Opening Bell: 12.21.15

Tom Hayes catches a break; Martin Shkreli has a theory; Wall Street bucks back against Cuomo; Han Solo: Uber driver
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Court Reduces Ex-Trader’s Sentence in Libor Case (Dealbook)
A British appeals court on Monday declined to overturn the conviction of Tom Hayes, a former trader at Citigroup and UBS, for conspiring to manipulate a global benchmark interest rate known as Libor, but it did reduce Mr. Hayes’s sentence.
At a hearing on Monday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal reduced Mr. Hayes’s sentence to 11 years in prison, down from 14 years, his original sentence following his conviction in August.
Mr. Hayes was the first person to go to trial in Britain on criminal charges related to manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. His case was seen as a bellwether for British authorities, who have been criticized in the United States for not being as aggressive as the Justice Department when it comes to pursuing financial crime.

Martin Shkreli Says Drug-Price Hikes Led to Arrest (WSJ)
In his first interview since he was charged Thursday for allegedly misleading investors in his hedge funds and raiding a public company to cover the losses, Mr. Shkreli told The Wall Street Journal he had been targeted by authorities for his much-criticized drug-price hikes and over-the-top public persona.
His arrest Thursday dates back to his time as a small-time hedge-fund manager. But Mr. Shkreli believes it is related to the recent drug price increases.

Senator Lindsey Graham Drops Out of Presidential Race (Bloomberg)
Graham left the race on a day that President Barack Obama, in an interview on National Public Radio, praised him as the one Republican who delivered a "serious" alternative for combatting the Islamic State.
Graham, who retired this year from the Air Force Reserve, made the fight against Islamic terrorism the center of his campaign. He called repeatedly for deploying more combat troops to the Middle East and criticized Obama for not being more aggressive in the fight.

Lyft is planning to raise an Uber-sized, $1 billion funding round (Quartz)
The new fund-raising plans come as the competition against Uber—from Lyft and others—has ratcheted up. In September, Lyft allied with Didi Kuaidi, another ride-hailing giant and Uber’s stiffest competition in China. The deal promised to give Lyft a much-needed international presence and Didi Kuaidi a chance to mess with Uber on its home turf. Earlier this month, that partnership expanded to include two other Uber opponents: Ola, a big ride provider in India, and GrabTaxi, a company that operates in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.

With New York Bank Regulator in Flux, Wall Street Seeks Softer Touch (WSJ)
The moves by banks, insurers and top Wall Street lawyers to go around DFS come at a difficult time for the agency, which is now being run by its second temporary superintendent since its founding head, Benjamin Lawsky, left in June. They also come as Mr. Cuomo’s office itself has tangled with the DFS, seeking greater control over the agency, which Mr. Cuomo created in 2011 by merging two separate bureaucracies following the financial crisis. DFS operates its investigations independently, though the Cuomo administration selects its chief.

Han Solo is the ultimate Uber driver (The Verge)
Say you're a moisture farmer from Anchor Head, Mos Eisley, or some other wretched hive of scum and villainy, and you need to get to Alderaan lickety split. You pull out your comlink and see who's in the neighborhood. Ping. Your request is accepted by the nearest independent contractor: a smuggler by the name of Solo.
Imperial activity in the area means the fare will be twice the normal rate: 10,000 credits. But this Solo fellow has a stellar rating. He made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. That's five-star material. But is he flexible? Would he accept 2,000 credits now, 15,000 when you get to Alderaan?
Of course he will. After all, Han Solo is the ultimate Uber driver.

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