offered Libya the chance to become one of its biggest shareholders, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

Lagarde has G8 backing (Reuters)
G8 leaders all back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's bid to run the IMF, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday, as she attacked a call to investigate her role in a 2008 legal case that may harm her chances.

Wall Street ‘mispriced’ LinkedIn’s IPO (FT)
Peter Thiel, an early Facebook investor and co-founder of PayPal, said banks did not understand the full potential of the latest internet companies and warned that the next Silicon Valley darlings would negotiate hard when their turn comes to go public. “Whenever a stock price goes up as much as it does with LinkedIn, you assume the IPO was mispriced and the bankers screwed up,” said Mr Thiel, an investor in LinkedIn since its launch. “There continues to be a certain antipathy by Wall Street banks toward Silicon Valley companies where they don’t quite believe it’s real.”

At I.M.F., a Strict Ethics Code Doesn’t Apply to Top Officials (NYT)
At the International Monetary Fund, there is one set of ethics guidelines for the rank-and-file staff and another for the 24 elite executive directors who oversee the powerful organization. Over the last four years, the fund has tightened internal systems for catching ethical misconduct among its 2,400 staff members, establishing a telephone hot line for complaints like harassment; publishing details of complaints in an annual report; and empowering an ethics adviser to pursue allegations, which last year led to at least one dismissal. But the fund’s board members remain largely above these controls. The ethics adviser, for example, is not able to investigate any of them.

Strauss-Kahn assembles crisis team to fight back (Reuters)
Faced with a legal and media onslaught, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is pulling together a crack team of investigators, former spies and media advisers to fight back against charges he sexually assaulted a hotel chambermaid.

'Bad-tipper' Strauss-Kahn has food, patio furniture delivered; turns away balloons (NYP)
"They never tip," said a sweaty Danny Cotto after dropping off a box from Espresso Coffee at around 6 p.m. at the luxe TriBeCa town house…He took in a six-bag grocery order that included healthy fare like boneless, skinless chicken breast, Lean Cuisine meals and Crystal Light.

DSK using man-power to clean up (NYP)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has hired an all-male cleaning staff to do his dirty work at his TriBeCa townhouse, where he’s awaiting trial for allegedly forcing himself on a hotel maid.

Concerns mount over rising buy-out debt levels (FT)
Joseph Schull, European head of US private equity group Warburg Pincus, warned that his industry should not repeat mistakes made during its heyday in 2006 and 2007, when some companies were bought with excessive loan packages…Howard Marks, chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, a US private equity group investing in distressed assets, wrote in a note to clients last week: “In most regards the capital markets – and investors’ tolerance of risk – are retracing their steps back in the direction of the bubble-ish pre-crisis years.”

A FrontPoint Founder Tries Again With a New Firm (DealBook)
After Mr. Duff helped to orchestrate the sale of FrontPoint to Morgan Stanley in 2006, he struck out on his own, starting Duff Capital Advisors…With the markets in disarray, clients never materialized and Duff Capital shut down in May 2009…Now, Mr. Duff, a former top executive at Morgan Stanley, is trying again. His new firm, Massif Partners — which like FrontPoint has a name that refers to his passion for mountain climbing — is building off the blueprint of Duff Capital and focusing on pensions.

Russia’s Central Bank Signals Interest-Rate Pause After Surprise Increase (Bloomberg)
Bank Rossii, the central bank, yesterday raised its overnight deposit rate to 3.5 percent from 3.25 percent, surprising 11 of 20 economists in a Bloomberg survey. It left the refinancing and overnight repurchase rates unchanged after a quarter-point increase in April, saying in a statement that borrowing costs may be at the level necessary to tackle inflation and promote growth “for the nearest months.”

For Insurers, Bad—but Not Bad Enough (WSJ)
The deadly outbreak of tornadoes across the U.S. since late April is expected to cost the insurance industry more than $5 billion, according to disaster-modeling firm Eqecat. That puts weather-related losses in the U.S. so far this year in the range of $13 billion to $15 billion, three to four times a typical year. Add in catastrophes like the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and disaster-related losses for the industry are estimated to be upward of $50 billion this year…"I think things are now bad enough to be good enough," says Meyer Shields, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. Bad enough, that is, that the industry will be forced to start raising premiums later this year or early next. That would immediately benefit major insurance brokers such as Aon Corp. and Marsh & McLennan Cos. Indeed, their shares are up more than 10% this year, roughly double the broader market.

Analyst: Chipotle expands test of chorizo (NRN)
Chipotle Mexican Grill has expanded a test of a new chorizo sausage that, if rolled out, would be the chain’s first new meat option in years, a securities analyst said Friday.


Hackers Disrupt PBS Web Site and Post a Fake Report About a Rap Artist (NYT)
The PBS Web site briefly carried a fake article claiming that the famed rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand after a group of hackers took over the organization’s computer systems on Saturday night.

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