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Opening Bell: 12.10.14

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Harvard Business School Professor Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food (Boston)
Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents. Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location. Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out. (Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)

U.S. extends scrutiny of Standard Chartered on sanctions compliance (Reuters)
Standard Chartered will face another three years of scrutiny by U.S. prosecutors for compliance with government sanctions against certain countries, according to documents filed on Tuesday that also noted another probe of the bank is underway. The original deferred prosecution agreements, struck with the U.S. Justice Department and the Manhattan district attorney over the bank's violations related to U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries, was due to expire on Wednesday. The agreement to extend the deals means that the bank will face enhanced oversight for a longer period of time and could be hit with harsher penalties.

After party claims, CTPartners pulls $11.9M stock sale (NYP)
Wall Street recruiter CTPartners pulled a public stock sale that would have raised $11.9 million after The Post published a complaint on Monday detailing sexual discrimination claims, including a boozy, naked romp led by the CEO. The stock, which tanked 24 percent the day of The Post’s story, closed up 8.8 percent at $15.23 on Tuesday after the company yanked the deal that would have diluted existing shareholders. The shares, which had risen 250 percent this year, are still down 18 percent from Friday’s closing price of $18.50. CEO Brian Sullivan and other honchos got so drunk they stripped bare and jumped into the ocean at the end of a four-day partner meeting at his home in May 2012, four workers alleged in a complaint.

Phibro To Shut Down US Business (WSJ)
Phibro Trading LLC is closing its doors in the U.S., marking the end of an era for a commodities firm that came to prominence under oil trader Andrew Hall. The 113-year-old company, founded in Germany by two scrap-metal dealers, is winding down its U.S. operations after it failed to find a buyer, according to a person familiar with the situation. The sale process for units in London and Singapore continues, the person said. Phibro specialized in physical trading of oil and other raw materials, seeking to profit by moving actual barrels and acting as an intermediary between producers and consumers. The pool of potential buyers for these kinds of operations has dwindled in recent years amid a regulatory crackdown on Wall Street banks’ involvement in these markets.

Student Charged After Teacher Eats Pot Brownie (AP)
Police say a Maryland teenager eating a pot brownie in class panicked when his teacher asked him for a piece of the treat, and that he is now charged for obliging. Anne Arundel County police said Tuesday that the 17-year-old didn't tell the teacher that the brownie contained marijuana. She began feeling ill and acting disoriented, and was brought to the nurse's office at Broadneck High School in Annapolis on Monday. The teacher told police that the student had given her the brownie during third period and that she suspected it contained marijuana.

Boutique Investment Banks Gain Prestige (Dealbook)
Even as the nation’s largest banks continue to ride high on rankings of the top mergers advisers, independent and boutique investment banks have picked up an impressive share of the business, landing plum assignments on some of the blockbuster deals. It was Lazard that advised AT&T on its $49 billion takeover of DirecTV, while the former Morgan Stanley rainmaker Paul J. Taubman worked alongside JPMorgan Chase and Barclays in helping Comcast make its $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable. Moreover, the boutique firm Centerview Partners placed 11th on the Thomson Reuters ranking of the top deal advisers for the year through November — coming just behind much larger rivals like Credit Suisse and UBS — as it focuses on big transactions for clients like the sale of the pharmacy chain Alliance Boots and the failed bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for Time Warner. Over all, independent firms make up eight of the 25 top merger banks.

Uber Under Attack Around The Globe (WSJ)
Allegations that an Uber driver raped a woman in India last weekend has triggered a nationwide ban on smartphone-enabled taxi services that could stifle the company’s ability to operate in its largest market outside of the U.S...Also this week, Thailand barred all app-based taxi service operators who use personal vehicles; a Spanish judge ordered a temporary halt to the company’s operations in the country; and the city of Portland, Ore., issued a cease-and-desist order and filed a lawsuit against Uber. Uber also faces a legal challenge in its own backyard. On Tuesday, the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles sued Uber for allegedly misleading consumers and said they are seeking a permanent injunction of the business until it complies with California law. The suit alleges, among other issues, that Uber is misleading customers into believing it screens out drivers who have committed criminal offenses.

Silk Road’s Ulbricht Accused of Six Murder for Hire Plots (Bloomberg)
Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind of the $1.2 billion online “black-market bazaar” known as Silk Road, attempted to arrange the murders of at least six people including a worker he believed had stolen $350,000 in bitcoins from him, the U.S. said. While the murder-for-hire plots aren’t part of the government’s indictment of Ulbricht, federal prosecutors in New York are seeking to use them as evidence against him at his trial set to begin Jan. 5. The alleged schemes support the government’s argument that Ulbricht conspired to protect the criminal enterprise, prosecutors said today in a court filing.

Wall Street Seeks to Tuck Dodd-Frank Changes in Budget Bill (Dealbook)
A flurry of legislative deal-making surrounding the federal budget has opened a window of opportunity for bank lobbyists to challenge the Dodd-Frank Act, the sweeping regulatory overhaul passed in response to the financial crisis. With the clock ticking on a budget bill — lawmakers have vowed not to shut down the government, but need to act by Thursday night — banks are seeking to tuck their proposals into the giant federal spending package. Whether they succeed remains an open question. As of Tuesday afternoon, some Democrats and consumer groups retained hope that they could fend off the Wall Street effort.

Deputies: Man suspected of 10th OWI says he ate beer battered fish (Channel3000)
A Friendship, Wisconsin man suspected of 10th offense operating while intoxicated denied drinking but said he had eaten beer battered fish. John Przybyla, 75, was stopped Oct. 12 after a deputy noticed his truck cross the center line on State Highway 13 and that the truck had a broken tail light, according to a criminal complaint. The deputy said there was a smell of alcohol on Przbyla’s breath and he failed a field sobriety test. Deputies said Przybyla denied drinking alcohol but noted that he had eaten beer battered fish that night. A breath alcohol test showed a preliminary result of .062, which is more than the .02 limit Przybyla faces because of his previous convictions.


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