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.
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Inside the Eccentric, Relentless Deal-Making of Masayoshi Son (BBG)
SoftBank is largely a one-man show when it comes to deals, despite its ranks of bankers from Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Lieutenants pitch Son ideas, but he makes the final decisions – and he generates plenty of his own. Tellingly, he is the only so-called key man in the Vision Fund, while most investment funds have several people with the influential designation. (Limited partners have the option to withdraw from a fund if any “key men” leave.) “It's 100 percent Masa,” says one CEO who agreed to sell Son a stake in his company. “Okay, 99.9 percent Masa.”

Bridgewater Executive, Family Die in Plane Crash (II)
Bruce Steinberg, a senior investor at the Westport, Connecticut-based hedge fund, was traveling in Costa Rica with his wife, Irene Steinberg, and their three sons, Zachary, William, and Matthew, when their plane crashed, killing everyone on board. "Bruce Steinberg and his family were parts of our greater Bridgewater family,” the firm wrote in a statement provided to Institutional Investor. “Right now, we are each processing this devastating loss in our own ways and planning to gather in mourning and in support of his family."

Steve Cohen Prepares Return With Help of Big Brother Oversight (BBG)
Inside what will be his Stamford Harbor Capital sits a command center in the middle of the trading floor. There, a 50-member compliance team is strategically positioned to listen in on traders’ conversations in real time, comb through emails for suspicious language and even veto job candidates.

Why Are Mutual Fund Fees So High? This Billionaire Knows (NYT)
At the conference in November, with markets hitting new highs each day, investors were exultant. But there was a lingering concern. “The fees are very high,” one man said to a friend as they exited the Chris Rock comedy show. “You really have to have the market go up to do well.” Even longtime fans acknowledge they are paying up. “I won’t say performance warrants the fees they charge,” said Barry Edelman, a Las Vegas retiree and a 20-year Baron shareholder. “But I appreciate how they differentiate themselves from the competition.”

Putin considers ‘cryptorouble’ as Moscow seeks to evade sanctions (FT)
“This instrument suits us very well for sensitive activity on behalf of the state. We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions,” Mr Glazev said. He added that the cryptocurrency would be “the same rouble, but its circulation would be restricted in a certain way”, allowing the Kremlin to track its every move.

Joke Cryptocurrencies Like ‘Jesus Coin’ Are Making Serious Money (Daily Beast)
“There over 600 cryptocurrencies currently traded,” a Jesus Coin representative told The Daily Beast. “None of them have any intrinsic value. Our point is that if you’re going to trade something with no value whatsoever, at least let’s make it about Jesus. He was a badass, after all.”

The Math Doesn’t Work (Irrelevant Investor)
The WSJ reports that Calpers has a target allocation of 50% to stocks and 28% to bonds, leaving the remaining 22% invested in things like real estate, private equity and other alternative investments. With stock valuations and interest rates where they are, and a target return of 7%, it’s probable that some tough decisions will need to be made in the coming years. If we assume that stocks do 5% a year for the next decade, and bonds return 3% over the same time, then the third bucket would need to generate 16.6%, net of fees, to hit the 7% bogey. And if we do enter an environment where stocks do 5% and bonds do 3%, then the chances that $75 billion can generate returns of 16% is slim to none.

New Year's revellers build sandcastle to avoid liquor ban (Stuff.co.nz)
Kiwis will do anything to drink at the beach, it seems. This group of New Year's Eve revellers got busy at low tide on Sunday and spent the early afternoon building a sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary, a holidaymaker, who asked not to be named, said. A Coromandel-wide liquor ban is in place over the New Year period, which means no alcohol in public places, including beaches. Once the crew's creation was complete, they installed a wooden picnic table and chilly bin. The tide soon came in and they cracked open a few cold ones, the witness said.

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Opening Bell: 2.28.17

Masayoshi Son invests because the Singularity is nigh; an ETF for homophobes; peeping tom drone strikes NYC apartment; and more.

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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Opening Bell: 9.25.17

Steve Cohen's new fund charges 2.5 percent; Merkel wins election, loses ground; stock pickers coming in from the cold; maybe the teens are still having sex; and more.

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Opening Bell: 1.9.17

Inside the feds's pursuit of Steve Cohen; Goldman Sachs is tackling fake news; Alexa is listening to your TV; and more.

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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.

Opening Bell: 12.03.12

Fiscal Cliff Talks At Stalemate (WSJ) Leading figures on both sides doubled down on their positions in interviews that aired Sunday, and they blamed each other for the current standoff, reflecting the talks that House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) told "Fox News Sunday" have gone "nowhere." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on the same program for the Obama administration, suggested Republicans needed to take a breather from negotiations but would ultimately agree to raise tax rates—a key White House demand that is part of its push to raise $1.6 trillion in taxes over 10 years. "It's obviously a little hard for them now, and they're trying to figure out where they go next, and we might need to give them a little time to figure out where they go next," Mr. Geithner said. Geithner Joins Boehner to Trade Blame on Fiscal Cliff Talks (Bloomberg) “There’s not going to be an agreement without rates going up,” Geithner said in a taped interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Republicans will “own the responsibility for the damage” if they “force higher rates on virtually all Americans because they’re unwilling to let tax rates go up on 2 percent of Americans.” Clock Ticks For SAC Investors (WSJ) Seventy-five days remain until Feb. 15, the date by which investors must tell SAC whether they want to pull money from the firm during the next redemption period...Some investors already decided to pull out. French bank Société Générale SA, which has client money in SAC through its Lyxor asset-management arm, has put in a request to pull its money from the firm, according to people familiar with the matter. It is unclear how much money Lyxor has in SAC. Many, however, said they would reserve judgment, at least for now. Ironwood Capital Management, a San Francisco-based investment firm with client money in SAC, has been in touch with investors about the position and is monitoring the situation, said a person familiar with the firm. Last week, a unit within Morgan Stanley's MS +0.06% asset-management arm that has client money with SAC sent a note telling employees it would monitor the situation and be in touch frequently with SAC, according to a person familiar with the bank...Greycourt & Co., Inc., a Pittsburgh-based firm that manages about $9 billion for wealthy families, says it is sticking with SAC. Greycourt cited the stellar long-term returns of the firm, what it says is a robust compliance staff at SAC, Mr. Cohen's promise to cover any penalties himself and a belief that the firm's investment portfolio would be well-protected, even if it eventually faces charges. "The SAC portfolio is liquid enough that I'm not terribly concerned," says Gregory Curtis, Greycourt's chairman. "I very much hope that [Mr.] Cohen hasn't been behaving badly, but either way I'm not too concerned about our client positions." UK’s Euro Trade Supremacy Under Attack (FT) The City of London should be deposed as the euro's main financial center so the single currency club can "control" most financial business in the euro zone, France's central bank governor has said. Christian Noyer of the Banque de France said there was "no rationale" for allowing the euro area's financial hub to be "offshore", in a blunt assessment that will fan UK concerns over EU rules being rigged against it. "Most of the euro business should be done inside the euro area. It's linked to the capacity of the central bank to provide liquidity and ensure oversight of its own currency," Mr Noyer told the Financial Times while touring Asia to promote Paris as a renminbi trading center. "We're not against some business being done in London, but the bulk of the business should be under our control. That's the consequence of the choice by the UK to remain outside the euro area." Zoe Cruz trying to make a return to high finance, has reconciled with John Mack (NYP, earlier) Sources say Cruz has reconciled with her former boss Mack, who helped fuel her rise within their firm before their falling out. He has been helping his one-time protégée in her efforts to land at a buyout firm such as KKR. Mack also has been a shoulder for Cruz to lean on as she copes with the split from her husband Ernesto Cruz...[who] was once reprimanded by his superiors in the mid-2000s for frolicking in a hotel pool in Midtown after a company Christmas gala with a group of female assistants, according to sources familiar with the situation. SEC Chief Delayed Rule Over Legacy Concerns (WSJ) Internal SEC emails, released to a congressional panel and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, appear to show how a last-minute intervention by a consumer lobbyist might have helped persuade Ms. Schapiro to change her mind and delay one of the centerpiece measures of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act. In Panicky Russia, It’s Official: End of World Is Not Near (NYT) There are scattered reports of unusual behavior from across Russia's nine time zones. Inmates in a women's prison near the Chinese border are said to have experienced a "collective mass psychosis" so intense that their wardens summoned a priest to calm them. In a factory town east of Moscow, panicked citizens stripped shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. A huge Mayan-style archway is being built — out of ice — on Karl Marx Street in Chelyabinsk in the south. For those not schooled in New Age prophecy, there are rumors the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, when a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close. Russia, a nation with a penchant for mystical thinking, has taken notice. Last week, Russia's government decided to put an end to the doomsday talk. Its minister of emergency situations said Friday that he had access to "methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth," and that he could say with confidence that the world was not going to end in December. He acknowledged, however, that Russians were still vulnerable to "blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, trouble with transportation and food supply, breakdowns in heat, electricity and water supply." Similar assurances have been issued in recent days by Russia's chief sanitary doctor, a top official of the Russian Orthodox Church, lawmakers from the State Duma and a former disc jockey from Siberia who recently placed first in the television show "Battle of the Psychics." One official proposed prosecuting Russians who spread the rumor — starting on Dec. 22. Old testimony may bite Cohen in SEC case (NYP) Steve Cohen’s sworn testimony in another legal skirmish could come back to haunt his $14 billion hedge-fund empire...In 2011, Cohen gave several days of deposition testimony in the civil fraud case, in which Fairfax sued SAC and other firms for allegedly conspiring to drive down its share price. The case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence, but the testimony offers a rare look into Cohen’s views on illegal trading. In his testimony, Cohen called SEC rules on insider trading “vague” and said he doesn’t expect his employees to follow the company’s internal compliance manual to the letter. When asked whether it was “legal or illegal to trade on material nonpublic information,” Cohen said: “It depends on the circumstance.” “So there are circumstances, in your view, in which it is legal . . . to trade on the basis of material, nonpublic information?” asked Fairfax ’s lawyer, Michael Bowe. “Yes,” Cohen said. Among them, he said, is when employees trade in the opposite direction of the nonpublic information they receive. He also said he didn’t expect employees to adhere to the company’s compliance manual in every situation. “See, we don’t operate our firm in absolutes,” he said. “When I look at this manual, I see guidelines.” Morgan Stanley trader probed over trades made while at Goldman (Reuters) Morgan Stanley trader Edward Glenn Hadden is under investigation by regulators at CME Group over trades in Treasury futures four years ago while he was employed by Goldman Sachs, according to a regulatory filing. Hadden is a managing director and head of global interest rates products at Morgan Stanley. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Hadden was a partner at Goldman Sachs, and head of government bond trading. Hedge Funds Increase Bullish Bets Most Since August (Bloomberg) Hedge funds increased bullish bets on commodities by the most since August as evidence that China is accelerating outweighed concern that U.S. lawmakers have yet to resolve an impasse over automatic spending cuts and tax rises. Krawcheck, possible SEC head, raises Washington (Reuters) ...many who have worked with her say Krawcheck was a smart, analytical and competent executive who not only knew the business, but was good at building consensus among different units of companies. She helped restore brokerage Smith Barney's reputation at Citigroup and was popular with many of the financial advisers at Merrill Lynch. Schumer and other lawmakers contacted by Reuters did not return calls or requests for comment about meetings with Krawcheck or their thoughts about her. In the end, of course, Krawcheck may not land in Washington at all, two people who know her said. She has had discussions about a variety of roles with several companies, one source said. "She has lots of balls in the air," said the source, who asked not to be named because the conversations were private. "Sallie always has a plan." Bret Easton Ellis mistakenly asks for cocaine on Twitter (DJ) Bret Easton Ellis, famed author of "American Psycho," tweeted a request for cocaine Sunday morning, leaving many to speculate that it was supposed to be a private message...“Come over at do bring coke now,” he tweeted at 3:44AM, stranding his 360,000 followers in a state of bewilderment regarding what the cryptic tweet could possibly mean.

Opening Bell: 10.23.15

Steve Cohen is having the best week ever; Jeff Bezos is rich; "Mr. Left issues reports laced with profanity, vivid anatomical descriptions and taunts directed at corporate executives"; and more.

Opening Bell: 10.7.15

Fantasy sports probe; Ackman says GE was too expensive; TPG raises real estate fund; Steve Cohen is loving life; "College bro arrested over mac-and-cheese rant at food court"; and more.