Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Did Greg Smith Do Goldman a Favor?: More news outlets are echoing Dealbook's assessment of former trader Greg Smith's purported tell-all "Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story" by stating that the book, due out today, isn't much of a tell-all at all. The FT says while Smith's account "paints an unflattering picture" of the investment firm, it doesn't "contain any blockbuster discoveries that could to lead to trouble for the bank's top executives" and, instead, focuses on "Mr. Smith's journey from summer intern to equity derivatives salesman in Goldman's London office." Meanwhile, a second Times review calls the not-so-tell-all "curiously short on facts" and says it actually might help bolster Goldman's reputation. "If Mr. Smith is the ultimate insider, and this is as bad as it gets — Mr. Smith in a hot tub at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas with a topless woman — then he hasn't made much of a case," the reviewer writes.
A quick scan of additional press and reviews of the book indicate its juiciest implications may apply not to Goldman's C-suite, but to Smith himself. Bloomberg reports Smith "was denied" his request to make more than $1 million a year, or "almost double what he was making at the time as an executive director in London," and a promotion in the weeks prior to his resignation via the scathing, muppet-slinging op-ed in the Times that ultimately led to the estimated $1.5 million book deal. Meanwhile, the Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin tells CNBC's Squawk Box "I feel in a way that [Smith] might have conned the New York Times a little bit for running the op-ed" due to the book's decided lack of details. As this Reuters' headline asks, "who are the muppets now?"
RBS Fire Sale: Royal Bank of Scotland is looking for a new buyer for the several hundred branches it was "forced to put back up for sale" following a collapsed deal with Spanish bank Santander. The FT reports Nationwide Building Society may put in a bid for the real estate, which RBS was asked to shed as a stipulation of its 2008 bailout by the U.K. government. Other potential buyers include "Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money business and U.S. private equity entrepreneur J. Christopher Flowers."
Meanwhile, the Journal reports RBS is under increasing pressure from U.K. regulators to also sell its U.S. subsidiary RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc. The unit, which is based in Providence, R.I., and has more than $140 billion in assets, is "attractive to some large U.S. banks eager to expand in the northeastern U.S. and Midwest," but could still prove difficult to sell since, among other factors, RBS executives themselves aren't interested in a sale and "regulators and central bankers are wary of big banks getting bigger."
Wall Street Journal
Mounting cyber attacks are forcing banks to work together. Security experts told the paper "as hackers get more sophisticated, lenders face growing pressure to share information with each other and with national intelligence agencies, and to communicate better with customers." BB&T and HSBC were among last week's most recent hacktivist victims.
Life insurer Prudential Financial has become the latest nonbank to inch closer to receiving the dreaded "systematically important" designation from U.S. regulators. The company told the paper it received notification it "had reached 'Stage 3' of a review by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a government panel tasked with determining which financial institutions could jolt the U.S. economy if they were to fail."
First Horizon National Corp. took a hit on its third-quarter earnings and announced "that it might have to buy back mortgages it previously sold to private investors."
Lloyds has become the latest bank to reassess its bonus programs. The bank is "examining whether to ditch the concept of annual bonuses for senior staff and extend the timeframe of longer-term incentives to up to 10 years."
Stringent capital requirements have at least one fan. U.K. regulator Andrew Bailey told the paper the higher requirements have made "banks safer and had allowed the financial regulators to experiment with specific incentives to encourage new lending to British households and companies."
Here's a designation financial institutions may be wary of: MF Global has emerged "as the most actively traded bankruptcy claim," edging out Lehman Brothers, which had topped the list since 2008.