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Opening Bell: 04.11.14

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Investor Group Seeks Court OK to Buy, Revive Bankrupt Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox (WSJ)
A group of investors with Hollywood ties is seeking to revive bankrupt bitcoin-trading exchange Mt. Gox, according to people familiar with the matter. The investor group, which includes Brock Pierce, a former child actor-turned technology entrepreneur, is offering a token payment of one bitcoin, or about $400, to buy the exchange outright, according to these people. The acquisition must be approved by a Japanese bankruptcy court. Mt. Gox collapsed in February after disclosing that 750,000 bitcoins belonging to customers had vanished, along with an additional 100,000 bitcoins owned by the virtual-currency exchange. Since then, about 200,000 bitcoins have been recovered and are part of the exchange's assets. The investor group hopes to revive the exchange and set aside 50% of its transaction fees to pay back burned customers and other creditors over time, according to documents filed to the Japanese bankruptcy court and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal...According to people familiar with the plan, the group is justifying the low price because of the "information vacuum" over Mt. Gox's 550,000 missing bitcoins, currently worth about $220 million. It isn't possible to place a value on the lost coins, they said.

Citigroup CEO faces grilling over failed plan, missed target (Reuters)
As Citigroup Chief Executive Mike Corbat prepares to talk to investors on Monday about the bank's biggest failure during his 18-month tenure, his biggest struggle may be with how little he knows about the reason he failed. The U.S. Federal Reserve said on March 26 that it had rejected Citigroup's request to boost its dividend and buy back more shares. The news was a stinging blow to Corbat, who was charged with improving the bank's relationship with regulators in October 2012, when he was named the new CEO. The Fed still had not explained as of earlier this week why Citigroup failed to win approval, a bank executive told Reuters. Corbat, he said, has little information as to what went wrong and why. Corbat, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

JPMorgan crashes Goldman’s date with eBay (CNBC)
Earlier Thursday, eBay issued a surprise press release announcing an end to an ugly battle with Icahn, who had built up a large position in the online auctioneer and was demanding a spinoff of its payment-processing company, PayPal, and the addition of two candidates he had selected to eBay's board. Along the way, Icahn had called out Donahoe for demonstrating "inexcusable incompetence" and eBay had criticized Icahn for airing accusations that were "false and misleading." As part of a newly-inked agreement, however, Icahn was withdrawing both demands before eBay's upcoming annual meeting in exchange for naming telecom industry veteran David Dorman as an independent director to the auctioneer's board. And apparently, eBay had [Jimmy Lee, a longtime banker at JPMorgan Chase] to thank for the amicable settlement. "A week ago, Jimmy Lee, who is the vice chair of JPMorgan, called me and said he had been meeting with Carl on something completely unrelated, but he saw opportunity for some sort of compromise," said Donahoe in a CNBC interview about an hour before the markets opened. "So he encouraged both of us to spend more time together, which is what we did over the weekend" – leading, ultimately, to Thursday's pact. A few hours later, Icahn said much the same thing. "Jimmy Lee did a great job over the weekend back and forth, back and forth as a catalyst," he said. This point was not lost on Icahn, who wondered aloud why Goldman's bankers had never contacted him. "It's not that I personally have anything against Goldman. I just think their approach to this, at least where I'm concerned, is completely wrongheaded and there should be much more peace than war in these things."

Greece Gets Strong Demand for Bond (WSJ)
Greece sold more than $4 billion worth of bonds to eager investors Thursday, marking a milestone for a country that over the last four years had convulsed global markets, imperiled the euro and precipitated the biggest default in history. Greece's absolution by investors is a stark demonstration of how much those markets have improved since the dark days of the euro-zone crisis, and a reflection of a mounting belief that Greece has turned a corner after six years of painful recession. "People are starting to look at Greece again in the investible universe," said Alberto Gallo, head of European macro credit research at Royal Bank of Scotland in London.

As Judge OKs SAC Plea, Pursuit of Cohen Appears to Cool (WSJ)
On Thursday, a federal judge approved a guilty plea entered on behalf of SAC and a landmark insider-trading settlement with the firm. Prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have eyed Mr. Cohen for years, but haven't been able to mount a criminal case against him personally. While prosecutors aren't barred under terms of the settlement from indicting Mr. Cohen or other SAC traders, no new charges are imminent, according to a person familiar with the matter.

‘Game of Thrones’ a budding inspiration for baby names (NYP)
In 2012, there were 146 babies named “Khaleesi,” the title of “queen” that Targaryen took on after marrying a Dothraki leader, according to Social Security Administration data analyzed by The name has been slowly climbing up the baby-naming charts since 2010, when fewer than five babies were given the moniker. Now it’s more popular than traditional names like “Betsy” and “Nadine.” But Targaryen’s first name has proven less popular, with only 21 babies being called “Daenerys” in 2012, the same data showed. That’s not the only “Game of Thrones”-inspired name out there: More than 700 babies were named Arya in 2012, the first name of orphan Arya Stark. The name was used prior to the hit cable show, but it has risen in popularity in recent years.

JPMorgan’s Masters Said to Have Angled to Be CEO in Sale (Bloomberg)
The strategy, as described by a person directly involved, didn’t work out. After a $3.5 billion sale was announced last month, Masters, 45, one of the most senior women on Wall Street, announced her departure from JPMorgan. Masters told others that she would no longer have the same standing in the executive ranks after the sale, according to two people involved in the auction process. She also had no plans to join the unit’s purchaser, Geneva-based Mercuria Energy Group Ltd.

Finra Scrutinizes Banks' Role in Bond Market (WSJ)
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a Wall Street self-regulator, is taking a broad look at the trading profits of banks and other middlemen in some bond transactions. Finra is crunching through reams of trading data, looking for instances in which the middlemen have earned unusually large profits on bond deals, officials said. The inquiry could lead to a regulatory instruction to the banks to reduce the spreads between buying and selling prices they charge on certain trades, or even to enforcement action.

China’s Bitcoin Exchanges Say Banks Will Close Their Accounts (Bloomberg)
BtcTrade said on its website...that an Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (601288) sub-branch in Hangzhou will close its account by April 15 if it continues to use it for Bitcoin-related settlement services. said Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. will close its account by April 18 and said it received a notice from an unidentified lender to cancel its account.

One Way to Wage a Proxy Fight (Dealbook)
“Below is a picture taken at last year’s annual shareholder meeting of our bank’s chairman,” the two-sentence shareholder letter from the activist investor Joseph Stilwell began. “None of the other board members bothered to wake him up.” The letter describes a photo of William D. Schack, the chairman of Harvard Illinois Bancorp, who looks as if he is fast asleep below the words “Winning with Teamwork,” which appear to be written on the wall above him.

Chicago Restaurant Debuts $100 Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Eater)
The humble grilled cheese sandwich is the latest dish to get the novelty sandwich makeover thanks to Deca Restaurant + Bar located inside the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. For the month of April, the restaurant is serving up a "Zillion Dollar Grilled Cheese," which contrary to the name, has a price tag of $100. Unlike other stunt foods that have turned to combining seemingly disparate foods like deep fried twinkles with a pork belly burger, the sandwich features layers of pricey ingredients. According to the press release...the Zillion Dollar Grilled Cheese "is not your childhood classic" and features black Iberico ham "sourced from pigs" that "roam free in the pasture eating acorns" in the "south of Spain," "artisan" country sourdough bread, 40-year aged Wisconsin cheddar "infused with 24k gold flakes," white truffle aioli, 100-year-old aged balsamic vinegar, heirloom tomatoes, foie gras, and comes topped with a sunny side up duck egg. Just incase that wasn't indulgent enough, the sandwich is also served with "a skillet of lobster mac."


By Maggie Hoffman (Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.5.16

Wilbur Ross expects Donald Trump to start acting normal; Goldman warns on Brexit effects; Georgia man busted after raging at wife over too cheesy grilled cheese sandwich; and more.