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Citigroup

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‘Playboy’ Profits: Going Down?

Plus, '02138' graduates to a new publisher, Bush goes online, and Skadden makes big bucks — all in our daily industry roundup.

Jack Welch Has Some Letting Go to Do

The former GE chief won't shut up about his old job, Andrew Cuomo goes on a subpoena rampage, Katie Couric may have a book in her, and a homeless man blunders on to some very special blueprints in our daily roundup of news from the world of finance, law, media, and real estate.

Pimp Their Jets!

You thought you had problems. Try finding someone to install a mother-of-pearl ceiling on your private jet.

Another Sad Day for Schwarzman

FINANCE • Where has all of Steve Schwarzman's money gone? A report saying that his fund would earn less than half of what was predicted caused Blackstone's stock price to tumble. [NYP] • Former Countrywide Financial, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch execs get ready to explain to Congress why they got huge paychecks as their shareholders lost billions. [DealBook/NYT] • Financier Carl Icahn ups his stake in Motorola. [DealBook/NYT]

CEO Astrology: Reading the Stars for Barry Diller, John Thain, Chuck Prince, and Steve Schwarzman

Thain, Prince, Schwarzman and Diller
Many of you know celebrity astrologer Susan Miller as the uncannily accurate predictor of your fate. You're in good company: She's got A-listers like Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom paying her to do their charts and gets fifteen million page views a month on her Website, Astrologyzone. She's asked to analyze the stars for actors, musicians, and starlets all the time — but when we got the chance to talk with her, we wanted to know what the future holds for a group of guys even nearer and dearer to our heart. Guys like embattled IAC CEO Barry Diller, Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman, ousted Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince, and Merrill Lynch newbie John Thain. After all, these people have much more power to wreak havoc in our lives if the stars choose not to shine on them. After the jump, read Miller's uncannily prescient analysis (it would be more precise if she knew the times of day they were born) and learn what warnings these four financial powerhouses need to heed if they want to come out of 2008 on top.

Sickos Behind Marketing for Airborne Were Lying to Us All

LEGAL • Manhattan's Tonic East restaurant will pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that the eatery discriminated against blacks wearing hip-hop clothing and urban wear to a Super Tuesday event for Barack Obama supporters. [NYT] • Office procrastinators might have to look for a new method for wasting time: Scrabulous is under fire. [DealBook/Alley Insider] • Airborne, the cold-relieving drug of choice for many cube dwellers around the city, will pay $23.3 million to settle claims of false advertising. Says one critic, "Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed." Holy wow. Anyone want to come together and ratchet this up to class-action against "second-grade teacher" founder Victoria Knight-McDowell? [CNN]

Breaking: The Mets Snag Johan Santana

Johan Santana
If USAToday.com is to be believed, the Mets, after eating the Yankees’ dust all off-season, have just become the National League East favorites — and Omar Minaya has once again become a hero. The general manager who presided over the greatest-September-collapse-ever last season has apparently stolen Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins and out from under the Yankees and the Red Sox. (You'll recall, Hank Steinbrenner had been full of bluster about a potential Yankee deal for Santana for months, though lately he’s been claiming he doesn’t care.) Yes, the Mets are trading away four highly rated prospects: outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. But odds are that two, at most, will become big-league regulars, let alone stars. Santana, on the other hand, is the best lefty in the bigs, in his prime, and exactly the ace that’s missing from the Mets’ rotation. Supposedly the only hurdle is a contract extension. Here’s betting that the Wilpon family gives Santana everything he wants, up to and including his name on the new ballpark. Heck, the way things are going on Wall Street, he’ll be worth more than Citigroup. —Chris Smith Twins agree to deal Santana to Mets for prospects [USAT] Earlier: Hank Steinbrenner Talks Himself, Twins Into a Tizzy

Layoffs at Citi?

Pandit
We're hearing that layoffs at Citigroup began yesterday and are continuing today. No word yet on how many heads have rolled, but earlier reports suggested the numbers could reach 20,000, and our tipster says it’s a "bloodbath." After the losses they reported earlier this week, this can't have been a surprise to anyone at the bank. But here's something that must have come as a shock: Citigroup was due to give out bonuses next week, and now we're hearing those who were canned won't get to partake. Representatives for Citibank said they'd call us back, but they haven't yet, so … developing! UPDATE: Ok, so it's true: The first round of layoffs has begun. A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment specifically on the number of people laid off in New York or in any area, but during its earnings call this week the company indicated that in the fourth quarter, the bank would shed around 4200 employees worldwide. So far, those who've been sacked have been primarily in markets and banking. Regarding bonuses, Citi says that they're scheduled to be doled out in the next week or so, but again wouldn't comment specifically on if and how the newly unemployed would be affected. Some reports have said that company-wide, employees will receive stock instead of cash. Which, as someone but we can't remember who pointed out, is kind of like Arby's giving you a bunch of hamburgers instead of a paycheck. Earlier: Vikram Pandit Gets a Write-down, Foreign Capital for His Birthday

Vikram Pandit Gets a Write-down, Foreign Capital for His Birthday

Pandit
Yesterday was new Citigroup honcho Vikram Pandit's 51st birthday, and pretty much everyone forgot, since this morning he had to announce the largest quarterly loss in his bank's history. To be sure, the $18.1 billion subprime-mortgage-related write-down is not as much as the $24 billion that was predicted over the weekend, but it was enough that it led to a fourth-quarter loss of $9.83 billion. But there was a silver lining: The bank says it has plans to raise upwards of $12.5 billion through a private securities sale, which includes $6.88 billion from Singapore. They also expect the Kuwait Investment Authority, Alwaleed bin Talal, and even former Citigroup CEO Sanford "Sandy" Weill to kick in with investments. That's "a huge vote of confidence on [Weill's] part," one analyst told Reuters. "I'm surprised to see his name there." We wonder if Pandit is surprised. Maybe today after work, he'll go outside and Weill will be waiting for him in his red convertible. "Me?" Pandit will say. "Yeah, you," Weill will say, and later that night they'll share kisses over birthday cake while the Thompson Twins' "If You Were Here" plays softly in the background. Citigroup raising $14.5 billion [Reuters]

Richard Arens Is Having His Moment

FINANCE • Trader Richard Arens, who runs a brokerage named ABS, made a vanity trade in order to push oil past the $100/barrel milestone. We're sure the girls at the bar will be real impressed. [MarketBeat/WSJ] • Citigroup will likely start laying off between 5 and 10 percent of its workforce next week, cutting as many as 32,000 jobs. Merrill Lynch plans to cut around 1,600. [CNBC] • Former E*Trade CEO Mitch Caplan, who helped load the company with the subprime loans, made off with a $11 million golden parachute. Compare that with former H&R Block chief Mark Ernst, responsible for his own big subprime losses, who took home a paltry $2.5 million. [Deal Journal/WSJ, DealBook/NYT]

The ‘Times’ Touches Upon Checkbook Journalism — With Two Fingers, Of Course

MEDIA • "OK!, the celebrity magazine, could not possibly have purchased all the attention it enjoyed in late December after it got the scoop that Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger and until then less sensational sister of the troubled pop queen Britney Spears, was three months pregnant. Or could it?" [NYT] • Josh Stein isn't actually leaving Gawker; Emily Gould will write for Jezebel; Choire Sicha will continue contributing columns; and recently departed Wonkette editor Ken Layne returned after just a few months off the job. Can anyone escape the tentacles of Nick Denton? [HuffPo] • The Writers Guild plans to picket Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O'Brien as the three late-night hosts return to the air. Letterman gets off easy since he struck a deal with the writers and may get a big boost since big stars (like Robin Williams, natch) won't have to cross the pickets to go on his show. [NYO, NYT]

Some Lawyers Are Sad

LAW • Know a troubled lawyer? If you work in the law, you probably do — some estimates put the ratio of depressed attorneys at 20 percent — and a few new Websites are trying help them out. [Law Blog/WSJ, WSJ] • How not to get out of your marijuana arrest: When the judge lets you off easy, pull out a driver's license covered in pot. [New York Law Journal] • So just how lame was Cadwalader's Wild Wild West holiday party last night? Wildly. [Above the Law]