Lazard

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Thousands Of Layoffs Coming After Buffett Merges Heinz With Kraft, Creating 5th Largest Food Company In The World





Another day, another mega-M&A deal taking advantage of abnormally low bond rates, this time however not involving biotechs or a specialty pharma seeking to purchase a debt-free balance sheet, but one involving the Oracle of Omaha himself, and his Heinz investment, which will merge with Kraft Foods whose market cap was over $40 billion this morning on the news of the merger, and create the third largest food and beverage company in the US, and 5th largest in  the world.  And while the resulting company will certainly be a food giant, here is the rationale behind the deal and the punchline for American workers: "significant synergy opportunities." Translation: thousands of layoffs imminent.

 
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Frontrunning: February 27





  • Central Banks With Negative Rates Spur Question of How Low to Go (BBG)
  • DHS to keep running: Congress edges toward domestic security funding patch (Reuters)
  • Setbacks for Tsipras Stir Discord in Greek Ruling Party (BBG)
  • Greece’s Challenge: Appeasing Its Creditors and Its Population (WSJ)
  • Buffett, a cheerleader for America, takes his checkbook abroad (Reuters)
  • Oil’s Big Swings Are the New Normal: Market has rarely been more volatile (WSJ)
  • Ukraine Left Behind as Russian Stock Gains Are Unmatched (BBG)
  • Brent rises to $61, set for first monthly gain since July (Reuters)
 
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50 Shades Of Greece





When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners. But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it.

 
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The Euro’s Exponential Decay





There’s nothing good left from the initial idea that gave birth to the EU. It’s devolved into something utterly ugly, in which fat Germans driving their Mercs and Beamers down the autobahn can yell at their car stereos that those lazy Greeks must pay their due - which stems from Merkel et al. bailing out Deutsche Bank’s insanely outsized derivatives portfolios. The whole thing is so morally bankrupt, it’s really insane that we’re still trying to have a serious discussion about it. The whole thing, the entire global banking system, is as morally bankrupt as it is financially. So far, all the EU has (anyone notice how silent the IMF has been?) is hubris, bluster and chest-thumping. They play politicians, but Syriza plays real life.

 
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The REAL Greek Negotiations: Situation Is “Berserk", "There Is No Plan", "Greeks Digging Own Graves"





“The Greeks are digging their own graves,” warns one EU official, according to MNI, with another exclaiming the Greek plan as “hopeless” and added “how can you have a plan when you make no payment obligation till the autumn and then you probably scrap that.” Simply put, speaking on condition of anonymity, an EU official described the situation as “berserk” adding “there is no plan.”

 

 
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Frontrunning: February 10





  • Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal (Reuters)
  • Germany rejects Greek claim for World War Two reparations (Reuters)
  • Greece to Seek $11.3 Billion in Financing to Avoid Funding Crunch (BBG)
  • Lazard Sees $113 Billion Greek Debt Cut as ‘Reasonable’ (BBG)
  • U.S. Navy Considers Setting Up Ship Base in Australia (BBG)
  • Dalio’s Bridgewater Fund Said to Rise 8.3% in January (BBG)
  • As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role (WSJ)
  • EU money funds cut exposure to bank debt (FT)
  • China Inflation Drops to Five-Year Low in January (WSJ)
  • Oil-Price Rebound Predicted (WSJ)
 
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RadioShack Files For Bankruptcy





As credit markets have been indicating for 15 months, 94-year-old consumer-electronics chain RadioShack has finally pulled the ripcord...

*RADIOSHACK FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION AS LOSSES MOUNT
*RADIOSHACK WILTS UNDER BIG-BOX, ONLINE COMPETITION

RadioShack lists $1.2bn in assets and $1.38bn in debt. Additionally, Bloomberg reports that a post-bankruptcy deal is being worked on with Sprint.

 
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Meet The Man Behind The Scenes: The "Pro-Market Socialist" Banker Who Will Shape "Europe's Financial Future"





While the media world follows every step of the new Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (or "YV") with morbid fascination, and for good reason - he is so subdued it makes him flamboyant to a media world unaccustomed with modesty -  the truth is that, for all his best intentions, Yanis as well as the Prime Minister, are merely frontmen for popular consumption. The real brains behind the latest Greek attempt at tearing away the hated "oppressive" shackles of debt (which nobody had a problem incurring originally when everything was going smoothly, but that's a topic for another day) is a banker who sits 3000 kilometers away, on Paris' Boulevard Hausmann, and who is a self-described "pro-market socialist", and fan of The Clash. Meet Lazard's Matthieu Pigasse, the banker, whose actions in the next few days, as the WSJ puts it, will shape  "Europe’s financial future."

 
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First Germany, Now ECB Rejects "Latest Greek Bailout Plan"





So much for the Greek "conciliatory proposal" story, driven by yesterday's FT article, and the catalyst for Monday's late day market surge.

 
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Market Wrap: Futures Attempt Bounce On Sudden Rebound In Crude





The overnight session had been mostly quiet until minutes ago, when unexpectedly WTI, which had traded down as low as the mid $46 range following the weakest Chinese manufacturing data in two years, saw another bout of algo-driven buying momentum which pushed it sharply, if briefly, above $50, and was last trading about 2.6% higher on the day. In today's highly correlated market, this was likely catalyzed by a brief period of dollar weakness as well as the jump of EURCHF above 1.05, within the rumored corridor implemented by the Swiss National Bank, which apparently has not learned its lesson and is a glutton for a second punishment, after its hard Swissy cap was so dramatically breached, it hopes to repeat the experience with a softer one around 1.05. Expect to see even more FX brokers blowing up once the EURCHF 1.05 floor fails to hold next.

 
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The Tide Is Turning: Obama "Expresses Sympathy" For Greece; Lazard Says 50% Greek Haircut "Reasonable"





The newsflow over the past several days was progressing much as expected: any time Greece demanded a bailout renegotiation (or termination), and an end to the Troika, Germany just said "Nein." And then something unexpected happened: the socialists came to the rescue when they voiced their support to their ideological peers in Greece. First, it was France whose finance minister said that France is "more than prepared to support Greece." And now it is Obama's turn who as the WSJ reported, has "expressed sympathy for the new Greek government as it seeks to rollback its strict bailout regime, saying there are limits to how far its European creditors can press Athens to repay its debts while restructuring the economy."

 
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'Famous' Bond Investor Turns Out To Be Nothing More Than A Glorified BTFDer





"Michael Hasenstab is all about the big trade," is the 'masters-of-the-universe'-esque introduction by Bloomberg for Franklin Templeton's "famous" bond fund manager. “His success speaks for itself, but he does take bets,” notes one financial planner but it appears Hasenstab has BTFD one time too many - after loading up on more than $7 billion of Ukraine's bonds (equal to almost half of all Ukraine’s foreign bonds) he has seen them almost cut in half to around $4 billion. And it appears clients are seeing the bond guru's BTFD-iness for what it is - extreme risk with OPM - as investors last year pulled a record $14 billion from the U.S. and European versions of the Templeton Global Bond Fund.

 
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Lazard's Antonio "Tax-Inverter" Weiss Withdraws Treasury Nomination (But End-Arounds Senate For 'Counsel' Role)





It appears Lazard's investment banker Antonio Weiss' "help" in tax inversions was just too 'unpatriotic' to scare President Obama off at the last minute.

  • *ANTONIO WEISS SAID TO WITHDRAW NAME AS TREASURY NOMINEE
  • *WEISS SOUGHT TO AVOID LENGTHY CONFIRMATION PROCESS (how thoughtful?)

The White House exclaimed "opposition to Weiss was unjustfied," so perhaps it was his $203 million in assets just would not have played well with Obama's new vision for the future. However, he has managed to get a position as "counselor" - which does not require Senate approval.

 
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Frontrunning: December 12





  • Oil slide hits European stocks, safe-haven assets sought (Reuters)
  • IEA Cuts Global Oil Demand Forecast for 4th Time in Five Months (BBG)
  • Cue constant pro-Abe propaganda out of Japan: Japan’s Secrecy Law Takes Effect as Abe Seeks Fair Vote Coverage (BBG)
  • As if it has a choice: Japan’s GPIF Bets on Abenomics-Driven Recovery (WSJ)
  • Heather Capital: How a $600 Million Hedge Fund Disappeared (WSJ)
  • Senate Panel Votes to Authorize U.S. War on Islamic State (BBG)
  • Japan’s 28 IPOs in 11 Days Give Abe a Lift as Startups Boom (BBG)
  • U.S. authorities face new fallout from insider trading ruling (Reuters)
  • Greek Stock Rout Means ASE Is 2014 Worst After Russia (BBG)
 
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Frontrunning: December 2





  • DAX’s ‘Brilliant’ Run Sends Red Flag as German Index Tops Record (BBG)
  • U.S. military warned of possible Islamic State attacks at home: report (Reuters)
  • Russia Faces First Recession Since 2009 as Banks Add to Oil Pain (BBG)
  • Dodgy Home Appraisals Are Making a Comeback (WSJ)
  • U.S. Corporate Bond Sales Pass $1.5 Trillion for Annual Record (BBG)
  • Basic Costs Squeeze Families (WSJ)
  • China Orders Stricter Checks on Local Debt as Sales Surge (BBG)
  • Draghi Powerless on ECB Path Toward QE Without Reforms (BBG)
 
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