Moderna expects to bring in $18.4bn this year from deals it has signed for its Covid-19 vaccine, as the pandemic transforms the fortunes of the loss-making start-up. The Boston-based biotech’s coronavirus vaccine revenue forecast is far higher than the $11.2bn that analysts had predicted for 2021, as well as the $15bn that Pfizer said it expected when it reported earnings this month. Moderna said this number could rise because it was in discussions with governments about more vaccine orders for 2021 and 2022, as well as Covax, the vaccination programme for the developing world. Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said 2021 would be an “inflection year” for the company. “We previously believed that mRNA would lead to approved medicines, and we were limited in our ambitions by the need for regular capital raises and keeping several years of cash to manage financing risk,” he said. “We now know that mRNA vaccines can be highly efficacious and authorised for use, and we are a cash-flow generating commercial company.” The forecasts come after Moderna became the first vaccine maker to unveil a shot tailored to the 501.V2 variant, which was first discovered in South Africa. The company has sent this vaccine to the US National Institutes of Health for use in a trial. It is also giving a half-dose of the existing vaccine to previous trial participants in hopes of boosting their immunity against the variants, and developing a multivalent vaccine, which could target more than one strain. In the fourth quarter, Moderna reported revenue of $571m, from US government grants and sales of its Covid-19 vaccine after it became available in the US in December. The company’s net loss of $272m was wider than the $123m for the same period the year before. Unlike rival BioNTech, which has teamed up with Pfizer for its inoculation, Moderna is not sharing the proceeds with a Big Pharma partner. Moderna is building a global commercial network, opening units in Australia, Japan and South Korea this year. Moderna’s shot also costs more than the BioNTech/Pfizer one. Prices range from about $25 a dose for the US government, which has funded its vaccine development, to between $32 and $37 a dose for other customers depending on the size of orders. BioNTech/Pfizer is priced at about $19 a dose. Both vaccines require two doses. Moderna also raised its minimum production for the year to 700m doses, up from 600m, while keeping the upper end of its target at 1bn. The company is expanding manufacturing for next year, to produce up to 1.4bn doses — and possibly more if it ends up giving half-doses as boosters. It expects $350m to $400m in capital expenditure in 2021. The group’s shares rose 3.6 per cent to $150 in pre-market trading in New York. 
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India’s central bank governor Shaktikanta Das has revealed that the bank has “major concerns” about cryptocurrencies, and it has informed the government of them. He expects that the government will soon make a decision on cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is giving its full attention to the digital rupee. RBI Has Major Concerns About Cryptocurrencies The governor of India’s central bank expressed concerns over the possible impact made by cryptocurrencies on the country’s financial stability and the economy Wednesday. In an interview with CNBC-TV18, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das shared: We have certain major concerns about cryptocurrencies. We have communicated them to the government. It is under consideration in the government. He elaborated: “On crypto, we have major concerns from the financial stability angle and we have shared it with the government.” The governor further clarified: “I do expect and I think sooner or later the government will take a call and if required Parliament also will consider and decide.” While Das did not explain further what the major concerns are, the central bank has previously expressed concerns that cryptocurrencies are being used for money laundering and terror financing. The Indian government is planning to introduce a cryptocurrency bill during the current session of parliament. The bill seeks to provide a regulatory framework for the digital rupee to be issued by the RBI but bans all private cryptocurrencies. Regarding the digital rupee, Das confirmed that the RBI is “very much in the game” and is getting ready to launch its own digital currency. He detailed that the “Central bank digital currency [CBDC] is work in progress,” noting that the “RBI team is working on it, technology side and procedural side, how it will be launched and rolled out.” Regarding the launch date of the central bank digital currency, Das said: It will be very difficult and not possible for me to give a date as there are several loose ends that need to be tied up and it is receiving our full attention. A number of other central banks around the world are also looking at issuing their own digital currencies. China has been actively testing its digital yuan in major cities over the past months. The U.S. Federal Reserve said this week that the digital dollar is a very high-priority project for the Fed. As for the digital euro, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, has said that it may be ready within four years. Do you think the Indian government will ban cryptocurrencies like bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story ban bitcoin, ban crypto, CBDC, digital rupee launch, india crypto, indian crypto bill, indian crypto regulation, indian cryptocurrency, indian government, rbi bitcoin, rbi crypto Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. Steve Jennings | Getty Images for TechCrunch Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday filed to become a public company and revealed that its revenue more than doubled last year. According to the filing, Coinbase had net revenue of $1.14 billion in 2020, up from $483 million the previous year. The company also reported net income of $322 million for the year after posting a loss in 2019. The company said it has 43 million verified users as of the end of 2020, with 2.8 million making monthly transactions. Trading in bitcoin and ethereum made up 56% of users' trading volume, Coinbase said. The company will use a direct listing to offer its shares instead of a traditional initial public offering. A direct listing is an alternative to an IPO, and it involves investors and employees converting their ownership stakes into stock that's listed on an exchange. Founders have become increasingly disenchanted with the IPO process in recent years, leading to a boom in direct listings and special purpose acquisition vehicles. Streaming music giant Spotify also went public through a direct listing. The move comes amid a boom in cryptocurrencies broadly, with bitcoin in particular gaining more acceptance among mainstream companies and investors. Large companies including Square and Tesla have been buying bitcoin in recent months. Bitcoin was trading at just under $52,000 per coin on Thursday, according to coin metrics. The crypto asset had never traded above $20,000 prior to December. Coinbase's stock would trade on the Nasdaq.
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Cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX has created a new, specialized futures contract for traders to bet on the likelihood of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021. The coronavirus pandemic continues to cast a shadow over the safety of hosting the event this year, particularly after a renewed outbreak of the virus in Tokyo last month.   For each such uncertainty, as FTX notes in its tweet promoting the new contract, there can be a lucrative market. The new futures contract on FTX Token (FTT) has, according to the exchange, a different risk profile to Bitcoin (BTC). That is, "it has significantly higher chances of making large moves (to $0 or $1)." In addition to the OLY2021 contract, FTX is continuing its line of products for speculation on the future likelihood of a Trump presidency in 2024. Notably, neither of these contracts is available to residents of barred jurisdictions, which include the United States, Canada, mainland China and Hong Kong SAR, Singapore, Turkey, the United Kingdom and others.  As previously reported, cryptocurrency-powered markets have flourished during a politically and economically turbulent year. Last autumn, with the United States presidential election in focus, decentralized prediction platforms such as Augur and Polymarket reported significant increases in trading volumes, alongside crypto derivatives exchanges like FTX.
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press release PRESS RELEASE. 25 February 2021 – Animoca Brands, the developer and publisher of the successful blockchain games F1® DeltaTime and The Sandbox, is further expanding its push to bring mainstream consumers to blockchain by announcing that MotoGP™ Ignition, the competitive management and collectibles game platform based on MotoGP™, will be built on the Flow blockchain, with the first content sale to begin 26 March 2021. Flow was originally created by Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties. MotoGP™, managed by Dorna Sports, S.L., is the oldest motorsports championship in the world, featuring the fastest riders and the most technologically advanced prototype racing motorcycles on the planet. MotoGP™ Ignition will allow fans to own and trade collectibles of their favorite MotoGP™ bikes and personalities on blockchain. MotoGP™ Ignition will deliver two forms of MotoGP™ branded experiences centered around limited-edition non-fungible tokens (NFTs): a digital collectibles platform where users buy and sell cards of varying rarity, and a racing manager game. The game’s racing management experience will offer the bikes, riders, and champions of MotoGP™ as NFT collectibles that players use to assemble their racing teams to compete against other players. Yat Siu, the co-founder and chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “We are very excited to begin launching MotoGP™ Ignition in the coming months and are absolutely thrilled to be the next major sports brand on the Flow blockchain after the success of NBA Top Shot.” Collectibles in the first ever MotoGP™ Ignition sale will be purchased using fiat currency with payment via credit card, and also using REVV, the utility token and in-game currency for branded motorsports blockchain games (learn about REVV in this video). Flow blockchain is uniquely positioned to enable big brands to deliver richer user engagement and unique experiences, such as digital ownership or provable scarcity, in addition to offering access to a global, open ecosystem at launch. Coupled with innovative technology that allows for scalability without compromising decentralization, Flow offers unparalleled user experience for mainstream audiences. “Flow is the perfect platform for high quality developers like Animoca Brands to build on because it provides the opportunity to scale,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO and founder of Dapper Labs, creator of the Flow blockchain. “MotoGP™ has done a fantastic job of engaging millions of fans of motorsports around the world, and those fans deserve a great, stable, fast experience.” Pau Serracanta, Managing Director of Dorna Sports S.L., commented: “We are delighted to continue working with Animoca Brands and announce MotoGP™ Ignition, offering fans the chance to own and trade collectibles on blockchain – curating their own collections as well as competing against each other in the racing management experience. The digital sphere has been a key focus for Dorna for many seasons and we are delighted to give our hundreds of millions of fans around the world yet another opportunity to interact with their favourite sport and get involved with MotoGP™.” The first MotoGP™ NFT collectible sale will begin on 26 March 2021. To receive news about the sale and other updates about MotoGP™ Ignition please sign up at https://motogp-ignition.com/. About Flow Flow is a fast, decentralized, and developer-friendly blockchain, designed as the foundation for a new generation of entertainment apps, games and the digital assets that power them. Flow is the only layer-one blockchain originally created by a team that has consistently delivered great consumer blockchain experiences: CryptoKitties, Dapper Wallet, NBA Top Shot. Flow boasts a rich ecosystem of top entertainment brands, development studios, and venture-backed startups. Flow ecosystem partners include global IP brands like Warner Music, Ubisoft, NBA and UFC; leading game developers, including Animoca Brands, Sumo Digital and nWay; and many leaders in the crypto space such as Circle and Binance. About Dorna Sports Dorna Sports, founded in 1988 and based in Madrid, Spain, with subsidiaries in Barcelona and Rome, is a world leader in sports management, marketing, and media. Dorna Sports took over management of the MotoGP™ World Championship in 1991 and is the exclusive commercial and television rights holder of the series, as well as of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK), the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup, the FIM CEV Repsol, the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup and the British Talent Cup. About Animoca Brands Animoca Brands is a leader in the field of digital entertainment, specializing in blockchain, gamification, and artificial intelligence technologies to develop and publish a broad portfolio of products including the REVV token and SAND token, games such as The Sandbox, Crazy Kings, and Crazy Defense Heroes, as well as products utilizing popular intellectual properties such as Formula 1®, Marvel, WWE, Garfield, Snoopy, Power Rangers, MotoGP™, Formula E, and Doraemon. Animoca Brands’ portfolio of blockchain investments and partnerships includes Lucid Sight, Dapper Labs (creators of CryptoKitties), WAX, Harmony, and Decentraland. The Company is based in Hong Kong, United States, South Korea, Finland, Argentina, and the Czech Republic. Subsidiaries include The Sandbox, Quidd, Gamee, and nWay. For more information visit www.animocabrands.com or get updates by following Animoca Brands on Facebook or Twitter. Contact: press@animocabrands.com This is a press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin It's important to research regulations in your city or town before renting out your home. getty Vacation rental platform Airbnb is expected to show resilience when it releases its first earning results today since going public, with more travel taking place closer to home during the pandemic and a housing boom possibly leading to more property owners looking to cash in on home sharing. However, there are many things a prospective host should keep in mind when considering whether to rent out their property. The most important part is researching regulations in the cities and towns where your home is located. Some municipalities have strict regulations regarding what’s considered a legal short-term rental. For example, New York City law prohibits rentals under 30 days except when the owner is present in the unit and no access doors are locked, and some Brooklyn townhouse owners have been fined tens of thousands of dollars for illegal rentals. In Los Angeles, the city council passed legislation in 2019 that only allows primary residences to be rented out on vacation rental platforms. “While this can be limiting, one area that is strong for collecting a secondary income is multi-family investment,” said James Harris, principal of LA real estate firm The Agency. “Multi-family properties provide a unique opportunity for buyers to live in one unit and make money by renting out the additional units. This rental income can also offset costs by contributing to monthly mortgage payments, income tax and more.” Palm Springs only allows a limit of 32 stays per year at single-family residence, with an additional four stays permitted during the third quarter.  “While surrounding jurisdictions do not have such limitations on the total number of stays, they may have more severe restrictions on the conditions of operation, limiting parking or the ability to play music,” said Fiona Quinn, vice president of business affairs at short-term rental and hospitality startup AvantStay. “It is therefore important to carefully examine not only the regulations that govern short term rentals where you intend on buying, but also how you intend to run your rental and who your guests will be.” Bill Kowalczuk, a broker with Warburg Realty in New York City, said if you’re purchasing a unit in an apartment building, it’s also crucial to check the building’s rental policy. “There is a very short list of buildings in Manhattan that would allow a lease as short as one month,” Kowalczuk. A home is already a big investment, but hosts need to budget accordingly. “Don’t forget to outline unexpected expenses, such as additional taxes, property management fees, maintenance, insurance and even landscaping,” Harris said.  Harris recommends hiring a property manager or service, making sure to ask before hiring how they handle routine and emergency maintenance issues, how they choose vendors — to ensure they only hire insured, licensed workers to come on your property — and ask for a few references. There are several companies that specialize in handling short-term rentals in Manhattan and prices for that can be as high as 25% or more of the monthly rental income, according to Kowalczuk. You can also purchase a property that is specifically designed for home sharing. Natiivo Miami is a tower developed in partnership with Airbnb (this relationship was marked by a lawsuit that has since been settled). Each unit can be used as a full-time primary residence, but short-term rentals are encouraged, with a team that manages units and listings, handles guest issues and schedules cleaning.  The 400-unit development, which broke ground earlier this month, is more than 65% sold, according to Natiivo Miami developer Keith Menin. We’re extremely optimistic about the short term rental market in Miami,” Menin said. "Buyers are also increasingly seeking out a more ‘nomadic lifestyle,’ where they can live in a few different cities throughout the year.”
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin The English country-style manor in California's Santa Ynez Valley evokes the style favored by ... [+] English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens. Village Properties This quintessential English country manor has all the trappings one would expect: Leaded windows, half-timbering, formal gardens arranged in geometrical patterns, a stacked-stone stable. But there's also something unexpected. The property is not set in the wilds of Great Britain but rather in California's Santa Ynez Valley. Formal gardens near the property's stacked-stone stable are arranged in geometrical patterns. Village Properties It's no accident that one could be fooled. Seven Oaks, as the estate is known, was designed in the style of English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, whose early 20th century career spanned 50 years. His renowned style gave a signature look to the homes of his Edwardian clients. High chimneys stand tall against steeply pitched roofs. Lengths of windows bring light into interiors. Traditional lines take an inventive twist. But it's not just the architecture that has a trompe l'oeil effect at Seven Oaks. The grounds pay homage to the work of British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll, with whom Lutyens frequently collaborated. Her influence on garden design in the U.K. and America is still felt today. The grounds pay homage to the work of Gertrude Jekyll, the British horticulturist who often ... [+] collaborated with architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens. Village Properties Priced at $11.9 million, this accurate recreation a Lutyens estate encompasses 101 acres in the Happy Canyon area. Views take in lupine-covered fields, rolling farmland and distant mountains. A security gate opens to a 2,500-foot-long tree-lined driveway that accesses the residence and the horse barn. A circular driveway leads to the wooden front door, which is protected by an overhang. Views take in lupine-covered fields, rolling farmland and distant mountains. Village Properties Wide walkways lead through the colorful gardens to the stables – a solid pitched-roof structure connected to a rotunda with a turret roof. A riding arena and a paddock sit nearby. The two-story house features cathedral ceilings and fireplaces in the living, dining and family rooms. There's another fireplace in the master bedroom for a total of six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. The 8,404 square feet of living space also includes a breakfast area and a pantry. High chimneys stand tall against steeply pitched roofs. Lengths of windows bring light into ... [+] interiors. Village Properties In addition to the main house, there's a guesthouse and an infinity-edge pool. Among neighboring properties are established vineyards. The estate could be used for vineyards, farming or equestrian facilities. Flowering vines lend a pastoral vibe to the dining patio. Village Properties Carey Kendall of Village Properties, an exclusive member of Forbes Global Properties, is the listing agent for 5200 Armour Ranch Road, Santa Ynez. And what would Lutyens think of this charming replica so far from his homeland? As Oscar Wilde so famously said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." An aerial view of the Seven Oaks at 5200 Armour Ranch Road in Santa Ynez Valley. Village Properties The riding arena. Village Properties A meandering road leads to the 101-acre property in the Happy Canyon area Village Properties
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Take a look at some of the biggest movers in the premarket: GameStop (GME) – GameStop remains on watch after another Reddit-fueled surge Wednesday in the video game retailer's shares, as well as other so-called "Reddit stocks" like BlackBerry (BB), AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Koss Corp. (KOSS). GameStop surged 55.8% premarket, while AMC rose 12.9%, BlackBerry gained 4.3% and Koss soared 81.3%. Best Buy (BBY) – The electronics retailer's shares fell 5.3% in premarket trading after its revenue and comparable-store sales missed Wall Street forecasts for the holiday quarter as pandemic fueled demand for electronics lessened. Best Buy's quarterly earnings of $3.48 per share beat estimates by 3 cents a share, however. Moderna (MRNA) – The drugmaker's shares rose 2.9% in premarket action as its quarterly revenue vastly exceeded estimates and it forecast $18.4 billion in Covid-19 vaccine sales this year. Moderna did, however, report a quarterly loss of 69 cents per share, wider than the 35 cents a share loss that analysts were anticipating. Wayfair (W) – The furniture and home goods seller earned $1.24 per share for its latest quarter, above the consensus estimate of 86 cents a share. Revenue was slightly below Wall Street forecasts, as were the number of orders and the shares fell 9% premarket. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – The cruise line operator's shares rose 1.9% in the premarket after quarterly revenue came in well above estimates, despite the Covid-19 related shutdown of cruises. Its loss of $2.33 per share for its latest quarter was slightly wider than the consensus estimate of a $2.17 per share loss. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) – Anheuser-Busch reported better-than-expected profit and revenue for the fourth quarter. The company also forecast higher earnings for 2021, however the beer brewer said its profit margins would be hurt by higher commodity costs. Its shares fell 5.3% in premarket trading. ViacomCBS (VIAC) – ViacomCBS came in 2 cents a share ahead of estimates, with quarterly profit of $1.04 per share. Revenue essentially was in line with Wall Street forecasts. The company also said it had 30 million streaming subscribers, ahead of its planned March 4 launch of Paramount+ service that will replace the current CBS All Access service. Its shares dropped 2.8% in premarket action. Teladoc Health (TDOC) – Teladoc dropped 6.5% in premarket trading after it reported a loss of 27 cents per share for its latest quarter, 3 cents a share wider than Wall Street had expected. The provider of video medical visits' revenue came in above estimates. Nvidia (NVDA) – Nvidia reported quarterly earnings of $3.10 per share, compared to a $2.81 a share consensus estimate. The company best known for its gaming chips saw revenue beat estimates as well. Nvidia also predicted strong revenue for the current quarter, but the shares were down 2.6% in premarket action. Fisker (FSR) – Fisker struck a deal with contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology to assemble cars for the electric vehicle startup. The agreement calls for the companies to jointly produce more than 250,000 vehicles annually. Shares fell 1% premarket. Pfizer (PFE) – The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech (BNTX) works equally well across all age groups, according to an Israeli study. It provided 94% protection against developing coronavirus symptoms a week after the second dose of the vaccine, and 92% effective in preventing severe disease. Verizon (VZ) – Verizon was the top bidder in a government auction of 5G airwaves, spending $45.5 billion, while AT&T (T) bid $23.4 billion and T-Mobile US (TMUS) bid $9.3 billion. Pure Storage (PSTG) – Pure Storage came in 4 cents a share ahead of estimates, with quarterly profit of 13 cents per share. The provider of business memory storage systems also saw revenue beat Wall Street forecasts. Pure Storage gave a mixed forecast, but it was the first time it gave any forward guidance since the pandemic began. Shares gained 2.5% in the premarket. L Brands (LB) – L Brands earned $3.30 per share for its latest quarter, 12 cents a share above estimates. The Victoria's Secret parent's revenue came in short of forecasts. L Brands, which also owns the Bath & Body Works chain, gave strong current-quarter earnings guidance. L Brands was up 2.7% in the premarket.
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Rocket 3.1 launches from Kodiak, Alaska. Astra / John Kraus Rocket builder Astra is preparing to go public in the second quarter, taking on a crowded field of competitors while aiming for daily deliveries to space by 2025. CEO Chris Kemp spoke to CNBC this month about the company's plans for its upcoming cash infusion. Once Astra closes its merger with Holicity, a special purpose acquisition company, the venture expects it will have as much as $500 million in capital on hand. That includes a $30 million funding round, previously unreported by media, that the rocket builder closed prior to announcing its SPAC deal. Astra, based in Alameda, California, raised the smaller round to help it "go faster" while the merger awaits regulatory approval, with Holicity's sponsor Pendrell Corporation and existing investors such as Marc Benioff contributing. "We're actually building a space platform – in much the same way that when Amazon started, they weren't marketing themselves as a delivery truck company or a warehouse company," Kemp said. "We're really trying to solve the problem that our customers have, which is they want to put stuff in space quickly." Financial backing aside, Astra is entering a field packed with competitors. For starters, its 40-foot-tall rocket puts it in the sub-sector of small launch vehicles – a category of the space industry that analysts and executives estimate has in excess of 100 startups in various stages of development. All those ventures are looking to compete with the small rocket leader Rocket Lab. Astra's rocket is advertised as capable of carrying up to 100 kilograms to low Earth orbit, for as little as $2.5 million for a dedicated launch. Kemp expects that price point to drop as Astra accelerates to a weekly launch rate in 2023 and beyond. "The plan is fully funded to 2025 to get to daily space delivery," he said. It's a formidable goal. "You're talking about nearly a launch a day," said Ken Herbert, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity. "Is it possible theoretically? Yes. But, in basically four years, is one company going to be able to support that kind of schedule? It's ambitious – nobody's ever done it." "It doesn't mean it's impossible, but everything's got to go right, even COVID-19 aside," said Herbert. "And there are other factors in play – if you have an anomaly with any one of these launches than everything else is going to get [delayed]" The latest in space-themed SPAC offerings CEO Chris Kemp speaks via video conference from Astra's headquarters in Alameda, California. CNBC Astra became the latest private rocket builder to reach space for the first time in December, after its Rocket 3.2 vehicle launched from Alaska. Although the rocket did not reach orbit on that mission, Astra's leadership viewed the launch as clearing the final hurdles needed to begin commercial service later this year. Astra's board of directors includes Kemp, co-founder and chief technology officer Dr. Adam London, Advance executive Nomi Bergman and ACME venture capital partner Scott Stanford. Holicity chairman and CEO Craig McCaw is expected to join the board when the merge is complete. The SPAC merger values the rocket company at a $2.1 billion enterprise value. It will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ASTR when the deal closes. Shares of Holicity have climbed since the deal was announced on Feb. 2, up about 50% since then. The SPAC's stock has climbed as high as $22.47 a share, but slipped in the past week to trade closer to $16 a share. The company is one of the latest in a series of space ventures that have announced deals to go public through a SPAC in the past few months – alongside BlackSky, AST & Science, and Momentus in the past few months. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic also went public through a deal with Chamath Palihapitiya's SPAC in 2019. A $30 million raise pre-SPAC The company's headquarters near the San Francisco Bay in California. Astra Astra expects to have as much as $500 million in cash proceeds after the deal. That sum includes $200 million from a "private investment in public equity" or PIPE fundraising round led by BlackRock. "We convinced BlackRock, and a whole bunch of other conservative long-only investors, that the economics when you start manufacturing small rockets at scale pretty much cancel out what you get with a giant rocket. You get the same economics when you start making hundreds of rockets every year out of a factory," Kemp said. As for the $30 million venture funding round that Astra closed prior to announcing the SPAC merger, that effort included a $10 million infusion from Holicity's sponsors. Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of Salesforce.com speaks during the grand opening ceremonies for the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco on May 22, 2018. David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images Astra's investor presentation disclosed that the company has more than $150 million in contracted revenue from government and commercial customers to launch more than 100 spacecraft. The firm also boasts a $1.2 billion pipeline for future launches, although Kemp caveated that as "kind of squishy stuff" like memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreements. Kemp said Astra is "trying to build a 100-year plan" and last year was "running things lean" during the beginning of the pandemic to complete its rocket development testing. Astra Kemp and London, Astra's technology chief, are controlling shareholders in the company, together owning about 30% of the company. Both have super-voting shares, which vote 10-to-1 compared to common shares – a common practice for Silicon Valley companies. "Companies that are building long-term businesses and founders that are committed to a long-term vision or company don't let investors take over their company," Kemp said. "It didn't happen at Facebook or Google or Amazon, and I think these [are the kind of companies] we aspire to be like." Astra's material risks A close up view of Rocket 3.2's engines shortly after liftoff. Astra / John Kraus The company's risk factors, listed in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, also give investors a sense of what challenges Astra may see as it works toward its goals. Astra highlighted that it has "not yet delivered customer satellites into orbit using any of our launch vehicles or rockets, and any setbacks we may experience during our first commercial launch planned for 2021 and other demonstration and commercial missions could have a material adverse effect on our business." The marketplace of launching small satellites is another key risk. Astra noted that, while it sees significant growth in the years ahead, the market "is still emerging" and "not well established." Noting that other companies are building small rockets, and Astra expects "to face intense competition." Lastly, regulatory delays outside of Astra's concern are another risk, as the company requires licenses from U.S. regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration for launches. "No company has yet conducted licensed launches at the annual rate we are targeting," Astra said. Scaling production Astra Astra laid out an aggressive timeline for scaling production and generating revenue, starting with its first commercial launch this summer. Kemp said Astra built four rockets last year and stood up three for launch attempts, although Rocket 3.0 was destroyed after an anomaly on the launchpad. Rocket 3.1 suffered a guidance system issue shortly after liftoff, crashing after the engines were shutdown. The company has a future expansion to complete with the SPAC capital, beginning with more investment in its rocket factory. Astra builds 95% of the rocket in-house from raw materials, and also developed its own software for everything from manufacturing to the launch systems. "We're going to automate the factory itself, so that we can get a consistent output of rockets," Kemp said. Astra forecasts that it will conduct three launches this year, netting $4 million in revenue. The company aims to begin launching at a monthly rate by the end of 2021 – forecasting 15 launches in 2022. That would effectively match the launch pace Rocket Lab, which has launched 97 satellites on 18 missions to date. The company is targeting a weekly launch rate in 2023, with 55 launches bringing in $206 million in revenue. Astra aims to triple that rate in 2024, with 165 launches and rockets going up twice a week – when the company also expects to turn cash-flow positive. By 2025, Astra aims to be launching almost daily and cross the billion-dollar revenue mark, forecasting $1.12 billion in launch revenue for that year. Building a space platform Astra But, as Kemp noted above, Astra wants to build more than just rockets. The company is working on a cylindrical, disc-shaped "modular spacecraft" so that customers can integrate satellite sensors and technology demonstrations directly into Astra's rocket. "Rockets are always going to be a cylinder, so [a disc is] the perfect form factor to put inside a cylinder, where you don't waste any volume in the rocket, and then you can stack them," Kemp said. The practice of "ridesharing" on launches has become common, as small satellites hitch a ride on big rockets to get into space for lower prices. But Kemp says it's a "nightmare" for those small satellites, as "they all get dumped off in the same place." "That's the current state of the industry, and it sucks," he said. "It's like putting a FedEx truck on a plane and flying it to New York and then driving it back to Los Angeles, and then driving the truck off a cliff." Instead, Kemp says Astra's modular spacecraft will allow the company to drop off individual satellites in specific orbits on the same launch. Astra forecast its modular spacecraft business will begin generating revenue in 2022, which it expects will climb to more than $300 million a year by 2025. A mobile launch service Astra The other differentiator Astra has from other small rocket builders is minimal and mobile infrastructure required for launches, which Kemp says will become a money-maker as a spaceport service. "Our entire system packs into four shipping containers, which we can put on a C-130 Hercules [aircraft], on a truck, on a ship – and we've done all of those things already," Kemp said. Astra's launch infrastructure requires five employees to unpack, who Kemp says can then prepare the rocket to launch in less than a week. For the Rocket 3.2 launch in December, Kemp noted that one of the five employees Astra had sent to Kodiak, Alaska tested positive for COVID-19. The company quarantined the original team in hotel rooms, chartered a plane and flew up five more people to launch the rocket. "All I need is a license from the FAA, we put a fence around a gravel pad, and we launch from there in five days with five people," Kemp said. The company plans to add spaceports all around the country, Kemp noted, and even in other countries that are U.S. allies. "There are 80 space agencies and 75 of them have no way to get to space," Kemp said. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.
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India has announced sweeping rules that could force social media companies to break into encrypted messages and take down posts New Delhi deems contentious. Government officials said on Thursday that the new guidelines would help end “double standards” by making platforms more accountable to the law. The rules, which apply to almost everything online, follow a government stand-off with Twitter earlier this month after it refused to block accounts tweeting about widespread farmers’ protests. “We want them to be more responsible, more accountable,” said IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi, “if they [won’t], then whatever provisions are there in the law will take their course.” Prasad described the rules as “soft touch oversight” and called on companies to “self-regulate”. The new rules require companies to take down offensive content that threatens the “unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India” or “causes incitement” within 36 hours of an order, according to a copy of the draft legislation seen by the Financial Times. Companies have to appoint a chief compliance officer, create a law enforcement co-ordination position and another for a grievance redressal officer, all of whom must be Indian residents. The rule change can also require companies to break into encrypted messages in order to identify the “first originator” of information to assist with the “prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence”. Prasanth Sugathan, legal director at the Software Freedom Law Centre, India, said that the new rules were “problematic” and had major privacy implications. “Definitely, there can’t be a compromise on security of communications,” said Sugathan. “It’s going to open up a lot of legal challenges.” The rules come as New Delhi is trying to reset its relationship with Big Tech. India, with a young population of 1.4bn people who are rapidly coming online, represents one of the most promising growth markets for tech companies beyond the US and China. Big Tech in India Service Number of users WhatsApp 530m YouTube 448m Facebook 410m Instagram 210m Twitter 17.5m Indian government estimates But navigating New Delhi’s increasingly authoritarian politics and changing regulations is an obstacle for social media companies, who are trying to expand while maintaining free speech and privacy. WhatsApp, Twitter, Amazon and Netflix declined to comment on the new rules. “This amounts to surveillance,” said one person close to a big US tech company operating in India. “It certainly raises questions about privacy, now you literally don’t have a place to have a private conversation.” Under the new rules, streaming platforms such as Netflix and digital media, including news organisations, will be subject to greater oversight. Netflix and Amazon have been under scrutiny in India, with police from states ruled by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party filing criminal cases against executives for “hurting religious sentiments”. Salman Waris, a partner at technology law firm TechLegis, said the new rules created an “additional burden” on companies which were going to face a number of “compliance issues”. He said he rules need to be clarified because they did not give details or specifics on implementation. “That could lead to a lot of confusion,” he said, “I think they will have to come out with some clarifications and I’m sure industry is going to ask for that.”
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Standard Chartered chief executive Bill Winters said he hoped the election of President Joe Biden would help de-escalate US-China tensions that have hung over the bank in recent years, ending “tit for tat” escalations in trade and geopolitics. Like its London-based rival HSBC, StanChart has been navigating an increasingly fraught relationship between the US, UK and China. The situation worsened last year after Beijing imposed a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, which the lender publicly supported to avoid compromising its most important market. “[It] was pretty tense last year . . . by no means do we think the tension goes away but should be much more manageable” as both sides came up with a framework for engagement, Winters said on Thursday. A continuation of the “tit for tat escalations that we saw last year . . . could end up doing real harm to both parties”. Hugh Young, head of Asia at asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen, said the bank was “a bit like HSBC, caught between two stools”. He added: “Doing as well as they can but boy what a struggle.” Winters was speaking alongside the emerging markets-focused bank’s results, when it announced it would resume paying dividends and would buy back stock, despite slipping to a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.  The chief also warned that the coronavirus pandemic and low interest rates would continue to hit profit for years, and that it would take longer than forecast to meet its return on equity target. He said 2021 revenue was unlikely to exceed that of 2020, when it fell 3 per cent. In response to these pressures, the lender slashed its bonus pool by about a fifth. It added that it would seek to save hundreds of millions in costs by restarting job cuts that were paused during the pandemic and by reducing its global office footprint by a third in the next three to four years as it shifted to flexible working. “2020 was a tale of two sides,” said Winters, pointing to encouraging recovery signs in the second half of the year after the “transitory impact of coronavirus on trade and credit impairments” in the first six months.  He added that the bank had “clearly taken a step back due to low interest rates . . . that will be with us for some time”. StanChart reported a $449m loss in the last three months of 2020. Annual pre-tax profit dropped 57 per cent to $1.6bn — falling short of analysts’ expectations — as credit impairment charges more than doubled to $2.3bn. Hong Kong generated the bulk of the bank’s operating income, followed by Singapore, India, South Korea and China. Pre-tax profit last year was $2.8bn in Asia, and the bank outlined an expansion of its wealth management division, particularly in mainland China and Hong Kong, to capitalise on “the rising wealth of its population”. Following rival HSBC, the lender said it would issue a dividend of $0.09 per share, becoming the latest UK bank to resume payouts since the Bank of England partially lifted a ban on dividends in December. It will also buy back $254m of stock, the maximum allowed by regulators. StanChart has fared slightly better than some of its British and European rivals during the pandemic as a result of its focus on Asia and Africa. Still, the shares fell 5 per cent after the announcement, extending their decline in the past 12 months to 13 per cent. “The profitability outlook remains challenging,” said Citigroup analyst Ronit Ghose. “StanChart is pledging a minimum 7 per cent return in 2023. It feels like the bank is promising investors jam tomorrow and relatively thin gruel today.” StanChart’s bonus pool dropped 23 per cent to $990m last year, but it boosted pay for its traders to reward them for an increase in revenue in volatile markets.  Winters personally had his total pay cut 29 per cent, to $5.4m, as the bank missed profit estimates and generated a return of only 3 per cent, far below its 10 per cent long-term ambition.  Despite speculation about his future after six years in the job, the 59-year-old said he was not preparing to leave yet. “Don’t let the grey hair fool you . . . I'm here to do a job, and the job is not yet done.”
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Clark Twiddy is the President of Twiddy & Company, a hospitality and asset management firm along North Carolina's Outer Banks. getty It comes as little surprise to know that the pandemic’s lengthening impact on global travel patterns has changed travel thinking in ways well beyond the actual shadow of the virus’ reach. While many travel-and-tourism indicators continue to lag in performance, there are also significant bright spots particularly in the drive-to domestic market. As these bright spots continue to gain traction in the minds of travelers, one feature of this type of travel has also changed and rental property owners and operators should take note. This feature is travel insurance. For many years, vacationing travelers viewed the purchase of travel insurance as an afterthought – in many cases, it wasn’t widely understood in terms of coverage and its purchase was considered by some with a level of suspicion around what value it actually provided. Enter the pandemic – as the uncertainty of travel grew in vast proportion to the questions around the coronavirus, consumers have also quietly become much more knowledgeable about what good travel coverage is and when they should be using it. As a result, they’re buying it at a greater rate than ever before as this chart shows – the trend is specific to the Outer Banks areas but similar trends have been anecdotally shared across other drive-to destinations. As an industry, travel insurance is also growing with one projection putting the market size at $45 billion by 2027. In essence, more people are buying travel insurance right now than at any other time and it’s a great chance to pause for a moment as rental property owners and operators to understand how consumers are thinking about coverage, how they are not thinking about it and what this trend means for traveling in the future – beyond the pandemic. How Consumers Are Thinking About It Now The purchase of any kind of insurance is essentially a decision to not only anticipate inherent risk but also transfer it – no surprise there. For travel insurance in particular, many consumers are finding it’s worth the time to understand coverages and benefits for not only the purchaser but the traveling party as well. The fine print in the purchase takes only a few minutes to either read or to call for specific questions. In a busy world, it’s easy to spend those minutes elsewhere, but remember an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. Consumers are thinking about it, in many ways, as an owner’s manual for their trip. How Consumers Are Not Thinking About It In making a decision to purchase travel insurance, it’s important to mention that transferring some risk does not mean transferring all risks. Many observers around recent financial headlines cautiously remark that low risk is very different from no risk. Many of those same “afterthought” insurance purchasers are caught off guard – put mildly – when a given situation isn’t actually covered in the policy. For example, many of the largest travel insurance providers in the world didn’t actually cover a pandemic due to inherent uncertainty of the pandemic itself. Those same providers are, of course, evolving their products to meet the needs of their customers today, but it is important to reflect on what insurance doesn’t cover in the event of a purchase. Sometimes, it’s easy to simply ask that question. Smart consumers are not thinking about it as a blanket trip coverage – like a roof for a building, they are thinking about what the roof covers and what it doesn’t.   What It Means For The Travelling Future It will take some time for a return to any kind of normalcy in global travel patterns, and we would all agree that when this normalcy returns, travelers will have to be informed on topics like safety, health care and risks in a way they seldom have before. This means not only will travel insurance be more popular, as this trend below from the Outer Banks of North Carolina shows, but at the same time buyers will have to be more knowledgeable as they ever have before to understand what’s covered and what’s not.   For the owners of vacation rental properties, this is an interesting trend as well in that it means your guests are more educated than ever on risks and coverages. It makes clear sense to ensure you as the homeowner are fluent in terms of what your guests are reading and deciding upon. It also means that vacations are getting more expensive as travelers add coverages but, in turn, have more peace of mind around risks such as hurricanes and many other disruptive instances. All in all, the availability of your guests to purchase travel insurance is a good thing. In an uncertain world, the more certainty you can offer around your home, the more attractive it is to potential guests. In short, travel insurance is more popular in travel channels now as a reflection of the larger uncertainty in travel confidence. It’s worth the time to purchase it, should consumers choose, not as an afterthought but as part of a larger commitment to stay safe, avoid risks and simply to have more peace-of-mind fun. Owners and operators of vacation rental properties should pay attention to this trend and understand the impact it can have on travel in an uncertain world. For consumers and owners, it’s important to understand when traveling in the face of remarkable uncertainty, knowledge is power and ignorance is in fact not bliss at all. Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
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Avishek Das | LightRocket | Getty Images Robinhood is recovering from weeks of customer backlash, and a public grilling by Congress over the GameStop controversy. Despite that, the trading app's user growth, brand recognition and valuation appear to be stronger than ever. Demand for Robinhood shares in private markets is surging. The start-up likely benefitted from headlines and mentions by politicians and celebrities. Meanwhile, the app gained 3 million users last month alone, according to estimates from JMP Securities. "From a brand recognition perspective, who doesn't know who Robinhood is?" Greg Martin, of Rainmaker Securities, told CNBC. "Despite some positive and negative press, everyone in the world knows who Robinhood is. They couldn't have better free advertising." Robinhood, the app that pioneered zero-commission trading, is still seen as the main gateway for young investors to access the markets. It is expected to go public in 2021 amid strong demand for fintech stocks such as Square, PayPal and Affirm. Bids for pre-IPO shares of Robinhood spiked during the GameStop mania last month, according to Rainmaker, which provides financing for shares of pre-IPO companies. Demand also rose after Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev appeared in front of Congress last week, and it's the most bid-upon stock Rainmaker sees in the secondary market right now. The increased demand is one vote of confidence for Tenev as he navigates a public relations and regulatory crisis. Arrows pointing outwards To be sure, these bids are not guaranteed. But they tend to be a good proxy for investor interest in companies at a certain price. One of the most recent bids this week was for shares of Robinhood at $52 per share — up from around $15 in September. Private market valuations are often opaque. They are based by the value of equity someone invests as a percentage of the company and hard to calculate without knowledge of a startup's assets and outstanding shares. But based on that step-up in bid prices, one investor told CNBC that Robinhood's valuation could be as high as $40 billion — more than triple its last publicly disclosed number. "With the amount of capital they now have I expect the company will be the dominant brokerage going forward and I think the market will acknowledge that," Martin said. "The valuation could be very large in the very near future which bodes well for an IPO." Robinhood declined to comment on IPO timing and valuation. The Silicon Valley start-up found itself in the middle of a firestorm last month amid the short squeeze in GameStop, which was partially driven by Reddit-obsessed retail investors. At the height of GameStop's rise, the millennial-favored trading app restricted trading of certain securities due to increased capital requirements from Robinhood's clearing houses. Demand from Silicon Valley Robinhood's decision to restrict trading was met with outrage from traders online. Still, its private investors flocked to back the company. Some venture capitalists responsible for the $3.4 billion in emergency capital cited the app's ability to add more customers amid the trading turmoil. Three of Robinhood's private investors said there was "strong demand" to get a piece of the company, even as it stared down a public relations and regulatory crisis. The financing came in the form of convertible debt, sources said. That will convert to equity when brokerage goes public, and those investors will get a 30% discount to the market price. One venture capitalist told CNBC that he and fellow investors believed the company was going to IPO relatively soon, and the debt round was a chance to "get in at a discount." JMP Securities' Devin Ryan estimates that Robinood's total accounts are now closer to 23 million, including the 3 million gained in January and 10 million users added in 2020 as investing from home boomed during the pandemic. In the Congressional hearing last week, Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev said the company had delivered more than $35 billion of realized gains to investors, which implies big growth in customers and customer assets. Its average account size is about $5,000, the company said. Vlad Tenev, Robinhood Source: Robinhood Tenev, who co-founded Robinhood eight years ago, answered questions from members of the House Financial Services Committee for more than five hours last Thursday. The Robinhood chief was tempered in his responses, and calmly explained the billions in cash injections were to prevent a liquidity crisis from happening. One investor, who asked not to be named because company strategy was private, said Tenev's testimony "went well" despite being "painful to watch at times," due to varying degrees of understanding of Robinhood's business model from those in Washington. "Robinhood emerged from this — there certainly was a hit on the company but we're fully committed to working through that." Another investor told CNBC that generally, Robinood backers "are feeling pretty good" about Tenev's performance. After 48 hours of the GameStop saga, he said it was clear the Twitter backlash was "insular" as the company continued to add hundreds of thousands of new accounts that week. "Growth has been great, despite Robinhood taking the brunt of press and questions from Congress —Vlad's done a great job, and as good as he could have done given the situation," he said. "He was sitting at the nexus of potentially pissing off regulators, customers and competitors." Some analysts expect new regulation could hinder the legal, but controversial, practice of payment for order flow, hurting the IPO's prospects. However, Robinhood investors say its value lies in user engagement, not the revenue model. Investors pointed to its position at the top of the app store, even as it was restricting customers from trading certain stocks. "It's the fastest growing consumer app, and has better engagement than social media," another investor told CNBC. "The majority of those new traders won't be trading GameStop." Robinhood users ... investing in Robinhood? Some critics, most notably Barstool CEO Dave Portnoy, believe Robinhood's brand, built on democratizing investing, won't survive the GameStop trading halts. However, many expect retail demand for Robinhood's offering to be strong, given its the vehicle that lets rookie investors access the stock market with little friction. Robinhood could hit the public markets by way of a direct listing or through a special-purpose acquisition company, people familiar with the private dealings told Bloomberg News. It has also reportedly considered allowing investors on its platform to invest directly in the Robinhood IPO. Airbnb followed a similar playbook by offering shares to their hosts, and the stock traded up on the IPO because of retail participation. Snowflake was another IPO that surged on its first day, which some speculate was due to people discounting retail thirst for the name. With a public debut in mind, Robinhood is now talking about the future of the investing boom it helped spark. Some analysts have floated the idea of Robinhood's ability to launch more banking products, or even mortgages on the millennial-focused app. The future, according to Tenev, may also involve more brokerage firms merging stock trading and social media on the same platform, he told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Dealbook DC Policy conference this week. Brokerage firms SoFi and Public already offer this feature. As for what happened with GameStop, Tenev called it a "5-sigma" event — meaning about a 1 in 3.5 million chance of occurring. Robinhood should have enough capital now to deal with regulatory requirements associated with frenzied trading, he said. But the GameStop volatility doesn't seem to be going away. Investors poured back into the brick-and-mortar retailer Wednesday, sending shares up more than 100%. — with reporting from CNBC's Crystal Mercedes.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin CEO of Snappt and President of Berlind Properties. Getty We all collectively scratched our heads and asked “what just happened?” in 2020. Now in 2021, we’re looking ahead and trying to make predictions for the year. While we are still living in unpredictable times, there are a few things that we can be confident will come to pass in the months to come.  The Economy Is Set To Soar Just about every economist is pointing to an economy set to explode in 2021. A December 2020 Wall Street Journal article explained why, noting a few specific catalysts:  • New businesses are exploding — there were new applications for 1.6 million in the third quarter of 2020 alone, nearly doubling the previous year’s pace. • The move online we’ve all experienced during the past five years set up businesses to not only weather the storm but, in many cases, flourish. • There is tons of cash sloshing around. The Federal Reserve reports that Americans have collectively made $2 trillion in new savings deposits since the pandemic hit. Combine this with pent-up demand from consumers who have been sidelined since last February and with the arrival of vaccines, and the economy looks like a rocket on final countdown. How This Affects The Residential Rental Market All taken together, this means we can expect tenant applications to soar for several reasons. First, despite severe hardships to specific industries (hospitality, travel, restaurants), many Americans are doing pretty well. Plus, as working from home becomes the new normal, many workers are fleeing dense urban jungles for more enjoyable environments (think Santa Barbara versus downtown San Francisco) and renting homes as they relocate. That said, there is a dark side of the new normal that has the potential to confound unsuspecting landlords: damaged credit. We saw this in 2009 and 2001 as well. Maxed-out credit cards are not abnormal these days — nor are applicants who seem low on cash reserves or applicants with relatively new jobs. Late payments on credit histories are more common than ever. We’re used to using these signals as indications an applicant might have trouble paying rent down the line. But the past year was anything but normal, and as we go forward, we may need to be more flexible than normal. Some of these apparently poor risks may actually be great potential tenants. I think of the story of Amadeo Peter Giannini, the son of Italian immigrants who, in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, set up a make-shift bank on a wharf and made loans to desperate locals on nothing but a handshake. His small bank — the Bank of Italy — flourished by capturing so many customers at such a fateful time. You may know it better today as the Bank of America. Applicant Evaluations In The New Normal As a landlord today, though, you should probably bank on more than a handshake. But what can you do in this post-pandemic world to balance the opportunities of a soaring economy with the risk of bad tenants? • Learn to discount minor, pandemic-driven noise. Maxed-out credit cards, lower cash reserves and new jobs are more common and less predictive than in normal times. Learn to look beyond these traditional measures. • Pay attention to the big things. That said, some things are still instant disqualifiers. Foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies and failure to pay are all indications of a substandard applicant. These are the big things. • Watch for fraudulently-altered financial documentation. A relatively new job is something you can overlook, but fraudulently-altered financial documentation, for example a fake paystub from someone with no job, isn’t. Neither is a falsified bank statement.  I suspect all of us are eager for a prosperous 2021 after living with the Covid-19 pandemic throughout 2020. All signs are that this will turn out to be an excellent year. But remain careful — there are risks as well. Nonetheless, with proper precautions, 2021 can be a profitable year for property managers. Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
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Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images Shares of GameStop climbed 44% in premarket trade on Thursday as heavily-shorted stocks favored by Reddit traders look set for a resurgence. Investors piled into the bricks-and-mortar video game retailer on Wednesday following the reported ousting of Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell, sending the stock soaring 103.9% before trading was halted. The company announced Tuesday that Bell will resign on March 26, with reports suggesting that Ryan Cohen – GameStop investor and co-founder of online pet food retailer Chewy -- and the board forced the move in order to accelerate its transition online. GameStop was at the center of a period of market mayhem in late January as retail traders led by multi-million-member Reddit thread WallStreetBets sent its share price skyrocketing, causing a short-squeeze on a number of Wall Street hedge funds with bets on its decline. However, some analysts have suggested that there was also some institutional involvement in the ballooning share price. Another stock caught up in the retail frenzy, AMC Entertainment, was up 17% in premarket trade on Thursday, having climbed 18% during the previous session. The cinema chain has been bolstered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that movie theaters in the city could open with limited capacity next month. Meanwhile, headphone manufacturer and fellow Reddit favorite Koss Corp jumped 57% in the early hours of Thursday.
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United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has revealed that Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto assets have been a key component of its corporate treasury since the company's founding back in 2012.  In a new announcement addressed to other corporate actors, the exchange presented its own experience in managing its treasury position in cryptocurrencies as a solid foundation for advising other private and publicly-traded companies about how to deal with their own prospective investments.  In a newly-published, highly detailed Corporate Treasury FAQ, the exchange provides a thorough overview of the kinds of investment, accounting, and tax policies that companies would need to consider and adopt if they wish to diversify their treasuries into crypto.  The FAQ is both a general resource that covers all manner of regulatory, auditory, technical and investment questions about crypto from a corporate investment perspective and a pitch for companies to choose Coinbase in particular as a trade execution, consultant and professional custody partner. The document also provides overviews of Bitcoin's performance in recent years from a macro perspective, revealing its favorable comparison to other financial assets such as gold and the S&P 500. "Bitcoin’s strong absolute performance compensated investors for its volatility," the exchange notes. Risk-adjusted, the asset had a rolling annualized Sharpe Ratio of 1.52 over the past five years, taking into account the 2018 bear market. Corporate investment in cryptocurrencies, notably Bitcoin, has made headlines in recent weeks due to Tesla's $1.5 billion investment in the asset, which resulted in rumored profits of up to $1 billion. Notwithstanding this extraordinary windfall, analysts have said that while they expect a ripple effect among corporations following Tesla's move, less than 5% of publicly traded firms are likely to be confident enough to invest at present, until there is more regulatory clarity.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it has revoked the registered securities of Long Blockchain Corp (LBCC) after the company failed to file annual reports since Dec. 31, 2017. In addition, the SEC says LBCC, which made the switch from soft drink production to activities related to blockchain technology in December 2017, is also “delinquent in filing quarterly reports.” Non-Existent Blockchain Business In a document that reveals the proceedings against LBCC, the SEC, which cites the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, says its decision (to revoke securities) is intended to protect investors. The SEC adds that an investigation had found that after the name change from Long Island Iced Tea Corp to LBCC, the listed company’s “blockchain business never became operational.” Meanwhile, concerning the status of LBCC’s common stock, the SEC said the following: The common stock of LBCC was registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act and traded on Nasdaq until Nasdaq filed a Form 25 on June 6, 2018, to delist the securities. LBCC stock is currently quoted on OTC Link whose parent company is OTC Markets Group, Inc, having not filed “a form 10-Q” since the period ended September 30, 2018. LBCC Agrees to Settle In the meantime, the SEC says LBCC has since “submitted an Offer of Settlement which the Commission has determined to accept.” According to the SEC, this revocation became effective as of Feb. 22, 2021. The revocation of the registration of each class of LBCC’s securities by the SEC is the latest setback for the company. As reported by news.Bitcoin.com, LBCC’s December 2017 plot to associate itself with the blockchain technology may have helped to trigger the 400% single-day price surge. However, this change in fortunes would prove to be short-lived as the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Department would later institute delisting proceedings against LBCC’s common stock. What are your thoughts on the SEC’s revocation of the registration of LBCC’s securities? You can share your views in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
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Nvidia’s ongoing supply problems won’t stop the company from selling $50 million worth of its new CMP chip range in the first quarter of 2021, the company’s chief financial officer Colette Kress forecasted on Feb. 24. Nvidia failed to meet demand from its core gaming customer base in 2020, and the trend looks set to continue into 2021. Added demand from a horde of cryptocurrency enthusiasts keen to direct Nvidia’s new RTX 30 series GPU to Ether (ETH) mining initially appeared to pile pressure on the company. But the firm’s CFO expects the recently announced Cryptocurrency Mining Processor product line to hit $50 million in sales in the first quarter of the year. The CMP range is designed specifically for Ether mining, and its introduction was part of an attempt to allocate more units of its RTX 30 range to gamers. Despite supply problems, Nvidia hit record revenues of $5 billion in the last quarter of 2020, while its stock price soared to all-time highs. This is a near-exact repeat of the market conditions present in 2018, when increased demand amid supply shortages pushed the stock price to the highest level in its history up to that time. On Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden signed an executive order to address the shortage of semiconductors and microchips. A critical review will investigate the country’s failing supply lines, which have been shown to rely too much on Chinese manufacturing, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The chip shortage boosted the value of the PHLX Semiconductor Index, which tracks the value of chip-related stocks, with the index gaining 70% in the past 12 months. JPMorgan analyst Harlan Sur expects the pump to continue, even though the supply shortage won’t be corrected for some time.  Sur recently told MarketWatch, “We believe semi companies are shipping 10% to 30% BELOW current demand levels and it will take at least 3-4 quarters for supply to catch up with demand and then another 1-2 quarters for inventories at customers/distribution channels to be replenished back to normal levels."  Sur said the previous quarter was the first in which every chip maker JPMorgan tracked actually exceeded forecasted earnings.
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Micah Johnson, a former MLB player-turned artist, sold a whopping $1 million worth of tokenized art in just one minute on the Winklevoss-owned NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway. The auction, which launched on Feb. 21 and lasted for 28 hours, generated $2 million worth of sales in total. The auction sold NFTs representing a painted sculpture made from hand-casted resin dubbed AKU: The Moon God. The physical AKU sculpture was also sold during the auction, fetching $305,000. The sculpture will be deposited into a vault and is subject to a two-year lockup. The purchaser also receives exclusive access to view the sculpture — which is stored in a physical vault at the Art Angels gallery in Miami, and can resell the sculpture at any time by transferring their token. Speaking to Cointelegraph, Johnson expressed his intention to demonstrate how non-fungible tokens can create unique experiences and utilities that go beyond the virtual world. AKU depicts a young black child wearing an oversized space helmet and looking up to the sky. Johnson recounts finding inspiration for AKU from a heartbreaking question his sister was asked of her son, “Mom, can astronauts be black?” In response, Johnson began painting his nephew as an astronaut, which eventually lead to the creation of AKU — a character that Johnson describes as having limitless potential: “I wanted to give him life, bring that to light, and let the other kids or other people, adults, whoever felt like there was of their dreams to have a symbol to the whole world could relate to.” Johnson described AKU as a great personal achievement, noting the tokenized artwork’s success as offering inspiration to people from all walks of life: “To bring together such a diverse group of people. And let them see or be inspired by AKU, you never know how many people who collected that AKU, or sell that AKU, finally found the courage to go do something that they've thought about doing, dreamed about doing, and they're going to go do it and maybe just change the world.”  The auction received widespread support from across the crypto community, including Erikan Obotetukudo, the founder of PaperTrail media: We did it!!! $1.4M in 7 minutes!! @Micah_Johnson3 https://t.co/pbr9jIdzGu — Erikan (@heyerikan) February 21, 2021 Within 36 hours of the auction’s completion, the tokens had generated nearly $500,000 worth of trade on secondary markets.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Smart city, building technology, and real estate business. Businessman holding digital tablet with ... [+] buildings hologram and application programming interface technology getty Late last year, there was a shakeup in JLL’s global corporate tree. Amongst the changes Guy Grainger, a firm favorite of this column, was announced as JLL’s new Global Head of Sustainability Services & ESG, and Andy Poppink replaced him as EMEA Markets CEO in January 2021. Andy Poppink JLL Having spent most of his career in the Silicon Valley region, following a basketball career that took him around the world, Poppink has always been very attuned to the topic of innovation in real estate. We had a virtual sit down to discuss the prospects for real estate in a post-COVID world, JLL’s strategy, and his vision for proptech. He started his career as a broker in the Tenant Representation team at the Staubach Company, a Californian real estate brokerage firm. After the Staubach Company was acquired by JLL in 2008, Poppink rose to lead JLL’s western region, overseeing Northern California, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions. He is currently based in Switzerland in his role as EMEA Markets CEO. Poppink reckons he is uniquely placed to understand the current crisis, as “I started in real estate in Silicon Valley in May 2001 and that’s allowed me to have experience of downturns - this is my third; first the dot com bust in 2001 in the bay area, then the financial crisis and now COVID. For people who haven’t been through it, it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel – but experience tells us that there always is. What’s interesting about this crisis is that the majority of our workforce has never experienced a work environment with challenges of this magnitude.” Goals and opportunities Poppink was brought to EMEA from the US to leverage his experience in specific areas linked to the opportunities to grow and scale JLL’s agency, leasing, and tenant representation practices. He believes there is a real opportunity to support occupiers and tenants in these changing times, which is what he built his career on, having worked will a vast range of occupiers from small start-ups to some of the biggest global brands. He shared that “ultimately, the thing I’m most passionate about is around team building and leadership. It is a fascinating intellectual and emotional pursuit to have experience across markets and cultures and to work with a diverse group of people to bring them together into a culture to best serve our clients.” The goal is to remain locally relevant while accelerating global growth. Vision for the future The ongoing pandemic has accelerated a number of trends and has triggered nearly a total disruption of the way we currently work across the world. The sudden and prolonged increase of working from home is one of the effects of that disruption, and the pandemic has also created an opportunity to re-imagine what daily routines look like. Poppink believes that JLL is at a unique nexus, in its access to information and in its activities, that will enable it to help people rethink the future – from their daily routines to how neighborhoods and cities will function - as it can bring together stakeholders such as contractors, developers, corporates, investors, institutions, governments, and communities. He thinks that in the near future we can look forward to greater connectivity and more innovative solutions. The disruption in global activity incentivized the firm to invest in new skill sets worldwide. “Out of our five most recently hired country CEOs, four come from outside of real estate from sectors such as tech, consulting, media, etc. We are building a more diverse talent pool. These CEOs represent the majority of the revenues we have in EMEA; it’s an exciting time to introduce diverse skill sets to a traditional business.” For example, their new Italy CEO, Barbara Cominelli, comes from Microsoft and has a strong tech background which will bring a new lens and perspective to the business locally. Where will innovation and tech take the real estate industry?  The disruption we have gone through has accelerated the adoption and integration of tech into our daily lives, and Poppink is excited about the fusion of tech and living space. In his own words, “I love the pace of Silicon Valley – optimism, opportunity, constant evolution. It is exciting to have access to entrepreneurs and executives who are trying to change the world and the way we live. It brings this spirit of eternal optimism around our ability to have a positive impact and make a difference. I hope I can bring some of that to our teams.” That being said, building and growing strong technology platforms can be challenging as it takes time, investment, and a lot of testing. According to Poppink, JLL has seen a great willingness from partners and clients to go through that journey, and the company as a whole is committed to continuing to invest in the most innovative tech-led real estate solutions for our clients. In January, Poppink virtually attended the World Economic Forum, which has historically taken place at Davos in Switzerland. He shared that the key themes discussed really resonated with JLL’s strategy, especially the focus on sustainability as a key driving force. In fact, the company has made significant investments into this driver and plans to achieve global net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. As part of this commitment, the company created a new senior role that Guy Grainger stepped into to give global coordination and focus to its sustainability endeavors. Construction and real estate make up more than a third of global carbon emissions and there is a strong push for the sector to think in terms of a sustainable future, as evidenced by Europe’s Green New Deal which forms the backbone of the region’s COVID recovery plan, and the resurgence of the Paris climate agreement now that the US has rejoined it. It is clear that good global citizenship is also good for business, and this push for sustainability will help JLL work better with its clients to shape their vision for a sustainable future for real estate. As Poppink puts it, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is growing awareness that concerns that may appear distant are in fact very real, climate change being the biggest one. The built environment represents a large share of global carbon emissions, so the real estate industry truly has the ability to help create a better and more sustainable world if it innovates. The effects of Covid-19 We cannot speak about the future, yet, without talking about Covid-19, as it has been a total shock to the system for us all, both personally and professionally. According to Poppink, the pandemic is a community-based challenge for which we need community-based solutions.   He shared that “the speed of the lockdowns and system shutdowns that started a year ago was frightening for all of us. Having a strong corporate culture proved to be a key resilience factor [for JLL]. We have led with care for our people first and foremost, and that brought us closer together.” As a response to the pandemic, Poppink noticed that companies are starting to think about how they are going to recreate workspace. Hybrid models will be key to enabling flexibility and boost performance. At the end of 2020, JLL did an in-depth study of workplace tendencies. The survey showed that while work will change, it doesn’t diminish the need for offices. Nearly three-quarters of respondents still want to be able to come into an office, while 70 percent consider the office as the best place for team building and connecting with management. 2021 is a year of new beginnings for JLL, as the company seeks to best position itself for the change that is underway. It will be interesting to see how its attention to technology and sustainability continues to evolve, and how the EMEA business grows under Poppink’s stewardship.
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The coronavirus pandemic has significantly hit several entertainment routines of the people worldwide, and South Korea is not an exception. PC gaming rooms had to shut down in the country, but their owners found a way to make profits during the lockdown by participating in crypto mining. A PC Bang Owner Made Over $3,000 Worth of Ethereum in Two Weeks According to Chosun, operators of the “PC bangs,” a common term used for the PC gaming rooms in South Korea, leverages their computers to take advantage of the pandemic-driven restrictions. In fact, owners don’t have certainties on whether or not they can re-open their businesses, and that’s why crypto mining is now an alternative to deal with right now. Some PC bang owners in Seoul are mining ether (ETH) by relying on highly-equipped computers with top-notch graphic cards. A 34-years-old man named Kim stated that the number of customers reduced significantly due to the pandemic, and his PC bang couldn’t be sustainable with such a situation. He’s now mining ETH with almost 36 computers. In just two weeks, Kim claimed he earned over 3.5 million won ($3,153), given in the context in the coldest month of the year because of the winter’s peak. PC bang operator praised the current weather conditions, as he saves heating costs by mining cryptos at the same time. Mining Remains Alive as PC Bang Owners Await a Green Light to Re-Open Moreover, in South Korea, Chosun states that a PC gaming room’s electricity service is not charged for home use but with regular prices. But the report states that the crypto mining fever across PC bangs might not last too long, as graphic card prices keep increasing. However, some of the operators are confident in the current crypto bull-run, as there’s no deadline set to re-open doors for businesses like theirs. Recently, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun stated that although vaccinations have been slower, the government expects to achieve herd immunity by the autumn. What do you think about this maneuver made by the PC gaming room owners? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Read disclaimer
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Thailand seeks to introduce a new set of rules for retail crypto investors, specifically targeting those who want to open accounts. The Thai financial watchdog could require domestic crypto exchanges to ask traders for proof of income. Thai SEC Could Also Ask Crypto Investors to Prove Their Knowledge of the Market According to a Bloomberg report, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Thailand is likely preparing the ground to require investors to show their income or assets before opening accounts. Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, the secretary general of the country’s financial watchdog, pointed out that anyone who isn’t allowed to trade cryptocurrencies via their accounts can invest through licensed managers. She added: It’s a big concern as most crypto investors on domestic exchanges are very young, such as students and teenagers. We realize those people love innovations and technology, but investments in these assets have enormous risk. Moreover, the general secretary said that non-qualified crypto traders could invest via financial advisers only if they’re licensed by the SEC. The watchdog is set to unveil its new rules on crypto trading over the week, ahead of a public hearing scheduled for March. Officials involved in the meetings are expected to evaluate recommendations from local exchanges and brokerages. Although it’s not confirmed, the general secretary suggested that investors have to prove some knowledge of the market before being allowed to open crypto accounts for trading. Six Licensed Crypto Exchanges Operating in Thailand so far The rhetoric from the Thai SEC is now shifting to a cautious one towards the cryptocurrencies’ risks. However, they keep granting licenses to crypto businesses in the nation. So far, in terms of digital asset exchanges approved, there are only six operating legally in Thailand. They are Bitkub, BX, Satang Pro, Huobi Thailand, ERX, and Zipmex. All six licensed crypto exchanges are approved for both cryptocurrencies and digital tokens, except for ERX, which is only approved for the latter. The SEC distinguishes cryptocurrencies as “created for the purpose of being a medium of exchange for the acquisition of goods, services, or other rights.” On the other hand, digital tokens are created “for the purpose of specifying the right of a person to participate in an investment in any project or business, or to acquire specific goods, services, or other rights under an agreement between the issuer and the holder,” said the financial watchdog. What do you think about the words from the Thai SEC general secretary? Let us know in the comments section below. Tags in this story Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
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The cryptocurrency market is showing signs of progress following a multiday sell-off that saw the total market capitalization drop by more than $400 billion as Bitcoin's (BTC) price briefly fell below $46,000.  While the majority of altcoins have entered a consolidation phase that includes a retest of underlying support levels, several projects have started to regain lost ground after new developments reignited investors' optimism. ADA/USDT Cardano's ADA started the year with a bullish spark that saw its price increase 624% from $0.165 on Jan. 2 to a high of $1.20 on Feb. 20. This week's sharp correction pulled the price to a swing low at $0.80, but it is clear that traders bought the dip. ADA/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView Since hitting a swing low at $0.80, ADA's price rallied 30% to $1.05 following the news that community members at Venus Protocol had approved a proposal to bring ADA to the Venus mainnet.  VIP-9 has passed and will be executed soon! @Cardano will become an available digital asset on #Venus!Get started: https://t.co/cAsPHdzOlQ https://t.co/KCgHWRPlfB — Venus (@VenusProtocol) February 23, 2021 VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for ADA on Feb. 14, prior to the recent price rise. The VORTECS™ score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity. Cointelegraph Markets Pro - VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. ADA price As the chart above shows, Binance introduced staking on Feb 10., and the VORTECS™ score for ADA rose to a high at 88 on Feb. 14 MATIC/USDT On Feb. 9 the Matic network rebranded to become "Polygon" as part of a strategic change to become a layer-two aggregator. The move was done in response to the growing momentum of Polkadot and a desire to build an interoperability protocol on top of Ethereum. High gas fees on the Ethereum network have increased the need for layer-two solutions, and Polygon has emerged as one of the top solutions with projects like Aavegochi and Golem already operating on the protocol. The rebrand helped lift the price of MATIC from $0.07 on Feb. 9 to an all-time high of $0.197 on Feb. 20 before the market downturn pushed it back down to $0.111 on Feb. 23. MATIC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView Since that time the MATIC has recovered 62% to trade at $0.16 as the community and total value locked on Polygon continue to grow. STX/USDT Stacks (STX) was the breakout star on Feb. 24 as the layer-one blockchain solution designed to bring smart contracts and decentralized applications to Bitcoin saw a record $166 million in trading volume that elevated STX to a new all-time high of $1.17. STX/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView Excitement for the project comes after the Feb. 23 announcement that STX holders can now participate in delegated staking from the Stacks wallet, allowing them to earn BTC rewards. According to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, market conditions for STX have been favorable for some time. VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. STX price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro As seen in the chart above, the VORTECS™ score for STX hit a high of 87 on Feb. 23, around 30 hours before the price increased 75% to its new high of $1.17. Interoperability, cross-bridge solutions and staking have emerged as drivers of growth that help incentivize investors to hold their tokens and also attract new participants to old and new blockchain projects. Following the recent market downturn, it's clear that projects that offer tokenholders multiple ways to earn a yield and operate across separate blockchain networks are beginning to stand out from the rest of the field.
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A shopper walks toward a GameStop store in Ottawa, Illinois, April 1, 2019. Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images Check out the companies making headlines after the bell on Wednesday: GameStop – Shares of the gaming retailer surged 61%, building on their massive surge during the regular trading session as traders weighed a C-suite shuffle at the company. Pure Storage – Pure Storage shares gained 4.9% after the data-storage company's revenue beat analyst expectations. Pure Storage's revenue for the fourth quarter came in at $502.7 million, which is ahead of a FactSet estimate of $480.2 million. The company also issued first-quarter revenue guidance of $405 million, which is above a FactSet forecast of $394.2 million. Booking Holdings – Booking Holdings shares rose 0.3% on the back of better-than-expected results for the previous quarter. Priceline.com's parent company reported a loss of 57 cents per share on revenue of $1.24 billion. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had forecast a loss of $4.28 per share on revenue of $1.18 billion. "Looking ahead, I am more confident than ever in our long-term future and in the eventual strong recovery of travel demand," CEO Glenn Fogel said. Teladoc Health – The telemedicine company's shares dropped 6.6% after Teladoc released mixed quarterly results. The company posted a loss per share of 27 cents on revenue of $383.3 million. That loss was 3 cents per share higher than what analysts expected, according to Refinitiv. However, Teladoc's revenue of $383.3 million beat a forecast of $378.9 million. Nvidia – Shares of the chipmaker climbed as much as 3.4% after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Nvidia reported earnings per share of $3.10 on revenue of $5 billion, while analysts expected earnings per share of $2.81 on revenue of $4.82 billion, according to Refinitiv. The company also issued first-quarter revenue guidance of $5.3 billion, easily topping a FactSet forecast of $4.49 billion. The stock later gave up its gains, however, to trade 3.3% lower. ViacomCBS – ViacomCBS shares ticked higher by 0.6% after the media giant released its fourth-quarter results. The company earned $1.04 per share, beating a Refinitiv estimate by 2 cents. ViacomCBS' revenue was roughly in line with expectations at $6.87 billion. Additionally, the company said its global streaming subscribers grew to nearly 30 million during the quarter. Domestic subscribers jumped by 71% to 19.2 million year over year. L Brands – L Brands shares gained 4.4% on fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations. The company posted a profit of $3.03 per share, beating a Refinitiv estimate of $2.91 per share. L Brands also issued strong earnings guidance for the first quarter. L Brands' results come after The New York Times reported the company is trying to sell a majority stake in its Victoria's Secret business.
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A suburban Chicago senior living retirement facility is on track to exit bankruptcy next month with creditor voting now underway and conduit issuer approval for its restructuring bonds in hand. The restructuring gives the facility more breathing room by requiring bondholders to take a haircut and wait longer to recoup their investment. The Park Place of Elmhurst, in the western Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December after reaching agreement on a restructuring with holders of a majority of principal from the $141 million remaining from $146 million of bonds issued in 2016 through the Illinois Finance Authority. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit many retirement communities hard, hasn’t helped the facility’s fiscal woes but it’s not blamed for the restructuring, its second since opening in 2012. Park Place, which has 300 residents, has fared well compared to many peers. The 2016 bonds were issued to exit its previous bankruptcy in exchange for the remaining principal from the initial $175.5 million unrated 2010 issue. The court approved the facility’s disclosure statement at a hearing late last month and the IFA signed off on the restructuring bonds at its monthly meeting earlier this month. Creditor voting, which includes bondholders, ends March 5 and a confirmation hearing is set for March 16 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, according to trustee filings. Holders of more than 84% of the 2016 A Bonds, more than 83% of the 2016 B Bonds and more than 62% of the 2016 C Bonds, previously agreed to the new restructuring. “The proposed refinancing will reduce the borrower’s total debt outstanding, while lowering coupon rates and extending the maturity date of the new series 2021 Bonds, resulting in lower debt service payments,” IFA executive director Christopher Meister wrote in his board message. “Despite its challenging debt structure, the borrower has maintained the quality of life for its residents – a very beneficial outcome.” The bonds have recently traded at 73 cents to 76 cents on the dollar, according to data on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA website. The replacement bonds are expected to be sold in early April. The restructuring will cut debt to $107.27 million from $141.11 million “significantly deleveraging the project” with annual debt service dropping by $1.2 million, according to IFA documents. The holders of $103.7 million Series 2016A and $15.5 million Series 2016B Bonds will receive a settlement of approximately $107.27 million, a 90% payout of their remaining principal. Accrued and unpaid interest on the Series 2016A and Series 2016B Bonds will be paid by the Series 2016 bond trustee out of funds related to the Series 2016 bonds. The restructuring extends the maturity date to 2060 from 2055 and lowers interest rates with the new coupon rates set at 5.125 % compared to rates ranging from 5.625% to 6.44% on the existing bonds. The payments will be interest only for the first three years and the principal will then be amortized over the next 37 years with the first annual principal payment to bondholders occurring on May 15, 2024. The Series 2016C Bonds will be repaid by the sponsor in a pro-rata share of $725,700 which amounts to a meager 3% of the approximately $21.92 million of outstanding principal plus 3% of the accrued but unpaid compounded interest. The Series 2016C Bonds were issued as a “hope” note approved in connection with the Series 2016 Restructuring, payable only from excess cash and to date only one payment of approximately $24,000 in interest has been triggered and paid, IFA documents said. Park Place’s sponsor is Rest Haven Illiana Christian Convalescent Home which does business as Providence Life Services. The 2016 restructuring was blamed on the real estate market, leading to struggles to fill units, and the facility now says it fell short of fixing its structural financial problems. The 2016 C bonds mature in 2055 and represented a 15% principal payment of the 2010 bonds while the original 2010 holders received 85% of principal in the 2016 A and B series. The primary benefit of the 2016 restructuring for the facility was that it eased payment demands by extending the maturity to 2055 from 2045. Park Place turned to a consultant in 2019 to review appropriate estimates on morbidity and concluded residents at Park Place “were living longer than expected, which is an altogether good thing which happened to have a negative impact on Park Place’s cash flow” as new entrance fees fall short of expectations, court filings say. Park Place currently has a waiting list. That led to a May payment default reported by bond trustee UMB Bank. Bondholders granted the facility a forbearance against action on the defaults in May and it was later extended to November as restructuring terms were negotiated. Park Place is a not-for-profit established to construct, own and operate the continuing care retirement community. The facility operates 181 units of varying sizes for independent living, 46 assisted living suites, 20 memory support assisted living units, and 37 nursing beds in its health center. Park Place is represented by Dopkelaw LLC. UMB is represented by Mintz Levin PC and Burke Law. The number of retirement projects defaulting for the first time last year increased by 150% to 30 from 12 in 2019, according to a Municipal Market Analytics default report published this week. The 30 first-time defaulters in 2020 represented 2.95% of all outstanding senior living sector par as of Jan. 1, 2020. In 2019, the 12 defaulters accounted for 2.22% of outstanding par on Jan. 1, 2019. There have been nine first-time defaults so far this year.
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A GameStop store is pictured in New York, January 29, 2021. Carlo AllegriI | Reuters Shares of GameStop surged more than 100% on Wednesday as investors poured into the brick-and-mortar retailer amid a C-suite shake-up. Shares were halted with less than 30 minutes left in the trading day and the stock ended the day up 103.9%. Arrows pointing outwards GameStop announced Tuesday that its chief financial officer Jim Bell will resign on March 26. "Mr. Bell's resignation was not because of any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's operations, policies or practices, including accounting principles and practices," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sources familiar with the matter told Business Insider that Bell did not leave willingly, but was pushed out by Ryan Cohen, co-founder of Chewy who made an investment in GameStop last year in an effort to help the company accelerate its push online. Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday evening that GameStop's board pushed Bell out in order to execute its turnaround more quickly, according to sources familiar with the matter. Cohen appointment to the GameStop board helped drive the heavily shorted stock upward in January, which resulted in the epic short squeeze in GameStop that provoked retail trading mania and eventually attention from Congress. "We acknowledge that leadership changes often follow activist settlements and Mr. Bell's exit was mutual, non-immediate, and suggests no disagreements with company/board," Jefferies equity analyst Stephanie Wissink told clients. "We believe Mr. Bell deserves recognition for a series of actions that protected GME equity during the late stages of the last hardware cycle, when sales were down sharply." Jefferies added that GameStop will likely look for a CFO replacement with a tech, compared to retail, background, as GameStop focuses on e-commerce growth. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.
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