That's basically the message coming out of bankruptcy court, where Fontainebleau ownership requested permission to scrap all conventions and meetings through October 2011. Among many other disclosures in the fast-moving Chapter 11 was the sacking of seven top executives. (A well-kept secret, seeing as the septet had been let go last May.)
At the top of the list was F'bleau President Audrey Oswell. Since being forced out of Caesars Atlantic City by Park Place Entertainment, Oswell's resumé has taken a pummeling. She leftResorts Atlantic City just as Colony Capital was beginning to mismanage it into insolvency, then leapfrogged to Cosmopolitan (foreclosed) and then from the deck of that sinking ship to F'bleau. If it weren't for bad luck, she'd have no luck at all.
Here's hoping Oswell's next employer has steadier financial underpinnings than her last three. (Question for Resorts A.C. lenders: If you give Colony the boot but leave casino boss Nick Ribis in place, have you really solved the problem?)
Matthews out, Satre in: The much-admired Philip G. Satrehas taken over as chairman of IGT, where he will no doubt act as a valued counselor to CEO Patti Hart, vouchsafing an insider's perspective on the casino companies with whom she must deal. Satre's ascent could also make for an interesting turn in the war of words between IGT and Harrah's Entertainment, whose CEO and CFO have made it a pastime to trash-talk the slot giant. Will Gary Loveman be so bold in slamming IGT now that his Harrah's predecessor chairs its board?
Bad timing? Despite the Chinese government's speedy flip-flop on access to Macao, the dynamic duo of MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho are mulling both an IPO on the Hang Seng stock exchange and further expansion in the casino enclave. But is this the moment for such aggressiveness? MGM Grand Macao is only beginning to perform up to expectations and the parent company is having to push a $5.6 billion debt payment into 2015.
It's official: "Pit Bull of Comedy" Bobby Slayton has snarled his last at the Tropicana Las Vegas. Thus endeth a brief, inauspicious reign by Anthony Cools over the Trop's upstairs showroom. A well-placed source advises LVA that Beatles tribute show Penny Lane was pulled after EMI hit it with a cease-and-desist letter. In any event, it left as invisibly as it arrived.
Trop CEO Alex Yemenidjian still has three shows he inherited from predecessor Scott Butera but it's pretty clear that he's going to put his own stamp on the property. As for Cools, well, he'll always have O'Shea's.
Movement at Cosmo. Buried in the Review-Journal (six items deep) is the news that the Cosmopolitan has wooed John Marshall Andrew away from Las Vegas Sands to be its CFO and hired Station Casinos refugee Marshall Andrew as chief information officer. Deutsche Bank looks serious about making that September '10 opening date.
Will the economy have improved sufficiently to have absorbed most of the CityCenter rooms and the Planet Hollywood Westgate ones by then (and maybe, but not very likely, Fontainebleau)? Boyd Gaming is betting otherwise. The Echelon cranes have been seen coming down, marking an additional hiatus in the project, which reportedly will not be resumed until 2012.
Las Vegas Sands: Execs overboard!
Andrew is just the latest exec lured -- or chased -- away from Sheldon Adelson's employ. Former Venetian veep Paul Pusateri (who helped launch Paris-Las Vegas back in the day) was just nominated as president at The Palms and ever-helpful Sands spokeswoman Mindy Eras has gone to Preferred Public Relations. Whether these moves are part of Adelson's promised cost reductions or are a winnowing out of perceived William Weidner loyalists, it must be getting lonely at the top.
Pay taxes, that is. Two Indiana racinos are pushing back against a tax rate that averages 38%. Considering that the two tracks -- one run by Cordish Gaming -- are the newbies on the Hoosier State scene, one could fairly ask them, "Didn't you know what you were getting into?" As the article notes, neither Harrah's Entertainment and Boyd Gaming -- both which recently heavily reinvested in Indiana -- aren't whining about their tax rates.
But the racinos have a point. In states where the number of casinos is artificially capped by the Legislature, solons become the custodians of the industry's economic future, like it or not. And it only stands to reason that if the market is going be diluted, tax relief is in order. Considering that same-store revenues in Indiana have been nothing but down since the racinos opened, some push-back on the tax front was probably inevitable.
Hell no, they won't either. Allow casinos in Penghu, that is. Voters on the Taiwanese island voted against gambling expansion there, putting the issue off-limits for three years. The notion of planting mega-million-dollar casinos in remote, hard-to-reach parts of Taiwan never made that much sense to S&G, but big industry players like Sheldon Adelson and Gary Loveman have kicked Taiwanese tires in the recent past.
Did Adelson and Steve Wynn mistime their leap into the Hong Kong stock market? One Wall Street Journal columnist thinks so. Bad timing isn't the exclusive province of the public sector, though: A Washington State tribe borrowed $375 million on the strength [sic] of revenue forecasts that proved grossly over-optimistic. Percentage-wise, neither Harrah's nor Station Casinosmissed the mark this badly.
Bob Stupak, R.I.P. The penultimate Vegas maverick is gone, having spent much of the last decade as a recluse. One especially thorough obit contains a quote by former Klondike owner John Woodrum that ought to be engraved on Stupak's gravestone (or at the base of that now-vanished Stupak statue): "If ever there was a guy beyond the rim of reality, there was Bob. But somehow he made reality happen."
Just what we don't need. They're baaaaack. Never mind the smoking wreckage they've made of Harrah's and Station, private-equity firms are rooting amidst the flotsam, looking to extend their morbid clamp on the casino industry. Leading the pack is Leon Black's inaptly named Apollo Management. Both indirectly (Planet Hollywood by way of Harrah's) and directly (Cosmopolitan, Fontainebleau), Black is reported to be scarfing up what few independent properties remain, raising the prospect of a Total Rewards oligopoly stretching from just above CityCenter to the southern frontier of the The Mirage.
There are also a few bottom-feeders in play. Hooters hardly seems worth buying unless Onex Corp. wants to do a tear-down and extend the Tropicana Las Vegas eastward. Current ownership of the Riviera is tapped out but the place still has prospects as a fixer-upper (not something that fits with Apollo's sack-and-pillage business model). If non-bottom-feeder Green Valley Ranch is really on the bubble of insolvency, then Penn National Gaming ought to quit chasing F'bleau, and try to drive a wedge betwixt Station and its Greenspun family partners. Penn would stand to inherit a beautiful property with far fewer problems than Big Bleau.
Yes, Viva Elvis will be the long-awaited, enshrouded-in-secrecy title of the Cirque du Soleil show scheduled to debut this December at CityCenter.* Wow, they must have had to really burn the midnight oil in Montreal to come up with that one ... Speaking of name changes, Scarlett and her Seductive Ladies of Magic (at the Riviera) is now Abra-Ca-Sexy. Well, it's catchier ... The wheels continue to fall off the Riviera train: An Evening with Dean and Friends has closed, as has the dinner buffet (again) ... Lost in the bankruptcy tumult at the Greek Isles was the opening of a new show. Its cumbersome title is Chinaman: A Rock & Roll Comedy Experience. Moving right along ... By the time you read this, Rockstar: The Tribute should have reopened at the Harmon Theater after a disastrously short stint at the Wyrick Entertainment Complex (aka, "the Venue of Death") in Planet Hollywood. However, the Harmon has given it as much advance publicity as an IRS raid on a Vegas nightclub, so that's not a promising start ... In like manner, Beatles tribute Penny Lane tiptoed into the Tropicana without so much as a 'by your leave' ... Back at Planet Ho, Tony 'n Tina's Wedding evidently isn't performing up to expectations. Ticket prices have been reduced 13%-30%, although they're still steep ($63-$143) ... It looks like Deutsche Bank is going to wait a spell and open the Cosmopolitan in Sept.-Oct. 2010. Which, given that the Strip's been strangling on a glut of high-end rooms, is probably the wisest course of action. Wall Street's former Holy Grail, "another wave of megaresort openings," has become a phrase to be dreaded.
Ready for some good news? The most remarkable dancer of the late, lamented Sin City Kitties, Koree Kurkowski, is now part of the ensemble of Bite. The show is kitsch to the nth degree but it's entertaining in its own so-bad-it's-good fashion. The Stratosphere casino floor was pretty dead for a Friday night last weekend, but Bite was definitely packing them in. It's not as good as Sin City Bad Girls (at the Las Vegas Hilton) but way better than forgettable X Burlesque (at the Flamingo).
* -- the Viva Elvis revelation was let slip during last weekend's Michael Jackson festival at The Palms. I learned of it after being invited -- on 75 minutes' notice -- to co-host an episode of Steve Friess' The Strip Podcast, in which I am teased for being "obsessed" with Carmen Electra. I'll link to the edited version once it's available, so you can hear me date myself with a Barbi Benton shout-out.
This isn't Photoshop but an ad clipped from a Michigan newspaper, I kid you not:
The things you can find at the grocery store these days ...
When he acquired Aztar Corp., back in 2006, Columbia Sussex CEO William J. Yung III also became one of the company's debtors. So what's his $36 million worth today? According to the Wall Street Journal, 100 grand or less. If that weren't enough to make the ColSux/Aztar deal the all-time biggest casino-sector wipeout of the last 15 years, consider that Carl Icahn's "$200 million" credit bid (i.e., no money down) was placed with debt acquired at 27 cents on the dollar. So Icahn has himself a new casino for a tidy $54 million outlay.
In a less-reported development, Icahn also gained a controlling position in Tropicana Entertainment. Without either its Atlantic City or Las Vegas Trops, it'd be a car without an engine, a gaggle of riverboats and motels. Exactly where this leaves CEO Scott Butera and what role he'll play remains an open question. Hopefully, either his or Icahn's first move in Atlantic City will be to replace floundering Trop General Manager Mark Giannantonio (a Yung crony) with someone more up to the job.
Movement at Cosmo: The GM of Caesars Palace, John Unwin, has resigned. He'll become CEO of the stalled Cosmopolitan in October. While it's still unclear under whose aegis the casino will be run, Unwin's hiring is the first concrete move to get some gaming expertise on board since Deutsche Bank seized the property.
Whining in Macao: Those two "integrated resorts" in Singapore haven't even opened yet and won't for another half a year, but Stanley Ho (whose venerable Hotel Lisboa is seen above) already has his panties in a bunch. According to Bloomberg News, the ancient casino oligarch has been wringing his hands about the burdensome, "serious issue" posed by Macao's 39% tax rate.
Boy, Singapore must be a more serious threat than I'd given it credit, if it's got a Communist Party suck-up like Dr. Ho all a-twitter and taking issue with the government. He's still in better shape than his American rivals; the attempt to graft Vegas-style megaresorts onto Macao has left them badly exposed to anemic market conditions. Ho's gambling-centric strategy gives him less cause for worry.
Today Singapore, tomorrow the U.S.? Even while lender's remorse has paralyzed American banks and stalled any hopes of "unbundling" the U.S. casino industry, diversification may be coming from an unlikely corner. Malaysia's Genting Bhd, riding a sustained runup in its stock, has $2 billion in the kitty, is raising more and could pump $7 billion into casino acquisitions.
That isn't to say there aren't a lot of "ifs" and "buts." Still, Genting's fundamentals appear far more sound than those of say, Las Vegas Sands. It's also in a position to deal a serious blow to Sands in Singapore. Not only will its Sentosa Island casino-resort open before Marina Bay Sands, but customers who "subscribe" to a $1,388/year entrance fee to one casino or another must play exclusively at that casino for the year. Once again, Sheldon Adelson's inability to finish a megaresort on schedule threatens to bite him in the butt.
Even at union salaries, Culinary Union-represented employees are hardly living on Easy Street. According to the WSJ's Tamara Audi, a hotel maid can expect to make slightly under $30K/year. She also finds a fry cook who was pulling in $36K annually, before he was laid off. (He's now making much less at union-free M Resort.) This goes to show not only the importance of union representation but also how close many of these people are to the economic precipice.
Many of the causes of our current plight (like real estate speculation) are outside my remit. However, a great deal of the blame falls upon casino CEOs who -- encouraged by banks that pushed too-easy credit like "happy dust" and by cheerleading Wall Street analysts -- succumbed severally and variously to a collective psychosis.
The Plaza: Rooms available, starting the 12th of Never.
The hyper-optimistic mentality that produced a rapid-fire succession of (in no particular order) CityCenter, Cosmopolitan, Fontainebleau, Echelon, Palazzo, Encore, the Hard Rock Hotel acquisition/expansion, and even will o' the wisps like Crown Las Vegas and Viva, rested upon a bizarre assumption. Namely, that the Las Vegas Strip could not only absord literally thousands upon thousands of new rooms (preponderantly at the high end) but could do in a compressed time frame.
A few companies even thought this could be done even after they'd glutted themselves with LBO debt. (True, Harrah's Entertainment now says it never intended to go the metaresort route but the available evidence testifies otherwise.) As I've written before, a bubble was mistaken for a baseline, thereby magnifying the consequences when the economic fundamentals began to crumple.
Distance evidently lends clarity, at least to Harvey Perkins of East Coast-based Spectrum Gaming Group. He calls for a complete rethinking of the luxury-based Vegas business model, repositioning the Strip's posh palaces slightly downmarket. It'll mean eating a lot of pride but what alternatives are there?
It's a glass half-full perspective, which is preferable to the overdose of gloom quaffed by MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren. He darkly prophesies, "There won't be another property built in Las Vegas for a decade."
Just wait 'til the next economic upturn and see if Murren is still saying kaddish. There will be new casinos in Las Vegas before 2019, I'm fully confident -- but they'll be ones positioned around affordability and (hopefully) generating double-digit ROI. Because, frankly, Las Vegas isn't the investment it used to be.
The St(ump) Regis, as it was to have been.
Then there's the schizoid-sounding Sheldon Adelson, who harrumphs, "I don't see any opportunities for any development in Las Vegas." Emphasis added; the Las Vegas Sands CEO seems to swing from bullish to bearish by the day.) It'd be nice for Sands if Adelson had been vouchsafed this insight before he started work on the St(ump) Regis in the midst of a condo-market meltdown. Now it's big bloody nose right betwixt the eyes of the Venetian and Palazzo.
The polar opposite of Adelson is Culinary Union boss D. Taylor who sounds like a flack for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, so giddy is his optimism. Hey, D., have you talked to your workforce lately -- you know, the ones who just had to defer a $710/year pay bump?
At least some amusement is to be had from the Strip map prepared for the WSJ by Bill Lerner's new outfit, Union Gaming Research:
I don't think I'd take investment advice from a firm that doesn't know the correct spellings of "Echelon" or "Caesars." City Center seems to fallen off the map entirely. It'd also take issue with the classification of many sites (like the in-foreclosure FX Real Estate plot) as "ceased or delayed" as there was never any work to cease or delay at, say Elad Properties' "Plaza" site or Crown Las Vegas (aka "Archon"). Ditto MGM/Kerzner, Africa Israel, etc. However, the Cosmo, which really is in limbo, doesn't make onto the map.
At any rate, as land prices on the Strip continue to return to earth, there's going to be plenty of prospective acreage for the company that's ready, willing and able to build a mid-market casino on the Strip.
'Tis another day of hopscotching betwixt the doctor and the dentist, which sure cuts into quality blogging time (as did a nasty attack of fibromyalgia yesterday). However, by reader request, we present this special, (not) exclusive S&G photo of a special plenepotentiaryApollo [Mis]Management representative -- perhaps Leon Black himself ...
... contemplating piling additional money into Fontainebleau.
Serously, overspending -- not lack of business -- is what really got this town into its present pickle. Profligacy and/or dangerous incompetence at the highest levels are the true culprits for the Vegas meltdown. Yet it is people like maids, cocktail servers, security staff and -- by extension -- customers who are literally paying the price for clownery in the executive suites.
F'bleau and Cosmopolitan need to take a page from the Echelon playbook: Say "that's a wrap" and wait 'til the economy improves, attendant litigation is settled and the tsunami of new hotel rooms that is CityCenter has ebbed a bit. We don't need multiple new megaresorts now for the simple fact that the market will not support them.
Then again, if Harrah's Entertainment or Wynn Resorts wants to sail its luxury liner straight into the Big Bleau iceberg (or the Cosmo) ... it's their money. Just don't complain to the press when you can't get triple-digit room rates, 'kay?
Although an oft-promised loosening of visa restrictions by Peking stubborny refuses to materialize, an air of cautious hopefulness has crept back into Macao now that City of Dreams has opened on schedule -- and it looks dazzling. Aggressive revenue projections have literally reversed the fortunes of co-owner James Packer, whose disastrous venture into the U.S. casino industry is now seen by some as a blessing in disguise.
At $2.4 billion, City of Dreams rivals the cost of Venetian Macao and is hoped to equal or surpass the latter's 20% return on investment. One projection has it leapfrogging Wynn Macau into third place, with 20% of the Macanese market.
It also represents a double-edged sword for Sheldon Adelson's mammoth casino-resort. If it draws more punters to the Cotai Strip™, good. If it dilutes Adelson's customer base, not so good, obviously. In comments to the Wall Street Journal, Adelson seemed at pains to temper some headstrong pronouncements he'd offered to Steve Friess. As expected, an Adelson without the restraining influences of William Weidner and Brad Stone, is a pedal-to-the-metal Sheldon, saying Las Vegas Sands should have gone faster, faster, faster with its Cotai Strip™ projects, not slower. (The mind reels.)
"I just came back from Macau and we have five or six different options that we can pursue, each one of which would solve our liquidity problems," the Venetian's doge proclaimed ... which doesn't sound a lot different from what he's been saying for months. That is, until he contradicted himself by buying up a truckload of LVS stock -- something he wouldn't have done were a major deal in the offing.
Adelson predicts all his suspended Macao projects will be back in gear by year's end. He's on the curve in one respect, suggesting that his aborted St. Regis condo-hotel on the Strip could be revived by Sands' acting as lender to prospective unit buyers. Palms Placejust started doing that very thing.
Sheldon's Commissariat for Optimism never closes, so one tends to grow skeptical of each new variant of "Victory is mine!" Anyway, Adelson was just off the plane from China, so perhaps jet-lag accounts for this reality-challenged assertion: "Our numbers have been going up and the [Macau peninsula] have been going down."
'Fraid not. Scarcely had that Adelsonian utterance made print than Lusa reported May's revenue numbers. If April had seen Wynn Macau falling back toward the pack, with 13% of market share, it returned with a vengeance in May. Steve Wynn's 18% market share -- with far less capacity than Adelson -- put him only three points behind LV Sands and came at the latter's expense. Stanley Ho still leads everybody with 30% -- as much as Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Crown Entertainment and MGM Grand Macau combined.
A few days earlier came news that visitation from Mainland China to Macao had been -43% in April ... hardly propitious conditions for flooring the Cotai Strip™ gas pedal. Ditto a 10% drop in May gambling revenues. Until that much-mooted visa liberalization actually happens, going apeshit with casino-hotel construction makes no sense whatsoever.
Nor did Adelson do his public image any favors with a gratuitous slam against jilted sidekick Weidner. (The latter, given the opportunity to respond, took the high road.) This 'hit 'em when they're down' move will accrue exactly zero sympathy for Adelson -- and it might have some nasty repercussions should it hamper Weidner's attempts to find another job. Then again, he's as rich as Croesus, so he can probably spend the next few decades on the golf course, should he so desire.
There's been no additional movement on the rumored Genting Berhad offer for MGM Grand Macau. However, even in a $13.8 billion/year casino market, the numbers don't look great for MGM. After it splits its 8% market share with partner Pansy Ho, it would have $55 million from which to pay an onerous tax bill, plus operating expenses. (The ROI must be dismal.)
Borgata, in Atlantic City, does $55 million a month -- in a bad month -- and MGM basically cashes a check from Boyd Gaming. So if MGM elects to stay in Macao and vacate Atlantic City, it won't be because the Chinese enclave is contributing more to the bottom line. Who ever thought MGM Grand Macau would function as a glorified "loss leader"?
Steve Wynn has a dragon ... and now Lawrence Ho does, too.
Back home, MGM is going downmarket at The Mirage. And they didn't even have to sell the place to Penn National in order to get there.
Strangely enough ... Penn's recent expression of interest in both Planet Hollywood and Station Casinos passed with scarcely a murmur of comment locally. You'd think that a well-capitalized company like Penn's hanging of a target on Robert Earl's or Frank Fertitta III's back would make headlines -- or maybe Vegas journos have tired of Penn's endless feints and tuned the company out. Well, almost all of them, anyway.
Planet Hollywood, at least, is acting far more aggressively than one would expect from a property that is contemplating a sale. So perhaps Earl is more pursued than pursuer. However, his conversion of Desert(ed) Passage into Miracle Mile appears to have run out of steam -- or money -- at the halfway point. Try as he might, Earl is never going to completely de-Aladdin-ize that place. A magic lantern and three wishes would come in real handy down there.
Also flying under the radar was former Planet Ho boss Michael Mecca's enlistment with Galaxy. Mecca jumped -- or, more likely, was pushed -- from the Planet right when the Omar Siddiqui scandal was at its height. Informed speculation had it that Mecca was thisclose to being tapped to head up James Packer's projected North American gambling empire. Crown Ltd. CEO Rowen Craigiewas noncomittal, though, and Crown's big Cannery Casino Resorts acquisition fell through soon thereafter, leaving Mecca hanging.
Success being the best revenge, Mecca not only landed a prestigious new gig -- it's with one of Packer's direct rivals in Macao. Mecca shoots, he scores!
Which brings us full circle to Macao. That worked out tidily, didn't it?
After nearly four years of investigation, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcementhas released its long-awaited "suitability" findings on MGM Mirage joint-venture partner Pansy Ho. As MGM itself reported to the SEC yesterday, "While the report itself is confidential, at the conclusion of the report, the DGE recommended, among other things, that: (i) the Company’s Macau joint venture partner be found to be unsuitable; (ii) the Company be directed to disengage itself from any business association with its Macau joint venture partner; (iii) the Company’s due diligence/compliance efforts be found to be deficient; and (iv) the New Jersey Commission hold a hearing to address the report."
The grinning ghost of MGM Grand Macau
While the reason for the DGE's disapproval isn't given, it's also not difficult to guess. When someone with the sleazy reputation of Stanley Ho has an interest in your casino -- by dint of loans to two of his daughters -- a jurisdiction that takes probity as seriously as New Jersey is unlikely to give its benediction.
Slightly further down in its SEC bulletin, MGM offers one of the most Pollyanna-ish statements of recent memory: "The Company does not believe that the report will have a material adverse effect on it."
Let's back up a second. The matter of Ms. Ho now goes to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for adjudication. The NJCCC is not obligated to act on the DGE's findings. However, the last time it exercised such discretion, it was to override the DGE's recommended probation for Columbia Sussex in favor of kicking ColSux out of the Garden State forthwith.
So the likelihood is that MGM will be faced with a choice between liquidating its New Jersey holdings or its Macao ones. The latter include a 50% stake in Borgata (and Boyd Gaming can afford to buy its partner out), plus some undeveloped land, which will be a much tougher sell.
As for MGM Grand Macau, it would revert to the Ho family. MGM could still, in all probability, count on an ongoing stream of revenue by leasing out the brand name or even by negotiating a management contract for itself (although management is rumored to have been the casino's Achilles heel).
Unless the NJCCC grants clemency (in which case, MGM loses face but nothing more, as one analyst puts it), "material adverse effect" is inevitable. But there may be a silver lining for CEO Jim Murren. He was able to get debt-covenant violations waived in return for an accelerated repayment of the company's whopping debt load. The diñero from a Borgata or MGM Grand Macau sale would come in mighty handy as the company tries to de-leverage itself.
Walking (out) in Memphis. A 21-year veteran of the Harrah's Entertainment hierarchy resigned last week, another casualty of the company's downsizing.
And then there were 135. It used to be the execs jumping from the sinking Cosmopolitan ship reached for a lifeline from Fontainebleau. Now they'll be looking for another rescue vessel. (Hey, the Tropicana may be hiring soon.) A F'bleau spokesman says negotiations with Deutsche Bankare continuing, in a notable ratcheting-down of the bellicose rhetoric that's been lobbed to and from F'bleau of late.
Heard last night as part of an act at Sin City Comedy, re the Vegas Trop: "A $20 bill and all my teeth -- I'm a whale!" Conclusion: Alex Yemenidjian cannot arrive soon enough.
Ownership at Fontainebleau is alleging heinous doings by Deutsche Bank to subvert F'bleau (which gives every indication of being destined to fail without external assistance). Supposedly, Deutsche Bank was confabulating with a consortium of 10 other banks to shove F'bleau under the bus, in order to improve the chances of The Cosmopolitan. Deutsche Bank is the default owner of the Cosmo, developer Ian Bruce Eichner having proven illiquid.
Now, I love a good conspiracy theory as much or more than the next man but, absent hard evidence, I'm finding F'bleau's allegations a tad lurid even for my taste. Besides, Deutsche Bank's share of the $770 million in funding that got yanked out from under F'bleau -- a deplorable move, but for other reasons, IMO -- is only $80 million. That's chump change compared to the $3.9 billion Cosmo albatross around the bank's neck.
In the immortal words of Dr. Daniel Jackson, "Anyway, I'm sorry, but that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?"