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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Opening Bell: 3.11.15

Gundlach can't believe these "blockheads" at the Fed; New Credit Suisse CEO knows about risk unlike some people; Stress tests; Bales of weed for everyone; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 03.06.13

EU Fines Microsoft $732 Million (WSJ) The European Commission said it was imposing the fine after the U.S. software giant became the first company to break a voluntary agreement with regulators, which would have allowed at least 15 million consumers to pick alternatives to its Internet Explorer browser. The penalty is the latest episode in over a decade of wranglings between the EU and Microsoft, which has already seen the commission fine Microsoft €1.6 billion for failing to provide rivals with information at fair prices and for tying its media player to its operating system. Fed Holds Ground On Stress Tests (WSJ) The first component of the release, data on how banks will fare in an economic downturn, is slated for after U.S. stock markets close on Thursday. The second part, the Fed's response to buyback-and-dividend requests, is scheduled for publication a week later. Some executives warn that the delay could boost volatility in bank shares, as traders speculate on what the first round of results might mean for bank capital plans. Others warn of shareholder lawsuits if banks fail to disclose any information they receive, even informally, from regulators on the capital plans. Stress Tests Seen Boosting U.S. Bank Shareholder Payouts (Bloomberg) The six largest U.S. banks may return almost $41 billion to investors in the next 12 months, the most since 2007, as regulators conclude firms have amassed enough capital to withstand another economic shock. Lenders including Citigroup and Bank of America will buy back $26.4 billion in shares, up from $23.8 billion, according to the average estimate of three Wall Street analysts. An additional $14.5 billion will be paid out in dividends, $3.4 billion more than 2012, separate estimates show. The payouts are contingent on approval by the Federal Reserve. Forbes Hits Back at Saudi Prince Over Rich List (CNBC) A spat between Saudi billionaire Alwaleed Bin Talal and Forbes over the exact fortune of the prince has taken another bizarre twist. After the prince announced a severing of ties due to what he argued were flawed valuation methods, Forbes has now responded with an in-depth investigation, hitting back by describing his estimates as an "alternate reality". Forbes went on to say that the valuation of Kingdom Holding, the publicly traded company of Prince Alwaleed, gyrated for reasons "that, coincidentally, seem more tied to the Forbes billionaires list than fundamentals". In the lengthy piece published on Wednesday, the magazine also details its relationship with Prince Alwaleed since it began in 1988, recounting what it classified as "intermittent lobbying, cajoling and threatening" to influence his net worth listing over the years. AIG to Start Loan Investment Unit as Housing Rebounds (Bloomberg) AIG plans to buy loans backed by its United Guaranty Corp. unit, the largest seller of traditional private mortgage insurance last year, according to Donna DeMaio, 54, the unit’s chief executive officer. The debt will be held as long-term investments by AIG insurance companies. “You’re cutting the middle man out of the securitization process,” DeMaio said, referring to bonds that package home loans. The yield on an individual mortgage “is better than if you just bought the paper backed by the whole loan.” Two Hedgies Top The Field (NYP) Stephen Mandel and David Tepper earned more money for clients than any other hedge-fund manager in 2012, LCH Investments said. Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital made about $4.6 billion; Tepper’s Appaloosa Management made $3.3 billion. Traders Flee Asia Hedge Funds as Job Haven Turns Dead End (Bloomberg) Asian hedge-fund assets are 28 percent below their 2007 peak, according to data provider Eurekahedge Pte. Globally, money overseen by the funds increased 21 percent since 2007 to a new high of $2.3 trillion as of December, data from Chicago- based Hedge Fund Research Inc. show. A total of 296 Asian hedge funds liquidated in the two years to December, 33 more than the number that started. On a global basis, 1,839 new funds outnumber those that shut by 371, according to Eurekahedge. Ikea recalls cakes in 23 countries after sewage bacteria found (Telegraph) The furniture giant admitted on Tuesday that coliform bacteria had been found in two batches of almond cake from a supplier in Sweden. It comes after Chinese customs officials announced that they had destroyed a batch of 1,800 cakes after finding it contained high levels of coliforms which failed to meet hygiene standards. Coliforms, common bacteria which are found in faeces as well as soil and water, do not normally cause serious illness but are a sign of contamination which can indicate the presence of more harmful bacteria such as E.coli. It comes after Ikea recalled meatballs and sausages from 24 countries due to fears they could have been contaminated with horse meat. Oil Trader Ex-Wife Shouldn't Get Offshore Assets: Lawyers (Bloomberg) An oil trader’s ex-wife shouldn’t have any claim to properties held by offshore companies in which he invested as part of a 17.5 million-pound ($26.4 million) divorce settlement, lawyers said at a hearing in the U.K.’s highest court. The three Isle of Man-based companies, including Petrodel Resources Ltd., are “not relevant as a party to the litigation,” Tim Amos, the lawyer representing the companies, said today. The firms have asked the seven-judge panel of Britain’s Supreme Court to dismiss the wife’s claim. Yasmin Prest appealed an earlier ruling that denied her access to properties held and controlled by her ex-husband to cover part of the 2011 divorce settlement, which Michael Prest hasn’t paid, according to court documents at the U.K. top court. Her ex-husband isn’t a party to the litigation. ADP Says Companies in U.S. Added 198,000 Workers in February (Bloomberg) The 198,000 increase in employment followed a revised 215,000 gain the prior month that was more than initially estimated, figures from the Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Research Institute showed today. The median forecast of 41 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 170,000. Madoff Trustee ‘Unlikely’ to Win Merkin Suit, N.Y. Says (Bloomberg) The judge shouldn’t allow trustee Irving Picard to block the deal because “in the unlikely event” that Picard can win part of his suit, Merkin’s funds would be able to pay him, Schneiderman said in a filing with U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff yesterday. The attorney general made his filing saying Picard’s “unusual” request for an injunction -- to give him time to proof his own $500 million case -- required an additional response. Zoo shuts in panic as male and female escape from cage because cleaner forgot to lock the door (DM) A zoo in China was forced to close after two lions escaped from their unlocked cages. Riot police, snipers and zoo workers armed with tranquiliser guns worked to capture the ferocious animals after theyescaped at the zoo in Chongqing, south west China. According to reports, the lion and lioness were given free run of the zoo when a keeper who was cleaning their enclosure forgot to lock the gate. The zoo was completely evacuated following the escape at 8am. While the lionness was caught within the hour, the male was at large for almost four hours before he was recaptured. A zoo spokesman said: 'We found the female first and subdued her with a tranquiliser gun but the male took longer to find and bring back. 'They both recovered quickly and are no worse off for their adventure.' Officials have issued an apology to visitors for the panic caused. One said: 'You can't blame the lions. It was human error and they naturally took advantage of it.'

Opening Bell: 03.07.13

Fed's Fisher Pins Slow Growth on Politicians (WSJ) Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher on Wednesday blamed both major U.S. political parties for a "horrid" political climate in Washington, and said monetary policy alone can't drive the economy. "We provided the fuel for economic recovery," Mr. Fisher said of the central bank, describing the Fed's stimulus as "very high-octane, dirt-cheap gasoline." But he said that neither Republican nor Democratic politicians in Washington have done their part by putting policies in place that spur the private sector "to take the cheap fuel that we have provided and step on the accelerator." Banks Said to Weigh Defying Fed With Dividend Disclosures (Bloomberg) The largest U.S. banks are weighing whether to disregard a Federal Reserve request and announce their dividend plans shortly after the central bank’s stress tests are released, people with knowledge of the process said. The Fed has asked 18 firms, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, to wait until next week, even though the lenders will get preliminary word today about whether their capital plans were approved. Bank executives are concerned that investors could be confused and are considering whether securities laws may require prompt disclosure of their plans for dividends and share repurchases, the people said. Paulson Gold Fund Down 18% as Metal’s Slump Foils Rebound (Bloomberg) John Paulson posted an 18 percent decline in his Gold Fund last month as a slump in the metal, after more than a decade of gains, undermined efforts by the billionaire hedge-fund manager to rebound from two years of losses in some strategies. The $900 million Gold Fund, which invests in bullion- related equities and derivatives, is down 26 percent this year, Paulson & Co. said yesterday in a client update obtained by Bloomberg News. The firm’s Advantage funds also fell in February after the metal and related stocks weakened as signs of economic optimism curbed gold demand. “Despite the volatility and drawdown of our gold equity positions, we believe in the long-term outlook for these positions as quantitative easing programs continue around the world, credit expands in the United States, and gold equities continue to trade at a significant discount” to historical average valuations, the hedge fund said in a letter sent yesterday to investors, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Carl Icahn Rachets Up Dell Fight (WSJ) In a letter released by Dell Thursday, Mr. Icahn said he has a "substantial" position in the company, and asked Dell to pay a per-share dividend of $9 if the deal is voted down by shareholders. He said that by his calculations, that transaction would be superior to the current going-private offer, citing a "stub" value of $13.81 a share which, combined with the special dividend, represents a 67% premium to the current $13.65 per-share offer price. Dell 'Welcomes' Carl Icahn to Go-Shop Process (CNBC) Dell on Thursday said it welcomed Carl Icahn, who has built up a 100 million share stake in the company, and other interested parties as the computer maker seeks to go private. The special committee appointed by the board said it was conducting a "robust go-shop process" and was looking at other alternatives after a $24.4 billion buyout led by founder Michael Dell faced opposition from some shareholders. Bad-News Bears Crash The Party (WSJ) For all their conviction, the bears realize it may be awhile before their dark predictions come true. "Unfortunately, I am bearish and I have been wrong," said Samer Nsouli, chief investment officer at Lyford Group International, a hedge fund, who argues that recent weakness in copper and oil is a portent of a global slowdown. "Make no mistake, it will end in tears. The eternal question is when." Lions Maul Two To Death In Kariba (Herald) Two people were yesterday mauled to death by lions in Mahombekombe suburb in the resort town of Kariba. Sources say the man only identified as Musinje and the woman Sharai Mawera, were attacked while spending time in a bushy area with the man managing to escape, leaving the woman behind. The man went on to report the case to police who, with the assistance of officers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, went in search of the lions. During the search they found an arm belonging to a man with investigations pointing to the lions having made a kill the previous night. That, the sources say, could have been the reason the lions did not completely eat the woman. BofA Times An Options Trade Well (WSJ) Bank of America's trading desk last June purchased options to buy 150,000 shares of Constellation Brands, an aggressive wager that the wine-and-beer seller's shares would rise, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of options-market data and of quarterly regulatory filings made by institutional investors. The trade helped push the volume in thinly traded Constellation options that day to more than 13 times the previous 30 days' daily average, the options data show. A week later, Constellation announced a pact to buy a Mexican beer maker out of a joint venture that imports Corona Extra and other beers into the U.S. market. Bank of America led a duo of banks that financed the $1.85 billion deal. Constellation shares soared 24% on June 29, the day the deal was made public, and Bank of America generated an estimated paper profit of more than $1 million from the options trading, the options-market data indicate. China Imitates Singer (NYP) Paul Singer’s battle with Argentina over defaulted debt is beginning to ripple through the bond world. Creditors looking to force deadbeat countries to pay up are turning to the controversial legal argument Singer used to press his case against the South American country in the US courts. On Monday, China’s Ex-Im Bank, which has an unpaid judgment worth $32 million against Grenada, sued the tiny Caribbean country in New York federal court to get its money back. China wheeled out the same “equal treatment” argument that Singer’s Elliott Management used against Argentina, and which was recently upheld at the appeals level for the first time in the US. China’s move marks the first time a creditor other than Singer and his cohorts have tested the maneuver in the US. Obama Tries Charm Offensive to Woo Republicans on Deficit (Bloomberg) The president broke bread last night with a dozen Republican senators, hosting a dinner at a luxury Washington hotel near the White House. Next week, he’ll visit Capitol Hill to meet separately with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Obama has also spoken by telephone with at least a half- dozen Republican lawmakers over the past few days about the budget and other priorities of his second term, including a rewrite of immigration laws and controlling gun violence. “There have been some problems, but we’re all adults and you just have to put the country ahead of party and you’ll be fine,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped organize the dinner, said before the meal. The increased outreach marks a shift in strategy for the White House, amid signs the president’s poll numbers are falling after he and Republicans were unable to avert the across-the- board spending cuts that took effect March 1. Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall to a Six-Week Low (Bloomberg) First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low. JC Penney Board Can’t Be 'Delusional': Ex-CEO (CNBC) Former JC Penney CEO Allen Questrom told CNBC on Wednesday that the company's board of directors is wrong in thinking the struggling retailer can change its fortunes under current boss Ron Johnson. "The board has to take action. They can't be delusional like Ron Johnson is," Questrom said on "Fast Money Halftime Report." "This has been going on long enough. You can't say you're going to make your numbers for the year and then drop a billion dollars." Questrom, who has watched from afar as Penney's sales and stock have suffered, told CNBC that directors needed to act quickly. "If they think if it all of a sudden going to turn itself around, there is no way they can have reliable information – because Ron is not a source for that," he said. "The sooner they act, the better." 1 in 10 Yale students have engaged in prostitution, 3% have had sex with an animal (NYDN) Sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt hosted the sex workshop session where around 55 students used their cellphones to answer questions about sex. The results were then published in real time on a screen. McDevitt, who also owns the Feminique sex store in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said the results showed "you can't have assumptions about people's backgrounds." Student Giuliana Berry, who hosted the event, told Campus Reform the workshop - part of Yale's Sex Weekend - aimed to increase understanding and compassion for people who indulged in "fringe sexual practices."

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Opening Bell: 9.2.16

Carl Icahn's son wants a promotion; Banks vs stress tests; Pamela Anderson, rabbi pen op-ed saying porn is "for losers"; and more.

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Opening Bell: 6.24.16

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit; Banks pass stress tests; Lindsay Lohan live tweets rant on European Union referendum, attacks 'Brexit' voters; and more.

Opening Bell: 6.15.15

Greece; Twitter; Liquidity or lack thereof; Barclays bankers nervous after EmailGate; "My boss grabbed my crotch and broke my testicle"; and more.