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An activist hedge fund backed by a former top Credit Suisse executive wants to break up the bank

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

Gael de Boissard speaks at the OutLeadership conference in 2015

Swiss hedge fund RBR Capital Advisors will announce this week a plan to split apart Credit Suisse, the Financial Times reported Monday.

The firm is proposing to split Credit Suisse into three parts: an investment bank modeled after First Boston, which Credit Suisse acquired in 1989, a wealth management group, and an asset manager.

It’s being spearheaded by Gaël de Boissard, who joined Credit Suisse in 2001, and eventually served as co-head of investment banking before leaving in December 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.

His plan is largely a rebuttal to disappointing performance under CEO Tidjane Thiam, who took over in 2015. In the almost two years since, the bank’s stock price has declined by 20%.

Activist investors have targeted high-profile companies like GE and ADP recently, but have largely avoided financial institutions, the FT reports.

You can read the full story on the Financial Times here.

Credit Suisse stock price

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IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help businesses in countries with weak banking systems

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

Ginni Rometty

IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help farmers and other small businesses in underdeveloped countries participate in global trade. 

IBM announced the project on Monday, in partnership with fintech startups Stellar.org and KlickEx Group.

The companies will use IBM's blockchain technology to process financial transactions across borders and currencies — a process which is often prohibitively slow and costly for small business owners, especially when they are in developing regions with smaller banking infrastructures.

The project is focused on what Stellar calls "underdeveloped payment corridors" — countries like Samoa and Fiji, where monetary policies, currencies, and economic instability make it difficult for businesses to move money internationally. 

IBM will essentially bring scale and bank partnerships to Stellar's existing work on global blockchain transactions, as well as the efforts of KlickEx Groups, a liquidity provider, to get bigger international banks to work with these marginalized regions. 

The announcement is the latest of several projects IBM is working on that use blockchain technology. Earlier this year, IBM announced a collaboration with food distributors like Walmart and Nestlé, that aims to mitigate the spread of food-borne illnesses through more thorough tracking of the supply chain, from the farm to the store. 

No middleman

One of the great promises of blockchain is its ability to quickly and securely exchange money across borders without having a middleman.

samoa talaThe technology first grew in popularity around the 2008 financial crisis, when an anonymous creator known as Satoshi Nakamoto came up with the cryptocurrency bitcoin as a way to exchange money outside of the control of big banks and governments.

While bitcoin is just one use of blockchain, the technology behind it is essentially the same: it's a decentralized digital ledger. This means that every transaction that happens on the blockchain is recorded across multiple computer servers. It's considered to be extremely transparent and nearly fraud-proof. 

From the businesses' perspective, the new blockchain product can be used to manage both the legal and financial credibility of a transaction — from establishing the terms of a contract, to managing documentation, putting up collateral, obtaining letters of credit, and finalizing terms with immediate payment, according to IBM.

"For example, in the future, the new IBM network could make it possible for a farmer in Samoa to enter into a trade contract with a buyer in Indonesia," IBM said in a press release. 

The payment system is already at work in 12 different regions across the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

SEE ALSO: IBM wants to use the technology that underlies bitcoin to help prevent major foodborne outbreaks like salmonella

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California pet stores will soon only be able to sell rescue animals

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

animal shelterBeginning in January 2019, California pet stores will only be able to sell puppies, rabbits, and kittens they obtain from animal shelters and rescue centers. If they don't, they'll face a $500 fine.

California residents will still have the option to purchase their pets from individual breeders, according to The New York Times.

Though California is the first state to pass this kind of legislation, it is following a precedent set by many of its cities and counties, which have enacted similar regulations.

But pet store owners fear the law will threaten their already-struggling businesses.

"Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted," pet store owner Boris Jang told The New York Times. While he gets about half of the dogs he sells from shelters or rescue centers, he fears the law will make him unable to pay his lease.

Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, expressed similar feelings toward the law, saying it is "well-intentioned but misguided" in a recent video. He also believes the law could threaten the jobs of pet store owners and their employees.

The law received support from animal welfare activists, who have long been concerned about the conditions animals face before being sold to pet stores. A fact sheet written by the California legislature claimed that "in many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care," and that animals raised in these conditions "often face an array of health problems."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals echoed this sentiment in a recent post on its blog, writing: "This law demonstrates how legislative action on animal welfare in general can advance from the local level to the state level, furthering the hope of creating a culture that values compassion over cruelty."

SEE ALSO: Here's how the devastating wildfires will affect Northern California's wine industry

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STOCKS HIT RECORD HIGHS: Here's what you need to know

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

A Chinese paramilitary policeman climbs an obstacle during training in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, August 11, 2017. Picture taken August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Monday's stock markets behaved predictably, which is to say all of the major indices closed at a record high. 

In a move that is all but expected lately, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq composite and the S&P 500 all hit record highs on Monday. All the major markets moved higher as the Senate begins the first step of tax reform and US President Trump said that Obamacare is "dead."

Here's the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 22,951.40, +79.68, (0.36%)
  • S&P 500: 2,556.93, +3.76, (0.15%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,623.15, +17.15, (0.26%)
  • US 10-year yield: 2.28%, -0.05
  • WTI crude oil: $51.89, 0.47, 0.91%
  1. 'The death of tax reform'?: Trump's tax plan is about to face a huge test in the Senate. The Senate is expected to consider a budget resolution this week.
  2. The retail apocalypse just sabotaged Nordstrom's attempt to go private — and the whole industry is getting hit. The company's quest to go private is over, for now.
  3. Bets on a 'dangerous' trade that reminds experts of the 1987 market crash just broke a record. The biggest one-day decline in the markets saw its 30th anniversary today.
  4. The newest Trump tax plan selling point is comically bad. The White House is trying to sell its new tax plan as a way to increase wages of the middle class, but it's tried that before.
  5. Ruby Tuesday is getting bought out after years of declining sales. Following four years of declining sales, Ruby Tuesday threw in the towel and said it wants to be bought.

Other headlines

Oil climbs as fighting escalates in Iraq's oil-rich Kirkuk

Alternative investment managers are on fire this year — and they could just be getting started

Tesla is falling after firing hundreds of workers

'60 Minutes' just laid out the ugliest truth about the opioid crisis

TRUMP: 'There's no such thing as Obamacare anymore'

Ford could face a doomsday scenario where no one wants its used cars

SEE ALSO: What you need to know on Wall Street today

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WikiLeak’s Founder Thanks US Government for 50,000% Bitcoin ROI

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


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Bank of America Report: Bitcoin's True Value 'Impossible to Assess'

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

A new research note from Bank of America explores the investment implications of cryptocurrencies.

Alternative investment managers are on fire — and they could just be getting started (KKR)

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

Steven Schwarzman

Equity markets have been red hot, but one area of Wall Street has been even hotter. 

Shares of alternative investment managers — those who deal with assets outside of traditional equities, like real estate, hedge funds, and commodities — are up roughly 40% so far this year, over double the S&P 500's benchmark 13%  return in the same period, according to data from Goldman Sachs.

"Our bottom-up free cash flow analysis shows the stocks’ earnings power is ~30% greater today than it was in 2014/15 (prior share peaks), while the downside risks have been significantly reduced," analyst Alexander Blostein said in a note Monday. "With macro conditions still benign, we see more room to run and raise our coverage view to Attractive with an average total return of 18%."

KKR will join Blackstone Group, a $371 billion firm led by CEO and former Trump advisor Stephen Schwarzman, and Apollo Global Management, which manages $148.5 billion, on Goldman’s list of alternative managers that could outperform in the near future thanks to higher fee-related earnings, healthier balance sheets, and many fewer downside risks.

Apollo in July raised the largest ever private equity fundamassing $24.6 billion to be invested in North America and Western Europe, according to Reuters.

Blackstone has also made headlines recently for launching a $40 billion infrastructure fund with the help of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

"We believe downside risks to stocks today are nearly ~3X lower than they were vs. last time these stocks peaked, largely due to earnings mix changes," Blostein said. “Given this dynamic, we shift our coverage view on Alternative Managers to Attractive from Neutral."

Specifically, Goldman raised its target price for shares of KKR, a $148.5 billion fund manager, to $23 — 13% above were the stock was trading Monday morning.

KKR is up 48.42% so far over the past year, while Blackstone and Apollo are up 40.27% and 79.53%, respectively.

KKR stock price alternative investment managers

SEE ALSO: A Wall Street giant has raised $40 billion with the help of Saudi Arabia - and it could 'benefit significantly' from Trump's policies (BX)

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NOW WATCH: RAY DALIO: Bitcoin is a speculative bubble

Tesla is falling after firing hundreds of workers (TSLA)

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

Tesla Factory

Tesla was down as much as 1.91% on the first day of trading since announcing the firing of about 400 people.

A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider on Friday evening that it would be firing the employees after routine performance reviews. The company plans to refill some of the now-open positions.

Shares of Tesla were down close to 2% early on Monday, but have settled around 1.43% lower at $350.48.

The firings were wide-ranging, and are said to have included managers. Tesla has said it is still growing its workforce worldwide.

The firings came in the middle of the company's production ramp-up of the Model 3. The first ever mass-marketed car from Tesla is being restricted by "production bottlenecks," according to CEO Elon Musk. Welding the steel parts of the car is proving difficult for the company, as it is used to building cars out of aluminum.

The company has about 450,000 preorders of its Model 3 vehicles, but it only produced 260 Model 3s in the third quarter. It had hoped to be producing 1,500 a month by September and is well behind that target.

Tesla is up 63.34% this year despite the production delays.

Read about how investors are still valuing Tesla like a tech company when all it makes is cars here...

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley is struggling to understand Tesla's Model 3 production problems — here's why

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NOW WATCH: Is bitcoin a bubble or the future of everything?

The Mexican peso is tumbling as the US comes out with tough NAFTA demands

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

mexican peso

The Mexican peso is getting slammed as the US comes out swinging for the fourth round of NAFTA re-negotiations.

The Mexican peso was down by 0.8% at 19.0611 per US dollar at 2:19 p.m. ET after being down by as much as 1.0% about a half hour earlier.

"Renewed fears that NAFTA re-negotiation talks may break down, causing the agreement to collapse, have taken a toll on the Mexican peso in recent weeks," Oliver Jones, assistant economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.

"These falls have come despite a pick-up in oil prices, which usually supports the peso," he added.

The currency has fallen by over 4% against the dollar since the start of October.

Mexico's Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade commented on the peso at an event in Mexico City on Monday, noting that the currency's exchange rate reflects "concern surrounding the [NAFTA] trade agreement," as well as questions about how quickly the Fed will hike rates.

The Trump administration came in strong last week for the fourth round of NAFTA re-negotiations, much to the chagrin of Mexico and Canada.

The US presented a number of tough proposals, reportedly including raising the auto rules of origin to 85%, up from the current 62.5%, and adding a sunset clause, which would lead to NAFTA expiring every five years unless all three countries agree to extended it.

One trade official told reporters Saturday "the atmosphere is complicated," and added that his fears about some "pretty harsh, pretty horrible" demands from the US were coming true.

If the US, Canada, and Mexico can't reach a new deal, trade among the three countries could go back to WTO rules, which would see higher "most favored nation" tariffs applied on Mexico's exports to the US, according to Jones. Sources told Reuters, however, that neither Canada nor Mexico will walk away from the talks. 

NAFTA is a trade deal among the US, Mexico, and Canada that eliminates most tariffs on imports, exports, and traded goods among the three nations.

Trade ballooned among the three countries since its implementation in 1994, but concentrated pockets of manufacturing workers in the US lost their jobs. US President Donald Trump has fixated on the effects of trade deals like NAFTA, but manufacturing employment has also been affected by other factors like automation.


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Bernanke on Blockchain: 'Obvious' Benefits from Tech in Payments

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

Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said blockchain technology has the opportunity to innovate in payments during Ripple's Swell conference.

An ex-Tesla executive is teaming up with a little-known vertical farming startup

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

plenty vertical farmKurt Kelty, Tesla's former director of battery technology, is moving into a very different sector of the tech industry: indoor agriculture.

He has joined vertical farming startup Plenty as the senior vice president of operations and market development, according to Bloomberg.

Kelty, who worked at Tesla for over a decade and left in early 2017, was one of the earliest executives at the vehicle startup founded by Elon Musk. Before that, he spent more than 14 years with the Energy Lab at Panasonic, a company known for consumer electronics (which also happens to run its own vertical farming division in Singapore).

At Tesla, Kelty worked on partnerships and material sourcing at the company's Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada, where it manufactures lithium-ion batteries for its cars. At Plenty, he will launch a mass production facility for growing produce in the US, he told Bloomberg.

Instead of growing greens outdoors, Plenty grows its greens on glowing, LED-lit 20-foot-tall towers inside a former electronics distribution center in South San Francisco. The towers don't require pesticides or even natural sunlight.

The technique is called indoor vertical farming — a type of agriculture in which food grows on trays or hanging modules in a climate-controlled, indoor facility. The process allows certain types of produce to be grown year-round,in small spaces. Produce could be delivered to consumers within hours of harvest.

Plenty, founded in 2014, claims to grow up to 350 times more greens than conventional farms of similar size, while using much less water and land. The goal, Plenty CEO Matt Barnard previously told Business Insider, is to revolutionize the way the world grows food — and sell that food for lower prices than typical produce. 

A $200 million investment in the startup, led by SoftBank Vision Fund in August 2017, could help make that vision viable. One of the biggest struggles for the company is the energy usage cost from the LEDs, though the lighting technology has become more of a commodity in the past several years. 

"I can’t predict what the venture industry will do, nor what the USDA will do given the current state of federal budgeting, but we’re confident that this will be a prominent form of agricultural practice for many crops much sooner than even we projected a few years ago," Barnard said.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic's first indoor farm can grow over 80 tons of greens per year — take a look inside

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NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

One of Allergan's blockbuster drugs was dealt a major legal blow (AGN)

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

Brent Saunders

Allergan, the drugmaker behind Botox, just had the patents on one of its key drugs invalidated. 

The case was regarding Restasis, a blockbuster eye drug whose patents Allergan had in September given to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The unusual move gave Restasis sovereign immunity.

But on Monday, a judge from the district court of Eastern Texas found the patents related to Restasis invalid, paving the way for competing drugmakers to bring generic version to market. Allergan's stock dropped 6% on the ruling. 

The court also had concerns about the deal with the St. Regis tribe. 

"The Court has serious concerns about the legitimacy of the tactic that Allergan and the Tribe have employed," Judge William Bryson said in a memorandum opinion accompanying his decision. 

Lawmakers weren't exactly happy about the deal either, prompting the introduction of bills that would make such a maneuver illegal. 

"We are disappointed by the Federal District Court’s decision on the Restasis patents. We are carefully reviewing the decision and are considering all options," Allergan’s chief legal officer Robert Bailey said in a statement. "Allergan remains committed to vigorously defending the intellectual property of our products, which allows us to continue to invest in developing and bringing forward new medicines for millions of patients."

How the St. Regis tribe deal came to be

In September, Allergan put out a press release announcing that it had made the deal, calling it a "sophisticated" opportunity. Restasis, the drug in question that's used to treat chronic dry eye, was approved in 2003 and has patents protecting it until 2024.

In 2016, the drug made $1.5 billion in sales, making up about 15% of Allergan's profits, according to Reuters. Out of the deal, St. Regis got $13.75 million from Allergan and can receive up to $15 million in annual royalties.

Native American tribes, along with institutions like universities, have sovereign immunity that protects patents from certain challenges to their validity. 

The tribe, in the Allergan press release, said it viewed the agreement as a way to diversify its income.

"We realize that we cannot depend solely on casino revenues and, in order for us to be self-reliant, we must enter into diverse business sectors to address the chronically unmet needs of the Akwesasne community; such as housing, employment, education, healthcare, cultural and language preservation," the tribe's council said in the release. 

Dale White, general counsel for the tribe, told CNBC's Meg Tirrell in September that he'd be interested in doing similar deals, asking Tirrell if she would put his phone number in an article. 

But outside the two parties involved in the deal, the move almost immediately sparked a negative reaction. "Anyone who cares about drug pricing should be very, very concerned about the potential impact of Allergan’s actions here," Rachel Sachs, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis wrote in a blog post.

Facing generic competition

Generic competition to branded drugs like Restasis can get on the market easier thanks to a law from 1984 known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, which gives the generic drugmakers a shorter process leading up to an FDA approval than a first-of-its-kind branded drug might experience. This helped get more generic drugs on the market and drove prescription drug prices down. 

The act also set up a way for branded drugmakers to have a certain period of exclusivity where their drug was the only one on the market. During that time, drugmakers can recoup the investment they made in developing the drug. Once a drug goes off patent and generics come on the market, the price of the drug drops dramatically. It's through this act that the court ruled Allergan's patents invalid on Monday. 

The timelines for this market exclusivity aren't set in stone, though. Generic drugmakers are able to challenge the validity of the branded drugmaker's patents, through both the Hatch-Waxman Act and a newer law called the America Invents Act.

What Allergan is trying to avoid is a procedure that lets parties challenge the validity of patents called inter partes review that's part of the America Invents Act, which could also invalidate the Restasis patents. Allergan's CEO Brent Saunders referred to this process as "double jeopardy" in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. St. Regis has sovereign immunity over the IPR process. Saunders said in a letter to senators that should the district court ruling in Texas come out against Allergan and a generic drug is approved, "that product could enter the market many years in advance of the listed patent expiry dates."

Screen Shot 2017 10 16 at 1.51.54 PM

SEE ALSO: 'That should be illegal': Lawmakers are taking aim at pharma giant Allergan over an unusual deal with a Native American tribe

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

Bitcoin Wallet Blockchain: ‘Buy Some Ether’ to Make Transactions After SegWit2x

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


The post Bitcoin Wallet Blockchain: ‘Buy Some Ether’ to Make Transactions After SegWit2x appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Gates Foundation to Use Ripple Interledger Tech in Mobile Payments Push

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

DLT startup Ripple is one of several firms to contribute to a new payments services app from the Gates Foundation.

UBS: Cryptocurrencies are in a 'speculative bubble'

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

An activist blows smoke bubbles during an event to raise awareness for bladder cancer outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium May 29, 2017.

  • USB calls recent cryptocurrency price rally a "speculative bubble" in a note to clients.
  • But investment bank says underlying technology, blockchain, is "akin to investing in
    the internet in the mid-nineties."

LONDON — UBS thinks cryptocurrencies are in a "speculative bubble."

Cryptocurrencies have boomed in popularity in 2017, with over 1,100 now in circulation. The combined value of all digital currencies has passed $175 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com, led higher by bitcoin, which surged late last week to repeatedly set new record highs.

UBS warned clients last week that it doesn't think the recent rally is supported by fundamentals. "We think the sharp rise in crypto-currency valuations in recent months is a speculative bubble," the bank wrote.

A note sent from UBS's chief investment office compared the current rush to invest in cryptocurrencies to the Dutch Tulip bulb bubble of the 17th century, the South Sea bubble, and the dot-com bubble.

"A constant theme of bubbles is the ability of speculators to shout that dreaded cry "this time it's different," analyst Sundeep Gantori, UBS Wealth Management's Global Chief Economist Paul Donovan, and their teams wrote.

"Logical arguments against the bubble can then be disregarded as speculators declare that the doubters simply do not understand that the world has changed. The problem with this theory is that the world never changes that much."

Like past bubbles, cryptocurrencies phenomenal rally is underpinned by the promise of future gains, UBS wrote. Once blockchain technology is adopted or the projects funded through issuing cryptocurrencies come to fruition, early investors hope to profit. In other words, people are speculating on the future.

The UBS analysts write:

"The real world benefits are said to take years to materialise, even among evangelists. And the relatively high volume of cryptocurrency turnover, against limited real-world use, suggests that many buyers are seeking speculative gain, never intending to use cryptocurrencies to make a real-world transaction.

"The remaining characteristic – fundamental value – is the most difficult to assess, since unlike in government-backed currencies, no crypto-currency has an economy behind it. But with each of the other characteristics of typical bubbles in evidence, a twenty-fold increase in bitcoin prices in just two years, and an absence of any fundamental economic backing, cryptocurrency prices are almost certainly a bubble."

UBS joins JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon as a vocal skeptic of the cryptocurrency sector. Other investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have been more bullish on the emerging sector.

While UBS is skeptical, the investment bank does believe in the potential of the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies: blockchain. UBS says: "Investing in the blockchain wave is akin to investing in the internet in the mid-nineties."

UBS advises putting money into blockchain "technology enablers – in software, semiconductors, and platforms; and early & successful adopters – in finance, manufacturing, healthcare, utilities, and the sharing economy."

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NOW WATCH: The head of a $55 billion fund at First Eagle points out the risks everyone else on Wall Street is missing

Bulls Take Breather? Bitcoin Slows as Price Struggles to Breach $6,000

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

The price of bitcoin neared $6,000 last week, but charts suggest little evidence a big push across that threshold will be forthcoming.

Netflix is slipping ahead of its earnings report (NFLX)

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

reed hastings

Netflix is set to report earnings after the bell on Monday, and the company's stock is slipping in anticipation of the report.

Netflix is trading 0.64% lower at $198.27 ahead of Monday's report.

Netflix is expected to report adjusted earnings of $0.41 per share on revenue of $2.974 billion. The company is also expected to report the number of added subscribers in the third quarter. Analysts are estimating a net add of 774,000 US streaming subscribers and 3.72 million international subscribers in the quarter, according to data from Bloomberg.

Wall Street is fairly bullish ahead of the earnings report. About 60% of investors surveyed by Bloomberg are bullish on the stock. Goldman Sachs is the most bullish on Wall Street, with a price target of $235, about 18% higher than Netflix's Monday price of $198.33.

Goldman upped its price target to $235 on Friday. The firm said it expects the stock to rise after the company releases earnings because it thinks current subscriber estimates are too low. Goldman expects 13.9 million new Netflix subscribers in the second half of the year, while the rest of Wall Street currently expects 10.8 million.

Netflix announced a price increase for its subscription services earlier this month. Some analysts said the increase will provide Netflix resources to spend more on producing original content, which is a big driver of new subscriptions for the company.

Netflix plans on spending $7 billion on original content in 2018. The company will have to spend more to fend off its growing competition in the space. Companies like Amazon, Hulu, Apple and many of the traditional studios are ramping up their original content spending to try and match pace with Netflix.

The head of Morgan Stanley's media research team told Markets Insider that Netflix's original content model is a "nice strategy" to fight off the competition. The company's vertical integration, along with the attractive licensing revenue it can offer traditional studios is enough to ensure its growth, at least for now, he said.

Netflix is up 55.42% this year and reports its third-quarter earnings after the bell on Monday.

netflix stock price

SEE ALSO: Earnings calendar 2017: Check which companies are reporting their earnings today

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Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Lead Market Recovery after Sunday Pullback

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


The post Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Lead Market Recovery after Sunday Pullback appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

The retail apocalypse just sabotaged Nordstrom's attempt to go private — and the whole industry is getting hit (JWN)

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

The Nordstrom store is seen at a mall in a Denver suburb May 16, 2008. The upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. reported earnings that topped Wall Street estimates.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

It's official: Nordstrom's quest to go private is over — at least for now.

On Monday, the family members who own the department store chain suspended their attempt to sell the company to a private equity firm through the end of the year. The news sent Nordstrom's shares down as much as 6.1% in early trading.

The company "intends to continue" its attempt to go private "after the conclusion of the holiday season," according to a press release.

The writing had been on the wall for Nordstrom since the beginning of the month, when reports started to trickle out that the family was struggling to raise enough debt to finance the go-private deal. While the company had been in discussions to get roughly $1 billion from private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, the total transaction was estimated to need closer to $10 billion, according to the New York Post.

Much of the trepidation around the debt financing reportedly stemmed from the recent Toys R Us bankruptcy. The long-standing toy retailer was driven to that end by the ongoing retail apocalypse, which which has seen emerging juggernauts like Amazon threaten the long-term future of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

With all those industry headwinds swirling, you can hardly blame financiers for shying away and electing to deploy their capital else where — or not at all.

While Nordstrom bore the brunt of its own go-private failure, the rest of the department store industry felt the effect as well. Count Dillard's (-2.8%) Macy's (-1.9%), Ross Stores (-0.6%) and JCPenney (-0.3%) as collateral damage. It's likely the losses would've been deeper if this was the first investors were hearing of Nordstrom's struggles, but they already priced in much of the damage earlier this month.

So where does Nordstrom's stock go from here? Surprisingly, traders aren't particularly positioned for further weakness. Short interest on the company's stock — or bets it will fall — sits near the lowest level since 2015, relative to outstanding shares available to loan, according to IHS Markit data.

It's possible investors are seeing Nordstrom's 15% year-to-date decline and thinking that it doesn't have much further to fall. But regardless of explanation, it's safe to say they'll be watching closely for the company's efforts to recommence the go-private process once 2018 starts.

Screen Shot 2017 10 16 at 10.19.58 AM

SEE ALSO: Bets on a 'dangerous' trade that reminds experts of the 1987 market crash just broke a record

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Marriott is the real winner of Aramark's $2.35 billion of deals (MAR, ARMK)

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

Signage for the New York Marriott Marquis is seen in Manhattan, New York, November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

On Monday, the food-services company Aramark said it would be spending a combined $2.35 billion to purchase AmeriPride Service, a uniform and linen service, and Avendra, a food and services supplier.

Marriot, which owns a 55% stake in Avendra, would receive about $650 million from the deal, and the stock is trading higher this morning. Marriott hares are up 0.51% on Monday after the sale was announced.

Shares of Aramark were up just slightly, 0.09%, to $42.37 after the announcement.

Aramark said it would spend $1 billion, or $850 million after adjusting for anticipated tax benefits, for AmeriPride. It said it would spend $1.35 billion, or $1.05 billion after tax benefits, for Avendra, of which Marriot is a majority owner.

The two companies "will significantly improve how we service our customers, while expanding our capabilities and scope in critical areas of our business," Aramark CEO Eric Foss said in a news release.

The company is expecting $70 million in annual cost synergies from AmeriPride and $40 million in synergies with Avendra.

To read more about the deal, click here.

Marriott stock price

SEE ALSO: Aramark is buying 2 companies for a total of $2.35 billion

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Chinese Traders Continue Investments in Bitcoin With a Huge Premium

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


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Bets on a 'dangerous' trade that reminds experts of the 1987 market crash just broke a record

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

market volatility 1987 crash

Investors just can't resist making a quick buck on the motionless stock market.

With price swings already locked near record lows for weeks, traders have pushed short bets on the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) — widely known as the S&P 500 fear gauge — to a new record.

It marks the fourth such record in just 11 weeks for hedge funds and large speculators, which have made a serious habit out of betting against the VIX, according to data compiled by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

VIX shorts

And the beneficiaries go much further than the hedge fund world. In late August, it was revealed that a former Target manager had made millions of dollars shorting the VIX. It's likely that his stay-at-home success emboldened other retail investors, armed only with their online brokerage accounts, to do the same.

That hedge funds have remained so willing to keep piling into short-VIX bets betrays an old adage of investing: once the average retail investor catches wind of a trade, the gig is up. Instead, large investors have continued to double down, even amid a growing chorus of experts calling for discretion.

Perhaps the most outspoken critic of the trade has been Marko Kolanovic, the global head of quantitative and derivatives strategy at JPMorgan. He said in late July that strategies suppressing price swings reminded him of the conditions leading up to the 1987 stock market crash. He's since doubled down on the warning on multiple occasions.

More recently, Societe Generale head of global asset allocation Alain Bokobza compared the continued VIX shorting by hedge funds to "dancing on the rim of a volcano." He warned that a "sudden eruption" of volatility could leave traders "badly burned." The comments echoed those made by Bokobza a couple weeks prior, when he maligned the "dangerous volatility regimes" in the global marketplace.

Even one of the foremost pioneers of modern volatility, Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor emeritus Dan Galai, has gotten in on the criticism. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Galai compared the capital being used to short the VIX as "stupid hot money," and likened the trade to "a substitute for going to Vegas and betting on the roulette."

Apparently none of these warnings have registered with hedge funds. And if they have, those large speculators appear content to ignore them as they seek returns in a market otherwise largely devoid of opportunity.

It remains to be seen whether the whole situation will implode, but for the meantime, they're content to keep chasing the low-hanging fruit.

Screen Shot 2017 10 16 at 9.07.29 AM

SEE ALSO: A flawed argument used by Warren Buffett could be setting stocks up for 'one of the worst disasters in history'

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Ruby Tuesday is getting bought out after years of declining sales (RT)

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

burger fries ruby tuesday

Ruby Tuesday on Monday said it was to be bought out by the private-equity firm NRD Capital, following four straight years of declining sales.

NRD Capital will acquire the casual-dining chain for $2.40 a share in cash and assume or retire all its debt obligations for a total enterprise value of about $335 million, excluding the transaction costs. Ruby Tuesday's stock jumped premarket above the acquisition price, by 23% to as much as $2.44 a share.

The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2018. Ruby Tuesday had announced in March that it was looking into other ways to revive its business, including a sale or merger.

"With a well-established brand, differentiated from other casual dining restaurants by its Garden Bar, we see significant opportunities to drive value for Ruby Tuesday," Aziz Hashim, the founder of NRD, said in a statement.

Ruby Tuesday also announced first-quarter results on Monday, with a narrower net loss from a year ago of $9.8 million, or $0.16 a share. Sales at restaurants open for at least one year fell 5.8%.

Screen Shot 2017 10 16 at 9.35.42 AM

SEE ALSO: America's homes are shrinking

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The dollar is hovering

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

us dollar

The dollar was virtually flat Monday.

The US dollar index was little changed at 93.19 at 8:29 a.m. ET.

"The majors are tracking fairly close to recent ranges, but the one-two punch of the Fed minutes and inflation miss should reinforce USD downside over the coming weeks," Mark McCormick, North American Head of FX Strategy at TD Securities, said in emailed commentary.

"[W]e look to fade DXY rallies towards 93.50 and look for a re-test of the lows near 91.00," he added.

The dollar trickled downwards last week after inflation data came in below expectations and the September Fed minutes showed that many Fed officials are concerned that inflation will remain lower for longer.

The dollar index is down by over 9% since US President Donald Trump's inauguration.

As for the rest of the world, here was the scoreboard at 8:33 a.m. ET:

  • The euro was down by 0.2% at 1.1798 against the dollar. Earlier, German WPI rose 0.6% month-over-month in September, above expectations of 0.4%, and above the prior month's reading of 0.3%.
  • The Russian ruble was little changed at 57.1567 per dollar, while Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, was up by 2.0% at $58.31.
  • The Indian rupee was little changed at 64.732 per dollar after data showed that WPI inflation rose 2.60% year-over-year in September, below expectations of 3.41%, and below the prior month's reading of 3.24%.
  • The British pound was down by 0.2% at 1.3260 against the dollar.
  • The Japanese yen was little changed at 111.86 per dollar.

SEE ALSO: REPORT: Saudi Aramco is 'considering shelving plans for an IPO'

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‘Everyone is Excited About Blockchain’, Bitcoin Price ‘Too Expensive’: World Bank President

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Australia’s Bitcoin Regulation Bill Gets the Green Light

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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, ARMK)

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

Red army replica

Here is what you need to know. 

US homes are shrinkingThe average size of new single-family homes sold in the US peaked in 2015 at 2,520 square feet, Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients on Friday. 

China's inflation slowsConsumer prices in China rose 1.6% year-over-year in September, slowing down from their 1.8% gain in August, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. 

Bailing out Venezuela costs $30 billion a yearHuge sums of money would likely be required to increase imports, boost consumption and finance the fiscal debt, according to the Financial Times, citing a senior International Monetary Fund official.  

Oil reclaims $52West Texas Intermediate crude oil is up 1.38% at $52.16 a barrel, gaining on fears of new Iran sanctions and conflict in Iraq, Reuters says.

Bitcoin treads near record highsThe cryptocurrency holds little changed at $5,633 a coin after hitting a record high of $5,866 on Friday, Bloomberg data shows.

Bombardier is looking into options for its aerospace businessThe plane and train manufacturer is considering a sale of its Q400 turboprop and CRJ regional-jet unit, and other assets, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Aramark makes 2 acquisitionsThe food and facilities management services company has agreed to pay a total of $2.35 billion for Avendra and AmeriPride Services, according to a company release.  

Stock markets around the world are higherHong Kong's Hang Seng (+0.76%) led the gains in Asia and Germany's DAX (+0.18%) is out front in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.10% near 2,556.

Earnings reporting remains lightNetflix releases its quarterly results after markets close. 

US economic data trickles outEmpire manufacturing will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 2.29%. 


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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, ARMK)

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

Red army replica

Here is what you need to know.

US homes are shrinking. The average size of new single-family homes sold in the US peaked in 2015 at 2,520 square feet, Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients on Friday.

China's inflation slows. Consumer prices in China rose 1.6% year-over-year in September, slowing down from their 1.8% gain in August, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Bailing out Venezuela costs $30 billion a year. Huge sums of money would most likely be required to increase imports, boost consumption, and finance the fiscal debt, according to the Financial Times, citing a senior International Monetary Fund official.

Oil reclaims $52. West Texas Intermediate crude oil is up 1.38% at $52.16 a barrel, gaining on fears of new Iran sanctions and conflict in Iraq, Reuters says.

Bitcoin treads near record highs. The cryptocurrency holds little changed at $5,633 a coin after hitting a record high of $5,866 on Friday, according to Bloomberg data.

Bombardier is looking into options for its aerospace business. The plane and train manufacturer is considering a sale of its Q400 turboprop and CRJ regional-jet unit, and other assets, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

Aramark makes 2 acquisitions. The food and facilities management services company has agreed to pay $2.35 billion for Avendra and AmeriPride Services, according to a company release.

Stock markets around the world are higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng (+0.76%) led the gains in Asia, and Germany's DAX (+0.18%) is out front in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.10% near 2,556.

Earnings reporting remains light. Netflix releases its quarterly results after markets close.

US economic data trickles out. Empire manufacturing will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 2.29%.

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Obvious Bubble? SEC Committee Lashes Out at Bitcoin and ICOs

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

Mainstream institutional investors had some harsh critiques for the cryptocurrency and ICO token community at a recent SEC committee meeting.

$30 billion per year: IMF reportedly calculates bailout costs for crisis-hit Venezuela

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

venezuela caracas protests

LONDON – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculates a potential rescue of Venezuela could cost more than $30 billion per year, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Huge sums will likely be required to increase imports, boost consumption and finance the fiscal debt, the FT said.

Discussing a possible bailout, a senior IMF official told the Financial Times, "the market needs to be prepared for this."

Meanwhile, Douglas Rediker, a former US representative at the IMF, told the newspaper, "This is going to be Argentina meets Greece in terms of complexity."

Venezuela is experiencing a socioeconomic crisis. Imports to the country have fallen 80% in the last five years, and the IMF has estimated that inflation is set to jump to more than 2,300% in 2018. The country has $140 billion-worth of debt, and the worsening crisis led to a series of protests earlier this year, in opposition to President Nicolás Maduro, in which more than 125 people were killed.

Although the IMF has had no official relationship with Venezuela since the country broke ties with it in 2007, the Fund has been following the crisis closely, and its impact on neighbouring South American countries.

In a report last week, the IMF said Venezuela "remains in a full-blown economic, humanitarian and political crisis with no end in sight." It said the country's economy will have shrunk by 35% between 2014 and the end of this year, and is heading towards hyperinflation.

Although the IMF requires an official request for help from governments before intervening, this dialogue between the Fund and the Venezuelan government is reportedly yet to take place.

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Ernst & Young fined £2.75 million for misconduct

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

ernst and young office

LONDON – The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) fined auditors Ernst & Young (EY) £2.75 million for alleged misconduct in relation to a 2011/12 audit of Tech Data.

The FRC fined and reprimanded both EY and senior auditor Julian Gray after both admitted misconduct in auditing the computer and communications wholesaler's books.

Both admitted their conduct "fell significantly short of the standards reasonably to be expected," the FRC said in a statement.

Misconduct was admitted in three audit areas, including failing to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence as part of an audit and failing to exercise sufficient professional skepticism.

The FRC initially reprimanded and fined EY £2.75 million, although this was reduced to £1.8 million since the firm agreed to a settlement and other "mitigating factors." Gray was reprimanded and fined £90,000, which was reduced to £59,000 on the same basis.

EY has also been told to pay £225,000 towards the Executive Council's costs.

An investigation into the Tech Data audit by the Executive Council of the FRC was announced in August 2014.

"Audit quality is an ongoing focus and priority to EY, however we recognise that we fell short of our professional standards on three matters in relation to the audit of Tech Data Limited (formerly Computer 2000 Distribution Limited) for the financial year ending 31 January 2012," EY told the Financial Times in a statement.

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Bitcoin is ‘Fast, near Real-Time and Convenient’: Philippines Central Bank Official

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST


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Trainer shop FootAsylum is heading for a £150 million stock market float

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

FootAsylum Leeds Store

LONDON — UK trainer and youth fashion retailer FootAsylum has announced plans to list on the stock market, aiming to raise funds to more than double the number of stores.

FootAsylum, set up by the two cofounders of JD Sports 12 years ago, announced plans on Monday to list shares on London's AIM growth market in an initial public offering pegged for November.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb estimates the chain's value at £150 million. The business had revenues of £147 million last year and earnings before exceptional costs of £11.2 million.

FootAsylum targets 16 to 24-year-olds with "on trend" trainers and fashion. It stocks brands such as Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Calvin Klein, as well as own-brand products under labels such as Glorious Gangsta and Condemned Nation.

FootAsylum currently has 60 stores across the UK but plans to use funds from its public listing to more than double that total to 150 stores across the UK, targeting eight to 10 new store openings a year.

CEO Clare Nesbitt said in a statement: "We see substantial opportunities ahead across our retail, online and wholesales channels, and believe that we have the people, products and strategy to realise them."

FootAsylum was founded in 2005 by David Makin, who cofounded JD Sports. John Wardle, the other cofounder of JD Sports, was CEO of FootAsylum from 2008 until 2015 and is currently chairman of the board.

Independent analyst Bubb said in an email on Monday morning: "It is a tribute to the strength of the JD Sports fashion footwear market that FootAsylum fancies its chances of getting an IPO away in the current High Street climate."

The company announced that Barry Bown, who was CEO of JD Sports from 2000 to 2014, will join FootAsylum's board as executive chairman in January 2018 when Wardle retires from the role.

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The Bank of England is taking over the replacement for Libor

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

Bank of England

LONDON – The Bank of England will start setting the interest rate benchmark to replace Libor in April 2018.

The central bank will take over the administration of the SONIA rate – which stands for the Sterling Overnight Index Average – on April 23.

A panel of banks including Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Deutsche Bank voted to recommend an alternative to Libor for use in sterling derivatives in April of this year.

A Bank of England working group approved SONIA as its preferred short-term interest rate benchmark thereafter.

The SONIA index tracks the rates of actual overnight funding deals on the wholesale money markets, rather than relying on submitters like the Libor benchmark does. SONIA's use will minimise "opportunities for misconduct," the Bank of England said at the time of the working group's decision.

The group chose the SONIA rate with a more than two-thirds majority "based on robust transaction volumes" and how well it measures overnight interest rates "that are considered close to risk-free." SONIA has been around for 20 years.

The Libor manipulation scandal, which hit four years after the 2008 financial crisis, risked breaking trust in London's ability to function as a financial centre.

Libor, a benchmark underpinning more than $300 trillion in loans and derivatives, was set by a panel of banks that submitted short-term borrowing rates to the British Bankers' Association at the time of the scandal.

Regulators found that traders and rate-setters had colluded to shift the rate, benefiting the traders' positions and leading to billions of pounds in fines from US and UK regulators. Libor has since been reformed and is no longer compiled by the BBA.

The Financial Stability Board, which is chaired by BoE Governor Mark Carney, started to reform interest rate benchmarks in 2014 and the central bank set up its working group on Libor alternatives in 2015.

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130,000 UK firms failed to sign up to a compulsory register revealing who controls Britain's wealth

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

grand cayman

  • The People with Significant Control register was launched in June 2016 as part of a "corporate transparency" bid to show who ultimately owns and controls UK companies.
  • 130,000 UK companies have so far failed to sign the register.
  • Failure to provide information to the register may result in a fine and or a prison sentence of up to two years.

LONDON — As many as 130,000 UK companies have failed to sign a register requiring them to detail their ownership which was introduced to show the people who control vast amounts of Britain's corporate wealth.

The People with Significant Control register was launched in 2016 as part of a "corporate transparency" drive to show who ultimately owns and controls UK companies, with the exception of listed firms.

Responding to a written parliamentary question on October 12, Conservative MP Margot James, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: "Companies House's internal statistics indicate that 130,000 companies on its active register (around 3% of the total) have not yet provided information on their people with significant control."

Government guidance states that failure to provide information to the register "may result in a fine and or a prison sentence of up to two years," but James also said no fines have been issued for non-compliance.

"Compliance is Companies House's primary aim, rather than prosecution. It is taking action to ensure that all companies on the active register report their PSC information," she said.

The initiative requires firms to record details of their beneficial ownership with the UK's searchable corporate register Companies House, naming any individual who holds more than 25% shares in the company or holds more than 25% voting rights.

It was introduced as part of a global bid to improve transparency and deter money launderers operating in the UK.

A spokesperson for Companies House is yet to respond to a request for comment made on Friday afternoon.

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A leading business lobbyist says the government needs to moderate its tone when talking about foreign workers

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

brexit protest

LONDON – Not enough is being done to ensure the UK attracts and retains foreign workers after Brexit, and a step-change is needed in the way the government talks about foreign workers, according to a leading business lobbyist.

Speaking at a conference about foreign labour after Brexit on Wednesday last week, Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said the government's "best and brightest" rhetoric is unhelpful.

Businesses across the spectrum are experiencing labour shortages he said and it is likely to get worse.

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May indicated in her Florence speech that free movement of people will almost certainly continue until beyond Brexit day during a transitional period, which is likely to expire in 2021 or 2022. She also reassured EU citizens currently living in the UK that her government wants to guarantee their right to remain.

But once a transitional period comes to an end, said Catherine Barnard, professor of EU law at the University of Cambridge, UK businesses across sectors will be in for a "rude awakening" in terms of the fees they must pay to recruit foreign workers — which include the Immigration Skills Charge, visa charges and healthcare surcharges that are currently relevant to non-EU workers in the UK.

According to Marshall, about 40% of the BCC's members — which total about 6 million employees — have indicated they have EU workers who say they are considering leaving the country. "Forty percent is very high number," he said.

In large part this is to do with Brexit uncertainty, he said, as well as a growing feeling among foreign workers that they are no longer welcome.

"Politicians in particular have created an environment where... uncertainty is possible, and that's not correct," he said.

"The plea that I get from rank and file businesses of whatever size and whatever sector is that the rhetoric that we hear from UK citizens and UK media on EU law needs to change." The word 'migrant' "lands very badly," he said. "They just see themselves as workers exercising their right to free movement."

Marshall stressed the need to talking in real-world terms: "public opposition to migrants is very high, but public opposition to nurses is very low," he said. "We need to moderate our tone."

On what a deal might look like, and the extent to which businesses' concerns are being listened to, Marshall was broadly positive. The leadership of the Home Office, he said, is "broadly responsive" to the issues being raised by businesses, both in terms of what a transitional period and final deal might look like.

Emphasising the power businesses have, Barnard said, "it's not border control that controls borders, it's employers."

But the proof, Marshall stressed, will come with the final agreements, he said. "All we can do is advise."

On uncertainty, Marshall said more clarity was needed wherever possible. But, he said, "we have a way in this country of shoe-horning the announcement first and providing the detail later. I'd rather they [the government] said nothing for longer, and then said something and backed it up."

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Lending Club founder Renaud Laplanche opens up on his 'frustrating' exit and new startup Upgrade

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

Renaud Laplanche.

  • Renaud Laplanche resigned as CEO of Lending Club last year amid loan selling scandal.
  • Back with new startup Upgrade, an online lending platform with credit scoring features.
  • Upgrade wants to launch one new product a year, with plans for mortgages, auto loans, and more.

LONDON — Renaud Laplanche tries to "keep a positive attitude rather than focus on my frustration" when it comes to Lending Club.

"It's hard — I have good days and bad days," the Frenchman told Business Insider at the LendIt Europe conference in London this week.

Laplanche cofounded US marketplace lender Lending Club in 2006 and led the business to a $5.4 billion (£4.1 billion) float in 2014. But in May last year, he resigned amid during amid scandal. Loans sold to investors were found to violate the terms investors had agreed to buy them on.

"There was a fairly significant compliance issue, I took responsibility for it," Laplanche told BI.

"It was very, very frustrating. I'm not commenting on the story, but the best way to actually understand what really happened is to read the filings. I think the press made it sound a lot worse, a lot more sensational, than it really was."

Renaud Laplanche, (3rd R) Founder and CEO of Lending Club, celebrates with company executives ring the opening bell during their IPO at the New York Stock Exchange December 11, 2014. Shares of LendingClub Corp, the world's biggest online marketplace connecting borrowers and lenders, soared in their debut as investors bet on the potential of online platforms to take on the risky lending that banks increasingly want to avoid. LendingClub's shares rose as much as 67 percent to $25.44 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, valuing the San Francisco-based company at more than $9 billion.Early press reports focused on Laplanche's investment in Cirrix Capital, an external fund that bought Lending Club loans. It was initially claimed that the Lending Club board were unaware of his investment, but later filings made it clear that at least some board members knew.

Now he is focused on "what can I learn from it, what can I do better. Upgrade has been part of that."

San Francisco-based Upgrade is Laplanche's new online lending startup, launched in April of this year. Soul Htite, who set up Lending Club with Laplanche, is also a cofounder of the business.

The motivation came from a desire to "build a platform that incorporates all of these learnings [from Lending Club] and turn the entire thing in a force for good," Laplanche said.

"We had a long list of things where we said, if we had to do it all over again, we would do it differently. All the learnings over the last 10 years, all the feedback we got from the investors, borrowers, partners. There was enough there that we thought, yeah, it's worth building a new platform from scratch."

Upgrade writes personal loans for people looking to consolidate credit card debt. The online platform also features tools that help people learn how to manage their credit score, including a feature that simulates the effect of various actions on their score.

"Let's say you get a $1,000 bonus," Laplanche said. "If you decide to pay down your mortgage or pay off your credit card, it's going to have a very different impact on your credit score and cost of credit."

Upgrade raised $60 million (£45.7 million) in April, the biggest ever Series A funding round for a US fintech startup. Many of Lending Club's original investors have backed the business and Jefferies, an investment bank burned by Lending Club's loan term scandal, has signed up to buy loans from Upgrade — a vindication for Laplanche.

Upgrade spent until late July testing the platform but began ramping up lending in August. Laplanche won't disclose lending to date or growth figures.

He said he hopes to launch a new product each year, with plans to branch into mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, home equity, and lines of credit.

"At Lending Club it took me a very long time to start working on new products," he said. "At Upgrade, I designed the platform from scratch as a multi-product platform, using infrastructure that makes it easy to launch new products. The vision is to address all the credit needs of our customers."

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10 things you need to know before European markets open

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


Good morning! Here's what you need to know.

1. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cautioned Britain over its push to secure a trade deal with US President Donald Trump after it leaves the European Union. Clinton said Britain would face serious disruption if it left the EU without a negotiated deal with Brussels.

2. Oil markets jumped on Monday on concerns over potential renewed US sanctions against Iran as well as conflict in Iraq. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $57.85 at 0356 GMT, up 68 cents, or 1.2 %, from the previous close.

3. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition is on track for a big win in Sunday's general election. That's even though almost half the country's voters don't want him to keep his job, a media survey showed on Monday.

4. French President Emmanuel Macron said he expected his labour market reforms to start having a noticeable impact on unemployment within two years. "Unemployment is currently falling. You'll see the full effect of the reforms currently carried out by the government in 1-1/2 to two years," he said in his first live TV interview since his election in May.

5. Turkey is determined to press on with its efforts to join the European Union despite tensions with the bloc, the government said. The EU, particularly heavyweight member Germany, has become increasingly critical of Turkey since President Tayyip Erdogan launched a crackdown on critics, including journalists and academics after the July 2016 failed coup.

6. Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders sees no reason to resign over ongoing UK and French corruption investigations, but would be ready to do so if needed. "You can be assured: Once I am no longer part of the solution, and I hope I would realize myself when that is, I will draw the consequences (and step down). But for now, I don't think we're at this point," Enders told Handelsblatt.

7. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for calm less than 24 hours ahead of a deadline from Spain's central government for him to clarify whether he has declared independence for Catalonia or not. Puigdemont made a symbolic declaration of independence on Tuesday night, only to suspend it seconds later and call for negotiations with Madrid on the region's future.

8. No free fruit in hotel rooms, no free hair cuts and no prawns on the menu – delegates at this week's Communist Party Congress in China can expect austere treatment in keeping with President Xi Jinping's pledge to crack down on corruption and extravagance. Part of Xi's fight against deep-seated graft has been to ensure officials are not seen abusing their positions and wasting public money, after a series of scandals involving high-living bureaucrats ignited public anger.

9. The Democratic Unionist Party has concerns over finance minister Philip Hammond, saying he is causing unnecessary division over Brexit, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Prime Minister Theresa May must warn Hammond he faces the sack unless he changes his approach to the UK's departure from the European Union, unnamed senior parliamentary sources in the DUP told the newspaper.

10. If the United States terminates the Iran nuclear deal it could result in Iran developing nuclear weapons and raise the danger of war close to Europe, Germany's foreign minister said. US President Donald Trump refused on Friday to formally certify that Tehran was complying with the 2015 accord even though international inspectors say it is. He warned he might ultimately terminate the agreement.

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(+) 5 Things to Watch Next Week: Byzantium, Bitcoin Stretched, Gold’s Strength, The Next Fed Chair, Kirkuk and Crude Oil

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The post (+) 5 Things to Watch Next Week: Byzantium, Bitcoin Stretched, Gold’s Strength, The Next Fed Chair, Kirkuk and Crude Oil appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

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