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Bitmain is Hodling Nearly $600 Million in Bitcoin Cash

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

When Bitmain announced last year that it was throwing its weight behind bitcoin cash ahead of the latter’s decision to pursue a divorce from the main BTC network due to irreconcilable differences over blockchain scaling, the cryptocurrency mining giant put its money where CEO Jihan Wu’s mouth was. Leaked documents from Bitmain’s pre-IPO investor deck

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Bitcoin Price Intraday Analysis: BTCUSD Hinting Another Bear Flagpole

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

The short-term gains can never compensate for the long-term losses. So it seems from the latest Bitcoin price action which, during the weekend, jumped more than 7.5% and promised an extended breakout, but fell short of delivering it. This Monday started with minor pullbacks from the early 6550-fiat level during the Asian trading session. However,

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Robinhood shuts customers out of buying shares of MoviePass' parent company after the stock crashed more than 99.99% (HMNY)

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

MoviePass

  • Robinhood is suspending new purchases of Helios & Matheson, the parent company of MoviePass, after the stock's drastic 99.99% crash.
  • "In order to protect our customers from the risks associated with some low-priced stocks, we remove the buy option for stocks like HMNY that consistently trade under $0.10," the company said in an email to customers.
  • Follow HMNY's stock price in real-time here. 

Helios & Matheson, the parent company of MoviePass', won't be getting any new investors on Robinhood.

The free stock-trading app said Monday that it would not allow users to buy shares of the company, but that they would still be able to hold and sell shares currently owned.

"In order to protect our customers from the risks associated with some low-priced stocks, we remove the buy option for stocks like HMNY that consistently trade under $0.10," the brokerage said in an email to customers.

Business Insider has reached out to Robinhood for more information about its policy for so-called "penny stocks" like HMNY, and will update this post if comment is received.

HMNY has been wildly popular among Robinhood investors in recent months. More than 74,000 users currently hold the stock, the firm's website shows, and it has consistently been one of the app's most popular names since Business Insider first started tracking the data in June.

It's not clear when exactly the suspension will occur. An order for one share of HMNY was successfully placed via Robinhood by Business Insider shortly before the closing bell Monday.

Despite a massive 1-for-250 reverse stock split in July, HMNY has declined by more than 99.99% in the past month and was trading at just $0.05 on Monday. Adjusted for the reverse split, the stock was trading as high as $8,200 when it first acquired MoviePass in the fall of 2017.

Screen Shot 2018 08 13 at 4.06.09 PM

SEE ALSO: 2 Wall Street banks made millions selling the collapsing shares of MoviePass' parent company, as their analysts kept 'buy' ratings on the cratering stock

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Stocks close lower amid Turkish currency crisis

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

trader worried concerned

Stocks were lower Monday as a currency crisis in Turkey roiled global markets. The dollar rallied, and Treasury yields inched higher. 

Here's the scoreboard:

Dow Jones industrial average25,186.75 −126.39 (-0.50%)

S&P 500: 2,824.81 −8.47 (-0.30%)

Nasdaq Composite 7,819.71 −19.40 (-0.25%)

  1. The Turkish lira hit another record low. The lira shed another 8% to below 7 per dollar after a double-digit percentage slide Friday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an opponent of interest rates who has wielded more influence over Turkey's central bank this year, continued to blame the sell-off on external forces like Washington. 
  2. Contagion risks seem to be rising. Markets worry the sell-off, which shows little to no signs of slowing, could spill over to other countries. Several emerging market currencies have already taken hits, including the South African rand, Russian ruble, and Mexican peso.
  3. Facing scrutiny for possibly violating federal securities law, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to explain his "funding secured" tweet from last week. He wrote in a blog post that after leaving a meeting with Saudi Arabia's public investment fund — which has already amassed a 5% stake in Tesla — he was confident that a deal could be closed.

And a look at the upcoming economic calendar:

  • Employment and earnings data are out in the UK. 
  • The US reports retail sales and new housing construction numbers.
  • Walmart reports earnings. 

SEE ALSO: Tesla's dramatic stock rise and fall shows how skeptical investors are of Elon Musk's go-private plans (TSLA)

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It is now abundantly clear that Elon Musk does not have 'funding secured'

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

Elon Musk

  • In a blog post, Elon Musk attempted to explain why he said he had "funding secured" for a deal to take Tesla private last week.
  • His explanation doesn't hold water for anyone who understands finance, sovereign wealth funds, or the passage of time.

Elon Musk has written a blog post explaining why he said he might take Tesla private at $420 a share on Twitter. "Funding secured," he declared in the tweet.

But after reading Musk's new post, the only conclusion to be drawn is that funding was, in fact, not secured.

And that could spell serious trouble for Musk

In a nutshell, Musk said that he spoke with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) on July 31 and that the person he spoke to expressed an interest in taking Tesla private. Musk said his Saudi investors had been thinking about this since early 2017. Musk considered that all he needed to say "funding secured."

"He strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time," Musk writes. "I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed."

But there are some obvious problems with this, one of them being price. Wall Street, which is chomping at the bit for big deals as always, estimates that a traditional leveraged buy out of Tesla would require around $66 billion in cash.

In other words, Saudi money alone would not be able to finance such a deal

What's more, the WSJ reports that two people familiar with the matter at the PIF said they "doubt there are any serious discussions under way about the fund taking a significantly larger stake in Tesla. Indeed, the fund is struggling to find ways to finance its existing commitments." 

As it turns out, after Musk announced the possibility of the deal, he reengaged the Saudis on August 7 and found that he would need more than one person at the fund to approve his deal. The Saudi involvement would be "subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals."

As for this inconsistency between July 31 and August 7, perhaps Musk simply has no idea how sovereign wealth funds work. If, as Musk said, his Saudi shareholders had been interested in taking Tesla private for almost two years, it seems odd that they wouldn't have already been asking questions about how a deal would work, or about things like regulatory requirements.

Literally, what's the deal?

Now, as I said before, the Saudis alone cannot finance this deal. And Musk wrote in his blog post that he had planned all along to talk to Tesla's other investors. 

"I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base," he wrote. 

So, in that scenario, this back and forth between them and Musk is just the tiniest of steps on the way to securing funding. It certainly is not "funding secured."

And then there's the question of the deal structure. Musk addressed that issue in his blog post too. He wrote:

"Reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed. The $420 buyout price would only be used for Tesla shareholders who do not remain with our company if it is private. My best estimate right now is that approximately two-thirds of shares owned by all current investors would roll over into a private Tesla."

There are a couple issues with that statement from a finance perspective:

  1. What Musk is talking about is a stock swap in which investors would exchange their currently liquid Tesla stock for illiquid private shares.
  2. He has absolutely no way of knowing who would take that deal since he hasn't asked. Some investors may not be able to hold a private company at all.
  3. With 2,000 investors or more, Musk would still be subject to reporting requirements. This means he wouldn't be totally free of public scrutiny, defeating some of the purpose of taking the company private.

What's more — and perhaps this only matters to poindexters and finance geeks — but Tesla has yet to file official SEC paperwork about this event, which is raising eyebrows all over the deal universe.

Tesla's stock is down slightly after Musk's blog post, reflecting the idea that the market is not pleased with his explanation. In fact, the stock has given back all of the gains it made since Musk made his going private announcement. The SEC is looking into the accuracy of Musk's statement.

If funding was not secured and he knew it, he could be charged with stock manipulation.

And, according to Musk's own words, the deal sounds far from done.

"I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed," Musk wrote, "it was just a matter of getting the process moving."

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Nvidia to Profit in Q3 2018 Despite Crypto Mining Decline

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

While crypto mining is experiencing a slowdown due to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies yielding lower mining profits worldwide recently, tech giant Nvidia Corp. is still expected to generate healthy revenue in Q3 of 2018. The tech company is seeing strong sales in its staple market, gaming, with graphics processing units still flying off the shelves

The post Nvidia to Profit in Q3 2018 Despite Crypto Mining Decline appeared first on CCN

A bunch of millennials who use hot startups to manage their investments are getting whacked by Turkey's currency crisis

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

millennials women racecourse texting


The Turkish lira did not go down on its own when it plunged to record lows

Emerging-market assets from currencies to stocks also sold off as investors wondered what Turkey's currency trouble would mean for other countries. 

One of the most prominent victims of the drop was the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets exchange-traded fund (VWO), a basket of stocks located in China, South Africa, and other developing countries. With $90 billion in net assets, it's a bedrock emerging-market ETF.

Its top investors include Betterment and Wealthfront, two of the most popular robo-advisors that help people get involved in the markets at a low cost. The two companies use algorithms to construct portfolios, with VWO a key component. VWO makes up as much as 15% of some portfolios on Betterment, for example.

The two companies are the fifth and eighth-largest investors in VWO, according to their most recent regulatory disclosures. Nearly all of Wealthfront's clients — 85% — are under 45, and 55% of Betterment's customers are millennials (generally placed in the 18-35 age range), company spokespeople said.

VWO has fallen 3.6% in the past week, dragged by concerns surrounding Turkish firms' ability to repay their dollar-denominated debt. On Monday, $1 cost as much as 7.13 lira, the highest ever; on January 1, Turkish companies only needed 3.79 lira to repay every dollar they had borrowed. 

VWO's decline since last week Monday has cost Betterment and Wealthfront investors $66.4 million, based on the sizes of their positions in regulatory filings. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires large investors to disclose their largest holdings once a quarter, and so these shares could have changed since the last filings.

Even with this paper loss, many analysts don't expect Turkey's woes to cause significant damage to other emerging markets. For one, the country-specific iShares MSCI Turkey ETF crashed 21% last week, versus 3.6% for VWO. It also helped that Vanguard, which manages VWO, had composed the ETF of just 0.9% Turkish assets, limiting the losses for millennial investors.

"There is a conspicuous lack of contagion as Turkey's afflictions are uniquely unfortunate among MSCI EM nations and EM is not on the hook for Turkish FX debt," Alexander Redman, the head of Credit Suisse's global emerging-market equity strategy, said in a note on Friday. 

Frank Chaparro contributed reporting. 

See also: 

 

 

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Ethereum plunges to its lowest level in 11 months

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

Ethereum price

  • Ethereum plunged as much as 17% Monday, sinking to a low of $285.14 per token, it's lowest price since September 2017.
  • Other major cryptocurrencies, like the flagship bitcoin and Ripple's XRP, also saw significant selling and were down about 1% and 5%, respectively.
  • Ethereum is closely intertwined with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Over the past year,those thousands of fundraisers propped up the price of ethereum. Monday's decline comes as many of those projects cash out of the blockchain in order to fund their operations, one expert told Bloomberg.
  • "These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market," Biswa Das, who manages the cryptocurrency hedge fund BloomWater Capital, told Bloomberg. "It was fine last year but right now the the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure."
  • The price of ethereum,  still the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is now down more than 61% this year.
  • Follow ethereum in real-time here. 

SEE ALSO: The crypto market has lost 20% of its value in 2 weeks and bitcoin is still dropping

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Ethereum plunges to its lowest level in 11 months

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

Ethereum price

  • Ethereum plunged as much as 17% Monday, sinking to a low of $285.14 per token, it's lowest price since September 2017.
  • Other major cryptocurrencies, like the flagship bitcoin and Ripple's XRP, also saw significant selling and were down about 1% and 5%, respectively.
  • Ethereum is closely intertwined with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Over the past year,those thousands of fundraisers propped up the price of ethereum. Monday's decline comes as many of those projects cash out of the blockchain in order to fund their operations, one expert told Bloomberg.
  • "These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market," Biswa Das, who manages the cryptocurrency hedge fund BloomWater Capital, told Bloomberg. "It was fine last year but right now the the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure."
  • The price of ethereum,  still the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is now down more than 61% this year.
  • Follow ethereum in real-time here. 

SEE ALSO: The crypto market has lost 20% of its value in 2 weeks and bitcoin is still dropping

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An early bitcoin investor explains what most people get wrong about the cryptocurrency

Ethereum plunges to its lowest level in 11 months

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

Ethereum price

  • Ethereum plunged as much as 17% Monday, sinking to a low of $285.14 per token, it's lowest price since September 2017.
  • Other major cryptocurrencies, like the flagship bitcoin and Ripple's XRP, also saw significant selling and were down about 1% and 5%, respectively.
  • Ethereum is closely intertwined with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Over the past year,those thousands of fundraisers propped up the price of ethereum. Monday's decline comes as many of those projects cash out of the blockchain in order to fund their operations, one expert told Bloomberg.
  • "These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market," Biswa Das, who manages the cryptocurrency hedge fund BloomWater Capital, told Bloomberg. "It was fine last year but right now the the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure."
  • The price of ethereum,  still the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is now down more than 61% this year.
  • Follow ethereum in real-time here. 

SEE ALSO: The crypto market has lost 20% of its value in 2 weeks and bitcoin is still dropping

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Is marrying your cousin actually dangerous?

Ethereum plunges to its lowest level in 11 months

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

Ethereum price

  • Ethereum plunged as much as 17% Monday, sinking to a low of $285.14 per token, it's lowest price since September 2017.
  • Other major cryptocurrencies, like the flagship bitcoin and Ripple's XRP, also saw significant selling and were down about 1% and 5%, respectively.
  • Ethereum is closely intertwined with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Over the past year,those thousands of fundraisers propped up the price of ethereum. Monday's decline comes as many of those projects cash out of the blockchain in order to fund their operations, one expert told Bloomberg.
  • "These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market," Biswa Das, who manages the cryptocurrency hedge fund BloomWater Capital, told Bloomberg. "It was fine last year but right now the the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure."
  • The price of ethereum,  still the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is now down more than 61% this year.
  • Follow ethereum in real-time here. 

SEE ALSO: The crypto market has lost 20% of its value in 2 weeks and bitcoin is still dropping

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Oil tumbles as much as 2% as Oklahoma crude piles up

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

oil worker


Oil prices slid Monday after inventories at a key US crude delivery hub jumped last week, adding to demand concerns.

West Texas Intermediate was down 0.6% to $67.34 per barrel at 3:15 p.m. ET. Brent, the international benchmark, shed 0.3% to $72.74 a barrel. Both had fallen more than 2% in midday trading.

Market research firm Genscape data showed inventories at the Cushing delivery hub for WTI rose by 1.7 million barrels in the week ending Aug. 10, according to Reuters. Inventories at that facility had previously been shrinking amid disruptions at a Canadian processing facility.

Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM, said there is a "risk off sentiment across global markets" amid a currency crisis in Turkey. 

Markets worry the sell-off, which shows no clear signs of stopping, could spill over to other countries. Analysts say it has already hit several emerging market currencies, including the South African rand, Russian ruble, and Mexican peso. 

Also on Monday, a monthly OPEC report showed oil production in Saudi Arabia unexpectedly fell last month from June. Riyadh told Washington in June it would increase output in attempt to make up for Iranian barrels taken off the market by US sanctions. 

Screen Shot 2018 08 13 at 2.49.30 PM

SEE ALSO: Turkey's central bank promises 'all necessary measures' to save its financial system amid lira collapse

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Goldman Sachs has hired a senior healthcare banker away from Barclays as outside hiring spree continues (GS, BARC)

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

jonathan piazza goldman sachs

  • Goldman Sachs has hired senior dealmaker Jonathan Piazza to bolster its healthcare coverage. 
  • Prior to Goldman, Piazza spent a decade in investment banking with Barclays. 
  • It's been a monster year for mergers and acquisitions, and healthcare M&A has been especially hot. 
  • Goldman is tapping into this deals fervor by hiring a slew of senior dealmakers from rival firms — something it rarely used to do. 

Goldman Sachs has hired a senior dealmaker away from Barclays to bolster its healthcare coverage.

Jonathan Piazza, a managing director in Barclays healthcare investment banking practice, is leaving to join Goldman Sachs, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Piazza had been with Barclays for a decade, joining in 2008 amid the demise of Lehman Brothers, where he worked from 2005 until 2008, according to LinkedIn and Finra records. 

Barclays declined to comment. Goldman Sachs and Piazza did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Among the deals Piazza has worked on: Gilead's $11 billion acquisition of drugmaker Pharmasset in 2011. The deal was seen as a risky move at the time but yielded blockbuster drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi, hepatitis C treatments that have generated tens of billions in sales for Gilead. 

Worldwide M&A activity has totaled $2.5 trillion during the first half of 2018, the strongest start to a year for deals in history. Healthcare was among the most active sectors for M&A, comprising about 13% of this activity thanks to deals such as Takeda's $62 billion takeover of Shire and Cigna's $67 billion acquisition of Express Scripts

Goldman is tapping into this deals fervor by hiring a slew of senior dealmakers from rival firms. While the firm rarely used to hire from the outside, among the recent hires from other banks include senior tech banker Kurt Simon from JPMorgan; consumer banker Ben Frost from Morgan Stanley; and industrials banker Chris Gallea from JPMorgan. 

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Tesla's dramatic stock rise and fall shows how skeptical investors are of Elon Musk's go-private plans (TSLA)

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

elon musk

  • Tesla's stock price surged to new highs last week when Elon Musk announced his intent to take the company private.
  • But almost a week later, the stock is trading below its pre-tweet prices, signalling that investors aren't convinced a deal will happen.
  • Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here. 

It took less than 48 hours for the stock market to decide it didn't believe in Elon Musk's plan of a go-private deal for Tesla.

When the billionaire cryptically tweeted that he was "considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured" at 12:48 pm eastern time on Tuesday, the stock was trading just above $361. By that afternoon, shares had surged more than 10% to a near record-high of $379.57.

Over the course of the week, however, the stock fluttered downward amid reports of an investigation by the US' top stock regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and interviews with experts who told Business Insider his tweet could have been illegal.

Tesla's stock continued to stall Monday and was hovering near $350 per share, a 17% discount to the $420 go-private price Musk said was "fully secured." If stock investors were fully confident in the CEO's ability to get a deal done at that price, shares would theoretically be trading at a much smaller discount.

In other words, traders are telling Musk, as best they can, that they're not convinced. 

Tesla stock price elon tweey

Wall Street analysts have been puzzled by the $420 price set by Musk. The price is likely too expensive to solicit new private investors and not high enough for current holders who may be seeking higher returns, Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research told clients Monday.

"The stock will not look indecently cheap to private investors. We understand many would buy in the $420 region, but struggle to believe they would pay materially more," Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research told clients Monday.

"Many existing shareholders are unlikely to be in for $420," he continued. "Given how controversial the stock is, we have the convictions most shareholders believe in a lot of upside in the stock, over the years. On that basis we believe many of them would decide against the $420 offer."

Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, made a similar point when speaking to Business Insider last week.

"On the one hand, he's got to tell a great story to get private investors interested. But then you have to get the public guys out," he said. "It’s two different messages."

Alex Morrell and Joe Ciolli assisted with reporting.

Now read:

SEE ALSO: Tesla's surging stock has cost short sellers $3 billion this month

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Mark Cuban says he cashed out his Twitter stock (TWTR)

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

Mark Cuban

  • Mark Cuban says he cashed out his Twitter stock. 
  • The investor and TV personality said in May 2017 that he started buying shares.
  • Citron Research upgraded Twitter earlier on Monday.
  • Watch Twitter trade in real time here.

Mark Cuban is taking his Twitter profits and running. 

The investor and TV personality told CNBC on Monday that he has exited his stake in the social-media company because he "wanted to try to accumulate as much cash as possible."

Cuban's Twitter trade appears to have been a profitable one. On May 2, 2017, he told CNBC's Squawk Alley that he started buying Twitter because he thought they "finally got their act together with artificial intelligence." At the time, Twitter was trading at $17 a share — nearly half its current level of $33. It is unclear how much of the stock Cuban owned. 

Twitter's stock topped out earlier this year at near $48 — before its disastrous second-quarter earnings sent shares tumbling by more than 27%. The sell-off was the result of the company announcing an unexpected decline in its number of monthly active users.

Earlier on Monday, Citron Research upgraded the social-media company, giving it a $52 price target. "$TWTR has hit a level of relevancy as never before," the firm tweeted. "With privacy concerns in its rear view & execution on all fronts -Citron expects new highs." 

Twitter shares are up 3.12% on Monday and about 38% this year. 

Twitter  

 

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Bitcoin Price Makes Gains While Wider Crypto Market Struggles

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

The Bitcoin price has risen by around 2 percent in the last 24 hours, increasing from $6,250 to $6,400. But, the rest of the crypto market is still struggling to gain momentum. Bitcoin is King in a Bear Market Since February, the cryptocurrency market has been in a bear market, the third worst in its

The post Bitcoin Price Makes Gains While Wider Crypto Market Struggles appeared first on CCN

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

The worst-case scenario for a global trade war could wipe out the stock market's most important driver

As a global trade war gathers steam, banks across Wall Street are starting to prepare for the worst.

This comes after President Donald Trump announced a start date for a second tranche of tariffs on Chinese goods, worth roughly $16 billion. A Goldman Sachs economist, Alec Phillips, now thinks there's a 70% probability that Trump will proceed with most of the tariffs he has threatened on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Goldman believes a further escalation of the trade conflict could result in a 25% tariff levied against all imports from China. And Goldman says that major downside scenario wouldn't be pretty.

European markets drop as Turkey's lira crisis spreads around the world

European markets started the week deep in negative territory before recovering a little over the course of Monday as the crisis over the Turkish lira drags on investor sentiment around the world.

Asian markets fell sharply overnight. Those falls then spread into Europe, with major European share indexes losing as much as 1% in early morning trading.

Spain and Italy were the biggest losers, down about 1% each. Elsewhere, markets were seeing losses of about 0.5% to 0.8% as investors digested last week's 25% fall in the lira.

Elon Musk reveals what he meant by his 'funding secured' tweet 

Elon Musk is defending his "funding secured" tweet.

In a company statement on Monday, Musk said Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had brought up taking Tesla private multiple times for almost two years. The Saudi fund recently bought a 5% stake in Tesla. Musk said he met with the fund's managing director on July 31 and left that meeting confident that a deal to take Tesla private would close.

Chat app Symphony's battle to break into a $28 billion Wall Street market 

Major Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have invested almost $300 million in Symphony, a startup building encrypted, cloud-based communication tools. Google is also an investor.

The banks want to build a platform they can all communicate on to help them cut down on expensive Bloomberg terminals.

Almost four years into the project, Symphony has over 300,000 users.

But there are questions around usage, partnerships, and whether it's really having an effect on Bloomberg.

BI's story, based on conversations with 35 sources, looks at how Wall Street's audacious bet has gone so far and the challenges the startup still faces.

In markets news

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An Oracle insider explains how some salespeople gamed the system to sell more cloud (ORCL)

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

Larry Ellison

  • A year ago, Oracle's massive salesforce received an email asking them to work with "integrity," setting out a long list of no-no's for salespeople.
  • An Oracle insider and a former Oracle vice president explained some of the tricky things salespeople were doing to sell more cloud and make big commissions.
  • It's hard to say what impact these deals had, if any, on Oracle's fast-growing cloud business, but the company did change its financial reporting in June to no longer break out cloud revenues. 
  • The whole situation gives us a detailed, inside look at the enterprise software sausage factory.

In August, 2017, Oracle's massive salesforce received an email from Rich Geraffo, Oracle's executive vice president responsible for North American sales.

In it, he told the 35,000-strong sales team to essentially quit gaming the system in the way they were landing cloud sales, according to the email viewed by Business Insider.

He discussed "winning with integrity," and set out a long list of no-no's for salespeople. The items included things like only selling products and services that customers will really use, putting all terms in writing, and justifying discounts offered to customers.

Some 10 months later, in June, Oracle surprised the financial world by changing the way it reported cloud revenue, blending it into its traditional software sales, which essentially hid cloud revenue from view. Oracle didn't wait until the fiscal year ended. It made the change to the fourth quarter results, which ended in May. That meant it did not report the full year's final cloud performance, even though cloud has become critical to the company's future.  

When concerned Wall Street analysts asked if this change was an attempt to hide problems in Oracle's cloud business,  Mark Hurd, one of Oracle's CEOs, called the change a "nothing burger,"  and attributed the change to adopting new accounting standards.

However, an Oracle salesperson who's been with the company for several years told Business Insider that the change could reflect something else: that not all of the cloud revenue was from customers who were really using Oracle's cloud. 

It's not clear that there's a connection between the email from Geraffo asking salespeople to only sell products and services that customers will really use and Oracle's decision to stop reporting cloud revenue separately.

But the change in reporting does give us a reason to explore the tricks of the trade that may have helped Oracle jump start its most important new business.

'Cancel and replace'

One of the ways Oracle's sales people beefed up cloud sales — and their own commissions, which were heavily tied to how much cloud they sold — was a tried-and-true method, according to the salesperson. It involved including cloud credits on a customer's contract even if the customer didn't want the cloud product, this person said.

The customer would get discounts on the products they did want for ...

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Wall Street made an ambitious, $300 million bet to build a challenger to Bloomberg — here's how it's getting on

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

Symphony CEO David Gurle



Wall Street's $300 million bet on a new messaging platform to displace Bloomberg has gained hundreds of thousands of users but is still struggling to get people to make deals on the platform.

That's one of the findings from BI's in-depth investigation into Symphony, the four-year-old startup backed by top-tier banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Touted as a "Bloomberg killer" in the press when it launched, Symphony is headed by a long-time communication industry veteran and has raised almost $300 million from a host of bluechip backers. The company has offices around the world and over 300,000 users today.

But questions remain about who is using and for what. One of the main reasons banks wanted the project to succeed was to cut down on their expensive $24,000-a-year Bloomberg habit. But analysts and traders told Business Insider that traders are reluctant to give up their terminals. Back office staff are adopting Symphony but they didn't have Bloomberg terminals in the first place. As a result, some of the savings hoped for aren't materializing.

Symphony hopes "bots" on its platform and continued support from the banks who have invested can help it overcome this hurdle. But in the meantime, it is looking to other markets to help support its reported $1 billion valuation.

The company has held high-level talks with the EU about becoming the secure messaging platform for the eurozone's government and also hopes to break into industries such as law and medicine.

These insights and more are included in BI's full Symphony investigation, available exclusively to BI Prime members. The story is based on 3-months of investigation and conversations with over 35 sources.

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Gold takes a backseat to Treasuries as safe haven from Turkey's currency crisis

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

Gold


Gold prices hit their lowest level in nearly a year and a half Monday as investors turned to US Treasuries in the face of a currency crisis in Turkey that analysts say could spill across borders. 

Gold dipped below $1,200 an ounce Monday morning to its weakest point since early 2017. It was trading down 1.3% at $1,196.27 an ounce around 12:15 p.m. ET. Silver also took a hit, trading lower by 1.5% to $15.05 an ounce. It had earlier traded at its lowest level since April 2016.  

Investors have recently favored US government bonds as a safe-haven asset, meaning they had to purchase dollars. A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated assets like gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. 

A sharp currency sell-off in Turkey, which holds large amounts of foreign debt, has raised contagion risks and put global markets on edge. The Turkish lira lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar last week and continued to weaken on Monday.

Gold is down 5.4% this year. 

Screen Shot 2018 08 13 at 12.21.53 PM

SEE ALSO: 'Clear risks of contagion': European markets drop as Turkey's lira crisis spreads around the world

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The ship caught in the US-China trade war has finally docked after spending a month drifting at sea

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

the frustrated voyage of the peak pegasus 2x1

  • The Peak Pegasus became a symbol of the US-China trade war after it missed tariff deadlines and was forced to drift off the coast of China for over a month.
  • It has finally docked at the Chinese port of Dalian and was offloading its soybean cargo on Monday.
  • Chinese state grain stockpiler Sinograin agreed to pay the extra tariff costs, to the dismay of some Chinese taxpayers.


A ship that was left drifting off the coast of China for over month due to the trade war between China and the US finally docked on Monday, Reuters reported.

The Peak Pegasus docked at the Chinese port of Dalian and has been offloading its soybean cargo, worth over $20 million.

The vessel became a symbol of the US-China trade war when it failed to reach China before both Beijing and Washington imposed new tariffs on each other last month. Those tariffs included soybeans and the vessel was forced to spend five weeks waiting off the Chinese coast as the owner of the cargo was unwilling to pay the costs.

It has now become one of the first major US soybean shipments to incur the new tariffs imposed by Beijing in July, Reuters reported.

Chinese state grain stockpiler Sinograin bought the shipment and has agreed to pay the extra 25% in import tariffs, which adds translates to $6 million.

Comments on Chinese social media platform Weibo pointed out that Sinograin is state-owned and paid for by the taxpayer, meaning that in this case, the Chinese people have subsidised their own tariffs.

"Isn’t Sinograin state-owned? Who is this tariff hurting? Eventually it is us paying the tariffs and it’s us being sanctioned!" one Weibo user said.

Sinograin said the ship was delayed by port congestion despite reports that there hadn’t been any major backlogs or blockages since June. Another ship carrying US soybean cargo, The Star Jennifer, has also been waiting off the Chinese coast for weeks.

Soybeans are the top US agricultural export to China. They are used in cooking oil, biodiesel, and meal for livestock. Annual soybean trade between the two nations totalled $12.7 billion in 2017.

Last week, the US announced it would begin to impose tariffs on another $16 billion worth of goods from August 23 and Beijing said it will respond in equal measure.

SEE ALSO: A cargo ship carrying $20 million of soybeans has been drifting off the coast of China for a month — and it shows the real-world effects of the trade war

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Citi is shaking up its consumer bank — and a key executive is out (C)

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

Michael Corbat

Citigroup is shaking up its consumer banking unit.

The bank announced Monday several changes in the top rungs of management within its Global Consumer Banking division in an effort to "align our structure with our strategy," Stephen Bird, the CEO of the division, wrote in a memo viewed by Business Insider. 

Citi's consumer operation in the US is moving to a regional model — which is how its retail operations in Mexico and Asia are currently organized — a restructuring that will come with two new roles: 

  • Anand Selva, currently the head of consumer banking in Asia Pacific, will be the head of US consumer banking.
  • David Chubak, currently the head of global retail banking, will be head of retail banking and consumer lending.

Jud Linville, the head of global cards and consumer services, is leaving the firm after eight years. 

"Today, I am announcing a new organizational structure and two new roles to harmonize our operating model globally. This will intensify efforts to win in the U.S., our largest market, and drive greater client- centricity across product, segment and geography," Bird said in the memo. 

"This action aligns the U.S. franchise with the regional model deployed in Asia and Mexico where we have seen the benefits of cross-product synergies, greater collaboration and accelerated speed to market and decision- making," he continued. 

With Selva's promotion to the lead US role, Gonzalo Luchetti, currently head of Asia Pacific Retail Banking, will serve as interim head of asia consumer. 

This story is developing.

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Tesla’s biggest bull on Wall Street says there's a big problem with taking Tesla private, and it has nothing to do with 'funding secured' (TSLA)

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

Tesla Elon Musk

  • Tesla going private at $420 would be too expensive for private investors and too cheap for current shareholders, says Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research.
  • Ferragu says leaving public markets would have "little tangible value" for Tesla. 
  • His price target of $530 makes him the most bullish Wall Street analyst on Tesla. The average is $325. 
  • Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here. 

Elon Musk sent shockwaves through stock markets last week when he announced his plans to take Tesla private at $420 per share. 

But while most of Wall Street was wondering where the supposed funding had been secured from, one of Tesla’s most optimistic analysts was focused on what he says is a bigger issue at hand: going private would have little tangible value for any shareholders, either current or potential. 

"The go-private offer cannot fly for a simple structural reason: there is no material value in moving Tesla private," Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research said in a note to clients Monday. "It therefore cannot justify enough of a public-private valuation spread."

Ferragu and New Street — a research-only firm with fewer clients and no brokerage arm attached — have a $530 price target for shares of Tesla, far outpacing any other analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Wall Street's average target is $325.

"The company has now passed its inflection point, with Model 3 ramping in volumes,' said Ferragu. "From this point, Tesla has the scale and the sustainability required to be a listed company. Although we would agree the company would have benefited from being private longer in its history, we think this value is mostly gone now. We do not see a single tangible driver, which we could put down in our model, enhancing the value of the business if it goes private."

While Musk might prefer to have Tesla private, Ferragu says this is "a matter of personal preference only" and that the move can't be turned into tangible benefits.

"The stock will not look indecently cheap to private investors. We understand many would buy in the $420 region, but struggle to believe they would pay materially more," said Ferragu. "Our price target of $530 reflects a scenario in which Tesla succeeds and becomes a premium manufacturer the size of BMW and a successful energy storage company. Although we can easily see upside to this scenario, it would be a fairly deep act of faith to pay a premium towards it today. We assume private investors would need a material discount to this valuation to be dragged in in size."

Tesla's public investors on the other hand, likely have a much more optimistic scenario underlying their investment, and would be unlikely to be happy with a $420 buyout.

"Many existing shareholders are unlikely to be in for $420. Given how controversial the stock is, we have the convictions most shareholders believe in a lot of upside in the stock, over the years. On that basis we believe many of them would decide against the $420 offer."

In a blog post published Monday, Musk said shareholders would be given a choice to either be bought out or receive private equity in Tesla as it leaves the Nasdaq stock exchange.

"The $420 buyout price would only be used for Tesla shareholders who do not remain with our company if it is private," he said. "My best estimate right now is that approximately two-thirds of shares owned by all current investors would roll over into a private Tesla."

Tesla sank slightly in trading Monday morning following the update blog post. Shares have now completely wiped out their gains following the announcement last week that originally sent the stock careening to a new all-time high.

Now read:

Tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: 'You have to move on': Tesla’s biggest bull explains what the rest of Wall Street is missing — and why Elon Musk sets out to fail on purpose

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Bitcoin Price Hits 7-Month High Against Turkish Lira

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

Turkey's economic crisis looks to have boosted bitcoin's appeal as a safe-haven asset, pushing it to seven-month highs against the lira.

Crypto Startup Taps Larry King in Shared Effort to Combat Climate Change

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Crypto Startup Taps Larry King in Shared Effort to Combat Climate Change

In a message on GEAR Token’s website, iconic political talk show host Larry King says that global climate change is threatening humanity’s existence and is “a potentially catastrophic issue from the combustion of fossil fuels ... putting immense pressure on the environment and on our health.”

King says that “this is simply not sustainable” and “the pace of innovations and investment in green energy and renewables is not enough to help counteract the use of dirty fuels.”

King is focusing his energies as a member of GEAR’s Advisory Board, helping the small startup, still in incubation, to raise funds for the development of green mining technology to reduce energy consumption in bitcoin mining that has given bitcoin a bad rap with environmentalists.

Aware that the U.S. government is also getting a bad rap from environmentalists, GEAR is hoping to counter any doubts that global climate change is a serious issue.

The GEAR team told Bitcoin Magazine:

“We want to highlight the increasing importance of investing in green projects and startups, given the changing political landscape against efforts to prevent further global warming, such as the U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate accords.”

Indi Pathak, president of GEAR, explained:

“Our mission is to use blockchain and crypto to help and give back to the Earth through things such as building more and more tangible, real-world assets, such as hydroelectric farms, solar farms, etc. every year with GEAR GROW, while also using GEAR CAPITAL to fund and support startups working on the next big technological innovations in green energy and renewables.”

Larry King calls GEAR “the world’s first closed-loop green energy and renewables-focused token investment network helping to promote environmental sustainability.”

Linking Traditional Investment Strategies With ICOs and Tokens

GEAR hopes to be a bridge for traditional investors between traditional investment tools and the new world of ICOs and tokens.

Pathak explains:

“We want GEAR to be a way to connect and introduce standard fiat investors to crypto in a way they already understand and trust.”

“Using the team's background in traditional finance, we're aiming to bridge the gap between standard capital markets and current crypto investors to create an investment opportunity that is attractive to both.”

“This involves being compliant with markets through things like SEC filings, and making crypto more digestible and accessible to traditional investors through things they're more comfortable with, like traditional PPMs and memorandums.”

Crypto Energy Use Is Growing

As discussed at a recent mining conference, the pressure on cryptocurrencies is growing as the sheer volume of energy that must be used to solve increasingly difficult equations increases.

GEAR says that the total energy consumed by the BTC network in one year could power 6,585,585 homes for that same year. One bitcoin transaction uses enough energy to power 34 homes per day.

Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of electricity as the countries of Chile and Austria and more than Switzerland, Columbia and Iceland according to a graph on GEAR’s website.

Changing ICO Regulatory Landscape

Despite current regulatory uncertainty, GEAR Token is working closely with U.S. and Canadian regulators to “be as compliant as possible, while also trying to strengthen more regulation in the space by sharing our own insights with regulators,” said Pathak.

GEAR Blockchain Inc. has filed a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the sale of GEAR tokens both inside and outside the U.S. under the Securities Act of 1933, and within Canada as a supplementary offering with the Ontario Securities Commission.

GEAR wants a more certain regulatory environment to give stability to ICOs, said Pathak.

Our view is that more regulation is needed in the space to nurture an environment for legitimate offerings and bring more trust into the space.

GEAR’s Roadshow Heads to Toronto

The GEAR team recently returned from a roadshow across Asia, after meeting with some of the largest suppliers of mining equipment.

Their next stop includes a token sale launch at the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Canada, where King will be moderating a panel on Wednesday, August 15 entitled "Mass Influence and Adoption of Blockchain Technology," featuring Charles Hoskinson (CEO, IOHK), Justin Wu (advisor, GEAR Blockchain), Al Burgio (Founder, DigitalBits.io), and Michael Moyal (Co-founder, Slate).

Pathak told Bitcoin Magazine:

“With Larry's global recognizability spanning generations, he's really helping us to make blockchain and crypto more accessible and approachable to those who are still unsure of and new to the space. Larry has also interviewed everyone from presidents to business leaders to key influencers, so has the ability to open up a lot of doors to spread the message of GEAR and our positive social impact.”

GEAR is being incubated by Canadian merchant banking group Forbes & Manhattan, founded by Stan Bharti who also serves as one of GEAR's advisors and is also a speaker at the upcoming Futurist conference.

“Our launch and goal at Futurist is to raise awareness for both the need for a change in current mining methods,” said Pathak, “and the importance of creating an environment that helps to incubate greener blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Saudi Arabia: Bitcoin Trading is ‘Illegal in the Kingdom’

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

A standing committee comprised of various governmental ministries and the central bank of Saudi Arabia has warned that trading of ‘unauthorized’ cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is illegal in the country. In a statement published by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) – the sovereign Arab state’s deface central bank – on Sunday, a governmental committee declared

The post Saudi Arabia: Bitcoin Trading is ‘Illegal in the Kingdom’ appeared first on CCN

Harley-Davidson is sliding after Trump backs boycott if it moves production overseas (HOG)

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

Trump hosts Bikers for Trump


Shares of Harley-Davidson are down 1.93% Monday after President Donald Trump backed a boycott of the motorcycle maker if it were to shift production overseas. 

"Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas," Trump tweeted on Sunday, a day after hosting members of Bikers for Trump at his golf club in New Jersey. "Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better."

In June, Harley said it would be implement a plan to "shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the US to international facilities" as potential tariffs implemented by the European Union would have an annual impact of $90 million to $100 million going forward, adding about $2,200 to the cost of each motorcycle. 

"Harley-Davidson believes the tremendous cost increase, if passed onto its dealers and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region, reducing customer access to Harley-Davidson products and negatively impacting the sustainability of its dealers' businesses," the company said at the time.

The company previously announced a plan to move some production to Thailand

Monday's slide adds to the difficult 2018 for Harley shares, which have plunged 25% from their January highs, as the company has had to grapple with negative demographic trends in addition to the trade spat.

The motorcycle maker's second-quarter earnings showed shipments fell 11.3% versus a year ago — even before the impact of any potential EU tariffs. The company has been trying to solve its problem of a demographic headwind which has become apparent over the past several years. 

As Baby Boomers look to unload their bikes, millennials have preferred to buy used Harleys and cheaper models made by the competition. 

"So long as the base of ridership declines (in the United States), it will be an uphill battle for (Harley-Davidson), Bernstein analyst David Beckel said in August of last year, according to Reuters. "I have a projection of total motorcycle ridership for the country declining for at least the next five years."

Harley-Davidson

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Elon Musk reveals what he meant by his 'funding secured' tweet (TSLA)

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

elon musk

  • Elon Musk said in a company statement on Monday morning that he thought tweeting about possibly taking Tesla private was the "right and fair thing to do."
  • Musk said Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had brought up taking Tesla private multiple times during the past two years.
  • Musk said he met with the fund's managing director on July 31 and left that meeting confident that a deal to take Tesla private with the fund could be done.

Elon Musk is defending his "funding secured" tweet.

In a company statement on Monday, Musk said Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had brought up taking Tesla private multiple times for almost two years. The Saudi fund recently bought a 5% stake in Tesla. Musk said he met with the fund's managing director on July 31 and left that meeting confident that a deal to take Tesla private would close.

"During the meeting, the Managing Director of the fund expressed regret that I had not moved forward previously on a going private transaction with them, and he strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time," Musk said in his statement. "I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed.

"I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving. This is why I referred to 'funding secured' in the August 7th announcement."

On Tuesday, Musk had tweeted: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."

In his latest statement, Musk said he had announced his thoughts about taking the company private because he wanted to have "meaningful discussions" with large shareholders but couldn't do so if he didn't disclose his thinking to all shareholders.

"I made the announcement last Tuesday because I felt it was the right and fair thing to do so that all investors had the same information at the same time," Musk said.

Musk did not initially disclose details about where the funding would come from, nor did a statement from Musk on the company's website posted later Tuesday have any details about where the money would come from.

This sparked confusion and raised questions about whether funding was really secured.

In his statement on Monday, Musk said he had been in communication with the managing director of the Saudi fund since sending the Tuesday tweet.

"He has expressed support for proceeding subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals," Musk said. "He has also asked for additional details on how the company would be taken private, including any required percentages and any regulatory requirements."

Musk said that full details regarding the source of funding would be provided before anyone would be asked to decide on going private but that it was "premature" to share such information.

"I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base," he said. "It is appropriate to complete those discussions before presenting a detailed proposal to an independent board committee."

Musk said a deal to take Tesla private would be funded primarily by equity and not debt and that he expected two-thirds of shares owned by current investors to remain as part of a private Tesla.

"Therefore, reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed," Musk said. "The $420 buyout price would only be used for Tesla shareholders who do not remain with our company if it is private."

Read more about Tesla possibly going private:

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk reveals new details about taking Tesla private, says he thought tweeting announcement was 'the right and fair thing to do'

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Bitcoin Price Creeps Near $6,500 as Tether Issues $50 Million Worth of New Tokens

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

The bitcoin price saw a slight bump on Monday, rising just under two percent to extend the market’s weekend recovery into the new week. After trading as low as $6,109 on Saturday, bitcoin is now priced at $6,458 on Bitfinex, which translates into a $111 billion market cap. While there are many factors that impact

The post Bitcoin Price Creeps Near $6,500 as Tether Issues $50 Million Worth of New Tokens appeared first on CCN

GOLDMAN SACHS WARNS: The worst-case scenario for a global trade war could wipe out the stock market's most important driver

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

donald trump xi jinping

  • As President Donald Trump's global trade war escalates each week, firms across Wall Street are starting to prepare for the worst.
  • Goldman Sachs' most severe downside case calls for the removal of one of the stock market's biggest drivers over the nine-year bull market.

As a global trade war gathers steam, banks across Wall Street are starting to prepare for the worst.

This comes after President Donald Trump announced a start date for a second tranche of tariffs on Chinese goods, worth roughly $16 billion. A Goldman Sachs economist, Alec Phillips, now thinks there's a 70% probability that Trump will proceed with most of the tariffs he has threatened on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Goldman believes a further escalation of the trade conflict could result in a 25% tariff levied against all imports from China. And Goldman says that major downside scenario wouldn't be pretty.

The firm says its 2019 earnings-per-share estimate for the S&P 500 would be reduced by 7%, eliminating all expected growth for the year. That could be catastrophic for the health of the stock market, considering profit growth has been the most important engine driving the nine-year bull market.

Throughout a myriad of difficult macro headlines, earnings expansion has underpinned the S&P 500's steady ascent, providing a beacon of strength. For years it's inspired traders to "buy the dip," or add to positions on weakness.

In the more immediate term, Goldman's worst-case forecast — which assumes no substitution to other global suppliers, no pass-through of costs, and no boost to domestic revenue or change in economic activity — calls for a six-month forward price-earnings-ratio contraction of 10%, to 15 times earnings.

That implies a year-end finish at 2,380 for the S&P 500, which would be a 17% decline from current levels — almost enough of a decline to end the bull market as we know it.

Add that to the flat earnings growth Goldman forecasts for the following year, and you have a situation in which the bull market is in serious danger.

Even in what Goldman describes as an "optimistic" scenario, the firm's top-down 2019 EPS would rise by just $175 — expansion that would pale in comparison to that of the past few years. And while that could be partially attributed to profit growth simply plateauing in recent quarters, it's still not entirely reassuring for stock bulls.

Screen Shot 2018 08 13 at 8.28.45 AM

SEE ALSO: There’s a $1 trillion question hanging over stocks right now — and the answer could determine the ultimate fate of the market

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FinCEN director: We Receive 1,500 Virtual Currency Complaints a Month

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

The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) now receives over 1,500 Suspicious Activity Reports, which concern cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, every month. The statistics were presented by the FinCEN Director, Kenneth Blanco, during his speech regarding the US agency’s views on decentralized digital assets and virtual currencies. The US Treasury, at the 2018 Chicago-Kent Block (Legal) Tech Conference, stated

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Elon Musk reveals new details about taking Tesla private, says he thought tweeting announcement was 'the right and fair thing to do' (TSLA)

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

elon musk

  • In a blog post on Tesla's website posted on Monday, Musk said he used the phrase "funding secured" because he believed there was "no question" Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would provide funding for a deal to convert Tesla into a private company after a July 31 meeting with the fund's managing director.
  • Musk said he is in discussions with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and other investors and plans to fund most of a potential take-private deal with equity rather than debt, since he does not want to increase Tesla's debt load.
  • Musk also said he estimates that around two-thirds of the shares owned by current Tesla shareholders would be converted into shares in a private Tesla, were a deal to go through.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed why he used the phrase "funding secured" in a controversial tweet he sent on Tuesday.

Musk said in the tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 per share and implied that he had the funding in place to do so, pending a shareholder vote.

In a blog post on Tesla's website posted on Monday, Musk said he used the phrase "funding secured" because he believed there was "no question" Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would provide funding for a deal to convert Tesla into a private company after a July 31 meeting with the fund's managing director. He made the announcement via Twitter because he wanted all Tesla investors to know about the possibility of Tesla going private at the same time.

"As mentioned earlier, I made the announcement last Tuesday because I felt it was the right and fair thing to do so that all investors had the same information at the same time. I will now continue to talk with investors, and I have engaged advisors to investigate a range of potential structures and options. Among other things, this will allow me to obtain a more precise understanding of how many of Tesla’s existing public shareholders would remain shareholders if we became private," Musk said in the statement. 

Musk said he is in discussions with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and other investors and plans to fund most of a potential take-private deal with equity rather than debt, since he does not want to increase Tesla's debt load.

Musk also said he estimates that around two-thirds of the shares owned by current Tesla shareholders would be converted into shares in a private Tesla, were a deal to go through. In that case, he would not have to raise the over $70 billion that would be needed to buy out all current shareholders at a share price of $420. 

"Reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed," he said.

Before a decision is made about going private, Musk said all relevant parties will be able to review a proposal in full. But he said a proposal will not be presented until discussions with potential investors are finished.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund first met with Musk about taking Tesla private in early 2017, Musk said, and the two met multiple times throughout the next year. After the fund purchased around 5% of Tesla's shares, it requested another meeting with Musk, which took place on July 31. Musk said that during this meeting, the fund's managing director "strongly expressed his support" to contribute funding to take Tesla private.

Musk notified Tesla's board of directors of his desire to take Tesla private on August 2, he said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Indian rupee tumbles to record low amid spillover from 'full-blown currency crisis' in Turkey

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

A man displays the new 2000 Indian rupee banknotes after withdrawing them from State Bank of India in Agartala, India November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey


India's currency hit an all-time low Monday, signaling that fears surrounding a crisis in Turkey could spill over into other markets. 

The rupee fell to 70.0850 versus the dollar at 9 a.m. ET. The slide will likely lead the Reserve Bank of India to intervene, sources told CNBC

Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM, said the rupee fell "as a result of the risk off atmosphere across global markets." A sharp selloff in the Turkish lira last week has raised concerns that a currency crisis in the country, which holds large amounts of foreign debt, could spread to surrounding markets. 

"Global markets and news headlines across the world are once again being completely dictated by the ongoing events in Turkey," Ahmad said. "The Turkish Lira has entered another round of currency freefall, with the ongoing volatility dragging down a wide host of currencies across the world."

Turkey's currency plunged more than 18% against the dollar Friday. It continued to slide Monday morning, shedding as much as 9%, with no end to the selloff in sight. It has lost about 40% of its value in August. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has wielded more influence over the central bank this year, doesn't believe a traditional economic theory that raising interest rates will slowdown inflation.

"The TRY is in a full-blown currency crisis as the number of negative stories increases," Nordea analysts Morten Lund and Tuuli Koivu wrote in a note. 

Concerns about the lira have already hit other emerging market currencies, analysts say, including the South African rand, Russian ruble, and Mexican peso. 

Turkey's main banking regulator will no longer allow foreign exchange operations of financial institutions to exceed 50% of their equity, according to a Sunday announcement on its website. And Garanti Bank, one of Turkey's largest private financial institutions, announced it won't allow customers to open any new foreign exchange positions.

Also on Monday, data showed Indian consumer price inflation slowed down more than the consensus had expected. But that was mainly due to a "dramatic drop" in food inflation, according to Capital Economics economist Shilan Shah.

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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Bitcoin Trading Is Illegal in Saudi Arabia, Warn Watchdogs

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A governmental committee comprised of Saudi Arabian regulators has issued a statement warning that cryptocurrency trading is illegal in the kingdom.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer plunges 11% after landmark $289 million weedkiller cancer ruling

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

bayer

  • Shares in Bayer dove more than 11% Monday after a landmark ruling against Monsanto, a US agriculture giant owned by the German pharma giant.
  • Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million to a groundskeeper who alleged that the ingredients of a weedkiller produced by the company caused him to develop cancer.
  • Johnson suffers from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and alleged that frequent contact with glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers produced by Monsanto, had been a substantial contributor to his illness.
  • You can track Bayer's share price on Markets Insider.

Shares of German pharmaceutical giant Bayer plunged on Monday, the first day of trading after a landmark legal ruling that could cost the company almost $290 million.

On Friday, Monsanto, the huge American agriculture business owned by Bayer, was ordered by a California jury to pay damages of $289 million to high school groundsman Dewayne Johnson after he claimed that ingredients used in a weedkiller had contributed to his cancer.

Johnson has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and alleged that frequent contact with glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers produced by Monsanto, had been a substantial contributor to his illness. Bayer denies that glyphosate causes cancer when used correctly.

Johnson's was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer, but Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States. The fine sets a precedent for future cases against the company.

Investors have taken flight from Monsanto's owner, Bayer, as a result of the decision, and the fear of further similar rulings, with shares shedding more than 10% of their value on Monday. By 1:30 p.m. BST (8:30 a.m. ET), shares are trading at €82.87 ($94.52) per share, a loss of 11.1%.

SEE ALSO: California jury orders Monsanto to pay school groundskeeper $289 million in Roundup weed-killer court trial

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Wall Street made an ambitious, $300 million bet to build a challenger to Bloomberg — here's how it's getting on

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

Symphony CEO David Gurle



Wall Street's $300 million bet on a new messaging platform to displace Bloomberg has gained hundreds of thousands of users but is still struggling to get people to make deals on the platform.

That's one of the findings from BI's in-depth investigation into Symphony, the four-year-old startup backed by top-tier banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Touted as a "Bloomberg killer" in the press when it launched, Symphony is headed by a long-time communication industry veteran and has raised almost $300 million from a host of bluechip backers. The company has offices around the world and over 300,000 users today.

But questions remain about who is using and for what. One of the main reasons banks wanted the project to succeed was to cut down on their expensive $24,000-a-year Bloomberg habit. But analysts and traders told Business Insider that traders are reluctant to give up their terminals. Back office staff are adopting Symphony but they didn't have Bloomberg terminals in the first place. As a result, some of the savings hoped for aren't materializing.

Symphony hopes "bots" on its platform and continued support from the banks who have invested can help it overcome this hurdle. But in the meantime, it is looking to other markets to help support its reported $1 billion valuation.

The company has held high-level talks with the EU about becoming the secure messaging platform for the eurozone's government and also hopes to break into industries such as law and medicine.

These insights and more are included in BI's full Symphony investigation, available exclusively to BI Prime members. The story is based on 3-months of investigation and conversations with over 35 sources.

SEE ALSO: Inside Symphony's battle to break into a $28 billion market for Wall Street chat — and avoid becoming Bloomberg roadkill

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Good riddance to GetMeIn and Seatwave. But fans should still beware

The Guardian, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Ticketmaster may be closing its resale sites. But the industry in fleecing gig-goers is still a going concern

Regular gig-goers will welcome Ticketmaster’s decision to scrap its two “secondary” resale sites, GetMeIn and Seatwave, both of which have become havens for armchair ticket touts looking to fleece fans. Ticket brokers – as the biggest touts prefer to be known – deploy a variety of nefarious techniques to harvest tickets in bulk as soon as they go on sale, before flogging them at eye-watering mark-ups on secondary platforms. The websites take their cut too, meaning everybody wins but the people who actually have an emotional connection with the music that generates the money.

It’s a broken market that has been allowed to spread unchecked, so the disappearance of two of the big four resale sites – leaving just StubHub and Viagogo still plying their trade – is surely good news. But the reception should be the ripple of polite applause from music fans that greets an esoteric new track, rather than the rapturous whooping reserved for a well-known banger from everyone’s favourite album.

Continue reading...

Bitcoin Price Move Past $6.5K Would Boost Upside Potential

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Bitcoin's corrective rally could gather steam above the key descending trendline hurdle of $6,480.

Turkey could solve its banking crisis with one simple mechanism — but Erdogan is ideologically against it

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

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 15, 2018.

  • Turkey's lira fell 25% against the US dollar last week and is still under pressure.
  • The currency is suffering from trade tensions with the US, deteriorating current account balances, and fears around President Erdogan's influence over the central bank.
  • Analysts agree that an easy fix would be to raise interest rates by as much as 10%, encouraging investors to put more money in Turkish banks.
  • This is unlikely to happen given that Erdogan has called interest rates "evil."


LONDON — Turkey could stop its currency collapsing in value by hiking interest rates by as much as 10%, according to multiple analysts.

Unfortunately, that looks unlikely given that President Recip Tayyip Erdogan is exerting influence over the country's central bank and has publically attacked interest rates as "evil."

The Turkish lira fell 25% against the dollar last week and is down another 1% on Monday morning, having fallen as much as 10% in earlier trade. The currency has been hit by tariffs levied by the US, a widening current account deficit, and fears over what Erdogan's growing influence over the Turkish central bank could mean for monetary policy.

Analysts agree that the easiest way for Turkey to soothe its currency crisis would be to raise interest rates. Inflation is currently running at a 14-year high in Turkey, close to 16%. The benchmark interest rate, meanwhile, is 17.75%. It means there is little incentive for investors or savers to leave their money with Turkish banks, and that is exacerbating capital flight.

"Looking at different measures of real rates (using current CPI, or different forward-looking measures) we think a rate hike of 350-400bps to 21.25%-21.75% from 17.75% looks consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilize the currency," Gyorgy Kovacs, UBS' chief economist for emerging EMEA markets, said in a note on Friday.

Other analysts believe a rate hike as high as 10% could be necessary. Exotix Capital, a specialist emerging market investment bank, said in an email on Monday: "International investors would like to see the same actions taken in Argentina recently: much higher interest rates (e.g. a more than 10 percentage point hike), a commitment to address inflation and improve fiscal performance, and engagement with multilateral lenders such as the IMF."

For context, a routine interest rate change in a large economy with a stable currency would be 0.25%.

JPMorgan's John Normand wrote in a note on Friday: "Our EM colleagues’ view is that a sufficient policy response to the negative spiral in TRY would be (a) 5-10% in policy rate hikes, (b) a fiscal package to backstop banks, (c) targeted fiscal support for distressed sectors, and (d) a policy framework that signals acceptance of the need for deleveraging and possibility of recession."

Unfortunately, Turkey is unlikely to get the rate hike that analysts agree it needs. President Erdogan earlier this year said: "Interest rates are the mother and father of all evil," and he has recently been exerting ever greater influence over Turkey's central bank. In 2017, he argued that high interest rates actually cause inflation (they do not).

"The fresh negative round of news started when the central bank decided not to hike the interest rates at its monetary policy meeting on 24 July," Nordea analysts Morten Lund and Tuuli Koivu said in a note to clients on Friday. "The market reaction has been strong partly because the central bank decision was probably affected by President Erdogan and the independence of the Turkish central bank is under question."

Nomura analyst Craig Chan and his team agree, writing in a note on Friday: "TRY is likely to remain under pressure until the TCMB [Turkey's central bank]’s credibility is restored.

"The way to build credibility, we believe, is still relatively straightforward: no pause in the tightening cycle as long as inflation keeps accelerating."

Erdogan's solution so far has been to try and put political pressure on the US by accusing it of waging economic "war" and urging Turkish citizens to sell gold and US dollars in favour of the lira.

Analysts believe that if Erdogan continues to rule out an interest rate hike, Turkey may be forced to implement capital controls to stop money from leaving the country at its current rate.

The Turkish central bank pledged to maintain stability in the financial system in a statement issued early Monday morning.

"The Central Bank will closely monitor the market depth and price formations, and take all necessary measures to maintain financial stability if deemed necessary," the TCMB said.

The fallout from Turkey's lira crisis spread to Asian and European markets on Monday, amid fears of possible contagion for banking sectors exposed to the economy.

Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS, said in an email on Monday: "Ergodan's unwillingness to raise interest rates suggests that the situation might not be defused, soon extending the risk-off sentiment seen across all markets."

SEE ALSO: Turkey's lira crisis may be down to Erdogan's fundamental misunderstanding of how 'evil' interest rates work

DON'T MISS: 'Clear risks of contagion': European markets drop as Turkey's lira crisis spreads around the world

NEXT UP: The lira's crash 'looks certain to push the Turkish economy into recession and may well trigger a banking crisis'

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Vietnam Confirms Suspension of Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Miner Imports

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After months of deliberation, Vietnam has moved to halting imports of cryptocurrency mining equipment according to a customs department in the country. Domestic businesses and individuals have stopped importing crypto mining equipment altogether since the beginning of July, according to the Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) Customs Department, as reported by Viet Nam News on

The post Vietnam Confirms Suspension of Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Miner Imports appeared first on CCN

Turkey is blaming social media and 'fabricated news' for the collapse of its currency

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

erdogan

  • The Turkish government launched an investigation into social media activity that it believes has exacerbated the recent collapse of the lira.
  • The country's financial regulator is seeking prison sentences of up to five years for those who spread "erroneous and fabricated news and statements" to influence markets.
  • Separately, the chief prosecutor in Istanbul is investigating statements that "threaten ... confidence in the economy."


The Turkish government is launching an investigation into social media posts it believes exacerbated the recent collapse of the lira, blaming what it calls "fabricated news" for the currency's plunge.

According to a report from the Financial Times, which cites Turkey's state news agency, the chief prosecutor in Istanbul has launched an investigation into "persons who are involved in actions that threaten social peace, domestic calm and unity, and confidence in the economy," citing false or manipulative statements in news programmes and on social media.

Separately, Turkey's Capital Markets Board, the country's central bank and financial regulator, said it plans to seek fines and even prison sentences for those who spread "erroneous and fabricated news and statements" about the ongoing crisis that has seen the lira lose more than a quarter of its value in just a week.

The TCMB said it will seek prison sentences of two to five years for people who use news or social media to try to "affect the prices and valuations of capital market vehicles or investors’ decisions through their statements, reports, news stories, and analysis."

The Turkish currency's slide comes amid rising tension with the US over trade. US President Trump authorised increased tariffs against Turkey on Friday.

"This perception operation is a part of the economic war confronting our country," Erdogan's communications advisor Fahrettin Altun tweeted after a speech by the president on Sunday.

"Nowhere in our president’s statement did he say there was a situation in which bank deposits would be seized. His words were aimed at strengthening Turkey’s economy and reflect our state’s determined stance, and had the tenor of a warning to prevent the flight of foreign exchange from our country," he added.

SEE ALSO: 'Clear risks of contagion': European markets drop as Turkey's lira crisis spreads around the world

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China is printing foreign money at 'full steam' as it tries to expand its influence on the global economy

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

chinese construction worker

  • China’s money printing industry is running at "full steam" for foreign clients including Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Brazil and Poland, according to reports.
  • The printing is linked to China’s Belt and Road Initiative which has seen China build infrastructure and invest in around 60 countries from Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  • "A nation must have considerable trust in the Chinese government to allow it to print its banknotes," Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology told the South China Morning Post.
  • Beijing has been concerned that its enemies could use fake notes to disrupt its economy and has viewed the money printing capability as important as its atomic bomb programme.

China is printing more foreign money as it seeks to expand its influence on the global economy.

Money printing plants across the country are running at close to full capacity to meet an unusually high quota set by the government this year, multiple sources from the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation told the South China Morning Post.

Chinese yuan notes made up "a small proportion of the orders," with most of the demand coming from foreign countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, one source who asked not to be named told the South China Morning Post.

Until recently China did not print foreign currency at all, but in 2013 Beijing launched the Belt and Road Initiative, a plan that seeks to stimulate economic growth in around 60 countries from Europe, Africa and Asia through investment and infrastructure projects.

Two years later China began printing money for Nepal, and today foreign customers of China’s industry now also reportedly include Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Brazil and Poland and possibly many others that have not yet been disclosed, a source in the corporation said.

The state owned China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation corporation which is headquartered in Beijing’s Xicheng district describes itself as the world’s largest money printer by scale with 18,000 employees and 10 plants for printing paper notes and coins.

In comparison to its US counterpart, the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing employs less than 2,000 people.

China's attitude towards printing currency marks a change from previous low demand for printing as Chinese citizens have turned to using their phones rather then cash.

Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology told the South China Morning Post that a nation must have considerable trust in the Chinese government to allow it to print its banknotes.

"The world economic landscape is undergoing some profound changes. As China becomes bigger and more powerful, it will challenge the value system established by the West. Printing money for other countries is an important step," Xingdou said.

"Currency is a symbol of a country’s sovereignty. This business helps build trust and even monetary alliances."

Leverage over currency can also be a powerful weapon. During the destruction of Libya and Muammar Gaddafi by the West seven years ago, the British government seized $1.5 billion Libyan dinars originally produced for the the dictator by British currency printer De La Rue, which sparked shortages in the country and put pressure on the regime.

Beijing has been concerned that its enemies could use fake notes to disrupt its economy and has viewed the money printing capability being as important as it’s atomic bomb programme.

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Inside Symphony's battle to break into a $28 billion market for Wall Street chat — and avoid becoming Bloomberg roadkill

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

Symphony CEO David Gurle, left, and Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg, right.

  • Major Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have invested almost $300 million in Symphony, a startup building encrypted, cloud-based communication tools. Google is also an investor.
  • The banks want to build a platform they can all communicate on to help them cut down on expensive Bloomberg terminals.
  • Almost four years into the project, Symphony has over 300,000 users.
  • But there are questions around usage, partnerships, and whether its really having an effect on Bloomberg.
  • This story, based on conversations with 35 sources, looks at how Wall Street's audacious bet has gone so far and the challenges the startup still faces.


"Thank you David Gurle," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in June. "Your trust and your enthusiasm show, once again, that France is back."

Macron, one of the most powerful men in European politics, was praising Gurle’s decision to set up a new French research and development center for his company Symphony, a secure messaging platform.

For those who know Gurle, the French president’s praise will not have been a surprise. The son of two former diplomats and a veteran Silicon Valley executive for almost two decades, Gurle is known as the consummate salesman who could "charm the birds from the trees," according to a former employee.

This charm has come in handy. Banks, asset managers, and even Google have invested almost $300 million into Symphony, a secure, cloud-based chat platform conceived as a hub for any and all financial work. Banks hope Symphony can engineer a new, super-secure communication superhighway that help them cut down on Bloomberg terminals, the crucial but expensive trading and data tool that has dominated finance for decades.

It’s easy to see why banks want competition. A single Bloomberg terminal costs $24,000 a year and the company controls around a third of the $28 billion global information market for financial markets data, analysis and news, according to estimates from Burton-Taylor International Consulting, a TP ICAP company. Around two-thirds of its estimated $9 billion in annual revenues comes from its terminals. Founder Mike Bloomberg is one of the richest men in the world.

Almost four years into the Symphony project, Gurle and his team have made some headway. The Symphony platform now offers apps, bots, and integrations from the likes of Dow Jones, Factset, Eikon by Thomson Reuters, and S&P Global Markets Intelligence. It’s grown to have hundreds of thousands of users across Wall Street who send millions of messages each week and has been privately valued at over $1 billion.

But behind the numbers, the picture is more complicated. The majority of Symphony customers use it to communicate internally which offers efficiency savings but doesn't tend to generate revenue. That's compared to the more valuable cross-industry communication that takes place on Bloomberg, in which traders strike multi-million dollar deals with big hedge funds and asset managers. 

The rump of customers are also drawn from the firms that have invested in the project and have a vested interest in its success. Many are compelled by management to use the platform and privately express reluctance.

And there are rumblings that some partners are unhappy. The data feeds they provide through Symphony have not rolled over into paid-for subscriptions at the rate they hoped for. It highlights the difficult task Gurle faces in keeping not just Symphony’s 28 investors happy, but also its broad galaxy of partners and customers.

Symphony’s investors and leadership insist the company is simply at the beginning of a long mission to transform the way Wall Street communicates and point to growing messaging numbers.

Still, plenty of companies have tried to disrupt Bloomberg in the past. Almost all have failed. The big question is: can David Gurle make Symphony the exception?

This story is based on conversations with over 35 people, spanning current and former Symphony employees, board members, investors, customers, analysts, and partners. It charts the growing pains of a hotly backed startup that has rubbed up against a Goliath and lays out the challenges it still faces.

'It was born out of anger'

Five years ago, Wall Street banks were privately furious after discovering that Bloomberg reporters could see limited information about what terminal users were doing.

Bloomberg quickly closed this loophole but the incident spurred a coalition of banks, led by Goldman Sachs, to push forward on a long-held ambition to try and build an industry-owned challenger to Bloomberg’s ubiquitous $24,000-a-year terminals.

"It was born, I think, out of anger," Douglas B. Taylor, a managing director at Burton-Taylor International, said of Symphony. Burton-Taylor International is a consultancy that monitors the information industry, following companies like Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and Reuters.

The snooping incident came as Goldman Sachs was already working on its own internal project, dubbed "Babel", that aimed to create a platform unifying the dozens of communication tools the bank used internally.

Goldman began looking at a spin-out of Babel in 2014. When the news leaked, Goldman received a flurry of inbound calls from other banks keen to get involved, according to a source close to the deal.

symphony quote 1

In the end, a consortium of 14 banks and financial firms bought Perzo, a Silicon Valley encrypted messaging startup. Much of Goldman’s Babel project was transferred into the startup. The firms in on the deal included Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and BlackRock. Collectively, the 14 firms invested $66 million.

Perzo was the brainchild of former Thomson Reuters executive and entrepreneur David Gurle. He was a key draw in the deal. A graduate of an elite Parisian engineering school, Gurle ran Microsoft’s real-time communications business for three years, helping to build the communication tool Lync while there in the early 2000s. He went on to stints at Reuters and Skype, where he worked on Skype for Business.

"He is a visionary in the sense that he really has something in his mind that he’s been thinking about for years," a former long-time Symphony employee said.

Symphony signed early data deals with financial data giants Dow Jones and McGraw Hill Financial, the owner of ratings agency Standard & Poor’s. It officially launched in September 2015, with press parties on the rooftop of a New York City Midtown hotel and London’s plush Lanesborough Hotel.

A month later, more big-name investors backed the project. Symphony raised $100 million from Google, Natixis, Societe Generale, and UBS, among others. One former staffer and a source close to the board said there were "loose" chats with Google about a potential sale at the time.

Gurle touted over 100,000 users a year after launch and was ranked 97 on Vanity Fair’s 2016 "New Establishment" list for his efforts to help banks "rely a little less on the ubiquitous (and costly) tool known simply as the Terminal."

'I don’t think he will be loved by everybody'

As with any startup, there were early teething problems. Customers reported a clunky user experience and issues with the platform quitting unexpectedly.

"Sometimes it would go out for a day, half a day," a former Goldman Sachs employee recalled. By contrast, "I can remember two times during my time at GS that Bloomberg went down in three years," he said.

"I would be lying if I said in the first instance [the feedback] was all positive — it wasn’t," a Symphony investor told BI. "It was positive in the sense that, yes, it is getting rolled out and the product has support from multiple levels within the company but the people using the product a couple of years ago didn’t like it that much and to be honest we didn’t like it that much."

David Gurle_headshot_2018 (1)

Gurle devoted all his energy to fixing these problems. A former staffer said: "He works extremely hard and he expects the same kind of performance from people around him."

Gurle acknowledged in a memo to staff in 2017 that he drove many people "crazy" with his "relentless push for improvement and adaptation to our ever-changing ecosystem."

One Symphony employee had a different take, saying that some in the company lived in fear of Gurle's demanding nature.

The employee also complained that Gurle surrounded himself with "yes men," a criticism echoed by several other former employees. Two separately used the term "untouchable" to describe the group of people close to Gurle.

"I don’t think he will be loved by everybody," said one investor. "I think he’s someone who’s very harsh and when something doesn’t work to his liking then he will let people know. But then so did [Spotify founder] Daniel Ek, so did [Apple founder] Steve Jobs."

Symphony vs. Bloomberg

Early on, Symphony brushed up against regulators. New York's Department of Financial Services forced rule changes around data storage before it even launched and the EU took an interest in Symphony, scrutinizing its data capture and retention policies. It later emerged that Bloomberg had been lobbying EU officials to get them to take a harder line on the platform.

symphony quote 2

Those close to Symphony have downplayed the company’s antagonistic relationship with Bloomberg.

One of Symphony’s original investors said: "Maybe Bloomberg touches 5% of [our] workforce. What we were dealing with is a much bigger opportunity, which was to have everyone — the front office, the back office, our clients — on the same platform."

Gurle denied Symphony was a Bloomberg rival in a 2015 interview with Business Insider, saying: "If there's anything we're going to disrupt it's going to be the different messaging tools across enterprises." In a memo to staff in 2017, Gurle said that the company’s real rivals are the likes of Slack, Skype for Business, and Microsoft's Teams.

But the lobbying efforts show Bloomberg saw the startup as a threat. The financial data giant also launched a messaging service in October 2017 that was pitched at back office staff, allowing them to communicate with front office staff who had terminals over the same platform. Analysts BI spoke to said saw it as a clear response to Symphony. Bloomberg’s new chat-only service costs just $10 a month — $10 cheaper than Symphony. Bloomberg declined to comment for this story.

Many banks also view Symphony through the lens of Bloomberg. Several have cost-saving targets associated with using Symphony to cut down on Bloomberg terminals, according to a former relationship manager who worked at Symphony. One US bank aimed to initially save around $4 million by shifting over 100 people off Bloomberg terminals in the first year, the source said, with the figure rising in subsequent years. Another European bank had a similar target.

'Doesn’t have quite enough critical mass'

Today, Symphony has around 325 enterprise clients and close to 350,000 ultimate users. Customers pay $20 per month per seat. Symphony told Business Insider it had $35 million of recurring annual revenues at the end of 2017 and that rate is growing by 50% each year.

A lot of the adoption has come from the banks and asset managers that invested in the product. Support came not just in the form of cash but also pushes to get employees to use the system. Staff at BlackRock and Credit Suisse told BI that Symphony automatically boots up when they log on to their computers, while others at Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs said senior managers at these banks have emailed teams to encourage them to use the platform.

But Symphony has a problem: not enough people are using it for doing deals.

The real value of Bloomberg’s chat function is it allows traders to pitch deals to buy-side clients. It’s this revenue generating feature of Bloomberg that convinces banks to begrudgingly fork over the tens of millions they spend on the terminals each year.

Traders work at Bloomberg terminals on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 13, 2013. Bloomberg LP customers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, are examining whether there could have been leaks of confidential information, even as the media company restricted its reporters' access to client data and created a position to oversee compliance in a bid to assuage privacy concerns. Bloomberg has more than 315,000 terminal subscribers globally, with each Bloomberg terminal costing more than $20,000 a year.

Although Symphony says over 200,000 users are able to communicate across organizations, conversations with multiple customers and users suggest usage of this feature is far from mainstream. Multiple sources across the industry gave the example of posting company newsletters or even lunch menus on Symphony, using it as a kind of modern intranet.

Why aren’t companies using Symphony to do business with each other? Users told Business Insider that not enough buy-side clients are on the platform to create a so-called "network effect." Simply put, the salespeople are there but the customers aren’t.

A Goldman banker told Business Insider that Symphony "doesn’t have quite enough critical mass with our clients for everyone to be on it."

To be sure, there are buy-side firms on the platform. BlackRock and AB, who together have almost $7 trillion in assets under management, are both major supporters on the platform. But the majority of usage is still internal.

A source close to Symphony's board said that they need about 10 large asset managers fully on board to "get over the hump." Another stressed that long internal authorization process at finance firms means progress made with the buy-side is slow to filter through — even if a firm has signed on to Symphony, it could take staff as long as a year to get fully authorized to talk to people at external firms.

The tide may be turning somewhat. Deutsche Bank's asset management arm, for example, has asked many of the brokers it deals with to only communicate with staff over Symphony. The platform allows the buy-side some degree of control compared to the information overload the usually face from the sell-side.

A spokesperson for Symphony said: "The number of customers who use Symphony to communicate externally grew 50% in the first half of 2018 alone. 70% of our largest clients’ top 150 trading partners are on Symphony (globally, based on communication frequency)."

'We're old dogs and it is hard to learn new tricks'

Still, Symphony faces hurdles when it comes to convincing traders at banks to adopt the platform.

Taylor-Burton International’s Taylor summarized the typical trader mindset: "If you tell me you want to change something, even if you can show me where it’s going to be better, I’m probably going to be resistant to it because I know I can win doing what I’m going today and all it takes is for me to make one mistake because I didn’t know what button to press or I misread something and it would cost me."

Several traders at major banks BI spoke to said they have limited desktop space, and it's difficult for them to justify adding another platform such as Symphony.

symphony quote 3

A trader at Credit Suisse said: "At some point, they'll compel us to use it. But we're old dogs, and it is hard to learn new tricks. Symphony is solving a problem I don’t have."

"No one’s giving up their Thomson Reuters Eikon messenger service, they’re not giving up their Slack, they’re not giving up their Bloomberg terminals — they’re adding," William Jan, an analyst at Outsell who wrote a recent note on Symphony, told BI.

A source close to the company insisted that Symphony has helped banks to realize cost savings by removing Bloomberg terminals. But the former relationship manager BI spoke with said at least some were frustrated that the savings they had forecast have not yet been fully realized. After a slight dip in terminal sales in 2016, Bloomberg sales rose by 0.6% in 2017 according to Burton-Taylor International.

Jan warned in his note that partners may also be growing unhappy with the platform. Data partners offer "lite" services through Symphony in the hopes that customers end up subscribing to get richer feeds. This has not happened in the volume partners wanted, according to Jan.

"The conversion rates that they’re seeing is pretty dismal," he said. The risk that some may quit the platform led Jan to give Symphony a negative outlook rating in his note.

A Symphony spokesperson said: "As our community has grown and business has matured, we've seen new patterns emerge and initial assumptions challenged. That's one of the primary benefits of open APIs — we've been learning alongside our partners. It is still "early days" for open collaboration platforms and we are all learning together."

'Bots are one of our key differentiators'

Today, Symphony's main focus is on driving "engagement": getting people to collaborate on the platform.

At the end of last year, an average of just over 3 million messages were being sent over the platform per week, according to a source close to the board. Symphony told Business Insider that it is now "trending toward 9 million messages sent by Symphony users per week."

Symphony

Part of the bump has been driven by "bots": automated programs that can navigate the platform, doing everything from notifying people about trade fails, to serving up the latest bits of research, helping with room bookings, or even client on-boarding.

There are currently around 500 bots on the platform and around 10% of all messages sent on the platform are already generated by bots, according to Symphony.

"Bots are one of our key differentiators from the legacy tools used in financial services," a spokesperson for Symphony said. "We hear our customers say that Symphony is now positioned well beyond a chat application, to become a full workflow collaboration platform."

Growing outside of financial services

While the bulk of the business focuses on engagement, Gurle has his eye on growth markets. He relocated to Singapore last year as part of efforts to win new business in Asia and now lives full-time in Hong Kong. Symphony signed 25 new clients in the year Gurle spent in Singapore, the company told BI, and user numbers in the region doubled.

Gurle has also talked extensively about Symphony's potential beyond finance. He said in a memo to staff last year that the company's emphasis on security and compliance means it can dominate in highly regulated industries such as medicine and law.

FBI Director Christopher Wray addresses a briefing on election security in the White House press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2018.

Critics say this expansion is necessitated by Symphony's billion dollar valuation. Symphony was reportedly valued at over $1 billion in a private funding round last year, a valuation that analysts BI spoke to said was ambitious and would require further growth to justify.

Symphony has identified governments as a potentially lucrative new market to tap into and talks are ongoing with the EU, according to a source. Another source said the company is also in talks with security services around the world. FBI director Christopher Wray highlighted Symphony as a "responsible" use on encryption in a speech in March.

Symphony said it "invested in a team of go-to-market professionals that are focused on growing Symphony’s footprint outside of financial services," at the start of this year. The company said it has customers across professional services, legal, insurance, government, and aviation. The bulk are still in financial services.

'Most companies that confront Bloomberg end up dead'

Symphony is not the first to try and challenge the dominance of Bloomberg as the connecting tissue of Wall Street. Taylor, in fact, worked on a project in 1989 while at Reuters to try and build a Bloomberg killer.

Most companies that go up against Bloomberg have failed to dent its market share. Spencer Mindlin, an industry analyst at Aite Group, pointed to Communicator, an instant messaging platform that made in-roads into financial services in the early 2000s.

JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, and UBS all signed on to use the platform in 2002.

But Communicator didn't gain much traction and was sold to Markit in 2006 for an undisclosed sum. Markit acquired the business mainly for other products it had developed by then — notably a swaps trading feature and bond research portal — and ended up shutting down the instant messaging platform.

"The history is that most companies that confront Bloomberg with a new product end up dead on the side of the road," Taylor said.

Bloomberg LP is worth an estimated $54 billion according to Forbes and, as the aggressive pricing of its new chat-only offerings demonstrates, it is willing to use that financial firepower to crush opposition. Meanwhile, Slack is said to be currently raising $400 million. Skype and Lync can both rely on the financial might of Microsoft.

Symphony’s backers and executives stress that the company is just at the beginning of what is likely a very long journey. Disrupting any industry is generally a tough task but Silicon Valley has shown time and time again that it is possible.

Investors stressed that if anyone can crack this Gordian knot, it is Gurle. One told BI: "It’s clear that management action here has done a lot to turn all the metrics in the right direction and now they look very healthy to us."

If Symphony is successful, it must become a high-security, high-speed network connecting some of the most important corporations and institutions around the world.

"Think of us as a highway infrastructure," Gurle told Business Insider. "We’re building a new set of roads every quarter and as new roads come and connect these other players, this highway system becomes more and more valuable."

The ultimate goal talked about internally is to exit through a multi-billion dollar IPO, the badge of honour for any successful tech company. Insiders say the company is still a way off being in shape for such a transaction, though, given the question marks around front office adoption and cross-company collaboration.

Internally, Symphony planned for 2030, aiming to be well established in security-conscious industries such as government, healthcare, and finance by then. Cleary, there’s more work to do and challenges to overcome. A staffer who left earlier this year said of Symphony: "They’re going through a very pubescent phase — they’re growing up."

Additional reporting by Frank Chaparro, Dakin Campbell, and Olivia Oran.

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'Clear risks of contagion': European markets drop as Turkey's lira crisis spreads around the world

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

markets

  • European markets slide as fears over the collapse of the Turkish lira continue to spook investors.
  • All major European indices are lower, with Spain and Italy leading losses in the first hour of trade.
  • Falls follow major drops in Asia overnight.
  • Last week, Turkey's currency collapsed by more than 25% against the dollar amid rising tensions between the USA and President Recip Tayyip Erdogan over trade.
  • You can follow the progress of markets over the day on Markets Insider.


LONDON — European markets started the week deep in negative territory as the continuing crisis over the Turkish lira drags on investor sentiment around the world.

Asian markets fell sharply overnight, and those falls have now spread into Europe. All major European share indices are lower around an hour after the trading session began on Monday.

Spain and Italy are the biggest losers, down around 1% each. Elsewhere, markets are seeing losses of between 0.5% and 0.8% as investors continue to digest last week's 25% fall in the lira.

The Turkish currency's slide comes amid rising tensions between the US and President Recip Tayyip Erdogan over trade. US President Trump authorised increased tariffs against Turkey on Friday.

Erdogan himself exacerbated problems on Friday when he urged citizens to sell dollars and gold in exchange for lira. Over the weekend Erdogan doubled down, saying there was a "currency plot" against Turkey and argued the fall in the lira was not connected to economic fundamentals.

The lira's slide continued on Monday and the currency dropped as much as 10% against the US dollar in thin early morning trading, before stabilising a little as the morning progressed.

Markets remain unclear on the Turkish government's response to the crisis, although the Turkish central bank did pledge to maintain stability in the financial system in a statement issued early Monday morning.

"The Central Bank will closely monitor the market depth and price formations, and take all necessary measures to maintain financial stability, if deemed necessary," the TCMB said.

Those assurances did arrest the fall of the lira somewhat, but could not stop equity investors from selling. Here's the scoreboard in Europe:

The major concern around the lira is that its weakness will start to affect European banks. The eurozone’s chief financial watchdog has become worried about the exposure of major European lenders — mainly Spanish and French banks — to Turkish debt.

"Because of the high participation of foreign banks and portfolio investors in Turkey, there are clear risks of contagion," Hasnain Malik, strategist and head of equity research at Exotix, said in an email.

Capital Economics warned in a note on Friday that Spain, Italy, and France are likely to be the worst hit by the Turkish currency crisis due to the exposure of their banking systems. But the analyst house said the impact would be relatively limited due to the limited size of the Turkish economy.

SEE ALSO: Turkey's central bank promises 'all necessary measures' to save its financial system amid lira collapse

DON'T MISS: The lira's crash 'looks certain to push the Turkish economy into recession and may well trigger a banking crisis'

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10 things you need to know in markets today

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

turkey

Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Monday.

1. Global markets are selling off following last Friday’s collapse of the Turkish lira. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index immediately fell by more than 1% after the opening bell — a fall matched by similar declines in Hong Kong and South Korea. Shares in Japan are also down more than 1.6%, weighed down by a stronger yen as money moves to safe-haven assets.

2. The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB) has issued a statement pledging to maintain stability in the financial system. The Turkish lira plunged 25 per cent against the US dollar last week, with most of that depreciation happening on Friday amid escalating tensions with the Trump administration. "The Central Bank will closely monitor the market depth and price formations, and take all necessary measures to maintain financial stability, if deemed necessary," the TCMB said. 

3. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased last week about taking the company private, several suitors may have already been courting the electric car giant months ago. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund, is in talks with Tesla about becoming a significant investor as part of the move towards privatization, sources with knowledge of the fund's plans told Bloomberg on Sunday. 

4. North and South Korea have agreed to host another summit between their leaders in September. Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in first met in April and agreed to another summit, this time in Pyongyang. 

5. President Donald Trump backed boycotting American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson Inc on Sunday, the latest salvo in a dispute between the company and Trump over tariffs on steel. The Wisconsin-based motorcycle manufacturer announced a plan earlier this year to move production of motorcycles for the European Union from the United States to its overseas facilities to avoid the tariffs.

6. A ship carrying soybeans from the United States docked in the port of Dalian on Saturday, more than a month after it arrived off China's coast just hours after hefty tariffs were imposed on US goods, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon shipping data. The short journey into the northern Chinese port was the first by Peak Pegasus, which has 70,000 tonnes of US soybeans on board, since it arrived off the coast on July 6 shortly after Beijing imposed 25% import duties on $34 billion worth of US goods, including soybeans.

7. Russia will continue decreasing its holdings of U.S. securities in response to new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, RIA state news agency reported on Sunday. Russia will increasingly use rubles and other currencies, including the euro, rather than the U.S. dollar in its settlements, Siluanov said, speaking on state TV.

8. Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Monday the country did not risk a financial market attack and that his government could not be "threatened" by the idea, speaking in an interview to a national daily. "I do not see the concrete risk of this government being attacked, it is more a hope of the opposition," Di Maio told Corriere della Sera.

9. Malaysia is seeking to repossess a $35 million private jet owned by financier Low Taek Jho as part of investigations into a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday. The financier, also known as Jho Low, bought the Bombardier Global 5000 jet for $35.4 million in 2010 using funds allegedly taken from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has said.

10. Samsung is considering suspending operations at one of its mobile phone manufacturing plants in China due to slumping sales and rising labor costs, the Electronic Times reported on Monday. Samsung might stop producing mobile phones this year at Tianjin Samsung Telecom Technology, its Chinese mobile phone manufacturing base in Tianjin, the South Korean newspaper said.

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Crypto Millionaire Lost 5,500 Bitcoins in Alleged Investment Scam

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

A 22-year-old cryptocurrency millionaire has lost more than 5,500 bitcoins in an alleged investment scam in Thailand.

$6,000 a ‘Crucial’ Level for Bitcoin Price: Canadian Crypto Fund

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

Bitcoin’s $6,000 price region has been described as a crucial support by Rivemont Crypto Fund, based in Canada. The details of this description is recorded in a post on the company’s facebook account where the factors leading to this conclusion were discussed. A Strong Support Region The next direction of Bitcoin price has been a

The post $6,000 a ‘Crucial’ Level for Bitcoin Price: Canadian Crypto Fund appeared first on CCN

Report: Saudi Arabia is looking to invest big in Tesla as the company teases going private

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

tesla dubai

  • While Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased last week about taking the company private, several suitors may have already been courting the electric car giant months ago.
  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund, is in talks with Tesla about becoming a significant investor in the buyout, sources told Bloomberg
  • The fund has already built up a nearly 5% stake in the company.
  • Tesla may have already been courted by SoftBank last year, but sources have told Bloomberg that the Japanese conglomerate is no longer interested. 


While Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased last week about taking the company private, several suitors may have already been courting the electric car giant months ago.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund, is in talks with Tesla about becoming a significant investor as part of the move towards privatization, sources with knowledge of the fund's plans told Bloomberg Sunday. 

The Saudi investment fund approached Musk months ago to discuss acquiring a minority stake but was turned down as the company did not plan on issuing new shares at the time, a source close to the discussions told Bloomberg. In turn, the fund bought nearly $2 billion worth of Tesla shares on the market with the help of an investment bank, building up a stake just short of 5% in the company. 

The fund has not yet made any concrete plans with Tesla on increasing its stake, sources told Bloomberg, but talks are ongoing, and continued investment in the company is seen as a strategic step toward diversifying the Saudi economy away from oil.

Last week, Musk stunned investors when he Tweeted about wanting to take Tesla private at $420 per share before issuing a formal statement on the company's website. The company had a market capitalization of more than $60 billion last week.

In his statement, Musk said that taking the company private is "the best path forward," and added that  a shareholder vote must be held before a final decision is made. He later tweeted that investor support was already confirmed.

Tesla was reportedly courted by Japan's SoftBank in April of last year, though sources told Bloomberg on Monday that the conglomerate isn't planning to participate in deals for Tesla's buyout as it has already vested interest in other auto makers and autonomous vehicle programs, like General Motors. 

A Tesla investment would add to the Saudi fund's long growing list of high-profile purchases. The company has invested $3.5 billion in Uber in June 2016, teamed up with Softbank for a $93 billion tech fund in May, and pledged to invest about $1 billion in Virgin Group's space companies, Virgin Galactic in October. 

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk announces proposal to take Tesla private, but says no final decision has been made

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‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ Author Is Bullish on Bitcoin, Says USD Is a Scam

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

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of the famous financial self-help book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, has described the US dollar as a scam, declaring that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “currencies of the people” that will outlive fiat currency. ‘The Dollar is Toast’ Speaking with Kim Hughes on the Sane Crypto Podcast in which he excoriated the dollar,

The post ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ Author Is Bullish on Bitcoin, Says USD Is a Scam appeared first on CCN

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