Opening Bell: 10.25.13

Author:
Publish date:

Abe Says Japan Ready To Counter China's Power (WSJ)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he envisions a resurgent Japan taking a more assertive leadership role in Asia to counter China's power, making Tokyo a representative in the region for countries nervous about Beijing's military buildup and a possible U.S. pullback. "I've realized that Japan is expected to exert leadership not just on the economic front, but also in the field of security in the Asia-Pacific," Mr. Abe told The Wall Street Journal, referring to his meetings with the region's leaders at a series of summits earlier this month.

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Shuns Stocks (Bloomberg)
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, warned that stock market gains may reverse as Europe’s biggest equity investor said it won’t use new inflows to buy more shares. “Our share in the stock market has been stable or falling even though markets are rising, and that means in practice that we’re not using inflows to buy stocks,” Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management, said at a press conference today in Oslo. The fund is preparing for a “correction” in stock prices, he said.

Twitter IPO Pegs Valuation At Modest $11 Billion (Reuters)
Seeking to avoid a repeat of Facebook Inc's much-maligned public debut, Twitter Inc revealed more modest ambitions, saying its initial offering would raise up to $1.6 billion and value the company at up to about $11 billion. The valuation was more conservative than the $15 billion some analysts had expected for the social media phenomenon, potentially attracting investors who might consider the money-losing company's listing price a better deal, with room to rise.

Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Fell to 10-Month Low in October (Bloomberg)
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final consumer sentiment index decreased to 73.2, the weakest this year, from 77.5 in September. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 75 compared with a preliminary reading of 75.2.

Chicken Decoy Helps Police Nail 31 Drivers In Lake Elsinore (Patch)
A member of the Lake Elsinore Police Department dressed up as a chicken Thursday as part of a law enforcement crackdown aimed at drivers who don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The department conducted the crosswalk enforcement operation at five different locations in the city; two spots were located in close proximity to Lake Elsinore schools. There have been numerous complaints from the community about unsafe drivers near local schools. Lake Elsinore motor officers monitored crosswalks as the decoy walked through, explained the department's Sgt. Peter Giannakakos. In total, officers ended up citing 31 drivers for failing to give way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk as well as one citation for speeding, the sergeant reported.

FDIC May Leap On JP Morgan Settlement (NYP)
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., a tertiary regulator, is mulling whether it wants to jump aboard JPMorgan’s $13 billion mortgage bond settlement, sources said Thursday. The late arrival of the FDIC, which is primarily an insurer safeguarding bank deposits, has bogged down the settlement talks, sources said. Once thought ready to be signed this week, the JPMorgan-regulator settlement is now not expected until next week. The FDIC, which has about $3 billion or $4 billion at issue with JPMorgan, was brought into the negotiations at the “11th hour,” said sources familiar with the situation.

China PBOC Unveils Prime Interest Rate for Commercial Bank Loans (WSJ)
Analysts said that the new loan rate—officially known as the "loan prime rate"—could eventually replace the benchmark lending rate that currently serves as a key guide for banks. Unlike that rate, which is set by China's central bank, the new prime rate would be set by Chinese lenders.

Ex-NYU professor accused of stalking her former lover, Citigroup’s chief economist, turns down no jail plea deal (NYDN)
Mees, a Dutch economist, was jailed in July on charges of stalking and harassing Citigroup honcho Willem Buiter. “What shall I do to make it right?” she begged him in one email. “Shall I lick your b---s?”

Related

Opening Bell: 01.08.13

Obama Said Close to Choosing Lew for Treasury Secretary (Bloomberg) President Barack Obama may choose White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter. The selection of Lew would trigger a White House shuffle for Obama’s second term as he replaces his chief of staff and moves senior aides into new roles, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters. While Obama hasn’t made a final decision to pick Lew, the president’s staff has been instructed to prepare for his nomination, said one of the people. Rescued by a Bailout, AIG May Sue Its Savior (NYT) The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal's high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer's Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for "public use, without just compensation." Greenberg: 'Cadre' Hurt AIG (NYP) Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former chief executive officer of American International Group, says in a soon-to-be-published book that the company was almost destroyed by overzealous overseers. The insurer was “ultimately taken over and run aground by a cadre of auditors, lawyers, outside directors, and government officials,” according to an excerpt of “The AIG Story” on Amazon.com’s website. JPMorgan’s Staley Quits to Join BlueMountain Hedge Fund (Bloomberg) ames E. Staley, the JPMorgan Chase executive who was once seen as a possible candidate to become chief executive officer, quit to join BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, a $12 billion hedge fund with close ties to the New York bank. Staley, who was at JPMorgan for more than 34 years, most recently as chairman of the corporate and investment bank, will become a managing partner and purchase a stake in BlueMountain, the New York-based firm said today in a statement. Proceeds from the stake sale will be invested in new infrastructure, technology and people, the firm said. “I’m very excited to be joining BlueMountain at a time when sea changes in the financial industry combined with the firm’s unique strengths open up enormous possibilities to deliver value to clients,” Staley, 56, said in the statement. HSBC N.J. Client Admits Conspiracy in Offshore Tax Case (Bloomberg) A New Jersey client of HSBC Holdings pleaded guilty to charges that he hid as much as $4.7 million through Swiss and Indian accounts not declared to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Sanjay Sethi, 52, who owns SanVision Technology Inc., conspired with HSBC bankers in New York, London and Geneva to hide assets from the IRS, he admitted yesterday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. Sethi will pay a $2.37 million penalty for failing to file reports required for foreign accounts. “Sethi and his co-conspirators used nominee and shell companies formed in tax-haven jurisdictions and elsewhere to conceal the defendant’s ownership and control of assets and income from the IRS,” according to his charging document. Bill Ackman Says Just Getting Started Exposing Herbalife (Bloomberg) “We’re prepared to spend whatever it costs and do whatever is required to make sure that the world understands the facts about this company,” he said in a telephone interview. “We can’t imagine how the SEC or the Federal Trade Commission or any other relevant regulator will ignore what we have said.” Ackman said he would make all his information available to U.S. regulators. Chinese Tech Titans Eye Brazil (WSJ) The Chinese like emerging markets because, for a change, they don't have to start way behind established American companies. By moving into Brazil aggressively, Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group and Internet-search company Baidu hope to gain an edge over companies like Hewlett-Packard and Google In addition, some U.S. companies that are leaders at home and in Europe have a smaller footprint here because of Brazil's long history of protectionism and red tape and its high cost of labor, particularly compared with Asia. Oregon brewer Daniel Keeton creates nutritional, non-alcoholic brew for his dog (NYDN) Oregon man Daniel Keeton enjoys serving beer to customers at the brewery he works for, so why shouldn't he serve up some healthy brew for the dog he cares about? The dog brew is non-alcoholic of course, but it is a big hit with Keeton's canine Lola Jane. And now Keeton's special brew is available to anyone who wants it. After years of planning, Keeton launched his company Dawg Grog over the summer. Keeton, who works at Boneyard Brewery in Bend, says Dawg Grog is good for the dogs, and they can't seem to get enough of it. "Bend is a dog-loving community and a beer-loving community," Keeton told the Daily News on Monday. "I wanted to marry those two together in some way." Keeton spent years refining the ingredients to his special brew, which includes low-sodium vegetable broth, water and spent grain from Boneyard Brewery. "After a couple of years of trying recipes I came up with one that I am really happy with, and one that my dog is really happy with," he said. Secret Goldman Team Sidesteps Volcker After Blankfein Vow (Bloomberg) MSI wagers about $1 billion of the New York-based firm’s own funds on the stocks and bonds of companies, including a mortgage servicer and a cement producer, according to interviews with more than 20 people who worked for and with the group, some as recently as last year. The unit, headed by two 1999 Princeton University classmates, has no clients, the people said...The team of about a dozen people, based at the firm’s Manhattan headquarters, is headed by Daniel Oneglia and Geoff Adamson. Oneglia was treasurer of the Princeton eating club Tiger Inn, where his nicknames included “the Don” and “the Weasel,” according to the university’s website. Adamson was coxswain for men’s heavyweight varsity crew. A Boston Globe photo shows teammates flinging him into a Massachusetts lake after a victory. Carlyle Bags $4 Billion Profit From China Insurance Exit (Reuters) Private equity firm Carlyle Group sold its remaining stake in China's No.3 insurer CPIC in a deal valued at $793 million, exiting the business with its largest dollar profit on an investment. After several stake sales in the past two years, Carlyle will finish with a total profit of more than $4 billion, five times the $800 million it invested in CPIC between 2005 and 2007 for a 17 percent stake, Thomson Reuters calculations show. By private equity standards, where making two times cash paid and a few hundred million is considered a success, the CPIC exit is an historic deal for Carlyle. London Quantitative Hedge Funds Report Second Year of Losses (Bloomberg) The performance of the funds belies their popularity with investors, who’ve poured $108.2 billion into the pools since the end of 2008, according to Fairfield, Iowa-based BarclayHedge Ltd. While quants made money during the financial crisis when other hedge funds didn’t, they’ve since stumbled as market sentiment swung from optimism to pessimism following political announcements in Washington and Brussels, breaking up the trends they try to follow. That may force investors to withdraw money. Japan Executives Warn Yen May Get Too Weak (WSJ) The executives, who gathered at an annual New Year's reception held by Japan's three biggest corporate lobbies, praised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new government for its proposals to boost the economy and tame the strong yen, which erodes exporters' profits and makes it harder to sell Japan-made goods overseas. But they also cautioned that if the economy stays weak, or if the government doesn't take steps to get its bloated finances under control, investors could lose confidence in Japan and flee, sending the yen into free fall. KFC diner stumbles upon strange brain-like organ in his meal (TS) Disgusted Ibrahim Langoo was tucking into a Gladiator box meal when he spotted what he thought was a “wrinkled brain” inside a piece of chicken. KFC have apologised and, after having the photographs analysed, reckon the unsightly organ may in fact be a kidney. The 19-year-old took a photograph of the three-inch stomach-churning discovery on his mobile phone and complained to staff. Apologetic bosses at the fast-food chain – known for its Finger Lickin’ Good slogan – have now offered him vouchers for even more KFC meals.

Opening Bell: 6.8.15

Deutsche Bank co-CEOs fire themselves; Hedge funds love Japan; "Suit claims principal bribed students with strip club field trip"; and more.

Opening Bell: 6.1.16

Bets on Fed move this summer surge; N.Y. Mets owners reach revised deal with Madoff trustee; Divorced dad tries paying child support in pizza, court is cool with it; and more.