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Hedge Fund Industry Fluctuations in 2017

Like most industries where large monies are involved, hedge funds are no strangers to key executive shake-ups. Kevin Ulrich launched his investment found in 2003 having previously worked as a distressed debt manager. Together with colleague Tony Davis (who was in the same position as Kevin Ulrich at the time), they created Anchorage Capital Group that today has approximately $15 billion under firm assets.

As hedge funds have played an increasingly larger role at Autodesk, changes in management at the 3D printing firm have been encountered. The latest news on that front is of the resignation of CEO Carl Bass along with the upcoming departure of board members Scott Ferguson (Sachem Head Capital Management Managing Partner) and Jeff Clarke.   Bass was in this key position at the firm for more than 10 years. He will not be completely detaching from the firm however, since he will remain on the board and also be nominated for re-election. Meanwhile, Autodesk is selecting both an interim CEO as well as a CEO search committee.

Another movement in the industry concerns a merger between two firms, which ultimately impacts the status of the CEOs there. A merger between KKR Prisma and Pacific Alternative Management Company (PAAMCO) is underway to build a firm that will provide clients with “alternative investment strategies through liquid instruments such as mutual funds.” This merged company will be jointly run by co-founders and CEOs of each company: Jane Buchan (PAAMCO) and Girish Reddy (KKR Prisma and KKR Hedge Funds).

There are always movements in the hedge fund industry but given there has just been a new Presidential election in the US – potentially changing the socio-political climactic impact on the industry – 2017 just might result in even greater fluctuations.

 

Changes at Burberry

If you love Burberry, then you’ll want to know about their upcoming changes. Their incoming chief executive Marco Gobbetti will join the company on January 27th as executive chairman, Asia Pacific and Middle East. He will then join the board and take the top position on July 5th.

Gobbetti was named as Christopher Bailey’s successor as CEO in July. Bailey will be taking on the role of president and chief creative officer.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. Buys Comany

The insurance group Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. from Toronto is buying Swiss insurer Allied World Assurance Company Holdings AG. The deal is for $4.9 billion in cash and stock. The merger will create a leader in the field in property and casualty insurance, reinsurance and investments. The boards of directors for both of the companies have approved the deal.

To read more about this see the full article.

Dealing with Your Credit Rating in a New Way

So many people have this situation. They need good credit in order to buy a home or enjoy a car, but they can’t seem to build up credit history. Now there just might be hope. FICO XD looks into a database that has payment data on your utility bills, cable bills, telephone bills and even your rent payment data.  As William Lansing, FICO’s chief executive said, “There are a lot of people like that, trying to break into the financial system and get connected.”

The bank can then run your information through the FICO database and if it’s blank, they can then run it through the FICO XD system.

FICO is running tests with 12 banks.

Learn more about this program and how it would work.

 

 

Diversegy & Bowen Enterprise: A Success Story

It’s always exciting to see how companies, when they put their heads together, can really make a difference. As part of the Texas Dairy Queen Operator’s Council, Bowen Enterprise of Corpus Christie, TX is certainly a franchise food industry market leader. As the energy supply markets became more volatile, they started to look for an alternative to their existing energy supplier and a way to bring some consistency and savings across their portfolio of 15 locations and 27 separate accounts.

CJ Peterson, of Diversegy, coordinated a detailed energy audit, including a review of months of utility bills and expenses across all locations.   As a wholly owned subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE:GNE), Diversegy is a commercial energy advisory with the expertise to uncover billing inconsistencies, and the buying power to negotiate the best rates and supply service agreements on behalf of their clients. What did Diversegy do? First, they secured rates and negotiated on Bowen’s behalf to eliminate any ongoing meter fees, helping Bowen save $50,000 over the next 24-months on their energy expenses.  CJ and his team also negotiated the supply arrangement terms to provide flexibility in their energy usage with 100% swing – no matter whether consumption increased or decreased, their negotiated energy supply rate would not change. And they did all of this in partnership with a green energy supplier, allowing Bowen to take full advantage of renewable energy credits available to them. This allowed Bowen to apply for the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

As Bowen Enterprise Safely Administrator JB Salinas describes it,CJ definitely made my job easy with the knowledge and excellent service he provided. It was truly a pleasure dealing with someone who actually knew my business, having grown up in franchising himself, and who delivered on the promises he made.”

As he continued, “In fact, as the markets began to shift 12-months into our 24-month agreement, CJ was right there, fighting for every penny – we were able to forward lock our agreement for an additional 36 months and have now reduced our annual energy expenses by an additional 6.5% from our first agreement.”

And that is truly what good partnerships are all about.

Soybean Exports Helping the US Economy

Good news for the US economy, as it grew at its fastest pace in two years as a result of soybean exports. The gross domestic product increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate. This is the strongest growth rate since the third quarter of 2014 and beat out the economists’ expectations from a 2.5% expansion pace.

As David Donabedian, the chief investment officer of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management in Baltimore said, “While the economy may not be ready to take off, today’s GDP suggests the economic expansion is not at risk of ending.”

The GDP report has actually been seen as a way to bolster Hillary Clinton, two weeks before the election. As Robert Murphy, an economics professor at Boston College said,

“This is good news for the Clinton campaign, which has tied itself closely to the Obama administration’s record on the economy.”

 

Turning a Green Eye To the US Market

Germany’s leading energy group, Innogy IGY.TG, has its eye on the US market to expand its renewable energy and electric car charging business. As Chief Executive Peter Terium said,

“We want to invest around 6.5 billion euros between 2016 and 2018.” This will include grid networks and infrastructure. It will also include wind farms in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands and an electric car charging station set to be in the US>

As Terium said, “Three weeks ago we persuaded Californian authorities to accept the German norms and standards for electric car charging stations.”

Decade-Long Growth of AmTrust

AmTrust Financial Services has successfully served the property and casualty insurance industry since its establishment in 1998, and achieved record growth over the last 10 years. According to President and CEO Barry Zyskind, AmTrust is using “proprietary technology and extensive database of loss history to help appropriately price and structure policies, maintain lower levels of loss, enhance our ability to accurately predict losses and maintain lower claims costs than the industry as a whole.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Between 2005 and 2015, AmTrust increased its commercial lines market share in the U.S. from 0.08% to 1.92%, according to A.M. Best data. This growth has positioned AmTrust as the 11th largest commercial lines writer in the U.S., up from the 128th position in 2005. AmTrust has grown organically and through 40 acquisitions.

Zyskind pointed out that AmTrust realized early on it would be able to differentiate through technology. He explained that, “every application we use from underwriting to claims management, is built internally to maximize our productivity and data mining capabilities. When we acquire a business, we quickly integrate it on our technology platforms. Our digital strategy has absolutely set us apart in a highly competitive industry.”

The firm’s first product offering was warranty program insurance, which continues to have substantial growth.  Barry Zyskind added that “our automotive and powersports vehicle service contract division is a world leader, while our retail and consumer products extended service plan division ranks among the world’s top three.”

Cainiao Network Planning to Raise More Funds

Cainiao Network is planning to have another round of fundraising, but it hopes that the money it has raised up until this point will be enough for the next year to 18 months. As the logistics arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Cainiao managed to hook investors such as Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and GIC Pte Ltd, Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and China’s Primavera Capital. The value of this round was nearly $7.5 billion. As Chief Executive Judy Tong told a news conference, “In the future we will definitely raise money again. Cainiao is a very young company. It requires a lot of investment.”

 

 

 

EpiPen Controversy Continues to Heat Up

The EpiPen controversy does not look like it’s going to die anytime soon. The most recent development is that 20 US senators have voiced their worries to the chief executive of Mylan NV about the exorbitant cost. They have called it “exorbitantly expensive.”

As the senators wrote, “Insurance companies, the government and employers still bear the burden of these excessive prices. In turn, those costs are eventually passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.”

Mylan has said they plan to launch the first generic version of the EpiPen for $300, which is half of the price of the branded product. This is their second step to try to counter the backlash they’ve received for their pricing.

In response to the recent letter, Mylan spokeswoman Lauren Kashtan said “We have acknowledged receipt of letters from congressional offices and intend to respond to them.”

Mylan has defended their high price, explaining that they spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to improve the produce since they acquired it in 2007.

Signatories on the letter include Senator Patrick Leahy, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown and others.

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