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Opening Bell: 03.05.14

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Ballmer Says Microsoft a ‘Two-Trick Pony,’ Working on Third (Bloomberg)
“You’re pretty genius in our business if you’re a one-trick pony,” Ballmer said. “In our company, I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve done at least two tricks. Tricks are worth billions and billions of dollars.”

Pimco Gets Brush Off Close To Home (WSJ)
When the county pension fund serving cities and towns including Pacific Investment Management Co.'s headquarters of Newport Beach, Calif., met in November to decide how to put $100 million in new funds to work in the bond market, members of the investment committee made a surprising decision: They chose Swiss fund-management firm GAM Holding AG. The choice by the $11 billion Orange County Employees Retirement System shows how smaller fund managers are benefiting from Pimco's loosening grip on the bond business, said GAM portfolio manager Jack Flaherty. The pension system regularly invests with other asset managers, but Pimco was its largest bond manager in November, public documents show...Until recently, GAM never considered going after customers in Pimco's backyard, Mr. Flaherty said. But now, the Swiss asset-management firm is using turmoil at Pimco to get in the door with major potential customers.

Lehman Europe creditors in line for extra $8 billion payday (Reuters)
Hedge funds, asset managers and other creditors of Lehman Brothers' European arm will next month be fully paid out from money recovered from the carcass of the bank and could get an extra 5 billion pounds ($8.4 billion). PwC, the administrator of Lehman Brothers International Europe (LBIE), is paying a fourth dividend of 7.8 pence in the pound to unsecured creditors on April 30, which will lift payouts to 100 percent after three bigger dividends in the past 15 months. PwC estimated another 5 billion pounds of surplus cash could be paid to creditors, but any extra cash cannot be paid until there is agreement on how it is shared.

Moelis IPO Filing Shows Rise of Small Advisers (WSJ)
The planned filing—and indeed Mr. Moelis's founding of the firm seven years ago—represent a bet that big corporate clients will continue handing more lucrative M&A assignments to firms such as Moelis that have a narrower focus than their larger Wall Street peers and are perceived to be freer of potential conflicts of interest. Last year, 80% of the 10 largest M&A deals had independent advisers, up from 30% just 10 years earlier, the filing said. In Tuesday's filing, Moelis said it has advised on more than $1 trillion of deals, including three of the 10 biggest announced global mergers in 2013. They include H.J. Heinz Co.'s $23 billion takeover by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital, and the $35.1 billion pending merger of Omnicom Group Inc. and France's Publicis Groupe SA...Helping encourage Moelis to move on the share sale now, according to people familiar with the firm's planning: Shares of other small investment banks that already are public have gained sharply over the past year. Evercore Partners Inc. shares, for example, have risen 38% in the past year.

Red Flags Amid Citi Losses (WSJ)
Oceanografía SA, the Mexican oil-services firm that Citigroup Inc. alleges is responsible for duping the bank out of $400 million, was well known in energy and investor circles as being behind on its bills despite a steady stream of contracts with state oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos. Operating out of this oil town on the Gulf of Mexico, Oceanografía had a history of late payments to bondholders, suppliers and even employees, according to workers, investors and legal filings. Investors say Oceanografía frequently leaned on its 30-day grace period to pay bond coupons late. "The traditional emerging market investor didn't have the best image of the company," said Jim Harper, director of corporate research at BCP Securities in Greenwich, Conn. Workers claiming they haven't been paid have been protesting sporadically for more than a year outside the company's headquarters, but the protests intensified in recent weeks. In a September bond prospectus, Oceanografía said it faced 352 labor disputes, which it estimated would cost less than $3 million to settle.

Prized Corvettes rescued after falling into massive sinkhole (AP)
Two classic Corvettes re-emerged Monday from a giant sinkhole that gobbled up those and six other prized vehicles still trapped beneath the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky. Workers in a cage painstakingly hooked straps around the cars before a crane slowly hoisted them one by one from the enormous pit that opened up last month. Onlookers cheered after each car was rescued, but the joy was more subdued for the second car, which had more extensive damage. The first car hoisted out — a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil — showed only minor damage that included cracks on lower door panels, a busted window and an oil line rupture that oozed oil, said Chevrolet spokesman Monte Doran. Workers were able to get that car running. Cheers went up as the engine revved at the Bowling Green museum. “It sounded awesome, just like before,” said museum executive director Wendell Strode. Doran said the car was in “remarkably good shape. You could have that car back on the road in a couple of days.” Not so for the other car retrieved Monday, a 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette. The body panels and window glass need replacing, but the vehicle is salvageable, Doran added.

Goldman Tops M&A Advisers After Blockbusters (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs topped Bloomberg Markets’ annual ranking of M&A advisers in 2013 with an estimated $1.23 billion in fees, the magazine will report in its April issue. Bloomberg changed its methodology in calculating fees to reflect deals that were completed last year, rather than those that were announced.

SEC stays mum on possible Herbalife probe (NYP)
Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that she can’t say anything about any investigation the regulator may — or may not — have under way regarding Herbalife. “The Commission generally neither confirms nor denies the existence of an inquiry or investigation unless and until made a matter of public record in proceedings instituted before the Commission or in court,” White wrote in a letter to Markey, adding that “We appreciate your letter and the concerns you raised.” “I can assure you that we are giving your concerns every consideration,” she added. The SEC’s response came days after the Feb. 28 deadline Markey gave it and the Federal Trade Commission to respond to his request that they investigate the nutritional supplements company that critics say is a pyramid scheme. Herbalife, which denies it is a pyramid scheme, previously disclosed that it was subject to an SEC inquiry about its business practices.

New Apple CFO seen as ‘shareholder-friendly’ (NYP)
“I don’t think we will have battles like we’ve had over the last couple of years,” Brian White, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, predicted of Maestri as CFO. “He has a reputation for being shareholder-friendly.” On Tuesday, Apple said longtime CFO Peter Oppenheimer will retire in September to spend more time with his family and to get his pilot’s license. Oppenheimer has been with Apple since 1996 and has been the CFO for 10 years. Maestri, who came to Apple from Xerox last year, will fill Oppenheimer’s shoes starting in June, Apple said.

Lack of Clarity Could Hurt Puerto Rico Bond Sale (WSJ)
Puerto Rico's governor on Tuesday signed legislation that authorized selling up to $3.5 billion in debt in the coming days, capping months of recent efforts by the island commonwealth to sell itself as a good investment to bond buyers. Even so, the island's government still lags behind some other large municipalities in providing details about its financial health. Investors and analysts say these spotty communication skills have cost the island by stoking bond market fears about Puerto Rico's ability to pay back debt, amplifying price swings in its bonds.

N.J. judge denies teen honor student’s request for emergency funds in suit against parents (NYDN)
A judge Tuesday ruled against New Jersey teen Rachel Canning, who sued her parents for expenses and education tuition after she says they tossed her out of their Lincoln Park home last year. Morristown Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard appears to have agreed with an independent investigators' assessment of the home atmosphere: that the high school cheerleader and lacrosse player is “spoiled.” "Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house?" Bogaard asked when denying an emergency order that would have entitled the teen to $650 a week in child support and would have required the parents to pay for the girl’s private school tuition...Mom and dad may have to foot the bill for college costs - for which they say they have a fund set aside - if the judge rules they left her out in the cold once she turned 18 on Nov. 1. The parents say their rebellious daughter refused to drop a dud of a boyfriend and failed to follow simple house rules such as doing chores and making curfew. She willingly left the home, they contend...Rachel Canning has lived in the Rockaway, N.J. home of classmate Jaime Inglesino. Inglesino’s father, John Inglesino, has foot the bill for the girl’s lawyer fees, more than $12,000 thus far.