Tag Archive | "crisis"

UBS Chairman Would Like A Little Credit For All The Investment Bank’s Legitimate Achievements

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As you may have heard, UBS has been going through a bit of a rough patch. Despite posting an annual profit (of 7.2 billion Swiss francs) for the first time since 2006, things just haven’t been the same since the crisis, and some have suggested it never will be, claiming that the bank “doesn’t have a chance” getting back to pre-crisis levels because “too much damage has been done.” Not helping things is the fact that there’s been very high turnover in the last couple months, which may have something to do with the fact that people would like to get paid. What you may not have heard is that the investment bank? Is kicking ass, according to Chairman Oswald Gruebel who is kind of confused as to why the media has chosen to ignore the division’s “steady progress” but wants employees to know he, for one, has not.

UBS Chief Sends Memo to I-Bankers [NetNet via BI]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 05.18.11

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For States, a Glimmer of Hope on Deficits (NYT)
From stronger-than-expected tax collections in deficit-ridden California to projected surpluses in struggling states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, a growing number of recession-weary states are finally announcing a bit of good budget news for the first time since the downturn began. But it would probably be premature to pop the Champagne, or even the prosecco — or to otherwise declare the fiscal crisis that has hammered states to be over.

Howard Marks’ Oaktree Capital sows seeds for listing on NYSE (FT)
Oaktree Capital Management is planning to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a deal that would value the asset manager at between $8bn and $9bn, people familiar with the matter said. Oaktree, which manages $85bn, mostly in debt investments, listed shares four years ago on a quasi-public exchange set up by Goldman Sachs.

DSK Accuser Is ‘Afraid,’ ‘Overwhelmed’ (WSJ)
Investigators swabbed a sink and removed a section of carpet from the hotel suite where International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted a hotel housekeeper, a New York law-enforcement official said Tuesday, as a clearer profile began to emerge of the alleged victim. Her attorney [Jeffrey Shapiro] characterized her as a “simple woman, with little education” who is a single mother from Guinea. Mr. Shapiro said his client, a 32-year-old widowed mother of a 15-year-old girl, was granted asylum in the United States seven years ago from her native country of Guinea.

Fed seeks annual US bank stress tests (FT)
The Federal Reserve wants to subject US banks to annual capital tests, reserving the right to veto dividend pay-outs if they do not pass.

‘Gang of Six’ on verge of collapse as Republican Sen. Coburn withdraws (WaPo)
Since January, six senators have engaged in difficult negotiations and made painful concessions in a politically dangerous quest for something that has long eluded Washington: a bipartisan compromise to control the nation’s mounting debt. By Tuesday evening, however, the “Gang of Six” was on the verge of collapse. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) withdrew from the bipartisan working group, saying the senators simply could not overcome the polarizing political pressure that each faces.

Senate rejects measure to end subsidies for big oil companies (WaPo)
A Democratic measure that would have repealed tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies failed to clear the Senate on Tuesday, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to advance in a near-party-line vote.

Geithner Warns On Debt Ceiling, Talks IMF Crisis (DJ via WSJ)
In his first public comments since International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was jailed on sexual-assault charges, [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner added that the institution should establish a plan to fill its leadership vacuum on an interim basis, given that the IMF chief was “not in the position” to make decisions during a critical time. In remarks to the Harvard Club here, Geithner cautioned the GOP leadership against tying their budget blueprint to the contentious talks to lift the U.S.’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Citigroup’s Gain on Mortgage Hedge Fund Jumps as Volcker Trading Ban Looms (Bloomberg)
Citigroup’s Mortgage/Credit Opportunity Fund climbed 16 percent in the first four months of 2011, almost doubling its pace last year, according to internal reports obtained by Bloomberg News. About 90 percent of the $395 million invested in the fund is the bank’s own capital, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Dan Zwirn Seeks Comeback With Alda Three Years After Shutting Hedge Fund (Bloomberg)
Daniel Zwirn, the New York investor forced to shut a $4 billion hedge fund because of client withdrawals, is starting over with a new publicly traded fund that will be safe from redemptions. Zwirn will help manage a closed-end fund for Alda Capital Corp. that will lend to small and medium-sized companies, the Chicago-based firm disclosed in a regulatory filing this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alda plans to raise about $50 million for the fund, according to the filing.

Morgan Stanley Sets Up Yuan Fund (WSJ)
Morgan Stanley said Wednesday it has set up a private-equity joint venture in the affluent eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, launching its first yuan-denominated fund that aims to raise 1.5 billion yuan ($231 million).

Oyster Herpes in France Ravages Harvest (Bloomberg)
A deadly virus is stalking France’s coastline, killing at least 60 percent of the young oysters there since 2008…The virus is not just a blow to France, Europe’s biggest producer. The global industry, worth at least $3.3 billion in 2009, has been plagued by OsHV-1 in Ireland, England and Australia.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

UBS Investment Banking Chief Tries The Tough Love Approach

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As you may have heard, UBS has been going through a bit of a rough patch. Despite posting an annual profit (of 7.2 billion Swiss francs) for the first time since 2006, things just haven’t been the same since the crisis, and some have suggested it never will be, claiming that the bank “doesn’t have a chance” getting back to pre-crisis levels because “too much damage has been done.” Not helping things is the fact that there’s been very high turnover in the last couple months, which may have something to do with the fact that people would like to get paid. While a handful of marquee names (within the industry) have been lured with big checks, many senior bankers have heard nary a peep re bonuses in several years (and the staff’s pay overall is nothing to write home about, either). As one might imagine, tension is running high and recently within the investment bank, there’s been a decision, among those who’ve yet to quit, to air their grievances. The reaction from management? Put a sock in it.

On early morning conference calls, UBS AG investment-banking chief Carsten Kengeter has told senior bankers that he was done with their complaints about pay. “You just don’t get it,” he told thousands of bankers on more than one recent call, according to bankers who were on the call. “He told us that bankers are spoiled children and we’re the ones who messed this place up,” said one senior banker who recently left the firm. “You would get off the calls and think, ‘how can I stay here any longer?’”

So, actually not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand, people should be compensated for the work they do, especially those who didn’t contribute to the multi-billion dollar losses. On the other, UBS did fuck up, and not in a small way, and perhaps a little slap in the face to jolt everyone back to reality is warranted?
At UBS, Complaints And Exits [WSJ]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.26.11

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Financiers Switch To GOP (WSJ)
Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, was one of the biggest Obama fund-raisers in 2008, rounding up $200,000 for him, according to campaign-finance records. In the decade prior, Mr. Loeb and his wife donated $250,000 to Democrats and less than $10,000 to Republicans. But since Mr. Obama’s inauguration, Mr. Loeb has given $468,000 to Republican candidates and the GOP, and just $8,000 to Democrats. Hedge-fund kings have feelings, too, and the president appears to have hurt them…Mr. Loeb is part of a shift in political allegiance within the world of hedge funds that also includes such big names as Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors and Kenneth Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group. Managers and employees of hedge funds directed a majority of their contributions to the GOP in the 2009-2010 election season, a pattern not seen since 1996, when the industry was much smaller.

UBS Attracts Highest Inflows Since 2007 as Profit Tops Estimates (Bloomberg)
UBS rose as much as 6.1 percent in Swiss trading, the biggest gain since July, after wealth management and retail clients added a net 16.7 billion francs ($19 billion), more than double the estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income was 1.81 billion francs, topping the 1.69 billion-franc forecast of analysts…“The main thing is they’re having inflows again, and that’s good,” said Dirk Becker, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Kepler Capital Markets. “The investment bank will remain a construction site for UBS for a while.”

Qaddafi’s Money Man in Vienna Loses Funds With London Friends (Bloomberg)
As Muammar Qaddafi’s forces strafed crowds of protesters in Tripoli with automatic gunfire on Feb. 21, the dictator’s money manager fled the city in a car to the airport to escape the violence. With phone lines and Internet connections down, Mustafa Zarti, vice chairman of Libya’s $65 billion sovereign-wealth fund, couldn’t buy an airline ticket in advance. As mobs of travelers at the airport jostled for seats on packed flights, Zarti scored a spot in business class on Austrian Airlines and flew to Vienna, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its June issue. “It was catastrophic that day,” Zarti says. “I’m very sad for Libya.”

Boehner opens door to cutting U.S. oil tax breaks (Reuters)
“It’s certainly something we should be looking at,” Boehner said in an ABC News interview. “We’re in a time when the federal government’s short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share.” “Everybody wants to go after the oil companies and frankly, they’ve got some part of this to blame,” he said.

Biggest Banks Beating Estimates Can’t Hide 13% Drop in Revenue (Bloomberg)
“Loans still make up half of bank revenues and loan growth is negative,” Brian Foran and Glenn Schorr, analysts at Nomura Holdings Inc. in New York, wrote in an April 14 note. “We have spent the last few weeks on the road visiting investors. The overwhelming feedback on banks has been ‘Why bother?’”

NY Jurors Can’t See Graphics Again In Insider Case (BusinessWeek)
The jurors at the trial of Raj Rajaratnam began working at midday Monday after a federal judge in Manhattan described the law they must follow. They ended four hours later and will resume Tuesday. They asked to see defense exhibits they didn’t know they already had in binders and graphs prosecutors showed during closings but they can’t see again because they’re not exhibits.

NYSE Merger Plan Tunes Out Big Board Rules (Dealbook)
Without so much as having a brief meeting or discussion with Nasdaq and ICE on their bid — which offered over 13 percent more than Deutsche Börse’s bid — the board of NYSE Euronext declared the offer “clearly not in the best interests of our shareholders.” How could the board determine that without even having a conversation?

HSBC to close retail operations in Russia (FT)
“It’s a difficult market in Russia. You can’t just come in and say, ‘I’m HSBC’, ” said an executive at a rival Russian bank.

Fight Heats Up For Lehman Remains (WSJ)
A three-way battle over the remnants of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is coming to a head, as the defunct investment bank’s estate fights with big-name hedge funds like Paulson & Co and Lehman’s former archrival Goldman Sachs. over how to divvy up $61 billion in assets.

If Greece Acts Quickly, Crisis Could Be Averted (CNBC)
”The longer Greece waits before, the more the plan will cost…and the greater the odds of a haircut for bondholders,” Carl Weinberg explained.

Madoff Said Picower May Have Suspected Fraud, Henriques Writes (Bloomberg)
Madoff, serving a 150-year term for the largest Ponzi scheme in history, said in a prison interview that Picower could have figured out the fraud at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, according to the book. Picower invested $620 million and withdrew $7.8 billion before Madoff confessed to his brother and two sons in December 2008. Henriques asked Madoff who knew of the fraud. “Picower was the only one that might have,” Madoff said. “I mean how could he not?”

Human Cannonball Dies After Safety Net Fails (Sky News)
The accident happened during a show put on by Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in Detling at about 3.30pm on Monday.
The 23-year-old man was flown by air ambulance to Maidstone Hospital, but later died from his injuries.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Short Of Paying People Well/Period, Is There Anything UBS Can Do To Make People Want To Work There?

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As you may have heard, UBS has been going through a bit of a rough patch. Despite posting an annual profit (of 7.2 billion Swiss francs) for the first time since 2006, things just haven’t been the same since the crisis, and some are suggesting it never will be, writing that the bank “doesn’t have a chance” getting back to pre-crisis levels because “too much damage has been done.” Not helping things is the fact that there’s been very high turnover in the last couple months, which may have something to do with the fact that people have a need to get paid.

The last two months have seen a large turnover of staff and an overhaul of management at the top. In the last month alone, a new global head of securities, the co-head of fixed-income, currencies and commodities, and a top deal maker in Asia, traditionally a strong region for UBS, have all left. At the same time, the bank has announced new leadership for the crucial M&A business and new chiefs for investment banking for the Americas, Asia and Europe, among other changes. Just this week, UBS lost the head of its prime brokerage unit in Asia, as well as the co-head of its Asian industrials banking team.

UBS is struggling to pay enough to keep top talent as it works on the revamp, say headhunters and former UBS bankers, with some senior bankers not having received a bonus in several years. And while UBS paid dearly to attract a few heavy hitters, overall pay is too low to keep staff from jumping ship, they say. In February, the bank delayed by a week the announcement of bonuses while it reworked its plan to try to prevent bankers from leaving.

Not saying no one at UBS will ever get paid again but in order to account for a worst case scenario, let’s just say that. Any ideas how management can entice people not to quit/take a gig with them? As the Swiss are getting desperate, you could probably suggest just about anything and they might give it a shot. What if they could guarantee a guy pulling up to the Stamford office in a white Civic and demanding to speak to “the President” while brandishing a baseball bat at least once a week? Would that be something you’d be interested in? (That might do it for me.)

Signs Of Strain At UBS Investment Bank [WSJ]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Jamie Dimon May Be Getting A Call For Tips About How To Be A ‘Hot Piece Of Ass’ (For A Banker) In The Near Future

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Now that Graydon “JPMorgan emerged from the crisis a winner because Jamie Dimon is tall, fit and nice-looking (for a banker)” Carter has been cast in Arbitrage as “the head of an investment bank trying to snap up a firm from a hedge-fund magnate, played by Richard Gere.” [NYP, earlier]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.12.11

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JPMorgan, BofA Earnings May Show Weaker Revenue (Bloomberg)
“While loan growth tends to be seasonally weak in the first quarter, this quarter is tracking worse than seasonality would suggest,” Barclays Capital Inc. analysts led by Jason Goldberg wrote in an April 8 report. “We fear companies have been disappointed.” Profits may have increased even with declining revenue as lenders set aside fewer funds to cover loan losses and in some cases released reserves they’ve already built up, said Matt Burnell, a banking analyst at Wells Fargo. Cost reductions may also help the bottom line in a smaller way, Burnell said.

Goldman Sachs Accused by Marvell Founders of Margin Call Fraud (BW)
Sehat Sutardja, Marvell’s chief executive officer, and Weili Dai, the company’s former chief operating officer, said they were duped into selling shares in 2008 that are now worth $141.5 million, according to a complaint filed yesterday in state court in San Francisco. Goldman Sachs pressured them by claiming a regulatory rule, which didn’t exist, required them to sell their stock, according to the complaint.

US Lawmakers Reach Agreement On $38 Billion In Cuts (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, high-speed rail and law enforcement are among the programs that would get reduced funding as part of a budget deal to avert a government shutdown, according to legislation unveiled this morning that identified specific cuts.

BofA Kept Executives In Dark On Dividends (WSJ)
The March 23 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission was more explicit than an earlier news release. It showed that the Federal Reserve had “objected” to the proposed dividend increase following a “stress test” of all major U.S. financial institutions. Shares of Bank of America, the only bank to disclose the Fed’s outright objection, dropped almost 4% in three days after the filing. But Chief Financial Officer Chuck Noski and Chief Accounting Officer Neil Cotty didn’t see the filing before it went to the SEC, people familiar with the matter said. Head of investor relations, Kevin Stitt, found out late the night before, according to one of these people.

Gupta Says His SEC Suit Should Be Heard In Federal Court (Bloomberg)
…instead of dismissing the complaint as the agency has requested.

Sokol Knew Lubrizol’s Board Would Be Told of Berkshire Interest (Bloomberg)
Sokol knew Dec. 17 that Lubrizol Corp Chief Executive Officer James Hambrick planned to notify his board of directors about Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s possible interest in acquiring the company. Sokol, who had inquired about Lubrizol through Citigroup Inc. bankers, was informed of Hambrick’s intention by the same bankers, according to a Lubrizol regulatory filing yesterday.

Hedge Funds Attract $35 Billion In February, Heaviest Inflow On Record (Barron’s)
Hedge funds attracted net inflows of $34.9 billion in February, their heaviest monthly inflow total on record, according to BarclayHedge and TrimTabs Investment Research. That helped to raise industry assets to $1.73 trillion, the highest level since October 2008.

Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl (NYT)
The decision to raise the alert level to 7 from 5 on the scale, overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is based on new estimates by Japanese authorities that suggest the total amount of radioactive materials released so far from Fukushima Daiichi since the beginning of the crisis had reached that threshold.

Fed Plays Down Inflation (WSJ)
At the Economic Club of New York on Monday, Janet Yellen, the Fed’s vice chairwoman, said U.S. monetary policy “continues to be appropriate.”

Super Jumbo Jet Clips Another Plane At JFK (WSJ)
The wing of an Airbus A380—the world’s largest passenger airliner—scraped against the tail of a much smaller regional jet at JFK Airport Monday night. The A380 was an Air France flight bound for Paris. It had left the terminal and was headed for the runway. Meanwhile, a Bombardier CRJ7 jet operated by Comair, which operates flights for Delta Air Lines, had just arrived from Boston and was taxiing toward its gate. As the two planes crossed on intersecting taxiways, the Airbus’s wing hit the rear of the smaller jet.

Facebook Claimant Says He Has Email Proof He Owns Half (Bloomberg)
Paul Ceglia alleges that Zuckerberg defrauded him, lying about the early success of “The Face Book” at Harvard University, where Zuckerberg was a student at the time. Ceglia claims he is entitled to half of Facebook…Ceglia claims in his complaint that he contributed “his time, ideas, knowhow, and other ‘sweat equity’” to the start of Facebook.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.05.11

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David Sokol’s Ways Questioned In Past Suits (NYT)
The most serious lawsuit centered on the accounting of an irrigation project by MidAmerican Energy, where Mr. Sokol was chief executive when Berkshire bought it in 1999. In a rebuke last year, the judge ruled in that case that MidAmerican had improperly changed its accounting on the project and criticized Mr. Sokol directly. The change in accounting was “intended to eliminate the minority shareholders’ interests,” the judge wrote, awarding more than $32 million to the minority shareholders. The case had taken more than five years to work its way through the courts. During that time, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire, expressed confidence in Mr. Sokol by broadening his portfolio beyond MidAmerican to include Netjets, a company that sells fractional use of private aircraft.

Bernanke Downplays Inflation (WSJ)
Bernanke said the recent rise in prices of oil, grains, and other global commodity prices is likely to be temporary and won’t translate into a broader inflation problem. However, the Fed chief was quick to add that if his prediction is wrong and inflation begins to mark strong gains, the central bank would respond. “I think the increase in inflation will be transitory,” Bernanke said. He attributed the sharp increases in prices for oil and food to “global supply and demand conditions,” adding he reckoned these prices “will eventually stabilize.”

Geithner Sees ‘Severe Hardship’ If Debt Limit Isn’t Reached (Bloomberg)
Congress needs to raise the limit to maintain vital services and avoid “questions about our ability to defend our national security interests,” Geithner said. The U.S. would face sharply higher interest rates and would have to stop or delay payments to the military, retirees and others, he said. “Default would cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover,” Geithner said. “For these reasons, default by the United States is unthinkable.”

Apple Crunched In Nasdaq Rebalance (WSJ)
In a move likely to ripple across the stock market, Nasdaq OMX plans to announce Tuesday a rare rebalancing of its Nasdaq-100 index, which will reduce the big weighting of Apple Inc. The company currently makes up more than 20% of the index.

Barclays Chief Set To Raise Appetite For Risk (FT)
Bob Diamond has decided Barclays must increase its risk appetite amid internal expectations at the bank that a key measure of its profitability will fall or stay stagnant this year. Barclays’ new chief executive is considering increasing the bank’s risk profile, in order to hit profitability targets over the next three years, according to people familiar with the bank’s thinking. Mr Diamond, who began in his job in January, has set a target of achieving a 13 per cent return on equity by 2013.

Santander Tops Goldman As Greenest Bank (Bloomberg)
At Banco Santander SA headquarters on the outskirts of Madrid, Joaquin de Ena says he’s gotten used to wearing his sweater vest indoors after the bank turned down the heat to trim power use and greenhouse-gas emissions. “This is OK,” de Ena, director of corporate social responsibility, says with a laugh as he looks at a conference room thermostat as a chilly wind blows through the capital on an early March day. “I’m not sure if it should go any lower.” Santander’s in-house conservation and ecominded investments won it top billing in Bloomberg Markets’ inaugural ranking of the world’s greenest banks…Goldman Sachs was second overall and topped the list for green investing. New York-based Goldman, along with No. 4 bank Credit Suisse, managed the $3 billion initial public offering of Enel Green Power SpA, Rome-based operator of wind, geothermal and hydropower plants. Goldman also co-led the IPO of Tesla Motors, the Palo Alto, California, maker of the $109,000 all-electric Roadster. Read the full story

Opening Bell: 03.23.11

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US Will Call Blankfein To Testify At Rajaratnam Trial (Bloomberg)
Possibly as early as this week.

In Galleon Case, Sides Clash Over Goldman Chief (WSJ)
“Rajaratnam might suggest, for example, that because Goldman Sachs is tied up in many different legal proceedings, the firm—and by extension its CEO, Mr. Blankfein—is not to be trusted,” prosecutors wrote in the letter. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment.

Banks Hit For Credit Union Ills (WSJ)
In one of the broadest accusations that Wall Street helped cripple financial institutions during the crisis, the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA, has threatened to sue several investment banks unless they refund over $50 billion of mortgage-backed securities sold to the five institutions, called wholesale credit unions. The NCUA is accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of misrepresenting the risks of the bonds to wholesale credit unions, which loaded up on the bonds in their role of investing on behalf of retail credit unions, according to people familiar with the situation.

Dimon Makes $20 Billion AT&T Loan Deal In Bid For Dominance (Bloomberg)
“He wants to win, and he doesn’t want to win by a small amount,” Richard Bove, an analyst for Rochdale Securities LLC in Lutz, Florida, said yesterday in an interview. “He wants to win big and dominant. He wants to be known as the next J.P. Morgan.” Bove has a “buy” rating on JPMorgan.

Fed Won’t Let Bank Of America Raise Dividend (WSJ)
Bank of America said in a regulatory filing it had submitted a plan to the Fed in the wake of the latest round of government stress tests that included “a modest increase in its common dividend starting in the second half of 2011,” but that the Fed had “objected to the proposed increase in capital distributions for the second half of 2011.”

Gaddafi: West Will End in ‘Dustbin of History’ (Reuters)
“This assault … is by a bunch of fascists who will end up in the dustbin of history,” Gaddafi said in a speech followed by fireworks in the Libyan capital as crowds cheered and supporters fired guns into the air.

Chris Brown follows violent breakdown on ‘Good Morning America’ with game of basketball in NYC (NYDN)
Chris Brown blew off some steam on Tuesday after his violent outburst at “Good Morning America” by jumping into a pick-up basketball game in Manhattan’s West Village. The volatile rapper hit the typically crowded West 4th street courts just hours after throwing a tantrum at ABC’s studios following his interview with Robin Roberts, who asked him about his infamous attack on former girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Earlier in the day, Brown had stormed out of ABC’s Times Square studios shirtless after breaking a window. “He looked like he wanted to kill somebody,” said a “GMA” insider. “He went completely nuts. He just walked off the set, ripped off his shirt and went into the room and threw a chair and broke the window.”

Banks Bring Jobs To London As Finance Pays Most Tax In UK (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs employs almost as many people in London today as it did in 2007, before Lehman Brothers filed for the biggest bankruptcy in history, sparking a global recession. Goldman isn’t alone. Royal Bank of Scotland, recipient of the world’s biggest bank bailout, has more workers in its securities unit than four years ago. Barclays Capital, under Robert Diamond, hired 1,800 in 2010.

Radiation in Tokyo Water; US Curbs Japan Food Imports (Reuters)
Tokyo authorities said water at a purification plant for the capital of 13 million people had 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine — more than twice the safety level for infants. “This is without doubt, an effect of the Fukushima Daiichi plant,” a Tokyo metropolitan government official said, referring to the nuclear power station.

UBS Risks Running Out Of Steam In Asia (FT)
UBS’s Asian franchise had already taken a hit in mid-2010 when Henry Cai, its leading investment banker in China, unexpectedly quit. Mr Cai and several of his colleagues subsequently turned up at Deutsche Bank. In a further blow, the Swiss bank failed to win a role in two of the biggest China deals last year – the $22.1bn initial public offering of Agricultural Bank of China, which had a total gross fee pool of about $142m, and Bank of China’s $9bn rights issue.

Buffett Looks Beyond Home Turf To India (WSJ)
Mr. Buffett said that he sees India as a large country–rather than an emerging market, and a promising investment destination, but added it would be more attractive for his company to invest in the local insurance sector if current foreign ownership restrictions are relaxed beyond the 26% levels.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 03.21.11

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Citi Plans Reverse Stock Split (WSJ)
The bank announced a 1-for-10 reverse stock split of its common shares effective after markets close on May 6. Separately, the banking giant said it plans to reinstate a quarterly dividend of a penny a share in the second quarter.

Buffett Won’t Sell Japan Shares As Earthquake Becomes ‘Opportunity’ (Bloomberg)
“If I owned Japanese stocks, I would certainly not be selling them because of the events of the past 10 days or so,” said Buffett, speaking to reporters in the South Korean city of Daegu, where he arrived yesterday to attend a ceremony for a new factory being built by TaeguTec Ltd. “Something out of the blue like this, an extraordinary event, really creates a buying opportunity.”

Buffett: Berkshire Seeks More Deals (WSJ)
“We’re looking at a number of big businesses in Korea, the U.S., the U.K. We hope to find good companies wherever they may be. Basically, it’s the bigger, the better,” he said at a press conference in South Korea.

Kan Sees ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ as Atomic Crisis Eases (Bloomberg)
In a flurry of announcements today, Kan said progress was being made in restoring power to reactors No. 1 and No. 2, while Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it had connected No. 3 and No 4. Minutes later, state broadcaster NHK said engineers were evacuated as gray smoke was seen billowing from reactor 3. “While we haven’t reached the point where we can say we’ve gotten out of this crisis situation, it can be said that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the beginning of a meeting of his crisis response team at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.

Swiss Re Estimates Japan Claims At $1.2 Billion (WSJ)
Swiss Re Monday said it expects claims costs of $1.2 billion from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but cautioned that its estimate is subject to a higher than usual degree of uncertainty and may need to be adjusted as the extent of the insured losses becomes clearer.

Hedge Funds Slash Bullish Commodity Bets Most In 8 Months (Bloomberg)
“The situation in Japan prompted a lot of investors to take profits after a fairly good run in commodities,” said Brian Hicks, who helps manage $3 billion at U.S. Global Investors in San Antonio. “This is a short-term headwind for further upside in commodities. We’re still going to see industrialization and urbanization in emerging markets.”

The Beefy Crunch Burrito Incident (SA)
The price of the Beefy Crunch Burrito had gone up from 99 cents to $1.49 and the man at the Rigsby Road Taco Bell drive-thru had just ordered seven. The fast food customer was so disgruntled by the price hike he shot an air gun at the manager, displayed a semiautomatic assault rifle and pistol while in the restaurant’s parking lot, fled as police were called, exchanged gunfire with three officers who pulled him over, then barricaded himself in his hotel room — all over $3.50 plus additional tax.

Bankers See More Deals To Follow AT&T’s Big Bid (WSJ)
Fears of global financial turmoil were put aside Sunday when AT&T Inc., the nation’s second-largest wireless network operator, announced a $39 billion proposal to acquire the fourth-largest player T-Mobile USA Inc. If naturally optimistic bankers are to be believed, that trend is set to continue this year, with companies searching for growth through deals after the recession and the mergers-and-acquisitions market on its way to a healthy recovery.

Hedge Fund CAI Cuts Entire Exposure To Japan (Reuters)
Eddie Tam, whose CAI Global Fund returned 48 percent last year to become one of the top-10 multi-strategy hedge funds in the world, said he about 15 percent of his portfolio was parked in Japan before the country was hit by the massive earthquake.

Morgan Stanley Targets Mid-Market Private Equity To Boost Fees (Bloomberg)
The bank has advised on seven closed or pending deals this year from firms that manage funds of less than $5 billion, said Joe Purcell, managing director of the middle-market advisory group created last year. “It’s often considered lower profile than covering the largest sponsors, but middle-market private equity can be very profitable for us,” Purcell said in an interview this month.

Western Strike Hits Gaddafi Compound, Tripoli Says (Reuters)
Western forces launched a second wave of air strikes on Libya overnight and officials in Tripoli said a missile intended to kill Muammar Gaddafi had destroyed a building in his fortified compound. “It was a barbaric bombing,” said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, showing pieces of shrapnel that he said came from the missile. “This contradicts American and Western (statements) … that it is not their target to attack this place.”

The World’s Most Valuable Brands (CNBC)
Google became the world’s most valuable brand this year, while Coca Cola dropped out of the top ten global brands for the first time, according to the 2011 Brand Finance ranking of the most valuable 500 brands across the globe.

Mets Owners Fire Back At Madoff Trustee (WSJ)
Team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and their associates issued a 107-page response to the $1 billion lawsuit filed by trustee Irving Picard. They said that, among other distortions, Mr. Picard had falsely accused them of dismissing warnings they had allegedly received about Mr. Madoff from employees at a hedge fund they helped start, Sterling Stamos Capital Management. David Sheehan, a lawyer for Mr. Picard, said “the Katz Wilpon defendants are wrong on the facts and the law.”

How Dumb Are We? (Newsweek)
When Newsweek recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker