DealBook: What Happened at Goldman?

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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“We did underperform,” said R. Martin Chavez, Goldman Sachs’ incoming chief financial officer, “and the underperformance was driven by commodities and currencies.” Karsten Moran for The New York Times
By Amie Tsang
What kind of business do you associate with Goldman Sachs?
The trading of bonds, currencies and commodities? Well, that’s a core part of its business.
But the bank’s performance in those areas so far this year has been weak — an embarrassing setback when compared with strong profits in those businesses for competitors, like Bank of America and Citibank.
So what happened? Clients sent fewer orders their way and less volatility in markets made it harder to profit from price swings.
Goldman Sachs doesn’t want people to read too much into just one quarter’s earnings.
But this is Goldman, so all of Wall Street was trying to work it out. (Investors punished the bank’s stock, which closed down 4.7 percent.)
It wasn’t all bad. Goldman’s net revenue was higher than expected, and the firm is still first in the rankings for advising on mergers and acquisitions and for underwriting corporate stock offerings.
Looking forward, Antony Currie writes in Breakingviews that the bank’s internal technology revolution cannot come soon enough. Goldman needs the higher returns that could come with its online retail banking unit, but it could still be a while before that makes enough to cover the shortcomings in other areas.
Harbert Reaches $40 Million Tax Settlement
Philip A. Falcone is no stranger to regulators.
He made billions betting on the collapse of the housing market and then lost at least $1 billion investing in wireless telecommunications. He was barred in 2013 from working in the securities industry for five years after violations at his former hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Partners.
Now it’s the turn of his financial backers to face regulatory issues.
Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, said on Tuesday that his office had reached a $40 million settlement with Harbert Management Corporation and several of its top executives over allegations that they had not paid state taxes for some of the most profitable years that Mr. Falcone was managing Harbinger, which was owned by Harbert.
An investigation by Mr. Schneiderman’s office had found that Harbert paid no state taxes on the profit generated by Harbinger from 2004 to 2009, even though the hedge fund and Mr. Falcone were based in Manhattan.
Harbert said in a statement that the firm and its executives “adamantly deny that they committed any wrongdoing” and that they made “a commercial decision to settle this legacy issue.”
By The Numbers: I.M.F. Growth Forecasts
3.7 percent: the growth rate forecast for the world in 2017.
That figure tops the 3.1 percent for 2016, but it could be threatened by protectionist tendencies in developed economies, the International Monetary Fund warned. Still, the volume of global trade is expected to pick up this year.
4.5 percent: the growth rate for developing nations.
That would be another improvement from 2016. The fund said a pickup in commodity prices and increased investment spending improved the outlook in the emerging world. And it is not the only group that is optimistic.
Emerging market stocks and bonds have attracted investors recently as President Trump’s anti-trade statements have faded, while the weaker dollar has lifted downtrodden currencies like the Mexican peso, the Turkish lira and the Brazilian real.
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Mergers and Acquisitions
Akzo Nobel Unveils Plan to Fend Off Takeover


The Dutch paint maker, which is trying to parry a $26 billion offer by a U.S. rival, PPG Industries, outlined an alternative proposal to break off its chemicals unit and pay a special dividend of 1.6 billion euros this year.

PetSmart to Buy


The pet supplies company has agreed to pay $3.35 billion for its online rival, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Japanese Government Fund Is Said to Consider Bid for Toshiba Chip Unit


Innovation Network Corp, joining forces with the Development Bank of Japan, is weighing a joint offer with Broadcom for the semiconductor business, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Medtronic Sells Supplies Unit to Cardinal Health


The $6.1 billion deal will help Medtronic slim down after buying Covidien of Ireland.

Walmart Said to Be in Talks with Bonobos


The retail behemoth is in negotiations to buy the men’s clothing retailer for about $300 million, according to people familiar with the situation.

K.K.R.-Backed Group Raises Bid for Australia’s Biggest Lottery Operator


A consortium led by the private equity firm has made a revised offer of $4.65 billion for the betting company Tatts.

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Legal and Regulatory

Bill O’Reilly’s Future at Fox Dims as the Murdochs’ Support Erodes


The position of the No. 1 host in cable news grew more tenuous as support from the network’s owners showed signs of eroding, according to people briefed on discussions about his future.

Trump Signs Order That Could Lead to Curbs on Foreign Workers


The president said the executive order was a way to end the “theft of American prosperity,” which he said had been brought on by low-wage immigrant labor.

Vijay Mallya, Once India’s ‘King of Good Times,’ Is Arrested in London


He was held as part of extradition proceedings that could lead to him being sent back to India, which he fled more than a year ago amid an avalanche of unpaid bills and accusations of fraud.

Justices Appear Reluctant to Close Debt Collection Loophole


Consumer groups say a gap in a federal law allows some collectors to engage in abusive tactics, but the law doesn’t address the activities of businesses like banks or credit card companies.

On Money

The Bureau of Resistance


How long can a progressive federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, stand firm against the deregulatory pressures of the Trump administration?

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