$5B Merger in LNG Space

New Fortress Energy to buy Hygo ,Golar LNG Partners combined in $5B deal

New Fortress Energy (NFE) announced that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire Hygo Energy Transition a 50-50 joint venture between Golar LNG Limited (GLNG) and Stonepeak Infrastructure Fund II Cayman.

New Fortress goes shopping

“With a strong presence in Brazil and a world-class LNG shipping business, Hygo and GMLP are excellent additions to our efforts to accelerate the world’s energy transition,” said Wes Edens, Chairman and CEO of NFE.

“The addition of Hygo will quickly expand our footprint in South America with three gas-to-power projects in Brazil’s large and fast-growing market. With GMLP, we gain LNG ships and world-class operators that are an ideal fit to support our existing terminals and robust pipeline.”

“We are impressed with what Wes Edens and the NFE team have created and their commitment to changing the energy industry,” said Golar LNG Chairman Tor Olav Troim.

“They share our vision to provide cheaper and cleaner energy to a growing population. The consolidation of two of the entrepreneurial LNG downstream players gives the company improved access to capital and creates a unique world-leading energy transition company which Golar shareholders will benefit from being a part of going forward.”

With the acquisition of Hygo, NFE will acquire an operating floating storage and regasification unit terminal and a 50% interest in a 1500MW power plant in Sergipe, Brazil as well as two other FSRU terminals with 1200MW of power in advanced stages in Brazil.

Hygo’s fleet consists of a newbuild FSRU and two operating LNG carriers.

NFE will also acquire a leading owner of FSRUs and LNG carriers as well as a pioneer in floating liquefaction technologies with the GMLP transaction.

The addition of GMLP’s fleet of six FSRUs, four LNG carriers and a 50% interest in Trains 1 and 2 of the Hilli, a floating liquefaction vessel, is expected to support both NFE’s , NFE will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Hygo for 31.4M shares of NFE Class A common stock and $580M in cash.

The transaction is valued at a $3.1B enterprise value and a $2.18B equity value.

Pursuant to the transaction, GLNG will receive 18.6 million shares of NFE Class A common stock and $50 million in cash and Stonepeak will receive 12.7 million shares of NFE Class A common stock and $530 million in cash.

Hygo’s Board of Directors, together with GLNG and Stonepeak, the shareholders of Hygo, have unanimously approved the proposed transaction with NFE.

The closing of the transaction is subject to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and third party consents and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the first half of 2021.

Under NFE’s agreement with GMLP , NFE has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common units of GMLP for $3.55 per common unit in cash.

NFE has also agreed to acquire GMLP’s general partner for equivalent consideration based on the general partner’s economic interest in GMLP.

The preferred units of GMLP will remain outstanding. The transaction is valued at a $1.9B enterprise value and $251 million common equity value.

GMLP’s Board of Directors, acting upon the recommendation of a special committee of independent directors of GMLP, unanimously approved the proposed transaction with NFE.

The closing of the transaction is subject to the approval by the holders of a majority of GMLP’s outstanding common units, the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and third party consents and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the first half of 2021.

GLNG has entered into a support agreement with NFE committing to vote its approximately 30.8% interest in GMLP’s common units in favor of the transaction.

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RealPage sold for $10.2 billion

RealPage to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $88.75 per share in cash

RealPage (RP) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sector, in an all-cash transaction that values RealPage at approximately $10.2B, including net debt.

Real Page sold for $10.2 billion

Under the terms of the agreement, RealPage stockholders will receive $88.75 in cash per share of RealPage common stock upon closing of the transaction.

The purchase price represents a premium of 30.8% over RealPage’s closing stock price of $67.83 on December 18, 2020, a premium of 36.5% over RealPage’s 30-day volume-weighted average share price through that date, and a premium of 27.8% over RealPage’s all-time high closing stock price of $69.47 on December 7.

The RealPage board has unanimously approved the agreement with Thoma Bravo and recommends that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the transaction at the special meeting of RealPage stockholders to be called in connection with the transaction.

Thoma Bravo buys the real estate software company

Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage expects to continue operating under the leadership of chairman and CEO Steve Winn and the existing RealPage leadership team based in Richardson, Texas.

Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, expiration or early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and receipt of other required regulatory approvals.

A special meeting of RealPage stockholders will be held in early 2021, following the filing of a definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Winn and certain affiliated entities, which collectively own approximately 10% of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, have entered into a voting agreement with Thoma Bravo pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, to vote their shares of RealPage common stock in favor of the merger, and against any competing transaction, so long as, among other things, the RealPage board continues to recommend that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the merger.

Consistent with the board’s commitment to maximizing stockholder value, under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, RealPage’s board and advisors may actively initiate, solicit and consider alternative acquisition proposals during a 45-day “go shop” period.

RealPage has the right to terminate the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal during the go-shop period, subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurances that this process will result in a superior proposal, and RealPage does not intend to disclose developments with respect to this solicitation process unless and until RealPage’s board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

The parties expect the transaction to close in Q2 of 2021. Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage will become a privately held company, and its common stock will no longer be listed on the Nasdaq stock market.

RP closed at $67.83.

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Curo Group shares jump on sale of its subsidiary!

Curo Group surges after Katapult announces merger with SPAC

Shares of Curo Group Holdings (CURO) have surged in Friday trading after the company announced earlier today that it is positioned to benefit from the announcement that Katapult Holding, a company approximately 40% owned by Curo and a leading provider of e-commerce point-of-sale lease purchase options for non-prime U.S. consumers, and FinServ Acquisition Corp.

(FSRV), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, or “SPAC,” have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

The transaction values Katapult’s equity at $908M, which includes an earnout of up to $75M in the form of additional common shares in the new public company, Curo said.

“Based on Curo’s ownership in Katapult, the transaction announced today will provide consideration consisting of a combination of cash and stock in the new company to CURO of $365M, which includes an earnout of up to $30M in the form of additional common shares in the new public company.

To date, Curo has made a total cash investment in Katapult of $27.5M,” the company noted.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Curo anticipates receiving cash of up to $125 million and maintaining an ownership stake of at least 21% of the fully-diluted shares of the new public company, CURO added. In afternoon trading, Curo shares have risen $7.09, or 81%, to $15.88. Shares hit a high of $20.81.

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Merger creates $4B cannabis company

 Aphria, Tilray announce $3.9B combination

Aphria (APHA) and Tilray (TLRY) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine their businesses and create the world’s largest global cannabis company based on pro forma revenue.

Aphria merges with Tilray

The deal is pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act and the implied pro forma equity value of the combined company is approximately $3.9B, based on the share price of Aphria and Tilray at the close of market on December 15.

Following the completion of the arrangement, the combined company will have principal offices in the United States, Canada, Portugal and Germany, and it will operate under the Tilray corporate name with shares trading on Nasdaq under ticker symbol (TLRY).

Tilray merges with Aphria

The combined company will have a complete portfolio of branded Cannabis 2.0 products in Canada.

In the United States, the combined company will have a consumer packaged goods presence and infrastructure with two strategic pillars, including SweetWater Brewing and Manitoba Harvest.

Under the terms of the Arrangement, the shareholders of Aphria will receive 0.8381 shares of Tilray for each Aphria common share, while holders of Tilray shares will continue to hold their Tilray shares with no adjustment to their holdings.

Upon the completion of the arrangement, Aphria Shareholders will own approximately 62% of the outstanding Tilray Shares on a fully diluted basis, resulting in a reverse acquisition of Tilray, representing a premium of 23% based on the share price at market close on December 15 to Tilray shareholders.

On a pro forma basis for the last twelve months reported by each company, the combined company would have had revenue of $685M.

Upon completion of the arrangement, Aphria’s current chairman and CEO, Irwin Simon, will lead the combined company as chairman and CEO.

The board of directors will consist of nine members, seven of which, including Simon, are current Aphria directors and two of which will be from Tilray, including Brendan Kennedy, and one of which is to be designated.

The combined company will have pro forma revenue of $685M for the last twelve months reported by each company, the highest in the global cannabis industry.

In Canada, the combination of Aphria and Tilray will create the leading adult-use cannabis company with gross revenue of C$296M in the adult-use market for the twelve months reported by each company.

The combination of Aphria and Tilray is expected to deliver approximately C$100M of annual pre-tax cost synergies within 24 months of the completion of the transaction.

The combined company expects to achieve cost synergies in the key areas of cultivation and production, cannabis and product purchasing, sales and marketing and corporate expenses.

Under the terms of the agreement, the arrangement will be carried out by way of a court approved plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act and will require the approval of at least two-thirds of the votes cast by the Aphria Shareholders at a special meeting.

Approval of a majority of the votes cast by Tilray stockholders will be required to, among other things contemplated by the Agreement, authorize the issuance of Tilray shares to Aphria shareholders pursuant to the Arrangement. Following completion of the Arrangement, Aphria will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tilray, with Aphria shareholders owning approximately 62% of Tilray.

The arrangement is expected to close in the second quarter of calendar year 2021 following the receipt of such regulatory approvals, as well as court approval of the Arrangement.

Each of Aphria’s and Tilray’s respective directors and officers and certain principal Tilray Stockholders have entered into voting support agreements agreeing to vote their Aphria Shares or Tilray Shares, as applicable, in favor of the resolutions put before them pursuant to the agreement.

Note that this merger probably was forced on the companies by market forces. Covid-19 pandemic has hurt cannabis industry similar to restaurants and movie theaters. APHA is up 5 cents to $8.18. TLRY is up $1.51 to $9.38. TLRY shares have an all time high of $300.

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Big Rock Partners buys NeuroRx

NeuroRx to trade on Nasdaq following Big Rock Partners Acquisition merger

Big Rock Partners Acquisition (BRPA) announced that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NeuroRx, a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company.

Big Rock shares jump on purchase of NeuroRx

NeuroRx develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 and Bipolar Depression.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock and NeuroRx will merge and the company is expected to continue to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol (NRXP).

The transaction is expected to occur in the first or second quarter of 2021.

As a public Nasdaq-listed company, NeuroRx expects to have increased access to capital to continue development of its drug pipeline targeting Central Nervous System/Psychiatry and Respiratory Disease.

NeuroRx is a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company which develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system disorders and life-threatening pulmonary disease.

NeuroRx’s two main drugs are Zyesami which is an application for COVID-related respiratory failure and NRX-101, which focuses on suicidal bipolar depression and PTSD.

Zyesami is a synthetic human vasoactive intestinal peptide, or VIP, a 28 amino-acid natural peptide with 50 years of research. NRX-101 is a fixed-dose combination of D-cycloserine and lurasidone that has advanced to phase 3 with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, a Special Protocol Agreement, Biomarker Letter of Support, and Fast Track Designation.

NeuroRx’s management team is comprised of industry veterans, led by founder, Chairman & CEO Jonathan C. Javitt, MD, MPH, Robert Besthof, MIM (Chief Commercial Officer), William Fricker, MBA, CPA (Chief Financial Officer) and Alessandra Daigneault, JD (Corporate Secretary), who are expected to continue to run the combined company, post-transaction.

All officers and members of the board of Big Rock will resign in connection with the closing of the transactions.

The board of the combined company will initially consist of seven members, including Prof. Jonathan Javitt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock will issue to NeuroRx’s current equity holders an aggregate of 50M shares of Big Rock common stock for their interests in NeuroRx, representing $500M of equity consideration, assuming a value of $10.00 per common share.

Subject to certain conditions, an aggregate of 25M additional shares of Big Rock common stock will be issued to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, RLF-100 receives emergency use authorization by the FDA and the FDA accepts the company’s filing of its application to approve RLF-100.

In addition, subject to certain conditions, a $100M cash earnout may be payable to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, either FDA approval of the company’s COVID-19 Drug is obtained and the company’s COVID-19 Drug is listed in the FDA’s or FDA approval of the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is obtained and the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is listed in the FDA’s “Orange Book”.

The boards of both NeuroRx and Big Rock have unanimously approved the proposed transaction.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by stockholders of NeuroRx and Big Rock and other customary closing conditions.

BRPA is up 30% to $15.50.

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Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

Pluralsight to be acquired by Vista for $20.26 per share in cash

Pluralsight (PS) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners.

Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

Pluralsight, Inc. operates a cloud-based technology skills platform in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and internationally. Its platform products include Pluralsight Skills for individuals and teams to acquire technology skills through skill development experiences, such as skill assessments, a curated library of expert-authored courses, directed learning paths, interactive content, and business analytics; and Pluralsight Flow, which gives technology leaders objective data and visibility into workflow patterns to measure the productivity of their software developers. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Vista, in partnership with its institutional co-investors including Partners Group, will acquire all outstanding shares of Pluralsight common stock for $20.26 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $3.5B.

Company has benefited from “stay home”

The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 25% to the company’s volume weighted average closing stock price for the 30 trading days prior to today’s announcement.

The deal has been unanimously approved and recommended by an independent Transaction Committee and then unanimously approved by the Pluralsight board.

Vista gambles $3.5 billion on cloud based learning

Pluralsight has also entered into a voting agreement with certain of its shareholders, under which such shareholders have agreed to vote all of their Pluralsight shares in favor of the transaction.

The Pluralsight shares subject to the voting agreement represent a majority of the current outstanding voting power of Pluralsight shares. “In response to receipt of unsolicited acquisition interest, Pluralsight engaged in a robust process, including evaluating transaction alternatives against Pluralsight’s standalone plan and other strategic alternatives,” the company said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021. PS closed at $18.98.

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Collectors Universe sold for $75 per share

Collectors Universe to be acquired by investor group for approx. $700M

Collectors Universe (CLCT) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement under which an investor group led by entrepreneur and sports card collector Nat Turner, D1 Capital Partners L.P., and Cohen Private Ventures will acquire all of the Company’s outstanding shares of common stock for $75.25 per share in cash.

Collectors Universe, Inc. provides authentication, grading, and related services to dealers, collectors, and retail buyers and sellers of coins, trading cards, event tickets, autographs, and historical and sports memorabilia in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Coins, Trading Cards and Autographs, and Other Collectibles. It also publishes magazines that provide market prices and information for various collectibles and high-value assets that are accessible on its websites.

Nat Turner pushed for this transaction

The transaction represents a premium of approximately 30% over the Company’s 60-day volume-weighted average price ended on November 25, 2020, the last full trading day before today’s announcement.

The transaction, which was approved by the Collectors Universe Board of Directors, represents fully diluted equity value of approximately $700M, and is not subject to any financing contingency.

Joseph J. Orlando, President and CEO of Collectors Universe, will continue to lead Collectors Universe, which will retain its headquarters in Santa Ana, California.

Joseph J. Orlando, President and CEO of Collectors Universe

The transaction will be completed through a cash tender offer for all of the outstanding common shares of Collectors Universe for $75.25 per share in cash, to be commenced as promptly as reasonably practicable, followed by a merger in which any remaining outstanding shares of Collectors Universe will be converted into the right to receive the same cash price per share paid in the tender offer.

The closing of the tender offer is subject to certain limited and customary conditions, including the tender by Collectors Universe shareholders of at least one share more than 50% of Collectors Universe’s issued and outstanding shares and expiration or early termination of the statutory waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

The Collectors Universe Board of Directors recommends that all shareholders tender their shares in the offer.

The transaction is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2021.

Upon completion of the transaction, Collectors Universe will become a privately held company and its shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

CLCT last traded at $75.22, up $2.67.

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Concho Resources sold for $49 per share

ConocoPhillips, Concho Resources to combine in all-stock transaction

ConocoPhillips (COP) and Concho Resources (CXO) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine companies in an all-stock transaction.

ConocoPhillips buys Concho Resources

Under the terms of the transaction, which has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company, each share of Concho Resources common stock will be exchanged for a fixed ratio of 1.46 shares of ConocoPhillips common stock, representing a 15% premium to closing share prices on October 13.

The transaction will create a company with an approximately $60B enterprise value.

The combined company will hold approximately 23B barrels of oil equivalent, or BBOE resources with an average cost of supply of below $30 per barrel WTI. The transaction brings together acreage positions across the Delaware and Midland basins that also includes leading positions in the Eagle Ford and Bakken in the Lower 48 and the Montney in Canada.

The companies announced that together they expect to capture $500M of annual cost and capital savings by 2022.

The identified savings will come from lower general and administrative costs and a reduction in ConocoPhillips’ future global new ventures exploration program. This de-emphasis of ConocoPhillips’ organic resource addition program is driven by the addition of Concho’s large, low-cost resource base.

Additional supply chain, commercial and drilling and completion capital efficiency savings are not yet included in these cost-reduction estimates. ConocoPhillips will offer a compelling ordinary dividend supplemented by additional distributions as needed to meet its target distribution of greater than 30% of cash from operations.

Low oil prices and soft demand forces Concho to sell

The company seeks to maintain a strong investment-grade credit rating across price cycles. On a pro forma basis, the combined company net debt is approximately $12B as of June 30, representing an attractive leverage ratio of 1.3 at 2021 consensus commodity prices.

Upon closing, Concho’s chairman and CEO Tim Leach will join ConocoPhillips’ board of directors and executive leadership team as executive vice president and president, Lower 48. This transaction will enhance the company’s competitive position in Midland.

The transaction is subject to the approval of both ConocoPhillips and Concho stockholders, regulatory clearance and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

In the meantime, an integration planning team consisting of representatives from both companies will be formed to ensure required business processes and programs are implemented seamlessly post-closing.

In light of the pending merger, ConocoPhillips has suspended share repurchases until after the transaction closes.

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BioMed Realty sold for $14.6 billion

Blackstone says BioMed Realty to be sold for $14.6B to investor group

Blackstone (BX) announced that Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII L.P. and co-investors have agreed to sell BioMed Realty for $14.6B to a group led by existing BioMed investors.

This is part of a new long-term, perpetual capital, core+ return strategy managed by Blackstone.

BioMed is the largest private owner of life science office buildings

BioMed is the largest private owner of life science office buildings in the United States with an 11.3 million square foot portfolio concentrated in the leading innovation markets including Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle and Cambridge U.K.

Blackstone bought BioMed Realty for about $8B in 2016

In connection with the recapitalization, existing BioMed investors were offered the option to exit for cash or reinvest their proceeds from the sale.

The investment will generate $6.5 billion of cumulative profits for BREP VIII and BioMed co-investors. BREP VIII, an opportunistic Real Estate investment fund, and co-investors acquired BioMed in January 2016.

The recapitalization is expected to close within five business days of the conclusion of the “go-shop” process.

The Blackstone Group Inc. is an alternative asset management firm specializing in real estate, private equity, hedge fund solutions, credit, secondary funds of funds, public debt and equity and multi-asset class strategies.

The firm typically invests in early-stage companies. It also provide capital markets services. The real estate segment specializes in opportunistic, core+ investments as well as debt investment opportunities collateralized by commercial real estate, and stabilized income-oriented commercial real estate across North America, Europe and Asia.

BX closed at $55.40.

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Eaton Vance sold for $7B

Morgan Stanley to acquire Eaton Vance for $7B in cash, stock transaction

Morgan Stanley (MS) and Eaton Vance (EV) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Morgan Stanley will acquire Eaton Vance for an equity value of approximately $7B.

Eaton Vance sold to Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley Investment Management, or MSIM, will be an asset manager with approximately $1.2T of AUM and over $5B of combined revenues.

The company said MSIM and Eaton Vance are highly complementary with limited overlap in investment and distribution capabilities.

Morgan Stanley buys Eaton Vance for $7B

The combination will also bring Eaton Vance’s U.S. retail distribution together with MSIM’s international distribution.

The combination will position Morgan Stanley to generate financial returns through increased scale, improved distribution, cost savings of $150M and revenue opportunities.

By financing the transaction with 50% cash, Morgan Stanley will utilize approximately 100bps of excess capital, and the firm’s common equity tier 1 ratio is expected to remain approximately 300bps above the firm’s stress capital buffer requirement of 13.2%.

Eaton Vance Corp., through its subsidiaries, engages in the creation, marketing, and management of investment funds in the United States. It also provides investment management and counseling services to institutions and individuals. 

The transaction is expected to be breakeven to earnings per share immediately and marginally accretive thereafter, with fully phased-in cost synergies, and add approximately 100bps to return on tangible common equity.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Eaton Vance shareholders will receive $28.25 per share in cash and 0.5833x of Morgan Stanley common stock, representing a total consideration of approximately $56.50 per share.

Based on the $56.50 per share, the aggregate consideration paid to holders of Eaton Vance’s common stock will consist of approximately 50% cash and 50% Morgan Stanley common stock.

The merger agreement also contains an election procedure allowing each Eaton Vance shareholder to seek all cash or all stock, subject to a proration and adjustment mechanism.

In addition, Eaton Vance common shareholders will receive a one-time special cash dividend of $4.25 per share to be paid pre-closing by Eaton Vance to Eaton Vance common shareholders from existing balance sheet resources.

It is anticipated that the transaction will not be taxable to Eaton Vance shareholders to the extent that they receive Morgan Stanley common stock as consideration.

The transaction has been approved by the voting trust that holds all of the voting common stock of Eaton Vance. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in Q2 of 2021.

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Arm Holdings sold for $40 billion

Nvidia to buy Arm Holdings from Softbank

Nvidia (NVDA) confirmed that it intends to buy chip design giant Arm Holdings for a total of up to $40 billion from existing owner SoftBank (SFTBY), which bought the company for $32 billion in 2016.

Arm Holdings chips power smart phones

SoftBank  will immediately receive $2 billion in cash for signing the deal. Then, it will receive another $10 billion in cash and $21.5 billion of stock in Nvidia at closing. That stake will be likely just a bit shy of 10% of the company.

Softbank bought Arm in 2016 for $32 billion

In addition, SoftBank is slated to earn $5 billion in a mix of cash and stock as a performance-based earn-out. Conditions or timing for that earn-out were not disclosed.

Nvidia buys Arm Holdings for $40 billion

Analysts’ Comments

Should Nvidia’s (NVDA) acquisition of SoftBank’s (SFTBY) ARM be allowed to proceed, it would create a “landscape-changing entity” that would combine two leading GPU and CPU architectures into a “single powerful ecosystem,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Seymore tells investors in a research note.

However, it this point that is likely to create the pushback from competitors and customers, says the analyst. Seymore questions whether ARM licensees would support an Nvidia acquisition saying “there could be a myriad of conflict of interest issues” whereby Nvidia could have access to competitor strategies and technologies in a variety of Nvidia-targeted markets. Seymore keeps a Hold rating on Nvidia shares.

Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis raised the firm’s price target on Nvidia (NVDA) to $680 from $570 and keeps a Buy rating on the shares after the company announced an agreement to acquire ARM Holdings, subject to regulatory approvals. He views the deal as one that is “transformative” as it should position Nvidia to capture 80% of the ecosystem value in the data center and also unify the compute ecosystem between the edge and data center, Lipacis tells investors. Assuming the deal with Softbank (SFTBY) goes through, he thinks the merged company has a five-year EPS power of $50, said Lipacis, who also raised his “bull-case” target on Nvidia shares to $1,000.

RBC Capital analyst Mitch Steves keeps his Outperform rating on Nvidia (NVDA) after the company confirmed its acquisition of ARM Holdings last night, saying the transaction would be a positive if it can close amid the likely regulatory challenges to its completion. Steves adds that if the transaction closes, it would also be a “notable negative” for Intel (INTC), stating that Nvidia’s research and development funding would compete against Intel’s currently dominant x86 market share.

Wedbush analyst Matt Bryson made no change to his Outperform rating or $525 price target for Nvidia (NVDA) after the company and SoftBank (SFTBY) finalized an agreement whereby Nvidia will purchase ARM Holdings. While Bryson views the deal terms and expected synergies as favorable for Nvidia, the analyst believes it most likely will never be consummated unless the U.S./China relationship dynamic shifts considerably.

NVDA is up 5.8% to $514 while SFTBY is up 8.7% to $29.87.

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Virtusa sold for $2 billion

Virtusa to be acquired by BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash deal valued at $2B

Baring Private Equity Asia, or BPEA, and Virtusa (VRTU) announced the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which funds affiliated with BPEA will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Virtusa for $51.35 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2B.

Virtusa Corporation provides digital engineering and information technology (IT) outsourcing services primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Virtusa sold for $2B

The companies said in a release, “The price per share to be paid in the transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Virtusa Board of Directors, represents a premium of approximately 27 percent to the closing price of Virtusa common stock on September 9, 2020, the last trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and premiums of approximately 29 percent and 46 percent to Virtusa’s volume-weighted average prices, or VWAP, for the last 30 and 60 trading days, respectively.

In addition, the price paid implies a valuation of 16.2x Firm Value / Last Twelve Months EBITDA as of June 30, 2020. On July 20, 2020, the Virtusa Board of Directors received an unsolicited proposal from an interested party to acquire Virtusa.

BPEA buys Virtusa for $2 billion

Following receipt of the offer, consistent with the Board’s fiduciary duties to maximize shareholder value, the Board authorized the Company and its financial advisors to engage with other potential strategic buyers and financial sponsors regarding a potential acquisition of Virtusa.

As part of this process, the Company signed non-disclosure agreements with five parties and engaged with two others.

After an independent review of the alternatives available, including the value creation opportunity through continued execution of the Company’s strategic plan, the Virtusa Board unanimously determined that the all-cash premium transaction with BPEA for $51.35 per share in cash maximizes value for Virtusa’s shareholders.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2021, is subject to the approval of Virtusa’s shareholders, customary regulatory requirements, including approval from The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, and customary closing conditions.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

The Orogen Group, which holds 108,000 shares of Virtusa Convertible Preferred Stock and whose CEO is Vikram Pandit, an independent member of the Board, has entered into a voting agreement under which it has agreed to vote all of Orogen’s Convertible Preferred Stock in favor of the transaction.

Orogen Group is a major shareholder of Virtusa

Orogen’s shares of preferred stock are convertible into 3,000,000 shares of Virtusa common stock and represent approximately 10 percent of the voting power in the Company.

The directors and executive officers of Virtusa have also entered into this voting agreement, and hold an additional approximate 5.7% of the voting power of the Company.”

VRTU closed at $40.50, last traded at $50.45.

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Stein Mart files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Stein Mart voluntarily files Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart (SMRT) announced that it and its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida – Jacksonville Division.

Stein Mart files for bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart offers designer and name-brand fashion apparels, home decor merchandise, accessories, and shoes at everyday discount prices in the United States. As of June 3, 2020, it operated 281 stores in 30 states. The company was founded in 1908 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Company has filed customary motions with the Bankruptcy Court that will authorize, upon Bankruptcy Court approval, the Company’s ability to maintain operations in the ordinary course of business, including, among other things, the payment of employee wages and benefits without interruption, payment of suppliers and vendors in the normal course of business, and the use of cash collateral.

Too much savings caused Stein Mart’s demise

These motions are typical in the Chapter 11 process and the Company anticipates that they will be approved shortly after the commencement of its Chapter 11 case.

Details on the Company’s Chapter 11 process and go-forward strategy are as follows:

The Company expects to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores and, in connection therewith, the Company has launched a store closing and liquidation process.

The Company, however, will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course in the near term; and the Company is evaluating any and all strategic alternatives, including the potential sale of its eCommerce business and related intellectual property. 

SMRT last traded at $0.18.

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National General sold for $4 billion

Allstate to acquire National General for $34.50 per share, in cash

Allstate (ALL) has agreed to acquire National General (NGHC) for approximately $4B in cash, or $34.50 per share.

The companies said in a release, “The transaction is expected to close in early 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

National General sold for $4B

National General provides a wide range of property-liability products through independent agents with a significant presence in non-standard auto insurance.

The company also has attractive Accident and Health and Lender-Placed Insurance businesses.

Gross premiums written were $5.6 billion, which generated operating income of $319 million in 2019.

National General shareholders will receive $32.00 per share in cash from Allstate, plus closing dividends expected to be $2.50 per share, providing $34.50 in total value per share.

Allstate will fund the share purchase by deploying $2.2 billion in combined cash resources and, subject to market conditions, issuing $1.5 billion of new senior debt.

Allstate expects to maintain its current share repurchase program.

National General’s board of directors has approved the transaction, which includes customary terms and conditions, including a breakup fee of $132.5 million.

A voting agreement has also been signed with entities controlling 40% of National General’s common shares to vote for the transaction.

MSD Capital, which owns approximately 7.4% of National General’s outstanding common shares, also supports the transaction.

NGHC closed at $20.41.

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Chesapeake Energy may file for bankruptcy

Chesapeake Energy slides as company considers bankruptcy, strategic alternatives

Shares of Chesapeake Energy (CHK) are tumbling after the company warned that it might not be able to stay in business amid low commodity prices caused by a global price war and depressed demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chesapeake is near bankruptcy

EVALUATING STRATEGIC ALTERNATIVES:

On Monday, Chesapeake Energy announced that it filed its Form 10-Q for the three-month period ended March 31, 2020 and, in light of the unprecedented market environment, has withdrawn the financial outlook it previously provided on February 26, 2020.

The company also reinstated a “going concern” warning. “Fluctuations in oil and natural gas prices have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations, cash flows and quantities of oil, natural gas and NGL reserves that may be economically produced.

Historically, oil and natural gas prices have been volatile; however, the volatility in the prices for these commodities has substantially increased as a result of COVID-19 and the OPEC+ decisions […]

Historical oil prices represented in 2020 dollar, Stockwinners

If the current depressed prices persist, combined with the scheduled reductions in the leverage ratio covenant and an expected significant reduction in our borrowing base in our scheduled determination, then our liquidity and our ability to comply with our financial covenants during the next 12 months will be adversely affected,” Chesapeake said in the filing.

Boom to bust for CHK

“Based on our current forecast, we do not expect to be in compliance with our financial covenants beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020. Failure to comply with these covenants, if not waived, would result in an event of default under our revolving credit facility, the potential acceleration of outstanding debt thereunder and the potential foreclosure on the collateral securing such debt, and could cause a cross-default under our other outstanding indebtedness.

As a result of the impacts to the company’s financial position resulting from declining industry conditions and in consideration of the substantial amount of long-term debt outstanding, the company has engaged advisors to assist with the evaluation of strategic alternatives, which may include, but not be limited to, seeking a restructuring, amendment or refinancing of existing debt through a private restructuring or reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

However, there can be no assurances that the company will be able to successfully restructure its indebtedness, improve its financial position or complete any strategic transactions. As a result of these uncertainties and the likelihood of a restructuring or reorganization, management has concluded that there is substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

REVERSE STOCK SPLITs NEVER WORK:

Chesapeake stock has lost about 50% of it’s value since a 1-for-200 reverse stock split took effect after the close of trading on April 14, 2020.

The company had implemented the reverse split to raise its share price enough to regain compliance with listing standards, but it was viewed as validation of investor concerns as the company struggled with falling commodities prices, high debt levels and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the author added.

The company lost its way after Aubrey McClendon, a founder and former chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, died in a fiery car crash in 2016, a day after he was charged with conspiring to rig bids for oil and natural gas leases. Many believe he committed suicide.

Aubrey McClendon

McClendon — a key player in the U.S. shale boom — co-founded Chesapeake in 1989 and stepped down from the company in 2013. Chesapeake used to be the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States.

PRICE ACTION: In afternoon trading on Tuesday, shares of Chesapeake have dropped almost 22% to $10.13.

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