John Thain's Quest for Redemption Continues

cityfile · 10/02/09 08:37AM

Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain is no friend of Ken Lewis, the outgoing chief executive of Bank of America. Thain worked with Lewis last year to engineer the merger of Merrill and BofA, but was kicked to the curb shortly after the deal was complete and almost instantly turned into the fall guy for the messy merger, at least in the version of events that Lewis recounted to analysts, reporters, and government officials.

Don't Weep For Ken Lewis

cityfile · 10/01/09 12:31PM

Outgoing Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis has $53 million in pension benefits waiting for him when he leaves. [Fortune]

Ken Lewis Is Leaving with His Head Held High

cityfile · 10/01/09 09:33AM

Yesterday afternoon, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced that he plans to "retire" at the end of the year. And despite the fact he's facing ongoing probes by Congress, the SEC, and the attorneys general in New York and Connecticut over BofA's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, he's spent months dealing with withering criticism by Wall Street analysts and shareholders, and he's leaving the bank without a successor in place, Lewis is still maintaining that he—and he alone, without any pressure on him whatsoever!—arrived at the decision to retire. Per the farewell letter he sent out yesterday:

Wall Street: Wednesday Edition

cityfile · 06/24/09 08:03AM

• There's a shortage of banking industry CEOs—decent ones, at least—which explains why Vikram Pandit is still in charge at Citigroup and Ken Lewis is still running the show at Bank of America. "The best players won't risk their careers going to a troubled enterprise," explains one recruiting expert. [WSJ]
Andrew Cuomo has been investigating pension fund corruption for the past few months. Now his own ties to just such an entity are raising questions. [BN]
• Wanna invest in a hedge fund? You're in luck. A number of them are looking to diversify their investor bases and are now targeting the middle class. [NYP]
• Stocks rose this morning ahead of a report by the Fed this afternoon. [CNN]
• Good news for JPMorgan Chase: It's "the world's strongest bank." [DB]
• Good news for Barclays: Its name will grace a Brooklyn subway station. [NYT]
• Jeffry Picower was once considered one of Bernie Madoff's victims. Not so much any longer, now that it appears he withdrew as much as $5 billion from his various Madoff accounts between 1995 and 2008. [ProPublica]

Wall Street: Friday Edition

cityfile · 06/12/09 08:30AM

• BlackRock has reached a deal to buy Barclays Global Investors for $13.5 billion, making BlackRock the world's largest money management firm. [WSJ]
• Lawmakers grilled Bank of America chief Ken Lewis in Capitol Hill yesterday, although he defended his decision to go ahead with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch and placed blame on Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson. [NYT, WSJ]
John Paulson's hedge fund, which made $3+ billion betting the housing market would collapse, is now scooping up lots of distressed debt. [BN]
• Goldman was an investment bank before becoming a commercial bank. Now that it's free from the bailout, it may go back to being an I-bank. [Reuters]
• US households lost $1.33 trillion of wealth in the first 3 months of '09. [DB]
• Foreclosures fell during May, not that things have improved much. [CNN]

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 06/11/09 07:14AM

• Showdown in DC: Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis is testifying before a House committee today and getting a pounding, as expected. [WSJ, Dealbreaker]
• Will Citigroup ever get its house in order? FDIC boss Sheila Bair would like some answers, not that the board—or Vikram Pandit—have any. [NYT]
Jim Simons held talks recently to sell a stake in his hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, but has decided against retiring for the time being. [WSJ]
• BlackRock is close to a deal to acquire Barclays Global Investors for $13 billion; the deal would make the Larry Fink-led company the world's largest money manager, with $2.8 trillion in assets under management. [WSJ]
• JPMorgan Chase is acquiring the piece of Glenn Dubin and Henry Swieca's Highbridge Capital Management that it does not already own. [DB]
• AIG is moving out of its downtown HQ now that the company has sold off the real estate to a Korean bank and a US developer for $100+ million. [FT]
• Better than expected unemployment data and retail sales figures have lifted the major markets this morning. [CNN, BN, CNN]

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]

Shoot the (Fake) Banker!

cityfile · 05/05/09 01:12PM

A website called Shoot The Banker will allow you to fire a paintball gun at someone dressed up as a banker (but is probably just an out-of-work comedian). It's Coney Island's Shoot the Freak attraction mixed with the sort of seething anti-capitalist rage that seems to be so popular these days. But it's nice to know that Vikram Pandit and Ken Lewis have something to fall back on when they eventually find themselves unemployed. Sure, you wouldn't pay cash money to fire pellets at a make-believe banker. But both men could probably charge a small fortune to allow Citigroup and Bank of America shareholders to take a shot and the line would still be around the block. [Clusterstock]

Good News, Bad News For Ken Lewis

cityfile · 04/29/09 02:22PM

Embattled Bank of America chief Ken Lewis is going to keep his job as president and chief executive officer. But he won't get to hold on to his title as chairman. After a bitter annual meeting today—and contentious vote by shareholders —Walter E. Massey was elected the bank's chairman. [WSJ]

Showdown in Charlotte

cityfile · 04/29/09 08:56AM

Bank of America's annual shareholders' meeting kicked off this morning in Charlotte and plenty of angry people turned up for the occasion, not surprisingly. With the bank's CEO, Ken Lewis, hanging on to his job by a thread, he did his best to try and justify Bank of America's numerous missteps in recent months. But he appeared to get a little testy, too. When one person asked him why BofA didn't disclose the extent of Merrill Lynch's problems when it acquired the bank, he refused to answer the question. "I can't because of litigation. You're probably one of them... So if you'd like to hear more, withdraw your lawsuit." Alas, no word yet on whether attendees were further outraged for having been denied free coffee. [Dealbook]

Wall Street: Monday Morning

cityfile · 04/27/09 05:56AM

John Thain is striking back at Bank of America in an effort "to restore his sullied reputation," and accusing BofA's CEO, Ken Lewis, of lying. [WSJ]
• Thanks to rising profits, employees at several banks are on track to earn as much money this year as they did before the financial crisis. [NYT]
• UBS's head of investment banking, Jerker Johansson, is stepping down. [DB]
Steve Rattner caught a break on Friday when Quadrangle Group investors decided not to shut down his scandal-plagued fund. [NYT, NYP]

Wall Street: Friday Morning

cityfile · 04/24/09 05:38AM

• After a two-month wait, the nation's 19 largest banks will start to hear today how they did on those stress tests conducted by Washington regulators. [NYT]
• If the test indicates Citigroup will need more money to stay afloat, Vikram Pandit can probably kiss his job as the bank's CEO goodbye. [NYP]
Andrew Cuomo is urging federal regulators to investigate allegations that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke applied pressure to Bank of America chief Ken Lewis to go ahead with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. [WSJ, NYT, CNN]
• Chrysler is preparing to file for Chapter 11 as soon as next week. [WSJ]

Wall Street: Thursday Morning

cityfile · 04/23/09 06:26AM

• Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis testified under oath that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson pressured him to keep quiet about BofA's plans to buy Merrill Lynch. [WSJ, CNN]
• Credit Suisse reported a profit of $1.7 billion for the first quarter. [BN]
• Executives from a bunch of credit card companies will face off against President Obama today over possible limits on fees and interest rates. [BN]

The Trust Wristband: A Must for Any State or Federal Regulator

cityfile · 03/17/09 11:43AM

Here's an accessory that Andrew Cuomo should really consider keeping around the office so he's prepared the next time he grills another Wall Street CEO: the Truth Wristband Kit that was just released by Make magazine. How does it work? "The wearable device dynamically reflects your psycho-emotional response to the world, promoting internal states to be externalized and made into interactive forms of expression. Measuring the galvanic skin response (a marker of emotional arousal commonly used in lie detector tests), this device's lights turn from blue to red as the wearer becomes aroused." In other words, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and the boys at AIG don't stand a chance. [Make]

Wisps of Hope, Cramer Accepts His Beating

cityfile · 03/13/09 05:58AM

• Investors are finding "wisps of hope" in the current not-so-bad economic news, so the three-day winning streak on Wall Street may continue today. [DB]
• AIG reached out to Warren Buffett twice before ultimately collapsing. [BN]
• Citigroup is looking at adding four new people to the company's board. [WSJ]
• Ken Lewis seems to be sending signals he wants out of BofA. [Dealbreaker]
H. Rodgin Cohen is out of the running to be deputy Treasury secretary. [DB]
• There's already chatter that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may get pushed aside in favor of—yes, you guessed it—Steve Rattner. [BI]
• How bad is it for hedge funds? John Paulson was up 38 percent last year and he still lost 16 percent of his assets during the last half of 2008. [Portfolio]
• Two things you never expected to see: A meek, frightened Jim Cramer on national television. And a comedian talking about CDOs. [The Daily Show]

Vikram Pandit's Best Quarter Ever!

cityfile · 03/10/09 05:16AM

• Citigroup chief Vikram Pandit says the bank is "having the best quarter since 2007." Good news. Don't pay any attention to the fact regulators are making "contingency plans" in case Citi "takes a sudden turn for the worse." [BN, WSJ]
• Yet another Citi misstep: In addition to $3.5 million in gift cards, the bank gave out $13 million to employees whose vacations were canceled. [BN]
Andrew Cuomo's assault on Bank of America continues: He's sent a new letter to BofA chief Ken Lewis demanding information on bonus payments—and he even had Barney Frank co-sign it. That will definitely do the trick. [NYP]
• Lehman's buyout division is back in business under new ownership. [FT]
• Boutique investment banking is back, in case you didn't hear. [DB]
• A firm that JP Morgan inherited when it took over Bear Stearns was sold to Barclays for $30 million. Bear paid $625 million for it in 2001. [WSJ]
• The jobless rate may reach 9.4% this year, a new survey suggests. [BN]

Wall Street: Tuesday Morning Headlines

cityfile · 03/03/09 06:10AM

• Stocks appear positioned to rise this morning after tumbling to their worst levels in more than a decade during yesterday's trading session. [CNN, MW]
• More on what the government is trying to do with the billions it's been pumping into AIG. Meanwhile, the insurance giant's founder, Hank Greenberg, has filed suit against his former company and accused it of fraud. [NYT, NYP]
• Citigroup is still hoping to shed a handful of "non-core" assets, including its mortgage and insurance operations, Japanese brokerage, and private-label credit card business. [NYP]