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Opening Bell: 11.19.14

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Goldman Hits The Mother Lode On Deals (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has cemented its position as the top Wall Street bank for mergers and acquisitions in one of the busiest years in the business. The New York bank, whose name is synonymous with deal making, this week landed roles on two big acquisitions worth a combined $100 billion: Actavis PLC’s $66 billion agreement to buy Allergan Inc. and Halliburton Co. ’s $34.6 billion planned purchase of Baker Hughes Inc.

Uber Exec Proposes Smearing Female Reporters Who Criticized the App (VallyWag)
Uber's competitors, regulators, and drivers can take a breath. The company, which believes it is worth $25 billion, has a new nemesis: reporters who don't follow the puff piece protocol. A top Uber executive suggested hiring opposition researchers "specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company," reports Buzzfeed. This vindictive response to aggressive reporting about one of the most high-profile companies in the tech industry was uttered by Emil Michael, Uber's senior vice president of business. Michael previously held a top role at Klout and recently joined a board that advises the Department of Defense. The remarks were made at a chichi gathering at Waverly Inn, the exclusive Manhattan clubhouse, which was attended by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Ed Norton, Arianna Huffingon, and "a Buzzfeed editor." The evening's host was Ian Osborne, an Uber consultant who used to advise Prime Minister David Cameron: Over dinner, [Michael] outlined the notion of spending "a million dollars" to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they'd look into "your personal lives, your families," and give the media a taste of its own medicine.

Uber Executive’s Comments Leave Company Scrambling (Bits)
“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach,” Mr. Michael said in a statement. “They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.” Uber has said that the private dinner was supposed to be considered an off-the-record affair.

Pimco’s October Outflows Set a Record in Europe (MoneyBeat)
Investors pulled €11.2 billion ($14 billion) from Pacific Investment Management Co.’s European funds in September and October on the heels of Bill Gross’s sudden departure, according to new figures from investment research firm Morningstar. Of the total, €8.7 billion flowed out of Pimco’s fund range in Europe during October, the highest ever level of outflows in a one-month period in the region, according to Morningstar.

Batista Insider-Trading Trial Starts in Rio (WSJ)
The insider-trading trial of former Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista began Tuesday with law officials contending it could be a step forward in the country’s efforts to protect shareholders from abusive practices. The entrepreneur is charged with manipulating financial markets by not fulfilling a promise to invest as much as $1 billion in his failed oil company and with using privileged information to dump shares of the company before the stock price plunged.

Watch Out for Elephants and Llamas at the Next Wedding You Attend (WSJ)
The llamas were a wedding day surprise arranged by groom Garette Ziem for his wife to be, Kim Dalton, who finds them entertaining and calming. When the two creatures appeared, she “exploded in happiness and tears,” he said. “It meant so much to me that Garette went above and beyond to create this extra special moment,” she said. Mr. Ziem’s nieces, who escorted the pair up the aisle, were billed as “llama girls.” Guests lined up to take selfies with the tall, woolly duo, who were fully trained and didn’t spit, contrary to common belief. “They were well-behaved, just like any household dog, better probably,” said Mr. Ziem, a sales manager who paid $500 to have them attend. “People will remember the wedding more because the llamas were there,” he said. Having Fido serve as a ring bearer or riding to the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage have been primary ways of integrating animals into weddings over the years. But these days, in ways big (elephants) and small (butterflies), the species playing a role in nuptials and other momentous life events are often more exotic...Yet the mingling of wildlife and humans can go awry. At a wedding he attended in Illinois last May, Roger Boisen saw that firsthand. After the bride and groom recited their vows, dozens of Monarch butterflies were released from boxes. Fluttering about, they added a fairy-tale touch to the celebration. One of them, however, landed on the lawn, where it soon met its fate beneath a bridesmaid’s pump. “People were yelling, ‘Watch out for the butterfly!’ ” recalls Mr. Boisen of Appleton, Wis. “Definitely I felt bad for it, and I know other people did.”

Youngest Oil Tycoon Finds Fortune After Washout as Trader (Bloomberg)
The oil industry drew Sheffield in partly because the world of interest-rate swaps and sovereign debt pushed him out, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its December issue. Sheffield says his income never cracked $100,000 a year on the trading desk. “I was a scratch trader. I was drinking beer while my friends were ordering hundred-dollar bottles of wine.” [...] His family connections helped him get started, and his relatives’ knowledge of the fields around Midland gave him direction. Pace says, however, that Sheffield built his success mostly through his own smart decisions. “It’s easy now for people to connect the dots and say he got lucky,” Pace says. “I watched it, and there’s a lot of skill to get from point A to point B. The key is, he executed really well, and his team is fantastic.”

In Hong Kong, One-Bedroom Apartments That Could Fit in a Bedroom (NYT)
There are breathtaking views of Victoria Harbor from a 23rd-floor apartment that recently sold for $722,000 in the new Le Riviera building. The high-end German appliances and marble countertops evoke European luxury. In the entrance of the building, colorful wire mesh sculptures by Spanish artists hang from the ceiling. There is just one catch. The apartment is only 275 square feet, with a bedroom just large enough to accommodate a double bed. “If we don’t buy now, we might not be able to afford it later,” said Frank Wu, 60, the new owner of this so-called microflat in Shau Kei Wan, a former fishing village on the northeastern edge of Hong Kong Island. Real estate in Hong Kong defies logic. The city is one of the most expensive places in the world to live and it has smashed one real estate record after another for years. As property costs continue to soar, even once improbable living spaces are now getting snapped up at astronomical prices.

Brace for Thanksgiving Traffic as Car-to-Plane Gap Swells (Bloomberg)
Drivers will make up about 89.5 percent of holiday travelers this year, a gain of 0.1 percentage point from 2013, while air passengers will drop by the same amount to 7.5, forecasts prepared by Englewood, Colorado-based IHS Inc. (IHS) show. A 0.1 point increase may not seem like a lot, but based on last year’s estimate that 39.6 million people traveled by car for Thanksgiving, that would roughly equate to at least another 40,000 people piling onto America’s highways.

BNP Officials Examined in Insider-Trading Probe (WSJ)
Paris prosecutors, who opened the preliminary investigation earlier this month, are trying to determine how much senior BNP Paribas directors and top executives knew about the bank’s exposure to litigation risks in the U.S. when they sold shares last year, the person said. The list of BNP Paribas officials targeted by the investigation is fluid, the person said, because investigators continue to pore over the details of stock sales by a number of company officials.

School library steam cleaned following porn shoot (UPI)
Australia's Newcastle University said its library was steam cleaned after officials discovered a student was using the facility to film pornographic videos. Officials said staff at the Auchmuty library were informed in October that a student had been filming sexually explicit videos in the facility and posting them to a pay-per-view pornographic website. Parts of the library were ordered to be steam cleaned and pictures of the student were given to staff with instructions to alert security if she entered the library, officials said. A university spokeswoman told the Newcastle Herald administrators were "very disappointed" to learn the student was "using internet facilities inappropriately on campus."


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Opening Bell: 7.18.16

Draghi will ask governments to help counter Brexit fallout; Bridgewater slows hiring; HSBC to cut bond traders; Man quits job to become full-time ‘Pokemon Go’ player; and more.