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Opening Bell: 06.27.14

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Market Structure Nightmare Comes True in Barclays Dark Pools Action (Bloomberg)
For years, brokers and traders have assured anyone who cast aspersions on America’s electronic stock market that the concerns don’t add up. Then came Eric Schneiderman. New York’s attorney general has spent a year digging for dirt on two of the main features of modern market structure, dark pools and high-frequency trading. This week, he hit a vein with a 30-page complaint against Barclays Plc. Schneiderman’s suit against the British bank alleged Barclays executives lied to customers while secretly cozying up to high-frequency firms. In doing so, he emboldened those who contend the private venues are havens for bad actors taking advantage of mutual and pension funds. The action provided ammunition to those who say the stock market’s opaque structure mainly serves insiders.

Barclays enlists outside help in dark pools probe (Reuters)
Barclays said it is bringing in outside help to speed up an investigation into alleged misconduct in its "dark pool" operations, which have rekindled concerns that the cost of past problems at its investment bank will rise. More than 2 billion pounds ($3.4 billion) was wiped off Barclays' market value on Thursday after New York's attorney general filed a lawsuit against the British bank, accusing it of trying to grab extra profits from its alternative trading system while promising to get the best possible prices for customers.

U.S. Court Rejects Argentina's Bid for More Time (WSJ)
Argentina moved closer to its second default in 13 years, after a U.S. court struck down the country's request for more time to negotiate with a small group of holdout creditors. Argentina has largely run out of legal options in its long battle with hedge funds suing to collect on bonds affected by the country's 2001 default. U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa has ruled that Argentina must compensate the hedge funds at the same time it pays investors who exchanged defaulted bonds for heavily discounted new debt.

BNP Plans to Slash Dividend, Sell Multibillion Euro Bond Next Week (WSJ)
BNP Paribas plans to slash its dividend and sell billions of euros of bonds to investors next week as it settles a long-running U.S. investigation into its alleged violation of U.S. sanctions, according to a person familiar with the matter. The settlement between the large French bank and U.S. authorities is expected to be announced on Monday, although both sides are still ironing out final details, this person said. BNP Paribas is expected to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay up to $9 billion, people familiar with the negotiations have said.

Spitting, swearing LaBeouf muzzled with mask after arrest (NYP)
Troublemaking actor Shia LaBeouf went berserk in the audience at the Broadway musical “Cabaret” Thurs­day night and was hauled off in handcuffs to a station house — where he told cops, “I’ll f–k you up,” called an officer a “f-g,” and was muzzled with a face mask for spitting, sources said. The “Nymphomaniac” star was slapping people on the behind and in the back of the head while smoking at around 9:30 p.m. in the Studio 54 theater, according to law-enforcement sources. When cops approached him, he was “incoherent” and “very agitated,” they said. He tried to quickly walk away from officers but fell flat on his face, the sources said. Police hauled him out, his hands cuffed behind him, as theatergoers looked on. At the Midtown-North station house, he allegedly became belligerent, demanding the cuffs be removed. “F–k you. I’ll f–k you up!” the 28-year-old LaBeouf said, according to the sources. Cops decided to not take the cuffs off the agitated “Transformers” star, and he allegedly started spitting, prompting officers to put a face mask on him.

Crumbs Bake Shop set to delist from Nasdaq (NYT)
Crumbs Bake Shop said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that the Nasdaq stock market had denied its request to keep its common stock listed on the exchange. According to the filing, Nasdaq will suspend trading of the company's stock on July 1. Crumbs, the country's largest cupcake chain, has been on the verge of a delisting for some time. Its most recent quarterly filing noted that a number of factors, including insufficient profit to offset operating expenses, raised "substantial doubt as to Crumbs' ability to continue as a going concern." As a result, the filing said, "Crumbs may be forced to curtail or cease its activities."

Suarez Bite Victim Says FIFA’s Four-Month Ban Harsh (Bloomberg)
The Italian defender bitten at the World Cup by Luis Suarez says the punishment meted out to the Uruguayan forward is excessive. Giorgio Chiellini, 29, who plays for Italian champion Juventus, was bitten on the shoulder by Suarez about 10 minutes before the end of Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in Natal three days ago. Suarez, who’s been banned for biting on two previous occasions, received a four-month prohibition from all soccer and Uruguay’s next nine games by the sport’s governing body FIFA yesterday. “The proposed formula is excessive,” Chiellini wrote on his personal website. “I sincerely hope he will be allowed to stay close to his teammates during the games because such a ban is really alienating for a player.”

Bitcoin to Get More Attention From U.S. Consumer Bureau (Bloomberg)
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, wrote in a confidential report last month that the bureau, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, needed to become more active in developing U.S. digital-currency policies. In a written response, the agency agreed.

Legal Costs Soar When Fired CEOs Fight Back (WSJ)
Dov Charney, the wealthy founder of American Apparel Inc., may need deep pockets to finance his fight over being fired as chief executive "for cause." Chief executives are rarely terminated for alleged serious misdeeds and even more rarely do the ousted few fight back. Those who do often end up facing huge bills in legal battles that last for years—with mixed outcomes. When a fired CEO and employer lock horns, "you can burn up $8 or $9 million" in legal fees, says Robert M. Sedgwick, head of the executive-compensation practice at Morrison Cohen LLP in New York.

Russian Cops Ban Short Skirts After Skirts Get Too Short (HP)
In Russian police force, uniform modifies you! Or at least the public's perception of you. That is the principal argument behind the Russian Interior Ministry's recent ban on short skirts and other uniform modifications, the Moscow Times reports. "When you meet people, the first thing you see is their clothing, and for a police officer fulfilling his duties, it is crucial to have a tidy and neat appearance. From time to time, we have seen instances of officers improperly wearing their uniforms. … Heads [of departments] must pay more attention to the appearance of their subordinates," Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Gerasimov said in a memo obtained by Russian newspaper Izvestia. The Moscow Times reports that the ban was imposed to counteract a growing trend of rising hemlines among female officers, as well as a tendency of male officers to cut off their shirt sleeves. Department heads are encouraged to inspect uniforms daily to make sure they're appropriate.


Opening Bell: 4.30.15

BofA to settle forex suit; Apple says it may suffer ‘material’ financial damage over tax probe; Bitcoin makes inroads in Argentina; Man banned from touching vending machines; "People need to wear pants and not set off fireworks"; and more.