Investor William Ackman Targets J.C. Penney's CEO (WSJ)
J.C. Penney Co.'s largest shareholder is pressing the board to quickly replace its chief executive, as the battered department-store chain struggles to turn around a deep slide in sales. The move to unseat interim CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman sets up a standoff between hedge fund manager William Ackman, who owns nearly 18% of the company's stock, and a board that was badly burned the last time it went along with his wishes. It was Mr. Ackman who, as a director, lobbied successfully to bring in former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson as chief executive in 2011, a choice that set off a disastrous year of plunging sales, diminishing cash reserves and deep job cuts.
SAC to Keep Managing Money While Facing Indictment (DealBook)
Federal prosecutors and the investment firm SAC Capital Advisors agreed on Thursday to a protective order that requires the firm to keep most of its money in its fund while operating under a criminal indictment, according to a person briefed on the case. The order serves a dual purpose, preserving the government’s interest in any money that it might seize from SAC in a forfeiture action, while also allowing the firm to continue running its money management business.
U.S. steps up probe of JPMorgan over Bear mortgage bonds (Reuters)
The U.S. Department of Justice has stepped up a probe in recent weeks into Bear Stearns & Co's mortgage dealings in the run-up to the financial crisis, according to two sources familiar with the situation, raising the possibility that JPMorgan Chase & Co may face yet another case over mortgage bonds. Justice Department lawyers in Washington have been interviewing people linked to Bear Stearns' mortgage securitization business, EMC Mortgage Corp, over sales of mortgage bonds going into the housing crisis, the sources said.
'London Whale' Unlikely to Face Charges (WSJ)
Bruno Iksil, the former trader known as the "London whale," is unlikely to face charges related to bets that backfired into losses of more than $6 billion for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., according to people close to the matter. ... Mr. Iksil is no longer a focus of investigators, people familiar with the situation said. Investigators still could decide to reverse course and pursue charges against him, but that is seen as unlikely unless new evidence emerges.
What a pizza $#+! Preposterous poll ranks NY 4th (NYP)
New York pizza-lovers got a black eye from users of the travel megasite TripAdvisor, who rated the city’s slices a paltry fourth in the country behind outposts like San Diego and Las Vegas. Perhaps most offensive was the third-place choice of Boston, where reviewers gushed about pies with oddball toppings like shrimp scampi. “Get out of here, that’s crazy! Boston is No. 3?” said Jackson Heights resident Andrew Silverstein, 31, while enjoying lunch at famed Patsy Grimaldi’s new Brooklyn joint, Juliana’s. “I’ve had pizza in Boston, and it was a horrible experience.”
Carlos Slim Makes KPN Move (WSJ)
Mexican telecommunications firm America Movil SAB Friday increased its efforts to build up a long-term presence in Europe, announcing an offer for Royal KPN NV that values the Dutch company at about €10.25 billion ($13.72 billion). America Movil, controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, said it aims to acquire a majority stake in KPN, after buying a 29.77% stake in the embattled firm last year. It also bought a minority stake in Telekom Austria AG. Having exhausted its possibilities for acquisitions in Latin America where it is the largest mobile phone operator, America Movil built up stakes in KPN and Telekom Austria to serve as a beachhead into Europe and take on long-time-rival Telefonica in its own backyard.
BlackBerry open to going private, sources say (Reuters)
Chief Executive Thorsten Heins and the company's board is increasingly coming around to the idea that taking BlackBerry private would give them breathing room to fix its problems out of the public eye, the sources said. "There is a change of tone on the board," one of the sources said on Thursday. No deal is imminent, however, and BlackBerry has not launched any kind of a sale process, the sources said.
Chinese bank takes early step towards IPO (FT)
One of China’s top investment banks has taken a step towards going public with China International Capital Corporation preparing the early ground work for an initial public offering to raise capital. Levin Zhu, chief executive of the brokerage, has commissioned an internal study to look into the possibility of listing, said people familiar with the matter. Mr Zhu, the ‘princeling’ son of a powerful former premier, had long rebuffed suggestions that it list, wary of the disclosure requirements. But with the brokerage struggling to keep up with its rivals over the past few years, some in the firm now believe it needs to raise capital to remain in China’s first tier.
Woes of Detroit Hurt Borrowing by Its Neighbors (DealBook)
Two weeks after Detroit declared bankruptcy, cities, counties and other local governments in Michigan are getting a cold shoulder in the municipal bond market. The judgment has been swift and brutal. Borrowing costs are up around the state, in some cases drastically. On Thursday, Saginaw County became the latest casualty when it said it was delaying a $60 million bond sale planned for Friday. It had hoped to put the proceeds into its pension fund. It was the third postponed bond sale in Michigan since Detroit dropped its bombshell on July 18.
German Regulators Said to Review Off-Balance-Sheet Loans (Bloomberg)
The inquiry, led by the Bundesbank and Bafin, will focus on whether banks properly applied accounting rules when making the loans, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation hasn’t been made public. The review is likely to take several months, the person added. Regulators are scrutinizing the practice after Bloomberg News reported that Deutsche Bank AG, the country’s biggest financial firm, extended billions of dollars to banks since 2008 and made the loans disappear from its balance sheet even though it is still owed the money. Borrowers included Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, which is being bailed out by the Italian government, and state-controlled Banco do Brasil SA.
Wall Street Banks Win Market Share as Europeans Struggle (Bloomberg)
Wall Street banks have gained market share in investment banking and trading from European lenders that are still grappling with a stagnant economy and pressure from regulators to bolster capital. Total revenue posted by the securities units of the top U.S. investment banks rose by 24 percent in the second quarter over the year-earlier period, more than twice the 11 percent gain logged by Europe’s biggest firms, among them Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Brazil calls for IMF eurozone rescue programmes revision (FT)
Brazil has called for the IMF-backed rescue programmes for Greece and other southern eurozone countries to be reviewed to make them more economically sustainable. The call from finance minister Guido Mantega came as he sought to explain Brazil’s stance on Greece’s rescue programme after its IMF representative, Paulo Nogueira Batista, abstained from a vote to approve the latest tranche of help for Athens.
Muscle man who couldn't open water bottle at Mets game says security guard asked him for help before cameras started rolling
After becoming the target of ridicule by Mets announcers for his inability to open a water bottle during last weekend’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the muscleman whose battle was captured on video has come forward to set the record straight. “First of all, it was not my water bottle,” Christopher, a 38-year-old lawyer in White Plains, NY, told the Daily News. “It was handed to me by a security guard in the dugout area who was having trouble with it. The guy was much bigger than me, by the way.” Chris, who did not want to share his last name out of privacy concerns expressed by his fiancée, said that neither he, nor the security guard, managed to make the cap so much as budge. ... “I tried as hard as I could,” Chris said. ... “I don’t blame anybody. It is pretty funny,” Chris said. “But a lot of things were presented incorrectly.”