Levine on Wall Street: Boardroom Brawls and Bitcoin Cookies
Salary negotiations in the U.K. are weird.
Bear with me here but I think Barclays Plc chief executive Antony Jenkins has this backwards. The board offered him a bonus of somewhere between, let's say, 1 pound and 2.75 million pounds, and he hit back with a counteroffer of zero pounds. The board accepted his counteroffer. So he's not getting a bonus and has to make due with his 1.1 million pound salary. That can't seriously have been what he intended?
On its surface, this is a story about how Lenta, a "Russian hypermarket chain part-owned by private equity group TPG, is planning to sell up to $1bn worth of shares through a dual listing in London and Moscow." But come for the Russian capital markets trend story, stay for the crazy:
During TPG’s tenure as a shareholder of Lenta, business has not always run smoothly. After investing $100m in the company together with VTB in 2009, the US private equity firm soon found itself in conflict with one of Lenta’s minority shareholders who tried to block Mr Dunning’s appointment and instead install a rival as chief executive.
At one point the dispute erupted into a literal brawl in a fight between a rival team of bodyguards for the two competing chief executives outside Lenta’s headquarters.
“That was a bit nasty,” the Netherlands-born Mr Dunning recalled. “I battled my way back into the office.”
Corporate governance in America is rather less intense.
Here are some people who think that, if major long-term shareholders want to talk to directors, or if directors want to talk to those shareholders, they should talk to each other. I guess that does sound like a sort of minimal standard for shareholder democracy? They want to "counter the disproportionate influence of activist hedge funds on corporate America," and I suppose that is a worthy goal, but also kind of a weird one. If boards never talk to shareholders who haven't launched a proxy fight or lawsuit or hostile tender offer, then I guess activists will have a disproportionate influence. But I'm not sure that's the activists' fault?
Private equity: labor or capital income?
The traditional knock on private equity firms is that they get paid their 2 and 20 for doing the work of finding companies to invest in, investing in them, managing them, and so forth. This is work, so it should be taxed like work -- as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. Others disagree. Here is a tax lawyer saying that private equity firms are actually dodging taxes by treating capital income -- dividends from their portfolio companies -- as labor income, by characterizing the dividends as "monitoring fees." So that's a little counterintuitive.
Milk Road what is this come on.
Here is the story of two San Francisco sisters, 8 and 5, who sold cookies. And accepted Bitcoins for payment. At their mother's instigation:
When her 8-year-old’s elementary school class was studying the concept of money last year, Holly sent the teacher a note advising her to include virtual currencies in the lesson. The teacher never responded to the email. Holly decided she would teach the kids herself, with a real world lesson. When they decided to take their Christmas gift cookie stand to the farmer’s market to sell cookies, Holly set up a Bitcoin wallet for them and printed out the QR code so they might get a chance to see what a Bitcoin transaction is like.
Here is what a Bitcoin transaction is like:
The cookie stand has now had three outings, and the girls have had just 2 Bitcoin sales, though they have received a couple hundred dollars worth of Bitcoin from supportive members of the community who saw the photo.
Bitcoin: Good for online novelty items! Bad for buying food!
The real Wolf of Wall Street.
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