Treasury Is Weighing Action on Hedge-Fund Tax ‘Loophole’ (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Treasury Department said it’s considering ways to end a “loophole” that allows hedge-fund managers to avoid taxes by routing their investments through an insurance company in low-tax countries like Bermuda. The Treasury, in an Aug. 9 letter obtained by Bloomberg News today, told Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden that it’s concerned about such arrangements and is weighing legislative and administrative responses. Among the hedge-fund managers who have set up Bermuda insurance vehicles in recent years are John Paulson’s Paulson & Co. and Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP. Cohen has since cut ties with his insurer.
IMF warns of fallout from Scottish split (FT)
The International Monetary Fund has waded into the debate over Scottish independence, saying that a Yes vote in next week’s referendum could lead to market turbulence. “The main immediate effect is likely to be uncertainty over the transition to potentially new and different monetary, financial and fiscal frameworks in Scotland,” William Murray, an IMF spokesman, told reporters. “While this uncertainty could lead to negative market reactions in the short term, longer-term effects would depend on the decisions being made during the transition.” His comments highlight the questions over which currency an independent Scotland would use, the regulation of its banks, and its budget position after negotiations to separate from the UK.
Facebook's latest innovation: Copying Snapchat (Fortune)
Facebook is testing a new feature that lets users set a time to make their posts disappear – anywhere from an hour to a week in the future...A Facebook spokesperson confirmed with Fortune that the social media giant is “running a small pilot of a feature on Facebook for iOS that lets people schedule deletion of their posts in advance.”
Chained to your smartphone? Maybe try the NoPhone (CNBC)
The NoPhone, as described on its Kickstarter page is the "technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact that allows you to stay connected with the real world." The NoPhone is exactly what it looks like. It's a black piece of plastic in the shape of an iPhone that does absolutely nothing, except act as a phone surrogate for those addicted to their smartphones. "With a thin, light and completely wireless design, the NoPhone acts as a surrogate to any smart mobile device, enabling you to always have a rectangle of smooth, cold plastic to clutch without forgoing any potential engagement with your direct environment. Never again experience the unsettling feeling of flesh on flesh when closing your hand," the NoPhone Kickstarter page states.
Salt the Pasta Water: Starboard Value's Suggestions for Olive Garden (WSJ)
When cooking pasta, use salt. And go easy on the breadsticks. Those are two of many steps Starboard Value LP said late Thursday it would take to boost the value of Darden Restaurants Inc., owner of Olive Garden, if the activist hedge fund was to win control of the entire board. Among the other moves Starboard detailed in nearly 300-pages of slides: Improve Olive Garden's food quality and alcohol sales, introduce technology to reduce waiting times at restaurants and cut millions in costs. And Starboard is sticking with its suggestion, which Darden has rejected as value-destroying, of separating the company's brands apart and putting its real estate into a third public company. Starboard said those separations and improvements could put Darden shares between $67 and $86, up to 78% above Thursday's $48.29 close.
Dollar General waiting on feds for Family Dollar deal (NYP)
Dollar General plans to delay a decision whether to go “hell or high water” with its hostile offer for rival Family Dollar until it gets feedback from regulators on its proposal by mid-October, sources told The Post. Dollar General, which this week announced an $80 a share, or $9.1 billion, hostile tender for Family Dollar will stick with its public commitment to divest 1,500 stores until the Federal Trade Commission issues a second request for information, sources said. That second request is expected to give a sense of how seriously the FTC is scrutinizing Dollar General’s deal. “They’ll know in 30 days if it will be a long slog,” an anti-trust lawyer said.
Boy Charged For Desecration Of Jesus Statue (TSG)
A Pennsylvania teenager has been charged with desecrating a statue of Jesus after he posted Facebook photos that showed him simulating a sex act with the statue. According to State Police officials, the boy posed for the photos in late-July in front of Love In the Name of Christ, a Christian organization in Everett, the boy’s hometown...one of the photos posted to the teenager’s Facebook page shows him with his crotch in the face of the kneeling statue.
Draghi Says Government Spending Could Help Eurozone Economy (FT)
Speaking in English in Milan, Mr. Draghi both amplified and clarified themes he raised last month during a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in which he surprised many Europeans by appearing to step back from the E.C.B.’s longtime insistence that countries focus above all on reducing budget deficits and debt. According to a text of the speech, Mr. Draghi said government stimulus should come in the form of lower taxes, financed by cuts in “unproductive” government spending. Countries should remain within the deficit and spending limits that are a condition for eurozone membership, Mr. Draghi said. He made no mention of the French government’s admission this week that it will not meet its budget targets until 2017.
Pimco’s Gross Says Good Time to Lever Up on Credit Investments (Bloomberg)
“It’s probably a good time to lever in a mild sort of way,” Bill Gross, who co-founded Pacific Investment Management Co., said in a television interview today. For the next three to five years, investors should expect “the ability to borrow short and to lend long, much like banks do.” His logic is that investors can count on earning more from longer-maturity bond yields than they have to pay to borrow for shorter periods as the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low. While such activity may magnify losses in a selloff, it’ll juice returns at a time when yields are hovering near record lows.
Twitter Boosts Size of Convertible Bond Sale (WSJ)
Twitter sold more convertible bonds than expected late Thursday, according to two people familiar with the deal, a sign of strong demand for its first debt sale. The San Francisco company sold $900 million worth of five-year convertible notes carrying a 0.25% coupon and seven-year notes with a 1% rate, with a conversion premium of 47.5% for both issues, the person said. The deal size could increase to $2 billion if initial buyers exercise an option to buy more notes. For both the five- and seven-year notes, the $900 million deal size exceeded the $650 million Twitter had planned to raise, according to a Wednesday statement from the company.
Activist Investors Build Up Their War Chests (WSJ, earlier)
Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC recently raised a $2.5 billion war chest that the hedge fund could deploy by year-end, people familiar with the matter said Thursday. Other activists, including Trian Fund Management LP, Pershing Square Capital Management LP and Jana Partners LLC, are also expanding the size of their coffers, people familiar with those firms said.
Amid Alibaba fever, reasons for caution in IPO market (Reuters)
The percentage of IPOs coming from money-losing companies has jumped to a 14-year high, according to Jay Ritter, a professor of finance and leading scholar of IPOs at the University of Florida. The mixed financial results could dim enthusiasm for some of the hot names coming later this year, including web hosting company GoDaddy, airline Virgin America, and possibly burger chain Shake Shack, which has been exploring an IPO. Roughly one-third of the 188 stocks that debuted this year are selling below their IPO price. New stocks have risen an average of 19 percent over the first three months of trading, compared with 36 percent in 2013, and 23 percent in 2012, according to research firm Dealogic in New York.
Man Busted Smuggling Drugs In D.A.R.E. Stuffed Animal: Cops (AP)
Troopers say Gregory Bolongnese, of Plattsburgh, was arrested Monday at the bus station in his hometown near the Canadian border. They say they found two grams of pot, about a half-gram of cocaine and LSD inside a stuffed lion doll wearing a D.A.R.E. shirt. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a program that aims to educate young people about staying away from drugs, gangs and violence. Bolognese was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana. It couldn't be determined if he has a lawyer.