Posts tagged with "Bloomberg"

This crumpled, derelict Jaguar sold for six times its value

June 2, 2021

For some collectors, the fun is buying a car they even can’t drive—yet. Indeed, Bloomberg reports, according to Jay Leno, some cars are so special that even if you find the scattered pieces of one, you should buy it.

And he should know: In the years since his final hosting gig on The Tonight Show, the 71-year-old car enthusiast has presented the popular Jay Leno’s Garage on NBC and YouTube and has grown what is one of the most valuable and diverse car collections in the world.

Indeed, that philosophy certainly applied to a 1960 Jaguar XK150 S that sold for $127,552 in a Bonhams auction on May 22. The hammer price on the crumpled, patina-riddled drophead coupe was six times over the sale estimate.

“The enthusiast market is in rude health at present,” Rob Hubbard, the head of Bonhams MPH—a car auctioneer in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, England—told Bloomberg in what the business publication calls “the understatement of the month.” 

Sales of classic and collectable cars across the world have returned healthy numbers in recent weeks, with Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s selling more than $60 million worth of old cars in a single weekend in Florida. Dozens of the six- and seven-figure cars at the Amelia Island auctions sold for far more than even the high side of their estimated values.

According to Bloomberg, the “barn find” is a segment of car collecting that has exploded in the past year, with garages and restoration shops bulging at the seams with businesses. The term “barn find” applies to any variety of derelict vehicles that have been left forgotten for decades; they come in various states of disrepair—from rusted-out bodies and frames to non-existent or half-missing components like seats, brakes, headlights, wheels, and even engines. Most are riddled with cracked paint…and worse. Rodents living in the underbody, inhabited by stray cats, and covered in droppings from birds and bats are all expected scenarios. At least one car is rumored to be protected by a malicious ghost.

Amid Covid-19 fears, “car guys” have more time than ever to tinker in the shop or send their heretofore tabled restoration projects to the shop. But there must be more than bullish pandemic-pent-up buyers to make a smashed car worthy of such a high price. The Jaguar model itself is special enough to merit barn-find project status, even if the sum of its auction-price and the amount of money spent on restoring it might exceed the resulting value. 

“To be honest, we don’t really know why that much money is being spent,” says John Mayhead, the manager of Hagerty’s automotive Intelligence in the UK. He noted that sometimes it’s about timing—the exact right buyer finds the exact perfect project, and the two just click.

Other times, it’s about becoming a part of history: “The story to it sometimes encourages buyers to pay over the odds,” Mayhead says. “Owning a car like this is about continuing that story, and you want to be a part of it.”

Launched in 1957, Jaguar XK150s came in fixed-head or drophead coupe versions. They were known for their rounded, mod styling and progressive mechanics, like disc brakes (compared to the old-fashioned drum brakes) and powerful 3.8-liter engines that produced up to 265 horsepower engines. They could hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds; top speeds exceeded 130 mph. All told, Jaguar made fewer than 3,000 Drophead coupes and even

In pristine form, the best Jaguar XK150 S is worth around $280,000, according to the Hagerty Price Guide. But prices vary widely. Most in good condition — the typical collector car— are worth closer to $163,000, Mayhead says. Last year, a pretty 1958 XK150 sold at auction for $176,000. In January, Bonhams sold a white one for $145,600. Meanwhile those in less-than-mint condition can be had for well under $100,000.

Owned by a single person since 1969, this XK50 in particular had a longstanding working history until “a wet day” in September 1996, according to the auction catalogue, when the owner of the car lost control and crashed it into a tree. The driver walked away unscathed; the car fared rather worse. It has remained inside a garage swathed in rust-riddled glory ever since. But it is actually good the car stayed squired away; it helped preserve what was left of it.

“Considering the date of the crash and being kept in dry storage, the car is still in a salvageable condition, and offers enormous potential as a rewarding project car,” the Bonhams auction catalogue notes. The dry storage is crucial, as it stalled the development of extreme rust, which can render a car nearly hopeless when it comes to repair.

Bonhams declined to share who bought the crashed Jag. But for those who buy such relics of time past, of course, the time and expense are all part of the fun.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

FBI probes campaign donations to Maine Senator Susan Collins

May 20, 2021

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been reviewing a possible scheme to funnel over six-figures in illegal donations to the 2020 re-election campaign of U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, recently unsealed court records in Washington, D.C., show, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The FBI is investigating whether Martin Kao, the former chief executive officer for Hawaii-based contractor Martin Defense Group, illegally donated money to the senator’s campaign, according to a search-warrant application filed in federal court in April. The contractor has offices in Maine, as well as other locations.

Overall, the prominent defense contractor has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for bilking the federal government out of $12.8 million that should have been distributed to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program instituted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Specifically, according to the Bloomberg report, an FBI agent alleged in a court affidavit that Kao used a shell company to make a $150,000 donation to Collins’ re-election campaign and reimbursed family members for smaller donations. Under federal law, government contractors are prohibited from making donations to political committees. So-called “straw” donations in which a contributor uses someone else’s money also are illegal.

Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, told Bloomberg that the senator’s campaign “had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant.”

A lawyer for Kao did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The donations to Collins’ campaign under investigation were a small percentage of the more than $30 million in receipts her campaign raised in the last cycle. Outside PACs on both sides spent many millions more in one of the most expensive Senate races in the country.

In August 2019, Collins announced that Martin Defense Group, then known as Navatek, had received an $8 million Department of Defense contract. A press release on her website said she “strongly advocated” for the funding.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Trading-card craze inspires new reality TV show from maker of ‘Pawn Stars’

May 10, 2021

The market for trading cards and other sports memorabilia, which boomed during the pandemic, is now getting the reality TV treatment, Bloomberg reports.

Brent Montgomery, the producer behind “Pawn Stars,” and Connor Schell, formerly of ESPN, are teaming up to make a show about trading-card impresario Ken Goldin and his company, Goldin Auctions. They’ve met with several streaming services and TV networks about the project, according to people familiar with the situation.

Interest in trading cards has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, fueled by younger people with spare cash treating cards like stocks or bonds, Bloomberg says. They buy cards of younger players they like, in the hopes that the value will increase as that athlete excels.

Goldin’s company has emerged as the leading auction house in the industry. It has already sold more than $150 million worth of merchandise this year, and is in the early stages of a new auction that Goldin believes will generate an additional $50 million or more.

What’s more, Montgomery and Schell believe, Goldin is the kind of outsized personality designed for reality TV. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports and memorabilia, and already goes live on Instagram several days a week to open new packs of cards. The proposed reality-TV show has become the subject of a bidding war, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the

Montgomery made a fortune with “Pawn Stars,” which chronicled a quirky family operated pawn shop a couple of miles off the Las Vegas Strip. The success of that show enabled him to sell a majority stake in his company, Leftfield Pictures, to British broadcaster ITV for $360 million.

Now, Bloomberg reports, Montgomery runs a company called Wheelhouse, which produces shows, and invests in media and commerce companies. For help with trading cards, he turned to Schell, who worked on the “30 for 30” documentary series at Walt Disneys ESPN. Schell left ESPN last year to start his own production company with financing from The Chernin Group (TCG).

The Chernin Group has its own connection to Goldin. It agreed to acquire a controlling stake in the auction house earlier this year.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Terror is ‘still with us’: AG Garland warns of domestic terrorism at Oklahoma City bombing memorial

April 20, 2021

The terrorism that led to the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City almost three decades ago has morphed into a heightened threat from domestic violent extremists, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday, April 19, in his first major public address, Bloomberg reports.

Garland, who oversaw the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols, marked the 26th anniversary of the of the most deadly domestic assault in U.S. history—offering a stark reminder that the brand of terror unleashed by the bombers is “still with us, ” USA Today noted.

“It was night, but you would not have known it,” Garland told survivors and officials gathered on the grounds of the downtown memorial. “Bright lights lit the site up as if it were midday. The front of the (Alfred P.) Murrah Building was gone. The parking lot across the street still held cars that had been flattened by the blast.”

Garland’s remarks came just over three months since the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol—a stunning assault that has highlighted a reinvigorated domestic extremist movement. As in Oklahoma City more than two decades ago, Garland now oversees a far-reaching investigation into the siege that has so far resulted in charges against more than 400 people, USA Today said

The attorney general did not directly refer to the Capitol attack, but he cited a recent FBI warning in its aftermath of the “ongoing and heightened threat posed by domestic violent extremists.”

“Those of us who were in Oklahoma City in April 1995 do not need any warning; the  hatred expressed by domestic violent extremists is the opposite of the Oklahoma Standard,” Garland said, recalling the city’s response to the bombing and its continuing campaign against hate. “This memorial is a monument to a community that will not allow hate and division to win.”

Garland, who arrived in Oklahoma City just two days after the attack, has often described his association with the case and a deeply wounded community as “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”

Indeed, USA Today noted, throughout the investigation and beyond, Garland was known to carry a list of the victims in his briefcase.

That connection was on display throughout his remarks Monday, when his voice quavered at times and paused to collect his emotions, the news outlet reported.

“Oklahoma City, you are always in my heart,” he said.

Research contact: USATODAY

BTS’s K-Pop Agency buys Bieber manager’s firm for $1B

April 5, 2021

The Korean company that launched K-pop sensation BTS is paying $1.05 billion for a star-studded U.S. media group that has advanced the careers of global songsters Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, reports Bloomberg.

Big Hit Entertainment, which is changing its name to HYBE, is investing ₩1.07 trillion (US$950 million) into its U.S. unit to acquire founder and producer Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings . Big Hit will pay a total of $1.05 billion to shareholders and bondholders to purchase Ithaca, according to a regulatory filing in Seoul on April 2.

The acquisition of Ithaca would be the first major foray into the U.S. market for Big Hit Entertainment, Bloomberg notes. Braun, currently Ithaca’s CEO, will join the board of HYBE, the companies said in a statement. As part of the transaction, Carlyle Group will sell its significant minority stake in Ithaca, which it has held since 2017.

Braun hailed HYBE’s systems and said the tie-up would create “exponential” opportunities for new and existing Ithaca artists. HYBE Chairman and CEO Bang Si-Hyuk called the deal an “inevitable joining.”

According to Variety, in aligning the two entities, the newly combined HYBE is poised to be among the biggest entertainment companies with a music focus operating on a global scale. BTS and Bieber, alone, bring dedicated fanbases numbering in the hundreds of millions, while Ariana Grande recently surpassed 90 billion streams consumed worldwide, the most ever by a female.

Big Hit helped popularize K-pop, with BTS’s “Dynamite” topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 2020. BTS was the first Asian act to be No. 1 on the U.S. music chart since Kyu Sakamoto held the No. 1 spot for three weeks in 1963.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Merck’s little brown pill could transform the fight against COVID—and other viruses

March 26, 2021

The story of what might become the next major breakthrough in COVID-19 treatment starts on a hotel hallway floor in January 2020—months before you were worried about the virus; weeks before you likely knew it existed, reports Bloomberg.

A scientist and a business executive were at a health-care conference in San Francisco, hatching a plan to get a promising drug out of academia and into research trials for regulatory approval. George Painter, president of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, and Wendy Holman, CEO of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, had met at the Handlery Union Square Hotel to discuss a compound Painter had started developing with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

They got so enthusiastic about the possibilities that their meeting ran long—and a group of lawyers kicked them out of their room. So they continued on the hall floor, hours after they had started.

Painter and Holman weren’t talking about targeting COVID at the time. The disease and the coronavirus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, weren’t major concerns at the J.P. Morgan-run conference, where handshakes and cocktail parties with hundreds of guests were still the norm. Rather, Painter was hoping his drug, molnupiravir, could get more funding to speed up flu studies. Holman was eager to see if it worked on Ebola. That’s the thing about molnupiravir: Many scientists think it could be a broad-spectrum antiviral, effective against a range of threats.

A few days later, Holman arrived in Atlanta to see the labs at Emory and pore through the early data. As she and Painter hashed out the terms of a deal in which Ridgeback would buy the drug and start studying its safety and efficacy in people, COVID was seeping into the public consciousness. By the time Ridgeback announced its acquisition of molnupiravir, on March 19, the world had shut down, and it was clear which threat the drug needed to be tested on right away. Clinical trials for the pill kicked off in April. The next month, Merck & Co., which has a deep history of public-health development work, including on HIV and Ebola, struck a deal to buy molnupiravir from Ridgeback and start the types of large-scale trials that could get it authorized by regulators. Those began in the fall.

Even as vaccines are rolling out worldwide, the coronavirus and its mutations still pose a major health threat, Bloomberg notes: Not everyone who is eligible for a shot will agree to get one. The hundreds of thousands of people who continue to contract COVID each day have few treatment options.

There’s no simple, inexpensive pill that can prevent those at the earliest stages of infection from later needing to be hospitalized. The monoclonal antibody therapies that doctors now have available for those most at risk of getting severely ill need to be administered by infusions at specialized medical centers. And for those who do become hospitalized, the antiviral remdesivir, from Gilead Sciences , speeds recovery, but hasn’t been shown to reduce deaths.

Drugmakers see an opportunity to add to the arsenal of potential therapies. There are 246 antivirals in development, according to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, an industry trade group. And companies as big as Pfizer and as little-known as Veru  are testing them in pill form.

Bloomberg reports, Merck’s molnupiravir is among the furthest along. Its developers hope the pills can be prescribed widely to anyone who gets sick. Think Tamiflu for COVID.

The hurdle, beyond ensuring the drug works, is making sure it’s safe. Developers of antivirals have been dealing with the thorny issues they pose for decades. Should Merck succeed in demonstrating that molnupiravir is effective and free of serious side effects, it could be a boon to the company, and to society, for many years to come.

If the drug proves safe and effective, Merck says it’s ready to go, with the capacity to make as many as 100 million molnupiravir pills—enough to treat 10 million people—by the end of the year. Down the road, the drug could even be an asset beyond the fight against COVID.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Kanye West now is worth an estimated $6.6B thanks to Yeezy’s lucrative Gap, Adidas deals

March 19, 2021

He started out as a recording artist, but it’s his entrepreneurial streak that has made him truly wealthy. Kanye West is now worth a staggering $6.6 billion, as revealed in a new Bloomberg report and confirmed by a rep to Billboard.

According to a private document obtained by the outlet, Yeezy—West’s sneaker and apparel business with both Adidas and Gap—has been valued at between $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion by the Swiss investment bank UBS Group. As much as $970 million of that total is tied to West’s new clothing line for Gap (under the Yeezy Gap label) that the retailer has slated for release by July—part of a ten-year agreement that the parties signed in June of last year.

According to Billboard, the document further reveals that Gap, an ailing brand whose partnership with West represents a play for younger consumers, expects its Yeezy line to break $150 million in sales in its first full year in 2022—and envisions it surpassing a billion dollars in revenue within eight years, or even as soon as 2023 on the upside.

West stands to profit handsomely in any event, as he retains sole ownership and creative control of the Yeezy brand and earns royalties on sales under the deal, with the rate increasing as the business grows. He’ll also receive stock warrants when the collection hits sales targets, with the highest set at $700 million, according to a securities filing.

West’s longstanding deal with Adidas has been the most lucrative part of his business endeavors to date, with Yeezy sneakers continuing to fly off of shelves, Billboard reports. Indeed, according to the documents, the brand grew 31%—to nearly $1.7 billion in annual revenue last year—netting Yeezy royalties of $191 million. West has been in business with the company since 2013, with their current deal running through 2026.

An unaudited balance sheet of West’s finances, provided to Bloomberg by West’s lawyer, shows an additional $122 million in cash and stock and more than $1.7 billion in other assets, including an investment in his wife Kim Kardashian’s underwear label Skims (Kardashian filed for divorce in February).

West’s music catalog is worth another $110.5 million, according to a 2020 valuation by Valentiam Group cited by Bloomberg.

The numbers revealed today represent a decidedly sharp turnaround for West, who in 2016 claimed to be $53 million in debt; at the time, he also took to Twitter to implore Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in his work. That was before West himself was named a billionaire by Forbes, which estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion in April 2020.

Research contact: @billboard

Twitter floats letting users charge for exclusive content

March 1, 2021

On February 25, Twitter announced plans to build a new paid product called Super Follows, Bloomberg reports.

The social network describes Super Follows as a potential subscription product that will enable users to charge their followers for access to special content or experiences—part of a broader effort to diversify Twitter’s revenue sources and give high-profile users a way to make money on the service.

The company first mentioned the new feature during an Analyst Day event—describing it as an “account subscription” that would enable users to charge others on the service for certain content. This could be a number of things, including exclusive tweets, special access to another user’s direct messages or audio conversations, or a paid newsletter, said Twitter’s Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour,. The company plans to release Super Follows “sometime this year.”

According to Bloomberg, Twitter’s shares rose to an all-time high on the product announcement and an upbeat forecast for sales and user growth through 2023. San Francisco-based Twitter recently purchased newsletter startup Revue, and executives have said they are excited about letting newsletter writers build a paying audience on the service. The company is also considering “tipping,” or letting users donate money to people they enjoy following, and charging for Tweetdeck.

“We also think that an audience-funded model, where subscribers can directly fund the content that they value most, is a durable incentive model that aligns the interest of creators and consumers,” said Dantley Davis, Twitter’s chief design officer. Presumably, Twitter would take a cut of the subscription fee.

Twitter executives also talked about the need to move fast—pointing out that the company historically has moved too slowly when it comes to launching and testing new products. “We agree we’ve been slow,” Co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said to start the event. “If you compare us to our peers on the market, this is especially stark.”

In addition to goals around revenue and user growth, Twitter also said it wants to “double development velocity” by 2023, which means “doubling the number of features shipped per employee.”

Research contact: @Bloomberg

McConnell signals Trump conviction is a GOP ‘conscience vote’

Febraury 11, 2021

After voting “nay” on the constitutionality of the current impeachment trial on Monday, February 8, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now is signaling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on former President Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence is matter of conscience, Bloomberg reports.

Indeed, McConnell made it clear that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict the former president, according to three Bloomberg sources. The Kentucky Republican also has suggested that he hasn’t made up his mind how he’ll vote, two of the people said.

That position is starkly different than McConnell’s declaration at the start of Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when he said that that he did not consider himself an impartial juror.

However, Bloomberg notes, it’s highly unlikely that the Senate will convict Trump of the House’s single impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection, which cited the former president’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the 50-50 chamber.

Only six Republicans on Tuesday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. While that was enough for the simple majority required to proceed with the trial, it suggests that most GOP senators don’t want to vote against Trump.

McConnell, in a leadership meeting Monday night, said the same things he has said publicly, a person familiar with the matter said.

On February 2, he told reporters: “We’re all going to listen to what the lawyers have to say and making the arguments and work our way through it.”

McConnell has been telling Republican senators since mid-January that this would be a “vote of conscience.”

Research contact: @business

J&J vaccine provides strong shield against acute COVID-19, prevents hospitalizations

February 1, 2021

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine has generated strong protection against acute COVID-19 in a large, late-stage trial—raising hopes that it can rapidly reshape a stumbling immunization campaign, Bloomberg reports.

In a study of more than 43,000 people, the vaccine prevented 66% of moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, according to a company statement released on Friday, January 29.

And it was particularly effective at stopping severe disease—preventing 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths.

“If you can prevent severe disease in a high percentage of individuals, that will alleviate so much of the stress and human suffering” of the pandemic, said Anthony Faucidirector of the National Institute of Allelrgy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the top U.S. infectious-disease official—at a briefing on the results with company and government officials.

Based on the result, J&J plans to file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an emergency-use authorization next week. The drug giant’s top scientist said this month he expects a clearance in March, and that it would have product ready to ship then.

The company didn’t specify how much of the vaccine would be available immediately, although it reaffirmed that the United States will receive 100 million doses by the end of June, Bloomberg said.

J&J’s vaccine is different from the messenger RNA-based shots made by Moderna and partners Pfizer and BioNTech SE. It is based on an adenovirus, or cold germ that has been modified to make copies of the coronavirus spike protein—which the pathogen uses to force its way into cells. The altered virus can’t replicate in humans, but it triggers an immune response that prepares the body to defend itself against the coronavirus. J&J uses the same technology in a vaccine to fight Ebola.

J&J’s R&D head said the company’s trial, conducted at the height of the pandemic, had to deal with resistant variants that arose mainly after Moderna’s and Pfizer’s trials were finished. When counting cases, it also focused on somewhat sicker patients, Mammen said.

“If those vaccine programs accrued cases at the same time as us, when viral infections were so much higher, incidents were higher, and variants were all around us, they would have gotten different numbers,” he said. “The fact that we could do this level of efficacy with a single shot—people don’t have to come back for another, and it’s conveniently stored— well that makes this the vaccine of choice.”

At the outset of the pandemic, U.S. government officials said any vaccine showing greater than 50% efficacy would be considered a success.

Research contact: @Bloomberg