Judge Thrown Off Ex-Billionaire's Trial After Taking Joy Ride in Seized Porsche (Bloomberg)
The judge overseeing the insider-trading trial of Brazil’s most-famous fallen billionaire was removed from the case after he was accused of taking a joy ride in one of the defendant’s seized luxury cars. Judge Flavio Roberto de Souza breached the court’s ethics code by allegedly using assets seized from ex-billionaire Eike Batista, Brazil’s judicial oversight body said late Thursday in a statement. The proceedings against Batista will be reassigned to another court and Souza will be subject to a disciplinary investigation, according to the statement.
As RBS Guts Stamford Trading Staff, Small Shops Sense an Opening (Bloomberg)
Ron Kruszewski likes being a contrarian. That’s how the chief executive officer of Stifel Financial Corp. explains his expansion into debt-trading and sales, even as some of the world’s biggest banks accelerate their retreat from the business. In fact, he’s doubling down on his expansion, with Stifel announcing its purchase of Sterne Agee Group Inc. this week, precisely because behemoth institutions are cutting back. “That’s exactly why it’s time to lean in,” Kruszewski said this week in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I’ve always been a contrarian. And when the largest firms are shrinking, we’re growing.” There are other smaller shops playing contrarian, too. Piper Jaffray Cos. announced the hires this week of three debt capital-markets bankers and Janney Montgomery Scott LLC said it added four people to its credit team. At the same time, Britain’s largest taxpayer-owned lender, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs at its U.S. trading division as part of a global overhaul of its investment bank. “The smaller guys are being very opportunistic here,” said Paul Gulberg, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC. “They’re able to pick up talent that wasn’t available to them before.”
J.P. Morgan Emerges as CEO Breeding Ground (WSJ)
Another former top executive of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is getting a corner office of his own. British bank Standard Chartered PLC on Thursday named Bill Winters its next chief executive officer, making him the latest former deputy to J.P. Morgan CEO James Dimon to land the top job at a major financial firm. Other former J.P. Morgan executives now run credit-card company Visa Inc. ; payments processor First Data Corp.; and PNC Financial Services Group Inc., one of the nation’s largest regional banks.
Man Who Tried To Have Sex With Mailbox Found Dead (HP)
An English man who admitted he tried to have sex with a mailbox was found dead on Sunday. Last month, Paul Bennett, 45, pleaded guilty to o two counts of indecent exposure and using threatening and abusive words with abusive behavior. Bennett was found dead behind the Shanghai Palace Chinese restaurant in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on Sunday, the Wigan Observer reports. Police are investigating the cause of death, but they do not think it was "suspicious," according to the Observer.
U.S. Growth in 2014 Looking Less Robust (WSJ)
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at a 2.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was weaker than an initial estimate of 2.6% reported last month.
Icahn's investment fund posts first loss since 2008 on oil plunge (Reuters)
Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn's publicly traded investment fund posted its first annual loss since 2008 last year, undone by plummeting oil prices, the company said in a regulatory filing on Friday. Icahn Enterprises LP (IEP.O) lost $373 million, or $3.08 per depositary unit, in 2014, with much of it due to a loss of $478 million in the fourth quarter. Results were hurt by a halving of oil prices between June and December amid a global supply glut. The company earned a profit of $1.03 billion in 2013.
Buffett, a cheerleader for America, takes his checkbook abroad (Reuters)
Warren Buffett, in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc shareholders last year, called America "the mother lode of opportunity." This year, his 50th at Berkshire's helm, the world's third-richest person could write something quite different. When Buffett releases this year's letter on Saturday, he may point to opportunities outside of the United States, after he recently decided to buy a German motorcycle accessories retailer and said he may shop more in that country. That would mark a significant turn for Berkshire, a conglomerate with more than 80 businesses, giant stock investments and a $360 billion market value.
An Owl Is Now Attacking Pedestrians In The Netherlands, Too (AP)
The residents of one Dutch town are cowering under umbrellas after an aggressive eagle owl started swooping out of the sky, sinking its talons into them and gouging their flesh. The so-called "terror owl" has become a media sensation after attacking people in recent weeks in and around Purmerend, 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Amsterdam. The hardest hit area in town is the Prinsenstichting assisted-living complex for people with disabilities. A spokeswoman for the complex, Lieselotte de Bruijn, said Thursday the owl has attacked up to 20 people there in recent weeks, sometimes causing injuries that required stitches.