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Opening Bell: 1.6.15

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Profit at Point72, Cohen’s New Firm, Outshines Many a Hedge Fund’s (Dealbook)
If Steven A. Cohen’s investment firm were operating as a hedge fund, it would have been one of the industry’s most profitable in 2014. Mr. Cohen’s family office, Point72 Asset Management, generated a gross profit of $2.5 billion to $3 billion, said several people briefed on the firm’s performance who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Bill Gross Says the Good Times Are Over (Bloomberg)
Bill Gross, the former manager of the world’s largest bond fund, said prices for many assets will fall this year as record-low interest rates fail to restore sufficient economic growth. With global expansion still sputtering after years of interest rates near zero, investors will gradually seek alternatives to risky assets, Gross wrote today in an investment outlook for Janus Capital Group Inc. (JNS), where he runs the $1.2 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund. “When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes,” Gross, 70, wrote in the outlook. “The good times are over.”

Debt Dispute Between Hedge Funds and Argentina at Impasse (Dealbook)
Axel Kicillof, the economy minister, said Argentina’s overtures to the holdouts would be on the same terms that it had offered other bondholders, with some sweeteners. But Argentina is still asking the holdouts to accept a haircut of 65 percent on the bond principal, Mr. Kicillof told a local news website over the weekend. He said it would be “as if the exchange were taking place in 2005.” He did claim, however, that Argentina would offer some extra money, such as all the accrued interest on the discounted bonds since 2005. The holdouts, led by Paul Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, and other bondholders that did not file suit, are owed a total of $23 billion, Mr. Kicillof estimated. Under the most recent preliminary offer, he said, they would receive $6.5 billion.

France reclaims 'entrepreneur' roots with leading number of start-ups in Europe (CNBC)
"We are a tech republic," says Nicolas Vassitch, head of the IT department at Ubifrance. It's just that no one knows it, he says. "We have excellent engineers, but most go abroad. You don't even notice them," Mr. Vassitch says. The government is trying to change that. As Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron put it at a recent party to celebrate the French presence at the CES: "We need to find again our spirit of conquest. The word entrepreneur, don't ever forget, is a French word. It's been stolen from us." The start-ups at Ubifrance are working to steal it back. At the practice pitch event one woman stands up and shows off the Bel-T, a belt that is more than a tool to keep pants in place, she says. "It adapts to you," says Carine Coulm, the general manager of Emiota, whether that means you've had a big lunch or simply like your belt looser in the afternoons.

New Jersey man arrested for stealing $1K worth of breast pumps: police (NYDN)
A New Jersey man has been busted for allegedly stealing $1,000 worth of breast pumps from a Burlington Coat Factory, police said. Joseph Galucci, 34, was charged with shoplifting Wednesday after surveillance video capturing the outrageous Dec. 1 theft was posted on social media, Brick Township Police stated in a release. The 34-year-old was identified by police with the public's help after this surveillance video, showing Galucci entering the store, was posted online. The 34-year-old was identified by police with the public's help after this surveillance video, showing Galucci entering the store, was posted online. Tips consequently poured in, leading to his identity and eventual arrest. Galucci is being held at the Ocean County jail on $20,000 bail.

Apollo Plots Salvaging of Bad Caesars Bet (WSJ)
Through a series of financial maneuvers, Apollo has positioned itself to salvage some of the $1.7 billion it invested in Caesars, which it took private seven years ago in a $28 billion leveraged buyout with fellow private-equity firm TPG. The restructuring hinges on the bankruptcy of Caesars’s largest unit, which could come as soon as mid-January, and transfers of the unit’s best assets that have infuriated creditors.

White House Expected to Nominate Community Banker to Federal Reserve (WSJ)
President Barack Obama is expected to nominate a community banker to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors as soon as this week, according to several people familiar with the administration’s plans. A White House official didn't comment on the report and said Monday the administration had no personnel announcements. Mr. Obama’s plans were first reported by Politico. Members of the Senate Banking Committee had urged the White House to tap a community banker to increase the diversity of experience on the seven-member board, which sets short-term interest rates and regulates banks.

CNBC to Stop Using Nielsen for Ratings (WSJ)
For years CNBC and its parent company, Comcast Corp. ’s NBCUniversal, have complained that Nielsen underreports the size and wealth of its audience by failing to track “out of home” viewing in places such as offices and airports. CNBC’s switch to Cogent is the latest barb for Nielsen, which has faced criticism from media companies that it has been slow to adapt its traditional ratings to changing media consumption habits. While many media companies say they are frustrated with Nielsen, CNBC is the first network to opt out of its ratings.

Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp suspends service after security breach (Reuters)
Bitstamp, one of the largest exchanges for trading the digital bitcoin currency, said it has suspended its service after a security breach on Sunday, resulting in loss of around 19,000 bit coins. The breach represented a small fraction of its total bitcoin reserve and the majority was held in secure offline systems, the Slovenia-based firm posted on its website on Tuesday. Reuters was unable to contact Bitstamp officials in Slovenia or the United Kingdom, but one of the company's founders, Damijan Merlak, told Slovenian state-owned news agency STA that Bitstamp has enough liquid assets to meet its short-term obligations. "At present we are setting up a duplicate of the whole infrastructure with experts in San Francisco which should be finished within 24 hours. Then we will be able to resume our services," Merlak told STA.

Woman sues over picture on 'rehab' novelty flask (UPI)
A New Mexico woman's lawsuit against a novelty product maker alleges she was defamed when her high school picture was used on a flask with a joke about "rehab." Veronica Vigil's lawsuit, which was filed in state District Court late last year and has now been moved to federal court, alleges the Chimayo woman's 1970 high school graduation picture was used without her permission by Anne Taintor Inc. to decorate a flask with the caption, "I'm going to be the most popular girl in rehab." The lawsuit, which also names Santa Fe gift shop Doodlet's as a defendant, alleges the product defames Vigil by linking her image to substance abuse. "Plaintiff is an active member of her church and does not consume alcohol or drugs," the lawsuit states. "Given the seriousness of the issues of substance abuse in the community in which plaintiff resides, she has held herself out by reputation for her children and her community, to refrain from abuse or even use of alcohol and illicit drugs and has set an example that the issue is a very serious one that destroys families and lives." Blair Dunn, Vigil's lawyer, said the flask was spotted by the plaintiff's adult daughter at a store in Florida. The product was not available on Taintor's website Tuesday, but was listed on Amazon along with other products bearing the same image.


Opening Bell: 04.22.13

Bill Gross Attacks UK and Euro Zone Austerity (FT) Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund for Pimco, has launched a stinging attack on efforts by Britain and much of the euro zone to cut debt rapidly with severe austerity measures, warning that such action risks stifling recovery. "The U.K. and almost all of Europe have erred in terms of believing that austerity, fiscal austerity in the short term, is the way to produce real growth. It is not," Mr Gross told the Financial Times. "You've got to spend money." Argentina's New Debt Offer Rejected by Holdout Creditors (WSJ) Holdout creditors on Friday rejected Argentina's proposal to pay them about 20 cents on every U.S. dollar of bonds they own, leaving a U.S. appeals court to decide how to enforce a ruling that may push Argentina into a new default. "Not only are the details of Argentina's proposal unacceptable and unresponsive; Argentina fails even to provide this court with meaningful 'assurances' that it will actually comply with its own proposal," said Theodore Olson, a lawyer for the holdouts, in a brief filed Friday. Argentina's own math values the offer at $210 million, less than 15% of the $1.47 billion that holdouts were owed on their defaulted bonds as of March 1, according to the brief. Hedge Fund Stars Suit Up At Yankee Stadium To Attract Investors (NYP) Hedge-fund mogul Stevie Cohen will be pitching at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. No, the 56-year-old billionaire is not suiting up for the Bronx Bombers — but he will be hoping the magic of the House that Ruth Built will yield some investment cash. Cohen, whose SAC Capital faces a loss of $1.7 billion from investors who want out of his $15 billion hedge fund, is one of about 70 hedge fund managers who’ll be at the Stadium tomorrow making a pitch to prospective new investors at a day-long event sponsored by Goldman Sachs. Singapore Will Replace Switzerland As Wealth Capital (CNBC) Switzerland has $2.8 trillion in assets under management, with $2.1 trillion of that coming from offshore wealth. Switzerland accounts for 34 percent of the $8.15 trillion in total global wealth. Yet the report said Singapore could overtake Switzerland in offshore assets under management by 2020. It said Swiss offshore assets could fall below $2 trillion by 2016, while Singapore's assets could more than quadruple by then. Somali Banking Starts From Ground Up (WSJ) Abdusalam Omer is a central bank governor without much to govern. The Central Bank of Somalia doesn't hold reserves in the country's currency, the shilling. There are no functioning commercial banks in the strife-torn country for it to regulate. The 75-strong staff that still turns up for work after two decades of civil war is a motley crew of money men and handymen. "I don't know why the central bank employs painters," says the 58-year-old who was named the country's top banker in January. Eventbrite Funding Slows Its IPO Chase (WSJ) Eventbrite Inc., an event ticketing company, has raised $60 million from two investors, making it the latest example of a startup to raise significant private late-stage funding that puts off an initial public offering. San Francisco-based Eventbrite had sparked expectations of an imminent IPO when it said earlier this month that it hired a chief financial officer, Mark Rubash, who previously worked at Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. Instead, it joins a growing number of companies that have found plentiful funding in the private markets rather than going public at an early stage. The company has raised the new cash from mutual-fund firm T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Tiger Global Management LLC, an investment-management firm, said Kevin Hartz, co-founder and chief executive. That brings its total private fundraising to some $135 million since its inception in 2006. "This gives us flexibility in setting the timeline for a later IPO, on our schedule," said Mr. Hartz. Deutsche Bank Margin Call on Vik Sparks $2.5 Billion Dispute (Bloomberg) Alexander Vik went to Deutsche Bank AG’s London office in October 2008 to meet account managers who congratulated the Norwegian entrepreneur on how well his Sebastian Holdings Inc. investment fund was doing. Within a month, as global markets tumbled into crisis, the same bankers demanded about $530 million against the fund’s currency bets and began to liquidate its positions. Vik, 58, will argue at a 12-week trial starting in London today that the bank’s actions resulted in losses and missed profits totaling about $2.5 billion. A judge will have to decide whether Sebastian’s calculation of lost trading gains is accurate, said John Day, a lawyer at London-based litigation firm DaySparkes. Zimbabwe Prepares Law to Seize Company Stakes Without Paying (Bloomberg) Zimbabwe’s government is preparing a law that would allow it to seize controlling stakes in companies without compensation, according to a draft of the legislation obtained by Bloomberg News. The law would be an amendment to a 2007 act that compels foreign and white-owned companies such as Rio Tinto Group, Sinosteel Corp. and Impala Platinum Holding Ltd. to sell or cede 51 percent of their shares to black nationalsor state-approved agencies.