Goodbye, First Republic; hello again, JPMorgan
First Republic is no more: Regulators seized the embattled lender overnight and sold it to JPMorgan Chase. What is now America’s second-biggest bank failure, after the 2008 collapse of Washington Mutual, means that 84 bank branches that closed as First Republic locations on Friday will reopen on Monday as Chase branches.
The deal caps a flurry of negotiations in recent days to resolve the fate of First Republic, which failed to recover from the turmoil set off by Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse in March. Regulators and banking executives hope that the sale will bring an end to the regional banking crisis.
JPMorgan prevailed in an auction that ran over the weekend, beating out other contenders including PNC Financial Services. As part of the deal, JPMorgan will assume the majority of First Republic’s assets, including $173 billion in loans and $30 billion in securities, as well as $92 billion in deposits.
That will spare the F.D.I.C. from a bigger rescue bill: It doesn’t need to worry about having to cover First Republic’s roughly $50 billion in uninsured deposits, since they will move over to JPMorgan. (The F.D.I.C. still estimates its insurance fund will take a $13 billion hit, and the agency reached a loss-sharing agreement with JPMorgan on some loans.)
The auction is another twist in the First Republic story. JPMorgan initially was an adviser to the troubled lender, with its C.E.O., Jamie Dimon, helping convince his counterparts at other big banks to deposit $30 billion at First Republic in March as a lifeline.
But the plan failed to stabilize the lender, which announced last week that it had lost $100 billion in deposits during the first quarter. The news battered First Republic’s shares, with its market value falling to just $650 million on Friday, down from $20 billion before March, setting the stage for its sale.
Mr. Dimon is again playing the role of bank rescuer, after having done so in 2008 by buying Bear Stearns and WaMu. (He later repeatedly complained about the political and legal blowback from those deals.)
Earlier in the weekend, some saw PNC as a stronger contender to buy First Republic, since a JPMorgan victory would make the nation’s biggest lender even bigger. But in its statement on Monday, the F.D.I.C. said it chose the deal with the lowest cost to the government, as required by banking regulations. Nevertheless, some progressive lawmakers may still complain about a deal that further cements Dimon’s bank as a lending behemoth.
JPMorgan’s shares were up nearly 3 percent in premarket trading at 7 a.m. Eastern.
Here are questions we still have, some of which may be answered by JPMorgan executives later this morning: Did regulators waive a cap on JPMorgan acquiring more deposits, and is there an agreement to shield the bank from legal liability? Why did other bidders, such as Bank of America, drop out of the auction? And will short-sellers who had taken aim at First Republic move on to shares of other regional lenders?
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Charlie Munger warns about bad loans at U.S. banks. The Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman told The Financial Times that American lenders were sitting on troubled commercial mortgages that were vulnerable as property prices fall, portending pain for those banks. Mr. Munger, 99, also said investors should expect far lower returns on their money than in the past.
SoftBank takes a big step toward a blockbuster Arm I.P.O. The Japanese tech giant said that it confidentially filed paperwork to take the semiconductor designer public in the U.S. Arm would be among the biggest public market debuts this year — its offering is expected to seek at least $8 billion in proceeds — and would aim to break through doldrums that have bedeviled the I.P.O. market.
Pope Francis discloses a secret “mission” to bring peace in Ukraine. The pontiff told reporters that he was working on an effort to broker an end to Russia’s invasion, though few believe the two sides are ready to lay down arms. Francis added that he was doing “all that is humanly possible” to return children taken from Ukraine to Russia.
Hollywood writers are on the cusp of a strike. Members of the Writers Guild of America could walk off the job as soon as Tuesday, in what would be the first work stoppage for the movie and TV industries in 16 years. Writers have pushed for economic concessions from studios that factor in changes wrought by the rise of streaming
Stocks gain despite ‘more challenging conditions’
A parade of earnings surprises was enough to nudge the stock market higher last month, even as turmoil in the banking sector and a cost-of-living crisis reignited recession fears.
That run could be tested this week. Central bankers on both sides of the Atlantic are expected to raise interest rates again as they struggle to bring inflation under control. And investors will be keenly watching Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for signs of how the labor market is faring as the economy slows.
Blue-chip stocks were the big winner in April. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 2.5 percent last month, its best one-month performance since January. The S&P 500, which had soared 7.5 percent over the first quarter, climbed a more modest 1.5 percent last month.
Meanwhile the Nasdaq composite inched 0.1 percent higher in April. The tech-heavy index finished the month on a strong note, helped by better-than-expected results from Meta and Microsoft last week in their core digital advertising and cloud businesses.
Investors pumped a net $1.2 billion into tech stocks over the first four weeks of April, the highest level since November, according to data from Bank of America.
But investors are mostly buying into only a handful of names. The top seven tech stocks by market cap, which include Apple, Microsoft and Google, were up a combined 31 percent year-to-date through Thursday’s market close, BofA calculated, compared with a 3 percent gain for the rest of the S&P 500.
That narrow focus is one reason Michael Hartnett, the chief investment strategist at Bank of America, concluded that the stock market is likely to fizzle out, as the economy slows further and corporate earnings stagnate.
C.E.O.s themselves are far from bullish, according to Lori Calvasina, the head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. An analysis of earnings calls found that “company commentary supports both the idea that the period of more challenging conditions is getting underway, and that it will be fairly mild with pockets of strength providing a buffer,” she wrote to investors on Monday.
I.C.Y.M.I.: Dorsey has Musk regrets
In the run-up to Elon Musk agreeing to buy Twitter for $44 billion last year, the billionaire had few champions more public, and unusual, than his fellow tech mogul Jack Dorsey. The Twitter co-founder famously called Mr. Musk “the singular solution I trust.”
Fast-forward a year, and Mr. Dorsey is having second thoughts about Mr. Musk taking over the company.
“I think he should have walked away,” Mr. Dorsey wrote in a series of posts on Bluesky, the decentralized social network he has backed. (Last summer, Mr. Musk threatened to walk away from his takeover bid, before agreeing to go through with the deal.)
Mr. Musk, he wrote, hasn’t “acted right” during a seven-month tenure that has seen Twitter’s work force decimated by layoffs, advertisers flee and the Twitter Blue subscription offering off to a rocky start.
Mr. Dorsey also laid blame on Twitter’s board — where he was a director until May 2022 — for forcing Musk into completing his bid. But Mr. Dorsey disclaimed responsibility, writing that “every company is for sale to the highest bidder” and adding, “Did I have the final say? No.”
“And hell, I’d call Fox honest, fair and truthful. … But then I could be sued for defamation.”
— President Biden, skewering Fox News on Saturday night at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner after the network fired Tucker Carlson, its star and a longtime Biden critic,, and settled a defamation lawsuit for $788 million.
The week ahead
It’s a packed agenda this week with interest rates, jobs, inflation data and a big batch of earnings reports in the spotlight. Here’s what to watch:
Tuesday: AMD, Ford, Starbucks and Uber report quarterly results. Economists will pore over the release of eurozone consumer price data: A hot number could force the European Central Bank to more aggressively raise interest rates later in the week.
Wednesday: It’s decision day for the Fed. Futures markets this morning see the central bank raising rates by a quarter point. But will the Fed do so again in June, or finally take a pause?
Thursday: It’s the E.C.B.’s turn, and market watchers are wondering if it will raise rates by a quarter point or a half. Anheuser-Busch InBev and Apple report earnings.
Friday: It’s jobs day. Economists polled by Bloomberg are penciling in a jump of 180,000 new hires last month, down from a gain of 236,000 in March. A rare bit of I.P.O. news: Kenvue, the consumer health care giant that Johnson & Johnson is spinning off, is set to start trading.
Saturday: It’s coronation day in Britain, and the crowning of King Charles III is expected to attract hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.
THE SPEED READ
Silicon Valley Bank executives in November discussed “Project Phoenix,” a plan to sell $20 billion worth of bonds at a steep loss. (FT)
Takeover bids for Subway are reportedly nearing $10 billion, helped by a debt financing plan arranged by the sandwich chain’s financial adviser, JPMorgan Chase. (Reuters)
A Qatari businessman and a British billionaire have submitted final takeover bids for the English soccer club Manchester United, though its owners may still choose not to sell. (Bloomberg)
Deutsche Bank plans to hire more investment bankers, including from Credit Suisse, as it bets on a rebound in M.&A. (FT)
Justice Samuel Alito said that he had a “pretty good idea” who leaked the draft opinion for the Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade last year. (WSJ)
Asa Hutchinson, a Republican presidential candidate, criticized efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a leading rival, to fight Disney, saying it’s “not the role of government” to punish a business you disagree with. (Insider)
“Needing Younger Workers, Federal Officials Relax Rules on Past Drug Use” (NYT)
Best of the rest
A top lawyer at Goldman Sachs, a former C.I.A. director and the academic Noam Chomsky are some of the prominent names who appear in Jeffrey Epstein’s private calendar. (WSJ)
Jack Ma, the Alibaba co-founder, starts on Monday as a visiting professor at Tokyo College, delivering seminars on entrepreneurship. (FT)
“In San Francisco, a Troubled Year at a Whole Foods Market Reflects a City’s Woes.” (NYT)
Some of the oddball things that made it into Uber’s annual “Lost & Found Index” include fake blood, a Danny DeVito Christmas ornament and a slushy machine. (Insider)
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