Loral Space in ‘advanced talks’ to combine with Telesat

Loral Space & Communications declares $5.50 per share special dividend

Loral Space & Communications (LORL) announced that its board of directors has declared a special dividend of $5.50 per share for an aggregate dividend of approximately $170.5M.

The dividend is payable on May 28 to holders of record of Loral voting and non-voting common stock as of the close of business on May 14.

Loral declares a one time $5.50 special dividend, Stockwinners

Michael Targoff, Vice Chairman of Loral’s Board of Directors, explained that, “in an effort to maximize shareholder value, we have for some time been exploring, and are now in advanced discussions with our Canadian co-owner in Telesat, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, regarding the combination of Loral and Telesat into one public company.

Telesat to combine with Loral Space, Stockwinners

“Given the advanced state of the discussions regarding the combination transaction, it is now appropriate to pay to our shareholders a significant portion of the $243M cash distribution that we previously received from Telesat.”

“It is our intention,” Mr. Targoff continued, “to request that the Board declare an additional distribution to our shareholders in coordination with signing definitive agreements for the combination transaction.”

The company added: “Notwithstanding the advanced state of the discussions regarding the potential combination transaction, there can be no assurance as to whether or when Loral will be able to conclude the ongoing negotiations, that Loral will enter into any agreement that provides for a strategic transaction involving Telesat or Loral’s interest therein, that any strategic transaction will occur, or that any particular economic, tax, structural or other objectives or benefits with respect to any strategic transaction will be achieved.”

Loral Space & Communications Inc. offers satellite-based communications services to the broadcast, telecom, corporate, and government customers worldwide.

Telesat, formerly Telesat Canada, is a Canadian satellite communications company.  The company is now the fourth-largest fixed satellite services provider in the world. It owns a fleet of satellites, with others under construction, and operates additional satellites for other entities.

LORL is up 31% to $23.10.

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The real star war begins

AMC to no longer play Universal movies in its U.S. theaters

AMC Theatres (AMC) sent a letter to Universal Studios (CMCSA) chairman Donna Langley, saying that, going forward, AMC will not license any Universal films in any of its 1,000 globally effective immediately.

AMC will no longer play Universal movies, Stockwinners

“For much of the past four and a half years, I have been in direct dialogue with Jeff Shell and Peter Levinsohn of Universal about the importance of a robust theatrical window to the viability of the motion picture exhibition industry,” the letter reads.

“Throughout that time, AMC has expressed a willingness to consider alternatives to the current windowing strategy common in our industry, where the aim of such alternatives is to improve both studio profitability and theater operator profitability.

Universal stated it only pursued a direct-to-home entertainment release for “Trolls World Tour” because theaters were closed and Universal was committed to a lucrative toy licensing deal. We had our doubts that this was wholly Universal’s motivations, as it has been a longstanding desire by Universal to go to the home day and date.

Nonetheless, we accepted this action as an exception to our longstanding business practices in these unprecedented times.”

AMC noted that Shell was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that the success of “Trolls World Tour” demonstrated the viability of PVOD, and as soon as theaters reopen, the company expects to release movies on both theater and PVOD formats.

“Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms,” the letter said.

“Accordingly, we want to be absolutely clear, so that there is no ambiguity of any kind. AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.

Universal owns some blockbuster franchises, Stockwinners

It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us. It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice.

Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.

Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.

Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

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Smile Direct receives patent for its concept

SmileDirectClub granted patent for SmileShop retail concept

SmileDirectClub (SDC) announced it has been issued a patent for its SmileShop intellectual property from the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

SmileDirect receives patent for its concept, Stockwinners

The patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,636,522, further strengthens the telehealth dentistry pioneer’s efforts to bring affordable, accessible oral care to more people through its unique and innovative teledentistry platform and direct-to-consumer business model.

The patent ensures no clear aligner competitor will be able to duplicate SmileDirectClub’s unique model for 18 years.

The patent encompasses the unique SmileShop concept and process, including scheduling of an appointment at a SmileShop, sending the scheduling confirmation to the customer, conducting the intraoral scan, generating a treatment plan, receiving approval of the treatment plan by a licensed dentist or orthodontist, producing aligners in accordance with the treatment plan, and sending those aligners to the customer.

Smile Direct eliminates the middle man, Stockwinners

SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy platform has helped more than 1,000,000 customers achieve a straighter and brighter smile.

Furthermore, the company announced it is making plans to slowly reopen its SmileShops beginning in May in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland as local governments begin to lift business restrictions.

After its shops temporarily closed in March, SmileDirectClub, one of North America’s largest 3D printing manufacturers, dedicated some of its capacity to producing 3D printed personal protective equipment to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Smile Direct has an alliance with WalMart, Stockwinners

The company has shipped more than 40,000 face shields to medical organizations, elder care facilities, dentists and orthodontists during this time, and will supply all of its SmileShop team members with face shields and other PPE along with staggered appointment times, temperature scans and other social distancing measures to ensure a safe, sanitary experience upon reopening.

SDC closed at $5.39, it last traded at $7.20.

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Cash for Cannabis

Members of Congress look for marijuana industry included in virus relief

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to congressional leaders asking that cannabis businesses be included in future federal relief packages due to COVID-19.

The letter which was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said in part:

“Thank you for your efforts to address the needs of the American people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As you draft the next COVID-19 relief bill, we write to ask that you address one of the shortcomings of the CARES Act-the exclusion of state-legal cannabis businesses and their employees.

The COVID-19 crisis response demands the full participation of the American people, businesses, and workforce. However, without relief, a very large population is left without the means to execute the required public health measures and continue to provide financially for their families.

The state-legal cannabis industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and workforce, employing over 240,000 workers across 33 states and four territories, and generating $1.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2019.

As states respond to the COVID-19 crisis by shuttering businesses to mitigate the virus’ spread, jurisdictions across the country have recognized cannabis businesses as “essential.”

Essential businesses, in many places, can operate during the pandemic provided they abide by required public health safety measures. Like other businesses with continued operations, cannabis businesses have met the moment by preserving access to treatment for patients with chronic conditions, donating protective clothing, and manufacturing equipment for medical use.

However, unlike other small businesses, cannabis businesses are not eligible for the CARES Act programs.”

Publicly traded companies in the space include Aphria (APHA), Aurora Cannabis (ACB), CV Sciences (CVSI), CannTrust Holdings (CNTTF), Canopy Growth (CGC), Cronos Group (CRON), General Cannabis (CANN), India Globalization Capital (IGC), Tilray (TLRY), Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF) and Zynerba (ZYNE).

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L Brands shares tumble after buyer backs out of the deal

Sycamore Partners had agreed in February to acquire 55% of the company

Shares of L Brands fell sharply after Bloomberg reported that Sycamore Partners is seeking to terminate its agreement with the company regarding the Victoria’s Secret brand.

Bloomberg cites a court complaint filed by Sycamore in a Delaware court.

On February 20, L Brands and Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm specializing in consumer and retail investments, announced a strategic transaction that would position Bath & Body Works as a standalone public company and separate Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK into a privately-held entity.

Sycamore Partners is seeking to terminate its agreement to acquire a controlling stake in Victoria’s Secret from L Brands, Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond and Elizabeth Fournier report, citing a court filing. Sycamore in February had agreed to purchase 55% of the lingerie chain and take it private, leaving L Brands with a minority interest, the authors note.

Sales at Victoria’s Secret have been declining recently, Stockwinners

Before the pandemic disrupted the U.S. retail sector, Victoria’s Secret was struggling with plunging sales, and all of its U.S. retail locations are currently closed, the authors say.

Victoria’s Secret’s sales had been slowing for years , as the company wrestled with changing consumers tastes and how its customers shopper. 

Sycamore sues to cancel the deal, Stockwinners

L Brands, Inc. (LB) today announced that Sycamore Partners delivered a notice on April 22, 2020 purporting to terminate the Feb. 20, 2020 transaction agreement  (“Transaction Agreement”) relating to the sale of a 55% interest in Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty and PINK (collectively, Victoria’s Secret) announced on Feb. 20, 2020. 

Sycamore Partners also filed a lawsuit in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware on April 22, 2020 seeking a declaratory judgment that its termination of the Transaction Agreement is valid. 

L-Brands has been under pressure to create value for share holders, Stockwinners

L Brands believes that Sycamore Partners’ purported termination of the Transaction Agreement is invalid.  L Brands will vigorously defend the lawsuit and pursue all legal remedies to enforce its contractual rights, including the right of specific performance. 

L Brands intends to continue working towards closing the transactions contemplated by the Transaction Agreement.

LB is down 21% to $9.57.

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Department of Defense back’s Microsoft cloud contract

DOD issues report on JEDI contract, sees award to Microsoft as proper

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has issued a report on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Procurement.

“On June 11, 2019, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the DoD Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud procurement, and an investigation into allegations that former DoD officials engaged in ethical misconduct related to the JEDI Cloud procurement,” the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General said in a statement.

DOD OIG says JEDI contract was handled correctly

According to the report, the DoD OIG concluded that “the DoD’s decision to award the JEDI Cloud contract to a single contractor was consistent with applicable law and acquisition standards. […] We concluded that the procuring contracting officer’s determination to use a single-award contract was in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and was reasonable.

Amazon sued to overturn the contract , Stockwinners

We also concluded that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s authorization for a single-award contract was consistent with applicable law.

DOD awarded the contract to Microsoft, Stockwinners

In addition, we concluded that the JEDI Cloud requirements in the Request for Proposal were reasonable and based on approved requirements, essential cloud capabilities, DoD cloud security policy, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program guidance.

In addition, we concluded that the DoD’s inclusion of gate requirements was reasonable and did not overly restrict competition. We also concluded that the DoD conducted the JEDI Cloud source selection in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

We concluded that the source selection team’s evaluation of the contractors’ proposals was consistent with established DoD and Federal source selection standards. We also note that on February 13, 2020, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued an opinion and order which granted Amazon’s request for a preliminary injunction and stopped the DoD from proceeding with JEDI Cloud contract activities until further order of the court.

The court concluded that Amazon is likely to demonstrate in the course of their bid protest that the DoD erred in its evaluation of a discrete portion of Microsoft’s proposal for the JEDI Cloud contract. The court’s decision was not inconsistent with our conclusion that the source selection process used by the DoD was in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

In this report, we do not draw a conclusion regarding whether the DoD appropriately awarded the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft rather than Amazon Web Services.

We did not assess the merits of the contractors’ proposals or DoD’s technical or price evaluations; rather we reviewed the source selection process and determined that it was in compliance with applicable statutes, policies, and the evaluation process described in the Request for Proposals. In addition, however, we concluded that after the JEDI Cloud Contract award, the DoD improperly disclosed source selection and proprietary Microsoft information to Amazon.

In addition, the DoD failed to properly redact names of DoD source selection team members in the source selection reports that were disclosed to Amazon and Microsoft. […] we believe the evidence we received showed that the DoD personnel who evaluated the contract proposals and awarded Microsoft the JEDI Cloud contract were not pressured regarding their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House.”

AMZN last traded at $2308. MSFT last changed hands at $172.44.

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Feds inject more money into the economy

Federal Reserve to provide up to $2.3T in loans to support economy

The Federal Reserve on Thursday took additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy.

“Our country’s highest priority must be to address this public health crisis, providing care for the ill and limiting the further spread of the virus,” said Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell. “

Powell puts more money into the economy. Stockwinners

The Fed’s role is to provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity, and our actions today will help ensure that the eventual recovery is as vigorous as possible.”

The actions the Federal Reserve is taking today to support employers of all sizes and communities across the country will: Bolster the effectiveness of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions through term financing backed by PPP loans to small businesses.

Cash is infused into the economy at a record rate, Stockwinners

The PPP provides loans to small businesses so that they can keep their workers on the payroll.

The Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, or PPPLF, will extend credit to eligible financial institutions that originate PPP loans, taking the loans as collateral at face value; Ensure credit flows to small and mid-sized businesses with the purchase of up to $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program.

Feds put more money in PPP

The Department of the Treasury, using funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, will provide $75 billion in equity to the facility; Increase the flow of credit to households and businesses through capital markets, by expanding the size and scope of the Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities, or PMCCF and SMCCF, as well as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF.

These three programs will now support up to $850 billion in credit backed by $85 billion in credit protection provided by the Treasury; and help state and local governments manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic by establishing a Municipal Liquidity Facility that will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities.

The Treasury will provide $35 billion of credit protection to the Federal Reserve for the Municipal Liquidity Facility using funds appropriated by the CARES Act.

The Main Street Lending Program will enhance support for small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering 4-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion.

Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year.

Eligible banks may originate new Main Street loans or use Main Street loans to increase the size of existing loans to businesses.

Banks will retain a 5 percent share, selling the remaining 95 percent to the Main Street facility, which will purchase up to $600 billion of loans.

Firms seeking Main Street loans must commit to make reasonable efforts to maintain payroll and retain workers. Borrowers must also follow compensation, stock repurchase, and dividend restrictions that apply to direct loan programs under the CARES Act.

Firms that have taken advantage of the PPP may also take out Main Street loans.

“The Federal Reserve and the Treasury recognize that businesses vary widely in their financing needs, particularly at this time, and, as the program is being finalized, will continue to seek input from lenders, borrowers, and other stakeholders to make sure the program supports the economy as effectively and efficiently as possible while also safeguarding taxpayer funds. Comments may be sent to the feedback form until April 16,” the central bank said.

To support further credit flow to households and businesses, the Federal Reserve will broaden the range of assets that are eligible collateral for TALF.

As detailed in an updated term sheet, TALF-eligible collateral will now include the triple-A rated tranches of both outstanding commercial mortgage-backed securities and newly issued collateralized loan obligations.

The size of the facility will remain $100 billion, and TALF will continue to support the issuance of asset-backed securities that fund a wide range of lending, including student loans, auto loans, and credit card loans.

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Immunomedics shares soar on its cancer drug

Immunomedics obtains Fast Track designation for sacituzumab govitecan

On Monday Immunomedics (IMMU) announced that its Phase 3 confirmatory ASCENT study will be halted due to compelling evidence of efficacy. This decision was based on the unanimous recommendation by the independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee, during its recent routine review of the ASCENT study.

Immunomedics receive’s FDA’s Fast Track designation for ASCENT, Stockwinners

ASCENT is a Phase 3 confirmatory study designed to validate the promising safety and efficacy data of sacituzumab govitecan observed in a Phase 2 study of heavily pretreated patients with metastatic TNBC. The primary endpoint for the study is progression-free survival, and secondary endpoints include overall survival and objective response rate, among others.

A biologics license application resubmission seeking accelerated approval of sacituzumab govitecan for the treatment of patients with mTNBC who have received at least two prior therapies for metastatic disease is currently under U.S. Food and Drug Administration review, with a PDUFA target action date of June 2, 2020.

The FDA previously granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for sacituzumab govitecan in this disease setting.

Today Immunomedics announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track designation for sacituzumab govitecan for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who have previously received a programmed death receptor-1 or programmed death-ligand 1 inhibitor, and a platinum containing chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant/adjuvant, locally advanced or metastatic setting, including patients who are platinum ineligible and have previously received a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor in the neoadjuvant/adjuvant, locally advanced, or metastatic setting.

Sacituzumab govitecan is currently being evaluated in the Phase 2 TROPHY U-01 study of patients with mUC.

Interim results from 35 patients included in the 100-patient cohort of cisplatin-eligible patients who have relapsed or are refractory to PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor and platinum-based chemotherapy were presented at the 2019 European Society for Medical Oncology Annual Congress and showed an overall response rate of 29 percent, consistent with previously reported data in this population.

Enrollment for the full cohort of 100 patients with prior platinum-based and PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor therapies has been completed, with topline data expected to be available in the second half of 2020.

While enrollment for the second cohort of 40 cisplatin-ineligible patients is expected to be completed later this year, the company has recently broadened the study to include a third cohort of PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor-naive patients to assess the combination of sacituzumab govitecan with pembrolizumab.

Urothelial cancer illustration

Urothelial cancer refers to cancer that begins in cells called urothelial cells that line the urethra, bladder, ureters, renal pelvis, and some other organs. Urothelial cells are also called transitional cells. These cells can change shape and stretch without breaking apart. Also called transitional cell cancer.

IMMU is up 59 cents to $19.37. Shares jumped yesterday from $5.35 to $20 before closing at $18.70.

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Zantac causes cancer says FDA

FDA calls for removal of Zantac from the market

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is requesting manufacturers withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs from the market immediately.

This is the latest step in an ongoing investigation of a contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, in ranitidine medications, commonly known by the brand name Zantac.

FDA says Zantac causes cancer; orders product removal

The agency has determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity.

As a result of this immediate market withdrawal request, ranitidine products will not be available for new or existing prescriptions or OTC use in the U.S. NDMA is a probable human carcinogen.

In the summer of 2019, the FDA became aware of independent laboratory testing that found NDMA in ranitidine.

Low levels of NDMA are commonly ingested in the diet, for example NDMA is present in foods and in water. These low levels would not be expected to lead to an increase in the risk of cancer.

However, sustained higher levels of exposure may increase the risk of cancer in humans.

The FDA conducted thorough laboratory tests and found NDMA in ranitidine at low levels.

Ranitidine causes cancer, Stockwinners

At the time, the agency did not have enough scientific evidence to recommend whether individuals should continue or stop taking ranitidine medicines, and continued its investigation and warned the public in September 2019 of the potential risks and to consider alternative OTC and prescription treatments.

New FDA testing and evaluation prompted by information from third-party laboratories confirmed that NDMA levels increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions, and NDMA has been found to increase significantly in samples stored at higher temperatures, including temperatures the product may be exposed to during distribution and handling by consumers.

The testing also showed that the older a ranitidine product is, or the longer the length of time since it was manufactured, the greater the level of NDMA.

These conditions may raise the level of NDMA in the ranitidine product above the acceptable daily intake limit.

With today’s announcement, the FDA is sending letters to all manufacturers of ranitidine requesting they withdraw their products from the market.

The FDA is also advising consumers taking OTC ranitidine to stop taking any tablets or liquid they currently have, dispose of them properly and not buy more; for those who wish to continue treating their condition, they should consider using other approved OTC products.

FDA orders removal of Zantac, Stockwinners

Patients taking prescription ranitidine should speak with their health care professional about other treatment options before stopping the medicine, as there are multiple drugs approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine that do not carry the same risks from NDMA.

To date, the FDA’s testing has not found NDMA in famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec). Zantac is marketed and sold by Sanofi (SNY).

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