Opening Bell: 12.6.16

Citi and Goldman facing diversity challenge; Theranos expected massive profit growth; jellyfish mistaken for breast implant; and more.
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Goldman, Citigroup in Crosshairs of Diversity Activists for 2017 (BBG)

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. are among the companies in the sights of Arjuna Capital, Trillium Investments and Pax World Management, which say a diverse workforce produces better results. Though the investors are relatively small, each managing a few billion dollars, they have succeeded in pushing technology goliaths such as Apple Inc. and Intel Corp. to divulge information about pay gaps.

‘Friendly’ Trump Positive For Russia Investments As ‘Hawks’ Diminish: CFO of Moscow Exchange (CNBC)

"I think a change in the (U.S.) administration may just decrease the number of anti-Russia hawks in Washington and I think just that change may change the perception towards the Russian market," Evgeny Fetisov, chief financial officer at the Moscow Exchange, said.

Ex-Banker Guilty Of Insider Trading Is Released From Prison (NYPost)

Frank “Perk” Hixon, 58, was released from a Brooklyn halfway house. The former Evercore Partners senior managing director was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for making more than $700,000 in illicit profits with the info on upcoming deals. The money was used by the married banker to pay the expenses of his gal pal and the daughter he fathered with her.

A 26-year Old Bitcoin Entrepreneur Was Sent To Prison, And The Experience Only Confirmed His Belief In The Cryptocurrency (BI)

Shrem's belief in the power of the bitcoin blockchain and the elimination of the middleman continues. He sees the digital currency as a "great equalizer" and believes that bitcoin will do to money what email did to the postal service. "It will allow everyone to be equal."

Wall Street as Landlord: Blackstone Going Public with a $10 Billion Bet on Foreclosed Homes (WSJ)

Jonathan Gray of Blackstone Group LP went on the biggest homebuying spree in history after the U.S. foreclosure crisis, purchasing repossessed properties from the courthouse steps and through online auctions. Four years, $10 billion and roughly 50,000 homes later, he will find out if his gambit will pay off. Invitation Homes LP, the company Blackstone formed to maintain and rent those homes, has filed confidentially for an initial public offering that could come as soon as January.

Rogue Chinese Renminbi Exchange Rate Raises Eyebrows (FT)

Anyone checking the exchange rate between China’s renminbi and the US dollar would have got a shock early on Tuesday when an apparent glitch resulted in quotes shown on Google and at least two other currency exchange websites showing an 8 per cent devaluation.

Trump's Corporate Tax Holiday Could Spur Pharma M&A (Reuters)

Trump has proposed allowing repatriation of this cash at a 10-percent tax rate, hoping some of it will be spent on hiring and investing in their businesses. However, drugmakers are much more likely to spend this money on acquisitions that could revive their drug development pipeline by acquiring smaller peers with promising offerings, as opposed to risking more of their own dollars on research and development, corporate executives and dealmakers say.

Theranos Foresaw Huge Growth in Revenue and Profits (WSJ)

While soliciting investors in 2014 and 2015, Theranos Inc. predicted revenue of nearly $2 billion and net income of about $505 million this year, according to investor materials from the blood-testing startup. The projections help show how Theranos and founder Elizabeth Holmes attracted more than $632 million in its latest funding round, which included the period when the investor materials were distributed.

Someone Handed In A Dead Jellyfish To The Police Thinking It Was A Breast Implant From A Murder Scene (BuzzFeed)

Queensland Police uploaded multiple photos of the jellyfish on Friday, saying it was presented to officers “bagged and tagged”. The man was given a receipt by police after he asked them to seize the “implant”.

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Opening Bell: 04.24.12

Dubai Debtors Go on Hunger Strike (FT) About 20 jailed foreign businessmen have gone on hunger strike in Dubai to protest against lengthy sentences for writing checks that bounced, a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates. “I’ve exhausted every avenue that I can see,” Peter Margetts, 48, a former property developer, told the Financial Times from a prison pay phone. “I’ve exhausted the legal system, the lawyers have their hands tied here and they’re not going to rock the boat.” Mr. Margetts is one of three British prisoners who started a hunger strike on Sunday. Other jailed businessmen come from Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, India and Pakistan. Many of the hunger strikers fell victim to Dubai’s once-thriving real estate market, struggling to meet their payments when boom turned to bust in 2008. Twelve face sentences of more than 20 years because each bounced check can translate into a jail term of up to three years. Wall Street Promotes Junk Bonds as Europe Erupts (Bloomberg) Morgan Stanley said last week that U.S. high-yield obligations were in a “sweet spot” as borrowers cut their debt loads. JPMorgan said junk yields will fall more than half a percentage point by year-end. Bank of America favors debentures rated in the middle tier of speculative grade. Gains on U.S. high-yield, high-risk bonds, which are little changed since the end of February, are set to accelerate as central banks respond more aggressively to contain Europe’s fiscal imbalances, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan said. While forecasting the default rate will rise this year, Moody’s Investors Service says the figure will stay below historic averages. Facebook's Growth Slows (WSJ) In what is likely to be the last snapshot of its financial condition before the expected May IPO, Facebook disclosed Monday that its first-quarter profit and revenue declined from the final quarter of 2011...The company's first-quarter revenue was $1.06 billion, down 6% from the December quarter. In a regulatory filing, the company blamed the decline on "seasonal trends" in the advertising business and user growth in markets where Facebook generates less revenue per user. CIT Group Swings To A Loss (WSJ) CIT Group, the business lender that emerged from bankruptcy more than two years ago, posted a wider-than-expected loss of $446.5 million in the first quarter as costs tied to debt repayments weighed on earnings. CIT's lending activity increased, though, and its profit margins on loans improved from a year earlier, a trend that should continue as its efforts to slash debt helps reduce its funding costs in the long run. "We made further progress this quarter positioning CIT for profitability and growth," John Thain, the long-time Wall Street executive who took the helm of CIT in 2010, said in a statement. Harbinger Pays Early (AP) Phil Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners made a $48 million payment on its $190 million loan from Jefferies Group, avoiding a forced sale of assets of his hedge fund, according to a person familiar with the fund. The payment was made a week early and a half million dollars more than what’s due on April 30. Falcone raised money for the loan by selling some investments, said the person. Father And Son Ran 'Brothel On Wheels' (NYP) A father and son from Queens ran a lucrative — and cruel — brothel on wheels for two decades, using six livery drivers to deliver hookers to hotels and apartments, Manhattan prosecutors said today in announcing the ring’s breakup...Johns on the go could purchase and enjoy a sex act without ever leaving the back seat, officials said of the operation, quoting the price scale at $200 to $500 per customer. Business was good — one woman alone allegedly earned half-a-million dollars for the father and son last year, and the Georges employed five women at the time of the bust, officials said. But as nice as they were to customers, the alleged father and son pimps were nasty to their prostitutes, threatening them, giving them little money so as to keep them helpless and even branding them with tattoos — including a bar code on one woman’s neck, according to officials. At least one of the women had a heart tattoo on her breast with the word “Vee,” which is the dad’s nickname. At least three of the women had tattoos featuring the son’s nickname, “King Koby.” Calpers Scalpers (NYP) The former head of the nation’s biggest pension defrauded funds run by private-equity titan Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management to pay a pal’s placement agencies $20 million, a lawsuit filed yesterday charged. Federico Buenrostro, the CEO of the $235 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System from 2002 to 2008, teamed up with buddy Alfred Villalobos’ Arvco Capital Research on a scheme to pocket the boatload of fees from Apollo, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged in a civil suit filed in a Nevada federal court. Villalobos was the deputy mayor of Los Angeles in 1993. It is charged that the two ginned up fake “disclosure letters” and sent them to Apollo, making it appear that Calpers OK’d the payment when, in fact, it had not. The two used the fake letters four times, the suit alleges. Judge: DA Can Subpoena Occupy Protester Tweets (NBC) A judge says an Occupy Wall Street protester can't stop prosecutors from getting his tweets as part of a case surrounding his arrest at a demonstration. A Manhattan criminal court judge ruled Friday there are reasonable grounds to believe the information is relevant. The judge also says Malcolm Harris can't legally challenge the subpoena sent to Twitter Inc., not him. Harris was among more than 700 demonstrators arrested Oct. 1 on the Brooklyn Bridge. Wal-Mart Said To Be Subject Of US Criminal Probe (Bloomberg) The Justice Department is investigating potential criminal charges under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the person familiar with the probe who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it. Wal-Mart is conducting its own review of allegations that its representatives paid local officials in Mexico to get stores opened faster in the early 2000s. Chris Christie Not Happy With NJ Nets Move To Brooklyn (NYDN) As the Nets were preparing their farewell, the Governor of New Jersey was kicking them out the door. “I’m not going to the Nets game tonight and my message to the Nets is ‘Goodbye,’ ” Christie said. “If you don’t want to stay, we don’t want you. Seriously, I’m not going to be in the business of begging people to stay here. That’s one of the most beautiful arenas in America that they’ve had a chance to play in. It’s in one of the country’s most vibrant cities. “They want to leave here and go to Brooklyn? Good riddance. See you later.”