Opening Bell: 06.24.13

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Average pay of top bankers drops 10% (FT)
The analysis of total pay awarded to the heads of 15 banks, exclusively compiled for the FT by Equilar, a US pay research group, shows that they took home $11.5m on average in 2012, 10 per cent less than in the previous year. ... Last year’s fall in pay coincides with an average drop in net income by more than a fifth across those 15 lenders. But it also comes amid a share price recovery in the sector, with all but two of the banks – BBVA and Credit Suisse – outperforming the FTSE World index in 2012. Of the 10 bankers that were in office since the beginning of 2011, only three – John Stumpf at Wells Fargo, Stuart Gulliver at HSBC and Brady Dougan at Credit Suisse – enjoyed pay rises.

Banks Present Own Crisis Plan to Fed (WSJ)
Under the proposal, the largest financial-services holding companies would be willing to hold a certain amount of debt and equity that would be used to prop up any failed bank subsidiary seized by regulators. Some banks might be forced to issue expensive long-term debt. ... In December, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf called Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and expressed concern about any move to require banks to hold a certain amount of long-term debt, according to people familiar with the conversation. Mr. Tarullo told Mr. Stumpf that if he didn't like the idea he should suggest an alternative, these people said.

Central banks told to head for exit (FT)
Central banks must head for the exit and stop trying to spur a global economic recovery, the Bank for International Settlements has said following a week of market turbulence sparked by the US Federal Reserve’s signal that it would soon cut the pace of its bond buying. ... The BIS, which counts the world’s leading monetary authorities as members, said cheap and plentiful central bank money had merely bought time, warning that more bond buying would retard the global economy’s return to health. It used its influential annual report to call on members to re-emphasise their focus on inflation and press governments to do more to spearhead a return to growth.

Vodafone to Buy Kabel Deutschland for $10.1 Billion (DealBook)
Under the terms of the deal announced on Monday, Vodafone, one of the world’s largest cellphone operators, said it had offered Kabel Deutschland’s investors 87 euros for each of their shares in the German firm. The offer includes a 2.5 euro dividend that Kabel Deutschland’s board had announced in February. The proposal represents a premium of almost 40 percent on the company’s stock since a potential acquisition by Vodafone was first reported in February. Shares in Kabel Deutschland jumped by almost 2 percent, to 85.62 euros, in morning trading in Frankfurt on Monday. Vodafone’s stock price also rose less than 1 percent in London.

Olive-oil win for NY pols (NYP)
New York lawmakers banded together to knock off a provision of a federal farm bill that would have subjected Italian and Greek olive oil to new fees and testing — a measure that gave their constituents a bad case of indigestion. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-SI) helped engineer a lopsided vote on the House floor to strip the proposal last week — playing heavily to his Staten Island district’s Italian-American roots. ... “Italians and Greeks, we know our olive oil,” Grimm told The Post, mocking the torpedoed initiative. “I’m thinking like TSA-type guys dunking bread at the border and saying, ‘That tastes pretty good, let’s let that go.’ Are you kidding me?”

Founders of ENRC Offer $4.7 Billion in Takeover Bid (DealBook)
The founders of the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation and the government of Kazakhstan on Monday offered to buy the remaining stake in the troubled mining giant they do not already own in a deal valuing the miner at £3 billion, or $4.7 billion. The deal, which had to be outlined ahead of a Monday deadline for the consortium to clarify its takeover plans, comes as allegations of bribery and corruption continue to dog the company, known as ENRC.

Gold Miner Writedowns at $17 Billion After Newcrest Fallout (Bloomberg)
Newcrest Mining Ltd.’s decision to write down the value of its mines by as much as A$6 billion ($5.5 billion) will lead to the biggest one-time charge in gold mining history. It also heralds pain for competitors. Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s biggest producer, Newmont Mining Corp. and Gold Fields Ltd. may be next, according to Jefferies International Ltd. ... “We would expect that there would be several, if not many companies, who would also in the next reporting period be coming to a list of impairments,” Michael Elliott, sector leader for Ernst & Young LLP’s global mining practice, said in a phone interview from Sydney. “It’s just a question of timing, and who had the largest exposures.”

PBoC breaks silence over China cash crunch (FT)
The People’s Bank of China said liquidity was at a “reasonable level” and called on big lenders to do more to help restore calm to the country’s anxious markets. Interbank rates spiked to double digits last week, even momentarily hitting 28 per cent, before easing. The sudden cash squeeze raised the spectre of a credit crisis in the world’s second-biggest economy and rattled global investors. “Commercials banks must pay close attention to the liquidity situation in the market and must strengthen their analysis and forecasts of factors affecting liquidity,” the central bank said.

Citi Makes Iraq Move (WSJ)
Citi said it obtained preliminary approval from Iraq's central bank to establish a Baghdad office. Until now, Citi served its Iraqi clients through its office in Jordan's capital Amman. The lender is looking to open two more representative offices in Erbil and Basra at a later stage.

Italy's Berlusconi faces verdict in underage sex trial (Reuters)
Judges in a Milan court retired to consider their verdict on Monday in a trial in which former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with a minor and abusing the powers of his office to cover it up. ... With two appeals possible, it could be years before a verdict is final. However, if the 76-year-old is found guilty it could weaken Prime Minister Enrico Letta's left-right coalition government, which depends on the center-right leader's support.

Burger War as Five Guys, Shake Shack to Open in London (Bloomberg)
Five Guys, which opens in Covent Garden on July 4, is a family outfit that started in Washington, D.C., in 1986. It has expanded to more than 1,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Shake Shack, also in Covent Garden, holds its opening party the same day. ... “We’ve set up a British company and we would never have decided to come here if we didn’t believe that if we do our job, the market could support a minimum of three,” said Meyer. He created Shake Shack at a hot-dog cart in New York’s Madison Square Park before winning approval for a permanent kiosk in 2004.

Dallas Auction House Sells KFC Founder's Suit (NBC)
The president and chief executive of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan purchased the trademark white suit worn by company founder "Colonel" Harland Sanders at auction Saturday for $21,510 -- then promptly tried it on. Masao "Charlie" Watanabe grinned while putting on the suit jacket and black string tie at the Heritage Auctions event, standing beneath a photograph of Sanders. He had already planned to attend a company marketing meeting in Dallas, but arrived early after he found out about the auction, he said.

Daredevil Nik Wallenda completes high-wire walk across Grand Canyon (Reuters)
Wallenda, the self-described "King of the High Wire," took 22 minutes and 54 seconds to walk 1,400 feet across the crimson-hued canyon with just a distant ribbon of the Little Colorado River beneath him. The event was broadcast live around the world. Wallenda, the first person to cross the canyon, made the walk without a tether or safety net. Wallenda could be heard praying almost constantly during the walk, murmuring "Thank you, Jesus." He kissed the ground when he reached the other side. ... Wallenda said the walk was stressful.

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Opening Bell: 9.26.17

Deutsche Bank is having a no good very bad Monday; Stumpf gets $123.6 million if he walks; Man caught using mannequin torso to cheat California carpool lane; and more.

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Opening Bell: 8.15.16

Tiny satellites are latest innovation hedge funds are using to get a leg up; David Tepper ditches; Rick Springfield says he never saw ‘Jessie’s Girl’ again; and more.

Opening Bell: 12.12.12

Three Questioned In Libor Probe (WSJ) While the SFO didn't identify the men, one of them is Thomas Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, according to people familiar with the matter. Authorities in multiple countries have been looking into Mr. Hayes as an alleged coordinator of a group of employees at multiple banks who sought to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, according to people familiar with the case. One of the others arrested was Terry Farr, an employee of British brokerage firm R.P. Martin Holdings Ltd. in London who is currently on leave from the firm, according to a person familiar with the case. Mr. Farr has been under investigation for possibly helping bank employees coordinate their efforts to influence Libor, according to people familiar with the case. HSBC Mexican Branches Said to Be Traffickers’ Favorites (Bloomberg) From 2006 to 2010, the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Columbia moved more than $881 million in proceeds through HSBC’s U.S. unit, said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. Breuer, along with U.S. Attorney Lorretta Lynch in Brooklyn, New York, announced yesterday the bank had agreed to pay at least $1.9 billion to settle money laundering probes. “These traffickers didn’t have to try very hard,” Breuer said at a press conference in Brooklyn. “They would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a single day into a single account using boxes designed to fit the precise dimension of the tellers’ windows in HSBC’s Mexico branches.” It Could Get Hairy Before 'Cliff' Deal: Greenspan (CNBC) "The best possible outcome is to take something like Simpson-Bowles as it came out originally and work off that," he said, of a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that go into effect at the end of the year. But he said that reaching a final agreement won't be an easy process, since the president believes he has a mandate following the election while House Republicans believe they, too, have a mandate. "I'm not at altogether clear how much control (Speaker) Boehner has over the overall caucus," Greenspan said. "At the end of the day it will all work out but it's going to be a bit hairy before we get there." Buffett Joins Soros in Effort to Raise Taxes on Estates (Bloomberg) Billionaireinvestors Warren Buffett and George Soros are calling on Congress to increase the estate tax as lawmakers near a decision on tax policies that expire Dec. 31. In a joint statement Tuesday, Buffett, Soros and more than 20 other wealthy individuals asked Congress to lower the estate tax’s per-person exemption to $2 million from $5.12 million and raise the top rate to more than 45 percent from 35 percent. An estate tax structured this way will “raise significant revenue to reduce the deficit and fund vital services, will only be paid by the top one percent of estates, will raise more from the wealthiest estates” and will simplify compliance, said the statement. It also was signed by John Bogle, founder of mutual fund company Vanguard Group Inc., and former President Jimmy Carter. U.S. Probe of SAC Trading Said to Be Linked to 2010 Case (Bloomberg) A U.S. investigation of possible insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors LP, the $14 billion hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen, is linked to a 2010 regulatory lawsuit over allegedly illegal trades in InterMune Inc, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s probe of trades that SAC Capital made in the Brisbane, California-based biopharmaceutical company is tied to a December 2010 SEC lawsuit against an investor, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public. The investor bought InterMune options before a European Union regulatory panel urged approval of the company’s drug Esbriet to treat a fatal lung disease, the person said, declining to elaborate. Man says law standing between him and sex acts with donkey is unconstitutional (NYDN) Lawyers representing the frisky farmhand thrown in jail for allegedly masturbating with a donkey are now fighting to have Florida’s statute banning sex with animals declared unconstitutional. “By making sexual conduct with an animal a crime, the statute demeans individuals like Defendant by making his private sexual conduct a crime,” attorneys for 32-year-old Carlos R. Romero wrote in a motion filed last week, the Ocala-Star Banner reported. Romero was cuffed at an Ocala farm back in September after farm proprietor Gerald James told police he saw Romero with his pants down as he was seemingly having sex with a donkey named Doodle in an equipment room on Aug. 15, according to police report obtained by thesmokinggun.com. Romero later pleaded not guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of sexual activities involving animals. He announced last week that he wanted his case to go to trial. His attorneys argue that Florida’s statute violates the farmhand’s rights by stripping him of his “personal liberty and autonomy when it comes to private intimate activities.”They say the statute is unconstitutional because it doesn’t require the state to provide any proof of the animal’s suffering “or any proof of the sexual activity being non-consensual.” Inside The Risky Bets Of Central Banks (WSJ) While many national governments, including the U.S., have failed to agree on fiscal policy—how best to balance tax revenues with spending during slow growth—the central bankers have forged their own path, independent of voters and politicians, bound by frequent conversations and relationships stretching back to university days. If the central bankers are correct, they will help the world economy avoid prolonged stagnation and a repeat of central banking mistakes in the 1930s. If they are wrong, they could kindle inflation or sow the seeds of another financial crisis. Failure also could lead to new restrictions on the power and independence of central banks, tools deemed crucial in such emergencies as the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Freeport's $20 Billion Deal Stirs Backlash (WSJ) Freeport agreed last week to acquire energy explorers McMoRan Exploration Co. MMR +0.85% and Plains Exploration & Production Co. PXP -0.42% in transactions that will cost the Arizona mining giant about $20 billion including assumed debt. The deal will result in six directors with overlapping roles at Freeport and McMoRan Exploration receiving payouts for their shares totaling more than $130 million, according to securities filings. Some Freeport investors and analysts also have questioned the wisdom of a metals miner diving into the oil and gas business. They have taken issue with what they call conflicts of interests among the shared executives and directors at Freeport and McMoRan and the fact that the deal as structured doesn't require a Freeport shareholder vote. Fed Discourages Bank Dealmaking (WSJ) The Federal Reserve is pushing large U.S. banks to forget about all but the smallest acquisitions for a while amid a raging debate over the risk big lenders pose to the financial system. Man Drive 100 MPH To Wedding, Gets Arrested (Again) (NWI) Timothy N. Thompson, 23, of Valparaiso, was supposed to be married in a 7 p.m. ceremony. Instead, Thompson was arrested for resisting law enforcement, criminal recklessness and reckless driving. He was also cited for speeding and improper passing. According to police, an officer spotted Thompson about 6:30 p.m. Saturday speeding north in the center lane of Willowcreek Road. The officer estimated Thompson was driving 100 mph. Thompson allegedly continued to drive erratically, switching lanes abruptly and, according to the report, nearly wrecking. Police reported they followed Thompson as he turned into the parking lot of Nativity of Our Savior Church on Willowcreek Road, where he again nearly tipped over the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Once he entered the church's parking lot, three people -- later identified as relatives -- began flailing their arms and yelling at him. Thompson drove through the parking lot, accelerating and doing a "doughnut," creating a thick blanket of tire smoke, according to the report. When he stopped, Thompson told police he was late for his wedding and estimated he was doing "about 90" mph. He also told police he had his emergency flashers on and was sounding his horn to alert drivers. When an officer walked away from Thompson's vehicle, Thompson reentered his vehicle and drove toward the entrance of the church, where he was stopped by police again. "Oh, I thought you were done and I'm late for a party in Chicago," police reported Thompson saying. "It now means I have to drive really fast to get there." Thompson, who also told police he had just been released from jail that day, didn't make his wedding. He was transported to Porter County Jail and held without bond.

Opening Bell: 04.15.13

Citi's First-Quarter Profit Rises 30% (WSJ) Citigroup reported first quarter net income on Monday of $3.8 billion, up 30% from a year earlier and triple the profit from last quarter, on improved revenue in its capital-markets unit. Per-share profit of $1.23 handily beat Wall Street consensus of $1.17. Excluding a $198 million charge for a valuation adjustment on Citi's own debt, it would have been $1.29 per share. First-quarter revenue rose 3% from a year earlier and 12% from the fourth quarter, in part because Citi pulled $652 million previously set aside for loan losses, helping the bottom line. Greece on Track to Receive Next Aid Tranche (WSJ) The deal now paves the way for Greece to receive a promised €2.8 billion ($3.67 billion) aid tranche from its creditors this month, and another €6 billion disbursement next month, pending approval from euro-zone finance ministers who are expected to discuss the country's reform program at a meeting May 13. Pension Group Moves to Split JPMorgan Chairman, CEO Roles (CNBC) A group of JPMorgan Chase shareholders urged support for its proposal to split the chairman and CEO roles at the big bank in a letter Monday. The proposal is number "6" in the proxy materials for JPMorgan's shareholder meeting, taking place May 21 in Tampa, Fla. Among the multiple reasons cited for the split, the group points to lapses in oversight evidenced during the London Whale debacle. Perhaps the most compelling reason for splitting the roles: The bank's being in constant crosshairs with regulators. It's being investigated by eight regulators at present. Iceland Is First in Europe to Sign Free Trade Pact With China (Bloomberg) Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson signed the deal with Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng in Beijing today, bringing to a close six years of talks, according to Iceland’s Foreign Ministry. Nesting falcon hits Vodafone customers in Southampton (BBC) A peregrine falcon nesting by a faulty transmitter has meant mobile phone reception has not been able to be restored to parts of Southampton. Vodafone engineers discovered a female bird nesting when they tried to repair the faulty mast on 9 April. The phone company said it could not legally access the mast until any chicks had fledged, possibly in June. Peregrine falcons are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The nest's location cannot be revealed. It is not yet known if the bird was the cause of the original fault. Mobile phone users left without signal have criticised the speed of Vodafone's response. Elizabeth Corbett said: "I understand the nesting birds are out of their control but their reaction to it has been extremely slow." A Vodafone spokesman said the company was being "very careful" in dealing with the protected species. "We're already looking at alternative contingency plans and we'll inform our customers as soon as we can. "While this is inconvenient for our customers, it is great news that the falcons are nesting in the city." Cyprus Offers Citizenship to Foreign Depositors (Reuters) Cyprus will relax requirements for citizenship, including for bank depositors who lost large amounts of money in the deal with the EU and IMF, in an effort to keep foreigners interested in investing in the island state, the president said on Sunday. Getco, Knight Alter Deal Terms (WSJ) Getco and Knight on Monday altered their merger to comply with New York Stock Exchange listings standards, according to a document filed with regulators. They revised the ratio by which shares of Knight and units of privately held Getco will be exchanged for stock in the combined company. This will elevate the merged Getco-Knight's share price above the minimum $4 per-share required for new companies listed on the Big Board, according to the document. Brokers Face Pay Disclosures (WSJ) Securities regulators are widely expected to start forcing stockbrokers who get big bucks when they defect to another firm to tell their clients. Defendant tries to 'duck' into Honolulu court (HW) The basic rule for anyone wishing to enter Circuit Court on Oahu is no knives, guns, or anything that could be classified as a weapon. Michael Hubbard was well aware of the rule when he returned to the courthouse Monday morning to see his court officer regarding one of his two pending felony assault cases. What he didn't know is that the list of items not allowed in court included beer and live animals. Like the dozens of people who filed into the security line, Hubbard took his turn of waiting patiently for security guards to screen him. Upon reaching the X-ray screening machine, he gently placed his bag onto the conveyor belt and then walked through the metal detector. The officer screening Hubbard's bag noticed two bottles and an unidentified object. Deputies asked him to open his bag, but he refused, which arose their suspicions. "Deputies told him that if he didn't open the bag, he couldn't enter and that he needed to leave immediately," said Toni Schwartz, public information officer for the Department of Public Safety. Hubbard insisted on keeping the contents of his bag a secret. Officers eventually escorted him outside, where he relented and blurted out, "There's a live duck in there!" The guards didn't know what Hubbard meant, but when they opened the bag, comprehension was crystal clear. An actual live duck was inside, along with two 40-ounce bottles of beer.