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Here are 5 things Faraday Future wants to do with a $1 billion cash infusion, and what needs to happen first

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

stefan krause

Faraday Future, the startup vying to put its electric vehicles on the road in the next two years, has a new plan.

The company was founded in 2014 and has faced money troubles, supplier lawsuits, and high-profile executive departures ever since. Earlier this year executives told Business Insider that it's in shambles, lacking funding and leadership.

A much-touted plant in Nevada still hasn't emerged from the ground, and the unveiling of its new vehicle earlier this year was seen as a public relations disaster. Now, as Faraday tries to turn things around, it is hoping to raise more than $1 billion from new investors.

"We are talking to investors, pre-marketing, providing information. We’ve had a lot of due-diligence done in Gardena," said Stefan Krause, the new chief financial officer Faraday brought on in March. Gardena is Faraday's headquarters in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. "Within the process it’s going quite well. I’m quite satisfied." The funds, Krause says, would let Faraday deploy a two-year plan with five major goals:

  • Start construction on its North Las Vegas, Nevada, factory.
  • Continue development on its first vehicle, the FF91.
  • Engineer and design its sister brand, the LeSEE.
  • Support the development of a factory in China.
  • Prepare its sales infrastructure in the US.

Faraday Future FF91

Krause says he's mostly pitching private individuals. The company has been notoriously secretive about its funding sources. Up until now, it's only publicly known investor was Jia Yueting, the CEO of Chinese tech giant, LeEco — which itself is struggling financially.

Jia, who goes by YT, acknowledged LeEco's financial woes last fall and in the first half of 2017, LeEco saw its US workforce shrink dramatically. The company, known in some circles as the "Netflix of China," recently unloaded some property in Silicon Valley amid the cash crunch.

Jia YuetingThe connection is not lost on Krause, who told Business Insider that despite LeEco's financial turmoil, Faraday Future is still expected to receive funding from YT while Faraday rounds up new investors.

YT, who stepped down as CEO from the publicly traded, Beijing-based Leshi Internet Information and Technology last week, is also divesting from a number of startups in which he has a stake, to help round up more cash.

"The initial funds will come from YT, through his own divestments of some of his companies," Krause said. "So, that is money we are expecting in July and we will expect the funds from the first tranche of $500 million as we go into the third quarter," he said.

Asked how many investors Faraday would need to reach $1 billion, he said, "We need around 10 to 15, but I cannot exclude that there might be a Chinese investor coming with a larger amount of money."

Faraday’s spokespeople later emphasized it could receive a larger cash infusion from any of its potential investors.

Krause also suggested that the company has caught the attention of a "significant" automaker that could acquire a stake in the company, but declined to elaborate on what that means.

For his part, Krause said he is confident in Faraday Future's prospects and emphasized in an earlier conversation with Business Insider the company's efforts to get its financial affairs in the order for the long haul. Audits of the company's books have been completed for 2014 and 2015, and an audit of 2016's books is underway.

There are still plenty of unknowns. Faraday needs to secure that much-needed investor cash, keep paying its bills, and overcome negative public perceptions that have tarnished its name since the company first emerged from stealth mode in January 2016.

That says nothing of actually getting down to the work of building a car that it can sell.

SEE ALSO: Here's everything we know so far about Faraday Future's FF91 electric, self-driving car

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Bitcoin Returns to Rangebound Trading As Price Rollercoaster Subsides

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The price of bitcoin saw modest volatility today, a development that follows a particularly strong period of robust gains.


Omise to raise $19M in first cryptocurrency sale from a major VC-backed startup

TechCrunch, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

 The tech industry is opening its eyes to the possibilities of raising money using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum through ‘initial coin offerings,’ and it’s about to see the first ICO from a major venture-backed company. Last week, Kik, a messaging app popular with young people in North America, announced an ambitious plan to launch its own currency as a basis for… Read More

9 Years: LocalBitcoins Trader Sentenced in Latest Money Transmission Case

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A bitcoin trader on LocalBitcoins has been sentenced to prison terms after being convicted of running an unlicensed money transmission business.


One name has thrown politics in the Western Hemisphere off-kilter, and it's not Trump

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

odebrecht protest dominican republic

One name has completely disrupted politics in the Western Hemisphere, taken down at least one presidency and threatens to topple another. 

It has sent protesters to the streets in more than one nation, and has American officials combing through bank transactions leading to a nebulous web of offshore accounts.

The name is Odebrecht, it's a Brazilian construction company that became an international giant over years of using bribery and corruption to secure around 100 projects in 12 countries, generating ill-gotten gains of about $3.3 billion.

That $3.3 billion, however, has nothing on the impact Odebrecht will have on history. In the countries where it operated — especially in Brazil and the Dominican Republic — the revelation that Odebrecht's corruption reached the highest levels of government has destroyed storied careers and crippled political parties. 

Former left wing Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was an Odebrecht casualty. She was forced to step down from office last year. Her right wing successor, Michel Temer may not survive his full tenure in office either. Recently, tapes of him encouraging bribes leaked to the public, and on Sunday Brazilians held yet another massive protests calling for his resignation.

In Peru, a judge ordered the arrest of former President Alejandro Toledo, who was accused of accepting millions from Odebrecht. Another governor has been placed in "preventative prison" for 18 months for accepting $4 million in bribes as protesters have taken to the streets.

In Colombia, prosecutors are investigating whether or not President Juan Manuel Santos' 2014 campaigned received improper donations from Odebrecht. Protesters in Guatemala have also called for the resignation of their president and any other politicians involved in the scandal.

In the Dominican Republic, almost a dozen officials were arrested on Monday on suspicion of involvement with the  $92 million in bribes Odebrecht paid there. According to the Justice Department, the company made $163 million from those bribes.

Odebrecht also operates in Angola, Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. 

odebrecht protest peru

Here's how you scam the entire Western Hemisphere

The US is investigating Odebrecht for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because the company allegedly made million in corrupt payments from New York City and held meetings in Miami. The Justice Department complaint reads like a Bond-villain's backstory.

According to the Feds, Odebrecht started bribing officials around 2001. In 2006, though, things got really streamlined. The company created an entire division simply for making corrupt payments — it was called the Division of Structure Operations. It had a separate computer process from the rest of the company for its communications and payments.

Naturally, there was an opaque and complicated structure of offshore accounts. Payments could go through up to four levels of offshore bank accounts before reaching their final destination. To further streamline this process, in 2010 or 2011 Odebrecht bought a branch of an Austrian bank in Antigua.

This is how the company managed to pay out $788 million in bribes.

Of course, everything came crashing down around 2014, when Brazilian officials initiated a sting known as Operation Car Wash. This sting had everything — public arrests, briefcases of cash, private planes, big name politicians, you name it.

A lot of the money Odebrecht was stealing came form country's quasi-state owned oil company, Petrobras. The company's stock has lost over a quarter of its value since then, as prosecutors calculated that $2.1 billion had gone missing from its balance sheet. Brazilian authorites arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of the company, along with a few other executives back in 2015.

Marcelo Odebrecht CEO Odebrecht

“The fraud happened externally,” said Carlos Lima, one of the nine prosecutors charged with investigating the case. “I don’t see how Petrobras could, as a company with an auditor, find the fraud in the contract, or how the company could have established controls to avoid this.”

Indeed, most of Odebrecht's power came from its ability to engage in bid rigging with a group of cartel companies that would seem to compete for projects, but in reality took turns at Odebrecht's direction.

That's probably why Lima also called the Petrobras scandal a "thing of criminal beauty." With all of the political turmoil Odebrecht caused, however, he'll be around to see it get ugly as well.


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NOW WATCH: Colonel Sanders' nephew revealed the family's secret recipe — here's how to make KFC's 'original' fried chicken

Why Vox may be able to revive The Ringer, even though its traffic has plummeted

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bill Simmons

There is one very good reason why The Ringer is ditching Medium for Vox Media. Traffic to the Bill Simmons-founded site has been anemic and slipping since it launched about a year ago.

According to comScore, the sports and pop culture-oriented site reached just 357,000 unique visitors in April. That's down from roughly 1.2 million unique visitors in July of 2016 just after the site went live. In February, traffic had dipped to just 316,000 visitors.

The Ringer will soon begun publishing using Vox's technology platform. And Vox will sell ads for The Ringer, with the two companies sharing the revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

As part of that partnership, it's a good bet that Vox will use its network of sites to send more people to The Ringer.com. An obvious place to promote the Ringer would be SB Nation, Vox's network of sports properties. Vox's technology and team should help The Ringer improve how its content gets discovered by search engines and shared via social media.

The Ringer currently has 90,000-plus Facebook fans and 304,000 Twitter followers.

On the ad sales front, besides benefiting from Vox's ad sales clout, it's possible that The Ringer could end up as part of ad packages sold by Vox partner NBCUniversal as part of the two companies ad partnership, known as "Concert" (NBCU was not part of today's announcement).

The Ringer was launched as something of a successor to ESPN's former highbrow sports content venture Grantland, which was also founded by longtime ESPN columnist Simmons. It was one of the first high profile publications lauched on Medium. But early this year Medium shifted its model away from advertising, and founder Ev Williams has spoken out about the web being "broken."

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops at the Naval Air Station Sigonella before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstWelcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours.

President Donald Trump fired back Tuesday amid a wave of criticism from Germany, adding to apparently strained relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military," Trump tweeted. "Very bad for U.S. This will change."

Trump's attacks on Germany show he misunderstands a basic fact about Europe, according to Business Insider's Pedro da Costa. In related news, Trump on Tuesday said the Senate should get rid of the legislative filibuster so that it could pass healthcare and tax-cut bills.

In Wall Street news, Steve Cohen is reportedly prepping the biggest hedge-fund launch ever, and David Einhorn was just dealt a blow in his battle to shake up GM

Deutsche Bank is making a big bet on the future of finance

In economic news, Japan's demographic time bomb is a bad omen for the US. A likely shift in the mortgage market is creating "prisoners" in housing. Oil companies are set to struggle rehiring workers they laid off during the crash.

And the Bank of England studied Dr. Seuss books to make its writing clearer and more accessible.

In markets news, red-hot tech stocks are getting a boost from an unexpected sourceAmazon's stock price hit the $1,000 mark for the first time in early trading on Tuesday. And the bitcoin bubble could just be getting started.

The CIO of a $114 billion investment firm sees "stormy weather" ahead for stocks. And the cofounder of the company that helped bring the world BroBible wants to help millennials get rich.

One of the most hated drug companies on Wall Street is facing another nasty probe. And an artist put a statue of a urinating dog next to "Fearless Girl" in protest.

In autos, Ford’s new CEO may be about to go on a Silicon Valley shopping spree. Tesla’s former Autopilot head is launching a self-driving-car company — and it could have a big advantage. And the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a 505-horsepower Italian challenge to everything BMW holds dear.

This animated timeline shows how Silicon Valley became a $2.8 trillion neighborhood.

Lastly, the one-time office of a millionaire railroad executive has been reborn as one of New York's hottest bars.

SEE ALSO: The 27 most important finance books ever written

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NOW WATCH: Buying Tesla stock is like buying a call option on Elon Musk

Robo Advisors vs. Human Financial Advisors: Why Not Both?

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Hybrid Robo Advisors

After the strong growth of the robo advisory approach in recent years, promoted by numerous start-ups worldwide as well as sizeable number of early adopting wealth managers, a new ‘sub-species’ has emerged: the hybrid robo/personal contact service, which adds a substantial software component to human interaction in the client advisory process.

This is a key finding of MyPrivateBanking's latest report "Hybrid Robos: how combining human and automated wealth advice delivers superior results and gains market share".

Robo Advisors vs. Human Financial Advisors

Robo-advisors have begun to distinguish themselves into three  models, but they each have the same goal. Standalone companies such as Betterment (the most popular U.S. robo-advisor) use algorithms to recommend stocks and manage portfolios. Hybrid robo-advisors combine computerized recommendations with on-demand advice from a human being. And advanced standalone companies leverage more complex algorithms to create and actively manage portfolios.

Robo Advisors for Advisors

In MyPrivateBanking's view, hybrid robo advisory strategies represent a paradigm shift in the pace and path of change in the wealth management industry. MyPrivateBanking estimates that hybrid robo services will by 2020 grow to a size of USD 3,700 billion assets worldwide; by 2025 the total market size will further increase to USD 16,300 billion. This number constitutes just over 10% of the total investable wealth in 2025.

By comparison,“pure” robo advisors (completely automated without personal service added on) will have a market share of 1.6% of the total global wealth at that stage. The report includes a projection for the market size and growth globally of Hybrid Robo Advisor and pure play robo advisor, including a breakdown between North America and the rest of the world, and a split by the retail and affluent wealth and the HNWI/UHNWI segments.

Hybrid robo solutions are a dynamic and also unstable new phase in the wealth management industry’s transformation. MyPrivateBanking expects 2016 to be a year of significant developments – several major players have announced that they will reveal their hybrid offerings in the course of the year and many more wealth managers are currently working through the issues of hybrid robo adoption. The institutional players entering the robo advisors markets and their offerings are analyzed in detail in the report.

Hybrid Solutions will impact many financial services sectors

The drivers for hybrid robo innovation will come from several different sources within the global financial industry. For a start there is is the inspiration derived from the original robo advisor services. To this must be added the new opportunities that have arisen following the launch of a substantial range of new B2B technology providers, some focused only on the banking and wealth management industries and others with a broader scope.

The next 12 to 18 months will provide numerous demonstrations of the impact of the new (white label) technology providers and robo/conventional partnering on wealth management. In particular, as this report’s case studies show, the resulting hybrid wealth management solutions will spring up in a number of different parts of the global finance industry. Furthermore, with the help of robo technology, MyPrivateBanking expects to see a significant increase in quasi-wealth management services from sections of the industry that have been considered as distinct from wealth management, such as pension providers, fund managers and retail banks.

The robo model of investment portfolio management will be good enough in the eyes of a larger proportion of investors than the wealth management industry itself yet seems ready to recognize. Moreover, hybrid robo advisory services will increase the efficiency of advisors, in terms of numbers of clients served per professional, and the increasing numbers of hybrid solutions will also have a significant downwards effect on the client charges the market will bear.

Wealth managers should implement robo advisors solution fast, but thoughtful

The report highlights 20 different recommendations for consideration by wealth managers in weighing up hybrid robo opportunities, among them:

  • Wealth Managers should be wary of assuming that one or more robo advisory elements can be just ‘added on’ to an existing service.
  • Especially in the retail and affluent segments, tie-ups with non-financial retail services of various kinds will be of increasing importance for the success of robo advisory client recruitment.
  • For most wealth managers the path to a hybrid solution will have several stages; this is fine but clients’ awareness of the capabilities of automation will be increasing rapidly in the next few years.
  • In the higher wealth segments, wealth managers who automate ‘behind the scenes’ processes will be best placed to introduce client facing robo elements when they’ve established their client-base is ready. 

This rigorous and detailed report tells you all you need to know for assessing this new stage in the evolution of robo advisors, the strengths and weaknesses and lessons to be learned from of a selection of existing hybrid robo advisor innovators and the implications for conventional wealth managers. This report makes a deep analysis of what constitutes ‘hybrid robo’ and draws out the important characteristics of this developing field. This is complemented by the MyPrivateBanking’s market projections exercise and together both give readers a clear idea of the scale of change that is underway.

In addition, in order to illustrate different types of hybrid robo solutions, five case studies of hybrid robo innovators are included that provide insights into different ‘pathways’ to hybrid solutions. The report’s recommendations chapter provides five outline strategic goals for hybrid solutions together with a larger number of detailed considerations for wealth managers preparing to implement a hybrid strategy.

For the report, the MyPrivateBanking analyst team covering the robo advisor development from its beginnings (see previous reports here) has further researched the leading trends (and providers) and engaged in discussions with service and technology providers as well as industry experts and wealth managers.

The report gives wealth managers, robo advisors, banks, IT-vendors and consultants answers to the following questions:

  • What constitutes a ‘hybrid robo’ and which are the most important characteristics? What are the different ‘pathways’ to hybrid solutions?

  • What is the status of the robo advisor market (full robo advisors and hybrid robo advisors) and how will it develop over the next 10 years?

  • How will the growth of the Hybrid robo advisor be differentiated by the retail and affluent wealth segments and the HNWI/UHNWI segments.

  • What are the learning points for wealth management from the hybrid solutions of five different institutions?“

  • Which features and functions should hybrid robo advisor solutions have to satisfy the needs of clients? 

  • What are the implications of the hybrid robo advisor model to traditional wealth managers? How can they counter the threats? How can they benefit?

Main Content

  • Institutional players entering the robo advisors markets and analysis of their offerings

  • Hybrid Robo Advisor and pure play robo advisor market size and growth globally, including a breakdown between North America and the rest of the world

  • Hybrid Robo Advisor market size and growth split between the retail and affluent wealth segments and the HNWI/UHNWI segments.

  • Five detailed case studies of hybrid robo solutions incl. Schwab Institutional Intelligent Portfolios, Investec and Jemstep, and Hedgeable

  • Recommendations on elements of human interaction that can enhance robo advisors so as to win more clients 

  • 20 recommendations for conventional wealth managers (for all wealth segments) to benefit from the opportunities that hybrid robo advisors present

>>Click here for Report Summary and Table of Contents<<

Here's how you get this exclusive Robo Advisor research:MyPrivateBanking Report Spread

To provide you with this exclusive report, MyPrivateBanking has partnered with BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, to create The Complete Robo Advisor Research Collection.

If you’re involved in the financial services industry at any level, you simply must understand the paradigm shift caused by robo advisors.

Investors frustrated by mediocre investment performance, high wealth manager fees and deceptive sales techniques are signing up for automated investment accounts at a record pace.

And the robo advisor field is evolving right before our eyes. Firms are figuring out on the fly how to best attract, service and upsell their customers. What lessons are they learning? Who’s doing it best? What threats are traditional wealth managers facing? Where are the opportunities for exponential growth for firms with robo advisor products or models?

The Complete Robo Advisor Research Collection is the ONLY resource that answers all of these questions and more. Click here to learn more about everything that's included in this exclusive research bundle

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These are the leading credit card processing companies (JPM, BAC, C, WFC, VNTV, TSS, BCS, FDC, WPG)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

bii payments ecosystemUSETHIS

Credit card processors are mostly responsible for data transmission and security when you use your card at a store or online to make a purchase.

There are two types of processors in the payment-card system. Front-end processors route transactions from merchants to the cardholder's bank to gain authorization; that is, they make sure a customer has enough available credit or funds to make a purchase. Back-end processors are responsible for a fund's settlement, which ends with the merchant receiving a deposit for transactions. 

Below, we've outlined the major players in credit card processing and described their major strengths.

  • Bank of America Merchant ServicesBank of America Merchant Services has the advantage of functioning within the second-largest bank in the U.S. The service promises acceptance of all kinds of payments (credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, and gift cards), access to funds on the next business day, and mobile support.
  • Citibank:  The consumer division of Citigroup processes transactions in more than 100 currencies. It offers end-to-end processing services, from pricing to transactions, reporting, customer service, and billing.
  • Wells Fargo: One of the "Big Four" U.S. banks, Wells Fargo offers next-business day funding, encryption and tokenization technology, and support for both PIN and signature transactions.
  • Chase Paymentech: The payment processing arm of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., authorizes and processes payments in more than 130 currencies. And like its peers, it offers analytics, fraud detection, and security solutions.
  • Barclays: Barclaycard payment solutions facilitates in-person, phone, web, and even mail order payments through desktop and portable card machines.
  • Vantiv: Vantiv has been successful thanks to its nearly error-free purchases, authorizations, and captures. In May 2015, it successfully completed 95% of these transactions, ahead of competitors such as Worldpay, PayPal, and Braintree. The company also has a significant speed advantage, as it often processes payments data in less than a second.
  • First Data: First Data facilitates small business payments with its Clover suite of products, including a mini reader that works without Wi-Fi and a mobile reader that attaches to other devices in order to process payments on the go.
  • Cielo: Cielo is the largest Brazilian credit and debit card operator and the largest payment systems company in Latin America. The company debuted on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange in 2010.
  • TSYS: Short for Total System Services, TSYS supports millions of buyers and sellers around the world through four major branches: issuing services, acquiring services, prepaid solutions, and merchant solutions.
  • Global Payments: Global Payments focuses on ensuring businesses accept all major forms of payments. To that end, its services include credit/debit/purchasing cards, electronic check conversion, money transfer, verification and recovery services, gift/loyalty cards, check guarantee, ACH checks, financial EDI services, and point-of-sale equipment.
  • Worldpay: The UK-based company is one of the longest-tenured online payment platforms. The company provides several payment services for both online and in-store channels. As of August 2016, the company had 400,000 merchant clients. In 2015, it processed 13 billion transactions valued at more than $526 billion. Worldpay has grown its volume primarily because of early-mover advantages that have allowed it to build scale. It also provides many different services across channels, which diversifies its revenue streams. 
  • Moneris: Moneris is the largest credit and debit card processor and acquirer in Canada. It processes more than three billion transactions each year for more than 350,000 merchants, and the company employs more than 1,900 people in North America.
  • Fiserv: American Banker and BAI ranked Fiserv third by revenue among technology providers to U.S. banks in October 2015. Fiserv provides services in account processing, electronic payments processing, check processing, web and mobile banking, and more.
  • Adyen: Adyen provides e-commerce companies with a payment platform that includes gateway, risk management, and front-end processing services. Adyen is a full-stack gateway and has famous merchants like Facebook and Spotify as clients. The company has brought in merchants thanks to its single platform that can support payments in any channel across 100 different payment methods and 200 countries. The firm processed $50 billion in 2015, up 100% from $25 billion in 2014. It earned $350 million in revenue in 2015, and expects to break $500 million in 2016. 
  • Heartland Payment Systems: Heartland helps businesses move beyond accept ng major credit cards. The company facilitates payment processing in-store, online, and offsite through multiple methods, such as EMV, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and gift cards. It also offers next-day funding, real-time reporting, and 24/7 customer service in the U.S.
  • Elavon: Formerly known as NOVA, this company is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. Elavon processes payments in more than 30 countries for more than one million merchants.

More to Learn

These card processors handle so much volume and so many dollars every day, but they are still just one piece of the larger payments ecosystem, which includes issuers, merchants, and more.

That's why BI Intelligence spent months putting together the greatest and most exhaustive guide on the world of payments entitled The Payments Ecosystem Report: Everything You Need to Know About The Next Era of Payment Processing.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the payments industry, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of the payments ecosystem.

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NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

How, When and Where Will Regulators Accept Bitcoin ETFs?

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Will we see a bitcoin ETF anytime soon? Analysts remark on the global landscape and future outlook for exchange-listed cryptocurrency products.


Steve Cohen is reportedly prepping the biggest hedge fund launch ever

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen is looking to raise $20 billion for his big hedge fund comeback, the Wall Street Journal reported.

That would make his fund the biggest ever US hedge fund launch, less than four years after his predecessor hedge fund firm, SAC Capital Advisors, was banned from managing external money and pleaded guilty to insider trading.

Cohen was never charged, and he neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in a civil settlement. He is allowed to manage external capital again in 2018.

The $20 billion that Cohen is seeking represents a step up from SAC, which at its peak managed $16 billion. However, Cohen may be lowering his onetime sky-high fees to investors, which once totaled 3% in management costs and half of all trading profits, according to the Journal.

Cohen's launch would also be nearly double the next biggest launch – Bridgewater's Optimal fund, which launched with about $11 billion, according to data from industry publication Absolute Return, which the Journal cited.

Since Cohen was banned from managing outside money, he has been running a 1,000-person family office, Point72 Asset Management, that manages about $11 billion, including his fortune.

Most or all of that $11 billion is expected to be rolled into the $20 billion launch, according to the Journal.

A media representative for Cohen declined to comment.

You can read the full Journal report here.

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Analysts predict a crash in the value of the pound if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


LONDON — Developments in sterling would almost universally be negative in the short term should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister, according to most analysts.

With just over one week until the general election, Theresa May's lead in the polls appears to have stabilised, albeit at a much lower level than just a few weeks ago.

At the start of the campaign, May's lead was as high as 21 points in some polls, but it has now narrowed to around 7 points on average.

Those numbers still suggest May will be prime minister after the election, with a Conservative majority in parliament, but the potential for a Labour government has become more realistic in recent weeks.

While it is highly unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn will end up in Number 10 come June 9, the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn is not beyond the realms of possibility after the recent narrowing — with a coalition between Labour and the SNP mooted in recent days.

Investors have spent most of the campaign betting on an increased Tory majority with May at the helm of government as Britain negotiates Brexit, but Labour's recent poll surge has caused many to consider the prospect of a government led by Corbyn, and what that could mean for the markets, especially the pound, which has been incredibly vulnerable to political developments since the Brexit vote.

"Looking at how much we have moved since this election was called, it is pretty clear the response would be negative and if I had to put a figure on it, I would say a kneejerk sell-off of 5% or a bit more," Adam Cole, head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets told the Daily Telegraph on May 27.

Writing earlier in May, ING FX strategist Viraj Patel notes that even if Labour were to win, the likelihood of a majority for the party is tiny. Instead, they will enter a coalition with the SNP, and possibly the Lib Dems, which could have mixed consequences in the markets.

Here is Patel (emphasis ours):

"We think a Lab-Lib-SNP coalition risks having a Marmite effect on markets: either they’ll ‘love it or hate it’. On the one hand, a softer Brexit could be the goal of a Labour-led coalition government; but on the other hand, it raises political uncertainty – which has proven to be GBP’s Kryptonite over the past year. In the short-term, we would expect the uncertainty factor to prevail."

ING's commentary is accompanied with a forecast of a drop to around 1.25 on the dollar in the aftermath of Corbyn's ascension to the office of prime minister. That would mark a fall of around 3% from its current level of around $1.2860.

Jordan Rochester and his team at Nomura are mildly more optimistic, writing on May 24 (emphasis ours):

So once the knee-jerk reaction lower in GBP takes place, the expectation of tighter BoE policy would see an improvement in real yields and the fall in GBP to eventually be offset. GBP would also benefit from Labour’s stance on Brexit being somewhat “softer” than the Conservatives, especially if it forms a coalition with the SNP and Liberal Democrats.

A coalition government may encourage some to argue GBP should be lower owing to the uncertainty. But the removal of austerity (leading to higher real yields) and renewed arguments as to a “softer” Brexit are likely to inspire less GBP negativity as once thought.

JPMorgan's currency team takes a similar view, writing last week that a possible hung parliament — if the Conservatives fail to secure a majority — could end up as a positive for the pound.

"In the post-referendum world, all political developments need to be viewed through a Brexit prism and an argument can be made that a hung parliament which delivered or held out the prospect of a softer-Brexit coalition of the left-of-centre parties (Labour/Lib Dems/SNP) might actually be GBP positive," the bank writes.

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Deutsche Bank is making a big bet on the future of finance

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

deutsche bank

Deutsche Bank is making a big bet on financial technology. 

The German bank is investing in fintech startups.  It just opened a fourth innovation lab, this time in the financial district in New York. A chunk of its website is dedicated to digital banking

Now it's making a push to advise financial technology companies, too.

The German bank has hired Tommaso Zanobini as global head of financial technology, based in New York. He was most recently global head of financial technology and services at Jefferies, and was previously global head of technology services at Barclays. 

The fintech group at Deutsche Bank is a joint venture between the financial institutions group and the tech, media and telecoms group, and Zanobini will report to financial institutions specialist Celeste Guth and tech banker Mark Keene. In his new role, he will work with Rahul Singla, Americas financial technology head, and Vipin Chhajer, who is European head.

His hire marks the fourth managing director level hire in Deutsche Bank's financial institutions group so far in 2017. John Cryan, group CEO, now oversees the business on the management board

The appointment comes at an interesting time for the financial technology industry. Morgan Stanley said in a note this month that venture capital firms, which poured $117 billion into fintech startups from 2012 to 2016, have been pulling back on their investments. Established financial firms are positioned to step up their spending, meanwhile.

"Financials and payments incumbents are likely to be emboldened to step up R&D and take the investment lead, and this combination of VC/incumbent behavior represents a paradigm shift that should benefit incumbents' [return on investment]," Morgan Stanley said. 

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The Bank of England studied Dr. Seuss books to make its writing clearer and more accessible

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The Cat In The Hat, book

LONDON – Staff at the Bank of England studied the writing style of Dr. Seuss as part of a push to make its communications more easily understood by the general public.

The central bank analysed the children's author after finding that just one in five people could read and understand its inflation report, Minouche Shafik, the former deputy governor for markets at the central bank, said at the Hay Festival on Sunday.

"Dr. Seuss was a master at using simple language, at getting children to read," Shafik, speaking on role of experts in policy making, said.

Technocratic institutions such as central banks are struggling with a wave of political populism, which favours policy-making based on emotions rather than evidence, Shafik said.

Shafik said that economists often fail to engage with politicians and the public because of their dry, logical manner, and should do more to tell stories. "Most experts need to challenge themselves," said Shafik, "they must maintain quality standards and also embrace uncertainty."

The Bank of England's push to make itself understood comes as a similar initiative by the World Bank's chief economist, Paul Romer, ended in him stepping down as manager of its research department.

Romer told staff of the Development Economics Group to write more clearly and succinctly, limiting the use of the word "and."

Romer said that “everyone in the Bank should work toward producing prose that is clear and concise. This will save time and effort for a reader," in remarks reported by The Guardian. "Thinking about the reader is an example of what I mean when I say that we should develop our sense of empathy,” he said.

But the 600 economists in the division, the budget of which Romer had already cut by $1 million, resisted the changes and he will be replaced as its head by Kristalina Georgieva in July, according to Bloomberg News.

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British Airways is restarting its full flight schedule — but shares are crashing and IT glitch could cost it £100 million

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

People queue with their luggage for the British Airways check-in desk at Gatwick Airport in southern England, Britain, May 28, 2017.

LONDON — British Airways' flights are set to return to their normal schedule on Tuesday, following an IT glitch over the long weekend that saw thousands of people stranded around the world.

BA said in a statement on its website late on Monday evening: "Our IT systems are now back up and running and we will be operating a full flight schedule at Heathrow and Gatwick on Tuesday 30 May."

BA was hit by an IT problem over the bank holiday weekend, which meant 75,000 people around the world faced disruption to their flights. Thousands were left stranded in airports around the world.

Shares in BA's parent company, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), fell 2.7% in Madrid on Monday and crashed over 4% at the open in London on Tuesday. After five minutes of trading on the London Stock Exchange, IAG shares are down over 3%:IAG

Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index, says: "Even if you give BA the benefit of the doubt it still looks bad — if their systems are not strong enough to withstand a power surge, then this sort of thing could happen again, which could add downward pressure to the IAG stock price."

Explaining the disaster over the weekend, CEO Alex Cruz told the BBC: "There was a power surge and there was a back-up system, which did not work at that particular point in time."

Cruz has faced calls to resign over the IT glitch, which has been blamed on cost cutting that led to IT services being outsourced to India last year. However, Cruz told the BBC: "I don’t think it would make much of use [sic] for me to resign."

James Walker, chief executive of free flights compensation claim site Resolver, told the Guardian over the weekend that the compensation bill to affected customers will likely be more than £100 million. Customers are entitled to compensation under EU law if their flights are delayed by at least 3 hours for reasons within an airline's control.

Walker told the Guardian: "The computer system breaking down is within its control. BA is going to have to pay out and it looks like its costs will be north of £100 million."

BA said in its statement late on Monday evening: "We are extremely sorry for the frustration and inconvenience customers experienced over the Bank Holiday weekend and thank them for their patience and understanding.

"We are continuing to work to get delayed bags to customers as quickly as possible."

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Former RBS CEO Fred Goodwin looks set to avoid a big day in court

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

RBS former Chairman Tom McKillop (L) and ex-CEO Fred Goodwin arrive for the RBS shareholders meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland November 20, 2008.

LONDON – Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, will likely avoid cross-examination in court after a group representing investors and former employees agreed to settle its dispute with the bank.

 "As you may be aware from recent press reports, the Bank has made an increased and improved settlement offer which the Board of the Action Group has decided to accept," the RBS Shareholder Action Group said in a statement on its website.

"We have sent a written update to the retail membership setting out the reasons for that decision," the group said.

The dispute, which would have seen former CEO Fred Goodwin make his first public appearance in eight years as a witness on June 8 and 9, has been active for years.

The group of investors and former employees, which has thousands of members, started its lawsuit in 2013 against RBS and former RBS executives Fred Goodwin, Tom McKillop, Johnny Cameron, and Guy Whittaker. It accused RBS and the former executives of "misrepresenting the underlying strength of the bank and omitting critical information from the 2008 Rights Issue prospectus."

The bank, which is still majority state-owned, doubled a settlement offer earlier this month, proposing an 82 pence-per-share settlement to the claimants, or around £200 million in total. This is more than double a previous offer of 40p-per-share.

The case was due to be heard in court on May 22, and last 14 weeks, but was adjourned three times until June 7, to give more time for last-ditch settlement talks.

The judge presiding over the case, Mr Justice Hildyard, said it was "an exceptional case with exceptional logistical problems," according to a report by BBC News. 

"We must have certainty one way or the other. The court must know whether the matter is to proceed or not." 

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Online lender RateSetter valued at over £200 million as it raises £13 million to launch new ISAs

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Rhydian Lewis, RateSetter CEO

LONDON — RateSetter, one of the UK's three biggest peer-to-peer lenders, said on Tuesday it has raised £13 million in equity funding from its existing shareholders.

City fund managers Woodford Investment Management and Artemis were both existing investors and took part in the funding round.

The funding will be put towards launching its new "Innovative Finance ISA," a new product that will allow consumers to hold peer-to-peer loans in an ISA.

RateSetter plans to launch the product once it receives full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority. RateSetter is the last of the UK's "Big 3" peer-to-peer lenders waiting for sign-off from the City watchdog.

Founded in 2010, RateSetter allows ordinary people to invest their money by lending it directly to other consumers at attractive rates. By doing this it cuts out banks, which traditionally sit in the middle of the two parties. While the lender takes on a greater amount of risk, they can potentially earn a higher return. The company, which also has an Australian subsidiary, has over 300,000 active lenders and investors on its platform

RateSetter says the new funding round values RateSetter at "over £200 million," but doesn't give a specific figure. The company has raised over £40 million to date and lent £1.9 billion over its platform since launch.

CEO and cofounder Rhydian Lewis says in a statement: "RateSetter is giving ordinary investors the opportunity to access better returns and borrowers the opportunity to look beyond their bank.

"It is important to keep up the momentum of investing in our platform and this further injection of capital, coupled with the appointment of Paul Manduca as chairman, lays the ground for an important new phase of development for our business."

Manduca, the chairman of global insurance giant Prudential, joined the board of RateSetter earlier this month, fueling speculation that the company could be gearing up for a stock market listing.

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THE MOBILE PAYMENTS IN CHINA REPORT: What the US can learn from China's enormous success in mobile payments

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

bii forecast mobile payments china

The US payments ecosystem is in the midst of a shift toward mobile, and countless new and old stakeholders are attempting to accelerate this migration, which is moving at a glacial pace relative to other markets globally. But mobile payments can rise to the mainstream. For companies seeking to build out a robust mobile payments product, China's thriving mobile payments ecosystem offers some insight — and some lessons.  

Total mobile payments volume in China will reach $6.3 trillion by 2020, according to our estimates based on iResearch data. This marks a healthy 33% five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR). In comparison, the US will generate $154 billion in mobile payments volume this year by our estimates, which amounts to just 6.5% of China's mobile payments volume. 

Even accounting for population discrepancies, China will generate over $1,700 in mobile payments volume per capita in 2016, compared with $475 in the US, based on forecasts from BI Intelligence and eMarketer. China's advantage will eventually diminish, but it will still produce around twice as much volume per capita in 2020. 

China has unique factors buoying the industry, like the dominance of mobile phones, a lack of legacy infrastructure, and the surging popularity of digital retail marketplaces. Some of the characteristics behind the country's success can be mimicked, or even replicated to some extent, in other markets like the US. However, one fundamental barrier in the US is that it's being forced to layer mobile payments on top of an existing payments system, and the ecosystem is very fragmented.

A new report from BI Intelligence takes a deep dive into China's mobile payments ecosystem and deciphers which growth drivers can be exported to the US to help spark its relatively lackluster market. 

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • China claims the world's largest mobile payments market and serves as the global benchmark for other markets to pursue. China will process a whopping $6.3 trillion in total mobile payments by 2020, according to our estimates based on iResearch data. This marks a healthy 33% five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
  • It dwarfs the US' mobile payments industry. The US will generate $154 billion in mobile payments volume this year by our estimates, which equates to just 6.5% of China's mobile payments volume. Meanwhile, China will generate over $1,700 in mobile payments volume per capita in 2016, compared with $475 in the US, based on forecasts from BI Intelligence and eMarketer.
  • Mobile commerce, a lack of legacy infrastructure, and marketplaces have fueled China's enormous success. Consumers in China are much more comfortable shopping on their mobile phones compared with their counterparts in the US, and the devices face less resistance from other legacy payments methods like credit cards. The open approach to mobile shopping has been fortified by Alibaba, a Goliath-sized marketplace, and WeChat, a go-to messaging platform, which support Alipay and Tenpay, respectively. 

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts and compares mobile payments volume, in-store mobile payments users, mobile payments volume per capita, and mobile commerce penetration in China and the US. 
  • Overviews the key competitors in China's mobile payments market, and how new entrants may shuffle the hierarchy of dominant players.
  • Uncovers the key drivers propelling China's mobile payments market.
  • Identifies which drivers the US can import from China, and which barriers may be standing in the way.

 Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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