Holiday Bell: 11.28.14

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Mysterious ‘Batman’ of Wall Street is taking down fraudsters (NYP)
A 32-year-old Staten Island investor — who likens himself to the Caped Crusader, patrolling Gotham for corporate wrongdoing — has become the hottest Wall Street whiz of 2014. Daniel Yu, whose Gotham City Research is a tip of the cowl to his favorite comics character, has emerged as one of the Street’s most controversial figures as well. Yu, in lengthy short-selling reports, targets what he believes are frauds — and has taken down three European companies this year. The stocks of the companies have fallen an average of 76 percent. That makes him the year’s best short seller, according to an analysis by database ShortActivists, which tracks short sellers who make their research public.

Hedge Funds Seek to Tie Up Money for Longer (WSJ)
Two-thirds of new hedge funds demanded a lockup of one year or more in 2013, a 30% increase from the previous year, according to the most recent data available from research firm eVestment. The average fund has a lockup of 377 days, eVestment said. Those pushing for longer terms include funds managed by industry stalwarts like Fir Tree Inc., GoldenTree Asset Management LLC, Trian Fund Management LP and Viking Global Investors LP, said people with knowledge of the funds.

New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs (WSJ)
Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company’s Facebook page several times a week. “Steals in the Shop! I have a TON of new 36-inch-long necklaces, most priced at $15, available in amethyst, lapis, watermelon tourmaline, turquoise.... Shop them all here,” she wrote in a recent marketing post on a Facebook page for Earthegy, the business she runs from her home in rural Kent Store, Va. She also included photos and links to the products, hoping the business’s 70,000 Facebook fans would share the posts with their own Facebook friends. But small-business owners like Ms. Bossie will soon get less benefit from the unpaid marketing pitches they post on Facebook. That’s because, as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates. The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs like Ms. Bossie, the founder of four-year-old Earthegy, to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising. Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change.

Shia LeBeouf: Woman raped me at gallery (NYP)
The “Fury” star made the surprising admission in a series of emails with a journalist from Dazed and said the incident took place during his #IAMSORRY event in Los Angeles. During the event in February, LaBeouf sat silently in a gallery for five days with a paper bag on his head and members of the public were invited to visit him, one by one, and spend some time with him. But not all of the public encounters were pleasant, according to LaBeouf. “One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me,” said LaBeouf in an email to the Dazed journalist. “There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well. “On top of that my girl was in line to see me, because it was Valentine’s Day and I was living in the gallery for the duration of the event — we were separated for five days, no communication. “So it really hurt her as well, as I guess the news of it traveled through the line.

Argentina Accuses HSBC of Aiding People in Tax Evasion (AP)
Argentina’s tax agency accused the HSBC bank on Thursday of helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts. The head of country’s AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens had evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts. Mr. Echegaray contended that some of those accounts in Geneva were owned by HSBC Argentina’s president and other bank executives.

Too much makeup sex led to millionaire’s restraining order (NYP)
Breaking up is hard to do — especially when your girlfriend is a pretty brunette 20 years your junior. That’s what a Wall Street trader said Tuesday, explaining in Manhattan Family Court why — after several attempts to end the relationship only led to makeup sex — he got an order of protection against his gal pal of five years. “I attempted to break up several times and somehow was convinced not to,” multimillionaire private equity investor Brad Zipper, 50, admitted on the witness stand. The burly, 6-foot, 200-pound former hockey player glared at his petite ex, Nicole Raef, 28, from the witness stand, admitting “nobody forced” him to stay in the relationship. Zipper even said he “laid in the same bed” with his girlfriend just days before filing an order of protection against her in September, but claimed amnesia when he was asked by Raef’s lawyer if the two had sex on that occasion. “On Sept. 5, did you sleep in the same bed with her?” Raef’s attorney, Brett Kimmel, asked. “I laid in the same bed with her at some point, I think,” a blushing Zipper said. “Did you engage in sexual intercourse with her?” Kimmel pressed. “I don’t recall,” Zipper said...Kimmel said he was trying to understand why Zipper didn’t end things then if Raef had acted as crazy as he has alleged — setting his oven on fire in 2012 and dousing his electronics with water.

These billionaires’ divorces are getting ugly (NYP)
While divorces of more pedestrian Wall Street types can turn nasty, breakups of Alpha male hedge-fund moguls, with their billions of dollars of assets and lots of expensive toys to split, can be especially bitter, experts say. While there are no precise statistics to show if there is a bull market in such divorces, a surprising number of the most successful moneymen in the country are currently battling wives or ex-wives, including: Steve Cohen, head of Point72 Asset Management, formerly SAC Capital; Citadel’s Ken Griffin; Highland Capital’s Jim Dondero; and Chris Hohn, who runs London-based TCI.

New Entrepreneurs Find Pain in Spain (WSJ)
Scarce capital, dense bureaucracy, a culture deeply averse to risk and a cratered consumer market all suppress startups in Europe. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a survey of startup activity, found the percentage of the adult population involved in early stage entrepreneurial activity last year was just 5% in Germany, 4.6% in France and 3.4% in Italy. That compares with 12.7% in the U.S. Even once they are established, European businesses are, on average, smaller and slower growing than those in the U.S...For Spaniards enduring one of the industrialized world’s highest unemployment rates—23.7%—change is a matter of survival. The learning curve for novice entrepreneurs is steep, however.

Brazil’s Economy Claws Out of Recession (WSJ)
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded 0.1% in the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous three months, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE, said on Friday.

Russian Recession Risk at Record as Oil Price Saps Economy (Bloomberg)
Russia will sink into recession at a Urals price of $80 a barrel, seven years after its economy grew 8.5 percent when its chief export oil blend averaged near $70, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

Paul Singer looks to send Caesars to bankruptcy (NYP)
Singer’s Elliott Management is behind a lawsuit filed this week against Apollo’s Caesars Entertainment that asks a judge to put the casino operator into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Elliott, which owns a large credit-default position in a Caesars division, sources said, asked the judge to make the move in order to stop executives from the “outright looting” of assets.

British Hedge Fund Titan Ordered to Pay Ex-Wife $531 Million in Divorce Case (Dealbook)
A London high court judge has ordered Chris Hohn, founder of one of Britain’s largest and most successful hedge funds, to pay his former wife $531 million to settle their messy public divorce, according to statements made in court on Thursday. The figure, which represents one of the largest divorce awards known in Britain, demonstrates the immense wealth Mr. Hohn has accumulated at the helm of the Children’s Investment Fund, known as TCI, the approximately $12 billion hedge fund he founded in 2004...Ms. Cooper-Hohn will get $493.3 million in cash, with the remainder coming from a pension plan. She is to be paid $10 million immediately and the rest after the two sides work out an indemnity agreement.

Swiss set for gold vote amid '6,000-year bubble' warning (CNBC)
On Sunday, voters in the European country will head to the polls to decide whether the Swiss National Bank (SNB) should refrain from selling any more of its gold and instead boost its gold holdings from 7 to 20 percent. The initiative is being proposed by the ultra-conservative Swiss People's party with the intention of boosting the security and independence of Switzerland. However, the idea has one very notable critic in Willem Buiter, the chief economist at the U.S. investment bank Citi, who has deemed the commodity to be in a 6,000-year bubble. "No central bank should hold any gold reserves, in our view," he said in a research note released on Thursday. Buiter urges caution, saying that a central bank holding 20 percent of its balance sheet in any single commodity is "highly unorthodox" and a "risky investment strategy."

Dealbreaker Dramatic Reading Night Part IV (DB)
It's coming, December 17th. Don't miss it.

Pet Massage Is Sweeping The Nation (AP)
Spa treatments don't stop with people. You won't see any aromatherapy candles around, but animals get massages, too, and it's become a regular service that many pet owners value as more than just glorified petting. "People call me because their dogs are having problems," said Shelah Barr, a San Francisco dog massage therapist. "The work I do is important for animals so they have a high quality of life." Pet owners spent $4.4 billion last year on "other services," a category that includes grooming, training and services such as massage, according to the American Pet Products Association, which tracks national spending trends in the pet industry. That is a 6.1 percent jump from 2012. Massage sessions can last 30-40 minutes, and therapists travel to homes, hotels and even an owner's workplace, said Barr, who has been practicing in San Francisco since 2006...The treatments don't necessarily mean incense burning around a massage table. Barr is guided by what the dog desires, which sometimes means the pet chews on a bone the whole time. Grace Granatelli, an animal masseuse in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she would play new-age music or "spa sounds," which help relax dogs.

Programming Note: We're on an abbreviated, holiday-esque schedule. Opening and closing wraps and a light smattering of posting in between. We'll see you back here in full-force on Monday.


Holiday Bell: 3.25.16

Microsoft might finance Yahoo bid; Investors says Valeant is overcharging for female viagra; Cruz calls Trump a 'sniveling coward' re: wife; Suspected komodo dragon found wandering in New York; and more.

Holiday Bell: 12.27.12

Debt Ceiling Nears As Talks Stymied (WSJ) The Treasury Department said Wednesday the government would hit its legal borrowing limit by Monday, setting in motion emergency measures to keep the government operating for several more weeks and serving as a reminder that the nation's budget wrangling could continue well into 2013. The Treasury's financial maneuvering is designed to put off until February or March the prospect of a full-blown debt crisis. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's two-paragraph letter to Congress didn't specify when the emergency measures might be exhausted, blaming the "significant uncertainty that now exists with regard to unresolved tax and spending policies for 2013." The White House and congressional leaders have shown no signs of progress toward crafting an agreement to avoid the year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. Rajaratnam Pays $1.45 Million Over Gupta Insider Tips (WSJ) As part of a consent agreement signed by Mr. Rajaratnam earlier this month and approved by a federal judge on Monday, he agreed to disgorge more than $1.29 million, representing his profits or losses avoided as a result of his alleged trading on Mr. Gupta's tips, and to pay prejudgment interest of $147,738. SeaWorld Files For IPO (WSJ) Though the number of shares and the price range for offering haven't been determined, the filing pegged it at up to $100 million. IBM Insider Net Expands (Reuters) Federal prosecutors charged Trent Martin, a research analyst at a Connecticut brokerage firm, with trading and tipping others before computer giant IBM’s $1.2 billion acquisition of SPSS in 2009, expanding a related insider-trading case filed last month. Martin was also charged with passing the information to others, including two stockbrokers and his roommate. The group allegedly netted more than $1 million. Shark Tank Explodes In Shanghai Mall (NYDN) Security video inside a Shanghai shopping mall captured the terrifying moment an aquarium with live sharks burst open, injuring at least 15 people and leading to the death of dozens of animals. The chaotic scene on Dec. 18 inside the Shanghai Oriental Shopping Center left many of the victims with cuts from the broken glass, while one of them suffered a broken ankle, according to the China Daily. Many of those hurt were mall employees. In addition, three lemon sharks and dozens of smaller fish and turtles were killed when the 33-ton tank exploded, sending water and glass cascading through part of the shopping center, the BBC reported. At least four people were standing right in front of the display at the time. “It was horrible, like a bomb explosion,” one mall vendor told the China Daily. “Some pedestrians were pushed (6-1/2 feet) away by the force of the water.” Officials were investigating whether low temperatures in Shanghai combined with shoddy building materials to make the shark tank — built just two years ago — suddenly rupture. This isn't the first time the display has been damaged: A broken water pipe in June led to the death of three sharks, according to reports. Mall officials have apparently had enough and told local media they don't plan to rebuild. Jobless Claims Drop as U.S. States Tally Data After Break (Bloomberg) Applications for jobless benefits decreased 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 360,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Claims in 19 states and territories were estimated because government office closures on Dec. 24 prevented a complete count, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released. France, Italy See Economic Bright Spots (WSJ) So that's nice. Gross Doubles New York Bet as California Loses Lead (Bloomberg) The $285 billion Total Return Fund, which Gross runs at Pacific Investment Management Co., boosted its New York state allocation to about a $3 billion market value in the quarter ending Sept. 30, from $1.4 billion as of June 30, according to a semiannual filing the firm released this month. It was the largest increase by amount among U.S. states. Zuckerberg's Sister Can't Keep Privacy Rules Straight (NYP) Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister, Randi, complained yesterday when one of her Twitter followers publicly posted a photo of the family, including her famous brother, standing in the kitchen reacting to the company’s new Poke app. “Not sure where you got this photo,” Randi tweeted in response @cschweitz. “I posted it only to friends on FB. You reposting it on Twitter is way uncool.” It turns out that not even Randi — Facebook’s former marketing director — is up to speed on the site’s often-confusing privacy settings. Her gaffe provided fodder for critics of the site, which in the past has changed its policies with little warning and to the dismay of users. “We’ve all been dealing with loss of privacy in Facebook, now she feels what we all do everyday,” one Twitter user responded. Apple CEO Cook Gets $4.17 Million Compensation, No Stock (Bloomberg) The total includes $1.36 million salary and $2.8 million in incentive plan compensation, Cupertino, California-based Apple said today in a regulatory filing. Cook’s 2011 compensation of $378 million, one of the biggest pay packages on record, was boosted by $376.2 million in stock awards that he’ll get over a decade. McDonald’s trips cost high school secretary $9,000 in fines (NYDN) Kappry Vera of the Urban Assembly School for Construction and Design in Hell’s Kitchen made more than $3,000 in personal purchases on the school credit card from August 2009 through May 2011, investigators charge. The administrator, who lives in Williamsburg, spent most of the money on fast food — including $765 on dozens of visits to McDonald’s between October 2009 and May 2011, charging the city for purchases there up to four times each day. Vera, 33, also dropped $342 at Subway and spent another $190 on Burger King in illegal uses of her city-funded credit card that was only meant for official school purchases, investigators said. Vera only halted her runaway junk-food spending after her principal noticed “questionable purchases” in the school budget and confronted her about it, investigators said. Under questioning, Vera admitted that she bought food for herself on the school card on five occasions, but she wouldn’t give investigators receipts to explain the bulk of her purchases. Programming Note: We’re on an abbreviated, vacation-esque schedule this week (opening news roundups and limited updates whenever the urge to reach out and touch you moves us). We still want to hear from you, though, so if anything happens that you think might tickle our fancy, do not hesitate to let us know.


Holiday Bell: 4.14.17

Tidjane Thiam gives away his bonus before Credit Suisse can take it; Uber now dealing with drunk driving scandal; Wells Fargo's pain will last forever; Gypsy Snake Masseuse; and more.