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  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 7:48 PM ET

Citadel founder's divorce battle over property gets uglier

Posted By: Kate Kelly
Ken Griffin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citadel
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Ken Griffin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citadel

In the latest chapter of what is shaping up to be a particularly ugly billionaire divorce, Chicago hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin has challenged his estranged wife's claims on his private planes, real estate, and credit cards, arguing that the mother of his three children has $50 million in personal wealth herself and that he won't continue supporting Anne Dias Griffin in "whatever lifestyle she chooses."

In a 23-page filing lodged late Wednesday in a Cook County, Ill. circuit court, Ken Griffin -- whose wife on October 2 asked, among other things, for a temporary restraining order to bar him from entering her current residence – moves to dismiss that and other claims.

"Anne's petition is nothing more than a plea for this Court to require Ken to fund her affluent lifestyle, notwithstanding her own substantial wealth, and notwithstanding the premarital agreement in which she knowingly and voluntarily waived any right to spousal support or maintenance from Ken," Griffin writes in his filing. Given Dias Griffin's own means, which Griffin estimates in the filing to be "approximately $50 million or more," his wife, herself a onetime hedge-fund manager and active philanthropist, is amply capable of supporting herself, he asserts.

Attorneys for Dias Griffin could not immediately be reached for comment. A representative for Griffin declined to comment.

Griffin states in the new filing that in spite of tough allegations by Dias Griffin that he has threatened to "crush her" with their prenuptial agreement or "destroy" her in the divorce proceedings, the arguments the two have had are in fact "at most an ordinary level of discord and disagreement between two parties involved in divorce litigation." The filing goes on to cite a prior case determining that "becoming 'angry, upset, and loud' does not constitute harassment or abuse."

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 3:08 PM ET

Oh marone! Pasta prices set to spiral higher

Posted By: Jeff Cox
Buena Vista Images | Digital Vision | Getty Images

Pasta prices could be getting molto caro soon if current trends hold up.

Though hopes are that a rising U.S. dollar will help bring down commodity prices, that's not the case all the way around.

One case where that is especially prevalent is with durum wheat, the key ingredient in most pasta making. The 2014 harvest looks to be weak in 2014, putting heavy pressure on a market that has shown consistent price movement higher.

David Maloni, president of the American Restaurant Association, explained Wednesday in his daily note titled, "Pasta buyers beware":

Most wheat futures markets have tested multi-year lows during the last several weeks. But that's not the case with spot durum wheat prices as you pasta buyers are painfully aware. The spot durum-wheat market has risen 38 (think: Michael Morse) percent during the last eight weeks. The culprit? The 2014 domestic durum-wheat harvest is estimated to be down 2 (think: Alcides Escobar) percent from last year and the third-smallest since 2002. Thus ... the USDA projects the available durum wheat supply to be historically small during the next year. There may still be further upside risk to durum wheat in the next several months, especially as supplies tighten next summer.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:25 AM ET

Looks like Tepper's not 'too frickin' long' again

Posted By: Kate Kelly
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management.

David Tepper, manager of the $20 billion hedge-fund company Appaloosa Management, has returned to his cautious stance from late spring after a period of feeling more optimistic about global markets.

Speaking late Tuesday afternoon at an investor conference sponsored by the Robin Hood charitable organization and closed to the media, Tepper gave a market outlook that was measured, if not bearish, according to someone who attended the gathering.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:35 AM ET

This favorite hedge fund play is wearing thin

Posted By: CNBC.com staff
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The popular hedge fund strategy of profiting off corporate slim-downs—often through the spin-off of entire company units—isn't as lucrative as it used to be.

Forty-six companies that announced a spin-off in the last year have seen their median stock prices drop 0.3 percent, The Wall Street Journal said, citing data from FactSet. Thirty days after such an announcement, the median stock had returned 1.2 percent, versus a 1.7 percent rise in the broader S&P 500 Index.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:03 AM ET

Larry Fink: Wall Street needs to help society

Posted By: Lawrence Delevingne
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Investments.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Investments.

With Halloween nearing, Wall Street put on its best Robin Hood costume this week, raising millions of dollars to fight poverty and lamenting the rise of economic inequality.

One of the financial community's most prominent members wondered whether it was doing enough.

"The financial community has done well, but a lot of people have been left behind," Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said at the Robin Hood Investors Conference on Tuesday in Manhattan. "We should be asking the bigger question, 'Are the investments we're making good for society?' "

Fink was one of many bold-faced investment names at the event, which raised $6 million for Robin Hood, the hedge fund-heavy charity that fights poverty in the New York City area. Attendees paid $7,500 per ticket to attend; sponsorship packages ranged from $50,000 to $500,000 and were snapped up by J.P.Morgan, JetBlue, Hyatt Hotels, Sentient Jet and others.

The wealthy crowd was pushed to keep helping the less fortunate by fellow millionaires and billionaires.

"It's a great thing and a great cause you are here for," David Tepper, who earned $3.5 billion in 2013 alone, of Appaloosa Management, told the crowd.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told attendees that much more was needed to fight poverty than just increasing worker pay.

"Minimum wage is like using a BB gun against Stalin; you're clearly on the right side, but way, way insufficient," Summer said during his remarks.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 9:16 AM ET

Weird econ: How a $40B trade deficit helps US

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Here's where a $40 billion trade deficit comes in handy.

Because the U.S. has such a sharp imbalance between what it imports and exports, expected global weakness ahead likely won't have a severe effect on domestic economic growth, according to a report this week from Goldman Sachs economists.

In fact, Goldman held firm to its forecast that the U.S. will significantly outperform much of the developed and emerging world—a 3 percent rise in gross domestic product for 2015 against an expected gain of just one percent or so for Japan and the euro zone. Goldman has cut its forecast for non-U.S. growth by half a percentage point but is holding fast to its expectations for the U.S. itself in the longer term even though it recently reduced its third-quarter GDP outlook.

"At a time when domestic growth drivers are clearly picking up, we see several reasons for optimism," Goldman economists Jan Hatzius and David Mericle said in a report for clients.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 | 6:07 PM ET

Blackstone backs 'utility scale' wind, solar power

Posted By: Lawrence Delevingne
Eyematrix | Getty Images

Mega investment firm Blackstone Group announced a partnership Tuesday to develop large North American wind and solar projects.

Blackstone will team with renewable power developer Solops to create Onyx Renewable Partners. Onyx will be a new affiliate of Blackstone portfolio company Fisterra Energy and will be owned by funds managed by Blackstone on behalf of its private equity investors. Solops founder Matt Rosenblum will be Onyx's CEO.

"Onyx will expand Blackstone's and Fisterra's existing global footprint, add new renewable generation to our nation's grid and create value for all stakeholders involved," Sean Klimczak, a senior managing director who oversees Blackstone's power investments, said in a statement.

Read MorePower from ocean tides: Don't laugh, it's real

»Read more
  Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 | 4:07 PM ET

David Tepper takes short position against the euro

Posted By: Jeff Cox
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management

Hedge fund titan David Tepper is dipping his toes into the currency waters.

The head of Appaloosa Management, said he's taking a position against the euro, a move that comes amid shifting sands in the global forex market.

Speaking at the Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York, the billionaire head of the $20 billion firm said he anticipates the European Central Bank loosening policy ahead as the region seeks to stave off yet another recession.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 | 2:34 PM ET

Next worry—surging corporate debt levels

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Corporations are piling on debt, but investors don't seem to be worried, drawing comparisons to the kind of complacency that helped drive the financial crisis.

Nonfinancial business debt surged to $11.7 trillion in the second quarter, a 6.3 percent gain that was the third-biggest move since 2007. Total corporate debt was $7.4 trillion, a 6.8 percent annualized increase, according to the Federal Reserve.

Companies have been loading up on debt during the Fed's five-year run of near-zero interest rates on short-term debt. They've used it in some part for capital expenditures but have been especially aggressive at share buybacks and dividends, moves that reward shareholders during a time when the S&P 500 stock index has surged more than 190 percent from its March 2009 lows.

But worries are beginning to crop up that the debt party faces an unhappy ending particularly if growth slows and the Fed follows through on plans to end the quantitative easing monthly bond-buying program that has pushed its balance sheet past $4.5 trillion and coincided with the stock market rise.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 | 3:02 PM ET

Dan Loeb talks up Amgen stake; shares rise

Posted By: Lawrence Delevingne

Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb recommended Amgen's stock on Tuesday, causing its shares to rise about 4 percent on the news.

Loeb, head of hedge fund firm Third Point, spoke of the company at the Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York. Third Point also simultaneously sent a letter to investors discussing the position. Amgen is not a new stake; Third Point held 450,000 shares as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing. But Third Point is now "one of the company's largest shareholders," according to the letter.

"We believe the obscured fundamental value and investor skepticism that have led to Amgen's valuation discount can be easily unlocked," the letter said.

It listed three "immediate" actions Amgen could take to add value: "focusing its R&D efforts;" "providing long‐term margin guidance demonstrating a commitment to reducing a bloated cost structure" and "creating clarity on additional shareholder returns."

»Read more

About NetNet

  • NetNet is where you'll find the low-down and the high jinks of Wall Street. It's the place for insider stories, trader gossip, and tales of the foibles of the moneyed crowd and the culture of finance.Wall Street news and commentary served fresh all day long.

 

  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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