Posts tagged with "Bloomberg"

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

Going, going … Donald Trump plans early adieu on Inauguration Day

January 19, 2021

Donald Trump will be clinging to the last vestiges of his presidency—thousands of feet in the air and hours before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration—on Wednesday, January 20, The Huffington Post reports.

The outgoing president is taking Air Force One home to Florida while he still can—arriving there before Biden is sworn in around noon, according to CBS News.

As it stands now, Trump is “scheduled to land in West Palm Beach at 11a.m. (ET) Wednesday morning with just 1 hour left in his Presidency. He no longer has access to Air Force One as of noon that day,CBS’s Ben Tracy tweeted Sunday.

Trump would no longer be deemed the commander-in-chief after noon and the plane would lose its “Air Force One” call sign―which Trump wanted to avoid, NBC News noted earlier.

Usually, the HuffPost noted, presidents depart on another government jet to begin civilian life.

The White House sent out invitations for Trump’s departure event at Joint Base Andrews, which begins at 8 a.m. (ET), Bloomberg reported. Guests can bring up to five other people, must wear masks and should arrive between 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m, Bloomberg said after viewing one of the invites.

Trump has requested the red-carpet treatment with a 21-gun salute and military band, reports noted.

His helicopter goodbye from the White House’s South Lawn is expected to be a low-key affair. Some White House aides will be there to send off Marine One and attendance will be “limited,” Bloomberg reported. Heightened security around the inauguration and the White House following the Capitol insurrection curtailed the size.

Trump, the only president to be impeached twice and the only president in modern history to not attend his successor’s inauguration, will likely spend the rest of the day at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Palm Beach police recently warned residents that the Secret Service would have a “final road closure near Mar-a-Lago” on January 20 and would be closed for several days, CBS in Miami reported.

“Beyond this, we do not foresee any future road closures related to the presence of a former President,” police wrote.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry partner with World Central Kitchen to open up relief centers

December 23, 2020

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced this past weekend that they are teaming up with World Central Kitchen to launch community centers that will provide food and other services to those in areas impacted by disasters, Delish reports.

The couple’s Archewell Foundation is joining with the José Andrés-founded non-profit, based in Washington, D.C., to open centers around the world. These spaces will be permanent structures in the community, according to Bloomberg; which can be used as food distribution centers, schools, and clinics during times of crisis, but then can also be used as community spaces in other times.

The first center is slated to open early next year on the Caribbean island of Dominica, which was hugely impacted by both Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. A second is expected to open in Puerto Rico, which also saw massive devastation by Hurricane Maria.

According to Delish, two more centers are planned, although their locations have not been immediately announced.

 “The health of our communities depends on our ability to connect to our shared humanity,” said Meghan and Prince Harry in a statement:

When we think about Chef Andrés and his incredible team at World Central Kitchen, we’re reminded that even during a year of unimaginable hardship, there are so many amazing people willing—and working tirelessly—to support each other. World Central Kitchen inspires us through compassion in action.

“We are more energized than ever to continue this vital work,” José told Bloomberg in a statement, “and we’re proud that it will be hand in hand with Archewell Foundation and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I have come to know both of them well, and believe that their values are directly aligned with what we stand for at World Central Kitchen.”

Research contact: @DelishDotCom

Sales are up for the ski and snowboard industry, despite COVID lockdowns

December 22, 2020

While the pandemic and politics may make many of us feel as if our quality of life is “going downhill” fast, there is one business sector that could benefit significantly from just that scenario: Millions of Americans would love to bust out of lockdown and go skiing—and the  $20 billion U.S. ski and snowboard industry hopes they give it a try.

Lockdowns starting in March wiped out spring break—the second-most lucrative period of the season—and with it an estimated $2 billion of industry revenue, Bloomberg reports.

The most profitable time is Christmas vacation, coming soon, and the resurgence of COVID-19 has slope operators nervous that another shot at decent earnings will be lost at a time when pent-up demand is reaching a bursting point.

“It’s just going to be a very different year for all of us, an interesting year, a stressful year,” Jeff Hanle, vice president of Communications for Aspen Skiing, which owns the Aspen Snowmass resort in Colorado, told Bloomberg this week. “People are very excited to be outside, to be up on the hill.”

With wide distribution of a vaccine still months away, different mountains have different reasons to worry. Aspen Snowmass, which caters to the jet set with more than 350 trails on four peaks, expects to lose 80% of its international business as pandemic travel restrictions remain in force.

At smaller, family-owned slopes, such as Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains and Nub’s Nob in Michigan, the challenge is more to keep customers and staff safe while they gear up, take breaks and refuel with chili and hot chocolate.

Ski-in, ski-out accommodations can alleviate crowding in public spaces, and Lutsen Mountains, overlooking Lake Superior, can take advantage of that, according to Marketing Director Jim Vick. The resort is encouraging overnight guests who are staying trailside to use their rooms as their own private day lodges, freeing up space in the lodge for day guests.

 Nub’s Nob is asking visitors to eat and drink outside and to boot up at their cars.

Rules vary at different locations. The California side of Lake Tahoe is closed to overnight guests due to Covid-19 restrictions while the Nevada side remains open. Some resorts have instituted reservation systems to limit the number of skiers, which, of course, cuts into revenue. And the National Ski Areas Association is urging skiers to ride chairlifts and gondolas only with people they know.

More than 51 million visitors hit American slopes last year, according to the NSAA. That put 2020 on pace for the fourth-best season since counting started in the 1970s—were it not for the March shutdowns. Now, the industry looks forward to rising numbers in 2021, and a near-return to normal sometime in 2022.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Target will extend ‘hazard pay’ to frontline workers through July 4

May 19, 2020

Target, the eighth-largest U.S. retailer, has announced plans to extend its temporary $2-an-hour pay hike for frontline workers through July 4 as the company continues to deal with higher demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

The company also is extending policies that give employees who are 65 or older, pregnant. or with medical conditions paid leave for up to 30 days. In addition, workers will get access to backup care for children or family members.

Bloomberg notes that the way in which the store is stepping up for its employees “contrasts with recent moves by retailers such as Amazon and Kroger, which are winding down higher hourly pay initiatives as the coronavirus lockdown persists.”

This will be the second extension of higher pay for Target, which initially announced wage increases in March. The Minneapolis-based retailer has seen a big boost from selling essential goods during the coronavirus pandemic, but investors are bracing for lower margins due to the higher costs and the possibility it will write off slow-selling merchandise like clothing, according to the business news outlet.

Companies allowed to operate through the pandemic, such as supermarkets, warehouses, and transportation firms, have benefited from a boost in demand and a labor market swollen with newly unemployed workers. However, their treatment of workers has drawn regulatory scrutiny; as well as protests from employees worried about catching COVID-19 at work and bringing it home to their families.

Research contact: @business