Posts Tagged ‘lehman brothers’

MF Global Files for Bankruptcy and Plunges in First Day of OTC Trading

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

November 2, 2011 - MF Global (NYSE: MF) tumbled in its first day of over-the-counter trading after the futures brokerage filed for bankruptcy, prompting the New York Stock Exchange to delist the shares.  MF Global’s bankruptcy is the 8th largest bankruptcy of all time.

The stock, quoted under the symbol “MFGLQ,” declined 83 percent to 21 cents at 12:45 p.m. New York time on trading volume of 170.9 million shares. MF Global plunged 67 percent last week as the New York-based firm reported a record $191.6 million quarterly loss.

MF Global stock hasn’t changed hands during a regular trading session since Oct. 28. NYSE Euronext suspended the stock before the New York Stock Exchange opened on Oct. 31. MF Global filed the eighth-largest U.S. bankruptcy this week after failing to find a buyer over the weekend. The futures broker suffered a ratings downgrade and loss of customers after revealing it had investments related to $6.3 billion in European sovereign debt.

The night before MF posted its biggest quarterly loss, triggering a 48 percent stock plunge, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Corzine appeared at a steak dinner at New York’s Helmsley Park Lane Hotel for a speech to a group of bankers and traders.

“There was no sense at all that there was impending doom,” Kenneth Polcari, a managing director of ICAP Corporates, said of Corzine’s Oct. 24 address to the National Organization of Investment Professionals. “He gave a spectacular speech” about his decades at Goldman Sachs, life as a U.S. senator and New Jersey governor and his return to the private sector. “He’s had a full life, up until now.”

Corzine, 64, excused himself before the main course was served, saying he had to prepare for an earnings call the next day, said David Shields, vice chairman of New York-based brokerage Wellington Shields & Co. and a former chairman of the organization. The group seeks to foster “a favorable regulatory environment,” according to its website.

Timothy Mahoney, CEO of New York-based Bids Trading LP, said Corzine’s speech was “delightful.”

The next day, MF Global reported a $191.6 million net loss tied to its $6.3 billion wager on European sovereign debt. On Oct. 27, after the company’s bonds dropped to 63.75 cents on the dollar, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings cut the firm to below investment grade, or junk. Unable to find a buyer, the company filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, the first major U.S. casualty of the European debt crisis.

‘Serve the Public’

At least two dozen U.S. lawmakers and regulators, including Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt have addressed the group, according to its website.

“There are many people in the group that do lobby and talk to regulators,” Shields said. “You talk to regulators, you talk to lawmakers and you try to get the points forward, things that will help the marketplace, that will serve the public.”

The group’s board includes head traders at firms such as Waddell & Reed Financial Inc., whose futures trade triggered the flash crash of May 6, 2010, according to a study by the SEC and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Its members’ firms “trade approximately 70 percent of the institutional volume transacted daily in the New York and Nasdaq markets,” according to the website.

‘Difficult’ Day

The group’s current chairman, Dan Hannafin of Boston-based investment manager Wellington Management Co., declined to comment on the dinner. Corzine and Diana DeSocio, an MF Global spokeswoman, didn’t reply to an e-mailed request for comment.

Mahoney said he appreciated Corzine’s ability “to compartmentalize” and speak engagingly last week. Mahoney’s firm, Bids, runs a private trading venue known as a dark pool, and is a joint venture of banks including Goldman Sachs.

Before the speech, Moody’s cut MF Global’s credit ratings to the lowest investment grade. Polcari said there was one reference to Corzine’s “difficult” day.

While he was “cordial” and “positive,” the MF Global chief lacked his typical “sharp bounce,” Shields said. Corzine is “a member of the community,” and could be invited back after the bankruptcy, he said. “People go through bad times.”

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Baker at nbaker7@bloomberg.net

Pali Capital Files for Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy Filings Attached

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Pali Capital, a well known boutique investment bank and underwriter recently filed for bankruptcy after a failed merger attempt.  The firm was founded in 1995 by former MDs at Merrill Lynch.

According to Bloomberg, “Pali Holdings has filed for bankruptcy protection after failing to sell its boutique securities firm, Pali Capital.

Pali’s Chapter 11 petition, filed in federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Thursday, listed $716,300 in assets and $31.8 million in debts.”

More from Bloomberg:

“Pali Holdings filed the instant Chapter 11 bankruptcy case to obtain protection from its creditors while it continues to liquidate and wind down Pali Capital,” Gerald Burke, a director of Pali Holdings, said in an affidavit filed with the bankruptcy petition.

The privately held company was in talks to sell the brokerage business to ex-Bear Stearns Companies finance chief Samuel Molinaro and had told shareholders it might go out of business without a sale or cash infusion.

The parent company, based in New York, had an estimated loss of $18.3 million in 2009 and said in a Jan. 14 letter to shareholders obtained by Bloomberg News that it could run out of money by the end of February. The broker-dealer Pali Capital, with expertise in derivatives, fixed income, and investment banking, said Feb. 16 that it would begin to wind down operations.

According to the SF Chronicle “When a brokerage fails, the Securities Investor Protection Corp. names a trustee to protect assets and return customers’ cash and securities. When Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed Chapter 11 in 2008, the SIPC appointed lawyer James Giddens as brokerage trustee. The bank’s North American brokerage business and associated real estate were then sold to London-based Barclays Plc for $1.54 billion.

The largest unsecured creditor named in the Pali Holdings filing was Panama-based Mandeville Holding Ventures Co.

Four CEOs

Pali Holdings has had four chief executive officers or co- CEOs in the past 17 months and its chairman stepped down in December. The firm focused on equity and fixed-income sales, trading and research for institutional clients such as money managers and hedge funds. The company had offices in London, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Chicago and five other U.S. locations, according to its Web site.

Pali Holdings received $3 million of “emergency bridge financing” in November and has lost about $40 million in the past two years, according to the company’s letter, signed by directors Kevin Fisher and Burke.

Pursue Alternatives

Shareholders, including former Pali CEO Bradley Reifler, wrote in response that the company should pursue alternatives to a sale, such as a recapitalization. In their undated letter, signed by Reifler, Wolfgang Stolz and John Staddon and also obtained by Bloomberg News, the shareholders requested a special meeting be held to elect a new board.

Molinaro, the former Bear Stearns executive, was helping Braver Stern Securities Corp. negotiate the potential purchase of Pali Capital and was to become CEO of the combined firm, overseeing about 250 people, people familiar with the talks have said. Molinaro was Bear Stearns’s chief financial officer from 1996 until 2008, when JPMorgan Chase & Co. purchased the company to save it from bankruptcy.

Separately today, New York-based JPMorgan filed a $4.5 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Pali and Reifler, alleging a loan default.

“Pali was responsible” for the debt, Reifler said in a telephone interview. “When I left in October 2008, there was $66 million in cash, and the loan should have been paid from those funds.”

The case is In Re Pali Holdings Inc., 10-11727, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)”

According to ZeroHedge,

The reason for the bankruptcy was provided in the filed affidavit as follows: “Pali Capital experienced consistent pre-tax losses commencing with the second quarter of 2008 and continuing through and including the fourth quarter of 2009, caused by among other things, a substantial slowdown in sales and trading by Pali Capital’s primary institutional clients. These losses are projected to continue into at least the first quarter of 2010. As a result, it was difficult for Pali Capital to maintain adequate levels of excess regulatory net capital to support normal business operations, although Pali Capital is in compliance with its minimum regulatory net capital requirements through February 28, 2010.” So after 4 CEOs in 17 months all Pali is left with is a list of secured and unsecured creditors. And in probably not the wisest move for the privacy of said creditors, the firm has listed the home addresses of Kevin Fisher, Ari Nathan, Leon Brenner and some other rather high profile financiers.

List of largest secured creditors (and home addresses):

Pali Bankruptcy

Lehman Brothers Whistle Blower Letter

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The letter below is a shocking account of Matthew Lee’s findings at Lehman Brothers in May of 2008.  Enjoy the read.

Letter by Lehman Whistle Blower Matthew Lee, Dated May 16, 2008

Junk Bonds Rebound as Investors Look for Yield

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Junk bonds have returned over 65% since the fall of Lehman Brothers.  Has credit quality improved since?  Not so much, but investors have become more aggressive and do not wish to earn zero or negative returns after inflation from U.S. Treasuries.  Even corporate bonds are not returning as much, since benchmark rates are so low.  As the Fed’s asset purchases stop in March, this could change.  Mortgage rates have also been kept artificially how.  Low spreads of about 6% on these bonds have helped risky companies refinance.  High yield issuers have already issued $42 billion in the first quarter, a record.

According to Ms. Salas and Mr. Paulden of Bloomberg, high-yield, high-risk bonds are beating investment-grade debt for the first time this year as confidence in the U.S. economic recovery gains strength.

Speculative-grade securities have returned 1.93 percent this month, bringing year-to-date gains to 3.63 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. That compares with a 0.07 percent loss this month for investment- grade bonds and a 2.32 percent return in 2010. The junk-bond index is being led higher by Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and Energy Future Holdings Corp., formerly known as TXU Corp.

Lenders to the neediest borrowers are accepting the lowest relative yields since January as confidence in the global economy spurs Morgan Stanley to boost its growth estimate for 2010 to 4.4 percent from 4 percent. Speculative-grade credit rating upgrades by Moody’s Investors Service are poised to outpace downgrades for the second consecutive quarter, the first time that’s happened since 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It’s a yield grab,” said Jack Iles, an investment manager at MFC Global Investment Management in Boston who helps oversee $4 billion in fixed-income assets.

The extra yield investors demand to own high-yield bonds instead of Treasuries has narrowed for nine straight days to 6.15 percentage points, the longest streak of spread tightening since August, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show. The spread had widened to 7.03 percentage points on Feb. 12 from 6.39 percentage points in December on concern that Greece’s budget deficit, Europe’s biggest in terms of gross domestic product, would slow the global economy.

‘Bit of a Stumble’

“Risky assets took a little bit of a stumble from January to mid-February and that was by and large wrapped up with concerns over sovereign debt,” said Christopher Garman, president of Orinda, California-based Garman Research LLC. “Those concerns seem to have more or less faded.”

Elsewhere in credit markets, Fannie Mae sold $6 billion of debt, its biggest offering of benchmark notes since April, as the company boosts borrowing and cuts holdings to fund about $130 billion of planned purchases of delinquent loans from the mortgage securities it guarantees. The 3-year debt from the mortgage company under government control yields 1.803 percent, or 31 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, Washington-based Fannie Mae said in a statement.

Commercial Paper

U.S. commercial paper outstanding rose $11.2 billion to $1.14 trillion in the week ended March 10, after declining by $20.4 billion in the previous period, the Federal Reserve said on its Web site. Commercial paper, which typically matures in 270 days or less, is used to finance everyday activities such as payroll and rent.

Central clearing of derivatives including credit-default swaps will come under scrutiny as part of efforts to safeguard the European Union’s financial system. At a meeting on March 22, EU nations and the European Commission will examine ways to cut the risk in the event that one of the parties to a derivatives contract can’t meet its obligations, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Clearinghouses for swaps transactions should be open to any firm that wants to process trades in the $300 trillion U.S. market, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler.

“Clearinghouses should not be allowed to discriminate between or amongst the trades coming from one trading venue or another,” the chairman said in prepared remarks at the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

Bondholder Protection

The cost to protect against corporate bond defaults in the U.S. rose as the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index, which is linked to 125 companies and used to speculate on creditworthiness or to hedge against losses, climbed 0.5 basis point to a mid-price of 83.5 basis points, according to broker Phoenix Partners Group. The gauge typically increases as investor confidence deteriorates.

In London, the Markit iTraxx Europe index of swaps on 125 companies with investment-grade ratings, rose 1.5 basis point today to 75.75 basis points, the highest since March 5, JPMorgan Chase & Co. prices show.

Credit-default swaps pay the buyer face value if a borrower defaults in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point and equals $1,000 a year on a contract protecting against default on $10 million of debt for five years.

Signs that the U.S. economy is improving are bolstering demand for speculative-grade securities, according to Martin Fridson, chief executive officer of money manager Fridson Investment Advisors.

‘Healthy Appetite’

“There is a healthy appetite for risk,” Fridson said. “There is a fading of concern over Greece and more upbeat economic numbers.”

Morgan Stanley expects “above-consensus global GDP growth,” raising the projection from December, “despite growth downgrades in Europe,” a weaker first quarter in the U.S. and “recent softening” in a China manufacturing index, the firm’s economists said March 10.

The Organization for Economic Corporation and Development said March 5 its leading indicator, which signals the direction of the economy, reached the highest in almost 31 years in January.

The measure increased by 0.8 point to 103.6 from 102.8 in December, the Paris-based organization said. January’s reading was the highest since May 1979. Gains on the month were led by Japan, the U.S., Canada and Germany, the OECD said.

Spreads to Narrow

High-yield spreads will narrow to 4 percentage points by year-end as defaults plunge, according to Garman. Moody’s predicts the speculative-grade default rate will decline to 2.9 percent by the end of 2010 from 11.6 percent in February. The rate fell from 12.5 percent in January.

The worst-rated bonds are performing the best this month. Securities ranked CCC and lower have gained 2.77 percent while BB rated notes, the highest junk tier, have returned 1.81 percent, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show. High-yield securities are rated below Baa3 by Moody’s and lower than BBB- by Standard & Poor’s.

Bonds of Freescale, the computer chipmaker bought by firms led by Blackstone Group LP, have climbed 5.36 percent on average and debt of Energy Future, the power producer taken private by KKR & Co. and TPG, has returned 4.27 percent, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show. Austin, Texas-based Freescale is rated Caa2 by Moody’s and B- by S&P. Dallas-based Energy Future is rated Caa3 and B-, respectively.

Issuance Rises

The bonds are rallying in part because the thawing of the new issue market has given the riskiest companies the ability to refinance their debt, said MFC Global’s Iles.

Speculative-grade companies have issued $42.5 billion of bonds in 2010, already a record first quarter, Bloomberg data show. Junk bond sales totaled $11.8 billion in the first three months of 2009.

“The reopening of the new issue market was huge for these guys,” Iles said. “The ability for companies like TXU to restructure even part of their balance sheet is much better than it was even six months ago.”

Lisa Singleton, a spokeswoman for Energy Future and Freescale spokesman Robert Hatley declined to comment.

Among high-yield borrowers selling debt this week were GMAC Inc., which sold $1.5 billion of 8 percent, 10-year bonds, and McLean, Virginia-based Alion Science & Technology Corp., which issued $310 million of 12 percent payment-in-kind notes that can pay interest in the form of added debt.

Insurance companies were the best performing industry in the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Index with gains of 6.63 percent this month. Bonds of American International Group Inc., once the world’s largest insurer, have risen to the highest levels in 18 months after the New York- based company said March 1 it was selling AIA Group Ltd. to Prudential Plc for $35.5 billion.

Financial service company debt, the second-best performing sector, gained 3.64 percent and restaurant company bonds followed with returns of 3.13 percent, index data show.