Opening Bell: 3.31.15

Steve Cohen starts tech VC unit; Amish bank is killing it; PIMCO loses popularity contest; "Woman Stabbed Boyfriend In Groin For Eating All Her Salsa"; and more.
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Cohen’s Point72 Starts Technology Venture Capital Unit (Bloomberg)
The business, Honeycomb Ventures, will invest mainly in growth equity opportunities and is led by Point72 money manager David Fiszel, 42, the firm wrote in a memo to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Honeycomb will invest in global media, technology and telecommunication companies, including those that focus on cloud computing, payments and security technology and e-commerce.

Venture Money Floods Into Indian Startups (WSJ)
The rush of interest has boosted the value of many fledgling tech firms—some say to frothy levels—with Indian e-commerce company Flipkart Internet Pvt. now worth $11 billion, more than Dropbox in the U.S., following a December investment of $700 million from U.S. investment firm Tiger Global Management and Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC. Snapdeal.com is valued at $2 billion; Web-based taxi-booking service Ola—dubbed India’s Uber—is valued at $1 billion. None have turned a profit.

Bitcoin Secret Agents Were Pirates Themselves (BloombergView/Matt Levine)
There is no playbook for blackmailing a secretive criminal mastermind using unencrypted online messages in which you pretend to be a French maid. No one, not even Carl Mark Force IV, does that every day.

A Local Bank in Amish Country Flourishes Amid Dearth of Small Lenders (WSJ)
William O’Brien, chief loan officer at the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, closed so many loans in the bank’s first year of business that locals call him “Gelt Chappie,” or “money man” in Pennsylvania German. Based in a rural village in the heart of Amish country, Bank of Bird-in-Hand is the only new bank to open in the U.S. since 2010, when the Dodd-Frank law was passed and enacted. An average of more than 100 new banks a year opened in the three decades before Dodd-Frank.

Woman Stabbed Boyfriend In Groin For Eating All Her Salsa: Police (HP)
Jefferson's boyfriend, Ronnie D. Bucker, 61, told police that he and the accused were arguing about the salsa consumption when she allegedly stabbed him with the pen. The suspect then walked over to the TV and threatened to knock it on the floor, according to Ohio.com. When Buckner grabbed the TV, Jefferson allegedly walked to the kitchen to grab a knife and used it to cut him in the stomach.

BlackRock avoids embarrassing takeover (FT)
BlackRock has avoided being forced to make an embarrassing takeover offer for an Australian engineering company after accidentally buying too much stock...A series of BlackRock entities bought 8.6m shares in Monadelphous, pushing the share price up 25 per cent, on March 20, the day the Perth-based company was demoted from the S&P/ASX 100 index of blue-chip stocks under a quarterly rebalancing. In a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange, BlackRock admitted it had no intention of buying more than 20 per cent of the company. BlackRock laid the blame with unnamed third-party index providers that compile the benchmarks underlying some of its dividend income funds. It claimed these providers had seriously underweighted Monadelphous for two years, meaning BlackRock had to buy a lot more stock when this error was corrected.

Fed’s Fischer Says Regulators Must Keep Watch on Shadow Banking (Bloomberg)
“Non-bank firms and activities can pose the same key vulnerabilities as banks, including high leverage, excessive maturity transformation, and complexity, all of which can lead to financial instability,” Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in the text of remarks prepared for delivery at a financial markets conference in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

It's Too Expensive to Live in Dubai, So People Deal With the Gridlock Commute (Bloomberg)
Colliers International, a U.S.-based property broker, estimates that about half of Dubai’s population, excluding the lowest earners such as construction workers and maids, earns 9,000 dirhams to 15,000 dirhams ($2,450-$4,083) a month. Based on the U.S. ratio that rent or mortgage payments shouldn’t exceed 30 percent of household income, housing costs should range from 32,500 dirhams to 54,000 dirhams a year. The few areas where studio and one-bedroom apartments fall into that range for renters.

Blackstone’s Latest Fund Raises $14.5 Billion in Institutional Capital (WSJ)
Blackstone’s real-estate business lately has been generating more profits than any other group at the firm. The head of the group, Jonathan Gray, is widely viewed as a likely successor to Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman...The fund also plans to raise $1.3 billion from retail investors, increasing its total capital to $15.8 billion.

Pimco drops out of top-10 asset management brands in Europe (FT)
The US bond manager was voted only the 12th most popular fund management brand in Europe and was one of only two companies to slip out of a top-10 ranking based on the views of more than 1,000 fund selectors, an important group of investment experts that vet and promote funds to the wider market.

Barclays will not renew £40m-a-year Premier League sponsorship (DailyMail)
The bank agreed a £120m three-year deal in 2012 for the present rights - an increase of almost 50 per cent on their previous £82m contract. But with Sky and BT Sport paying a record £5.1billion for TV rights from the start of the 2016 season, Barclays fear the cost of the next sponsorship will also rise considerably.

Papa Dimitri's Classic Pizza A Front For Pot Business: Cops (HP)
On Friday, authorities arrested Ryan Dimitri Brooks Sr., 27, the owner of Papa Dimitri's Classic Pizza and Ice Cream; his mother, Rosalyn Mary Brooks, 61; grandmother Joyce Elaine Merkley, 82, and a woman he lived with, Lena Shalay Kirk, 24...Authorities began investigating Papa Dimitri's Pizza last August after getting a tip that the restaurant was rarely open and didn't seem to do a lot of business, KARE TV reports. According to the criminal complaint obtained by the station, Papa Dimitri's employees complained about a lack of heat despite the presence of pizza ovens. The workers also chose to eat at a nearby burger restaurant rather than the pizzeria. Yelp reviews weren't very positive either. One customer griped, "I've defrosted better pizza on my engine block. A cracker thin crust with greasy cheese. Overpriced and slow as heck."

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(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 1.2.18

Masayoshi Son is a one-man VC superfreak; Steve Cohen's new hedge fund is basically all compliance people; Putin wants a cryptorouble; Kiwis move heaven and earth to get drunk; and more.

Opening Bell: 12.17.12

SAC E-Mails Show Steve Cohen Consulted on Key Dell Trade (Bloomberg) Two days before Dell Inc. was set to report second-quarter 2008 earnings, Jon Horvath, a technology analyst at SAC Capital Advisors LP, e-mailed his boss Michael S. Steinberg and another portfolio manager to warn that the computer maker would miss earnings estimates. “I have a 2nd hand read from someone at the company,” Horvath began the Aug. 26 message, which provided details on gross margins, expenditures and revenue. “Please keep to yourself as obviously not well known.” Steinberg, a 15-year veteran of the hedge fund founded by billionaire Steven A. Cohen, responded: “Yes normally we would never divulge data like this, so please be discreet. Thanks.” The e-mails indicate Steinberg, the longest-serving SAC employee linked to the U.S. insider-trading probe, discussed the Dell trade with Cohen. While neither has been accused of any wrongdoing, the messages were admitted as evidence at the New York insider-trading trial of two hedge-fund managers last week after a judge ruled they supported prosecutor claims that Steinberg should be considered an unindicted co-conspirator. AIG To Sell Life Insurer Stake (WSJ) AIG will sell its stake in Asian life insurer AIA Group Ltd., raising as much as $6.5 billion in what could be the second-largest deal in Asia this year. Completion of the sale will mark another step forward for AIG, which is shedding noncore assets, as it seeks to repay its debt to the U.S. government, which took over the company in a $182 billion bailout in 2008. A Shadow Over Banks As UBS Nears Libor Deal (WSJ) The Swiss bank is set to agree as soon as this week to pay roughly $1.5 billion to settle allegations of wrongdoing related to benchmarks such as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, say people close to the talks. So far, UBS has agreed in principle with the U.S. Justice Department that a company unit in Japan will plead guilty to a criminal charge, according to a person familiar with the tentative deal. The Zurich-based parent will pay the fine in return for a deal that lets it avoid criminal prosecution. Criminal charges against individuals are expected to be filed in tandem with the settlement, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. The pursuit of criminal charges and the higher-than-expected fine are ominous signs for more than a dozen financial firms still under investigation. "There's no panic—yet," says someone close to one of the banks in the sprawling probe. Moody’s Gets No Respect as Bonds Shun 56% of Country Ratings (Bloomberg) The global bond market disagreed with Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s more often than not this year when the companies told investors that governments were becoming safer or more risky. Yields on sovereign securities moved in the opposite direction from what ratings suggested in 53 percent of the 32 upgrades, downgrades and changes in credit outlook, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s worse than the longer-term average of 47 percent, based on more than 300 changes since 1974. This year, investors ignored 56 percent of Moody’s rating and outlook changes and 50 percent of those by S&P. Economy Poised To Nudge Ahead In 2013 (WSJ) So that's nice. Boehner Opens the Door to Tax Hikes on the Wealthy (Reuters) U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner's offer to accept a tax rate increase for the wealthiest Americans knocks down a key Republican road block to a deal resolving the year-end "fiscal cliff." The question now boils down to what President Barack Obama offers in return. Such major questions, still unanswered so close to the end of the year suggest, however, that no spending and tax agreement is imminent. A source familiar with the Obama-Boehner talks confirmed that Boehner proposed extending low tax rates for everyone who has less than $1 million in net annual income, meaning tax rates would rise on all above that line. Actor Depardieu Hits Back at French PM Over Taxes (CNBC) Actor Gerard Depardieu, accused by French government leaders of trying to dodge taxes by buying a house over the border in Belgium, retorted that he was leaving because "success" was now being punished in his homeland. A popular and colourful figure in France, the 63-year-old Depardieu is the latest wealthy Frenchman to seek shelter outside his native country after tax increases by Socialist President Francois Hollande. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described Depardieu's behaviour as "pathetic" and unpatriotic at a time when the French are being asked to pay higher taxes to reduce a bloated national debt. "Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that?" Depardieu said in a letter distributed to the media. "I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned," he said. [...] The "Cyrano de Bergerac" star recently bought a house in Nechin, a Belgian village a short walk from the border with France, where 27 percent of residents are French nationals, and put up his sumptuous Parisian home up for sale. Depardieu, who has also inquired about procedures for acquiring Belgian residency, said he was handing in his passport and social security card. Singapore Establishment Challenged by Carson Block on Olam (Bloomberg) When Carson Block likened Olam International Ltd. to fraud-ridden Enron Corp., he challenged more than the accounting of the Singapore-based commodities firm. He also took on Temasek Holdings Pte, the government-owned investment company whose money has helped build the city-state into a corporate dynamo known as Singapore Inc. Temasek is Olam’s second-largest shareholder, with a 16 percent stake that has lost more than $100 million in value since Nov. 19, when Block’s Muddy Waters LLC first questioned the validity of the company’s finances and said it was betting against the stock. Temasek is also the biggest shareholder in many of the country’s best-known companies, including DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Southeast Asia’s largest bank, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. “Carson Block is putting his whole reputation on this one,” said Low Chee Keong, associate professor of corporate law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “He’s taking on the Singapore government, Singapore Inc. here.” UN court orders immediate release of Argentine ship seized by hedge funder Paul Singer over unpaid debt (AP) A United Nations court ordered the immediate release Saturday of an Argentine navy training ship held in Ghana two months ago at the request of an American hedge fund. The ARA Libertad was held Oct. 2 in the port of Tema as collateral for unpaid bonds dating from Argentina's economic crisis a decade ago. Argentina appealed to the UN's International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the ship's release, arguing that as a warship the Libertad is immune from being seized. In an expedited ruling, the court ordered that Ghana "forthwith and unconditionally release the frigate ARA Libertad" and ensure the ship and its crew can leave Ghanaian waters. It also ordered that the vessel should be resupplied as needed. Detaining the ship was "a source of conflict that may endanger friendly relations among states," the court said. The ruling leaves untouched the parties' rights to seek further international arbitration on the matter. Debt Loads Climb In Buyout Deals (WSJ) Private-equity firms are using almost as much debt to fund acquisitions as they did before the financial crisis, as return-hungry investors rush to buy bonds and loans backing those takeovers. The rise in borrowed money, or leverage, heralds the possibility of juicy returns for buyout groups. Ominously, the surge also brings back memories of the last credit binge around six years ago, which saddled dozens of companies with huge levels of debt. Berlusconi's Love Life Lost in Translation (CNBC) Global media reports that the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced his engagement to his 28-year-old girlfriend on one of his TV Channels on Sunday, have been dismissed by native Italians who say Berlusconi has been mis-translated. Various newspapers have reported that Berlusconi is to get married for the third time, when in fact he announced that he is in love and in a relationship...Professor of Modern Italian History at University College London (UCL), John Foot, told CNBC that Pascale is a"girlfriend, nothing more." "In Italy the phrase 'Mi sono fidanzato' usually means 'I have a girlfriend or boyfriend' and not 'I am engaged to be married'. This can cause confusion abroad but is pretty clear in the Italian context," he told CNBC. Twinkies again by spring? It could happen (NBC) It’s not even Christmas, but Twinkies fans may be able to start looking forward to an Easter present. Bankrupt Hostess Brands has received a number of bids from companies interested in buying the maker of Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Wonder bread, including retail heavyweights such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co, Bloomberg News reported Friday, quoting an unnamed person familiar with the matter...Anthony Michael Sabino, a bankruptcy attorney and a professor at St. John's University, said bankruptcy judge Robert Drain was motivated to move quickly. Bidding will likely take place by early January, since the assets — if not the treats themselves — could become stale. “I think this will move a at a fairly decent pace. He knows what’s at stake here.

stevecohen6

Opening Bell: 5.30.17

Steve Cohen found a nice big round number to aim for; Barney Frank says “all numbers are arbitrary”; there's now a Pissing Pug next to the Fearless Girl; and more.

By Sadie Hernandez [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.17.16

Brevan Howard, Tudor hit hard; Steve Cohen settles with CFTC; Pokémon Go players hit with a laser attack by pig-masked couple having public sex in Sweden; and more.

StatlerAndIcahn

Opening Bell: 11.8.17

Carl Icahn likes cars; Steve-Cohen-backed Quantopian is struggling; miniature IPOs are generally a bad idea; why you shouldn't play with guns during your bachelor party; and more.

SorosTight

Opening Bell: 2.15.18

Markets ignoring stagflation; Soros is a crypto bro now; Steve Schwarzman is in a bubble of his own; Olympic dick statues are popular; and more!

Opening Bell: 2.2.16

Veteran dealmakers turn activist investors; Alphabet profit rises; Citigroup says be cool re China; Domino's Pizza Delivery Man Stabs Customer; and more.