BofA Scrapping Market-Making Unit Amid Trading Scrutiny (Bloomberg)
Bank of America Corp. is dismantling an electronic market-making unit created last year to serve the lender’s Merrill Lynch wealth-management division, said two people with knowledge of the decision. Increased regulatory scrutiny of U.S. equity markets and managers’ concerns for the potential perception of a conflict of interest killed the project, said the people. The desk advanced to a testing phase before being abandoned in recent weeks and two executives hired to run it, Jonathan Wang and Steven Sadoff, were told to seek new jobs within the firm, the people said, requesting anonymity because the matter is private.
Deutsche Bank to defend capital increase at annual meeting (Reuters)
Germany's largest bank launched the capital increase in a surprise move only weeks after first hinting that it was unable to retain enough profit to fortify its finances ahead of a regulatory health check slated for later this year. Shareholder approval is not required but some investors will express anger with the issue and with the lack of progress on resolving a long list of investigations that has dogged the bank since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Wall Street Finds New Subprime With 125% Business Loans (Bloomberg)
Subprime business lending -- the industry prefers to be called “alternative” -- has swelled to more than $3 billion a year, estimates Marc Glazer, who has researched his competitors as head of Business Financial Services Inc., a lender in Coral Springs, Florida. That’s twice the volume of small loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
Hedge Funds Are Betting The Roomba Will Short Circuit (BFB)
A new report from Spruce Point Capital Management issued Tuesday questions the accounting and corporate governance practices at iRobot, the company that manufactures the Roomba, the Scooba and other robotic home cleaning products. The report also claims competition from cheaper, comparable robotic cleaners means iRobot will face mounting financial obstacles to maintaining its growth.
How Old People and Pricey Shrimp Turned Red Lobster Into a Castoff (BusinessWeek)
Seafood sellers have been whacked over the past year by the surging cost of shrimp due to acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome. Billions of young shrimp have died from the disease, which was first detected in farm-raised populations in Asia. Shrimp prices hit a 14-year high earlier this year. Adding insult to injury, Red Lobster was widely known for its $15.99 “Endless Shrimp” promotions designed to get people into the restaurant...Beyond the expenses of procuring shrimp, Red Lobster also attracts an oversize share of older diners who don’t eat out frequently, while younger and spendier patrons eat their fish at more upscale restaurants—places that can cover rising costs better.
Houston Str!pper Sued For Harry Potter DVDs (HP)
Wallace, a Houston-based software developer, thought he was in a "dating relationship" with exotic dancer Nomi Mims. He loaned her $2,000, a laptop and his precious collection of movies based on the J.K. Rowling books, KRIV-TV reports. When the alleged relationship ended May 3, Wallace hoped Mims would return the items. She hasn't so now he says he's suing her to get the money, laptop and Harry Potter DVDs. Fat chance, according to Mims. She says she never dated Wallace and that the items were gifts he gave to her. “I don’t believe in loans because I don’t want to pay anybody back,” she said, according to RawStory.com. “I’ve given him gifts too. You know, how do I get my b00ty and b00bs back?" Although Wallace claims the two were intimate and "building a life together," Mims says they were never more than friends. She concedes that it is unfortunate that she may have given him the wrong impression, MyFoxPhilly.com reports.
Dutch Firm to Buy Goldman Sachs NYSE Floor Trading Business (WSJ)
IMC Financial Markets, a Dutch high-speed trading firm, agreed on Wednesday to acquire Goldman's rights to operate as a designated market maker in more than 600 NYSE-listed stocks, according to Scott Knudsen, IMC's Chicago-based head of trading. IMC will also hire about 15 floor brokers from the Wall Street firm. The sale marks a retreat for Goldman on the NYSE floor, though it plans to remain a broker there executing trades on behalf of clients.
Airbnb to turn over host records to Schneiderman (NYP)
Airbnb said it will hand over data on the website’s users to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is trying to root out New York City hosts who have been breaking subletting laws and failing to pay taxes. The records initially will be provided to the AG in a way that protects users’ identities, according to the agreement announced Wednesday. Once Schneiderman reviews the data, he can then request specific names and other personal data to go after users he suspects are breaking a law that bans short-term rentals when the primary resident isn’t home...In New York, it is illegal to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the owner of the residence is also present. Schneiderman has also argued that Airbnb hosts should be paying the city’s 14.7 percent hotel occupancy tax.
Web Retailer JD.com's IPO Shows Hunger For China (Dealbook)
Even though the company has lost money for the last several years, its stock sale valued the company at $25.7 billion, a valuation even higher than Twitter’s at its market debut last fall. The warm reception for JD.com reflects investor hunger for the wave of fast-growing Chinese companies that are going public in the United States to stake their claim as global technology powers.
Photos of Hamster Rear Ends Are Hit in Japan (JRT)
Two books devoted to images of hamsters’ posteriors have already sold nearly 40,000 copies combined in Japan, according to the publishers, with a third book set for release later this month. Fans of the craze have coined the term “hamuketsu,” which combines “hamster” and “ketsu,” or buttocks in Japanese. “The photos in the book are all shots of hamuketsu,” Yukako Minami, a spokeswoman at Sekai Bunka Publishing Inc., said. The company released “Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu,” or “Hamuketsu–So Cute You Could Faint,” on April 19, with an initial print run of 7,000 copies. “We’ve had multiple reprints and already shipped 30,000 copies total” since then, Ms. Minami said. The 72-page collection features all kinds of hamsters in a variety of sizes and colors, but in each case the creature’s backside faces the camera. Male hamsters appear to be more popular because they have bigger and rounder buttocks, according to the publisher. The pictures of furry roundness help “soothe the hearts” of viewers, said Ms. Minami.