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Barclays’ Partial Victory Lap [WSJ]
The UK-headquartered bank on Thursday posted a £3 billion profit before tax for 2020… with strong capital markets returns offsetting contraction in its retail and credit card businesses…. But overall return on tangible equity was still a disappointing 3.2%, well below its 10% long-term target….
With share values so low, the bank is breaking with this practice and plans to buy back £700 million of shares in the first half of this year. Given the lender’s generous capital buffers, more buybacks are possible particularly if price-to-book value of shares remains low. This could help narrow the gap with U.S. peers.

The hedge fund that lost 53% in January betting against GameStop bought $1.3 billion of Facebook stock in the 4th quarter [BI]
Assuming Melvin Capital still owns its full Facebook stake, the firm will need much stronger performance to offset the GameStop loss. The stock is up just 0.3% year-to-date.

Odey accuser describes alleged groping at hedge fund mogul’s Chelsea home [FN]
His barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, cross-examining the complainant on her version of events, said: “You said that ‘he tried to get all on top of you’...meaning what?”
“He was next to me. It was sort of an octopussy-type manouevere,” she replied….
“The first contact that I remember was actually on my back — then it was like a scramble of hands — like a sort of groping event is the only way to describe it,” she said.
“The very first thing was the hand on the back...I just remember the general attempt to get involved with my body and on top of me with his hands,” she added.

North Korea Turning to Cryptocurrency Schemes in Global Heists, U.S. Says [WSJ]
The Justice Department unsealed an indictment Wednesday against two alleged members of North Korea’s military intelligence services, accusing them of hacking banks and companies in more than a dozen countries including the U.S. as part of a wide-ranging scheme to steal $1.3 billion over the past half-decade for Pyongyang…. Starting in 2017, North Korea developed an initial coin offering, called Marine Chain, that invited investors to purchase digital tokens—similar to bitcoin—that represented fractional stakes of maritime vessels. Marine Chain, whose website has now been removed from the internet, was a fraud, prosecutors said….
Between 2018 and 2020, the alleged hackers built at least nine cryptocurrency applications that purported to be trading software or digital wallets, all of which were actually malicious applications, prosecutors said. The applications had names like Ants2Whale, CoinGo and iCryptoFX, which billed itself as a “Cryptocurrency Algo-Trading Tool,” according to court documents. The apps were designed to give the North Korean hackers a back door into computer systems, officials said.

Millionaires Get a Lot More IRS Audits in Democrat’s Bill [Bloomberg]
The legislation would require the IRS to annually audit 95% of companies with at least $20 billion in assets and 50% of individuals earning at least $10 million…. “We know our tax system is broken, and it’s long past time we start fixing it,” Khanna said in a statement. “Wall Street has been able to act like high-rolling gamblers with almost zero consequences for far too long. Right now, the wealthiest 1% are responsible for roughly 70% of the ‘tax gap’ -- the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid. It’s time every American pay their fair share.”

‘I’m Like a SPAC—What the Hell Is That?’: Rap Explains Hot Finance Trend [WSJ]
Oakland, Calif., recording artist Cassius Cuvée released a music video about his experience investing in special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, on YouTube earlier this month. Called “SPAC Dream,” it has more than 80,000 views. One Twitter booster: hedge-fund manager William Ackman, who last year created the largest SPAC ever and recently tweeted a link to the video, saying “Watch this….”
“If [you’re] in the SPAC game you know what I’m talking about,” raps Mr. Cuvée. “[We’re] sick of IPOs, day one locking us out….”
“See the future is EV and also ESG,” Mr. Cuvée raps, referring to electric vehicles and environmental, social and corporate governance criteria—two hot investing themes and sectors for blank-check companies…. “It amaze ya how many EVs are in favor,” he raps. “Much respect to Mr. Musk—Elon the Trailblazer.”


Opening Bell: 5.13.15

Democrats not feeling banking bill; Greece still screwed; Robin Hood raises $110 million; Hooters Casino Hotel sold; "Kim Jong Un Purges Defense Chief for Napping"; and more.


Opening Bell: 6.21.22

JetBlue is serious; Twitter’s board is, too; Asian SPACs few and far between; stocks set for short-lived surge; and more!

By AntanaCoins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 10.13.20

Fodder for China virus conspiracy theories; not-so-Perfect Home for sale; SPACs SPACs SPACs SPACs; and more!

j&j vaccine

Opening Bell: 4.13.21

The opposite of a shot in the arm; of COIN and ‘coins; GME needs CEO; and more!

jack ma

Opening Bell: 4.12.21

A modest down payment on a future; SPACs prove their value to valueless companies; why don’t you want to live next to me? and more!

Opening Bell: 03.05.13

Senate Report Said To Fault JPMorgan (NYT) A report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations highlights flaws in the bank's public disclosures and takes aim at several executives, including Douglas Braunstein, who was chief financial officer at the time of the losses, according to people briefed on the inquiry. The report's findings — scheduled to be released on March 15 — are expected to fault the executives for allowingJPMorgan to build the bets without fully warning regulators and investors, these people said. The subcommittee, led by Senator Carl Levin, could ask Mr. Braunstein and other senior executives to testify at a hearing this month, according to the people. The subcommittee does not currently intend to call the bank's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, but Congressional investigators interviewed Mr. Dimon last year. Citi CEO Is Keeping Score (WSJ) At a gathering of 300 executives last month at a Hilton Hotel in East Brunswick, N.J., Mr. Corbat proposed a slate of new, more-rigorous ways to track both the performance of individual executives and the third-largest U.S. bank as a whole, said people who were there. His approach includes score cards that will rate top managers across the New York company in five categories. "You are what you measure," Mr. Corbat told the gathering. Report Faults FSA Over Rate Rigging (WSJ) The report, commissioned by the FSA in the wake of the Barclays BARC.LN +1.48%PLC £290 million ($436.1 million) settlement with regulators over attempted rate-rigging, shows the regulator either ignored or failed to follow up on a series of red flags highlighting problems with the rates. Between 2007 and 2009, the FSA said it found 26 pieces of correspondence citing direct references to "lowballing"—where banks understated their borrowing costs to make their funding positions look stronger. These include two telephone calls from Barclays managers flagging problems with rate-setting process. The regulator also said it overlooked an article in The Wall Street Journal highlighting problems with the London interbank offered rate because the article wasn't widely read within the FSA. Heinz CEO's Golden Exit Deal (WSJ) The total would consist of a $56 million "golden parachute" including bonus payments and other items, $57 million in pension and deferred compensation and $99.7 million of Heinz shares that Mr. Johnson owns or controls, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday. EU Said To Weigh Extra Years For Irish Rescue Loans (Bloomberg) The European Union is weighing whether to extend Ireland’s rescue loans by five years or more, buttressing the government’s efforts to become the first country to exit a bailout since the euro-region debt crisis began. Hotel boots rowdy Rodman over Kim Jong Un scene (NYP) Dennis Rodman, just back from visiting Kim Jong Un, was escorted out of the Time Hotel in Midtown on Sunday after spending hours at the restaurant bar loudly telling anyone who would listen what a great guy the North Korean dictator is. “He was at the bar at Serafina for three hours,” says a spy. “He kept saying what a nice guy Kim is, and how Kim just wants to talk to President Obama about basketball. He was waving around a signed copy of the dictator’s huge manifesto, telling everyone they should read it.” Added the witness, “Dennis was making a total jerk of himself. He wouldn’t leave, and he wouldn’t let anyone talk to him about shutting up, or what an oppressive country North Korea is. Eventually he had to leave the bar because the bartender was starting to get [bleep]ed-off.” Ikos Co-Founder Coward Sues Ex-Wife Over Hedge-Fund Software (Bloomberg) Martin Coward, the co-founder of Ikos Asset Management Ltd., sued his estranged wife, Elena Ambrosiadou, in a U.K. court over the copyright ownership of computer software that runs the hedge fund’s trading platform. Coward was the “architect” of the “bedrock of the family business,” his lawyers said at the start of a three-week trial in London today. “Practically all of the financial markets expertise at Ikos resided in Coward himself,” said Michael Bloch, Coward’s lawyer. Ikos, which uses computer algorithms to spot profitable trades in futures markets, has been embroiled in lawsuits involving Coward and other former employees around the globe. The estranged couple, who started divorce proceedings in Greece in 2009, have filed more than 40 lawsuits against each other in at least four countries. Sequester Leaves US In 'Fantasy' World: Analyst (CNBC) Stephen King, chief global economist at HSBC, said that the U.S. was living in a"fantasy world" over its growth forecasts. "If you look at the projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) they assume that growth goes back to between 4 to 5 percent in real terms between 2014 and 2018. Their numbers suggest that the U.S. will post the fastest rate of productivity growth of any decade in the last 50 or 60 years," King told CNBC's "European Closing Bell." Former Lehman Derivatives Banker Helps Paschi Unravel Contracts (WSJ) Riccardo Banchetti, whose work packaging derivatives at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. got him the top European job at the firm a week before it failed, is now making a living unraveling the kind of deals he once developed. Banchetti worked with Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA to uncover 730 million euros ($955 million) of losses that the world’s oldest bank hid through the use of derivatives. The Italian banker, who also advised JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) on its defence against fraud charges over swaps with Milan, has scrutinized more than 10 billion euros of transactions since leaving Lehman, according to a person with knowledge of his activities who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Drugs found in Florida suspects' orifices, deputies say (WPBF) According to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, a deputy who initiated a traffic stop on a car without brake lights found cocaine in a man's prosthetic leg. The deputy also found morphine and hydromorphine pills in a woman's bra and a hypodermic needle hidden in another woman's buttocks.

Wharton: Strangely silent on the whole matter. By WestCoastivieS (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 9.20.21

B-school blues; approaching Allianz ouster; SPAC invests in investing; and more!

frontier airlines

Opening Bell: 4.1.21

SPAC-up; lamentable listings; Trump cards; and more!