PwC sold ‘tax avoidance on industrial scale’ (FT)
MPs accused a firm of accountants of “selling tax avoidance on an industrial scale” on Monday after a tense parliamentary hearing sparked by the leak of hundreds of Luxembourg tax rulings. In the course of a two-hour grilling, MPs on the public accounts committee angrily denounced professional services firm PwC for devising financing structures that allowed companies to secure very low tax rates in Luxembourg. The MPs also attacked Shire, a FTSE 100 pharmaceutical company that was one of the companies that saw its tax affairs come under scrutiny after the leak of documents from Luxembourg. Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said: “The way in which you conduct your business is outrageous.” Both PwC and Shire denied the MPs’ accusations. The inquiry is the latest in a series of high-profile hearings into the tax affairs of multinationals, such as Google, Amazon and Starbucks, by the committee. Ms Hodge said the committee’s work had played a role in catalysing an overhaul of the international tax rules that she said was “making real progress”.
New York’s $500,000-a-Month Apartment Nabs a Tenant (WSJ)
A full-floor rental of New York’s Pierre Hotel that was listed for $500,000 a month has found a tenant, according to the listing agents. To boot, the same renter has also reserved a separate $150,000-a-month suite for guests. Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said the $500,000-a-month listing sets a record for New York City residential leasing. The pricier rental, which came on the market at the end of October, leased for full asking price to an international renter, while the less expensive suite rented for close to asking price, according to listing agents Therese Bateman and Andres Perea-Garzon of Town Fifth Avenue. The tenant has reserved both spaces through the end of December, Ms. Bateman said...Located on the 39th floor of the luxury hotel, the full-floor listing has 4,786 square feet of living space, six bedrooms and 6½ bathrooms, including the Presidential Suite. The unit overlooks Central Park, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and the George Washington Bridge, among other sights. The less expensive unit is the Getty Suite, a 1,015-square-foot apartment on the 10th floor with a 920-square-foot terrace “for an extended family-entourage situation,” Ms. Bateman said. Amenities include a language-specific butler and concierge service and a chauffeur-driven Jaguar.
Bill Gross’s New Janus Fund Rises to $1.2 Billion in Assets in November (WSJ)
Janus Capital Group Inc. has rallied its sales force around Bill Gross, helping to push the assets in his new mutual fund past the $1 billion mark in November. Mr. Gross’s strong performance also contributed to the fund’s increased assets as bets on derivatives linked to China and Mexico appear to have paid off, analysts say. The Janus Global Unconstrained Bond fund returned 0.36% during the month, beating out 82% of similar mutual funds, according to fund research firm Morningstar Inc.
Fed Aims to Signal Shift on Low Rates (WSJ)
Federal Reserve officials are seriously considering an important shift in tone at their policy meeting next week: dropping an assurance that short-term interest rates will stay near zero for a “considerable time” as they look more confidently toward rate increases around the middle of next year. Senior officials have hinted lately that they’re looking at dropping this closely watched interest-rate signal, which many market participants take as a sign rates won’t go up for at least six months. “It’s clearer that we’re closer to getting rid of that than we were a few months ago,” Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week. New York Fed President William Dudley has avoided using the “considerable time” phrase in recent speeches and instead said the Fed should be “patient” before raising rates.
TGI Fridays drone delivers bloody 'mistletoe mischief' (CNBC)
TGI Fridays' "mobile mistletoe drone" left a woman bloody and missing a piece of her nose last week. Photographer Georgine Benvenuto was at a Fridays in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., when one of the operators tried to land the 10-inch aircraft on her head, but clipped off a part of her nose instead. "It literally chipped off a tip of my nose," Benvenuto told the Brooklyn Daily. "It took off part of my nose and cut me here, right under my chin." The drone's operator said the mistake wouldn't have happened if the woman hadn't flinched, according to the website. TGI Fridays never officially acknowledged the injury. The drones were intended to hover over couples and inspire a little "mobile mistletoe mischief," according to promotional material for the event. "If guests show a little love under the mistletoe, Fridays might just show them a little love with some nice holiday gifts," Fridays said in a press release last week.
Big Banks Face U.S. Capital Rule Tougher Than Global Agreement (Bloomberg)
Global regulators have already agreed that the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (C), need to have extra capital to absorb losses in a crisis. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo has said the U.S. requirement should be more stringent than the international standard and take into account how banks borrow money to determine how much more capital they need. The Fed proposal, to be announced today, may lower returns for shareholders of U.S. banks compared with firms in other parts of the world, according to analysts. The extra capital requirement could be heavier for firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley that rely more on markets for short-term funding, instead of looking to depositors.
Sony Hackers Demand Studio Stop Showing ‘The Interview’ (Bloomberg)
The hackers who broke into Sony Pictures’ computers released new files and warned the studio not to show “The Interview,” the Seth Rogen comedy about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the war,” the group calling itself GOP, or Guardians of Peace, said in a statement posted yesterday on the website Github, along with links to a fourth set of files. “You, Sony & FBI, cannot find us.” The hackers didn’t name the film directly. The latest post marks the first time they have demanded the studio halt the release of “The Interview,” which has drawn scorn from North Korean officials. The picture is scheduled to open on Dec. 25. The studio has been holding screenings, including in San Francisco on Nov. 18.
Senate to Hold Hearing on Cyberattacks Against Finance (Dealbook)
The hearing set for Wednesday will feature testimony from top officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The banking committee is holding the hearing in the aftermath of this summer’s big cyberattack at JPMorgan Chase that compromised some account information of 83 million households and small businesses. Law enforcement officials have said the same hackers that breached JPMorgan’s systems also tried to gain access to the systems of at least a dozen other financial institutions.
The Greatest Night Of 2014 Is Happening December 17th (DB)
Be there or get your nose clipped by a mistletoe drone.
Church Moving Services To Restaurant (UPI)
An Alabama church announced it will start holding services at a Buffalo Wild Wings to reach potential parishioners who "wouldn't go to a church." The Rev. Wesley Savage, minister of young adults for Riverchase United Methodist Church in Birmingham, said the church is planning to begin holding Sunday morning services at a local Buffalo Wild Wings in the hopes of attracting worshipers who might be intimidated by the church setting. "We believe there's a population that would attend a service there that wouldn't go to a church," Savage told AL.com. "We hope it's going to be a more inviting atmosphere." The services have been dubbed "The Stream" and they are being billed in signs posted by the church as "Wings. Prayer. Sports."