Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Bitcoin and South by Southwest: Add James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, to the list of financial head honchos mystified by Bitcoin. Gorman told Maria Bartiromo, a host on the Fox Business Network, that he found the crypto-currency and all the news around it including the recent Newsweek story about its supposed founder "totally surreal." "I'm not sure I understand it," Gorman told Bartiromo on Monday, adding that he hopes regulators pay attention to the cryptocurrency. Luckily for Gorman, the New York Times has a nifty video that explains Bitcoin embedded into its story about him. Should the video not be enough Bitcoin education, Gorman could call Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Ross Ulbricht, the man charged with operating Silk Road, a digital marketplace for drugs that accepted payment only by Bitcoin. As Ross Ulbricht awaits trial in New York, Lyn Ulbricht worked the Bitcoin crowds at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, on Monday as she tried to raise money to cover her son's legal bills. Despite her pleas, it is apparently a tough sell. The Times reports only a few people took the fliers the mom passed out during a talk at the conference. Meanwhile at the conference, Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has been charged under the Espionage Act for leaking documents about the NSA, warned technology companies to find better ways to encrypt their data to dodge government surveillance, the Wall Street Journal reported. Given his fugitive status, Snowden opted to appear in Austin via video feed from Moscow where the Russian government has offered him temporary asylum. No St. Basil's Cathedral in the background for Snowden, though. He opted for the U.S. Constitution. Elsewhere in Texas, Mt. Gox, the Japanese Bitcoin exchange that collapsed last month, sought bankruptcy protection in Dallas in an attempt to keep the cash it holds in the U.S. from being sought by customers. The exchange says it is trying to avoid spending money dealing with customers. It also filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan in February.
Puerto Rico Bonds: Puerto Rico is expected to sell $3 billion in bonds Tuesday in what is being viewed as a bright spot in a tough economy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the bonds are expected to carry a yield between 8.625% and 8.875%, citing unnamed investors. That range compares to other previous bonds issued by the island that trade at a 7.5% yield. The Times, however, notes that the yield on the new debt is lower than expected and, in citing an industry expert, says recent transparency over its financial health likely helped it get that rate. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Wall Street Journal
The paper is reporting that Insight Venture Partners, a New York private-equity fund, is the likely winner in auction to buy Institutional Shareholder Services. ISS is the largest provider of advice to shareholders of publicly traded companies and is currently owned by MSCI, which announced last year it was exploring strategic alternatives for the unit, which it obtained as a part of a $1.8 billion acquisition of RiskMestrics Group in 2010. The paper says it couldn't learn the terms of the potential deal, but said ISS's value had previously been pegged at $300 million, reflecting a lower valuation than in the past.
Wells Fargo will now allow its employees to make loans with their own money on peer-to-peer platforms such as Lending Club. In January, the FT reported that the megabank had banned such lending among its staff because of potential conflict of interest. The company has since conducted a "fresh review" of such lending and found that such lending didn't violate its code of conduct, according to a statement from the company.