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Slack will finally make its public debut Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “WORK.”
Southwest Airlines, Dish, CBS, PG&E and Tesla are the companies to watch.
(Bloomberg) -- As 2019’s bumper crop of initial public offerings either languishes or wildly exceeds expectations, Slack Technologies Inc. is taking a route to the trading floor that it hopes will yield a much more boring outcome.Following in the footsteps of music-streaming service Spotify Technology SA last year, the workplace messaging application is set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday via a direct listing. It’s just the second large company to test the unusual method and will be closely watched by other potential candidates to see how successfully the company and its advisers pull it off.Investors got their first hint of how things are going when Slack’s reference price was set at $26 per share on Wednesday. Unlike the offering price paid by investors in a traditional IPO, the reference price doesn’t establish the valuation, though it’s partly based on recent trading in private markets. Its main purpose is to provide a starting point to allow trading to begin under New York Stock Exchange rules.With IPO heavyweight advisers from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co. helping to steer Slack through its listing alongside market maker Citadel Securities, all eyes will be on how the first day of trading plays out. But the company and its investors aren’t looking for a meaningful stock pop -- and want to avoid the volatility -- that often accompanies high-profile share sales, according to a person familiar with the process.On Wednesday, Slack said that its investors had converted additional Class B stock to Class A shares, increasing the number that could be sold to 194 million from 181 million, out of a total of 504.4 million. Especially because there’s no lock-up period, there’s a risk of too few investors wanting to buy or too many wanting to sell.“A direct listing can be considered risky for a variety of reasons," Alejandro Ortiz, an analyst at SharesPost, said in a note. “There is an increased chance of substantially more supply than demand for Slack’s shares. All of this could result in heightened volatility in the early hours and days of trading.”Reference PriceFifteen months after its own direct listing, Spotify trades about 12% above its reference price of $132, at about $148 a share on Wednesday. That’s well below where the stock opened on its first day of trading in April 2018, though, at $165.90 apiece.On Thursday, much of the attention at the exchange will be focused on one man. Pete Giacchi, a longtime market maker at the NYSE for Citadel Securities, will be tasked with opening the stock –- just as he was for Uber Technologies Inc.’s listing in May, people with knowledge of the matter said. It could be a long wait: Spotify’s shares took more than three hours to start trading, and it will take a while to make sure that the pricing and trading volumes coming in are at levels that Slack and its advisers are comfortable with.Supply, DemandMorgan Stanley, as the named adviser to the designated market maker, will be constantly trying to get a sense of supply and demand for the shares to advise on that opening price. The bank’s team includes global head of technology capital markets, Colin Stewart, as well as David Chen, who leads software banking. John Paci, the co-head of U.S. equities trading, will help advise the designated market maker on where the stock should open based on buying and selling interest gleaned from investors, according to people familiar with the details.At Goldman Sachs, the work will be led by Nick Giovanni, co-head of the global technology, media and telecommunications group, equity capital markets head David Ludwig and Will Connolly, co-head of the West Coast financing group and head of technology ECM.One thing Slack’s listing will have in common with an IPO: executives including Chief Executive Officer Stewart Butterfield and finance chief Allen Shim are expected to be pacing the floor of the NYSE for the open. They may not stick around all day, though. They will likely spend some time at the offices of their advisers before celebrating with employees and customers, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.Representatives for Slack, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citadel Securities declined to comment.Private FundsSlack’s decision to bypass a traditional IPO -- and the opportunity it brings to raise funds -- is yet another sign of how benevolent private markets have been to tech startups in recent years. Slack’s earliest major investor, venture capital firm Accel, has directed a fire hose of money at the messaging company over the years, investing from several of its funds to accumulate a 23.8% stake.In addition to Accel, Slack captured the imagination of elite investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Social Capital. But it was SoftBank Group Corp.’s behemoth Vision Fund, which also owns stakes in Uber and WeWork Cos., that accelerated Slack’s fundraising when it led a $250 million investment in 2017.One of the main reasons that Slack has remained well capitalized, however, is that it burns through less cash than some of SoftBank’s other investments. Uber, for instance, accumulated more than $10 billion in operating losses in three years. While Slack expects higher-than-usual losses in the second quarter, that still amounts to only about $75 million to $77 million for the three months, even including expenses related to the listing.Growth vs. ProfitabilityThe high demand for IPOs by the likes of money-losing companies including Uber, Lyft Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc. proves that investors remain focused on growth prospects over profitability –- in the short term at least.With Uber leading the pack with its $8.1 billion offering, 79 companies have raised $28.88 billion in U.S. IPOs this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That includes five other listings topping $1 billion, including the $2.34 billion IPO by Uber’s ride-hailing rival Lyft.With no lock-up period for a direct listing, Slack investors could be jittery about any updates from the company, perceived competitive threats or other risks.Tiny SpeckIn its filings, Slack has warned investors that it’s a relatively new business, launching only in 2014 after existing for several years as a gaming company called Tiny Speck. Its rocket-ship ascent has attracted plenty of investors, but gives new potential shareholders only a limited trajectory to study.Another challenge for Slack is one that fellow mega startups like Uber have grappled with, namely whether they can move beyond the core offering that their early years of success were built on. While Slack has improved its product so that it can serve larger companies, many customers still consider it an easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing workplace messaging platform, despite speculation that it could evolve into a catch-all portal for business applications.One thing that could make Slack’s debut more unpredictable than Spotify’s is its investor base. Because the company’s ownership is more concentrated among fewer, larger shareholders, it could be more difficult to gauge the supply of shares that are likely to be traded, one person with knowledge of the process said. Both buyers and sellers may also hang back on day one to see how trading goes before getting involved: Just 30 million of Spotify shares changed hands in its trading debut, less than a third of the total available.\--With assistance from Crystal Tse and William Hobbs.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sonali Basak in New York at email@example.com;Ellen Huet in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, ;Michael J. Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth Fournier, Michael HythaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Lyft (LYFT) and Uber Technologies (UBER) are pushing back against California legislation that would require them to recognize their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors. The legislation would require companies like Lyft to give their drivers the compensation and benefits spelled out under California’s employment regulations.
(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp., the California utility giant that went bankrupt five months ago amid crippling wildfire liabilities, has reached a $1 billion settlement with local government agencies that were harmed by blazes its equipment ignited.The deal between PG&E and 14 public entities includes a settlement for the town of Paradise, which was destroyed in November’s Camp Fire -- the deadliest in California history. It’s the first “significant settlement” since PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January, said Greg Gordon, an analyst at Evercore ISI.The agreement doesn’t affect lawsuits filed by individual homeowners and businesses against the San Francisco company, owner of California’s largest utility, and it must be approved by the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case.Shares of the company rose as much as 9.6% on Wednesday, heading for a fifth straight gain in the longest rally since April as California lawmakers discuss legislation to address utilities’ wildfire liabilities.The settlement announced Tuesday is one step forward for PG&E, which is working through the largest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history. The company has been juggling the interests of wildfire victims, activist investors and state lawmakers and regulators as it tries to come up with a restructuring plan.“What we hope is that PG&E can come out of bankruptcy as soon as possible so these funds can be paid,” said John Fiske, an attorney with the Baron & Budd law firm representing the public agencies.PG&E described the settlement in an emailed statement as “an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims and a demonstration of our willingness to work collaboratively with stakeholders to achieve mutually acceptable resolutions.”The settlement covers the 2015 Butte Fire, the devastating 2017 Wine Country fires and last year’s Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. More than half of the total settlement amount -- $582 million -- would pay for Camp Fire damages, with Paradise receiving $270 million and its parks and recreation district getting $47.5 million. Butte County would receive $252 million, while Yuba County would get $12.5 million.Criminal CaseButte County’s district attorney has been considering criminal charges against the company over the fire, which state investigators blamed on a PG&E power line. The settlement announced Tuesday would have no effect on any criminal case, Fiske said.Nine counties and cities would, together, receive $415 million related to fires that tore across Northern California’s wine country in October of 2017. And the Calaveras County Water District would get $3 million to cover damage from the 2015 Butte Fire, which was started by a tree leaning into a power line.Also on Tuesday, California regulators asked for comment on proposals designed to improve PG&E’s safety culture. Among the proposals: splitting the company’s gas and electric operations into separate utilities or selling its gas assets outright; a periodic review of PG&E’s certificate to operate; eliminating PG&E’s holding company structure; and linking the company’s profits to safety performance.“This is a company that is in Chapter 11 related to their perceived safety performance,” said Paul Patterson, an utility analyst at Glenrock Associates. “One has to wonder if any of these proposals would provide any meaningful additional incentive.”(Updates with analyst’s comment in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Gerald Porter Jr..To contact the reporters on this story: David R. Baker in San Francisco at email@example.com;Mark Chediak in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
A few biotechs focused on oncology or gene therapies are potential acquisition targets following the announcement by Pfizer to acquire Array BioPharma.
Ignoring the market jitters and speculations, a few stocks have managed to score 10% or more in a month. So, picking up stocks from the space will be a prudent move.
PG&E; (PCG) stock is one of the most volatile stocks among utilities. Recently, PG&E;'s implied volatility levels were close to ~90%—higher than broader utilities’ average volatility of 14%.
PG&E; (PCG) agreed to pay $1 billion to various California cities, counties, and agencies in order to settle claims for losses from the Camp Fire. The settlement doesn't impact individual or business claims.
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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Co. has rapidly transformed from one of biotech’s darlings into a cautionary tale of overheated M&A hype. Shares of the developer of migraine treatments surged in April after Bloomberg News reported that the company was considering a sale; the stock then took another leg up earlier this month when Biohaven canceled plans to attend a Goldman Sachs health-care conference, fueling speculation a takeover was imminent. All those gains evaporated this week when the company instead announced that it was selling more shares, something that wouldn’t happen if a deal was in sight. As of midday Tuesday, the stock was down 35 percent from its highs: Biohaven’s ongoing single status shouldn’t have come as so much of a shock. The company has arguably never been as compelling an M&A target as some investors and analysts seem to think, and faces significant risks if it has to go it alone. Deal hype isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy in biotech; in fact, it can sometimes backfire and result in the exact opposite. In the case of Biohaven, the company’s lead drug in development is a migraine pill that takes the same approach as a group of three recently approved injectable medicines that can help prevent the debilitating headaches. Biohaven's drug is a fast-acting alternative, but it will have to compete for a subset of the market with cheaper generic options and a direct rival from Allergan PLC.The drug’s tough path forward is one of the reasons Biohaven was likely open to a buyout; this launch will be even harder and slower without the financial resources and commercial expertise of a larger company. But that same dynamic is also potentially what’s keeping potential suitors away. Biohaven just isn’t the sort of company that pharma has been buying. The sweet spot of M&A in the industry has centered around cancer drugs and rare-disease treatments that command very high prices, partly by sidestepping the pricing and reimbursement problems that dog larger and more competitive markets such as the one for migraine remedies. Most recent biopharma acquisitions above $1.5 billion have been for companies working in these areas or for drugs that already generate sales. It’s possible that a drugmaker could decide to do something different, but it would need a compelling reason, and the hype-driven ascent of BioHaven’s valuation doesn’t help.This is pretty clearly a situation where takeover excitement got well ahead of reality, which isn’t uncommon in biotech. But context matters, and any investment thesis that depends on big pharma expensively bucking an M&A trend to get itself into a possible price war deserves some extra skepticism.To contact the author of this story: Max Nisen at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Max Nisen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering biotech, pharma and health care. He previously wrote about management and corporate strategy for Quartz and Business Insider.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Ciena, Carrols, Children's Place, Stitch Fix and Foot Locker as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. made a renewed push into payments on Tuesday, announcing plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra.Read More: Facebook Wants Its Cryptocurrency to One Day Rival the GreenbackIt will be governed by the Libra Association, a group of companies that will have an equal say in how the cryptocurrency is managed. Almost 30 firms have joined and Facebook hopes another 70 or more will enter the fold in the future.Read Facebook’s Project Libra white paper hereWho’s In:Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., the world’s largest payments networks, as well as PayPal Holdings Inc. are on board. For Visa and Mastercard, it’s a chance to offer the world of cryptocurrencies the same services they provide in card payments. All three companies know the challenges of building a network and can offer expertise in encouraging consumers to use the instrument and cajoling merchants into accepting it.Companies such as Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and Spotify Technology SA keep millions of credit cards on file, and they risk losing customers when people get a new card or number. E-commerce firms also pay higher “card not present” rates when processing payments, so anything that can reduce these expenses is welcome.“Libra has the potential to bridge the gap between traditional financial networks and new digital currency technology, while reducing the costs for everyone,” said Peter Hazlehurst, head of payments at Uber.International companies, including e-commerce firm MercadoLibre Inc. and telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc, signed onto Libra, too. Blockchain technology and stablecoins are potential solutions for the messy world of cross-border payments, which suffers from delays and high costs.Who’s Out:Large banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., already have their own payments businesses that reap billions of dollars in fees. With regulators still deciding how to treat cryptocurrencies, banks and investment firms are treading cautiously.So far, no large brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Target Corp. and Walmart Inc., are taking part. The industry is always interested in lowering the cost of accepting payments, but traditional merchants have historically been hesitant to accept cryptocurrencies due to volatility and lack of consumer adoption.The largest U.S. technology companies, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc., are noticeably absent. Many of these firms have their own digital payments businesses and some are experimenting with blockchain technology. Apple has poured scorn on Facebook for repeated privacy missteps and other big tech firms are trying to avoid being associated with the social-media giant.“This is very early -- 27 organizations right now, 100 by the time we launch,” David Marcus, head of the Facebook blockchain team that’s spearheading the project, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “And by that time, I definitely expect to see banks in there, I definitely expect to see other large technology companies and I definitely expect to see more diversity of organizations in terms of geographical distribution.”Square Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey is a cryptocurrency fan, but even his firm isn’t part of Libra at launch. Square’s cryptocurrency team made its first hire last week and it’s Cash App is a popular way for consumers to buy and sell Bitcoin.Here’s the full list of founding members and partners:Andreessen Horowitz Anchorage Bison Trails Booking Holdings Inc.Breakthrough Initiatives Facebook’s CalibraCoinbase Inc.EBay Inc. Farfetch Ltd.Iliad SA’s Free Lyft Inc.Mastercard MercadoLibre Inc.’s Mercado Pago PayPal Naspers Ltd.’s PayURibbit Capital Spotify Technology SAStripe Inc.Thrive Capital Union Square Ventures Uber Visa Vodafone Group Xapo Creative Destruction Lab Kiva Mercy Corps Women’s World Banking (Updates with comment from Facebook’s David Marcus in 10th paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected Creative Destruction’s name.)To contact the reporters on this story: Jenny Surane in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Julie Verhage in New York at email@example.com;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.