New York Observer


Move Over, Seinfeld: Carl Icahn Has ‘Em Rolling in the Aisles

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

May 21, 2001

By James Verini

Carl Icahn is a very funny guy. Seriously.

Just ask anyone who was present at the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund Investment Conference in the late afternoon on Wednesday, May 9, where the legendary arbitrageur and raider slayed the crowd in the Grand Hyatt ballroom. A few hundred suits had gathered there to pick up stock tips from a marquee lineup of speakers that included, in addition to Mr. Icahn, John Meriwether, James Cramer and Henry Blodget — all of whom had some funny things to say (notwithstanding Mr. Cramer’s completely sincere announcement that he planned to invest more of his own money in TheStreet.com).

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Grant, Having Battled Bulls, Wins War Between the Rates

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

May 14, 2001

By James Verini

There is a place where smart bears gather. There is a place where conservative investors with literature degrees, CNBC-hating index wonks, articulate doomsday types and students of financial arcana get together to commiserate and, these days, to lick their chops. It is called the Grant’s Interest Rate Observer Spring Investment Conference — “Grant’s Conference” for short — and it happens just twice a year (there is also a fall version). Not because James Grant, the editor of his eponymously titled newsletter and the dean of market contrarians — and, arguably, the most readable business journalist around — wouldn’t hold one every week if he could; but because, as one participant in this year’s conference put it, “It is something I only want to do once a year.”

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Where’s Wall Street? Morgan Once Defined It — Now It’s Tourists, Delis and Condos

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

May 7, 2001

By James Verini

Last September, J.P. Morgan & Company stupefied the world of banking, and many within its own walls, when it announced that it was being bought by big, boring Chase Manhattan Bank. Not only was this most hallowed of Wall Street institutions giving up its treasured autonomy after more than a century, but it was giving it up to a sprawling, faceless “financial-services giant,” observers said — the sort of firm that Morgan, with its thick air of tradition and age-old clients, had long disdained.

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Hotel Occupancies Starting to Decline, but Bars Fill Up

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

March 12, 2001

By James Verini

At Olives on a recent Friday evening, getting a table for 7 p.m. or any other hour that night — or the next, for that matter — was out of the question. Todd English’s restaurant, in the new W Hotel on Union Square, was booked solid. In fact, it was all one could do to get a beer at the adjoining bar, packed as its velvet couches were. Later, at Rande Gerber’s Underbar downstairs, it would be even harder.

Across the lobby at the reservations desk, however, booking a room for the night was no problem — a $1,000-a-night duplex suite was available, as were a standard $299 room and many others.

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New Movie Tycoon Philip Anschutz Wants to Make Celluloid Obsolete

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

March 26, 2001

By James Verini

Last spring, in the middle of shooting Spy Kids, which opens March 30, executive producer Cary Granat vanished. As head of Dimension Films, a subsidiary of Miramax, Mr. Granat had pulled off the absurdly profitable hits Scream 3 and Scary Movie. He was Bob Weinstein’s golden boy. Then, suddenly, he was gone.

“I wondered what happened to him,” said Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez.

Ask Philip Anschutz. In September, Mr. Anschutz, the sixth-wealthiest man in America, installed Mr. Granat in the empty 26th floor of an office building at 12 East 40th Street and told him to assemble a “multimedia entertainment and education” company, Empower Media.

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The Sunbeam Boys: In Big Bankruptcy Battle It’s Chaim Fortgang Vs. Harvey Miller

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

February 26, 2001

By James Verini

On Feb. 7, the Sunbeam Corporation, $3.2 billion in debt, gave up hope that it will sell enough Mr. Coffee machines, Oster blenders and Coleman camping lamps to pay all of its bills, and filed for bankruptcy. The case is likely to be one of the biggest Chapter 11’s filed in Manhattan’s Southern District this year, and already the press and the lawyers are salivating.

Investors with stock in Bank of America are also salivating — hungry for revenge. Stock in Bank of America, Sunbeam’s largest lender, has sunk in recent months, thanks to the small-appliance company’s troubles.

But if you are one of Sunbeam’s investors, don’t fret: Bank of America has teamed up with Sunbeam’s investment bank, Morgan Stanley, and brought in the best creditor counsel in the business. Chaim Fortgang, the scourge of red ink everywhere, aims to recoup every last penny.

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Reese’s Pieces: Mr. Schonfeld, Forgotten Founder of CNN

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

January 29, 2001

By James Verini

Reese Schonfeld is not taking calls from the press these days. He is not ready to talk about “the book.” The book, though only a couple of weeks away from publication, is off-limits. The book, despite its provocative title — Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN — is taboo.

For 20 years, Reese Schonfeld’s told the world that he’s the guy who started CNN. And that is true. He’s launched businesses on the strength of that fact — a slew of new careers, in fact, including the one he’s recently embarked upon, as an adviser to the media mergers-and-acquisitions shop DeSilva & Phillips.

The book recalls that former life, and presumably shares a few thoughts about Ted Turner and the rest of the CNN crew. Coming at a time of deep retrenchment at the troubled news organization, it is sure to garner attention. But Mr. Schonfeld isn’t offering any previews.

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Got Bonus Envy?

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

December 25, 2000

By James Verini

 

Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, has his hands full this time of year. And it’s not just because the holidays are tough.

 

Dr. Sulkowicz specializes in issues of money and power, and counts among his patients many of Wall Street’s deal-makers and market players. And these bankers and traders — members of a species not exactly known for introspection or self-flagellation — may find themselves spending some extra time on the couch during these cold winter months.

 

It is, after all, bonus season.

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The Last Dance: They Decease for Credit Suisse.

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

December 11, 2000

By James Verini


Around 6 p.m. on Oct. 3, what was left of the equities division of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. began packing into the Supper Club for its last official fall party. In past years, the affair could be counted on to turn into a tipsy blast. Equities analysts and salespeople work hard, and they take their unwinding seriously. But the mood at this year’s party was more somber. Even as they drank their cocktails and nibbled on roast beef, or retreated to the cigar room or the dance floor, the D.L.J.-ers were continually reminded of one morbid fact: Their beloved firm would soon be extinct.

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