Steve Schwarzman Has a New Enemy

cityfile · 12/16/09 01:33PM

Last May, billionaire financier Steve Schwarzman made a $100 million donation to the New York Library. The gift, which followed more than a year of blistering press coverage (remember: never let a Journal reporter into your home and allow him/her to interview the household help!) wasn't without one big string: The library's Beaux-Arts main branch on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue had to be renamed in the Blackstone Group co-founder's honor. It's been more than a year since then, but clearly some people have no intention of ever calling it the "Schwarzman Building."

Extreme Makeover: Wall Street Edition!

cityfile · 10/21/09 12:46PM

Wall Street CEOs make a fortune, as you're undoubtedly aware. Even the chief executives of banks that have been bailed-out by Washington or have gone bust usually end up doing nicely. But despite the riches and perks these men have accumulated and massive egos they've developed along the way, few of them would do all that well in a beauty contest. Because it's high time that Wall Street take advantage of the miracle of modern science—and because we care, dammit—we took the liberty of contacting Dr. Anthony Youn, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has made appearances on Dr. 90210 and the Rachael Ray Show, to ask him what procedures he'd suggest these titans of finance consider if they want to look their very best. Dr. Youn's answers and cost estimates—and our commentary—is below.

A Greek Tragedy for the Peterson Family

cityfile · 06/05/09 11:29AM

Plenty of reality programs promise to show us how the rich and powerful live their lives. Very few actually end up doing that, of course. The women featured on the Real Housewives of NYC weren't part of the city's social elite before they humiliated themselves on national television—nor were they all housewives either—so they had little to lose in the end. That will change, though, when Bravo's NYC Prep, or the "real-life Gossip Girl," as Bravo has been billing it, debuts on June 23. One of the obnoxious, over-privileged teens featured on the show—the one who comes off in the worst possible light, in fact—hails from one of the city's richest and most respected families. Meet Peter Carey ("PC") Peterson, the grandson of Pete Peterson.

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 05/07/09 05:52AM

• Bank of America chief Ken Lewis and several federal officials will be asked to testify under oath as part of an investigation into whether BofA was pressured by the government into completing its deal with Merrill Lynch. [WSJ]
• The stress test tally thus far: Of the 19 big banks under review, six don't need to raise capital, seven others need to come up with some cash, and it remains to be seen what category the other six will fall into. [WSJ]
• General Motors, which faces a June 1 deadline to sort out its troubles or file for bankruptcy, reported a $6 billion loss for the first quarter. [NYT]
• The number of people filing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, and to their lowest level in more than 3 months, too. [CNN]

Wall Street: Wednesday Morning

cityfile · 05/06/09 05:44AM

• Bank of America chief Ken Lewis won't be in a good mood today, that's for sure. Regulators have informed the bank that it will have to come up with $34 billion in new capital if it expects to weather the downturn. [WSJ, NYT]
• For its part, Citigroup may have to come up with $5-$10 billion. [Reuters]
• Remember all the outrage that followed the disclosure that AIG had paid out more than $100 million in bonuses? It seems the bonus pool was four times larger than previously anticipated. Oh, well. [NYP]
• Companies cut an estimated 491,000 workers in April, which is less than previous months and possibly a sign that the worst is over. [BN]

Welcome to the Party, Life Insurers

cityfile · 04/08/09 05:38AM

• The Treasury is expected to announce in the next few days that it will be extending bailout funds to a handful of life insurance companies. [WSJ]
• Brian Moynihan, who took over Merrill Lynch after John Thain was ousted, is emerging as a potential successor to Bank of America chief Ken Lewis. [WSJ]
• Not that Lewis necessarily needs to be replaced, at least according to Meredith Whitney, who (bizarrely) says Lewis has "done a great job." [BN]
• Blackstone, KKR, and Carlyle are in the running to acquire the mobile phone operations that Verizon Wireless is selling now that it's acquired Alltel. [BN]
• Looks like Jim Cramer has a new enemy. Nouriel Roubini is calling the CNBC star "a buffoon," and Cramer has since responded in kind, of course. [NYP]

Obama's GM Ultimatum, More Layoffs at UBS

cityfile · 03/30/09 05:30AM

• Washington is now playing hard ball: The Obama administration has forced out GM CEO Rick Wagoner and now says the company has 30 days to finalize its alliance with Fiat if it expects to get more bailout cash. [NYT, WSJ]
• UBS plans to lay off as many as 8,000 more employees worldwide. [Reuters]
• Working at Goldman Sachs has its perks: The bank spent tens of millions bailing out several senior execs facing a personal liquidity squeeze, including former COO Jon Winkelried and general counsel Gregory Palm. [NYT]
• Bank of America plans to increase some bankers' salaries by as much as 70 percent to offset reduced year-end bonuses. [BN]
• The Blackstone Group turned down a request from regulators to disclose the performance of its buyout and hedge funds; Fortress, however, caved. [BN]
• Timothy Geithner says some financial institutions will still need a lot more government aid in the future. You're stunned by that, we're sure. [BN]

Happy News from Casa Schwarzman!

cityfile · 03/20/09 12:51PM

As is our custom on Friday afternoons, we gave a quick call over to Steve Schwarzman to check in and see how he was holding up, especially after this bit of news a couple of weeks ago, which had us as alarmed out as anyone. Alas, we didn't get an answer over at 740 Park, so we thought we'd try him down at the Palm Beach manse. Because if you're not getting paid, might as well head off for a three-day weekend, right? Well, you can imagine how relieved we were when this guy answered. (Click on the video above.) We can't be sure, of course, but it sure sounded like a French guy to us. Steve's famous French chef, perhaps? Quite possibly! Regardless, after a week like this, we're taking this as an encouraging sign that Steve's $3,000 food budgets remain intact and the spending goes on. Which it most certainly has to if we're ever going to get out from this mess.

Citi Rescue Revealed, Markets Tank

cityfile · 02/27/09 07:20AM

• The Treasury Department announced a plan to save Citigroup from near-certain doom. The government will take a 36 percent stake in the company, three-quarters of the bank's shareholders will be wiped out, and the board will be overhauled. Vikram Pandit? He keeps his job. [WSJ, BN, NYT]
• New GDP figures indicate "the U.S. recession deepened a lot more in late 2008 than first reported." The figures haven't been this bad since '82. [WSJ]
• Stocks tumbled this morning on the Citigroup and GDP news. [BN]
Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed Bank of America seeking the names of the Merrill execs who received $3.6 billion in bonuses. This comes after BofA CEO Ken Lewis failed to provide the details during his deposition yesterday. [DB]
• A "mutiny is brewing" within UBS's investment banking unit following the ouster of the bank's CEO, Marcel Rohner. [NYP]
• Blackstone reported a fourth-quarter loss of $827.1 million. [BN]
• Bernie Madoff moved $164 million from London to New York in the weeks before he was busted, according to new court documents. [NYP]
• Scammer Sam Israel has moved from a prison hospital back to prison. [AP]

Schwarzman Scales Back, Continues to Fly Private

cityfile · 02/18/09 12:27PM

Were you concerned that the financial crisis might have put a damper on Steve Schwarzman's birthday party? (He turned 62 last Saturday; we suggested you send him some stone crabs.) It turns out the billionaire's party this year was considerably less lavish than the event he hosted in 2007 when he spent upwards of $3 million to throw a bash at the Armory, invited everyone in town, and hired Rod Stewart to perform. Yesterday, Steve treated Blackstone employees to cake in the boardroom, although you'll be pleased to hear that the mogul's tendency to show off has not been diminished. Recessionwire has the scoop: "Yesterday, we’re told, Blackstone Group employees were invited to a giant boardroom for a brief roast (no, not a toast) and some cake. But it wasn't all humble pie. Huge flat-screens in the rooms displayed the birthday invitation—a map showing the many miles Schwarzman had traveled in the last year, complete with cute little pictures of private planes." [Recessionwire]

Grim Job Numbers, Desperate Days at BofA

cityfile · 02/06/09 07:08AM

• Some 3.6 million jobs have now been lost due to the recession. [WSJ]
• BofA chief Ken Lewis purchased 200,000 shares of the bank this week in an effort to convince the world he's bullish about BofA's future. [WSJ]
• Good work, Hank. The Treasury Department overpaid by about $78 billion when it handed over all that cash to big banks last year. [Reuters]
• A hedge fund manager, a brokerage trader and a financial adviser were charged on Thursday for taking part in an insider trading scheme. [DB]
• The feds have also accused two people in the M&A groups at UBS and the Blackstone Group of handing over info to an insider trading ring. [NYP]
• Fraud investigator Harry Markopolos, who testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, says he's turned over evidence of several other big frauds to the SEC. [CNN]
• The markets have been up amid speculation the grim unemployment numbers will force Congress to pass an economic stimulus package. [BN]

Blackstone Blames the Brits

cityfile · 02/04/09 03:29PM

Steve Schwarzman's Blackstone Group has an explanation for that lawsuit by Financial Times which accused the private equity giant of sharing an account login and password to the FT website. A Blackstone employee tells the Observer that it was all the fault of the London office and the work of eight renegade employees, and that the staff in New York had "nothing to with it." (Someone ought to tell this to the FT since it argued in court papers that the culprits "worked for Blackstone within the United States.") Also? Blackstone would like the world to know that it actually has 63 paid subscriptions to the Financial Times, which in Steve Schwarzman's preferred unit of measurement, comes out to 31 stone crabs. [NYO]

Schwarzman: Too Cheap to Pay for a FT Subscription!

cityfile · 01/30/09 08:30AM

You know we're in a deep recession when even billionaire financiers can't afford to pay for subscriptions to the Financial Times. In what will go down as one of the more bizarre (and unintentionally hilarious) lawsuits we've seen in quite some time, the newspaper filed a lawsuit against Steve Schwarzman's Blackstone Group on Wednesday for sharing an FT username and password instead of setting up separate accounts for its employees. Yes, an unknown "senior employee" at the colossal private equity firm "authorized the initiation and repeated renewal of an individual, personal subscription to" and then distributed the login details to company employees so they could all join in on the fun. (The court documents list the username as "theblackstonegroup" and the password as "blackstone," although FT says it has since "disabled the credentials to mitigate damages.")

Disappointment at JPMorgan, BofA Asks for More

cityfile · 01/15/09 07:14AM

• JPMorgan Chase posted a 76% drop in profits in the fourth quarter, results that chief Jamie Dimon eloquently described as "very disappointing." [WSJ]
• Washington is close to finalizing a deal to give Bank of America billions in extra cash to help it "digest" the purchase of Merrill Lynch. [Reuters]
• What's Morgan Stanley doing with its bailout cash? It's buying an oil supertanker, which is what we'd do, too, if someone gave us $10 billion. [BN]
• An exec at Blackstone has been charged with insider trading. [CNN]
Carl Icahn is suing fellow activist investor Warren Lichtenstein. [DB]
• The Dow dropped 248 points yesterday with Citigroup taking a particular beating, shedding 23 percent. But that doesn't mean Vikram Pandit isn't doing his best to keep morale up. [NYP, WSJ]

Fox Business Questions Steve Schwarzman's Sanity

cityfile · 12/03/08 10:57AM

Leave it to the Fox Business Channel to figure out a way to tie the Plaxico Burress brouhaha to the economy at large, but the network managed to pull off just such a feat yesterday when a business reporter turned up to list off 5 people who shot themselves in the foot over the past year. Coming in at No. 5 on the list: Blackstone founder Steve Schwarzman, who made the list for the lavish 60th birthday party he held last year, not surprisingly. "This guy is crazy!" the reporter explains to anchor David Asman when he asks why Schwarzman made the list.