Opening Bell: 2.13.15

Greece, Shaq, Fired JP Morgan Execs, Couple who fell asleep in a dumpster, AND MORE
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Greece, EU Strike Friendlier Tone After Hopes of Quick Deal Are Dashed (WSJ)
“I think today we leave having made important steps,” Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said after a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels. “We didn’t cover the full distance but we covered an important part, and proved that the EU is a field of conflicts and compromises.”

Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
The executives haven’t been accused of wrongdoing, but the bank wanted to be cautious and freeze the options until the investigation is concluded, one of these people said...U.S. prosecutors and regulators are investigating the hiring practices in Asia of J.P. Morgan and several other banks, people briefed on the investigation have said. The J.P. Morgan investigation deals specifically with whether the bank gave jobs to Chinese government officials’ children in return for lucrative investment-banking assignments the officials could dole out.

Top China Hedge Fund Says Best Trade of 2014 Is Back On (Bloomberg)
The top-performing China hedge fund is piling back into property shares, reviving a trade that propelled it to a 46 percent gain in the second half of 2014. Marco Polo Pure Asset Management has been buying developers, including Poly Real Estate Group Co. and Beijing Capital Development Co., after the industry’s benchmark gauge in Shanghai dropped as much as 19 percent from this year’s high. That same trade helped drive the fund’s gain in 2014 as China’s interest-rate cut in November sent the Shanghai Property Index to a 60 percent surge through Jan. 5, according to Aaron Boesky, Marco Polo’s chief executive officer in Hong Kong.

Strauss-Kahn Called Women at Sex Parties ‘Equipment’ in Text (Bloomberg)
Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, admitted Thursday using the word to refer to women was “inappropriate.” The 65-year-old, who is accused of aggravated pimping, said the use of the phrase doesn’t mean he saw them as sex workers. In a text message, “it’s easy to be uninhibited,” the 65-year-old Strauss-Kahn said on his last day of testimony in Lille, France. “The word equipment was used once.”

'Family Feud' contestant says ‘a gerbil’ is an item doctors commonly remove from patients (NYDN)
In Monday's episode, the contestant, whose first name is Darci, was asked to provide one of the most common answers to the question: "What does a doctor pull out of a person?" "A gerbil!" she replied. Needless to say, it was not one of the top seven answers on the board. She immediately grimaced and shouted, "I didn't say that! I didn't say that!" Darci claimed she "read about that once."

I.M.F. Announces $17.5 Billion Package to Help Kiev Stabilize Economy (NYT)
The new plan replaces a $17 billion emergency bailout that was extended last year after mass street protests in Ukraine ousted the country’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovych; Russia annexed Crimea; and a violent separatist uprising began in the east of the country. That uprising has now stretched into a nearly yearlong battle that has devastated Ukraine’s economy.

Ackman Says Tax Inversion Rules Could Lead to U.S. Drugmakers Selling to Overseas Buyers (Bloomberg)
Instead of buying overseas targets, Ackman said, U.S. drugmakers may become sellers in order to gain similar benefits. “We have more consolidation with a foreign buyer with a more favorable structure buying U.S. companies,” he said Thursday on the sidelines of the Harbor Investment Conference in New York.

Why Shaquille O’Neal still invests in penny stocks (CNBC)
With an estimated net worth of $250 million, Shaquille O'Neal was asked Thursday on CNBC's "Closing Bell" if and why he is still investing in penny stocks. "You wanna know why ... I'll tell you why," O'Neal said happily, while calling over stock broker (and the New York Stock Exchange's most photographed person), Peter Tuchman. The 7-foot-1-inch ex-basketball player placed his arm around the tiny trader and responded: "Peter is smart. So when I'm at home and I got my suit on, I wanna feel like Peter when I'm messing with my penny stocks." O'Neal said he trades these small stocks "because it's fun," admitting that "it hasn't really been going too well." "The big stocks I let my guy handle," he said. That's when things got emotional. "I wanna be like you Peter!" Shaq exclaimed, before planting a few kisses on the top of Tuchman's head.

Ride-Hailing Service Lyft Is Said to Be in Talks to Raise $250 Million (Dealbook)
In the battle over ride-hailing services, Lyft is preparing a counterpunch against Uber, its much bigger rival. Lyft is in talks to raise about $250 million in new financing, putting a value for the three-year-old start-up at $2 billion, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday...Uber’s coffers are also much deeper. The company has raised more than $4 billion from major institutional firms, and is valued by investors at over $40 billion.

Drunk couple fell asleep in dumpster, rode in garbage truck (UPI)
Authorities in Florida said a couple who took a nap in a dumpster after a drunken night at a casino nearly met their end in the back of a garbage truck. Hillsborough County garbage truck driver Radames Valazquez called 911 early Wednesday morning to report a man and a woman were trapped in the back of his truck. Valazquez said he was about to compact his truck's load when he heard the couple shouting for help. "I got two people, I don't know how they got in the back of the truck, but they stuck in the truck. I almost killed both of them," he told the 911 dispatcher. Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies said they determined Donald Jordan, 37, and Lisa Sirabella, 49, had fallen asleep in a WaWa gas station dumpster after a drunken night at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. Jordan, who authorities said appeared highly intoxicated, told deputies he and Sirabella were visiting Tampa from Kissimmee and sought warmth in the dumpster after being left stranded by some friends.

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Opening Bell: 2.23.15

Morgan Stanley FBI informant fired; Greece reform; iCar; Tech sexual harassment trial; Guy who ate 6 lbs of bacon in 5 minutes felt fine; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 2.27.15

Buffett Euro Trip; Icahn loss; JP Morgan is finishing school for CEOs in training; Guy who made love to mailboxes found dead; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 03.14.13

US Probes Gold Pricing (WSJ) The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is examining the setting of prices in London, in which a handful of banks meet twice daily and set the spot price for a troy ounce of physical gold, the people said. The CFTC is looking at issues including whether the setting of prices for gold—and the smaller silver market—is transparent. No formal investigation has been opened, the people said. US And UK Tussle Over Trader (WSJ) Officials in the U.S. Justice Department and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office clashed late last year in their mutual pursuit of Tom Hayes, the former UBS trader who is viewed by prosecutors in both countries as a ringleader of banks' attempts to rig the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, these people said. While jurisdictional disputes among law enforcement agencies aren't unusual, some U.S. officials worry that the friction on this case will jeopardize trans-Atlantic cooperation on future financial-fraud investigations. The spat revolves around a sequence of events that played out in rapid succession last December. The trouble began, the people said, when the U.K. government unexpectedly blocked a Justice Department request to interview Mr. Hayes, who is British and lives outside London. Then, without notifying the U.S., British fraud prosecutors on Dec. 11 arrested Mr. Hayes and two others in connection with their own probe—infuriating American officials, according to people familiar with the U.S. investigation. The U.S. prosecutors punched back the next day by filing sealed criminal fraud charges against Mr. Hayes. Banks Bow To New York On Clawbacks (WSJ) Three more top banks, including Citigroup, will broaden their clawback policies to cover more executives, increase disclosures or add potential triggers. The moves increase to six the number of leading financial companies that have bowed to pressure from the New York City's Comptroller's Office. Lehman Judge Allows 'London Whale' Subpoena in JP Morgan Fight (Dow Jones) A judge on Wednesday said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. creditors can subpoena Bruno Iksil in its lawsuit against J.P. Morgan, ensuring the phrase "London Whale" will stay in the lexicon for at least a bit longer. Judge James Peck of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan said Mr. Iksil, who is in France, can be questioned over the alleged mismarking of $273.3 million in derivatives when he worked at J.P. Morgan in the days leading up to Lehman's bankruptcy. "I consider it inappropriate except for in a clear case of abuse to cut off discovery of a witness that has fingerprints all over a transaction," Judge Peck said. "And in this case, Mr. Iksil's fingerprints are on the $273.3 million transaction that took on some significance in the case." Lehman U.K. Wins $1 Billion Appeal on Hedging Contracts (Bloomberg) The ruling may result in London-based Lehman Brothers International Europe and its administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP receiving an extra $1 billion, according to a written decision handed down this morning by Judge Mary Arden in the U.K. Court of Appeals. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fall as Labor Market Improves (Bloomberg) First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, the fewest since mid January, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 350,000. The four-week average declined to a five- year low. JPMorgan exec sued over 'bullying' behavior (NYP) Plaintiff Walter Suarez, a former financial adviser, was banished to the company’s Delancey Street outpost when he complained about colleague Michael Quach, and the move cost Suarez an $80 million client list, $20 million of which was taken by JPMorgan, his lawyers claim. According to Suarez, Quach was a bully who resorted to physical violence to intimidate colleagues. Suarez, who is Hispanic, says Quach, an Asian-American, got away with the behavior because bosses preferred Asian employees. “Eventually, it got to the point of being ridiculous. This isn’t the corner bodega,” Suarez told The Post. “We’re investment people. This is a professional setting. That’s when I spoke up. “He just wasn’t a very professional person from the get-go, and I don’t think that I was the only person who felt that way.” Suarez told superiors that Quach had manhandled several staffers, including one woman who was “physically assaulted during working hours on the banking floor,” according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court by attorneys Matthew Blit and Amanda Gudis. Suarez said Quach even threatened to punch him out in front of clients. 'Canada's Warren Buffett' Interested in Greece's Top Bank (Reuters) Greece's biggest lender, National Bank (NBG), said on Wednesday that Canadian investment fund Fairfax Holdings was interested in acquiring a stake in it by taking part in a planned recapitalization. Under the terms of cash-strapped Greece's international bailout, its top four lenders must issue new shares by the end of April to replenish their capital after the losses they suffered in the debt crisis from bad loans and bond writedowns. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have set aside 27.5 billion euros ($37 billion) in bailout funds to invest in the new bank shares. But private investors must buy at least 10 percent of them or the lenders will be nationalized. NBG said in a bourse filing that Fairfax was among other investors who had expressed an interest, without giving details. Fairfax is controlled by investment guru Prem Watsa, known as the "Warren Buffett of Canada." SandRidge Gives In, Settling Proxy Fight (WSJ) SandRidge Energy agreed to fire its chief executive or give control of its board to an activist shareholder, settling a closely watched proxy battle amid an outbreak of investor unrest in the oil patch. SandRidge, an oil-and-gas producer with a stock-market value of about $3 billion, immediately appointed four directors to its board who were nominated by hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital LP, which owns 7.3% of its shares. Bofa Battles Credit Suisse for 50% Markups on State Loans (Bloomberg) The firms are among at least five lenders in talks to loan five states at least $6.5 billion this year -- more than double last year’s total -- as local governments seek to chop debt costs by replacing loans from a 1997 federal bailout that average 14.4 percent in reais. Credit Suisse is lending Mato Grosso, an agricultural state in western Brazil, $1 billion for 15 years. The loan, with a rate equal to 11.2 percent in reais and guaranteed by Brazil if Mato Grosso defaults, compares with 7.35 percent for yields of similar-maturity government debt. Private Equity Could Trigger Another Crisis: Bank of England (CNBC) The amount of leverage in the U.K. corporate sector poses a risk to the stability of the financial system and could produce the next big financial crisis over the coming years, the U.K.'s central bank has warned. White Rock woman holds 'Lying Cheating Sale' to sell all her husband's stuff while he's 'gone with his floozie' (The Province) A scorned White Rock woman held a yard sale on the weekend to get rid of her husband's stuff while he was "gone with his floozie," according to a Craigslist ad. "Husband left us for a piece of trash, selling everything while he is gone this weekend with his floozie," read the text of the ad, which was posted early Friday afternoon to the free classifieds site. The Province dropped by the yard sale on Saturday and, sure enough, bargain-hunters were sifting through the goods which included office chairs, camping gear and other offerings. The lady in charge of the sale declined to speak on the record. Her colourful Craigslist ad, however, said she was selling everything and moving after 10 years of marriage. The featured items included his favourite red leather reclining theatre-seating sofas, and "lots of tools which he didn't have a clue how to use." "I want the house empty on Monday when he returns because that will be a shock for him to see. So come pick out what you would like Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. "Don't come too early (like he did) because I will be thoroughly enjoying some wine with my girlfriends this evening as we clean out all this stuff and likely be nursing hangovers in the morning. So please speak softly to the ladies wearing the sunglasses." The ad discouraged clothes-buyers, "as we will have already burned those in the driveway," but it did offer to let visitors see the pile of ashes.

Opening Bell: 10.14.15

JP Morgan says trading looks bleak; Tech exec headed to Chipotle; Hedge funds' rough ride; Ex-Bank of America employee's murder trial gets date; Brooklyn taqueria will award 10% stake in business to anyone who can finish 30 pound burrito (plus margarita) in an hour; and more.

Opening Bell: 05.21.12

JPMorgan CIO Risk Chief Said To Have Trading-Loss History (Bloomberg) Irvin Goldman, who oversaw risks in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unit that suffered more than $2 billion in trading losses, was fired by another Wall Street firm in 2007 for money-losing bets that prompted a regulatory sanction at the firm, Cantor Fitzgerald LP, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. JPMorgan appointed Goldman in February as the top risk official in its chief investment office while the unit was managing trades that later spiraled into what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called “egregious,” self-inflicted mistakes. The bank knew when it picked Goldman that his earlier work at Cantor led regulators to penalize that company, according to a person briefed on the situation. Risk Manager's Past Scrutinized (WSJ) Mr. Goldman joined J.P. Morgan's CIO in January 2008 as a trader. The bank placed him on leave in September 2008 after it learned that NYSE Arca had opened a regulatory inquiry tied to his trading activities at Cantor Fitzgerald, people familiar with the matter said. After J.P. Morgan placed him on leave, Mr. Goldman founded a consulting firm based in New York called IJG Advisors LLC. He rejoined J.P. Morgan in September 2010 in the Chief Investment Office, this time focusing on strategy. Current J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Risk Officer John Hogan chose Mr. Goldman to serve as CRO of the office, a position that had been filled by Peter Weiland, who remains with J.P. Morgan's CIO. Mr. Hogan wasn't aware of the Cantor Fitzgerald incident or the earlier trading losses at J.P. Morgan Chase, said a person close to the bank. Eurobonds To Be Discussed At EU Summit (Reuters) Merkel has said she is not opposed to jointly underwritten euro area bonds per se, but believes it can only be discussed once the conditions are right, including much closer economic integration and coordination across the euro zone, including on fiscal matters. That remains a long way off. Will Greece Be Able to Print Drachma in a Rush? (Reuters) If or when policymakers finally decide Greece should leave the euro, the exit could happen so quickly that "new drachma" currency notes might not be printed in time. "It would be chaos," says Marios Efthymiopoulos, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced International Studies and president of Thessaloniki-based think tank Global Strategy. "The banks would collapse and you would have to nationalize them. You wouldn't be able to pay anyone except in coupons. There is only one (currency) printing press in Greece. It is in the museum in Athens and it doesn't work any more." Ryanair CEO: ‘No’ Campaigners in Irish Vote Are Crazy (CNBC) “I think Ireland will vote yes in the referendum and Ireland should vote yes. We have no alternative. People who are borrowing $15 billion a year to keep the lights turned on don’t have the wherewithal to vote no to the people that are lending them the money. There is no argument for voting no,” Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair said. He described “no” campaigners as a “bunch of idiots and lunatics.” Barclays To Sell Entire BlackRock Stake (WSJ) Barclays said BlackRock agreed to repurchase $1 billion worth of the 19.6% stake that the bank holds in the asset-management company. The remainder of the stake will then be listed on a stock exchange. The decision to sell comes as the bank faces pressure from investors to boost its return on equity and prepares to mitigate the effects of regulation that will force the lender to hold a bigger capital buffer. Mark Zuckerberg Gets Married (AP) The couple met at Harvard and have been together for more than nine years, a guest who insisted on anonymity said. The ceremony took place in Zuckerberg's backyard before fewer than 100 guests, including Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. The guests all thought they were coming to celebrate Chan's graduation but were told after they arrived that the event was in fact a wedding. "Everybody was shocked," the guest said. The two had been planning the marriage for months but were waiting until Chan had graduated from medical school to hold the wedding. The timing wasn't tied to the IPO, since the date the company planned to go public was a "moving target," the guest said. Zuckerberg designed the ring featuring "a very simple ruby." Hedge Funds Rebuild Euro Bear Bets On Greek Exit Banks Weigh (Bloomberg) Hedge funds and other large speculators, which pared trades that would profit from a drop in the euro to the lowest levels since November, rebuilt them to a record high last week, figures released May 18 by the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. The premium for options that grant the right to sell the euro has more than doubled since March. Nasdaq CEO Blames Software Design For Delayed Facebook Trading (Bloomberg) Nasdaq OMX Group, under scrutiny after shares of Facebook Inc. were plagued by delays and mishandled orders on its first day of trading, blamed “poor design” in the software it uses for driving auctions in initial public offerings. Fed Proves More Bullish Than Wall Street Forecasting U.S. Growth (Bloomberg) Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC, has derided the Federal Reserve for downplaying improvement in the U.S. economy. Yet his 2.6 percent forecast for growth this year is below the midpoint in the central bank’s projection of 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent...“I’ve been banging my head against the wall,” said Stanley in Stamford, Connecticut, a former researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, who had predicted an interest- rate increase as early as last year and now says the Fed probably will tighten in the middle of next year. “They’re willing to let things run for longer and let inflation accelerate more than historically.” Judge mulls suit vs. woman sending messages to driving boyfriend (NYP) In a case believed to be the first of its kind in the country, a New Jersey college student could be held liable this week for texting her boyfriend — knowing he was behind the wheel — and allegedly causing him to crash into a couple riding a motorcycle. “She texts. Instantly, he texts back, and, bang, the accident occurs,” said Skippy Weinstein, attorney for motorcycle enthusiasts David and Linda Kubert, both 59, who lost their left legs in the horrific 2009 accident in Mine Hill. It’s now up to a Superior Court judge in Morristown, NJ, to decide whether Shannon Colonna can be added to the suit against driver Kyle Best.

Opening Bell: 3.4.15

EU doesn't want to talk about 3rd Greek bailout; Private equity pay makes rest of Wall Street look like paupers; Evans doesn't want to see rate hike 'til 2016; "Teacher who told pupil 'I shagged your maw' is fired"; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 2.10.16

Morgan Stanley trading exec says run for lives; Big firms raise debt funds; Yellen to talk rate hikes with congress; Man Accused Of Tossing Gator Into Wendy's Drive-Thru Window; and more.