Executive Changes at Novartis

In recent news, Novartis Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez is going to be retiring in 2018. Starting in February, 2018 Vasant Narasimhan, the chief drug developer for the company, will take over as CEO. Jimenez is stepping down after a decade of service at Novartis and after securing U.S. approval for a new gene therapy for leukemia.

As Jimenez said, “After 10 wonderful years in Switzerland, my family is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the United States.”

Narasimhan has been with Novartis since 2005 and became global head of drug development and chief medical officer in 2016. Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said “Vas is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between research and development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements.”

Imfinzi Drug Granted New Status

Certainly this is good news for the cancer drug market. AstraZeneca announced recently that its immunotherapy drug Imfinzi has been granted a new status by U.S. regulators. It will now be considered as a “breakthrough” designation by U.S. regulators for treating non-metastic lung cancer.

This status allows the drug to, hopefully, have a quick regulatory review and it confirms that the drug is working for early stage lung cancer.

Learn more about the drug and its new status.

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.

Tesla Sales Dipping?

Tesla certainly has some work to do. And that’s because the registration for Tesla Inc. vehicles in California, certainly their largest market, fell 24% in April from one year ago. This is according to data from HIS Markit.

Of course, Tesla says that this information is misleading because the deliveries vary so much from month-to-month. Sales of electric vehicles throughout the United States remain at less than 1% of total vehicle sales. In December of 2016 and January of 2017, many were getting excited as Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk started working on a strategy to diversify production of other items such as storage batteries, electric commercial trucks, rooftop solar panels and more. However, Tesla shares started to fall in June with concerns that the company’s current models were having weak sales.

HIS analyst Stephanie Brinkley did caution that just looking at a single month doesn’t show the full picture. As she said, “If Tesla had an issue with its production for the month, that could explain.” However she did say that, “They haven’t changed much on the exterior or much on the package. I can certainly understand where Model S sales may be softening a little bit because it’s an older product. That could be contributing to the issue.”

Learn more about Tesla and the ups and downs they are having here.

Senior Care Sector Value Surges

Investors are setting their sights on an interesting industry: senior wellness, housing and healthcare. With businesses and organizations dotting major cities throughout the US, such as Dry Harbor Nursing Home in NYC, buyers are becoming more likely to place their funds in these institutions. According to a Norwalk company specializing in the field, the value of senior wellness M&As has increased by 600% since the last quarter due to two recent multibillion-dollar deals.

The move has brought the sector up to $9.7 billion, the highest it has been in three years. Steve Monroe, managing editor of TheSeniorCare Investor and of The Senior Care Acquisition Report says the increase “illustrates the continued investment interest in the sector and the willingness of buyers to commit significant amounts of capital despite current headwinds.”

“Each of the two largest transactions was more than double the dollar size of the largest acquisition in 2016, so it looks like the large deals are back in vogue,” he added.

Sabra Health Care REIT acquired Care Capital Properties in an almost $4 billion deal, and Hawthorn Retirement Group was acquired by Columbia Pacific Advisors for around $2.6 billion. Other major deals include the sale of Kindred Healthcare to BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC.


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.



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