Opening Bell: 11.08.11 - Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 11.08.11

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Key Berlusconi Ally Removes Support (WSJ)
Umberto Bossi, a key ally of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Tuesday said he asked the premier to step aside and supported Angelino Alfano as his possible successor. "We have asked [Mr. Berlusconi] to take a step aside," Mr. Bossi said, adding that there won't be any relevant news today. Asked by reporters if he expects Mr. Alfano, the new head of Berlusconi's party, to be a possible new prime minister, Mr. Bossi replied "who else?" Mr. Berlusconi is still in last-minute talks aimed at saving his conservative government ahead of a key parliamentary vote later Tuesday, as investors renewed pressure on the premier to step down and allow a new government to steer the country out of Europe's debt crisis.

Berlusconi Exit No Quick Fix for Italy's Woes (Reuters)
FYI.

Credit Suisse Warns US Clients Of Probe (Herald Sun)
Credit Suisse says it has warned US clients that they may be the target of a US tax probe, and urged them to hire lawyers to represent them. "The letter exists," a spokesman from the bank said, referring to media reports of a statement sent by the bank to its US clients over the tax investigation. He declined to say how many of the bank's clients are recipients of the letter, which also advises the clients to engage a contact person in Switzerland who could represent them if required at the Swiss tax office.

Face-Off Over MF Global Shortfall (WSJ)
JPMorgan and MF Global Holdings Ltd. agree on one thing: The two financial players worked together closely in the months before MF Global collapsed. Then things get messy. People close to MF Global have complained that J.P. Morgan dragged its feet when settling trades made by MF Global as it rushed to sell assets, according to people familiar with the situation. Executives at MF Global have grown concerned that the slowdown complicated efforts to find a buyer for the company or its parts and might even have caused a $600 million gap in customer accounts that is now the subject of a protracted treasure hunt.

Greek Leaders Struggle To Agree On New Premier (Retuers)
So far they have agreed that a "100 day" coalition should be set up to push a 130 billion euro ($180 billion) bailout for Greece through parliament and that elections should be held in February. But after days of wrangling, no one knows who even will lead this government.

Romney Battled Guns And Dogs In France (Reuters)
"The fresh-faced Latter-Day Saints who came to France in the late 1960s to preach the message of Jesus Christ—of whom Republican presidential candidate Romney is the best known—discovered a secular and skeptical populace, and few willing converts. On bad days, the young Americans were greeted with guns, or barking dogs chased at their heels."

Greece Hurts SocGen (WSJ)
The Paris-based lender said net profit for the three months ended Sept. 30 fell to €622 million ($856.93 billion) from €896 million in the same quarter last year, undershooting analyst forecasts of €732 million. Société Générale's revenue rose 3.2% to €6.5 billion from €6.3 billion a year earlier but plunged 36% at its corporate and investment bank because of choppy markets. Revenue at its international retail bank fell 2.3% but was up 6.4% at its French network.

Citi, JPMorgan May Face Highest Basel Surcharges (Bloomberg)
Citigroup, JPMorgan, BNP Paribas SA, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, and HSBC Holdings Plc may face top capital surcharges of 2.5 percentage points, according to a provisional list prepared by global regulators and obtained by Bloomberg News. The list was drawn up as part of plans by the Group of 20 nations to force banks whose failure could damage the global economy to boost their reserves by 1 to 2.5 percentage points above minimum levels agreed on by international regulators. Bank of America, Barclays and Germany’s biggest bank Deutsche Bank AG may face surcharges of 2 percentage points, according to the list.

This Grisly Find? A Bear Paw, It Turns Out. (It Happens a Lot.) (NYT)
The discovery was unnerving, to say the least. A severed limb found Sunday evening in a yard in Rosedale, Queens, appeared to be the foot of a young child. A cadaver dog searched the scene. Concern over a missing youth mixed with fears of a child killer. And then science intervened. Bradley Adams, the chief forensic anthropologist in the New York City medical examiner’s office, inspected the remains on Monday, and decided that the foot most likely belonged to a bear, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office. To minimize possible confusion, Ms. Borakove literally spelled it out: “B-E-A-R,” she said over the telephone. “How could someone confuse a bear and a human?” Dr. Adams mused in a subsequent phone interview. “It’s more common than you think.”

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Opening Bell: 04.04.13

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The ECB has been reluctant to cut its own interest rates further, which might involve moving into negative territory on its 0 per cent deposit rate, and would face difficulty adopting a quantitative easing programme itself. Yet inflation has been falling below the bank’s 2 per cent target, unemployment is at a record high and the 17-nation bloc remains in recession. Weekly Jobless Claims Get Weaker as Outlook Dims (Reuters) Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the highest level since November, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the third straight week of gains in claims. Coming on the heels of data on Wednesday showing private employers added the fewest jobs in five months in March, the report implied some weakening in job growth after hiring accelerated in February. Enron's Jeff Skilling Could Get Early Release From Prison (CNBC) Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who is serving a 24-year prison term for his role in the energy giant's epic collapse, could get out of prison early under an agreement being discussed by his attorneys and the Justice Department, CNBC has learned. Skilling, who was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, has served just over six years. It is not clear how much his sentence would be shortened under the deal. MF Global Trustee's Report Blasts Former CEO Corzine (WSJ) A risky business strategy, failure to improve inadequate systems, as well as "negligent conduct" by former Chief Executive Officer Jon S. Corzine and others contributed to the unraveling of MF Global Holdings Ltd., a new report said Thursday. The report, released by Louis J. Freeh, the trustee for MF Global Holdings—the parent company of the U.S. brokerage firm MF Global Inc. and other units—laid much of the blame at Mr. Corzine's feet, accusing him of implementing trading strategies with minimal oversight and exceeding board-approved limits for some European trades the company made under his stewardship. Nightclub dancer "Ruby" stands up for Berlusconi outside court (Reuters) Carrying a large sign reading "The Ruby case: Are you not interested in the truth any more?", she said she had been used as part of a deliberate campaign against Berlusconi by magistrates and sections of the press. "Today I realize that there is a war under way against him that I do not feel part of, but which has dragged me in and injures me," she said, reading a prepared statement. "I do not want to be a victim of this situation." KKR to Carlyle Target $3.6 Trillion in 401(k)s Accounts (Bloomberg) Carlyle Group LP (CG), Blackstone Group LP (BX) and KKR & Co. (KKR), which usually open their doors only to clients willing to commit at least $5 million, are lowering that threshold or offering investments directly to individuals, an effort to attract fresh cash amid lackluster fundraising. Their ultimate goal: a slice of the $3.57 trillion Americans have accumulated in their 401(k) retirement plans. ... “We definitely would like to be part of 401(k) platforms,” Michael Gaviser, a managing director responsible for individual investor products at KKR, which oversees $76 billion, said in an interview at the firm’s New York headquarters. “We think about it every day because there’s so much demand.” Tiger Cubs Report a Rough Q1 (II Alpha) The first quarter was especially tough for long-short hedge fund managers - and the biggest, most prominent Tiger Cubs were not immune. ... New York-based Tiger Global, for example, was up only 2.5 percent in March and 5 percent for the first three months. Moscow Tries to Reinvent Itself as Financial Hub (NYT) “The idea is to upgrade the position of Moscow in ratings, to become closer to the leaders of innovation and to the big boys of international financial centers,” Andrei V. Sharonov, the deputy mayor for economic affairs, who led a roadshow tour promoting the city in Asia, said in an interview. ... Certainly Moscow has a lot of wooing to do. A city of traffic-clogged highways and sprawling concrete apartment blocks, Moscow is widely known as a singularly difficult place to do business. It did attract the big banking houses from New York and London after the fall of Communism. But cronyism, the lack of transparency and shady accounting gave companies pause. Weak courts and selective enforcement encouraged companies to conduct business outside Russia. North Korea Warns U.S. It’s Authorized Nuclear Attack (Bloomberg) North Korea stepped up threats against the U.S, authorizing its military to conduct a potential “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike” while again restricting South Korean access to a joint industrial zone. Mark Zuckerberg’s Childhood Website Was Slightly Uglier Than Facebook (DI) "The only site where a yellow eye blinks at you." Norwegian schools reschedule exams amid Bieber fever (AFP) Bieber, who is 19, sparked chaos in Oslo in May last year when dozens of teenagers chased the singer's car in the hope of following him to a free concert at a location that was only revealed at the last minute.

Opening Bell: 03.28.12

Top MF Global Witness Talks Deal With Justice (WSJ) The star witness in a congressional hearing about MF Global Holdings Ltd.'s collapse has told Justice Department representatives through her lawyers details about transactions that ended up dipping into customer funds, people familiar with the matter said. But Edith O'Brien, the assistant treasurer at MF Global, isn't expected to reveal those details when she appears at Wednesday's hearing of the House Financial Services Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee. Ms. O'Brien plans to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination and to decline to answer questions, people familiar with the matter said. J.P. Morgan Was 'Assured' on MF GlobalTransfers (WSJ) MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Jon S. Corzine was in direct contact with J.P. Morgan Chase officials about a large transfer of customer funds to the bank shortly before the securities firm collapsed, according to prepared testimony from a J.P. Morgan lawyer for a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. The testimony by Diane Genova, deputy general counsel for J.P. Morgan, provides additional details about a transfer of $175 million in MF Global customer funds to a J.P. Morgan account on Oct. 28. That move is the subject of scrutiny as investigators hunt for clues about how MF Global firm lost about $1.6 billion in customer funds. Magic Johnson Group to Buy L.A. Dodgers for $2 Billion (Bloomberg) The group was chosen yesterday by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt over billionaire Steve Cohen, who runs hedge fund manager SAC Capital Advisors LP, and Stan Kroenke, who owns the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams and Arsenal of English soccer’s Premier League. [WHO DOES STEVE COHEN HAVE TO SCREW AROUND HERE TO BUY A BASEBALL TEAM???] BATS Chairman Will Give Up Post (WSJ) BATS Global Markets Inc.'s directors voted to remove Joe Ratterman as chairman Tuesday, while expressing unanimous support for him to stay on as the company's chief executive. The vote came after Friday's collapse of the exchange operator's initial public offering, which raised questions about BATS's technology and put Mr. Ratterman on the defensive...BATS has launched a search for a new chairman, according to a spokesman. Face time with Facebook CEO stirs concerns on Wall Street (Reuters) Two people who attended Facebook's March 19 meeting remarked on the young CEO's absence and privately said they expected at least a cursory appearance. One analyst asked how involved Zuckerberg would be in future. In response, the company said expectations should be set pretty low, according to one of the two who was at the meeting. "Investors are crazy to want to get in bed with a company where the guy who controls it doesn't even pretend to care about the rest of the shareholders," said Greg Taxin of activist investment firm Spotlight Advisors, who will not buy shares. "That seems like a recipe for disaster." Texas journalist Sarah Tressler outed for leading a double life (NYDN) By day, she’s a reporter who strips through the veneer of Houston’s high society. By night, she’s a reporter who strips off her clothes. And Sarah Tressler, a 2008 graduate of NYU’s School of Journalism, is not ashamed. In fact, until recently, the 29-year-old brunette blogged about her after-hours gig and posted pictures of herself in scanty outfits on a Facebook page entitled “Diary of an Angry Stripper.” Since the outcry, that — and her titillating Twitter account — have been moved to a protected site. Before Tressler went underground, one of her juicier postings was about an alleged and “somewhat disappointing” sexual encounter with “Entourage” star Jeremy Piven. Europeans Sees Crisis Near End (Bloomberg) The euro area’s woes are “almost over” after a slow initial response by policy makers, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Tokyo today. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that the crisis is ebbing and her country’s borrowing costs will probably rise as its status as a haven wanes. Jefferies CEO Handler’s Pay Drops 7.9% for 2011 After Stock Rout (Bloomberg) Handler, 50, was awarded $14 million for the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, compared with $15.2 million for the 11 months through November 2010, New York-based Jefferies said today in a filing. The package included $1 million in salary and $13 million in restricted-stock units that were granted in 2010. Handler elected to not receive a bonus for 2011. 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