Breaking News This Morning ...
Deal: Lloyds Banking Group agreed to buy Bank of America's U.K. credit card business, called MBNA Limited, for about $2.4 billion. The deal, which includes about $8.7 billion in assets, would boost Lloyd's share of the British card market from 15% to 26%, about the same share as market leader Barclays. "The deal culminates years of upheaval and reorganization at the bank, which the British government bailed out in the middle of the 2008 global financial crisis," the New York Times said.
Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Perp walk: Three top executives of the Platinum Partners hedge fund were arrested Monday and charged with defrauding investors in a scheme U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn Robert Capers described as "Ponzi-esque." Prosecutors said that for the past four years, the executives overvalued the assets that the firm invested in and inflated the performance of its funds.
"Platinum's collapse caps a stunning fall for a hedge fund that had once boasted of one of the most superlative track records in the hedge-fund world," the Wall Street Journal said. "Its main funds reported no down years and virtually no down months. [Bernard] Madoff had made similar claims." Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times
Looking up: Lennar, the second largest U.S. homebuilder, reported sharply higher fiscal fourth quarter earnings and revenue, raising prospects for the industry. New orders for homes rose 9% while the dollar value of those homes jumped 12%. "With the anticipation of a new president focusing on accelerating economic growth, we believe that our fortified balance sheet, our diversified business model and our refined product offerings, will continue to hold us in good stead in a high-growth economy, despite the potential of moderately rising interest rates over the next several years," CEO Stuart Miller said. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
New York Times
Not fans: The paper takes a dim view of Treasury secretary-designate Steven T. Mnuchin, who it notes is poised to become the first hedge fund manager to run the department if he's confirmed. "As befitting that closed-door world of finance, Mr. Mnuchin's record shows a willingness to take on risks and a penchant for secrecy that members of both parties expect will be a focus of his Senate confirmation hearing," the paper states.
Nevertheless, American Banker reports, "Democrats face an uphill battle making the case that those connections disqualify him to serve as Treasury secretary."
The Times' editorial page thinks even less of Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson. The former neurosurgeon "betrays a distressing ignorance of HUD's mission, the laws under which it is supposed to operate and, more broadly, the history of housing segregation in the United States," the editors opine.
"Platinum Partners held no more value than a tarnished piece of cheap metal." — Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers