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Opening Bell: 11.14.14

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Goldman Sachs Recasts Its Reputation to Woo Tech Talent (Dealbook)
The firm rolled out a new, hipper website for engineering recruits in September, with lots of slick graphics. At the Columbia event, the screen at the front of the room had a word cloud showing the cool fields — at least for computer scientists — that Goldman engineers work in, among them “machine learning,” “data mining” and “cloud computing.” Last month, the firm ran its first Google Hangout for interested computer engineers. Mr. Chavez traveled to Boston last month to talk at the first big recruiting event of the year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In all of these events, the bank is fighting old assumptions that the programmers who work for the firm are just back-office employees making sure the computers and phones work. All of the bank’s new recruiting materials emphasize that engineers at the firm are involved in its most basic businesses, trading securities and advising companies, developing the same sorts of high-level software that Silicon Valley companies work on.

Twitter Debt Rated As Junk (WSJ)
Twitter Inc.’s debt was rated as junk on Thursday by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, a sobering grade that comes a day after executives of the social media service tried to reassure skeptics on Wall Street of its long-term growth plan. S&P gave Twitter a double-B minus rating, noting that Twitter is investing aggressively and that, depending on the level of business reinvestment, the company may not generate positive discretionary cash flow until 2016. S&P said the unsolicited rating came in light of Twitter’s $1.8 billion debt offering in September. Twitter remains unprofitable, weighed down by stock-based pay that represented 47% of third-quarter revenue, reflecting in part the company’s hypergrowth phase as it offers cushy packages to compete for top talent.

Banks Said to Alter IPO Pitches as Finra Faults New Conflicts (Bloomberg)
Issuers typically interview analysts to get a sense of how investors might value the company ahead of going public. While bankers and analysts are required to be in separate meetings, investigators are concerned the research side may still feel pressure to inflate its valuation estimates to help the bankers at its firm win business, the people said. Banks may change their own rules and standards this month, before a settlement is announced, the people said. One possibility is to require that only analysts ask questions of the issuers’ management team, not the other way around, they said. That conversation could be logged, so that there’s a record of the topics discussed, they said.

Brazil Aims to Put Eike Batista Behind Bars (BusinessWeek)
Less than three years after President Dilma Rousseff dubbed Eike Batista “the pride of Brazil,” prosecutors are trying to send the former billionaire to prison for alleged insider trading in a trial set for later this month. If they succeed, Batista will be the first person in the nation to serve time for that crime in the 13 years since such activity was outlawed. “Insider trading is clearly widespread in Brazil,” says David Riedel, president of Riedel Equity Research in Greenbrae, Calif. “There is a consistent pattern of leaking. But the problem is not the laws—it’s that they aren’t enforced.” Of the 11 biggest mergers and acquisitions in Brazil in the past two years, at least seven of them were reported by newspapers and news agencies before the official announcement was made, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. The stock of real estate developer Brookfield Incorporações skyrocketed 21 percent on Jan. 23 on rumors its parent company would take the unit private. That deal was announced four days later.

'Corleone family home' for sale (BBC)
The mansion which served as the fictional headquarters of the Corleone family in the 1972 film The Godfather has been listed for sale. The five-bedroom, seven bathroom mansion in Staten Island, New York, is being advertised for $2.9m (£1.84m). The house was gutted and renovated in 2012 after having been a family home for six decades...Real estate agent Joseph Profaci said that the film had had an impact on how the house had been renovated. "The current owners have done an amazing job renovating the home, including a first-floor office they remodelled to try to make look like the office in the Godfather movie," he said. Mr Profaci said the kitchen was "to die for". "It has anything you would want for entertaining - big open space, a huge island, and a very large eating area that opens up to the yard and pool" he added.

'Cake Boss' star Buddy Valastro tried to charm NYPD out of drunk driving charge: prosecutors (NYDN)
“Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro tried to pull rank when police nailed him for drunken driving in Hell’s Kitchen, a prosecutor revealed Thursday. “You can’t arrest me,” he told cops. “I’m the Cake Boss.” Hoboken’s high priest of pastries then allegedly tried to sweet-talk his way out of trouble. “Is there anything we can do?” he asked. “I’m a good guy. You don’t have to arrest me.” The cops didn’t buy it. And on Thursday, a sullen-looking Valastro, dressed in dark blue jeans and a charcoal blazer, was released after a night in jail — and after he was arraigned on charges of driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired. Valastro’s alleged attempts to extricate himself from a jam were recounted in court by a Manhattan prosecutor who said the master baker admitted to the arresting officers that he had been drinking. “I had a couple of drinks about 30 or 40 minutes ago,” he allegedly said. The TLC star was released without bail after rejecting the standard offer to plead guilty.

Royal Bank of Scotland to exit U.S. mortgage business (Reuters)
Exiting mortgage backed-security, commercial real estate and commercial mortgage-bond sales and trading "is a necessary part of repositioning our US business," an RBS spokesman said in an emailed statement. RBS said in May it will eliminate hundreds of jobs in the United States over the course of two years to help reduce assets ahead of new rules by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The largest foreign banks, with $50 billion or more in U.S. assets, need to set up an intermediate holding company subject to the same capital, risk management and liquidity standards as U.S. banks, the Fed said in February.

JPMorgan Chase Bankers Said to Lead Moscow Exodus (Bloomberg)
Bankers from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Morgan Stanley are leaving Moscow for London as sanctions over Russia’s incursions into Ukraine bring business to a halt, according to people familiar with the matter. JPMorgan’s head of Russian research, Alex Kantarovich, and four other employees are moving to the U.K. capital to work on different regions after Morgan Stanley’s metals team of Dmitriy Kolomytsyn and Neri Tollardo did the same, people familiar with the matter said. The banks declined to comment.

States Move to Share Data on Problem Brokers (WSJ)
State securities regulators are drawing up plans to allow information on problem stockbroker firms to be shared more effectively among them. The regulators plan next year to allow states for the first time to access online information stemming from examinations of brokerage firms by other states. The proposed computer tool, using a new database, would flag problem areas and highlight the types of firms that cause the most trouble for investors.

Passenger racks up $1,200 bill for in-flight Wi-Fi (NYP)
Jeremy Gutsche was on a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore when he decided to use the plane’s Wi-Fi to check his emails. Claiming to make just 155 page views, Jeremy was outraged to receive the whopping bill when he stepped off the plane. “I wish I could blame an addiction to Netflix or some intellectual documentary that made me $1200 smarter. However, the Singapore Airlines internet was painfully slow, so videos would be impossible and that means I didn’t get any smarter … except about how to charge a lot of money for stuff. I did learn that,” he wrote. “At one point, I spent about an hour uploading one 4mb power point doc. That doc probably cost me $100 to upload, so I hope my team liked it. I actually even emailed them a warning that my upload was taking a while. That email probably cost me $10. And yes, the pricing per mb was disclosed on sign-up, but I bought the $30 package, slept through most the flight, and really didn’t think I’d end up a thousand bucks past the limit.”

Oil Magnate’s Ex-Wife Seeking to Increase $1 Billion Judgment (NYT)
Sue Ann Hamm, the former wife of the Oklahoma oil magnate Harold Hamm who was awarded cash and assets worth more than $1 billion in the couple’s divorce this week, plans to appeal the judgment on grounds that it grossly undervalues the marital wealth to which she is entitled. The judgment against Mr. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources, allows him to keep nearly all of the multibillion-dollar increase made in his Continental shares during their 26-year marriage. Ron Barber, a lawyer for Ms. Hamm, said the decision was “not equitable.” Mr. Hamm holds more than 68 percent of Continental’s stock, a stake currently valued at around $13.5 billion.

Justin Bieber Summoned To Argentina Court For Questioning (AP)
An investigative judge in Argentina is summoning Justin Bieber for questioning.
Bieber has been accused of sending bodyguards to attack a photographer outside a Buenos Aires nightclub during a South American tour last year. Judge Facundo Cubas asked Interpol on Thursday to use all "necessary means" to notify the singer that he has 60 days to appear before the court in Argentina. The judge says that if Bieber fails to comply, an international arrest order will be issued. Argentine photographer Diego Pesoa alleges he was chased down and beaten on Nov. 9, 2013, by Bieber's bodyguards outside the INK nightclub, where the singer and his entourage partied. Bieber would face up to one year in prison if he was convicted on a charge of causing minor injuries.


Opening Bell: 2.6.15

RadioShack brought to its knees by "a series of missed financial targets and strategic confusion that handed power to bare-knuckled lenders"; Rich Brazilians are getting the fuck out; Swiss National Banc still curbing that franc; Jobs report did pretty okay for itself; "You need to focus again on the attractive benefits of our funds and stop this nonsense that there are no products available – because if there are no products, go home, get a new job!"; Marijuana Lovahs; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 03.20.12

Bernanke Returns to Academic Roots to Justify Fed’s Existence (Bloomberg) Bernanke will lecture to about 30 undergraduate students at George Washington University in the first of four hour-long talks on the history of the Fed as part of what public relations specialist Richard Dukas called a “P.R. offensive” to buff the central bank’s tarnished image. The Fed is being attacked from both the left and the right, with liberals criticizing it for not doing enough to bring down unemployment, and conservatives blaming it for doing too much and risking faster inflation...The lecture series -- the brainchild of the Fed and the first by a sitting chairman -- will be streamed live on the central-bank’s website and on Afterwards, it will be posted on the Fed’s YouTube page. The central bank said transcripts also will be available. “I understand he’s excited about coming back and being in the classroom,” said Tim Fort, the professor in charge of the half-semester class. Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement (NYP) Under the deal, Mets owners have agreed to pay back $162 million in phantom profits that they withdrew from their Madoff accounts between 2002 and 2008 — the year the Ponzi pyramid collapsed. Picard also dropped his claim that the owners were “willfully blind” to the scheme — allowing them to claim up to $178 million as victims of the fraud. Goldman Sachs Cuts Staff in Annual Review Process (Reuters) Goldman Sachs has begun a new round of staff cuts in its trading and investment banking divisions, three sources familiar with the matter said, a sign of continued cutbacks on Wall Street...The latest round of cuts is part of Goldman's annual employee review process. It's unclear how many people will be affected by the job eliminations, which began two weeks ago, because different divisions have received different targets, sources said. While management has formulated an overall plan for cost-cutting, all of the job cuts may not be completed for months, said a source familiar with the matter. Deutsche Bank Cuts Board’s Pay 19% as Profit Goal Missed (Bloomberg) Jain earned 5.81 million euros ($7.67 million) in salary and bonuses for last year, down from 7.55 million euros, Deutsche Bank said today in its financial report. Jain and the board’s other six members received 26.4 million euros compared with 32.4 million euros in 2010, when there were eight members. Jefferies Net Down 12%; Revenue Tops Forecasts (WSJ) Fixed-income trading revenue came in at $339.1 million in the quarter ended Feb. 29, up 6.6% from a year earlier and more than double what the firm booked in the prior quarter. Investment-banking revenue rose to $285.8 million, up 20% from a year earlier and 9.4% from the previous quarter. Overall, Jefferies reported a profit of $77.1 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $87.3 million, or 42 cents a share. Revenue increased 2.2% to $758.1 million. Analysts expected a per-share profit of 29 cents on $699 million in revenue, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. The Banker And The Cabbie: When Two Worlds Collide (Reuters) The day, December 21, 2011, had started out normally as Jennings left the kind of home - sweeping curved staircase, perfectly plumped chintz pillows, backyard swimming pool and a Ferrari in the garage - that makes many New Yorkers deeply jealous, and headed to the steel-and-glass tower in midtown Manhattan where he directed the firm's bond business...Morgan Stanley has already placed him on leave. The firm's spokesman declined to comment, other than to say no decision has been made regarding Jennings' longer-term status at the firm. One top-ranking Morgan Stanley executive, though, said he "does not stand a chance of getting his job back." Deutsche Bank Sued In US Over Libor (CNBC) Deutsche Bank said it received subpoenas and requests for information from U.S. and European Union agencies as part of a global probe into interbank offered rates and that it was also being sued over alleged dollar interbank rate manipulation...The inquiries relate to periods between 2005 and 2011, the bank said, adding it was cooperating with the investigations. Geithner Warns Europe Against Draconian Austerity (Reuters) "Economic growth is likely to be weak for some time. The path of fiscal consolidation should be gradual with a multiyear phase-in of reforms," Geithner said in remarks prepared for delivery to the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. "If every time economic growth disappoints, governments are forced to cut spending or raise taxes immediately to make up for the impact of weaker growth on deficits, this would risk a self-reinforcing negative spiral of growth-killing austerity," he said. Wall Street Can Learn From The Goldman Flap (WSJ) Rather than extolling Goldman's "client-driven" culture, as they did in their response to Mr Smith last week, Mr Blankfein and his No. 2 Gary Cohn should have seized the opportunity to explain how the business of finance really works. Jobseekers Get Asked For Facebook Passwords (AP) Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn't see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn't want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. Jon Hamm sticks to his guns in calling Kim Kardashian an 'idiot (NYDN) NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked the AMC retro-series actor to clarify the earlier comments he made to Elle UK about Kardashian being a famous-for-being-famous “idiot,” which the reality starlet called “careless.” “I don’t think it was careless. I think it was accurate,” he told Lauer.