All posts tagged business

Retail turmoil hits Times Square with tenants looking for exit #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Retail turmoil hits Times Square with tenants looking for exit

Jan 19. 2020
Pedestrians walk though Times Square in New York on Feb. 22, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Michael Nagle,

Pedestrians walk though Times Square in New York on Feb. 22, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Michael Nagle,
By Syndication Washington Post,  Bloomberg · Natalie Wong, Jordyn Holman · BUSINESS, RETAIL

Struggling retailers are souring on Times Square. Gap and Cover Girl are among merchants looking to leave stores in the district, where companies have historically been willing to swap high rent payments for daily exposure to hundreds of thousands of tourists and commuters.

But as shopping moves online and bricks-and-mortar spaces shrink, real estate brokers are on the hunt for new tenants to occupy a pair of adjacent flagship stores at 1530 and 1532 Broadway – one for Gap and one for its discount brand Old Navy.

There’s also space available at 30 Times Square, where beauty giant Coty Inc. opened its first-ever Cover Girl store a little more than a year ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Those come on top of a four-story flagship at 1551 Broadway that American Eagle Outfitters Inc. may depart.

“Some retail is just antiquated,” said Brett Herschenfeld, who oversees the retail unit of SL Green Realty Corp. It “hasn’t evolved with the times and they either fix it to the meet the consumer segment or they’re closing stores.”

While Times Square hasn’t been hit as hard as other neighborhoods by mushrooming vacancies, asking rents have slipped and some of the district’s largest merchants, including Toys “R” Us, have shuttered stores in recent years. Others are evaluating whether their outsized spaces are the best way to generate sales while giving shoppers the experiences they flock to the area for.

“The most successful approach to Times Square will be to think outside of the large box,” said Phil Granof, chief marketing officer of NewStore, operator of a mobile e-commerce platform that works with physical stores. “Breaking it down into smaller pieces, there might be more value there.”

San Francisco-based Gap Inc. has roughly 80,000 square feet at the two locations in Times Square, with leases that run through 2032, according to marketing materials seen by Bloomberg. Coty has about 10,000 square feet across five floors that is being marketed for sublease through 2021.

A representative for Coty declined to comment.

The buildings all come with massive digital billboards. But in an era when advertising has shifted to social media, companies are questioning the cost of pushing their wares in Times Square.

“The value that brands will pay for the exposure in Times Square on a permanent basis is under some pressure,” said Michael Hirschfeld, a retail broker at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. “A lot of mass-market types of consumer brands are now reaching you directly on your phones or Instagram.”

Gap Inc., on the hunt for a permanent chief executive officer after Art Peck was fired in November, is closing stores as it struggles to revitalize a label that has fallen out of step with shoppers. Old Navy has been a bright spot for the company, but that brand has also faced challenges in recent quarters, including increased competition from other discount chains.

While Times Square may be losing its luster for some companies, there’s still plenty of interest in the area from current and prospective tenants – and that shows how powerful it remains for retailers, according to Steven Soutendijk, a broker at Cushman & Wakefield.

“It’s not just about marketing and branding anymore,” he said. “It’s about the footfall and the shoppers that are there.”

Gains from SCB Life sale pump up SCB profits #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Gains from SCB Life sale pump up SCB profits

Jan 18. 2020
Arthid Nanthawithaya

Arthid Nanthawithaya

Siam Commercial Bank and its subsidiaries reported pre-provision operating profit (PPOP) of Bt95.6 billion last year, up 30 per cent year on year (YoY).

This strong PPOP growth over 2018 was primarily driven by the recognition of extraordinary gains from the sale of SCB Life. Nevertheless, the bank also set aside higher provisions in 2019, resulting in the annual net profit (based on unaudited consolidated financial statements) of Bt40.4 billion. The bank also announced a special dividend of Bt0.75 per share to be paid out in mid-February.

Net interest income grew at 3 per cent (YoY) to Bt99.4 billion. Despite falling interest rates in 2019 and a slight decline in the overall portfolio size, the bank was able to sustain this growth momentum by rebalancing its loan portfolio towards higher margin products.

Non-interest income surged 59 per cent (YoY) to Bt66.7 billion mainly due to large investment gains from sale of SCB Life recorded in late September. Excluding this one-off item, non-interest income would have returned to its growth trajectory of 2 per cent (YoY) with improved recurring income and a new income stream from the bancassurance partnership that commenced in the fourth quarter.

Operating expenses grew at 9 per cent (YoY) to Bt70.5 billion mainly because of one-time personnel expenses to comply with the new labour law and transformation-related expenses. With the strong top-line growth of 20 per cent (YoY), cost-to-income ratio declined to 42.5 per cent.

The Non-performing loan (NPL) ratio rose to 3.41 per cent at the end of December 2019 from below 3 per cent in the first half of 2019. This deterioration reflected a challenging business environment as economic headwinds intensified in the second half of 2019 coupled with the bank’s prudent loan classification policy.

Given the current trend on asset quality as well as economic uncertainty, the bank has set aside total loan loss provisions of Bt36.2 billion for 2019. At the end of December 2019, NPL coverage was maintained at 134 per cent.

The bank’s capital adequacy ratio remained strong at 18.1 per cent. Therefore, following the sale of SCB Life shares, the board has approved a special dividend payment of Bt0.75 per share. The final dividend for 2019 will be reviewed and approved at the annual general meeting in April.

Arthid Nanthawithaya, chairman of the executive committee and CEO, said: “Given the current economic uncertainties the bank has proceeded with caution, especially in the area of loan growth, by focusing on high quality segments. With the expectation of moderate loan growth for the banking sector, the bank will continue to rebalance its loan portfolio towards higher-margin businesses with an emphasis on digital lending and wealth management, as well as improving efficiency and expense management. In addition, the bank is leveraging new capabilities from the transformation effort and working closely with various partners and leading fintech companies to build new business models that will enhance the bank’s long-term competitiveness.”

Twitter’s top lawyer is final word on blocking tweets-even Donald Trump’s #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Twitter’s top lawyer is final word on blocking tweets-even Donald Trump’s

Jan 19. 2020
Vijaya Gadde, chief legal officer of Twitter., listens during the Wall Street Journal Tech Live global technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Martina Albertazzi.

Vijaya Gadde, chief legal officer of Twitter., listens during the Wall Street Journal Tech Live global technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Martina Albertazzi.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Kurt Wagner · BUSINESS, COURTSLAW, MEDIA 

Whenever somebody on Twitter takes issue with the network’s rules or content policies, they almost always resort to the same strategy: They send a tweet to @jack.

A quick scan of Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s mentions show just how often he’s called upon to lay down the law for the service he helped create. But what users don’t know is that they’re imploring the wrong Twitter executive. While Dorsey is the company’s public face, and the final word on all things product and strategy, the taxing job of creating and enforcing Twitter’s rules don’t actually land on the CEO’s shoulders. Instead, that falls to Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde.

The Twitter logo on an Apple laptop. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Gabby Jones.

As Twitter’s head of legal and policy issues, Gadde has one of the most difficult jobs in technology: Her teams write and enforce the rules for hundreds of millions of internet users. If people break the rules, the offending tweets can be removed, users can be suspended, or in extreme cases booted off Twitter altogether. Dorsey may have to answer for Twitter’s decisions, but he’s taken a hands-off approach to creating and enforcing its content policies.

“He rarely weighs in on an individual enforcement decision,” Gadde said in a recent interview. “I can’t even think of a time. I usually go to him and say, ‘this is what’s going to happen.'”

That leaves Gadde, 45, as the end of the line when it comes to account enforcement — a delicate position in a world where Twitter’s rules are both an affront to free speech and an invitation to racists and bigots, depending on who’s tweeting at you. “No matter what we do we’ve been accused of bias,” Gadde said. “Leaving content up, taking content down — that’s become pretty much background noise.”

Like most corporate lawyers, Gadde generally operates in the background herself, though her influence has helped shape Twitter for most of the past decade. A graduate of Cornell University and New York University Law School, Gadde spent almost a decade at a Bay Area-based law firm working with tech startups before she joined the social-media company in 2011. Her eight-plus years at Twitter are about equal to the amount of time Dorsey has worked there over the years.

But as Twitter’s role in global politics has increased, so has Gadde’s visibility. She was in the Oval Office when Dorsey met with President Donald Trump last year, and joined the CEO when he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2018. When Dorsey posted a photo with the Dalai Lama from that trip, Gadde stood between the two men, holding the Dalai Lama’s hand. InStyle just put her on “The Badass 50,” an annual list of women changing the world. “Vijaya defines the word,” tweeted Twitter Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland.

When Gadde first joined Twitter, the internet was a different place. At the time, a lot of politicians were just getting familiar with the platform. Trump primarily used his Twitter to share announcements about his TV appearances (though this would quickly change). The official presidential account, @POTUS, wouldn’t even come into existence until 2015, under then-President Barack Obama.

When Gadde took over as general counsel in 2013, the social-media service had an “everything goes” mentality. A year prior, one of Twitter’s product managers in the U.K. famously said that Twitter viewed itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party,” a label later repeated by then-CEO Dick Costolo. The company simply “let the tweets flow,” said one former employee.

That freedom is part of what drew Gadde to Twitter in the first place. An immigrant from India, Gadde moved to the U.S. as a child and grew up in east Texas, where her dad worked as a chemical engineer on oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, before moving to New Jersey in middle school. “I was the only Indian child most of my education until I went to college,” she says now. “You feel voiceless. And I think that that’s kind of what drew me to Twitter — this platform that gives you a voice, and gives you a community and gives you power.”

Twitter’s commitment to giving everyone a voice, though, has also come with a general reluctance to take it away. Twitter’s decisions in recent years to ban certain users, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and far-right media troll Milo Yiannopoulos, were news in part because Twitter’s decisions to act were so uncharacteristic. Gadde acknowledges the change, saying that the company has come to realize in recent years the responsibility it has to protect the safety of its users, including when they’re not using the product. “I would say that the company has shifted its approach dramatically [since I started],” she said.

Perhaps no user presents a bigger quagmire for Gadde and her team than Trump, the platform’s most famous user, whose tweets often push the boundaries of Twitter’s rules. The president’s habit of blasting messages to his 70.9 million followers has taken on a new vigor thanks to a looming impeachment trial and re-election bid. Following the U.S. drone strike in early January that killed a top Iranian general, Trump threatened Iran with military force in a number of tweets, including the targeting of cultural sites. That prompted many observers, including some former Twitter employees, to ask why he hadn’t been suspended — a cycle that has played out several times following other Trump tirades.

Last month, Trump attacked his Democratic rivals, blasted Congress over impeachment proceedings, and even mocked teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg from his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. According to a USA Today analysis, his tweets contain more negative language than ever. The study looked at whether Trump tweeted words with positive or negative connotations, and found he “is posting fewer tweets with words that convey joy, anticipation and trust, and more that convey anger.” Trump sent or retweeted more than 1,050 messages in December, according to Hootsuite — more than any other month since taking office.

“The way he uses social media is a reflection of just how unusual a candidate, and now a president, Trump is. A big part of that is that he breaks all the rules,” said Patrick Egan, a professor of politics and public policy at New York University. “Something that a lot of people really like about him is that he says the kind of things he’s not supposed to say, and of course that’s exactly the kind of thing that can get you into trouble on social media.”

Inside Twitter, Trump’s tweets are a frequent topic of conversation among employees, and Gadde’s authority also means that she has the unique job of punishing the world’s most famous tweeter — should it ever come to that. “My team has the responsibility to do that with every single individual who uses Twitter, whether it’s the president of a country or it’s an activist or it’s somebody we don’t know,” she said. “I honestly do my best to treat everyone with that same degree of respect.”

Twitter has so far decided that Trump hasn’t crossed any lines, but the company is prepared for such a scenario. While it’s unlikely that Twitter would ever suspend a well-known politician – the company also has a newsworthiness policy, which means it’s less likely to take action on tweets from elected officials — it’s devised another penalty for world leaders: A warning screen unveiled last summer that hides a tweet from public view and limits its distribution, but still allows people to view the tweet with the click of a button. It’s a way to publicly acknowledge that a politician has violated Twitter’s rules while admitting what they said is too newsworthy to be taken down. “It’s preserving a record of what is said in the public interest,” Gadde explained.

The process is designed like this: A content moderator, who may be a third-party contractor, reviews a tweet that has been flagged and determines whether it violates Twitter’s rules. If they decide that it does, moderators can usually enforce punishment at this stage, but Twitter requires a second layer of review for offenders who are considered public figures — in this case, a verified politician with more than 100,000 followers, Gadde said.

The tweet is then sent to Twitter’s trust and safety team, and if they also agree that the post violates the rules, Twitter convenes a special group of employees from across the company to review it. This group, about a half-dozen people from various teams, is meant to bring in a diverse set of perspectives, Gadde explained. That panel then makes a recommendation to Del Harvey, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, and her boss, Gadde, for a final decision.

Barring some kind of emergency, using the label will ultimately be Gadde’s call. “Vijaya has a young kid still, so she’s very used to being woken up any hour, which is helpful,” Harvey joked to a group of reporters last summer.

Gadde won’t go so far as to say the new warning label was created with Trump in mind — “We try to think of these things globally and not just about the United States,” she said — but added that even though the screen, referred to internally as the Public Interest Interstitial, hasn’t been used since its debut last June, it will eventually make an appearance. Gadde said Twitter has used the newsworthiness policy a “handful” of times in the past as justification for leaving offending tweets up. But the company didn’t have the warning label back then, so the general public didn’t know anything had even been discussed behind the scenes, she said. “We know it happens, and that it will happen.”

Twitter actually pointed to this policy in September 2017 when answering questions about the decision to leave up a tweet from Trump that appeared to threaten North Korea with nuclear war. Twitter also has a policy against threats of violence. A White House spokesman, Steven Groves, declined to answer questions about Trump’s use of Twitter.

Historically, Twitter’s rules around free speech have been so lax that a number of celebrities and journalists, including singer Lizzo, actress Millie Bobby Brown and New York Times writer Maggie Haberman, have stepped away from the service — at least temporarily — with many citing bullying and harassment. Sen. Kamala Harris, a former Democratic candidate for president, thought Twitter’s enforcement weak enough that she implored the company to suspend Trump in a letter in October, saying he uses his account to obstruct justice and intimidate people, including the whistle-blower whose report ultimately led to his impeachment. Twitter responded that Trump’s tweets didn’t break the rules.

The newsworthiness exemption gives Twitter a lot of wiggle room when it comes to removing high-profile tweets, but Gadde said the point of the warning label, and the company’s attempt to explain it, are part of a broader effort to be more transparent about how and why the company makes decisions — something she admits hasn’t always been clear. As Twitter has grown, so has the company’s understanding that it can’t simply sit by and let people tweet whatever they want, Gadde said. It’s one of the many ways her job has evolved over the years.

“We’re trying to do so much more of our work in public,” she said. “I want people to trust this platform.”

Lagarde’s year of listening may see ECB get earful on prices #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Lagarde’s year of listening may see ECB get earful on prices

Jan 19. 2020
Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), pauses during the central bank's rate decision news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, on Dec. 12, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Alex Kraus.

Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), pauses during the central bank’s rate decision news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, on Dec. 12, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Alex Kraus.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Craig Stirling, Catherine Bosley 

If European Central Bank officials use their review of monetary policy this year as a chance to connect with ordinary people, they need to be ready for some plain truths.

At the heart of the assessment, likely to be announced on Jan. 23, is how price stability should be defined and targeted. But ask citizens how they feel about inflation and they’re likely to come up with wildly varying answers. In fact, as the Federal Reserve found in its own recent consultation, many may be less convinced than central bankers that prices are rising too slowly.

While President Christine Lagarde says she wants to hear diverse views, it’s not yet clear how much that will involve people outside of economic and banking circles, nor how seriously policymakers will take the opinions submitted. If they did want consumers’ perceptions to influence how the review reshapes monetary policy, that could conceivably put the institution on a different path from the ultra-accommodative stance it has adopted for years.

“It’s definitely going to add to the knowledge the ECB has about the inflation process, and the ways inflation affects different groups in society,” said Florian Hense, an economist at Berenberg in London. “How much that is actually going to affect the overhaul or the result of that overhaul is a bit difficult to say.”

Lagarde, who wants to agree on the review at next week’s policy meeting, insisted last month that it will tap more than “the usual suspects.”

“It will also include consulting with Members of Parliament and I’ve committed to that with the European Parliament. It will reach out to the academic community, of course. It will reach out to civil society representatives, and it will aim at not just preaching the gospel that we think we master, but also listening.”

One example she might follow is that of the Fed, which held “community listening sessions” last year in places including San Francisco and Atlanta. The “Fed Listens” initiative heard how officials’ desire for higher prices wasn’t shared by lower-income workers, who fret about their living costs.

Such an exercise would appeal to Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau, who insisted last week that what consumers and businesses think, particularly on inflation, is crucial for the review’s credibility. “They are the ones that ultimately set prices and wages,” he said.

The approach has its problems though. A Bundesbank study published in December found “large differences” between German households on inflation perceptions depending on factors such as earnings, education, home ownership, job type and recent experience of price trends.

Housing is a key area of contention. It is significantly underweighted in the European Union’s official inflation measure because of the challenge of collecting data, yet it’s also a major expense for many individuals. Property values and rents have tended to outstrip inflation in recent years. Data on Thursday showed annual prices of homes in the euro region rose 4.1% in the third quarter — roughly four times the pace of consumer inflation at the time.

Households not only tend to predict more inflation than investors, they also overestimate it. In July, former ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure cited a survey of citizens who believed annual price increases were near 9% in the 14 years through 2018, when the figure was actually 1.6%.

Coeure still noted that consumers are good at identifying shifts in inflation, and that their expectations can be “a better proxy” of company pricing decisions than financial markets. Under former ECB President Mario Draghi, policy makers tended to emphasize indicators of future inflation generated by investor bets, such as five-year, five-year forwards.

“The mood has changed, also because the policy space is reduced,” said Marco Valli, an economist at UniCredit in Milan. “There’s more inclination to look at different types of inflation expectations — especially households.”

Lagarde’s strategy rethink is also an opportunity to better explain what the ECB is trying to achieve. Villeroy argues that if people can’t understand its goals, the effectiveness of its policies is blunted.

“They are less convinced than economists of the need to boost price growth from 1% to 2%,” he told an audience in Paris. “I believe the economic analyses and theories; but I also believe that they only have a real-world impact if they are perceived, accepted and assimilated by common sense and public opinion.”

Building a coherent view from a mass of public opinions is likely to be challenging, but it might be worth a try. At a time when many people in richer countries are furious at negative interest rates and quantitative easing, increasing the emphasis on their views could ultimately push the ECB to find more palatable ways to support the economy.

In any case, addressing erroneous perceptions of the ECB, as Villeroy suggests, will likely require more outreach. Lagarde has acknowledged as much, saying that bringing the central bank closer to citizens in an age of populism is a priority.

“It is important to me that our focus on connecting with the people we serve continues and grows stronger,” she told lawmakers in December. “Communication is a two-way street.”

Private-debt market offers rare 12% yields, but there’s a catch #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Private-debt market offers rare 12% yields, but there’s a catch

Jan 18. 2020
Scott Bluestein
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Lisa Lee · BUSINESS 

Scott Bluestein has a favorite type of debt investment: companies with no profits, no cash flow, and in some cases even no revenue.

While that may seem like a recipe for disaster for most fixed-income money managers, it’s perfectly normal in the world of venture debt. And few companies in the space have been more successful in recent years than Bluestein’s Hercules Capital Inc., the largest nonbank lender in the business.

The market for venture debt operates largely in the shadow of venture equity, the segment of startup financing famous for providing early funding for technology giants such as Facebook and Alibaba Group Holding. Winning wagers tend to not produce the sort of eye-popping payouts the equity side has become renowned for, but they’re also less risky, relatively speaking. Flying under the radar also has its benefits, according to Bluestein.

While investors have plowed hundreds of billions of dollars into direct-lending funds over the past few years amid a global hunt for yield, the $15 billion venture debt market has yet to see the same influx of cash. As a result it’s largely avoided the intense competition, record dry powder and pricing pressures seen in other corners of private credit. In fact, the Hercules chief executive expects core loan yields to keep pace with the long-term average of about 12% going forward.

“Venture debt has historically mystified the direct-lending market,” Bluestein said in an interview. “We have the opportunity to partner with and help finance some of the most exciting growth-stage technology and life-sciences companies in the world.”

Hercules’s current borrowers include rare-disease drug developer BridgeBio Pharma Inc. and fake-meat producer Impossible Foods Inc.

Lending to such companies requires a unique blend of credit, equity and industry expertise, according to Bluestein. The ability to assess why the companies are burning cash is critical.

“Venture lending is a pretty esoteric, specialized part of the market,” Bluestein said. “It requires significant domain expertise. It requires an achievement of scale from a performance perspective.”

Hercules originally provided BridgeBio a $35 million secured term loan in June 2018. The financing had grown to $75 million by the time BridgeBio went public a year later. Since then, its market capitalization has ballooned to $4.3 billion.

As for Impossible Foods, Hercules closed a $50 million commitment in the second quarter of 2018. A year later, the meat-substitute company reached a $2 billion valuation. In both deals, Hercules made equity investments alongside the loans. In others, it often receives equity kickers in the form of stock warrants.

Of course, the lender’s record isn’t spotless. Portfolio company Sungevity Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and the debt was subsequently converted into equity of the company that bought some of its assets. BIND Therapeutics Inc. went bust in 2016, though Hercules says it was able to fully recover its outstanding commitment.

Last year, the company’s main challenge was unrelated to its investments. Founder and then-CEO Manuel Henriquez was forced to step aside after being charged by federal prosecutors in March for participating in the college-admissions cheating conspiracy.

Wall Street was quick to cut its expectations for publicly-traded Hercules’s shares, worried that access to capital and origination growth may be hurt. The stock has since recovered, and the company said earlier this week it had surpassed more than $10 billion in committed debt capital since its inception in 2003. Assets under management stood at $2.3 billion as of Sept. 30.

Others are also growing in the space. Avenue Capital has sought to raise about $500 million for a venture debt fund, Reuters reported in November. Specialty lenders in the business also include TriplePoint and Horizon Technology Finance, while Silicon Valley Bank is seen as an industry pioneer.

Still, the strategy isn’t for everyone. Direct-lending giant Ares Capital Corp. exited the space in 2017, offloading its $125 million portfolio of venture loans to Hercules. CEO Kipp deVeer at the time attributed the exit to the overwhelming challenge of overseeing so many small and complicated financings.

Along with being relatively small, maturities on the loans tends to be short. That makes for a fast-churn, research-intensive business. The average tenor of a Hercules loans is 36 to 48 months, but the actual average duration is just a year-and-a-half, according to Bluestein.

“Our portfolio turns about every 18 months,” Bluestein said. “The treadmill is set at 10, and you can’t stop.”

While recent high-profile venture-capital stumbles such as WeWork may make investors wary of startup financing broadly, Bluestein welcomes the greater scrutiny and caution, acknowledging there have been a number of so-called unicorns where valuations reached extreme levels.

“It’s a positive. It puts more focus on fundamentals,” Bluestein said. “Anything that makes the market more realistic is good for business.”

Walmart reshuffles leadership as nervous investors await results #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Walmart reshuffles leadership as nervous investors await results

Jan 18. 2020
File Photo

File Photo
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Matt Townsend, Matthew Boyle 

Walmart’s new U.S. chief wasted no time putting his stamp on the unit, appointing his former top lieutenant as second in command and parting ways with the retailer’s head of merchandising.

Dacona Smith, a company veteran who most recently served as chief operating officer for Walmart’s Sam’s Club, will become COO under John Furner, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg News. Steve Bratspies, who ran the retailer’s merchandising unit for nearly five years, will leave the company and be replaced by long-time executive Scott McCall, the memo showed. The company also named its first ever chief product officer in Meng Chee, who joins from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The world’s largest retailer typically makes leadership moves in January, in the weeks before its fiscal year ends. The rejig, which sent Walmart shares down nearly 1%, will focus more attention on the company as it prepares to report its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 18. All eyes are on Walmart after a slew of lackluster holiday results from retailers including Kohl’s Corp., Target Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. If Walmart follows suit, that will raise more concerns about the health of the American consumer.

Toshiba completes NuFlare takeover, snubs minority holders #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Toshiba completes NuFlare takeover, snubs minority holders

Jan 18. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Pavel Alpeyev, Yuki Furukawa

Toshiba Corp. said it completed a takeover of NuFlare Technology Inc. despite a higher competing offer, in a snub to minority shareholders.

The Japanese conglomerate acquired 5,450,695 shares of NuFlare, clearing the 14.27% minimum needed for its bid to succeed, Toshiba said in a statement on Friday. While the 11,900 yen per share price it paid is a 45% premium to where the stock traded before news of the deal broke in November, it’s less than the 12,900 yen Hoya Corp. was prepared to pay.

Toshiba was already NuFlare’s biggest shareholder with 52.4% when it initiated the buyout. Toshiba Machine Co., an independent company that retains the former parent’s name and the second-largest NuFlare stockholder, late on Wednesday said it will sell its 15.8% stake to Toshiba.

“Just because the stock went up, it doesn’t mean it was done right,” said Travis Lundy, a special-situations analyst who writes for Smartkarma. “A lot of Japanese companies trade inexpensively precisely because shareholders don’t expect to be treated fairly.”

Hoya offered to spend as much as 148 billion yen ($1.35 billion) for NuFlare, seeking a minimum of 66.7% of the chip-equipment manufacturer. At the time, Hoya said it hadn’t discussed the bid with NuFlare or Toshiba in advance for fear of the information leaking out and driving up the price. Toshiba Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Nobuaki Kurumatani has said that NuFlare wouldn’t be able to survive outside of the group and he has no plans to sell his stake. After Toshiba’s announcement, Hoya said it would not pursue its tender any further.

“We saw it as a 50-50 chance to begin with,” said Taishi Arashida, a spokesman for Hoya. Arashida said there is still room to discuss acquisition or some kind of a partnership with Toshiba.

NuFlare dominates the market for mask writers, which are used for imprinting patterns on glass squares slightly bigger than a CD case that act as a stencil for semiconductor designs. Hoya is one of only two companies in the world — the other being Japanese compatriot AGC Inc. — capable of making the blank masks used in next-generation extreme ultraviolet lithography, and it sees a lot of synergy between itself and the acquisition target.

Toshiba hasn’t explained how it arrived at the offer price and it’s not clear how NuFlare fits into the company’s business portfolio, since chip manufacturing hasn’t been core to its business after it spun off memory operations in 2018. NuFlare has said that it saw Toshiba’s bid as the best way to increase the company’s value and that the two of its 10 board directors who had connections to Toshiba group recused themselves from voting on the matter.

“The burden was on NuFlare management and its board to look at the competing bid,” Lundy said. “This conflict of interest between parent-subsidiary and minority shareholders won’t go away.”

Ex-congressman Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years on insider-trading, false-statements charges #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Ex-congressman Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years on insider-trading, false-statements charges

Jan 18. 2020
Chris Collins
By The Washington Post · Renae Merle 

NEW YORK — A federal judge on Friday sentenced former congressman Chris Collins to 26 months in prison for his part in an insider trading scheme and lying to the FBI.

“You had a duty to meet and you betrayed that duty,” U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick said as he handed down the sentence.

Collins tearfully apologized to his family and his constituents, acknowledging that he tipped off his son to confidential information that a small Australian biotechnology company’s new therapy for multiple sclerosis had failed a critical clinical trial. Collins’s son and several others used the information to avoid more than $700,000 in losses. Collins also admitted that he later lied to the FBI about the incident.

“I stand here today a disgraced former congressman,” said Collins, who was one of President Donald Trump’s first supporters in Congress. “I cannot face my constituents. What I have done has marked me for life.”

Collins said he particularly regretted the impact the case would have on his son, who is scheduled to be sentenced next week. “I have destroyed the reputation of my son,” he said.

Collins’s attorneys cited his age, 69, years of public service and track record as a businessman who saved hundreds of jobs in New York, in asking Broderick to sentence Collins to probation, home detention and community service. But prosecutors asked for a much longer sentence, 46 to 57 months in prison, arguing that the New York Republican had violated a public trust and the loss of status and money was not enough of a penalty.

After a more-than-three-hour hearing, Broderick said Collins was “highly unlikely to be a recidivist” but that he still considered the former congressman’s crime significant. Insider trading creates the perception for investors that the financial markets are rigged, he said.

Broderick received more than 100 letters of support for Collins, including from John Boehner, the former Republican speaker of the House, Collins’s family and former business associates. Others, including some former constituents, sent angry letters calling for a tough sentence.

Broderick sentenced Collins to 26 months each for two counts: conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. The sentences are to run concurrently. Collins was also fined $200,000.

The case ended the career of one of Trump’s most ardent early supporters. Collins represented New York’s 27th Congressional District, which encompasses suburban and rural areas stretching east of the Buffalo metropolitan area, for more than five years. The district is a Republican stronghold that supported Trump by a wide margin in the presidential election.

Even before facing federal charges, Collins was under scrutiny for his role in promoting Innate Immunotherapeutics, a small Australian company that was developing a new therapy for multiple sclerosis. Collins served on the company’s board and was its largest shareholder.

Then, while at the June 2017 congressional picnic at the White House, Collins received an email from Innate Immunotherapeutics’s chief executive alerting the company’s board that an eagerly anticipated drug trial had been a failure, according to court filings. Minutes later, the filings said, Collins responded to the email: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???”

Collins frantically attempted to contact his son, who owned millions of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to the indictment. Within a few minutes, Collins and his son called each other six times before connecting and talking for six minutes. During that call, Collins told his son about the failed drug trial, according to the indictment, which cites phone and bank records as well as texts.

With that insider knowledge, Collins helped his family avoid significant losses before the news became public and the company’s stock price fell more than 90%, prosecutors allege. (Because Collins was a board member, he was prevented from unloading his stock and reportedly lost millions.)

Collins was “emotionally devastated” by the failed drug trial and when he shared the news with his son, the former congressman’s attorneys argued. “It was a stupid, impulsive action. He didn’t need the money, neither did his son,” said Jonathan Barr, one of Collins’s attorneys. “People are not robots.”

And when the FBI questioned him months later, making a surprise visit to his home at 6:30 a.m., Collins didn’t want to implicate himself or his son in a potential crime, Barr said. “He has paid a very heavy and public price for his conduct,” he said.

But prosecutors were skeptical. Collins didn’t act out of emotion but from financial interests, which he exacerbated by lying to the FBI, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Max Nicholas. “We do not agree this was a crime of emotion,” he said. “The fact that he was in a position to write the country’s laws… there is nobody in a better position to know not to lie to the FBI.”

Prosecutors also faulted Collins for running for reelection after being charged in 2018. “There was a courtship of the public trust… to hold this high office having just lied to the FBI to cover up a crime he committed ten months earlier,” Nicholas said.

After the federal indictment, Collins initially suspended his campaign but then reversed course. He was narrowly elected to his fourth term months after being indicted. He resigned his seat in October after entering a guilty plea.

Several of Collins former constituents wrote to the judge complaining that they had been left unrepresented on Capitol Hill and now faced the cost of putting on an another election.

While standing before the judge, Collins sometimes struggled to form words as he sobbed and talked of finding himself in a “dark hole.” He was now branded a felon, unable to vote or even participate in the Boy Scouts as he had for decades, Collins said.

“People feel sorry for me. They shouldn’t,” he said. “I did what I did, and I violated my core values.”

Stocks surge to record highs; dollar strengthens, gold rise #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Stocks surge to record highs; dollar strengthens, gold rise

Jan 18. 2020
The benchmark S&P 500 index, along with the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite, set record highs for an eighth consecutive trading session. Boeing Co. slumped after a Fitch downgrade, weighing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed at a record, posting its biggest gain since mid-December.

The benchmark S&P 500 index, along with the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite, set record highs for an eighth consecutive trading session. Boeing Co. slumped after a Fitch downgrade, weighing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed at a record, posting its biggest gain since mid-December.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Sarah Ponczek 

Stocks extended this week’s relentless push to all-time highs as positive U.S. and China economic data, low interest rates and easing trade tensions propelled investor optimism. The dollar strengthened and gold climbed.

The benchmark S&P 500 index, along with the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite, set record highs for an eighth consecutive trading session. Boeing Co. slumped after a Fitch downgrade, weighing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed at a record, posting its biggest gain since mid-December.

“The headwinds of last year have dissipated and we’ve gotten more clarity on the backdrop. That clarity is helping to solidify marginal improvement in risk assets,” said Jack Janasiewicz, a portfolio manager at Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, which oversees $1 trillion “The big one is going to earnings, and so far so good.”

The longest-dated Treasuries dipped after the U.S. announced plans for a new 20-year bond. The dollar increased against its major peers including the euro and pound, with the latter reversing gains while gilts turned higher after U.K. retail sales data disappointed.

Investors in risk assets headed into the weekend looking confident after the completion of an initial Sino-American trade deal and solid results from the biggest banks on Wall Street. U.S. markets are closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The earnings season continues to ramp up next week with Procter & Gamble Co. and Intel Corp. reporting, but for now most economic data is supporting sentiment: China GDP was in line with estimates, while housing starts surged in the U.S.

“At this stage of the game we’ve got a Fed that’s committed to staying on hold, you’ve got a belief that there’s a signal of easing, and some improvement in the economic data globally,” Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab, said on Bloomberg Television. “That’s helping propel markets.”

Elsewhere, oil slumped for a second week as optimism following the signing of the America-China trade agreement offset signs that supplies remain plentiful.

Emerging-market equities also climbed for a seventh week of gains.

These are the major market moves:


-The S&P 500 index climbed 0.4% to 3,329.46 as of 4:02 p.m. New York time, the highest on record.

-The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 29,347.62, reaching the highest on record with its fifth consecutive advance.

-The Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.3% to 9,388.95, the highest on record.

-The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 1% to 424.56, the highest on record with the biggest increase in more than a month.

-The MSCI All-Country World index increased 0.4% to 579.17, hitting the highest on record with its fifth straight advance.


-The Bloomberg Dollar Spot index increased 0.2% to 1,194.36, the highest in more than three weeks on the biggest climb in more than a week.

-The euro fell 0.4% to $1.1093, the weakest in more than three weeks on the largest drop in more than a week.

-The Japanese yen was little changed at 110.14 per dollar.

-The British pound dipped 0.5% to $1.3014.


-The yield on two-year Treasuries declined less than one basis point to 1.57%.

-The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased two basis points to 1.83%.

-Britain’s 10-year yield decreased one basis point to 0.632%, reaching the lowest in 11 weeks on its sixth straight decline.

-Germany’s 10-year yield rose less than one basis point to -0.22%.


-Gold strengthened 0.3% to $1,557.03 an ounce, the highest in a week.

-West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.3% to $58.70 a barrel, the highest in a week.

U.S. to start issuing 20-year bonds to fund rising deficit #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published January 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

U.S. to start issuing 20-year bonds to fund rising deficit

Jan 18. 2020
Visitors take photographs outside the U.S. Treasury building in Washington on Aug. 13, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.

Visitors take photographs outside the U.S. Treasury building in Washington on Aug. 13, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Saleha Mohsin

The U.S. Treasury will start issuing 20-year bonds in the first half of 2020, expanding its roster of securities as the government seeks ways to fund a ballooning deficit.

Institutional investors have been clamoring for more longer-dated, risk-free securities that offer some nominal yield, amid a global total of $11 trillion of debt with negative rates. Japanese officials have discussed adding a 50-year security, something the U.S. opted against in its announcement.

“The 20-year bond fits more easily into the existing market structure,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP in New York. “This is a way of taking advantage of long-term interest rates that are low by historical standards without introducing a wild-card such as an ultra-long bond, which would have had more growing pains.”

Previously issued 30-year Treasuries with about 20-years left to maturity yield about 2.15%, suggesting the new debt will offer a sizable premium over other comparable notes. Japanese 20-year bonds yield about 0.31%, and German ones just 0.07%.

The new 20-year bonds will probably draw more domestic buyers than global funds, who tend to favor shorter maturities. Foreign investors bought an average of less than 9% of U.S. 30-year debt sold at auctions in 2019.

More information will come in the Treasury’s next quarterly announcement of sales of longer-dated debt, on Feb. 5, the department said in a statement. Given that the long-standing practice is to avoid a market-timing issuance strategy, the sales will be done “in a regular and predictable manner in benchmark size,” the Treasury said.

“The newness of the bond should make it trade a little cheap,” said Priya Misra, head of global rates strategy at TD Securities in New York. The yield curve is likely to steepen as the 20-year supply will be coming sooner than some had anticipated, she said.

Misra said she’ll be looking to see which securities the Treasury will cut back on to make space for the new 20-year bonds. One danger is that, given the Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost purchases of bills, there could be “scarcity” in some maturities, she said.

Longer-maturity Treasuries fell in Asian trading Friday, steepening the yield curve. Thirty-year yields rose three basis points to 2.29% while 10-year yields climbed two basis points to 1.82%. The spread between 30-year bonds and matched maturity interest rate swaps, known as the swap spread, tightened over one basis point.

This is a revival for the 20-year bond, which the Treasury abandoned back in 1986 in favor of the 30-year security, long known as the benchmark “long bond” in the American market before it too was ditched for a time in the 2000s.

The U.S. also issued bonds with maturities up to 40 years between 1955 and 1963, and sold 50-year debt in 1911 to fund the construction of the Panama Canal.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement that “we will continue to evaluate other potential new products” to finance debt at the lowest cost over time.

The decision, made in consultation with dealers, comes after the U.S. reviewed options including ultra-long bonds maturing in 50 or 100 years. The current maximum is 30 years. Many on Wall Street lobbied against those longer durations.

At President Donald Trump’s request, Mnuchin in August began a second review into ultra-long bonds since taking office. Trump has said repeatedly the U.S. should seek to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

Issuing extremely long-term debt would limit the cost to taxpayers of plugging a budget deficit that’s headed to $1 trillion annually. Pension funds are also likely to enjoy a few extra points of returns amid falling yields.

“Lengthening duration as a borrower in the current very-low interest-rate environment is a sensible move,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Plc in Sydney. “It’s the richest and deepest of markets around the globe. They are happy to take a long-run view to reshape their portfolio for the long term.”

Among the risks of an ultra-long bond is the ebb and flow of demand over the course of an economic cycle. Buyers may be enthusiastic when yields are high, but in downturns, when the Fed is cutting rates, interest may evaporate, pushing government borrowing costs higher.

For now at least, demand is likely to be sustained, market participants said.

There’s a large gap between the 10-year and 30-year bonds so “there will be demand for it,” said Tony Farren, managing director at broker-dealer Mischler Financial in Stamford, Connecticut. It will appeal to “people that don’t want to go all out to 30 years,” he said.

– – –

Bloomberg’s Christopher Anstey, Emily Barrett, Vivien Lou Chen, Adam Haigh and Stephen Spratt contributed to this report.

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