Essex Financial Gets Boost from New Portfolio Management Software

Over three years ago, in March 2014, Essex Financial Services chose Advent’s Black Diamond platform to meet its portfolio management, reporting and rebalancing needs. The firm’s focus is as a Registered Investment Advisor although it also offers brokerage services. Essex Financial offers comprehensive wealth management and financial planning to its clients, offering custom-developed strategies for individuals, businesses and corporate retirement plans.

The Black Diamond solution offers the firm scalable technology that allows Essex Financial to more efficiently manage its large and complex operations. For instance, before Black Diamond was incorporated into Essex Financial’s operations, the firm’s advisors needed to ask for client reports several days in advance of their need at client meetings. Black Diamond facilitated access to client information immediately, saving time and bother for the financial managers. Black Diamond has also enhanced the ability of advisors to see revenue flows before bills are distributed.

President and CEO of Essex Financial Services, Charles “Chuck” Cumello explained his satisfaction with Black Diamond: “We can handle a broad range of client situations, from the fairly routine retirement planning and college funding aspects, all the way up to the unique needs for intergenerational wealth transfer and legacy planning of high net worth clients,” Cumello said.

Essex Financial has its main office in Essex, Connecticut, where, over the past 30 years the firm has grown to manage or administer $3.3 billion in assets.



West Lake Landfill: The Myths and the Facts

Garbage and waste are complicated and often controversial topics. It’s important to understand the details and implications of landfill processes before determining the next course of action, and this is especially true a the West Lake Landfill. Despite recent attention and growing concerns, digging up and moving the contents of the landfill is an expensive, potentially harmful process which should not be taken lightly.

For more information regarding this discussion, see the West Lake Landfill YouTube channel.

Nordstrom Making Changes

Have you always wanted to own Nordstrom Inc.? Now might be your chance. The Nordstrom Inc. family is talking to buyout firms about raising the $1-2 billion in equity they would need to fund a potential bid to become private. The family group, which today owns 31.2% of the 116 year company is hoping to become private.

Nordstrom is talking to private equity firms but is keeping it all confidential until a final agreement is reached. Their shares were trading up 6.2% at $47.40 recently. The group that is interested in this agreement includes Nordstrom Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom, his sister Anne Gittinger, President James Nordstrom and Nordstrom co-Presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom.

At the moment, they have 354 stores in 40 states which include both Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. They have stores, as well, in Canada and Puerto Rico.



Snapchat Hits Rocky Bump

If you monitor what’s happening with Snapchat, then you’ll want to know about the latest. Share of Snap fell 1.5% on Monday as the focus on its CEO has raised eyebrows.

Twitter users have even been urging a boycott of the company after a legal document that was unsealed last week showed that Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel apparently said in 2015 that he was not interested in prioritizing growth in India and Spain because they are “poor.”

Spiegel is alleged to have said, “This app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”

Snapchat claimed, however, that these words were written by an angry former employee and not the CEO. As they said in a statement, “We are grateful for our Snapchat community in India and around the world.”

Conversation Sprouts Between Albertsons & Sprouts

Albertsons Cos recently held talks with Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. about the idea of creating a merger together. Bloomberg reported that these early-stage discussions involved the plan to take Sprouts private, allowing them to add their natural and organic foods business to the Albertsons supermarket brand. This brand includes Safeway, Vons and Shaw’s.

The U.S. grocery industry has seen many consolidations as of late as regional chains have been struggling to complete with online retailers like Amazon and major stores like Wal-Mart. Niche retailers like Sprouots, Fresh Market Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. have received pressure from Albertsons and Kroger, who can sell some of the same specialty products but at lower prices.

Time will tell what happens but the two companies are certainly worth watching.





Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and Its Restructuring

Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA (also called Wind Italy) is an Italian telecom operator with 21.6 million mobile customers with a market share of 22.9%. The company serves its client base through a network of 159 stores and approximately 498 franchised outlets that are under the WIND brand. They also have 396 electronic chain stores.

Wind Telecomunicazioni has a long history, with its establishment in 1997 by the Italian Electrical Company Enel.

In 2005, Alessandro Benedetti structured and led the acquisition of Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA. At that time, the transaction was the largest leveraged buyout that had occurred in the history of Europe. It was valued at over 12 billion euros. This was one of the many structuring and financing of complex transactions that Mr. Benedetti led while acting on behalf of companies and governments in North America, Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Since the time of the transaction that Alessandro Benedetti led, Wind became part of Vimpelcom group in 2011 and then announced an investment of $1.3 billion in 2013 to build a fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband network. Then, in 2014, VimpelCom Ltd. (Wind) and CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. (3) agreed to combine their units in a deal that totaled $24 billion.  They were proud, in 2015, to be awarded the Telecommunications Operator of the Year in Italy.



Who Will Win the Autonomous Car Race?

Certainly, everyone is racing to develop fully autonomous vehicles, and now Hyundai Motor Group is joining in the competition. Hyundai has recently hired a former General Motors researcher to oversea their center. Lee Jin-woo will now head the Intelligent Safety Technology Center. This will be a combined research center for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. As Hyundai Motor said in a statement,

“The new centre will not only enhance existing Advanced Drive Assistance System technologies but also conduct research into artificial intelligence related self-driving car technologies with the aim of commercializing those technologies.”

Their goal with the center is to have highly automated vehicles by 2020 and fully autonomous ones by 2030.

The race is definitely one. Ford Motor Co. recently announced that it plans to invest $1 billion in the coming five years in their autonomous vehicle tech firm Argo Al. In another bold move, GM actually made a billion dollar purchase of the Silicon Valley self-driving startup Cruise Automation.



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.