Opening Bell: 3.10.15

Tidjane Thiam is your new Credit Suisse CEO; Hedge fund starts "litigation-finance" unit; People are nervous about Goldman vis-à-vis stress tests; "Bosses who love themselves"; "Foodie Banit" knocks over Hooters truck; AND MORE.
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Credit Suisse appoints Tidjane Thiam as CEO (Reuters)
Credit Suisse on Tuesday said it will appoint Tidjane Thiam as chief executive, to replace Brady Dougan, who will step down at the end of June 2015.

How Brady Dougan’s Climb Up a Swiss Peak Ended: Timeline (Bloomberg)
1959: Dougan is born in Urbana, Illinois, the youngest of five siblings. His father, a railway dispatcher, moves the family to coal-mining and farm town Murphysboro seven years later 2015: Credit Suisse revises its fourth-quarter 2014 profit to include a provision for mortgage-related litigation. Less than two weeks later, Credit Suisse is poised to replace Dougan with Prudential Plc’s Tidjane Thiam.

Hedge-Fund Manager’s Next Frontier: Lawsuits (WSJ)
Mr. Friedman’s next act may be his most unorthodox: His Arlington, Va.-based EJF Capital LLC has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for a new litigation-finance arm that will lend to law firms pursuing class-action injury lawsuits, people familiar with the firm said. The firms will repay EJF at hefty interest rates as they earn fees from settlements and judgments. The suits include those related to transvaginal mesh, a medical treatment that props up organs protruding into the vagina, and Risperdal, a former top-selling Johnson & Johnson schizophrenia drug that causes the abnormal development of breasts in some men, people familiar with the firm said.

Bosses Who Love Themselves (NYT)
Try to avoid working for a company with a narcissist at the top. That’s because narcissistic C.E.O.s tend to overspend on investments and deliver substandard results. On top of that, they are often paid more than their humbler yet better-performing peers, according to a recent study. Researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing the signatures of about 450 chief executives at public companies. The size of a person’s signature is positively associated with many of the traits of narcissism, such as ego, exploitativeness and dominance, said Charles Ham, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland and one of the C.E.O. study’s authors, along with Nicholas Seybert, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, and Sean Wang, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill...Then the researchers looked at the executives’ level of investment and tracked later results. Given the data, it appears that the narcissists talked a good game but could not live up to it.

‘Foodie bandit’ stole more than $4K in fish, beef from trucks (NYP)
The suspect grabbed about nearly $1,300 worth of seafood from a truck that was about to make a delivery at the new restaurant LYFE, opened by Oprah’s trainer on West 55th Street around 10 a.m., Feb. 26, police said. He made off with $950 worth of black cod, 20 pounds of lobster valued at $150, 22 pounds of Branzino worth $120 and 10 pounds, or roughly $50 worth of salmon, cops said. “This guy looks the part and definitely knows what he’s doing,” a law enforcement source said. A day earlier, the foodie bandit hit a truck outside the Hooters on West 56th Street and grabbed about $2,000 in beef, $160 in Cornish hens, about $40 in cash and an mp3 player. On the same day as the LYFE job, police said the crook hit a truck parked outside the AKA Central Park hotel and grabbed $476 worth of strip steak and 40 pounds of stewing beef, valued around $200. “The guy dresses like a laborer in a one-piece suit and he uses a hand-truck,” the source added. Video surveillance caught the suspect in front of Hooters, where he allegedly snatched the cornish hens and five large boxes of steak. Investigators believe he may have a car, possibly with a getaway driver, parked nearby to deal with the sheer volume of his culinary delights.

Fed Broadens Scope of Stress Tests (WSJ)
The so-called annual stress tests for banks is becoming a misnomer. Conceived in 2009 by the Federal Reserve as narrow, once-a-year snapshots of bank health, the tests have morphed into protracted top-to-bottom examinations that have required firms to revamp their balance sheets, hire thousands of staff and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on preparations. In the latest reflection of this shift, Fed officials tell The Wall Street Journal the process is being integrated into their year-round supervision of banks, rather than being squeezed into a monthslong sprint each year.

At Goldman Sachs, Stress Test Results Could Endanger an Important Profit Source (Dealbook)
Several analysts have released research questioning whether the Federal Reserve would allow Goldman to continue its buyback programs given the results of the stress tests. Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, estimated that if Goldman is unable to repurchase shares, it could earn 42 cents a share less than expected this year, and $1.78 a share less than expected next year. “There is an expectation that they could be at risk,” said Steve Chubak, a bank analyst with Nomura.

Europe’s Central Bank Bets Big on Stimulus [Reuters]
If the bond buying succeeds in lifting growth across the 19-country eurozone, from powerful Germany to struggling Greece and Italy, the bank will have bolstered its powers for dealing with future crises. If it fails to spur new activity or exposes the ECB to financial losses ultimately borne by taxpayers, the program will be seen as a risky endeavor that widened the gap between rich and poor, added to social strains and allowed governments to avoid taking difficult moves to make their economies more competitive.

JPMorgan reshuffle sees four rising stars gain prominence (FT)
A wind of change has swept through the upper echelons of Wall Street’s main investment banks over the past week. From Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley, most have made key appointments to either consolidate their dominance in certain markets or tackle their weaknesses in others. Yet, the boldest changes at the top occurred at JPMorgan, which picked four 40-something bankers to co-head their North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa operations in an effort to propel a new generation of leaders to guide the investment bank in an ever more complex and frenzied mergers and acquisitions market.

$200,000 Lamborghini with no license plates abandoned on Texas highway (NYDN)
Mystery surrounded the ditching of a crashed Lamborghini on a Texas highway over the weekend. The yellow supercar was found smashed into a barrier on the southbound side of the Dallas North Tollway early Sunday morning, reports WFAA. It did not appear to have license plates. Cops responded and found the crumpled-up car had "no identifying information inside." Officers say they believe whoever was behind the wheel abandoned the vehicle after having an accident. The exact make of the car, which could be worth up to $200,000, has not been revealed. But it was taken to a Dallas police impound lot, reports KVUE. Luxury car rental company Exotic Skittles had earlier hired out the Lamborghini. The driver has not been identified. Police continue to investigate.

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Stress Tests Show Banks On The Mend (WSJ) The central bank said 17 of the 18 largest U.S. banks have enough capital to keep lending in a hypothetical sharp economic downturn, a sign the financial system is better prepared to weather a shock without resorting to a large, 2008-style infusion of government support. But the "stress test" figures released Thursday also showed that the Fed is paying special attention to the capital strength of companies with large trading operations, a group that includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan. That scrutiny could make it harder for those firms to win regulatory approval to increase dividends and buybacks, and could bruise the companies' recovering reputations with investors. Shares of Goldman and J.P. Morgan have been trading at their highest levels in a year, but both companies dropped more than 1% in after-hours trading following the Fed release. Citi Bests Stress Tests, Discloses Buyback Plan (CNBC) Where stress tests are concerned, call Citigroup "most improved." The bank posted an 8.3 percent tier 1 common capital ratio - the highest of its peers - under the Federal Reserve's annual stress tests. Unemployment Falls To 7.7% (WSJ) U.S. job growth jumped ahead in February, a sign of a steadily improving labor market and stronger economic gains. Employers added 236,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7%, the lowest level since the end of 2008. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast that nonfarm payrolls would rise by 160,000 and the unemployment rate would fall to 7.8%. Chanos Has Ackman's Back On Herbalife Bet (NYP) Famed short seller Jim Chanos yesterday voiced his support for Ackman’s short position — and revealed he made money from shorting the Los Angeles-based company last year. “I think Bill Ackman is correct in his analysis” of Herbalife, Chanos said in a TV interview. “I’m not crazy for this multi-level-marketing business,” Chanos added...Chanos said on CNBC yesterday morning that he had shorted Herbalife last year, when it was around $50 — but got out when the price fell by half after Ackman went public with his short bet. Firms Send Record Cash Back To Investors (WSJ) Companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to pay at least $300 billion in dividends in 2013, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, which would top last year's $282 billion. Goldman Symbol Gets More Elusive (WSJ) Upending a closely watched ritual in place since 1996, the New York securities firm told employees Thursday it now plans to promote a new crop of managing directors every two years, instead of each year. The change will start with the group selected later this year. The coveted title, which comes with a base salary of $500,000, elevates the chosen few at Goldman one step closer to the even higher rank of partner. In the memo, Goldman Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd C. Blankfein and President and Chief Operating Officer Gary D. Cohn said the move would help the firm devote more time to the selection process. "A biennial process will allow us to invest more in the managing director selection process so that it will continue to be a disciplined and rigorous exercise," they wrote. "This will help to ensure that the managing director title remains as aspirational as it should be for our top performers." Hooters Is Chasing Women — as Customers (CNBC) The chain's waitresses are as buxom as ever but its sales have "flattened out," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at research firm Technomic. Revenue peaked in 2007 at nearly $1 billion but had fallen to around $850 million last year, he estimated. (The privately-held company doesn't release sales figures.) The brand recently announced an overhaul aimed at making Hooters more mainstream than man-cave, adding more salads to its menu, remodeling stores and rolling out a series of ads last week to tout the changes. Icahn Bid Rattles Dell Plan (WSJ) Activist investor Carl Icahn said he would push to replace Dell's board and pursue "years of litigation" if the computer maker refused to accept his demand for a refinancing that would pay a hefty dividend to shareholders. Prodding the company to reject a $24.4 billion buyout offer that it agreed to last month and endorse his alternative, Mr. Icahn disclosed he owns a "substantial" stake in Dell and unleashed his trademark attack on directors and on the management-backed offer. "We see no reason that the future value of Dell should not accrue to all the existing Dell shareholders," Mr. Icahn wrote to a Dell special board committee, insisting it agree to his conditions or hold a vote for a replacement board that would. Ferrari $1.3 Million Hybrid Hits Resurgent Luxury Market (Bloomberg) At the Geneva Motor Show this week, Ferrari showed a 1 million-euro ($1.3 million)hybrid called LaFerrari. Bentley exhibited a revamped four-door Continental Flying Spur. Jaguar debuted the XFR-S, its fastest sedan ever. Rolls-Royce is adding a 245,000-euro coupe called the Wraith to its lineup. Companies Expand Offshore Cash Hoard By $183 Billion (Bloomberg) Microsoft, Apple, And Google each added to their non-U.S. holdings by more than 34 percent as they reaped the benefits of past maneuvers to earn and park profits in low- tax countries. Combined, those three companies alone plan to keep $134.5 billion outside the U.S. government’s reach, more than double the $59.3 billion they held two years earlier. Broker who managed money for NFL players bootled from securities industry after big loss (NYP) A Florida broker who managed money for dozens of prominent National Football League players — includingSantana Moss and Plaxico Burress — has been banned from the securities industry after putting the group into a high-risk investment that lost them a total of $40 million. Jeff Rubin, 38, directed some 31 NFL players into an illegal gambling operation in Alabama — which went bust two years later, a Wall Street regulator said yesterday. One of the players, Samari Toure Rolle, a former cornerback with the Baltimore Ravens, lost $3.2 million, the bulk of his liquid assets, to Rubin, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which imposed the ban.

Not the victim in question By Niels de Wit from Lunteren, The Netherlands (1981 MOWAG B 300) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.19.16

Credit Suisse CEO vs Credit Suisse bankers; Washington insider is subject of trading probe; Police say Ohio man tried to have sex with a red van; and more.