GM Fires Tiger Woods, Pencil Suppliers

Hamilton Nolan · 11/24/08 03:28PM

Floundering maker of autos GM got slammed for flying its executives to Washington on private jets to beg for a government bailout. They were denied, so now they've decided to cut back on every last unnecessary expense. And today, the company announced that it's going to end its $8 million per year endorsement contract with Tiger Woods. Though GM swears that, hey, this has nothing to do with their desperate quest for a bailout—"the purely coincidental." (Bullshit, judging purely on outward appearance). Where else is the company cutting costs? Everywhere, starting with the paper towels!:

Colmes Departs, Amanpour Scores, Forbes Denies

cityfile · 11/24/08 11:38AM

♦ Alan Colmes, the "liberal" who supposedly serves as co-host of Hannity & Colmes with Sean Hannity, is leaving the Fox News program at the end of the year. [HuffPo]
♦ A daily news program hosted by Christiane Amanpour is in the works at CNN. [NYT]
♦ Despite screwing up nearly everything he touches, NBC golden boy Ben Silverman may see his contract renewed in the next few weeks. [NYM]
USA Today has announced plans to cut staff. [E&P]
Twilight was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, raking in $70.5 mil. [LAT]
Forbes is not being sold to a shady Russian billionaire. [SAI]

GM Gives Up Two Jets

cityfile · 11/21/08 03:47PM

General Motors now says it plans to return two of its five corporate jets following a wee bit of scandal earlier this week. But it's not as if the company simply caved in the face of bad press! "G.M. is saying that the timing is coincidental since it was already in the process of returning two of its corporate jets." Of course it was! Here's a pic of one of the company's Gulfstreams on the tarmac at LaGuardia. [Dealbook]

Populist GM Executives Will Muddle Through With Only Three Jets

Hamilton Nolan · 11/21/08 03:29PM

General Motors caught a leeetle bit of flack this week for flying its executives to Washington on a private jet in order to beg for a taxpayer bailout. "Hey," said politicians, the media, and the general public, "you have less than zero money. Should you really have spent thousands on a private jet?" We would also add, "Shouldn't you have driven a car?" Later GM and its fellow broke automakers left Washington with no money, making this one of the colossal PR fuckups of 2008, and possibly of the preceding decade as well. But everything is different now, because GM is going to have somewhat fewer private jets. So please give them some multiple of billions of dollars okay? They did have five company planes. Now they're cutting down to just three. Tightening the belt!

Citi Considers a Sale, Markets Looks Up

cityfile · 11/21/08 06:34AM

♦ With shares down 26 percent yesterday, Citigroup is now weighing all of its options, including possible selling the firm. The board meets today to discuss the " range of scenarios that were unthinkable only weeks ago." [WSJ]
♦ The market bounced back in early trading after historic sell-offs in recent days. [MW]
♦ Hedge funds contracted by 9 percent in October, the lowest level in two years. [Bloomberg]
♦ A bailout of the auto industry won't be taking place just yet. Talks between Detroit and Washington collapsed with lawmakers saying the industry lacked credible plans to return to profitability. [WSJ]
♦ The city's securities industry shed about 16,000 employees in October. [DB]

Cuomo Leans on Citi, Yang Plans to Step Down

cityfile · 11/18/08 06:30AM

♦ Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says Citigroup should follow Goldman's lead and forgo bonuses for senior execs. [NYP]
♦ Embattled Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang has announced he will step down as soon as the board finds a replacement. [NYT, WSJ]
♦ Mark Cuban's attorney on the insider trading charges leveled against his client: "The case has no merit, and is a product of gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion." [WSJ]
♦ Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is unlikely to use the rest of the $700 billion bailout fund on any new initiatives, preferring to hand over the remaining pennies—and very big problems—to his successor in the Obama administration. [WSJ]
Andrew Ross Sorkin on extending the bailout to GM: "Taxpayers shouldn't fork over a cent, at least until shareholders are wiped out, management is tossed out and the industry is completely reorganized." [NYT]

Riding GM To The Poorhouse

Hamilton Nolan · 11/14/08 02:16PM

Even in a perfect economy, the media would be having economic problems dealing with the internet's impact on the traditional media business models. That's more than enough to worry about. But of course the economy is far from perfect, so the media has an extra challenge: its advertisers are losing money. And for some, we're not talking about fluctuations; we're talking about huge ad buyers who might be wiped off the map. This is why every media company is really, really hoping that the government rushes to the aid of General Motors and its dying US auto industry friends. The auto industry is one of the biggest advertisers of all. Local newspapers reap a lot of their revenue from local auto dealer ads. (The recent decline of those, along with real estate ads and retail ads, has local papers scrambling to figure out what to do). But that's just one small piece; television auto ads and sponsorships are declining too. GM spent more than $2 billion on advertising last year, and when they make cuts, media companies can see tens or hundreds of millions of dollars evaporate. In August, GM pulled out of its sponsorship of the Academy Awards. In September, the company slashed its digital ad budget and decided not to sponsor the Super Bowl. Even when GM tries to spend money, they're cursed. They signed up for a big product placement deal in the craptastic new NBC Christian Slater show My Own Worst Enemy—but yesterday NBC announced it was going to cancel the show because of low ratings. Boy that sucks. And today we learned that, thanks the auto industry's troubles, Christmas has been ruined at yet another media company! A tipster sent us an internal memo to staffers at Sirius XM Satellite Radio from the CEO Mel Karmazin, the former Viacom exec; he's copying his old company by canceling the holiday party and giving everyone an extra vacation day instead. "The economy is slowing, our OEM and retail partners are hurting, satellite radio sales are not growing as we would like, and our stock price reflects that along with other issues," Karmazin writes. A major reason: all those new cars with built-in satellite radios aren't selling. How bad is it overall?

AmEx Seeks Cash, GM's Prospects Darken

cityfile · 11/12/08 06:28AM

♦ American Express may be looking for as much as $3.5 billion in government assistance as the company struggles with reduced consumer spending and rising defaults. [WSJ]
♦ Hope is fading fast at GM. Shares fell to $2.92 on Tuesday, the lowest level in 65 years, and the company does not expect "to continue as a going concern" without a rescue plan in place by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing ahead with a plan to save the automaker. [NYT, Bloomberg]
♦ Who doesn't want a piece of the bailout? The line outside the Treasury Department in Washington is a long one. [NYT]

Bailout Fears Kick Into High Gear

cityfile · 11/11/08 06:18AM

♦ With so many companies looking to tap into the $700 billion bailout, it's clear there won't be enough to go around, and a lot more work (and cash) is going to be needed to fix the problem. [WSJ]
♦ The latest company to convert itself into a bank to tap into government funds: American Express, which earned approval from the Fed to become a commercial bank yesterday as it seeks to cover rising credit card defaults. [Bloomberg]
♦ GM's possible bankruptcy was a major topic of conversation at the White House yesterday when Barack Obama met with George Bush. Meanwhile, shares of GM fell to $3.36 yesterday, its lowest level since 1949. [WSJ, Bloomberg]

Open Hands, Deep Pockets

cityfile · 11/03/08 06:15AM

♦ Treasury officials say as many as 1,800 institutions may apply for government investments in the next few weeks. [WSJ]
♦ GM hasn't been so lucky extracting cash: The Treasury has turned down a request by the automaker for $10 billion to help finance a merger with Chrysler. [NYT]
Henry Kravis's KKR is delaying its plan to go public on the NYSE until 2009. [CNNMoney]

Rate Cut, Bad Loans On the Rise

cityfile · 10/29/08 05:22AM

♦ The Fed is expected to cut interest rates again today, possibly to as low as 1 percent. [WSJ]
♦ The White House is pushing banks to stop hoarding the bailout billions and start making more loans. [AP]
George Soros says the number of hedge funds "will be reduced in size by anywhere between half and two thirds" over the next few years. [Reuters]
♦ GMAC, which is controlled by GM and Steve Feinberg's Cerberus Capital, is now looking to become a bank holding company so it can tap into the $700 billion bailout pool. [WSJ]
♦ Credit card crunch: Lenders wrote off an estimated $21 billion in bad credit card loans in the first half of 2008. [NYT]

New Partners at Goldman, Hit to Hedge Funds

cityfile · 10/28/08 05:09AM

♦ Better news from abroad today: global stocks rebounded overnight, with shares in Hong Kong climbing more than 14 percent. [CNNMoney]
♦ Goldman Sachs will name its new partners today; it's expected to be the smallest such group in the firm's history. [Telegraph, Clusterstock]
♦ The average hedge fund was down 8.4 percent in October. Layoffs in the industry are mounting: Glenn Dubin's Highbridge Capital is the latest fund to announce cuts, trimming 10 percent of the company's staff. [NYP]
♦ Barclays is seeking to raise $10 billion from Russian banks. [WSJ]
♦ Fidelity may lay off 4,000 employees. [Boston Globe]

Job Cuts at Merrill, A Bailout for ING

cityfile · 10/20/08 05:25AM

John Thain says he expects "thousands" of job cuts will follow Merrill Lynch's merger with Bank of America. [Bloomberg]
♦ Another day, another bailout: The Netherlands will inject $13.4 billion into ING. [WSJ]
♦ GM is having difficulty acquiring Chrysler because it can't come up with the financing. [WSJ]

Street Talk: The Lehman Investigation Begins

cityfile · 10/17/08 05:28AM

♦ Prosecutors have subpoenaed a dozen Lehman executives, including Dick Fuld, as part of three grand jury probes into the bankruptcy of the investment bank. [NYP]
♦ Warren Buffett has faith: "Buy American. I am." [NYT]
Andrew Cuomo met with AIG's new CEO yesterday, who assured the attorney general the insurance giant would account for excessive executive compensation and will also cancel upcoming conferences. [NYT, Bloomberg]

Street Talk: Citi Walks

cityfile · 10/10/08 05:15AM

♦ Citigroup dropped efforts to block a deal between Wachovia and Wells Fargo yesterday afternoon; it will, however, continue to press ahead with its $60 billion lawsuit. [NYT, WSJ]
♦ Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack is back on the defensive today after the bank's shares dropped nearly 26 percent yesterday to $12.45, the lowest closing price in a decade. [DB, WSJ]
♦ Barclays, which acquired the assets of Lehman Brothers last month, now plans to cut another 3,000 jobs. [Fortune]

GM forced to blog by social media hype

Owen Thomas · 10/01/08 11:00AM

How sad: General Motors has a "social media manager" — a person charged with appeasing bloggers, coddling tweeters, and enabling commentards. Natalie Johnson, said manager, explained that the company was compelled by mysterious forces on the Internet to launch, a new website where users generate the content: "It's hard to put a specific dollar value on this, but it's something we have to do." Actually, GM didn't.Johnson argues that the company needed the site to speak to young users. Well, sure: The site may well generate a lot of talk, and let young, spoiled millennials feel like a big, bad car company cares about them. But will keeping youngsters glued to their computers, complaining about their latest slight, move cars off dealers' lots? Affordable, energy-efficient cars that don't suck would speak far louder. We suggest a new slogan for the venerable car brand: "Keep America trolling."

Street Talk

cityfile · 08/26/08 05:10AM
  • The merger market is experiencing its slowest August in 16 years. [Reuters]

Street Talk

cityfile · 08/22/08 05:19AM
  • An analyst suggests Lehman may be a hostile takeover candidate; a WSJ reporter explains why that's unlikely; and another points out the difficulty involved in selling off its asset management business. [NYP, WSJ, WSJ]

Street Talk

cityfile · 08/14/08 05:13AM
  • U.S. inflation soared to a 17-year-high annual rate in July. [WSJ]

Street Talk

cityfile · 08/01/08 04:51AM
  • The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to a four-year high of 5.7% during the month of July. [WSJ]