SEC Reviews Dubious Avon Bid (WSJ)
What appears to be a bogus filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed that Avon Products Inc. was the target of a takeover bid, sending the embattled beauty-products company’s stock soaring on Thursday and leaving the agency looking for answers. Avon’s shares shot up by more than 20% midday to nearly $8 after an entity calling itself PTG Capital Partners Ltd. said in a securities filing that it had lodged a bid of $18.75 a share to buy the company. Avon said it hadn’t received such a bid and hadn’t even been able to confirm that PTG Capital existed. A person familiar with the matter said the company was treating the offer as a hoax. The SEC is reviewing the filing, another person familiar with the matter said. It was the first known filing from PTG Capital.
Barclays Said to Face U.S. Fine for Breaching Libor Settlement (Bloomberg)
Barclays Plc will probably be fined for violating a three-year-old settlement over interest-rate rigging, but U.S. prosecutors will stop short of seeking a guilty plea, which they are demanding from UBS AG, people familiar with the matter said. The fine would come on top of a penalty that the Justice Department is poised to announce in coming days when it resolves a probe of Barclays and four other banks for manipulating currency benchmarks, said three people, who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t final.
Boiler Rooms Meet Boardrooms as Scammers Invade City of London (Bloomberg)
Cold-calling con artists promising outsized returns are jumping on a surge in the availability of serviced offices at prestigious locations to give their operations an air of respectability, investigators in London’s main financial district say. These “boiler rooms” dupe investors out of about 1.25 million pounds ($2 million) on average before they “rip and tear” and disappear with little trace, they say...Such fraudsters either rent a “virtual office” that redirects mail and phone calls for as little as 105 pounds a month or sign a short-term lease and occupy a physical one, Russell said. Serviced-office providers agreed to lease 840,000 square feet (78,000 square meters) of space in the City of London in the year through March, more than double the amount in the previous 12 months, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Opens Private Fund-Raising Arm for Start-Ups (Dealbook)
The creation of what Bank of America calls its “Strategic & Private Capital Solutions Group” is the latest move by a bank to capitalize on helping start-ups raise money without holding an initial public offering. Companies like Airbnb and Snapchat have taken advantage of eagerness from investors for fast-growing start-ups to raise hundreds of millions of dollars without listing their shares on public stock markets. Bank of America is following in the footsteps of competitors like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in adding a focus on private fund-raising. Earlier this week, JPMorgan Chase said that it had hired an executive from Barclays to lead a similar push.
Mitt Romney, Evander Holyfield weigh in for boxing match (CBS)
Now that he's had time to recuperate from his loss in the 2012 presidential race, Mitt Romney is gearing up for his next big fight -- an actual fight against heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield...Romney and Holyfield officially weighed in for the event on Thursday night. Referencing the infamous 1997 boxing match in which Mike Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear, Romney told the New York Times, "I'm staying far away from his ears."
Bank of America’s Woes Test ‘Fixer’ CEO (WSJ)
Since Mr. Moynihan took over at the start of 2010, Bank of America, has earned about $23 billion in profits—or about one-fourth as much as the average for Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. The four companies have about 38% of all bank deposits in the U.S.
Greece to Privatize Port, Airports in Concession to Creditors (Bloomberg)
Greece will continue with efforts to privatize the country’s largest port and regional airports as it seeks ways to attract investment for other state assets, Economy Minister George Stathakis said, in a government concession in talks with its creditors.
As Money Pours Into Peer-to-Peer Lending, Some See Bubble Brewing (Bloomberg)
There’s certainly some cause for concern. Consider these facts: P2P loan volume is poised to hit $77 billion this year, a 15-fold increase from just three years ago. LendingClub, the No. 1 player worldwide, is trading at a market value of about $7 billion even though it lost $33 million last year. And in a flashback to the subprime mortgage boom, P2P startups have begun bundling and selling off loans through securitizations.
Pimco abandons effort to become a big equities player (FT)
Pimco, one of the world’s biggest bond houses, is abandoning its attempt to become a major player in equities, in another setback for the California-based asset manager. Virginie Maisonneuve, the company’s chief investment officer for equities, is the main casualty of the strategic shift. She is stepping down after less than two years in her new role, said two people familiar with the company. She was poached from Schroders in London with a mandate to hire new equity portfolio managers and crack the equity market. The announcement on Thursday is the culmination of a fractious multiyear debate inside Pimco about how much it should spend on equities amid a disappointing response from clients.
State AG's office mistakenly directs callers to sex chat line, report says (NJ)
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office issued a press release Tuesday announcing how customers can possibly receive a share of $68 million to settle complaints of billing abuse by cell phone carrier Sprint...But the number originally listed in the release flipped a few digits, sending callers to a line where the talk is most definitely not about improper billing practices. Instead, mycentraljersey.com reported, callers to what was actually a phone-sex chat line heard two women asking if "they were looking for a good time," or could also be invited into an "orgy room" with the speaker's "girlfriends." The mistake was not discovered for about a day and was corrected following media inquiries Wednesday.