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Opening Bell: 11.26.13

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Men’s Wearhouse Offers to Buy Jos. A. Bank (Bloomberg)
Men’s Wearhouse Inc., which less than two weeks ago let a takeover bid from Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. expire without entering discussions, today offered to buy its smaller rival for about $1.54 billion. The proposal of $55 a share is 8.7 percent higher than Jos. A. Bank’s closing price yesterday and 32 percent higher than on Oct. 8, the day before it bid for Men’s Wearhouse. Jos. A. Bank rose above the offer price in New York trading. Men’s Wearhouse, taking the advice of its largest shareholder, Eminence Capital LLC, is turning the tables on Jos. A. Bank to expand its base of men’s clothing stores. The deal, which would create a company with about 1,700 stores, would add to earnings in the first year after closing, helped by as much as $150 million in annual savings in purchasing, customer service and marketing over three years, Men’s Wearhouse said today in a statement.

Departure Blurs Nasdaq Succession (WSJ)
Mr. Noll, 51 years old, said he would become chief executive of ConvergEx Group LLC, a broker for institutional traders and money managers. The move surprised many industry experts, most of whom had anticipated Mr. Noll would stay at Nasdaq until current Chief Executive Robert Greifeld retired. But Mr. Greifeld, 56, has shown no signs of leaving. His current contract, signed last year, lasts until 2017. Under direction from its board, Nasdaq had been working on an executive succession plan for two years, although no details have been made public.

Speed Traders Meet Nightmare on Elm Street With Nanex (Bloomberg)
The nemesis of Wall Street’s high-frequency traders operates out of an apartment-sized office above the Bliss Salon -- manicure/pedicure $45 -- on Elm Street in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. Staring at four computer monitors,Eric Scott Hunsader, the founder of market-data provider Nanex LLC, looks for hints of illicit trading hidden in psychedelic images of triangles dancing with dots that represent quotes to buy and sell U.S. stocks broken down by the millisecond. Charts of trading produced by Hunsader’s eight-person firm have captivated everyone from regulators to art gallery owners. One stunt involved a computerized piano piece mimicking quotes for an exchange-traded fund. He infuriates some traders, who say Nanex draws unwarranted conclusions and spreads conspiracy theories. To Hunsader, the images created from market feeds are evidence of high-frequency trading firms exploiting market rules to turn a profit in a lawless environment. Though others in the industry see his reports and charts as propaganda, Nanex’s interpretations are helping to drive the public debate about the fundamental fairness of the modern stock market. “You ever see ‘Lord of the Flies’ or read that book?” he said, using the William Golding novel about boys stranded on an uninhabited island as a metaphor for the stock market. “When you don’t have a parent around, things fall apart.”

Banks To Sue Over New CFTC Rules (NYP)
JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and other financial firms — fuming over far-reaching new rules passed in the wake of the financial crisis — plan to haul the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to court. The banks, represented by industry lobbying groups, plan to sue the CFTC for violating rule-making procedures when it proposed new Dodd-Frank era regulations. A source familiar with the matter said that lawsuit, led by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, is “imminent.”

Eastwood daughter regrets drunken wedding (NYP)
A little more than a week ago, Clint Eastwood’s gorgeous daughter got hitched to Jonah Hill’s pit-stained brother in a drunken Las Vegas ceremony — and now she wants the courts to unmake her day. Francesca Eastwood, 20, stumbled down the aisle of Las Vegas’ Simple Wedding Chapel on Nov. 17 to wed “Shrek” look-alike Jordan Feldstein, 35, in a Christian ceremony held in front of an Elvis impersonator. “Francesca had immediate regrets,” TMZ reported Monday, adding that sources close to the couple said the wedding was “fueled by alcohol” and that she’s seeking an annulment. Eastwood is the daughter of the Oscar winner and actress Frances Fisher, 61, who played Kate Winslet’s mother in “Titanic.” The party-loving Francesca starred on the reality-TV show “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” with her stepmother and other family members in their fancy California home. Feldstein is a music manager who made his name launching the career of his childhood friend, superstar Adam Levine of Maroon 5. He also manages Robin Thicke of “Blurred Lines” fame. The quickie wedding must have been a big surprise to Francesca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, celeb photographer Tyler Shields, who said in February, “I’m really into Francesca . . . We will definitely get married. I’ve been looking at rings and I plan to propose in an interesting way.”

Insight: A new wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens (Reuters)
U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks. The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along. More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

The Dirty Secrets of Black Friday 'Discounts' (WSJ)
When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won't just be going to the mall, they'll be witnessing retail theater. Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion. The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don't sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn't typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want. The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in. Buyers don't seem to mind. What they are after, especially in such a lackluster economy, is the feeling they got a deal. Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. who try to get out of the game get punished. "I don't even get excited unless its 40% off," said Lourdes Torress, a 44-year-old technical designer, as she browsed the sale racks at Macy's Inc.'s flagship store in New York on a recent afternoon.

Troubled hedge fund sitting on real estate gold (NetNet)
Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has at least one easy way to make up some of the $1.2 billion he recently agreed to pay the government: Cash in on SAC Capital Advisors' sprawling real estate holdings that stretch across three continents. Much has been made of billionaire Cohen's personal properties. His homes, all in the New York City area, include a $23.1 million, 35,000 square foot mansion in Greenwich, Conn.; a $115 million midtown duplex already for sale; two West Village residences valued at $23.4 million and $38.8 million, respectively; and adjacent homes in East Hampton, N.Y. worth an estimated $62.5 million and $18 million respectively based on purchase prices, according to a recent Forbes report. What has gotten less attention is Cohen's array of luxury office space. He's started moving some of it already; the embattled $14 billion hedge fund firm plans to close its trading operation in London's posh financial center—called the "City"—by year end. What's unclear is if SAC will also rent or sell its other offices. In addition to its two-building Stamford, Conn. headquarters, the firm works out of two sleek locations in midtown Manhattan and one in Hong Kong's high-end "Central" neighborhood. SAC also has separate administrative locations for records in Boston, Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo, according to government filings.

Mario Batali Ordered 200 Pairs of Orange Crocs Because the Color Was Discontinued (Eater)
In an interview with Details, chef Mario Batali dropped the bomb that Crocs is discontinuing its line of orange clogs which have become the chef's signature footwear. So what is Batali going to do? In the short term, Batali says that he placed a final order for 200 orange crocs, which really should tide him over for a little while. ("They made a special run for me before they retired the color," he says.) And Batali isn't taking the news lightly, either. Said the chef: "They're gonna stop the Mario Batali orange! It's preposterous!