Opening Bell: 11.25.13

Opening Bell: 11.25.13

Former Treasury chief nixed BlackRock offer (NYP)
Tim Geithner passed up a chance to work at mega-fund manager BlackRock, according to sources. Geithner, who has landed a plum private-equity gig with Warburg Pincus, opted against joining CEO Fink’s BlackRock — with $ 4 trillion in assets under management — because he wanted to have a more involved role with any company he ended up joining. “I don’t think [Geithner] wanted to be someone’s arm candy,” said one source familiar with the situation.
Sources said Geithner appreciated the fact that Warburg’s top officials consisted of “talented guys with no big egos.”

Swiss Reject High-Pay Initiative (WSJ)
Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have restricted executive salaries to 12 times that of the lowest-paid employee. Roughly 65% of Swiss voters Sunday opposed the 1:12 Initiative for Fair Pay, according to results from all of the country’s 26 cantons reported by Swiss television. Another 34% supported the proposal, which was named for the organizers’ belief that no one in a Swiss company should earn more in a month than someone else makes in a year. The rejection of the 1:12 initiative marks a move away from Swiss efforts to more tightly govern how companies compensate their employees that has been driven by a growing wealth gap between the country’s executive class and everyday workers.

Wall Street May Take Derivatives Regulator to Court (Bloomberg)
Wall Street banks reeling from a flurry of activity by departing U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler are considering taking the agency to court. Gensler has issued more than a dozen advisory opinions directed at reining in the largest financial firms and swap traders without votes by his fellow commissioners. He’s also insisting on tightening the Volcker rule ban on proprietary trading by banks, making last-minute demands that could derail a regulation that must be approved by five U.S. agencies. The financial industry’s trade groups have consulted with lawyers about how to block Gensler’s final moves, according to four people briefed on the matter. A lawsuit would probably be focused on CFTC guidance issued in July that described when the agency should defer its rules in favor of regulations by foreign derivatives overseers, the people said.

Private Equity Returns To Spain, Italy (WSJ)
Spain and Italy, two countries the private-equity industry had forgotten, could soon become a deal playground for European and U.S. buyout firms. At least 15 private-equity groups focused on the countries are looking to raise funds with a combined value of more than €4 billion ($ 5.4 billion), according to several people familiar with the matter and Preqin, a data provider. That is way more than the €1 billion raised since the start of 2010. The Spanish and Italian markets enjoyed popularity with private-equity firms between 2005 and 2008 but activity died down during the financial crisis. It has been further hit by the euro zone’s troubles.

Police to bars: Please don’t serve Santa (DDN)
For many, spotting jolly old Saint Nick will on the street will bring a smile to the face and warm feelings of holiday cheer. But you might excuse the New York Police Department for having thoughts of dread instead. The arrival of SantaCon now signals the onslaught of thousands of drunken holiday revelers dressed up as Santa on the city’s streets, and at least one police officer has had enough. The New York Daily News reports that a lieutenant with NYPD’s Midtown North Precinct recently wrote to bar owners in the area asking them to ban participants of the 2013 SantaCon. The event was originally billed as a fund-raiser, but has since evolved into a massive bar hop. In a letter to about three dozen bars and clubs in the Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods Lt. John Cocchi warns of “thousands of intoxicated partygoers” roaming the streets while “urinating, littering, vomiting” and other naughty behavior. The event is set to begin on Dec. 14 and while many bar owners welcome the extra business, many of those who live in the area aren’t so enthusiastic about the festivities. Bob Miner, a member of a local block association is hoping the revelers will pass by his neighborhood, “What do you tell a 5-year-old when they see a Santa passed out on the street, or carried by his buddies, or vomiting or defecating in front of the house?”

Chrysler Postpones IPO to 2014 (WSJ)
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both the U.S. car maker and its majority owner, Fiat, had been aiming for a listing before the Christmas holidays, a move seen as a bid to accelerate his plans for Fiat to buy out the stake it doesn’t already own in Chrysler. People familiar with the matter had recently suggested a price range could be set for the initial public offering of stock as early as this week. A roadshow to drum up interest among investors would have followed. But Fiat said in a written statement on Monday that Chrysler’s board had decided against it. “It will not be practicable for Chrysler Group to launch and complete an initial public offering prior to the end of 2013,” it said.

Microsoft Says Initial Xbox One Sales Exceed 1 Million (Bloomberg)
The tally surpassed first-day sales for the predecessor Xbox 360 and set a record for Microsoft, the Redmond, Washington-based company said yesterday in a statement. The Xbox One went on sale in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the U.K. and U.S. after the company cut eight countries from the initial sales list, citing production issues.

Canadian Consumer Confidence Hits Eight-Week High (Bloomberg)
The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index rose to 59.4 in the week ended Nov. 22, the highest since the end of September, from 59.0 during the previous period. The proportion of respondents who said they felt better off financially than a year earlier rose to the highest since January.

At an SAC Parade Party, All Blown Up but Nowhere to Go (Dealbook, Earlier)
In finance, balloons are classic symbols of both growth and collapse. So when SAC Capital Advisors, the embattled hedge fund run by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen, sponsored a balloon-inflation party on Saturday in its hometown, Stamford, Conn., it was a particularly striking image. As Kesha’s “Die Young” blasted from loudspeakers and hip-hop dance groups performed in frigid temperatures, industrial air pumps inflated 16 giant balloons of characters including Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Kermit the Frog…A low-key “SAC Hospitality Tent,” open only to SAC employees and their families and event organizers, stood along a wind-whipped block. In the early afternoon, the only occupants were private security guards, food servers and two hired men, one dressed as Santa and the other, a dwarf, as an elf. “You can’t go in here – they’ll be drinking, and nobody is going to talk to you,” said an older security guard in a black jacket who declined to provide his name. By drinking he meant juice, at least in part, as evidenced by a table of children’s juice boxes visible through the tent’s clear plastic windows. Other tables sported bottles of white wine in blue tubs. Coffee, hot cocoa and a steamer-tray buffet with macaroni and cheese, eggplant and pizza snaked around the side – a far cry from the lavish parties Mr. Cohen is known for throwing at his estate in East Hampton. Even Stamford Downtown, the nonprofit organizer of the weekend event, was in a less-than-celebratory mood. When asked if there were any SAC employees with whom a reporter could speak, Annette Einhorn, the organizer’s director of events and marketing, replied, “There are no executives here.” She swiftly brought over a Stamford police captain to emphasize her point.



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