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Opening Bell: 07.15.14

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Barclays Dark Pool Volume Fell 37% in Week of Lawsuit (Bloomberg)
Barclays saw a 37 percent decline in the number of U.S. shares that traded in its dark pool during the week that it was sued by New York for allegedly lying to customers of that venue. About 197 million shares were traded in the dark pool during the week of June 23, down from 312 million the previous week, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Three of the London-based bank’s largest rivals -- Credit Suisse Group AG, UBS AG and Deutsche Bank AG -- saw increases during the week, the Finra data show. Barclays lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders as it sought to boost revenue at one of Wall Street’s largest private trading venues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a complaint filed June 25. He cited a pattern of misleading and false representations that went on as recently as April.

Citigroup to Get Tax Silver Lining in $7 Billion Settlement (MoneyBeat)
Citigroup will get a tax break on at least part of its $7 billion settlement with the government over its mortgage securities that went bad. The costs incurs in providing $2.5 billion in assistance to distressed homeowners and other consumer relief – will be tax deductible, the bank and outside experts said Monday. So will the $500 million Citigroup is paying to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The $4 billion fine the bank is paying to the Justice Department will not be deductible, however. Under the law, fines and similar penalties imposed on companies as part of a settlement can’t be deducted on a company’s tax return, but other amounts paid can be deducted, as ordinary business expenses.

Draghi Says Banks Shouldn’t Count on Another Carry Trade (Bloomberg)
“The convenience to use the ECB cheap money to buy government bonds is much less” than in a previous funding round which started in 2011, the ECB president said in testimony to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France yesterday. “The general situation is such that these carry trades are going to be much less profitable.”

Allan Mayer Helped Take Down American Apparel Founder Dov Charney (BusinessWeek)
Allan Mayer, a member of American Apparel’s (APP) board of directors, helped oust Dov Charney from the company a month ago. Charney, of course, founded American Apparel and was its chairman, chief executive officer, president, public face (and oh, so much more). But who is Allan Mayer Mayer first met Charney in 2004, after the publication of the now notorious article in Jane magazine—the one where Charney masturbated in front of the reporter, with her consent and while talking about business. Mayer was a crisis manager; Charney, a perennial candidate for crisis management. After American Apparel went public in 2007, Charney invited Mayer to join the board. He’s now co-chairman and one of only two board members to keep their seats after a deal with hedge fund Standard General on July 9 to rescue the company.

A Goldman World Cup Streak Weighs on Brazil (Dealbook)
Soccer fans in Brazil might be forgiven if they asked Goldman Sachs to back another team. Despite predicting a World Cup victory for Brazil for the third-consecutive time, Goldman was off the mark again. In a pre-tournament analysis, the bank forecast that the host nation would defeat Argentina in the final, 3-1...Notable was how heavy a favorite the bank made the host nation. It gave Brazil a 48.5 percent probability of winning the title, a figure that it noted was almost twice the 25 percent probability that Ladbrokes bookmakers had. It wrote in its report that “the most striking aspect of our model is how heavily it favors Brazil to win the World Cup.” No other team came anywhere close. Argentina was second, with a 14.1 percent probability, and Germany third with a 11.4 percent probability. Goldman trumpeted in its report that “we have invested much more intensively this year in a model of the probability of success in a match between any two given teams, based on their track record and characteristics.”

'Til Big Mac do us part: McDonald's hosts weddings (CNBC)
Nothing spells eternity like a McDonald's white balloon wedding gown or a crystal McDonald's house wedding gift for some couples tying the knot in Hong Kong. These are just two of the items available as part of the fast food giant's wedding party program, which launched in 2011 in the region to meet customer demand. Since then, McDonald's has hosted about a couple dozen wedding parties and expanded the service from three restaurants to 15, wrote McDonald's spokeswoman Jessica Lee in an email. The fast-food giant also hosts engagement, anniversary and bridal shower parties. "We started the program because many customers tell us that McDonald's is where they first started dating...McDonald's is where their love stories grew," Lee added. "This connection is exactly why they want to hold their wedding parties and even anniversary parties at McDonald's—to relive sweet beginnings and bring their romantic story full circle." The company offers four separate wedding packages for the betrothed, topping out at HK$9,999 or about US $1,290. The bargain party option clocks in at about HK$2,888 or US$373...The deluxe version includes a 2-hour venue rental, McDonaldland character gifts for 50 guests, 50 invites, wedding gifts, a pair of McD's balloon wedding rings, bridal bouquet, apple pie cake display, Crystal McDonald's house, decorations, a MC and more.

Ernst & Young to Pay Fine in Lobbying Case (Dealbook)
Ernst & Young, the audit firm, agreed on Monday to pay more than $4 million to settle accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it violated independence rules by lobbying on behalf of two of its audit clients. The S.E.C. case, which involved lobbying by the firm’s subsidiary Washington Council EY, did not identify the audit clients and did not indicate that any action had been taken to review the audits. An S.E.C. order in the case did not indicate that any members of the audit teams were aware of the independence violations.

LightSquared, Dish's Ergen reach settlement deal (Reuters)
Bankrupt wireless venture LightSquared and its largest creditor, Dish Network Corp Chairman Charles Ergen, have resolved a long-running dispute over Ergen’s treatment under LightSquared’s proposed restructuring. According to court papers filed on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, the sides reached a deal after extending a previously-completed mediation session. An agreement would resolve more than a year of fighting between the parties, and could obviate the need for a second major trial scheduled for later this summer. While the filing gave no details on the deal, a hearing was scheduled for Monday afternoon in the Manhattan court.

AIG's Chief Gets a Small Salary Bump (WSJ)
American International Group Inc.'s incoming chief executive Peter Hancock, will receive a small increase in his salary to take the top job at the one of the country's largest insurers, but could get a much bigger pay package if AIG continues to recover. Mr. Hancock's pay will include a $1.6 million annual base salary, AIG said in a regulatory filing late Monday. That is up from $1.5 million he earned in 2013 as executive vice president running AIG's property-casualty insurance unit.

Dad Claims Kingdom So 7-Year-Old Can Be Real Princess (HP)
Jeremiah Heaton, a father of three from from Abingdon, Virginia, has claimed a patch of land between Egypt and Sudan as his "kingdom" so that his 7-year-old daughter, Emily, can be a real princess, the Associated Press reports. Several months ago, Heaton was playing with Emily and she asked him if she would ever be a real princess. He informed her she would. "At the time I had no idea how I would honor her wish but I knew that I had to find a way," Heaton wrote in a Facebook post. He started researching how he could accomplish this, and his investigation led him to Bir Tawil, an 800 square-mile area that, due to land disputes, is not claimed by either Egypt or Sudan. According to the AP, the mountainous region is one of the last unclaimed pieces of land on earth. Heaton trekked through the desert in June and planted the "Heaton kingdom" flag -- designed by his kids -- in the soil of Bir Tawil. When he got home, he requested that everyone address his 7-year-old daughter as "Princess Emily." He and his wife, Kelly, also got her a princess crown. Shelia Carapico, political science and international studies professor at the University of Richmond, told the Bristol Herald-Courier that likely both Egypt and Sudan will have to recognize Heaton's stake as legitimate before he has any legal claim over the land. Heaton says he is pursuing "formal recognition" from African countries and is "confident" his claim will be taken seriously. Egyptian and Sudanese embassy representatives did not return requests for comment from the Washington Post.


Opening Bell: 7.15.15

Greece; Hedge Funds; American Apparel v Charney; "Hundreds of sex toys dangling from power lines in Portland, Oregon"; and more.