Opening Bell: 04.25.14

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Alibaba Puts IPO Record in Sight (WSJ)
No final decision has been made, but the addition of new Alibaba shares could help push the IPO beyond $20 billion, potentially topping Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.'s record $22.1 billion offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2010, according to Dealogic, which tracks IPO data. The largest IPO in the U.S. was Visa Inc.'s $19.7 billion offering in 2010.

Former KPMG Partner Scott London Gets 14 Months for Insider Trading (WSJ)
Federal prosecutors argued Mr. London's actions weren't purely to help a friend, but also for personal gain. The judge said the amount of that gain – about $70,000 — was "a drop in the bucket" relative to Mr. London's $900,000 annual salary. But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Bowman emphasized what he said was the serious nature of the crime, saying "any time you're a vice president of KPMG and you're on a street corner accepting bags of cash you're part of a corrupt arrangement."

KKR and Nasdaq Plan Market to Trade Shares in Private-Equity Funds (WSJ)
KKR & Co. plans to allow its investors to sell portions of their stakes in buyout funds through a private market run by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., thought to be the first time pieces of these exclusive vehicles have been traded this way in the U.S., said people familiar with the matter.

Tech giants settle wage-fixing allegations for a reported $324M (Reuters)
Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley, sources familiar with the deal said, just weeks before a high profile trial had been scheduled to begin. Tech workers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to refrain from soliciting one another’s employees in order to avert a salary war. They planned to ask for $3 billion in damages at trial, according to court filings. That could have tripled to $9 billion under antitrust law.

Woman Jailed In Altercation Over Corn Dogs (HP)
Workers at a Midland, Texas business said Charmelle Henry threw 75 cents at them and demanded a corn dog, according to News West 9. When the 45-year-old wasn't happy with the corn dog she received, she threw that at them as well and demanded a dog that was not microwaved. After giving her a second corn dog, the workers noticed that Henry had a knife in her hand. She allegedly told the workers that she would "stab [them] in cold blood" unless she got another corn dog. She also began stabbing the counter with her pocketknife, according to an arrest report obtained by MRT.com. One employee called police, who subdued the "extremely agitated" woman with a K-9 unit after she refused to follow their orders.

BofA Ex-CFO Settles Merrill Case With New York (WSJ)
The deal addresses the last piece of a lawsuit New York filed against Bank of America in 2010 alleging the bank and its former executives misled investors over mounting losses at Merrill Lynch. Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch in September 2008. Shareholders of both banks approved the deal 2½ months later, but the lawsuit alleged Bank of America shareholders weren't fully aware of what they were getting into.

Michael Dell to sell gardening firm ValleyCrest to KKR unit: FT (Reuters)
ValleyCrest, owned by Dell's family investment office MSD Capital, is expected to fetch about $1 billion and talks for a deal are understood to be advanced.

The 10 worst jobs for 2014 (CNBC)
#1. Lumberjack. Change from ranking on 2013 list: Down 1. Midlevel income: $24,340. Key factors for ranking: work environment (ranked worst of all 200 jobs), income and outlook. Lumberjack comes close to the bottom for nearly every factor, from the job being dangerous to low income. But it's also taken a hit on the outlook as the construction industry slumps and the newspaper industry shrinks. Plus, technological advancements are quickly replacing the need for humans in the wood-harvesting process. There were just under 44,000 logging workers, as the BLS calls them, in 2012, and that number is expected to drop 9 percent by 2022. Still, good luck finding a lumberjack who would agree he (or she) has the worst job! Most say they love being outdoors and that trumps everything else.

James Franco loves taking selfies in bed, doesn’t plan on slowing down (NYDN)
ames Franco says his recent Instagram postings of him in bed — alone or not — are his way of sharing a “very kind of intimate portrait” of himself and to get people talking. “It’s not like I’m exposing myself or anything,” he said in an interview Thursday. Franco calls selfies and Instagram phenomena “that I am just playing around with like everybody else” to see what kind of reaction it evokes. He says when he takes pictures of himself, “It’s almost like it’s connected to you” and that by putting “that intimate space out there it’s kind of this new thing that we’re all getting used to.” He also says that it “obviously causes a lot of stir,” noting that he was being asked about the photos by reporters. The actor, author and director wrote in a New York Times essay last December titled “The Meanings Of The Selfie” that he has “become increasingly addicted to Instagram” and acknowledged that he has “been accused of posting too many of them.”

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Photo: Getty Images

Opening Bell: 9.22.16

Yellen signals 2016 hike coming; Bill Gross is 'verklempt' after Fed decision; Australian hot dog and hamburger combination 'hamdog' coming to U.S.; and more.

Opening/Hurricane Bell: 10.29.12

Bracing for Storm, U.S. Stock Markets to Close (Dealbook) All United States stock and options markets will close on Monday as Hurricane Sandy approaches, reversing course as Wall Street braces for the storm to barrel through the heart of the country’s financial center. The decision, made late Sunday night, leaves the American stock markets closed for weather conditions for the first time in nearly three decades. The New York Stock Exchange had previously planned on closing only its physical trading floor, while allowing for trading on its Arca electronic exchange. It has now decided to halt all trading. The Nasdaq and BATS stock markets, which are built on electronic trading, also decided to close. The CME Group, which operates the Nymex commodities exchange, said earlier on Sunday that it would close its physical trading floor on Monday, though trading would continue on its electronic trading platforms. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or Sifma, said in an e-mailed statement that it was calling for bond trading, which is all done electronically, to close at noon Monday, though it left the final decision to member firms. The N.Y.S.E. last closed trading for weather reasons in 1985, when Hurricane Gloria lashed the metropolitan area. Markets Go Dark Ahead Of Storm (WSJ) Customers had complained to the exchanges and to the Securities and Exchange Commission that partial closures of the market would be too complicated, according to people with knowledge of the matter. US Stock Markets To Possibly Stay Closed Through Tuesday (Reuters) In a statement, the company said that "the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority." Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Shut Some NYC Offices for Storm (Bloomberg) Citigroup and and Goldman Sachs are among Wall Street firms planning to shift operations to other cities and have staff work from home as Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in New York forces evacuations. Employees at Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, won’t be able to enter Lower Manhattan offices on Greenwich Street and Wall Street, which include the main trading floor, according to a memo sent to workers and confirmed by Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman. Goldman Sachs, whose corporate headquarters at 200 West St. is also located in an evacuation zone, told the staff in an internal memo that most of them will work from home...European-based firms including Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG, which have offices outside of the mandatory evacuation zone, are making arrangements to provide transportation and hotels for workers. Christie: "Don't Be Stupid" (AP) A year after telling New Jersey residents to "Get the hell off the beach" as Hurricane Irene approached, Gov. Chris Christie has a new message for people on the coastline: "Don't be stupid — get out," Christie said Sunday afternoon at a news conference, where he updated residents on the status of the huge storm bearing down on the state. Stock Pickers Game The Fiscal Cliff (WSJ) A number of companies are seeking to get ahead of the tax increases by paying out big special dividends before Dec. 31. In the past two weeks, at least four Standard & Poor's 500 companies have announced special payouts, including a $750 million payout by casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd., a $1.1 billion dividend from hospital operator HCA Holdings Inc. and a $1.6 billion dividend from LyondellBasell Industries NV, a New York-listed chemicals group. The game for investors is to figure out which companies could be next. Jay Wong, a Los Angeles-based portfolio manager for Payden & Rydel, a money manager with $75 billion under management, is on high alert for potential payouts. He increased his stake in Wynn earlier this month in anticipation of a special dividend and is looking for others. He declined to be specific, citing a desire to not give his trades away. Occupy Wall Street's Stacey Hessler Splits From Husband (NYP, earlier) The filing lists Curtiss’ occupation as banker and says he earns $65,000 a year. Her job is listed in court papers as “protester” and her employer as “Occupy Wall Street.” Annual salary: $0. Divorce papers cite “irreconcilable differences” for the split, saying the 19-year marriage “is irretrievably broken.” One OWS protester who knows her says that Stacey’s devotion to the movement caused the divorce but that she was unfazed by the breakup. “She didn’t seem sad about any of it,” the source said. “It was just so matter-of-fact.” As recently as last month, Stacey, 39, was sleeping in front of a Wells Fargo bank branch in the Financial District near Zuccotti Park, but it appears she scrambled back home to suburban DeLand to finalize the divorce. Wearing her professional-protester uniform — a bandana and patchwork clothes — she refused to say what her plans were or when she’d be leaving the house. But she did respond when a Post reporter asked about a YouTube video showing her making out with another protester during an Occupy “Kiss In” on Valentine’s Day. “I actually made out with four guys,” she said, laughing wildly. Governments to debate 50 billion euro cut to EU budget (Reuters) The cut will be proposed in the latest EU negotiating text on the bloc's spending plan for 2014-2020, but is unlikely to be deep enough to satisfy Britain, Germany, France and other net budget contributors. They want strict limits on EU spending to reflect the austerity imposed by national governments to reduce debt, and called for cuts of 100-200 billion euros to the total proposed by the EU's executive, the European Commission. The proposal is also likely to anger Poland and other former communist EU countries who are the major beneficiaries of EU funds, and oppose any cuts to the Commission's blueprint which they argue is vital for their future economic growth. "As I see it now, the reduction from the Commission proposal will be 50 billion euros plus. That will be the basis for negotiations," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Greek Journalist Held Over List of Swiss-Account Holders (Bloomberg) Kostas Vaxevanis, editor of the Greek magazine Hot Doc, was arrested in Athens today, according to a message posted on his Twitter account at 11 a.m. local time. An arrest warrant was issued yesterday after the magazine published what’s been dubbed the “Lagarde list,” an electronic file given to Greece in 2010 by then-French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde of about 2,000 Greeks with Swiss accounts. Insurers Prepare For Impact Of Hurricane Sandy (Reuters) Had Sandy hit in 2011, it may have been more of a problem for the insurance industry, which dealt with record-breaking losses around the world last year, mostly from U.S. tornadoes and Asia-Pacific earthquakes. But in 2012, most insurers' disaster losses are down substantially, leaving them with more capacity to absorb the billions of dollars in costs some expect from Hurricane Sandy. "In terms of losses, I certainly don't think it's going to be the largest loss of the last 100 years," Tom Larsen, senior vice president of Eqecat, said in an interview late Friday. "It's not an end-of-days scenario." SEC Weighs Bringing Back Fractions in Stock Prices (WSJ) The move would at least partly undo an 11-year-old rule that replaced fractions of a dollar in stock prices, like 1/8 and 1/16, with pennies. The idea of that change was to trim investors' trading costs: One-cent increments can lead to narrower gaps between the prices at which brokers buy and sell shares—potentially reducing their opportunity to shave off profits. Those championing the fraction's return say it would spur securities firms to buy and sell more shares of some companies by making it more profitable for them to do so. Opponents say fractions would increase trading costs for investors with little or no benefit to companies. UBS, RBS Traders Suspended as Rates Probe Goes Beyond Libor (Bloomberg) UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland suspended more than three traders in Singapore as regulators investigating Libor-rigging turn their attention to the rates used to set prices on foreign exchange derivatives. At least two foreign-exchange traders at UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, have been put on leave as part of an internal probe into the manipulation of non-deliverable forwards, a derivative traders use to speculate on the movement of currencies that are subject to domestic foreign exchange restrictions, according to a person with direct knowledge of the operation. Edinburgh-based RBS also put Ken Choy, a director in its emerging markets foreign exchange trading unit, on leave, a person briefed on the matter said on Oct. 26. Women who knew 'cannibal cop' worried they were on his 'cook list' (NYP) “Freaked-out” female acquaintances of would-be cannibal cop Gilberto “Gil” Valle yesterday wondered whether they were on his alleged list of 100 ladies to kidnap, rape, torture, cook — and eat. “I was so shaken when I found out it was him,” said Beverly Seiger, who knew Valle, 28, from the Forest Hills, Queens, park he visited nightly with his wife and baby daughter. “I used to walk his dog. I’ve been to his house many times. He’s been to my house,” she said of Valle, whom federal prosecutors accuse of plotting with three fiendish pals to kidnap, cook and consume scores of females. “I don’t want to be on his list!” Seiger said. “I’m so thin, he would use me as toothpicks. “The women in this neighborhood now are freaked out,” she said. Another female resident asked a reporter, “Are we on this list? “I fit in an oven,” she said, referring to Valle’s alleged boasting online of having an oven “big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs.”

Opening Bell: 5.18.16

Bond buyers can't help themselves; Silicon Valley mocks Trump; Walmart Theft Suspect Told Cops She Was "Too Lazy" To Pay For Stolen Sex Toys; and more.