Opening Bell: 08.06.13

Opening Bell: 08.06.13

Sony Rejects Loeb Proposal for Splitting Off Entertainment Unit (DealBook)
Sony said late on Monday that it planned to keep all of its vast entertainment arm, rejecting a proposal by one of its biggest investors, the activist hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb. … Sony’s chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, wrote in the letter that the company had considered Mr. Loeb’s proposal of spinning off part of the entertainment unit to the public markets. But Mr. Hirai wrote that after consulting with its financial advisers, Sony believed that owning all of the business would let it better mesh with its core electronics operations, without the legal encumbrances a partial spinoff would entail.

Crédit Agricole posts results by accident (FT)
Crédit Agricole reported better than expected quarterly results as it continued to recover from the effects of the eurozone crisis – but was left red-faced after accidentally publishing the figures early on its website. France’s third-biggest bank by market value said net income in the second quarter rose to €696m from €56m in the same period a year ago following the disposal last year of its lossmaking Greek subsidiary. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected €482m. But the bank was embarrassed by the early release on its website on Monday of a slide presentation for investors due to be published, along with other financial information, on Tuesday morning.

Standard Chartered Profit Falls (WSJ)
Standard Chartered PLC Tuesday said net profit fell 24% in the first half of the year, as weakening growth in Asian markets and a heavy write-down at its South Korean business put a brake on earnings. The bank—which focuses on emerging markets—said net profit came in at $ 2.13 billion for the first half of the year, down from $ 2.81 billion in the same period a year earlier. Operating income, excluding adjustments for the value of the bank’s own debt, rose to $ 9.75 billion from $ 9.37 billion a year earlier. Overall a weaker performance in Asia was counterbalanced by a stronger showing at the bank’s African and India markets.

Here’s Why I Think Jeff Bezos Bought The Washington Post (BI / Henry Blodget)
I’d guess that Jeff Bezos thinks that owning the Washington Post will be interesting, fun, and cool. And my guess is that, if that is all it ever turns out to be, Jeff Bezos will be fine with that. This is a man who invests in rockets and atomic clocks, after all. He doesn’t necessarily make these investments for the money. Or bragging rights. Or strategic synergies.

Luxury toilet users warned of hardware flaw (BBC)
The toilet uses bluetooth to receive instructions via the app, but the Pin code for every model is hardwired to be four zeros (0000), meaning that it cannot be reset and can be activated by any phone with the My Satis app, a report by Trustwave’s Spiderlabs information security experts reveals. “An attacker could simply download the My Satis application and use it to cause the toilet to repeatedly flush, raising the water usage and therefore utility cost to its owner,” it says in its report. “Attackers could [also] cause the unit to unexpectedly open/close the lid, activate bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to [the] user.” The limited range of bluetooth means that anyone wishing to carry out such an attack would need to be fairly close to the toilet itself, said security expert Graham Cluley. “It’s easy to see how a practical joker might be able to trick his neighbours into thinking his toilet is possessed as it squirts water and blows warm air unexpectedly on their intended victim, but it’s hard to imagine how serious hardened cybercriminals would be interested in this security hole,” he told the BBC.

Private-Equity Payout Debt Surges (WSJ)
Private-equity firms are adding debt to companies they own to fund payouts to themselves at a record pace, as fears mount that the window for these deals will close if interest rates rise. So far this year, $ 47.4 billion of new loans and bonds have been sold by companies to pay dividends to the private-equity firms that own them, according to data provider S&P Capital IQ LCD. That is 62% more than the same period last year, which wound up being the biggest year on record, with $ 64.2 billion sold to fund private-equity payouts.

Third Point Reinsurance Fund Arm Seeks Up to $ 370.6 Million in I.P.O. (DealBook)
The reinsurance arm of Third Point, the hedge fund run by Daniel S. Loeb, disclosed on Monday that it was seeking to raise up to $ 370.6 million from its forthcoming initial public offering. Third Point Reinsurance said in an amended prospectus that it planned to sell 22.2 million shares at $ 12.50 to $ 14.50 a share. At the midpoint of that range, the reinsurer would be valued at nearly $ 1.4 billion.

Chicago sees pension crisis drawing near (NYT)
The pension fund for retired Chicago teachers stands at risk of collapse. The city’s four funds for other retired city workers are short by $ 19.5 billion. At least one of the funds is in peril of running out of money in less than a decade. And starting in 2015, the city will be required by the state to make far larger contributions to the funds, which could leave it hundreds of millions of dollars in the red — as much as it would cost to pay 4,300 police officers to patrol the streets for a year.

UK ‘bad bank’ repays $ 2.9 billion to taxpayers in first half (Reuters)
Britain’s “bad bank” that is running down the loans of two bailed-out lenders said on Tuesday it repaid 1.9 billion pounds ($ 2.9 billion) to the government in the first six months of 2013. UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), a state-run ‘zombie bank’ that does not take on new business, said it has now returned 6.6 billion pounds to the government. It owed 48.7 billion pounds when it was created in October 2010.

Family Offices Chasing Wealthy’s $ 46 Trillion in Assets (Bloomberg Markets)
“I want to talk to the family business owner five years before he’s even thought about going public,” [Ascent Private Capital Management president Michael] Cole says. “I want to get to him before Goldman Sachs does. If I can build the relationship with him then, then I’m already going to own that guy when it’s the time.” … “When you’re dealing with a tech billionaire, it’s almost like dealing with a pro athlete,” he says. In mid-July, Cole was helping one figure out whether to buy or lease a private jet.

Naked truth: Aging nudists seek new skin in the game (NBC)
Traditional nudist groups are trying to re-brand their wrinkled public image by swapping out some of the older faces in online marketing pictures and replacing them with fresher looks. Yet their numbers are shrinking as former flower children slip into senior years. Since 2008, membership in the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) has dwindled from 50,000 to 35,000, says spokesman Tom Mulhall.

Not in Front of the Kids! Anthony Weiner Confronts Furious Heckler in Brooklyn (NYO)
Mr. Weiner, still playfully quizzing a mother and a young girl, tried to calm the woman down. “You’re very passionate. I appreciate your view.” “I’m passionate? More passionate than you on Twitter. I’m a social media expert. Get someone to handle your shit! You are disgusting. Disgusting,” she railed. Ms. Borock, wielding a camera phone, then turned to the press surrounding her. “And fuck you all for covering …” “Whoa! Whoa,” said Mr. Weiner, growing angry. “You’ve got little kids here. You’ve got little kids here … just don’t curse.”



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