Opening Bell: 07.30.14

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Argentine Bond Standoff Puts U.S. Judge in Focus (WSJ)
As Argentina hurtles toward a second default in 13 years, the local press has lit upon a convenient villain: 83-year-old U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa. Cartoons in Argentine newspapers have shown the judge with a vulture perched behind him, accusing him of cozying up to the bondholders that Argentine government officials call "vulture funds." A journalist appearing on Argentine television said Judge Griesa is "not right in the head." A newspaper ad placed by the Argentine government blamed the judge, who has presided over the government's disputes with bondholders for more than a decade, for pushing the country toward default. Judge Griesa is squarely in the spotlight as Argentina faces a Wednesday deadline for more than $500 million in debt payments. Argentina is seen as unlikely to make the payments, bringing to a head a standoff with holdout hedge funds that have refused the country's two debt-restructuring offers over the past decade. At the center of the dispute is Judge Griesa's 2012 ruling that Argentina isn't allowed to pay its restructured bondholders until it pays the holdouts—a decision that legal analysts call unprecedented and that the Argentine government contends puts it in a costly legal bind. A default could keep Argentina out of international credit markets and dent a struggling economy.

As Talks Falter, Bond Default by Argentina Appears Likely (Dealbook)
On Tuesday, a group of investors of Argentina’s euro-denominated exchange bonds urged the judge to issue an emergency stay on his ruling. But this is unlikely to be granted unless the holdouts request it, analysts said, or the court-appointed mediator, Daniel Pollack, recommends it...last week, Judge Griesa ordered the Argentine delegation and the holdouts to meet with Mr. Pollack and talk “continuously” until an agreement was reached. The response from Argentina was tepid; the delegation met twice with Mr. Pollack last week before returning home to Buenos Aires for the weekend to consult with the government. When a group of lawyers returned to Mr. Pollack’s offices on Tuesday, they arrived more than 15 minutes late. And despite Mr. Pollack’s insistence that they engage in “face-to-face conversations with the bondholders,” as of Tuesday evening, the Argentines had yet to sit down across the table from the holdouts.

Schneiderman probes Credit Suisse’s ‘dark pool’ (NYP)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into whether Swiss bank giant Credit Suisse misled investors about its “dark pool” trading platform, The Post has learned. The probe comes a month after Schneiderman sued Barclays for allegedly lying about the presence of predatory traders in its dark pool. The British bank denied wrongdoing and has asked a judge to dismiss the suit. Regulators are taking a closer look at dark pools — lightly regulated alternative trading systems — because of concerns that high-frequency traders are leveraging them to their advantage. Credit Suisse is the operator of the largest bank dark pool in the US, accounting for about 14 percent of all trades, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Icahn cuts stake in Family Dollar (Reuters)
Activist investor Carl Icahn cut his stake in Family Dollar Stores Inc (FDO.N), a day after the company agreed to be bought by rival discount chain Dollar Tree Inc (DLTR.O) for $8.5 billion. Icahn said he was "determined" to dispose part of his stake rather than wait for the deal to close or for higher offers to emerge. Icahn, who had threatened a proxy war against the struggling discount chain if it did not put itself up for sale, said on Monday there were "a handful of potential buyers" who could be a better fit to buy Family Dollar.

Wall Street Bids Farewell to Alan Greenberg, Head of Bear Stearns (Dealbook)
The service began on time at 11 a.m. and lasted just about an hour, honoring the no-nonsense style of Mr. Greenberg, who was known as Ace. The mourners recalled his idiosyncratic business advice, his love of big-game hunting and his magic tricks. A representative of the Society of American Magicians, as is customary, snapped Mr. Greenberg’s magic wand in two.

Man Lied About Pen!s Amputation During Circumcision: Doctors' Lawyer (AP)
An attorney for two Alabama doctors accused in a lawsuit of amputating a man's penis in what was supposed to have been a routine circumcision filed a motion Tuesday seeking to dismiss the claims. Attorney Mike Florie says his clients, Dr. Michael Bivins and Dr. Alan Aikens, never performed a circumcision on Johnny Lee Banks Jr. that involved the removal of tissue or the amputation of the man's penis. He said the suit's claims are false. Banks' attorney, John Graves, filed the lawsuit on July 22, accusing the doctors and their medical groups of malpractice, negligence and other wrongdoing. It seeks an unspecified amount of money. Graves says he stands firmly by the allegations but would not comment on specifics of the case. "I don't file frivolous lawsuits," he said.

Europe’s investment banks bounce back (FT)
After a long period in which they lost market share to their US rivals in the crucial business of debt sales and trading, they are finally regaining some ground. Both Deutsche Bank and UBS published results on Tuesday that showed an outperformance in the business of trading debt and currency instruments. However, what looks like a robust showing compared with their US rivals is not actually a positive performance in absolute terms. Deutsche just managed to keep its revenues in fixed income and currencies steady at €1.8bn compared with a year ago, while Swiss rival UBS reported a drop of 2 per cent to SFr355m – excluding a one-off gain from an asset sale – in its foreign exchange, rates and credit unit. These numbers compare with an average fall in fixed income, currencies and commodities of 9 per cent across the biggest US banks. This was still much better than expected after analysts had expected steep declines in FICC trading.

Twitter Tops Quarterly Estimates for Sales, User Growth (Bloomberg)
The microblogging company’s active membership in the quarter reached 271 million, with year-over-year growth at 24 percent, compared with 25 percent in the prior period, Twitter said in a statement today. That exceeded analysts’ projections of 267 million monthly active users for the quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales more than doubled to $312.2 million, exceeding the $282.8 million average estimate.

HSBC, ABN Sue Metals Trader Detained Over Qingdao Probe (Bloomberg)
Chen, who has been detained in China according to Singapore’s foreign ministry, is the focus of a Chinese probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao port, two bankers assisting with the investigation said last month. Chinese banks have about 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) exposure to Chen’s companies, two China government officials said July 16.

Oklahoma Woman Calls Cops To Complain About Purity Of Her Meth (HP)
Police often have to ferret out illegal drug users. But a 54-year-old Oklahoma woman reportedly made it easy for the law. She allegedly called the cops to complain that she thought her methamphetamine was laced. Lynette Rae Sampson invited the officer over, showed him the goods and got arrested, despite her uncommon hospitality. "I'm glad you came," she allegedly told the policeman when he arrived.

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Opening Bell: 04.01.13

Central Bank Details Losses at Bank of Cyprus (WSJ) Cyprus's central bank spelled out the financial damage to big deposit holders at Bank of Cyprus PCL, the country's biggest lender, saying they will lose almost 40% of their deposits as a result of a sweeping restructuring of the lender. Losses could grow even steeper in the months ahead. In a statement Saturday, Cyprus's central bank said that 37.5% of all deposits over €100,000 ($128,700) will immediately be converted into a special class of shares at the lender as part of its recapitalization plan. As Banks in Cyprus Falter, Other Tax Havens Step In (NYT) Bloodied by a harsh bailout deal that drives a stake through the heart of this Mediterranean country's oversize financial industry, Cyprus now faces a further blow to its role as an offshore tax haven: the vultures from competing countries are circling. With a flood of e-mails and phone calls in recent days to lawyers and accountants here who make a living from helping wealthy Russians and others avoid taxes, competitors in alternative financial centers across Europe and beyond are promoting their own skills at keeping money hidden and safe. In Herbalife Fight, Both Sides Prevail (WSJ) But for the time being, all three investors are in the black, showing that for all the bluster and bravado, timing is everything in financial markets. Mr. Loeb has cashed out the most, whereas the others have made only paper profits. Mr. Loeb's hedge-fund firm, Third Point LLC, has made at least $50 million on its estimated bet of more than $200 million, according to a person familiar with the firm. As of several weeks ago, the firm had largely exited its Herbalife stake, according to people familiar with Third Point. Mr. Icahn has made roughly $25 million in unrealized gains on his about $590 million bet. Mr. Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP has notched more than $200 million, also in paper profits, on a bet of more than $1 billion. Insider Case Against SAC Manager May Be Tough to Prove (Reuters) On Friday, U.S. authorities arrested and charged Michael Steinberg, a 16-year veteran of Cohen's $15 billion SAC Capital Advisors, with insider trading in shares of the technology stocks Dell and Nvidia. The case against Steinberg, 40, is built heavily on the testimony of one of his former colleagues, Jon Horvath, who has admitted to insider trading and is now cooperating with the government. "What they're going to need to prove is that Steinberg got inside information that he knew came from an insider and that he then traded on it," said Marc Greenwald, a former U.S. prosecutor in New York who is now a partner at Quinn Emanuel in New York, and not involved in the case. "It all depends on what Horvath said he said and whether everybody believes him." Princeton alumna, who told female students to get married, defends provocative advice: ‘Find a husband!' (NYDN) "Here's what nobody is telling you," Patton wrote. "Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there." This controversial column, which she described as "little more than honest advice from a Jewish mother," outraged countless readers when it appeared in The Daily Princetonian on Friday and then went viral. "I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally," Patton told the Daily News. "I think in the back of their heads they all know this but nobody is saying it." Patton decided to write the open letter after speaking at a Women and Leadership conference on campus a few weeks ago. Many said Patton was scolding women for not marrying her youngest son, a junior at Princeton. ("I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians," she said. "My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.") Libor Suits by Bondholders Tossed Over Lack of Damages (Bloomberg) While potential damages were estimated to be in the billions of dollars, the judge ruled the cases must be dismissed because of the inability of litigants that included brokerage Charles Schwab, pension funds and other bondholders to show they were harmed. Buchwald, whose March 29 ruling allowed some commodities-manipulations claims to proceed to a trial, said that, while private plaintiffs must show actual harm, her ruling didn’t impede governments from pursuing antitrust claims tied to attempts to manipulate Libor. Michael Dell Said to Consider Blackstone LBO Only With CEO Guarantee (Bloomberg) In several recent meetings in Austin, Texas, with Chinh Chu and David Johnson -- the Blackstone executives overseeing the firm’s bid -- Michael Dell said he would be more likely to support their proposal if he retained an influential role, a second person familiar with the talks said. Negotiations are ongoing and the two sides may not reach an understanding. Argentina sticks to its guns on debt payout (NYP) The country, in a filing late Friday, refused to follow a court order that mandated it give equal treatment to a group of holdout bondholders led by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer and his Elliott Management. Instead, Kirchner offered the group, owed $1.44 billion, the same deal it offered exchange bondholders in 2010. Pregnant woman's leg amputated after being hit with car (KHOU) The incident happened in the 9600 block of Ravensworth Drive, where Kelly, 21, lives with her boyfriend, Christopher Chaney. Chaney said his ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old Shareyll Hunter, showed up at the house Thursday morning and started arguing with Kelly. "I was in my house asleep, and then one of my kids’ mothers came," Chaney said. "I mean, they been texting and talking over the phone saying they want to fight each other and meet up right here and do it." All of the commotion outside roused Chaney from bed. "When I came outside, I seen my kids’ mother punching on the window and she wanted to fight the other one," Chaney said. He said Hunter jumped into his car and gunned it, pinning her 21-year-old rival between the car and the house, police said. Kelly was rushed to the hospital with two broken legs. Doctors had to amputate one leg. The baby is expected to be OK. Hunter drove off in her ex-boyfriend’s four-door Lincoln LS. She remained on the loose at last check. Hunter is five months pregnant and the victim is four months pregnant. Chaney, 26, says he is the father in both cases. Reporter: "You think it [the hit-and-run] is because of you getting them pregnant?" Christopher Chaney: "I mean, I’m handsome."