5. Wynn's Wacky War
Come on Kazuo Okada! Do you not know the song?
You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger. And you don't mess around with Steve Wynn!
Perhaps Okada, the biggest stakeholder in
with $2.7 billion of the company's shares, forgot the lyrics before finding himself at odds with the Vegas tycoon this weekend.
The battle between the casino big-wigs, and former best buddies, escalated on Sunday morning with Wynn forcibly buying back all Okada's shares at a 30% discount. Aside from snatching his stock, Wynn also filed suit against the Japanese tycoon, accusing him of buying off overseas gaming regulators and violating U.S. anti-corruption laws in the process.
Most notably, Wynn was in sharp disagreement over Okada's allegedly shifty dealings in the Philippines, where he was developing a property without Wynn, but publicly acting like he had the casino impresario's imprimatur.
Wait. So how did Steve Wynn know Okada was bribing foreign authorities with cash and goodies?
Simple. He hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to tail him.
Hey! Give Louie a break. He's a former government employee and doing Steve Wynn's dirty work is good work if you can get it.
Anyway, based on Freeh's digging, Wynn Resorts is now pushing to have Okada removed from its board, labeling him "unsuitable" to serve. Yes, you heard correctly, a Las Vegas casino is muscling out a high roller for tucking money into political pockets.
Oh no! Quick, somebody tell Newt Gingrich's money-man Sheldon Adelson over at the
that the jig is up!
More to the point, what about Wynn Resorts' $135 million donation to the University of Macau? It's not as if Steve Wynn cares about educating Chinese kids about something other than the basics of baccarat. Seriously, if that ain't pay to play, then we don't know what is.
Anyway, Okada said Sunday he plans to "take all legal actions necessary" to beat back his former partner. Nevertheless, few oddsmakers would give him much of a shot considering Wynn's connections, clout and competitive streak.
Like we said, you don't mess around with Steve Wynn. Unless, of course, you are Elaine Wynn, the casino mogul's ex-wife who took him for a billion bucks two years ago in the largest divorce settlement ever.
But that's a different song entirely.
4. J&J's Total Recall
Luckily the founders of
Johnson & Johnson
shared a surname, otherwise its latest group of workers probably would have difficulty trying to recall their own employer's name.
And when we say recall, we mean
The health care products maker announced last Friday it is pulling all infant Tylenol off the U.S. market after parents complained that the protective covers on its recently redesigned bottles were problematic.
Johnson & Johnson introduced the new, supposedly safer, bottles three months ago, boasting that design would make measuring doses easier. Unfortunately, when consumers inserted the plastic syringe, it pushed the cool new covers into the bottle, thereby screwing up the dosage.
And when we say
, the folks at Johnson & Johnson should know by now exactly what we mean.
J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit has had approximately 25 product recalls since September 2009 with reasons ranging from malodorous packages to metal shards in its medicines. On Friday, the company added to its streak by recalling all 574,000 bottles of grape-flavored, liquid Infants' Tylenol from stores nationwide.
"Today's news about the Infants' Tylenol recall is clearly disappointing after all the progress that McNeil has been making to ensure its products meet the highest level of quality and consumer satisfaction," said now former CEO William Weldon in a statement.
In case you missed it, Weldon himself was recalled this week with the company announcing Wednesday that he will be replaced by medical device head Alex Gorsky in April.
Boy, that's a big comedown from last spring when Weldon confidently told shareholders at J&J's annual meeting that the new packaging was destined to become the new industry standard and that product recalls were a thing of the past.
We gather that's a recollection he'd prefer to forget.
3. Odyssey's Titanic Screwing
Uno a darned momento por favor!
Why in the name of Queen Isabella should
Odyssey Marine Exploration
give its gold coins to Spain? Whatever happened to finders keepers?
Or as they say in Spain:
Quien fue a Sevilla perdió su silla.
(Loosely translated: If you go to Sevilla, you lose your seat.)
U.S. Magistrate Mark Pizzo officially ended the five-year legal battle between Odyssey Marine and Spain last Friday, ordering the treasure-seeking company to hand over the roughly $500 million worth of gold and silver coins it recovered from the wreck of the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes within a week.
In an arduous and daring operation, Odyssey fished out the golden goodies from the ocean floor in 2007 after discovering the sunken vessel off the coast of Portugal.
The Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes was downed by the British in an 1804 battle. The Spanish government -- which needs all the gold it can get -- successfully argued last year in a U.S. federal court that it retained ownership of the ship and its cargo.
Odyssey Marine's appeals were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month. Pizzo mandated that Odyssey Marine must pony up the coins, currently held at an undisclosed Florida location, to Spain by Feb. 24. He also said Spain would be responsible for the shipping costs.
your Honor. What a lovely gesture! Spain pays for the shipping and legal costs and Odyssey divers risk life and limb to do the rest. Now does that seem like a just decision to you?
It seems to us that if Spain really wanted the booty than it would have invested the resources to find it. Heck, the ship was down there for over 200 years and some judge is treating it like it's been on the kitchen floor for 5 seconds. Somewhere around the century mark the statute of limitations should most certainly apply.
Melinda MacConnel, vice president and general counsel of Odyssey Marine, said the company will abide by the "politically influenced" ruling. She added that it would discourage other treasure hunters from reporting their finds, forcing them instead to melt down the items or sell them on eBay.
Maybe so, but not these coins, said Spanish cultural ambassador Guillermo Corral. "This is history," said Corral.
Guillermo. It's finders weepers. And the whole thing is just plain sad.
2. Randy's Tough Times
Poor Randall Stephenson. The
CEO's failed attempt to buy
last year cost the company $4.2 billion in cash and spectrum rights. And now we learn that his board of directors cut his pay by $2.08 million because of it.
Yep, poor, poor Randy. Following that kind of a compensation reduction, how will he make do? Seriously, it's not easy for a CEO to make ends meet on a measly $18.7 million these days.
Okay. Maybe we're not being
serious. But it's real hard not to laugh at the negligible repercussions for Stevenson making one of the stupidest decisions in recent corporate history.
Think about it. He forged ahead with the $39 billion deal even though it was apparent to everybody that he would face massive opposition from federal antitrust regulators. Still, Stephenson believed he could get the transaction done, going so far as to wager a $4.2 billion break-up fee on its completion.
Of course, Randy was betting shareholder money, not his own, that he could bring together two of the largest wireless carriers in the country, so it was not a big deterrent to him if things went south, which they inevitably did. And in the end, all it really cost him personally was a few lousy million.
Oh, and his reputation. But what's that worth anyway?
1. Can't Stand the Weatherford
can't blame on the weather -- its own accounting inadequacy.
Shares of the Geneva-based oilfield services company got drilled Tuesday, falling 13% after it warned investors not to rely on its previously issued financial statements until it can sort out its own tax issues. Weatherford also stated that it expects to restate earnings for the years 2008 to 2010 to the tune of $225 to $250 million bucks.
Hey, when it rains dumbness, it pours.
Weatherford brass blamed its feeble financial reporting on a lack of internal controls. Nevertheless, Chief Executive Bernard Duroc-Danner said on Tuesday that the company may report good news regarding its planned asset sales "in the next few days."
If you remember, Weatherford said last summer that it planned to shed some $1 billion worth of non-core assets, although it offered no clear indication as to what it would be unloading.
Hmm. Seems to us like the first thing they should get rid of is their accounting division. Don't you think?
Anyway, Weatherford made the embarrassing announcement Monday as it reported preliminary fourth-quarter results of $254 million in the fourth quarter. Revenue increased 27% to $3.71 billion, beating Wall Street's estimate of $3.59 billion.
The questions remains, of course, as to whether or not investors should even trust these numbers. As for us, we're just going to pass entirely.
At this juncture, we don't need to hear from Weatherford to know which way the wind blows.
Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.