Opening Bell: 12.1.14

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Hackers With Wall Street Savvy Stealing M&A Data (Bloomberg)
Hackers with Wall Street expertise have stolen merger-and-acquisition information from more than 80 companies for more than a year, according to security consultants who shared their findings with law enforcement. A group dubbed FIN4 by researchers at FireEye Inc. has been tricking executives, lawyers and consultants into providing access to confidential data and communications, and probably using the information for insider trading, FireEye said in a report today. The hackers’ sophistication suggests they’ve worked in the financial sector, Jen Weedon, FireEye’s manager of threat intelligence, said in an interview.

Bankers can soon cash-in on deferred recession era bonuses (NYP)
A rash of bonuses that were deferred in the wake of the financial crisis will begin to vest in the coming weeks, resulting in vastly larger paydays than if bankers and traders had been paid in cash, according to a report by Crain’s New York Business. After a challenging 2009, Goldman Sachs cut average employee pay by 13 percent, but to dull the pain, granted staffers $3.6 billion worth of shares that couldn’t be sold until January 2015, according to a regulatory filing. The stock is currently valued at $5.1 billion, thanks to a 40 percent-plus run-up in Goldman stock to Friday’s close at $188.41. “You’re going to see a deluge of bankers cashing out their restricted stock grants in the weeks ahead,” said Mark Williams, a lecturer at Boston University and former Federal Reserve Bank examiner. “These grants are deeply in the money.”

Snapchat for CEOs? Anonymous app OneOne launched (CNBC)
An Irish entrepreneur has launched an anonymous messaging app aimed at the business elite, with messages that self-destruct in 24 hours. OneOne - described as a "super-secure version of Snapchat" by the founder - was launched just over a week ago and allows users to send messages to each other with no tracking or storing of data..."I have been doing a small road-show speaking to lawyers, execs, because I think they will be our early adopters," founder Kevin Abosch said. "A couple of big CEOs said they are using it when they wanted to talk to somebody on the board about terminating someone else's employment. That is a touchy area."

Greenberg’s AIG Suit in Hands of Judge Unfazed by Stars (Bloomberg)
The presentation of testimony in the case ended last week. Once considered a long-shot, Wheeler’s rulings in favor of Boies, the lawyer’s success in eliciting damaging testimony and the judge’s impatience with the tactics of government lawyers have made a victory for Greenberg and Starr seem plausible. Wheeler, who sang in his church choir and coached softball, is seen by those who know him as unfazed by the heavyweights who were called as witnesses during the AIG trial. “Those are big names. That’s not going to intimidate Tom,” said Carl Vacketta, a former law firm colleague who said he taught Wheeler when he was a student at Georgetown University Law Center. “He’s smart and adept,” Vacketta said. “He’s not going to be bothered by anybody from Wall Street.”

Program Offers Bitcoin Entrepreneurs Camplike Atmosphere (WSJ)
For three months this summer and fall, in an open-plan office here stocked with Red Bull and ramen noodles, Brian Gamido and a couple dozen other true believers toiled at what he conceded sounds like “a pipe dream”—building viable businesses based on bitcoin. But this bitcoin boot camp was hardly a shoestring effort: Mr. Gamido and the other fledgling entrepreneurs were bankrolled in part by one of Silicon Valley’s most storied families, which has emerged as among the alternative currency’s biggest supporters.

Cops: Woman, 47, Stabbed Boyfriend For Starting Thanksgiving Dinner Without Her (TSG)
Incensed that her boyfriend began eating their Thanksgiving dinner while she was asleep following a day of drinking, a Pennsylvania woman grabbed a knife and stabbed the man after chasing him around the dining room table, cops report. Jack-Lyn Blake, 47, is locked up in the Luzerne County jail on an assortment of criminal charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, and making terroristic threats. According to Wilkes-Barre police, officers responded yesterday to Blake’s residence around 6:30 PM after receiving a 911 call about a stabbing. When they arrived at the home, Blake, who was exiting the residence, announced, “I stabbed him.” Further investigation revealed that Blake’s beau, Benjamin Smith, had been stabbed in the chest. Smith, who was pressing a towel to his wound when police arrived, was later treated at a local hospital for the non-life-threatening injury. Smith, 45, told officers that he had argued earlier in the day with Blake, who was reportedly intoxicated and had gone upstairs to sleep. While Blake snoozed, Smith began Thanksgiving dinner without her.

Moody’s Downgrades Japan’s Credit Rating (WSJ)
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Japan’s credit rating Monday, highlighting the challenges facing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he tries to stoke inflation and growth. In explaining its move, Moody’s cited heightened uncertainty over Japan’s ability to cut its fiscal deficit after Mr. Abe decided last month to delay an increase in the national sales tax scheduled to take effect next year.

Brevan Howard Said to Close Commodity Hedge Fund After Losses (Bloomberg)
Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP, the hedge-fund firm that oversees $37 billion, is shutting its commodity hedge fund run by Stephane Nicolas after losses this year, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The fund, which had about $630 million in assets under management, has fallen about 4.3 percent through the end of October, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Swiss Say Foreign Millionaires Are Still Welcome After Vote (Bloomberg)
Swiss voters refused to give up a 152-year-old tax break for rich foreigners in Geneva and other wealthy areas that the government says helps the economy. Fifty-nine percent voted against an initiative, sponsored by the Socialist Party, that would have abolished a system allowing foreigners to duck income and wealth taxes by negotiating lump-sum payments with Swiss cantons, the government said yesterday. Two other proposals, on the Swiss National Bank’s gold holdings and on immigration limits, also were rejected.

Barclays Center sale buzz builds (NYP)
Billionaire media mogul Phil Anschutz has held early stage talks to buy Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, The Post has learned. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns or operates arenas around the world, last month held talks with Forest City Enterprises, which owns 55 percent of the two-year-old arena, sources said. The No. 2 concert promoter in the country behind Live Nation is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with talks — or walk away — before Dec. 31, sources said.

Star Witness in Apple Lawsuit Is Steve Jobs (NYT)
In December, the company is set to go to trial in the third major antitrust lawsuit it has faced since Mr. Jobs died. His emails will play an important role in the case, as they did in the last two. But lawyers will probably have to work hard to give his statements a positive spin. The potential damages — around $350 million — are a pittance for a company that in its last quarter had an $8.5 billion profit. Executives are often told by their lawyers to be careful what they put in writing for fear it will end up as evidence in a courtroom. Perhaps Mr. Jobs did not get the memo. His emails in past lawsuits — a mix of blunt litigation threats against his opponents and cheery financial promises for potential business partners — have made him an exceptional witness against his own company, even beyond the grave.

DUI Suspect Allegedly Drinks Vodka While Being Questioned By Cop (HP)
Florida woman France Riney, 60, is facing a DUI charge after she allegedly sat behind the wheel of a parked car and drank vodka while a St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputy tried to question her, TC Palm reports. The deputy responded to a call about a woman who “appeared out of it” in a parked vehicle at the American Legion at around 5:40 p.m. on Nov 16. According to an affidavit, Riney was in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition, but the car wasn’t running. When the deputy asked Riney for her license, she allegedly handed him a bag of chips, then a bottle of water. When the deputy informed her the item in her hand was not her license, she allegedly picked up a bottle of vodka and took a swig.

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Opening Bell: 04.05.12

Falcone Says Bankruptcy Is an Option for LightSquared (Bloomberg) Phil Falcone said he may consider voluntary bankruptcy for LightSquared Inc., the broadband wireless venture majority owned by his hedge fund that has been derailed by regulators. “There are arguments that we would be better off in bankruptcy than not,” Falcone said in an interview. “LightSquared, if I have to, I’ll put it into bankruptcy. I don’t care,” adding that he would maintain control of the Reston, Virginia-based company if it filed. Jobless Claims Decline (WSJ) New applications for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly four years last week, further evidence that U.S. employers likely added a healthy number of workers to their payrolls in March. Initial jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 in the week ended March 31, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predicted that 360,000 new claims would be filed last week. Morgan Stanley Tries to Stave Off Ratings Cut (FT) James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, has been in discussions with Moody’s in an attempt to maintain its credit ratings and stave off a downgrade that could diminish the bank’s ability to buy the rest of Citigroup brokerage Smith Barney, according to people familiar with the matter...Morgan Stanley would most likely have to issue debt to fund the purchase, people say. That would become more expensive if Morgan Stanley is downgraded. Moody’s put Morgan Stanley, along with five other banks, on review for a downgrade in February. The bank could see its rating reduced by as many as three notches to Baa2 - two levels above junk status. A downgrade would also force Morgan Stanley to provide additional collateral to back its vast derivatives business, where it acts as a counterparty. JPMorgan Investment Bank Chief Widens Pay Lead on Rival (Bloomberg) Jes Staley, chief executive officer of JPMorgan’s investment bank, beat his Bank of America counterpart in compensation after boosting earnings amid a market slump. Staley’s $16 million award for 2011 almost held steady from the $17 million he made the previous year as profit at the firm’s investment bank climbed 2.3 percent to $6.8 billion. Bank of America co-chief operating officer Thomas K. Montag’s pay dropped 25 percent to $12 million after profit at the lender’s investment bank plunged by more than half to $2.97 billion. Gorman's Pay Falls (Bloomberg) Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman’s compensation for 2011 totaled $10.5 million, a 25 percent cut from 2010 as the firm’s shares fell by almost half. Gorman, 53, got $5.04 million in restricted shares, and $1.94 million in shares tied to company performance, according to a proxy filing today from the New York-based investment bank. He also received a deferred cash bonus of $2.72 million that can be clawed back, in addition to his $800,000 salary. He didn’t receive an immediate cash bonus. Mets in Opening Day ticket panic (NYP) The Mets are so terrified by the embarrassing prospect of playing to empty seats at today's opener, they've made an Amazin' "buy one get one free" pitch. Some 15,000 of their fans have been offered one free seat for Saturday's or Sunday's Atlanta game in exchange for every ticket they buy for today’s opener. Plenty of the 41,880 seats for this afternoon’s game at Citi Field against the Braves were still available early today. If the Mets don’t sell out, it will be the first home opener since 1997 that didn’t fill their stadium. Madoff wives to face trustee claims in Ponzi case (Reuters) The trustee seeking money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, who lost an estimated $20 billion, may pursue claims against wives of the imprisoned swindler's sons, a U.S. federal court judge said on Wednesday. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland in Manhattan said the trustee Irving Picard may pursue about $43 million of claims against Deborah Madoff, who married Andrew Madoff; and $33 million of claims against Stephanie Mack, the widow of Mark Madoff. Germany, Switzerland Sign Tax Plan (WSJ) Germany and Switzerland signed a new tax deal which allows wealthy Germans to retain their anonymity, while generating billions of euros in tax revenues for Berlin and ending a bruising dispute between the two neighboring countries over tax evasion and bank secrecy. The deal comes after Berlin and Bern agreed on last-minute amendments to a pact reached last summer in an effort to make it more appealing to German opposition leaders, who said Thursday they plan to veto it. "We believe it would be irresponsible to sign this deal, which is a slap in the face of every honest taxpayer," said Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats. Mega Millions ‘winner’ Mirlande Wilson's lawyer: 'I cannot say with any certainty this ticket exists' (NYDN) McDonald’s worker who claims she has a $218 million-winning Mega Millions ticket called a huge press conference Wednesday - and then arrived late only to tell the press to leave. Her lawyer announced to the mystified journalists packed into his Baltimore law office that the purpose of the press conference was “to ask you all to go home.” Mirlande Wilson, 37, of Maryland, who is said by coworkers to crave attention, hit one jackpot: a chaotic scrum of reporters and camera crews waiting to talk to her. But she never spoke. Asked if this was her plea for 15 minutes of fame, she shook her head. Her lawyer, Edward Smith, said, “no, she doesn't want 15 minutes of fame." Instead, he said, she would "like you all to go home." For the record, Smith says he hasn’t seen the purported ticket either. “I cannot say with any certainty this ticket exists,” he said, unreasurringly. Wilson has told various conflicting stories about how she came by her alleged ducat. She told a TV station she bought it at a 7-Eleven store for herself. Then she said a coworker purchased it for her alone while separately buying tickets for the pool organized at her McDonald’s in Baltimore. “I thought I'd play one dollar by myself,” she told the Daily News. She has said she definitely won; she thinks she won; she has the ticket at home; she stashed the ticket at McDonalds; and she has it in another, unspecified secret “safe” place. On Monday, she told the News that she hasn’t even checked her ticket against the winning numbers.

Opening Bell: 4.20.16

Blythe says banks need blockchain; Wine mogul says Fidelity cheated him out of millions; "Forceful' In-Flight Nipple Tweak Lands Olympic Swimmer In Hot Water; and more.

Opening Bell: 09.14.12

Trial to Begin for Former UBS Trader Accused of Hiding Huge Loss (Dealbook) UBS will face the harsh glare of the spotlight again on Friday, as opening arguments begin in the trial of a former trader accused of hiding a multibillion-dollar loss at the investment bank. Kweku M. Adoboli, 32, the former trader, faces charges of false accounting and fraud in connection with a $2.3 billion loss at the bank. He has pleaded not guilty. “As uncomfortable as the entire trial will be for UBS, it will show us what the consequences are when misconduct occurs or when individuals do not take their responsibilities seriously,” the bank’s chief executive, Sergio P. Ermotti, said in an internal memo made public by the firm. JPMorgan Erases Stock Drop Fueled by London Trading Loss (Bloomberg) JPMorgan, the lender that plunged as much as 24 percent in the month after disclosing a multibillion-dollar trading loss, has erased that decline. The bank’s stock climbed 3.7 percent to $41.40 yesterday in New York, eclipsing the $40.74 closing price of May 10, when Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon announced what was then a trading loss of about $2 billion at the chief investment office in London. The loss this year now stands at $5.8 billion. Dutch and Germans Give European Union Reasons to Cheer (NYT) On Wednesday, the German Constitutional Court found a way to declare that the permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is legal, clearing the way to use it in time to recapitalize troubled banks as well as governments. And the Dutch voted for mainstream parties in a parliamentary election, choosing not to be enticed by parties wanting to leave the euro. Combined with the European Central Bank’s decision to restart its bond-buying program in return for more budget discipline, immediately lowering interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds, European leaders could begin to feel that perhaps the worst is over in the euro crisis, at least for now. “With the Dutch shying away from anti-European parties the same day the German Constitutional Court rules in favor of the E.S.M., Sept. 12 seems to have been a good day for the euro,” Dimitry Fleming of ING Groep NV said in an analysis via e-mail. Not all is well, of course. Greece remains a mess, and will probably need even more money. A decision keeps being postponed about when, and whether, to grant Athens another big portion of loan money it needs to stay afloat. Deutsche Bank urges rivals to share IT (FT) Deutsche Bank is seeking to convince rival investment banks to share markets and trading software in an effort collectively to lower costs for the financial industry. Sharing software would be an unusual step for investment banks, which have historically closely guarded their technology, much of which is still built in-house at great expense. But Deutsche Bank’s efforts underscore the intense pressure banks are under to cut costs as lower markets activity and new rules eat into their profit margins...Sharing market software, Deutsche says, will save it and other big global banks some of the billions of dollars and euros that they would otherwise have spent building or improving on individual technology systems. Woman Tells Police She 'Accidentally' Stabbed Boyfriend (AZC) Margarita H. Zaragoza told police she and her boyfriend were arguing over alcohol that he poured down the sink when she "accidentally" stabbed him with a steak knife, according to the document. Zaragoza said her boyfriend came up behind her to talk to her while she was washing a knife in the sink, according to police, and that she accidentally stabbed him in the arm when she turned to talked to him. The victim told police his girlfriend became angry after he poured her alcohol down the sink because she is pregnant and isn't supposed to be drinking, the document said. The victim said Zaragoza grabbed a knife while he was getting rid of the alcohol and stabbed him twice in the arm, according to the document. Roger Altman: The US Economy May Surprise (CNBC) Looking out a few years, the Evercore founder said, “We’re going to have a bigger snap-back in housing than people think. The U.S. has undergone a breathtaking revolution in oil and gas production and the growth impact of that is underrated.” Altman also pointed to a bounce-back in lending and strong industrial competitiveness as reasons to be optimistic about the economy longer term. Fed Acts To Fix Job Market (WSJ) "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the [Fed] will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability," the Fed said in its postmeeting statement. Berkshire Climbs To Four-Year High On Fed's Action (Bloomberg) So that's nice. Mets fan who rushed Citi Field after Johan Santana's no-hitter slapped with $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service (NYDN) Rafael Diaz, 32, was hit with the penalties after he pleaded guilty Thursday to interfering with a sporting event. “The defendant’s antics have resulted in a criminal record, the paying of thousands of dollars in fines and civil penalties, and – perhaps the worse punishment for any true Mets fan – precludes him from ever again visiting Citi Field,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Diaz, of Massapequa, L.I., who joined the celebration on the pitcher's mound June 1, was ordered to hand over $4,000 in civil penalties to the Mets and $1,000 to the city.