Toronto’s WSP Global buys Ecology & Environment

Ecology & Environment to be acquired by WSP Global for $65.1M

Ecology and Environment announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with WSP Global, pursuant to which WSP will acquire E & E for cash.

EEI sold for $65.1M, Stockwinners

E & E has approximately 775 employees, predominantly in offices across the United States, with an additional presence in Latin America. With its US operations representing approximately 80% of its 2018 $US 73.5 million in net revenues, E & E’s portfolio includes work on the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, Climate Change Adaptation Planning in San Mateo County, California, and work on large federal programs with agencies including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Navy.

Under the terms of the agreement, E & E’s shareholders will receive $15.00 in cash, and a special dividend of up to 50c, for each share of Class A and Class B common stock they own. The special dividend is conditioned on and will be paid following the completion of the transaction and is subject to downward adjustment in certain circumstances.

WSP buys EEI for $65.1 M.

Under the terms of the Agreement, the merger consideration is approximately $US65.1 million in the aggregate, including a special dividend of approximately $US 2.2 million.

The merger agreement and the transaction have been unanimously approved by E & E’s Board of Directors.

In addition, E & E’s founders Frank Silvestro, Ronald Frank and Gerald Strobel, a trust affiliated with E & E’s late founder Gerhard Neumaier, each member of E & E’s Board of Directors and affiliates of Mill Road Capital have all signed voting agreements in support of the transaction.

The merger consideration, together with the special dividend of up to 50c, represents a premium of approximately 52.9% over E & E’s closing share price of $10.14 on August 27, 2019.

The merger agreement provides for a “go-shop” period of 30 days, during which E & E – with the assistance of Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated – will contact and potentially enter into negotiations with, and provide due diligence access to, third parties that offer potentially superior proposals to the proposed transaction with WSP.

E & E will have the right to terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the conditions and procedures specified in the merger agreement.

There can be no assurance this process will result in a superior proposal. E & E does not intend to disclose developments about this process unless and until the Board has made a decision with respect to any potential superior proposal.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of E & E’s shareholders and applicable regulatory approvals.

The parties are targeting a closing in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2019, subject to receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

Alexandre L’Heureux, President and Chief Executive Officer of WSP, said, “We are pleased by the opportunity to have E & E join WSP, as we share a similar culture and strategy, centered around employees and clients. This Acquisition, which is in line with our 2019-2021 Global Strategic Plan, will enable us to increase both our Strategic Advisory Services offering and our presence in the United States, most particularly the US governmental sector. E & E, which is recognized for its expertise in environment, has built experience in sectors and services that WSP had targeted for growth, including environmental impact assessment, emergency planning and management, as well as site restoration.”

EEI is up $5.05 to $15.05.

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CBS and Viacom to merge

CBS, Viacom to combine in all-stock merger to create ViacomCBS

CBS Corp. (CBS) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger, creating a combined company with more than $28B in revenue.

The combined company, ViacomCBS, “will be a leading global, multiplatform, premium content company, with the assets, capabilities and scale to be one of the most important content producers and providers in the world,” the companies stated.

Viacom, an acronym of Video & Audio Communications to merge with CBS, Stockwinners

Bob Bakish, President and CEO, Viacom, will become President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Joe Ianniello, President and Acting CEO, CBS, will become Chairman and CEO of CBS and will oversee all CBS-branded assets in his new role.

CBS to merge with Viacom to compete with Disney, Netflix, Stockwinners

The merger agreement was approved by the boards of directors of both CBS and Viacom by unanimous vote of those present, upon the unanimous recommendations of the Special Committees of the CBS and Viacom Boards of Directors, respectively.

Existing CBS shareholders will own approximately 61% of the combined company and existing Viacom shareholders will own approximately 39% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, each Viacom Class A voting share and Viacom Class B non-voting share will convert into 0.59625 of a Class A voting share and Class B non-voting share of CBS, respectively.

NAI, which holds approximately 78.9% and 79.8% of the Class A voting shares of CBS and Viacom, respectively, has agreed to deliver consents sufficient to assure approval of the transaction.

More than two-thirds of the CBS directors unaffiliated with NAI, and all of those unaffiliated directors who voted on the transaction, have approved the transaction, as required in order to permit NAI to consent to the transaction under the terms of the 2018 settlement agreement entered into among CBS, NAI and certain other parties thereto.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close by the 2019 calendar year end.

Sumner Redstone is the majority owner and chairman of the board of the National Amusements (NAI) theater chain. Through National Amusements, Redstone and his family are majority voting shareholders of CBS Corporation and Viacom (itself the parent company of Viacom Media Networks, BET Networks, and the film studio Paramount Pictures). Redstone was formerly the executive chairman of both CBS and Viacom. 

ANALYST COMMENTS

Bernstein

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger downgraded CBS (CBS) to Underperform from Market Perform following the company’s confirmation earlier of a deal to combine in an all-stock merger with Viacom (VIAB). Any synergies produced “will pale in comparison” to inheriting Viacom’s structural problems, Juenger tells investors.

Imperial Capital

 Imperial Capital analyst David Miller lowered his price target for CBS (CBS) to $62 from $72. The analyst says that while this is generally consistent with where both names had been trading for the last 90 days, the ratio is below what he had been hoping for from the Viacom side, which was a ratio of 0.7. Nonetheless, Miller keeps an Outperform rating on shares of CBS.

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Wesco Aircraft sold for $1.9 billion

Wesco Aircraft to be acquired by Platinum Equity affiliate for $1.9B

Wesco Aircraft sold to Carlyle Group affiliate, Stockwinners

Wesco Aircraft Holdings (WAIR) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Platinum Equity in a transaction valued at approximately $1.9B.

Upon closing, Wesco will be combined with Platinum Equity portfolio company Pattonair, a provider of supply chain management services for the aerospace and defense industries based in the United Kingdom.

Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Wesco’s Board of Directors, Wesco shareholders would receive $11.05 per share in cash.

The cash purchase price represents a premium of approximately 27.5 percent to the 90-day volume weighted average share price for the period ended May 24, 2019, the last trading day prior to media speculation regarding a potential transaction involving Wesco Aircraft.

Wesco’s three largest shareholders, affiliates of The Carlyle Group (CG) and Makaira Partners, as well as the Snyder Family Trusts, support the transaction and have entered into voting and support agreements to vote their shares in favor of the transaction.

CG to buy Wesco Aircraft, Stockwinners

The transaction will be financed through a combination of committed equity financing provided by affiliates of Platinum Equity Capital Partners IV, L.P., as well as debt financing that has been committed to by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of calendar 2019 and is subject to Wesco shareholder approval, regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions.

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

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Cambrex sold for $2.4 billion

Cambrex to be acquired by Permira Funds for $60.00 per share in cash, or $2.4B

Cambrex sold for $2.4 billion, Stockwinners

Cambrex (CBM) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of the Permira funds in a transaction valued at approximately $2.4B, including Cambrex’s net debt.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Cambrex shareholders will receive $60.00 in cash for each share of Cambrex common stock, which represents a 47.1% premium to the August 6 closing stock price and a 37.3% premium to the 60-day volume weighted average closing price leading up to this announcement.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of approval by Cambrex’s shareholders and customary regulatory approvals. Closing is expected to occur during the fourth quarter.

Permira goes shopping, Stockwinners

The transaction will be financed through a combination of debt and equity financing.

Cambrex Corporation provides various products and services for the development and commercialization of new and generic therapeutics worldwide. Its products comprise active pharmaceutical ingredients and pharmaceutical intermediates that are used in the production of prescription and over-the-counter drug products, as well as finished dosage forms.

The company serves generic drug companies; and companies that discover and commercialize small molecule human therapeutics. The company sells its products directly, as well as through independent agents. 

Cambrex announced that it will not hold a second quarter 2019 earnings conference call and will not update previously provided financial guidance given the pending acquisition.

The Permira investment team advises the Permira Funds. The investment team identifies long-term macro trends to back, across five key sectors including healthcare. Healthcare is one of the World’s largest industries, spanning hundreds of sub-sectors (e.g., from Biotechnology to Heavy Medical Equipment, from Hospitals to Veterinary medicine). It has the potential to create significant value for its customers through improving the human experience but its costs are also potentially limitless. The sector’s fundamental trends and complexity along with its scale generate attractive investment opportunities.

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Feds Cut Rates on All Instruments!

Federal Reserve cuts federal funds target rate by 25 basis points

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low.

Powell, FOMC Chair, Stockwinners
Fed Chief Powell. Stockwinners.com

Although growth of household spending has picked up from earlier in the year, growth of business fixed investment has been soft.

On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed. Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.

In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the Committee decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 2 to 2-1/4 percent. This action supports the Committee’s view that sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective are the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook remain.

As the Committee contemplates the future path of the target range for the federal funds rate, it will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective.”

Long Term Rates

The Federal Reserve also said in today’s statement, “In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its maximum employment objective and its symmetric 2 percent inflation objective.

This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee will conclude the reduction of its aggregate securities holdings in the System Open Market Account in August, two months earlier than previously indicated.”

Bernanke came up with “Quantitative Easing” in 2008, Stockwinners

If you have no idea what the above paragraph means, this may help. Back in 2008, Ben Bernanke, then the Fed Chair, came up with a clever idea! Since the rates at the time where near zero. He needed a way to lower the rates, he started buying long term government bonds. The added demand for bonds caused bond prices to rise thus pushing the rates lower. In the past few quarters, the Feds have been selling these bonds, pushing prices lower, thus higher long term rates. Today’s announcement basically says Feds are ending the bond sales two months earlier, long term rates (mortgage prices) will now go lower.

Powell Comments

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the easing was to ensure against downside risks, as he begins his press conference.

He acknowledged the shift in the policy stance since December’s pivot. Fed has seen both positive and negative developments since the June meeting, including a stronger job market, but weaker manufacturing and disappointing foreign growth, while contacts continue to cite ongoing trade uncertainties are giving companies pause.

The Committee has gradually lowered the assessments of growth and that led to the easing today. On whether a 25 bp cut will prop up inflation, he noted one has to look at the Committee’s actions over the year as it’s moved to a more accommodative stance.

The Committee is thinking of today’s action as a mid-cycle adjustment to policy, designed to provide support for the economy, ensure against downside risks, and support inflation. Chair Powell continued to appeal to downside risks and below target inflation as the main threats to the favorable outlook.

He added, the Fed will monitor the evolution of trade uncertainty, which do seem to be having significant effect on the economy. He thinks trade is a new factor that the FOMC will have to assess “in a new way.”

The chair again said it’s not appropriate to just look at the quarter point easing, but rather the evolution of the Fed’s stance from tightening to easing, with the economy picking up since the end of 2018, which suggests monetary policy is working (though he declined to take full credit for the economy’s gains).

10-year yields fall, Stockwinners
Ten year yields approach 2.00 percent, Stockwinners

Market Action

The Fed repeated it will “monitor” incoming information and will “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” not really suggesting the path ahead. The long end of the Treasury market is leading the way with the benchmark 10-year 4.4 bps lower to test 2.00, versus 2.023% just ahead of the announcement. The 2-year is down 1.4 bps to 1.83% versus 1.81% earlier. Hence, the curve has flattened to 17 bps from around 20 bps previously.

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Liberty Tax revamps its operations

Liberty Tax to pursue new business model, offering $12 per share for all shares

Liberty Tax to revamp its operations, Stockwinners

Liberty Tax (TAXA), the parent company of Liberty Tax Service, last night announced that it has entered into definitive documentation with affiliates of Vintage Capital Management providing for a series of strategic transactions, including the acquisition by Liberty Tax of all of the outstanding equity interests in Buddy’s Newco, which operates substantially all of the Buddy’s Home Furnishings business.

Liberty Tax’s acquisition of Buddy’s was consummated concurrently with the execution of the definitive documentation.

“These transactions are intended as the first step in a strategic transformation of Liberty Tax.

Under the direction of its board of directors, Liberty Tax intends to evaluate the acquisition of or investment in other franchise-oriented or complementary businesses, including businesses that are not presently subject to franchising arrangements but that have the potential to be franchised in the future.

In recognition of the anticipated shift in its strategic direction, Liberty Tax intends to change its name to Franchise Group.

Liberty Tax will remain a publicly-traded company and intends to pursue a re-listing of its common stock on a national securities exchange,” the company said.

In addition, Liberty Tax intends to promptly commence a tender offer for any and all outstanding shares of common stock at a price of $12.00 per share in cash, representing an approximately 31.5% premium to the closing price of Liberty Tax on May 3, the day before the public announcement regarding a potential transaction between Liberty Tax and Vintage.

The tender offer will be financed through a combination of debt and equity financing. Concurrent with the closing of the acquisition of Buddy’s, Liberty Tax issued to an affiliate of Vintage approximately 2.083M shares of common stock in exchange for $25M in cash, representing a purchase price of $12.00 per share, and Buddy’s borrowed approximately $82M in cash.

Any excess financing proceeds that are not required to finance the tender offer will remain on the balance sheet of Liberty Tax or its subsidiaries.

An affiliate of Vintage has also entered into a binding commitment with Liberty Tax to purchase additional shares of common stock at a purchase price of $12.00 per share in the event that the net proceeds from the equity and debt financings referred to above are not sufficient to enable Liberty Tax to purchase all shares that are validly tendered and not withdrawn in the tender.

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STOCKWINNERS

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Allergan sold for $63 billion

AbbVie to acquire Allergan in cash, stock deal valued around $63B

Watch Allergan into better botox data. See Stockwinners.com
Allergan sold for $63 billion, Stockwinners

AbbVie (ABBV) and Allergan (AGN) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive transaction agreement under which AbbVie will acquire Allergan in a cash and stock transaction for a transaction equity value of approximately $63B, based on the closing price of AbbVie’s common stock of $78.45 on June 24.

Stocks to buy, stocks to watch, Stock upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Avoid, Stocks to Buy on Margin, Stock to Follow
Abbvie to pay $63B to buy Allergan, Stockwinners

Upon completion of the transaction, AbbVie will continue to be incorporated in Delaware as AbbVie Inc. and have its principal executive offices in North Chicago, IL.

AbbVie will continue to be led by Richard Gonzalez as chairman and CEO.

Two members of Allergan’s board, including chairman and CEO, Brent Saunders, will join AbbVie’s board upon completion of the transaction.

Under the terms of the Transaction Agreement, Allergan Shareholders will receive 0.8660 AbbVie Shares and $120.30 in cash for each Allergan Share that they hold, for a total consideration of $188.24 per Allergan Share.

The transaction represents a 45% premium to the closing price of Allergan’s Shares on June 24.

AbbVie anticipates that the Acquisition will provide annual pre-tax synergies and other cost reductions of at least $2B in year three while leaving investments in key growth franchises untouched.

Botox is one of Allergan’s leading products, Stockwinners

The synergies and other cost reductions will be a result of optimizing the research and early stage portfolio, and reducing overlapping R&D resources, driving efficiencies in SG&A, including sales and marketing and central support function costs, and eliminating redundancies in manufacturing and supply chain, and leveraging procurement spend.

The synergies estimate excludes any potential revenue synergies.

AbbVie is expected to generate significant annual operating cash flow, which will support a debt reduction target of $15B to $18B before the end of 2021, while also enabling a continued commitment to Baa2/BBB or better credit rating and continued dividend growth.

It is expected that, immediately after the closing of the Acquisition, AbbVie Shareholders will own approximately 83% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis and the Allergan Shareholders will own approximately 17% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis.

PIPER COMMENTS

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond said his first reaction to the deal could be summed up with the phrase “two turkeys don’t make an eagle,” but he is “willing to listen” despite his skepticism about the transaction.

Though he cannot say he is “excited at the prospect of AbbVie entering the field of medical aesthetics,” EPS accretion of 10% in year one and over 20% at peak, and the potential for meaningful deleveraging and cost cutting, has his attention, Raymond said. He keeps a Neutral rating on AbbVie based on his initial reaction to the deal announcement.

Humira is AbbVie’s blockbuster drug, Stockwinners

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo analyst David #Maris said he views the deal as a good alternative for Allergan versus the current share price, but he is not convinced its a better long term alternative given the eventual biosimilar threat to Abbvie’s blockbuster drug Humira.

With that said, Maris tells investors that “deals at such premiums are rarely killed because of a bad strategic fit or longer -term value outlook in the absence of other bidders.” Though he would not completely rule out an activist investor disrupting the deal, he thinks it is unlikely given there has been a strategic review of the company for some time. Maris, who said he thinks the deal could go through, keeps an Outperform rating on Allergan shares.

Leerink 

SVB Leerink analyst Marc Goodman is not surprise that one of the large pharma companies has made a bid on Allergan (AGN) given the multi-year stock weakness.

Juvederm is another one of Allergan’s top selling products. Stockwinners

However, he believes a $188 price is “too low,” as he “can’t believe that Allergan is not being taken out at least at $200,” which “begs the question” whether this was a process or is AbbVie (ABBV) “opportunistically pursuing a wounded stock.” If it is the latter, Goodman believes this bid could initiate others to pursue Allergan as well. He has an Outperform rating on Allegan’s shares.

STOCKWINNERS

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US Ecology and NRC Group to merge

US Ecology, NRC Group to merge in all-stock transaction

US Ecology and NRC Group to merge, Stockwinners

US Ecology (ECOL) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with NRC Group Holdings (NRCG) in an all-stock transaction with an enterprise value of $966M.

U.S. Ecology and NRC Group to merge, Stockwinners

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter and is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, respective stockholder approvals and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction will create a nationwide leader in industrial and hazardous waste management services and is projected to be mid-single digit accretive to US Ecology’s 2020 adjusted earnings per share, before synergies.

The transaction has been approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors.

Upon completion of the transaction, US Ecology stockholders will own approximately 70% of the combined company, and NRCG stockholders will own approximately 30% on a fully diluted basis.

The combined company will use the US Ecology name, and its shares will continue to be listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker ECOL.

Jeffrey Feeler will continue to serve as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The company will maintain its headquarters in Boise, Idaho with regional support centers in Boise, Detroit, New York and Houston.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, US Ecology will form a new holding company which will take the name of US Ecology, Inc. immediately upon the closing of the transaction and will own both US Ecology and NRCG.

US Ecology stockholders will receive 1 share of common stock of the new holding company for each share of US Ecology common stock they own upon closing of the transaction.

NRCG common stockholders will receive 0.196 shares of common stock of the new holding company for each share of NRCG common stock they own upon closing of the transaction.

The exchange ratio represents a price of $12.00 per share of NRCG stock, based on the US Ecology average share price over the last 15-trading days.

The $12.00 price per share represents a premium of approximately 36% to NRCG’s June 21 closing price of $8.83.

Each share of NRCG’s 7.00% Series A Convertible Cumulative Preferred Stock is expected to be converted in the merger into approximately 1.8 common shares of the new holding company.

NRCG’s 19.249M outstanding Warrants to purchase NRCG common stock will be converted to 3.773M Warrants to purchase common stock of the new holding company, with a strike price of $58.67 each.

The transaction will provide NRCG stockholders with continued participation in the future prospects expected to result from the combination through their ownership of approximately 30% of the stock of the new holding company, on a fully diluted basis.

STOCKWINNERS

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Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 B

Eldorado Resorts to acquire Caesars for $12.75 per share, or about $17.3B

Eldorado Resorts to buy Caesars for $17.3B, Stockwinners

Eldorado Resorts (ERI) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create the largest U.S. gaming company.

Caesars Entertainment sold for $17.3 billion, Stockwinners

Eldorado will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Caesars for a total value of $12.75 per share, consisting of $8.40 per share in cash consideration and 0.0899 shares of Eldorado common stock for each Caesars share of common stock based on Eldorado’s 30-calendar day volume weighted average price per share as of May 23, reflecting total consideration of approximately $17.3B, comprised of $7.2B in cash, approximately 77M Eldorado common shares and the assumption of Caesars outstanding net debt.

Caesars shareholders will be offered a consideration election mechanism that is subject to proration pursuant to the definitive merger agreement.

Giving effect to the transaction, Eldorado and Caesars shareholders will hold approximately 51% and 49% of the combined company’s outstanding shares, respectively.

Upon completion of the transaction the combined company will retain the Caesars name to capitalize on the value of the iconic global brand and its legacy of leadership in the global gaming industry.

The new company will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will consist of 11 members, six of whom will come from Eldorado’s Board of Directors and five of whom will come from Caesars Board of Directors.

The transactions have been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of Eldorado, Caesars and VICI.

The Caesars transaction is subject to approval of the stockholders of Eldorado and Caesars, the approval of applicable gaming authorities, the expiration of the applicable Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be consummated in the first half of 2020.


STOCKWINNERS

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Sotheby’s sold for $3.7 billion

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B

Sotheby’s to be acquired in cash transaction valued at $3.7B, Stockwinners

Sotheby’s (BID) announced that it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by media and telecom entrepreneur as well as art collector, Patrick Drahi.

Sotheby’s operates as an auctioneer of authenticated fine art, decorative art, jewelry, wine, and collectibles in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, France, and internationally. The company operates in two segments, Agency and Finance. The Agency segment accepts property on consignment; and matches sellers to buyers through the auction or private sale process.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby’s Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7B.

The offer price represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price.

The transaction would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said, “Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world.

He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees.

This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.

It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

The closing of the deal is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance and shareholder approvals, but is not subject to the availability of financing.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 following shareholder approval. LionTree Advisors is serving as financial advisor to Sotheby’s in connection with the transaction, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is serving as the company’s legal counsel.

BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors to BidFair, BNP Paribas acted as sole financing provider, and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Ropes & Gray International LLP are serving as its legal advisors.

STOCKWINNERS

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Barnes & Noble sold for $683M

Barnes & Noble to be acquired by Elliott for $6.50 per share in all cash deal

Barnes & Noble sold for $683M, Stockwinners

Barnes & Noble (BKS) announces that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by funds advised by Elliott Advisors for $6.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683M, including the assumption of debt.

Barnes & Noble has faced continued pressure from Amazon and independent booksellers. Its shares had fallen roughly 25% year to date before the news leak. Within the past five years, Barnes & Noble has lost more than $1 billion in market value.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, follows its June 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom.

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume also the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble following the completion of the transaction and will be based in New York.

The $6.50 per share purchase price represents a 43% premium to the 10-day volume weighted average closing share price of Barnes & Noble’s common stock ended June 5, the day before rumors of a potential transaction were reported in the media.

As a private company, Barnes & Noble will likely be more free to make the changes and investment that can be unwieldy under a public spotlight. Part of the bookseller’s turnaround plan has included closing some of its more than 600 stores across the U.S. and relocating to smaller spaces that receive a fresh and modern look. The company has said its prototype stores encourage shoppers to buy books online or from a tablet.

The retailer has shown small signs of upturn. In March, it reported that over the holidays, sales at locations open for at least a year during the quarter rose 1.1 percent — its best quarterly performance in three years. As of January, it had $15 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The announced transaction with Elliott is the culmination of an extensive Strategic Alternative Review conducted by the Special Committee of the Barnes & Noble board, which was announced on October 3, 2018.

The board of Barnes & Noble unanimously approved the transaction and recommend the transaction to Barnes & Noble shareholders.

Leonard #Riggio, the Founder and Chairman of Barnes & Noble, has also entered into a voting agreement in support of the transaction.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory and stockholder approval, and is expected to close in Q3.

The merger agreement provides for the acquisition to be consummated through a merger structure. However, the parties expect to amend the agreement to utilize a tender offer structure, which is expected to reduce the time to closing by a number of weeks.

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Cypress Semiconductor sold for $23.85 a share

Infineon to acquire Cypress Semi in deal with enterprise value of EUR9B

Infineon to acquire Cypress Semi in deal with enterprise value of EUR9B , Stockwinners

Infineon Technologies (IFNNY) and Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (CY) announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement under which Infineon will acquire Cypress for $23.85 per share in cash, corresponding to an enterprise value of EUR9B.

The companies said that expected economies of scale will create cost synergies of EUR180M per annum by 2022.

The complementary portfolios will enable the offering of further chip solutions with a revenue synergies potential of more than EUR1.5B per annum in the long term.

The offer price represents a 46% premium to Cypress’s unaffected 30-day volume-weighted average price during the period from 15 April to 28 May 2019, the last trading day prior to media reports regarding a potential sale of Cypress.

Cypress expects to continue its quarterly cash dividend payments until the transaction closes.

This includes Cypress’s previously announced quarterly cash dividend of 11c per share, payable on July 18, 2019 to holders of record of Cypress’s common stock at the close of business on June 27, 2019.

The funding of the acquisition is fully underwritten by a consortium of banks. Infineon is committed to retaining a solid investment grade rating and, consequently, Infineon intends to ultimately finance approximately 30 percent of the total transaction value with equity and the remainder with debt as well as cash on hand.

The financial policy to preserve a strategic cash reserve remains in place. The acquisition is subject to approval by Cypress’s shareholders and the relevant regulatory bodies as well as other customary conditions.

The closing is expected by the end of calendar year 2019 or early 2020.

Hassane El-Khoury, President and CEO of Cypress, said:

“The Cypress team is excited to join forces with Infineon to capitalize on the multi-billion dollar opportunities from the massive rise in connectivity and computing requirements of the next technology waves. This announcement is not only a testament to the strength of our team in delivering industry-leading solutions worldwide, but also to what can be realized from uniting our two great companies. Jointly, we will enable more secure, seamless connections, and provide more complete hardware and software sets to strengthen our customers’ products and technologies in their end markets. In addition, the strong fit of our two companies will bring enhanced opportunities for our customers and employees.”

CY closed at $17.82. IFNNY closed at $17.77.

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Bempegaldesleukin data should send Nektar shares higher

Nektar presents biomarker, clinical data from PIVOT-02 Phase 2 study

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Nektar presents biomarker, clinical data from PIVOT-02 Phase 2 study, Stockwinners

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced that biomarker and clinical data from PIVOT-02 was presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

#Bempegaldesleukin is an investigational, CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway agonist designed to provide sustained signaling through the IL-2 beta-gamma receptor.

Bempegaldesleukin is under investigation in clinical trial NCT03729245 (A Study of NKTR-214 in Combination With Nivolumab Compared With the Investigator’s Choice of a Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Therapy (Either Sunitinib or Cabozantinib Monotherapy) for Advanced Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)).

PIVOT-02 is an ongoing Phase 2 study evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab in solid tumors.

Exploratory biomarker analyses of PIVOT-02 baseline tumor biopsies identified immune signatures that potentially enrich for response in patients with 1L metastatic melanoma and not 1L metastatic urothelial carcinoma.

Notable response rates were seen in both 1L metastatic melanoma and 1L metastatic urothelial cancer patients, regardless of PD-L1 status or unfavorable tumor microenvironments.

At a median time of follow-up of 12.7 months, confirmed objective response rate was 53% in efficacy-evaluable patients, with 34% of patients achieving confirmed complete responses. 42% of patients achieved a maximum reduction of 100% in target lesions. DCR, also known as disease control rate was 74%.

Median time to response was 2 months. Median duration of response was not reached. At the 12.7 month median follow-up, data were too immature to calculate median progression-free survival. 80% of patients with responses have ongoing responses. Amongst the 35 patients with known pre-treatment PD-L1 status, ORR in PD-L1 negative patients was 6/14 and in PD-L1 positive patients was 13/21.

One of three patients with unknown PD-L1 baseline status experienced a CR.

A total of 6/41 of patients experienced a Grade 3 or higher TRAE with 4/41 patients discontinuing treatment due to a TRAE. A total of 41 patients have been treated at the RP2D with 3 patients discontinuing prior to 1st scan due to an unrelated treatment-emergent adverse event and patient decision.

A Phase 3 trial evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab versus nivolumab in first-line advanced melanoma patients is currently recruiting patients.

A Phase 2 pivotal trial evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab in first-line metastatic urothelial cancer is currently recruiting patients.

 Piper Jaffray

Piper Jaffray analyst Tyler Van Buren reiterates an Overweight rating and $100 price target on Nektar, and believes shares should be up significantly on Monday following updated data from the bempegaldesleukin + nivo PIVOT-02 melanoma cohort.

The increase in complete response rate from 24% to 34% at just beyond 12 months is more than the analyst and investors were anticipating and “the waterfall plot is like nothing [he has] ever seen in solid tumors.”

Ultimately, Van Buren believes the high quality of responses and the ability to maintain patients on therapy is contributing to robust durability, which increases his confidence in the ultimate outcome of the Phase III trial which will have a final mPFS evaluation around Q3 of 2020.

NKTR closed at $31.32.

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International Speedway sold for $2 billion

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $45.00 per share

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $45.00 per share, Stockwinners

International Speedway (ISCA) has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NASCAR pursuant to which NASCAR will acquire ISC.

The transaction is valued at approximately $2B. The consideration to be paid to ISC’s shareholders will be $45.00 in cash for each share of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock.

The merger agreement was unanimously recommended and approved by a special committee comprised solely of independent directors of the board of ISC and was unanimously approved by the full board.

NASCAR to acquire International Speedway for $2B, Stockwinners

In addition, the participating shareholders have signed a letter agreement to cause their respective shares of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock to be transferred to NASCAR prior to the effective time of the merger.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, ISC shareholders will be entitled to receive $45.00 in cash, without interest, for each share of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock held immediately prior to the effective time of the merger.

The transaction, which is expected to close in calendar year 2019, is conditioned on the approval of a majority of the aggregate voting power represented by the shares of ISC Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock not owned by the controlling shareholders of ISC, voting together as a single class.

The transaction is also conditioned on other customary closing conditions.

In connection with the transaction negotiations, counsel for the plaintiff in The Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis v. James C. France, the previously-disclosed class action lawsuit on behalf of ISC shareholders challenging the transaction, met with representatives of the special committee and has determined to not challenge the fairness of the transaction price.

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Circor receives $1.7B takeover offer

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash, Stockwinners

Crane Co. (CR) announced that it has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of CIRCOR International (CIR) to acquire CIRCOR for $45 per share in cash.

CIRCOR International, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets engineered products and sub-systems worldwide. It operates through three segments: Energy, Aerospace and Defense, and Industrial. 

The proposal represents a 47% premium over yesterday’s closing price and a 37% and 51% premium over a three- and six-month volume weighted average share price, respectively.

This reflects an enterprise value of approximately $1.7B at a multiple of approximately 13.5x the last 12-month adjusted EBITDA. Crane Co. proposed the all-cash transaction to CIRCOR’s President and CEO Scott Buckhout on April 30, the terms of which were confirmed by a letter to the CIRCOR Board of Directors.

On May 13, the CIRCOR Board summarily rejected Crane Co.’s proposal with no offer of discussions or due diligence.

“While we had hoped to complete a transaction privately, the Board’s rejection of our proposal without comment or discussion led to our decision to make our proposal known to CIRCOR shareholders so they can express their views directly to the CIRCOR Board,” said Max Mitchell, Crane Co. President and CEO.

“Our proposal provides CIRCOR shareholders with attractive value and certainty compared to the continued uncertainty surrounding CIRCOR’s plans to improve operating performance.

Based on CIRCOR’s history of underperformance and inability to meet its own financial targets, we believe CIRCOR’s standalone plan is unlikely to generate value comparable to what we are proposing.”

Mitchell continued, “We believe that this business, which has great brands and products, has been meaningfully undermanaged for years.

This has resulted in a persistent decline in CIRCOR’s share price, making it the worst performer of the peers in the S&P Midcap Capital Goods Index since the end of 2013.

Based upon the strength of our disciplined operating approach, Crane Co. is well positioned to integrate CIRCOR’s businesses into our focused portfolio, realize operational synergies, and deliver long-term value to Crane shareholders.

Combining CIRCOR’s Fluid Handling, Aerospace and Defense assets with Crane’s portfolio of leading brands would create a stronger competitor with additional scale and growth potential.”

CIR +13.49 to $44.15.

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