Opening Bell: 8.31.16

El-Erian sees September rate hike; The CIA has a venture capital firm; Paris targeting Brexit jobs; Police hunt for armed, naked candy bandit; and more.
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By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

El-Erian says there could be 80 pct chance of Sept hike with strong jobs report (CNBC)
"What makes that probability go a lot higher is a Friday report that has three things: job creation in excess of 180,000, wage growth going up and no significant move in the participation rate that pushes the unemployment rate up," El-Erian said in an interview on CNBC's "Fast Money" on Tuesday.

The CIA’s Venture-Capital Firm, Like Its Sponsor, Operates in the Shadows (WSJ)
Like the agency that founded it, the CIA-funded venture-capital firm operates largely in the shadows. In-Q-Tel officials regard the firm as independent, yet it has extremely close ties to the CIA and runs almost all investment decisions by the spy agency. The firm discloses little about how it picks companies to invest in, never says how much, and sometimes doesn’t reveal the investments at all. Even less well-known are potential conflicts of interest the arrangement entails...Nearly half of In-Q-Tel’s trustees have a financial connection of one kind or another with a company In-Q-Tel has funded, a Wall Street Journal examination of its investments found.

Apple Ireland Ruling Could Be the End of Easy European Tax Deals (Bloomberg)
The days when big U.S. technology companies could easily slice tax bills in Europe are coming to an end. For decades, businesses like Apple Inc. that generate significant revenue abroad flocked to Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where they counted on amenable fiscal regimes to reduce their tax, even if they had minimal operations on the ground. On Tuesday, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent the strongest signal yet that she won’t abide by these strategies when she demanded Apple pay $14.5 billion in back taxes.

Pharma entrepreneur Shkreli sells KaloBios stake (USAT)
Martin Shkreli has liquidated his stake in KaloBios Pharmaceuticals (KBIO) as the company and the controversial drug industry entrepreneur cut ties nine months after he led investors who gained control of the California-based firm. The New York City-based businessman widely criticized over a drug price hike at an unrelated company sold more than 1.9 million shares of KaloBios stock in private transactions with investors last week. according to a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure and a company statement Monday.

Mother fulfills 4-year-old's birthday cake request: a cow giving birth (UPI)
A customized birthday cake a Canadian mom made for her nature-loving son's 4th birthday party features the image he specifically requested: the birth of a calf. Jamie Packard of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, said in a Facebook post her son had been asking for a cake picturing a "cow having a calf" for several months leading up to his birthday. Packard said she and her husband, Tyler, tried talking Benz into more traditional cake designs. "We tried our best to persuade him, in fact I overheard Tyler say to Benz, 'a Thomas the Train cake would be cool. Would you like Mom to make one for your birthday?' To which he replied, 'I don't even watch Thomas the train.' We tried. So there I sat, Google imaging 'cow having a calf cake' and guess what, there were zero results, surprise, surprise! So as I'm molding rice crispy squares into little hooves I'm thinking to myself, no Mother is ever really prepared for this kind of stuff. And as I'm applying cherry pie filling as afterbirth, I found myself thinking.. Thank goodness it's only family coming to this party!"

America's Top Business Court Gets Dragged Into a Lover's Quarrel (Bloomberg)
Elizabeth Elting and Philip Shawe founded a Manhattan-based translation-services company in their New York University dorm room for MBA students two decades ago. They owned it 50-50. Eventually, they got engaged. But by 2011 the couple was feuding over who should run the company, TransPerfect Global Inc., and bickering about everything from taxes to payroll. They broke off their engagement. Today, this story of love and business gone bad is at the center of an unlikely debate: whether Delaware’s mighty business court -- which has legal authority over half of all U.S. public companies -- has grown too powerful. With the ex-lovers at bitter odds, a judge, citing two earlier Delaware cases, ordered that the company be sold at auction. Shawe decried the ruling as draconian. Within months, some TransPerfect executives created a committee that is now blanketing the state with ads and lobbying lawmakers to curtail the court’s power.

Goldman Sachs Said to Have Lost $1.8 Billion U.S. Property Deal (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was the original winner of Alecta’s U.S. real estate sale before the transaction fell apart amid a disagreement over terms, leading Blackstone Group LP to prevail with a $1.8 billion deal, said people with knowledge of the matter. Goldman Sachs was initially awarded the U.S. and U.K. properties being sold by the Swedish pension manager and given a short amount of time to do additional research on the assets. During that period of about a week, a dispute arose that prompted Alecta to agree to sell the U.S. buildings to Blackstone instead, said the people, who asked not to be named because the transaction is private.

Paris Rolls Out Tricolor Carpet for U.K. Companies After Brexit (Bloomberg)
The head of the Paris region had a charm offensive ready for U.K. companies the day after the Brexit referendum, regardless of the result. With the surprise decision to leave the European Union raising doubts about whether British companies will be able to retain access to European markets, Valerie Pecresse, 49, is going into overdrive. “If I need to go and grab jobs with my teeth, then I’ll do it,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, last month.

Police Hunt For Armed, Naked Candy Bandit (TSG)
Cops are hunting for a nude man who held up a South Carolina convenience store at gunpoint and escaped with only Reese’s peanut butter cops, according to an incident report. The naked candy bandit walked into a Scotchman store in Myrtle Beach just before midnight last Monday, a Horry County Police Department report notes. An officer responding to a 911 call spoke to a 51-year-old worker who “states a unknown black male came into the store naked with a gun in his hand and stole candy.” The victim said that the suspect pointed the gun at him “while he was running toward the candy.” The robber stole “Reeses peanut butter cups and left,” reported cops, who estimated that the suspect was between 18 and 30 years old. The suspect, the employee said, was naked except for a bandana over his face and a pair of black shoes. The gunman, the witness added, did not say anything or approach him.

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Opening Bell: 8.31.15

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Opening Bell: 4.7.16

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Opening Bell: 06.28.12

Interest Rate Probe Escalates (WSJ) Investigators in the U.S., Europe and Asia have been probing alleged wrongdoing in the interest-rate-setting process for about two years. The Barclays settlement marks their biggest win yet. A series of Wall Street Journal articles in 2008 raised questions about whether global banks were manipulating the process by low-balling a key interest rate to avoid looking desperate for cash amid the financial crisis. Emails and instant messages disclosed in the bank's settlement show how Barclays's traders tried to manipulate rates to benefit their own trading positions. "This is the way you pull off deals like this chicken," one trader told another trader in March 2007, according to the U.K. regulator. "Don't tell ANYBODY." Other banks that have disclosed they are under investigation include Citigroup, JPMorgan, Lloyds Banking Group, and RBS. None of these banks have been charged with any wrongdoing in the matter by U.S. or U.K. regulators. 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Daniel Scherotter, who owns Palio D'Asti in San Francisco, is checking with his lawyer to see whether he can legally give away—rather than sell—a serving of foie gras with a $20 salad. Mr. Scherotter and others expect some restaurants to turn into "duckeasies," where diners can order foie gras using certain code words. They take inspiration from chefs such as Didier Durand, who says that, during a Chicago foie gras ban from 2006 to 2008, he served it at his Cyrano's Bistrot by listing it as potatoes. "People understood that roasted potatoes wouldn't cost $21," he says, but that's what he charged. After two years the ban was rescinded. Merkel Stands Ground Ahead Of Euro Summit (Reuters) EU leaders arrived for a Brussels summit on Thursday more openly divided than at any time since the euro crisis began, with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel showing no sign of relenting in her refusal to back other countries' debts. Merkel is being urged at home to hang tough and reject all efforts to make Germany underwrite European partners' borrowing or banks, while her European Union partners say that may be the only way to save the single currency. "Nein! No! Non!" shouted a headline splashed across the front page of the normally sober German business daily Handelsblatt, with a commentary by its editor-in-chief saying Merkel must remain firm at the two-day summit. Lenny Dykstra Takes Plea Deal On Fraud Charges (LAT) Former New York Mets star and self-styled financial guru Lenny Dykstra, already sentenced to three years in state prison for a car scam, has agreed to a plea deal on federal bankruptcy fraud charges after allegedly looting his mansion of valuables as he struggled to battle numerous creditors...According to federal prosecutors, Dykstra sold sports memorabilia and items from his Ventura County mansion, including a $50,000 sink, that were frozen as part of the bankruptcy case. Typically, a person in bankruptcy can't touch assets that are part of the case so that they are available to repay creditors. Dykstra allegedly had dozens of items, including chandeliers, mirrors, artwork, a stove and a grandfather clock delivered to a consignment store, Uniques, on South Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles. The owner of the store paid him cash for a U-Haul truckload of goods, according to the agent. Manhattan philanthropist behind alleged madam's $250K bond post (NYP) Bonnie Lunt is the mystery hero who put up $250,000 collateral to spring the accused hockey mom madam from Rikers last night, court records show. The 65-year-old Lunt -- a top New York headhunter who has been dubbed the “Jerry Maguire of the communications industry”-- posted her own Upper East Side home to help Gristina make bail, according to bail documents. 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Opening Bell: 4.29.16

Valeant to replace up to 5 board members; Healthcare still fueling M&A; Drunken Ohio couple busted naked in their car, told police 'the mood' hit; and more.

Opening Bell: 5.12.16

Failed deals cost banks hundreds of millions; NY regulator asks Goldman for shell company info; Wife battered husband over candy, flowers; and more.