North American rail traffic declined 3.4% last week

North American rail traffic down 3.4% for the week ending February 25

The Association of American Railroads, AAR reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 25, as well as volumes for February 2023.

U.S. railroads originated 905,744 carloads in February 2023, down 1.6% or 15,101 carloads, from February 2022.

U.S. railroads also originated 943,979 containers and trailers in February 2023, down 8.4%, or 86,351 units, from the same month last year.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in February 2023 were 1,849,723, down 5.2%, or 101,452 carloads and intermodal units from February 2022.

“Coal, chemicals, and grain together account for more than half of all non-intermodal U.S. rail volume.

When all three are down, like they were in February, it’s very hard for total carloads not to be down too,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

On the positive side, several commodities including crushed stone and sand, petroleum products, steel products, grain mill and food products showed very strong performances.

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 459,233 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.9% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending February 25 were 226,435 carloads, up 0.1% compared with the same week in 2022, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 232,798 containers and trailers, down 11.1% compared to 2022.

North American rail volume for the week ending February 25 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 327,221 carloads, up 2.9% compared with the same week last year, and 308,029 intermodal units, down 9.3% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 635,250 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4%.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP), Greenbrier (GBX), Trinity Industries (TRN), FreightCar America (RAIL) and Wabtec (WAB).

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Horizon Therapeutics sold for $28.3 billion

Amgen to acquire Horizon Therapeutics for $116.50 per share in cash

The board of directors of Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP) and the board of directors of Amgen (AMGN) announced that they have reached agreement on the terms of a cash offer for the company by Pillartree, a newly formed private limited company wholly owned by Amgen, which is unanimously recommended by the company board and pursuant to which acquirer sub will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of the company.

Under the terms of the acquisition, each company shareholder at the Scheme Record Time will be entitled to receive: $116.50 for each Company Share in cash.

The acquisition represents: a premium of approximately 47.9% to the closing price of $78.76 per company share on November 29 and a premium of approximately 19.7% to the closing price of $97.29 per company share on December 9.

The acquisition values the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of the company at approximately $27.8B on a fully diluted basis and implies an enterprise value of approximately $28.3B.

Amgen has entered into a Bridge Credit Agreement, dated December 12, for an aggregate amount of $28.5B.

Having taken into account the relevant factors and applicable risks, the company board, which has been so advised by Morgan Stanley, which as financial advisor to the company board has rendered a fairness opinion, considers the terms of the acquisition as set out in this announcement to be fair and reasonable.

In providing its advice to the company board, Morgan Stanley has taken into account the commercial assessments of the company directors.

The company board has unanimously determined that the transaction agreement and the transactions, including the scheme, are advisable for, fair to and in the best interests of, the company shareholders.

Accordingly, the company board unanimously recommends that company shareholders vote in favor of the scheme meeting resolution and the Required EGM Resolutions, or, if the acquisition is implemented by a takeover offer, accept or procure acceptance of such takeover offer.

It is agreed that the acquisition will be implemented by way of an Irish High Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement under Chapter 1 of Part 9 of the Irish Companies Act.

The acquisition will be subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the conditions, which are set out in full in Appendix 3 to this announcement, including, in summary: the requisite approval by company shareholders of the scheme meeting resolution and the required EGM Resolutions; the sanction of the scheme by the Irish High Court and the receipt of required antitrust clearances in the United States, Austria and Germany and the receipt of required foreign investment clearances in France, Germany, Denmark and Italy.

It is expected that the scheme document, containing further information about the acquisition and notices of the scheme meeting and the EGM, the expected timetable for completion and action to be taken by company shareholders, will be published as soon as practicable.

It is anticipated that the scheme will, subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, be declared effective in the first half of 2023. An expected timetable of key events relating to the acquisition will be provided in the scheme document.

Horizon Therapeutics Public Limited Company is an Irish biotechnology company, It focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of medicines that address critical needs for people impacted by rare, autoimmune, and severe inflammatory diseases. Its portfolio comprises 12 medicines in the areas of rare diseases, gout, ophthalmology, and inflammation.

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Coupa Software sold for $8 billion cash

Coupa Software to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $81 per share in cash

Coupa Software (COUP) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a leading software investment firm.

This is an all-cash transaction with an enterprise value of $8B.

Upon completion of the transaction, Coupa will become a privately held company.

The transaction includes a significant minority investment from a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Under the terms of the agreement, Coupa shareholders will receive $81.00 per share in cash, which represents a 77% premium to Coupa’s closing stock price on November 22, 2022, the last full trading day prior to media reports regarding a possible sale transaction involving the company.

The transaction consideration also represents a premium of approximately 64% to the volume weighted average closing price of Coupa stock for the 30 trading days ending on November 22, 2022.

“For more than a decade, we’ve been building an incredible Business Spend Management Community and have proudly cemented our position as the market-leading platform in our category. We’re looking forward to partnering with Thoma Bravo and accelerating our vision to digitally transform the Office of the CFO,” said Rob Bernshteyn, chairman and chief executive officer at Coupa.

“While our ownership may change, our values do not. Every one of us at Coupa will continue to put our customers at the center of everything we do and help them maximize the value of every dollar they spend.”

Approvals and Timing: The transaction, which was approved unanimously by the Coupa Board of Directors, is expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Coupa shareholders and the receipt of required regulatory approvals.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

Upon completion of the transaction, Coupa’s common stock will no longer be listed on any public market. The company will continue to operate under the Coupa name and brand.

Coupa Software Incorporated provides cloud-based business spend management platform that connects its customers with suppliers worldwide. The company provides visibility into and control over how companies spend money, optimize supply chains, and manage liquidity.

Other names in the space include: SAP Ariba · Jaggaer · G2 Deals · Zycus Source-to-Pay · Ivalua · Tradeshift · Procurify · Bill.com.

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ECB plays catch up, raises refinancing rate to 2 percent

ECB raises Main Refinancing Rate by 75bps to 2.00%

The ECB stated:

“The Governing Council today decided to raise the three key ECB interest rates by 75 basis points. With this third major policy rate increase in a row, the Governing Council has made substantial progress in withdrawing monetary policy accommodation.

The Governing Council took today’s decision, and expects to raise interest rates further, to ensure the timely return of inflation to its 2% medium-term inflation target.

Christine Lagarde: ECB President

The Governing Council will base the future policy rate path on the evolving outlook for inflation and the economy, following its meeting-by-meeting approach. Inflation remains far too high and will stay above the target for an extended period. In September, euro area inflation reached 9.9%.

In recent months, soaring energy and food prices, supply bottlenecks and the post-pandemic recovery in demand have led to a broadening of price pressures and an increase in inflation.

The Governing Council’s monetary policy is aimed at reducing support for demand and guarding against the risk of a persistent upward shift in inflation expectations. The Governing Council also decided to change the terms and conditions of the third series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III).

During the acute phase of the pandemic, this instrument played a key role in countering downside risks to price stability.

Today, in view of the unexpected and extraordinary rise in inflation, it needs to be recalibrated to ensure that it is consistent with the broader monetary policy normalisation process and to reinforce the transmission of policy rate increases to bank lending conditions.

Accordingly, the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will be increased to 2.00%, 2.25% and 1.50% respectively, with effect from 2 November 2022.

Asset purchase programme (APP)

The Governing Council intends to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it started raising the key ECB interest rates and, in any case, for as long as necessary to maintain ample liquidity conditions and an appropriate monetary policy stance.

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Rail Traffic Declines as Growth Slows!

North American rail traffic down 1% for the week ending September 17

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 17. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 490,654 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending September 17 were 239,528 carloads, up 2% compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 251,126 containers and trailers, down 7.3% compared to 2021.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021.

They included coal, up 3,948 carloads, to 72,774; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,491 carloads, to 35,163; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2,185 carloads, to 13,879.

Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included metallic ores and metals, down 3,192 carloads, to 21,581; miscellaneous carloads, down 1,623 carloads, to 8,250; and forest products, down 1,362 carloads, to 9,076. North American rail volume for the week ending September 17, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 342,034 carloads, up 3.5% compared with the same week last year, and 341,595 intermodal units, down 4.7% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,629 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8%.

North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2022 was 25,025,034 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4% compared with 2021.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP) and Trinity Industries (TRN), Greenbrier (GBX), FreightCar America (RAIL) and Wabtec (WAB).

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KnowBe4 receives buyout offer!

KnowBe4 confirms receipt of $24 per share proposal from Vista

KnowBe4 (KNBE) confirmed the receipt of a non-binding proposal from Vista Equity Partners to acquire all outstanding shares of the Company for $24 per share in cash.

KnowBe4, Inc. engages in the development, marketing, and sale of its Software-as-a-Service-based security awareness platform. The company provides a platform incorporating security awareness training and simulated phishing with analytics and reporting that helps organizations manage the ongoing problem of social engineering.

The company also offers Security Coach, a solution to address human behavior risks through human detection and response; and PasswordIQ that would be used to mitigate risk related to password hygiene issues, such as weak or breached passwords. It serves its customers directly through inside sales teams for enterprise and small and medium businesses, as well as indirectly through channel partners and managed service providers.

The proposal represents a 39% premium to KnowBe4’s closing price on September 16, 2022.

The Company’s Board of Directors regularly considers opportunities to enhance value for its stockholders.

In response to an inquiry from Vista, the Board formed a special committee of the Board, comprised solely of independent directors, to engage with Vista and take other actions that it deems appropriate, with the assistance of independent financial and legal advisors.

Consistent with its mandate, and in consultation with its legal and financial advisors, the Special Committee will carefully review the Vista proposal and other potential value creation opportunities to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of KnowBe4 and its stockholders.

KNBE is up 29% to $22.30.

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AppLovin offers to buy Unity!

 ironSource drops as AppLovin’s Unity bid contingent on ironSource deal exit

Shares of ironSource (IS) are down 12%, to $4.16 in Tuesday morning trading after AppLovin (APP) announced it has submitted a non-binding proposal to the board of directors of Unity Software (U) to combine AppLovin with Unity in a stock-based transaction.

Under the terms offered, current Unity shareholders would receive approximately 55% of the outstanding shares of the combined company, with the Class A shares representing approximately 49% of the outstanding voting rights of the combined company.

AppLovin, which markets software platforms for app developers to help them find customers and bring in revenue, is offering gaming platform Unity an alternative to its recently announced a deal to buy IronSource.

The all-stock merger consideration payable in a mix of AppLovin Class A and Class C common stock would value Unity at $58.85 per share and $20B enterprise value, representing a 48% premium to the Unity share price as of July 12 and 18% to yesterday’s closing price based on the closing price of AppLovin’s Class A common stock on August 8, AppLovin stated.

The execution of a definitive merger agreement between AppLovin and Unity would be subject to approval by each company’s board of directors, the termination of the proposed acquisition of ironSource LTD, and other customary signing conditions, the company noted.

Previously, on July 13, Unity and ironSource had announced that they entered into a definitive agreement under which ironSource will merge into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unity via an all-stock deal, where each ordinary share of ironSource will be exchanged for 0.1089 shares of Unity common stock.

Under the terms of that deal, current Unity stockholders will own approximately 73.5% and current ironSource shareholders will own approximately 26.5% of the combined company.

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Unity Buys IronSource, Shares Tumble

Unity Software, IronSource to merge in a$4.4B all-stock deal

Unity (U) and ironSource (IS) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which ironSource will merge into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unity via an all-stock deal, where each ordinary share of ironSource will be exchanged for 0.1089 shares of Unity common stock.

Once closed, current Unity stockholders will own approximately 73.5% and current ironSource shareholders will own approximately 26.5% of the combined company.

The companies’ complementary offerings create a unique end-to-end platform that allows creators to create, publish, run, monetize, and grow live games and RT3D content seamlessly.

The proposed all-stock transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close during Unity’s fourth quarter of 2022 and is subject to customary closing conditions, and regulatory and shareholder approval.

The combined company is expected to generate a run rate of $1B in Adjusted EBITDA by the end of 2024.

Six Months Chart of Unity

Unity Cuts Guidance

Unity Software cut FY22 revenue view to $1.3B-$1.35B from $1.35B-$1.425B – FY22 consensus was for $1.47B. Cites current assessment of macro trends, product launch and competitive dynamic with the monetization business.

Unity expects second quarter financial results to be slightly higher than the top end of the guidance range provided during its first quarter earnings call.

Needham

Needham analyst Bernie McTernan downgraded ironSource (IS) to Hold from Buy after the company announced its intent to merge with Unity (U) in an all-stock transaction. The analyst notes that ironSource shares trade at a 8% discount to the implied takeout price.

McTernan adds that the companies’ complementary platform fit, plus profitability that ironSource provides, were reasons for the large premium paid and will likely prevent smaller players from making an over-the-top offer as consolidation continues to be a theme in the mobile ad-tech space.

Piper Sandler

Piper downgrades Unity to Neutral, says ironSource deal creates overhang – Piper Sandler analyst Brent Bracelin downgraded Unity (U) to Neutral from Overweight with a price target of $34, down from $55, after the company announced a deal to merge with ironSource (IS).

While stating that the pending merger “appears to be a highly strategic acquisition that not only adds material scale and product breadth to the gaming segment but could also help improve profitability,” Bracelin cut his rating based on the near-term overhang that he sees the merger creating as well as increased execution risk over the next six to nine months.

DA Davidson

DA Davidson analyst Franco Granda lowered the firm’s price target on Unity (U) to $60 from $85 and keeps a Buy rating on the shares. The company’s deal to acquire ironSource (IS) is “very attractive” due to the confluence of revenue and cost synergies, attractive valuation, and highly complementary tech stack amidst a backdrop of privacy-driven platform changes and macro pressures, though his reduced price target reflects lower broader market multiples, the analyst tells investors in a research note.

Ark Investments

Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment bought 1.02M shares of Unity on Wednesday.

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Beige Book says housing is slowing amid high inflation

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace.

But there was a big “however,” something the Fed typically does not express:

“several Districts reported grow signs of a slowdown in demand, and contacts in five Districts noted concerns over an increased risk of a recession.”

Most Districts reported moderation in consumer spending as higher food and gas prices diminished households’ discretionary income.

Federal Reserve Regions

Auto sales were sluggish with low inventories still impacting.

Leisure travel was “healthy.” Manufacturing was mixed. Non-financial services firms saw stable to slightly higher demand. Housing demand weakened.

As in the prior report, the outlook for future economic growth was mostly negative.

Employment generally continued to rise at a moderate pace and conditions were tight overall.

Jerome Powell, FOMC Chair

But there was some sign of modest improvement in labor availability.

Most Districts reported wage growth.

“Substantial” price increases were reported across all Districts, at all stages of consumption, with food, commodities, and energy (particularly fuel) cost remaining “significant.”

There was some moderation in construction materials.

Pricing power was steady, but firms in some sectors like travel and hospitality, were able to pass through sizeable increases to consumers. That is seen persisting through the year.

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FOMC Raises Rates

Fed boosts rates 50 basis points, says ongoing raises ‘appropriate’ 

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With appropriate firming in the stance of monetary policy, the Committee expects inflation to return to its 2 percent objective and the labor market to remain strong. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”

Federal Reserve to reduce Treasury, debt holdings on June 1 – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee decided to begin reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities on June 1, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet that were issued in conjunction with this statement.”

Fed says inflation remains elevated, Ukraine impacts ‘highly uncertain’ – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Although overall economic activity edged down in the first quarter, household spending and business fixed investment remained strong. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined substantially. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is causing tremendous human and economic hardship. The implications for the U.S. economy are highly uncertain. The invasion and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are likely to weigh on economic activity. In addition, COVID-related lockdowns in China are likely to exacerbate supply chain disruptions. The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks.”

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Lee Enterprises receives take over offer

Alden Global Capital offers to acquire Lee Enterprises for $24.00 per share

Alden Global Capital sent the following letter to the Board of Directors of Lee Enterprises (LEE):

“Alden Global Capital is a significant investor in American newspapers, with platforms including MediaNews Group, Inc. and Tribune Publishing Company that are committed to ensuring communities nationwide have access to robust, independently minded local journalism.

Our goal is to provide valued news and information to local subscribers nationwide, led by a talented team of seasoned newspaper executives who have worked in journalism for an average of more than 30 years.

Our newspapers include The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, The Mercury News, The New York Daily News, The Orange County Register, The Boston Herald, The Baltimore Sun and other leading newspapers across the U.S.

As you are aware, an affiliated entity of ours owns approximately 6% of the issued and outstanding common stock of Lee Enterprises, Incorporated.

We believe that as a private company and part of our successful nationwide platforms, Lee would be in a stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its employees in their important work serving local communities.

Our interest in Lee is a reaffirmation of our substantial commitment to the newspaper industry and our desire to support local newspapers over the long term.

Accordingly, we propose to purchase Lee for $24.00 per share in cash, representing a substantial premium of approximately 30% to Lee’s closing share price of $18.49 on November 19th, 2021.

We have the ability to fully finance this all-cash proposal and the definitive merger agreement will not include a financing condition.

We have engaged an experienced team of advisors, including Moelis & Company as financial advisor as well as Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP as legal counsel, and have conducted a comprehensive review of publicly available information about Lee.

Based on our review of this information and in consultation with our counsel, we do not believe any material regulatory issues would inhibit the completion of this transaction in a timely manner.

The foregoing indicative terms are based solely on our review of publicly available information, are subject to completion of our due diligence and execution of definitive documentation acceptable to us and we reserve the right to withdraw or modify our proposal in any manner.

Following the review of targeted additional information pursuant to a mutually acceptable nondisclosure agreement, we expect that we would complete our work, including negotiation of definitive documentation, in approximately four weeks.

We are keenly interested in working constructively with the Lee Board of Directors, with the goal of getting to a successful transaction with value, speed and certainty.

Scale is critical for newspapers to ensure necessary staffing and in order to thrive in this challenging environment where print advertising continues to decline and back office operations and legacy public company functions remain bloated, thus depriving newsrooms of resources that are best used serving readers with relevant, trustworthy and engaging content.

We hope that the Board will work with us to maximize value and opportunities for all Lee stockholders and employees, and we look forward to receiving a response to this non-binding proposal in an expeditious manner.”

Lee Enterprises, founded in 1890, provides local news and information, and advertising services in the United States. The company offers print and digital editions of daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers and publications; and digital services, including Web hosting and content management for other content producers. Additionally, the company publishes 9 daily newspapers, and weekly newspapers and specialty publications.

LEE last traded at $22.92, up $4.47 on the day.

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GE to split into three companies

General Electric to form three public companies

GE announced its plan to form three industry-leading, global public companies focused on the growth sectors of aviation, healthcare, and energy, by: Pursuing a tax-free spin-off of GE Healthcare, creating a pure-play company at the center of precision health in early 2023, in which GE expects to retain a stake of 19.9 percent; and Combining GE Renewable Energy, GE Power, and GE Digital into one business, positioned to lead the energy transition, and then pursuing a tax-free spin-off of this business in early 2024.

GE to split into three

Following these transactions, GE will be an aviation-focused company shaping the future of flight.

As independently run companies, the businesses will be better positioned to deliver long-term growth and create value for customers, investors, and employees, with each benefitting from: Deeper operational focus, accountability, and agility to meet customer needs; Tailored capital allocation decisions in line with distinct strategies and industry-specific dynamics; Strategic and financial flexibility to pursue growth opportunities; Dedicated boards of directors with deep domain expertise; Business- and industry-oriented career opportunities and incentives for employees; and Distinct and compelling investment profiles appealing to broader, deeper investor bases.

GE Chairman and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. said, “At GE we have always taken immense pride in our purpose of building a world that works. The world demands-and deserves-we bring our best to solve the biggest challenges in flight, healthcare, and energy.

By creating three industry-leading, global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation, and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors, and employees. We are putting our technology expertise, leadership, and global reach to work to better serve our customers.”

Culp will serve as non-executive chairman of the GE healthcare company upon its spin-off.

He will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of GE until the second spin-off, at which point, he will lead the GE aviation-focused company going forward.

Peter Arduini will assume the role of president and CEO of GE Healthcare effective January 1, 2022.

Peter Arduin

Scott Strazik will be the CEO of the combined Renewable Energy, Power, and Digital business while John Slattery continues as CEO of Aviation.

Scott Strazik

GE intends to execute the spin-offs of Healthcare in early 2023 and of the Renewable Energy and Power business in early 2024.

John Slattery

The respective capital structures, brands, and leadership teams for each independent company will be determined and announced later.

Where required to do so, GE will consult with employee representatives in line with its legal obligations before any final decisions are taken.

Through the transition, GE will be able to monetize its stakes in AerCap and Baker Hughes, prioritizing further debt reduction.

Each of the three resulting independent companies will be well capitalized with investment-grade ratings.

Following the spin-off transactions, GE will retain other assets and liabilities of GE today, including run-off insurance operations.

Upon closing the Healthcare transaction, GE expects to retain a stake of 19.9 percent in the healthcare company to provide capital allocation flexibility.

GE also intends that Healthcare will issue debt securities, the proceeds of which will be used to pay down outstanding GE debt.

The transactions are not subject to bondholder consent.

The company expects to incur one-time separation, transition, and operational costs of approximately $2 billion and tax costs of less than $0.5 billion, which will depend on specifics of the transaction.

The proposed spin-offs of Healthcare and the Renewable Energy and Power business are intended to be tax-free for GE and GE shareholders for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

The transactions are subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions, including final approvals by GE’s Board of Directors, private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service and/or tax opinions from counsel, the filing and effectiveness of Form 10 registration statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and satisfactory completion of financing.

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Gets a boost from S. Korea

SK Ecoplant to invest $500M in Bloom Energy through expanded partnership

Bloom Energy (BE) and SK Ecoplant, an affiliate of South Korean conglomerate SK Group (SKM), announced the companies are expanding their existing partnership.

The partnership includes purchasing a minimum of 500 megawatts, or MW, from Bloom Energy, representing a $4.5B revenue commitment; co-creating two hydrogen innovation centers; and targeting an equity investment of approximately $500M.

Since the start of their strategic partnership three years ago, Bloom Energy and SK ecoplant have transacted nearly 200 MW of projects together totaling more than $1.8B of equipment and expected service revenue.

Fuel Cells powered solely by Hydrogen

Over the next three years the companies will expand this existing business with contracts for at least an additional 500 MW of power between 2022 and 2025, representing approximately $4.5B in equipment and future service revenue.

Bloom Energy and SK ecoplant agreed to create Hydrogen Innovation Centers in the United States and South Korea.

The intent is to accelerate the global market expansion for Bloom Energy’s hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen electrolyzer products.

The agreement also reflects both Bloom Energy and SK ecoplant’s enhanced commitment to a zero-carbon future and the further implementation of environmental, social and governance practices.

In addition, Bloom Energy and SK ecoplant agreed to strengthen their alliance through expanding business cooperation in global markets, which may include exclusive distribution rights in select new markets.

SK ecoplant will invest $255M in Bloom Energy by acquiring 10M shares of zero coupon, non-voting redeemable convertible preferred stock at a price of $25.50 per share.

SK ecoplant has the option to acquire a minimum of an additional 11M shares of Class A common stock at a 15% premium to the prevailing stock price at the time, which must be no later than November 30, 2023 and is subject to a maximum ownership of 15%.

Upon completion of SK ecoplant’s purchase of its second tranche, SK ecoplant will add a member to the Bloom Energy board of directors. SK will give an irrevocable proxy to vote its shares to Bloom Energy.

The investment is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close within 45 days.

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Exxon gets into plastic recycling!

 Exxon Mobil announces plans to build plastic waste recycling facility

Exxon Mobil (XOM) plans to build its first, large-scale plastic waste advanced recycling facility in Baytown, Texas, and is expected to start operations by year-end 2022.

A smaller, temporary facility, is already operational and producing commercial volumes of certified circular polymers that will be marketed by the end of this year to meet growing demand.

The new facility follows validation of Exxon Mobil’s initial trial of its proprietary process for converting plastic waste into raw materials.

“We’ve proven our proprietary advanced recycling technology in Baytown, and we’re scaling up operations to supply certified circular polymers by year-end,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “Availability of reliable advanced recycling capacity will play an important role in helping address plastic waste in the environment, and we are evaluating wide-scale deployment in other locations around the world.”

To date, the trial has successfully recycled more than 1,000 metric tons of plastic waste, the equivalent of 200M grocery bags, and has demonstrated the capability of processing 50 metric tons per day.

Upon completion of the large-scale facility, the operation in Baytown will be among North America’s largest plastic waste recycling facilities and will have an initial planned capacity to recycle 30,000 metric tons of plastic waste per year.

Operational capacity could be expanded quickly if effective policy and regulations that recognize the lifecycle benefits of advanced recycling are implemented for residential and industrial plastic waste collection and sorting systems.

ExxonMobil is developing plans to build approximately 500,000 metric tons of advanced recycling capacity globally over the next five years.

In Europe, the company is collaborating with Plastic Energy on an advanced recycling plant in Notre Dame de Gravenchon, France, which is expected to process 25,000 metric tons of plastic waste per year when it starts up in 2023, with the potential for further expansion to 33,000 metric tons of annual capacity.

The company is also assessing sites in the Netherlands, the U.S. Gulf Coast, Canada, and Singapore.

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ECB sets a two percent target for inflation

ECB keeps key interest rates unchanged, revises forward guidance on rates

The ECB said: “In its recent strategy review, the Governing Council agreed a symmetric inflation target of two per cent over the medium term.

The key ECB interest rates have been close to their lower bound for some time and the medium-term outlook for inflation is still well below the Governing Council’s target.

In these conditions, the Governing Council today revised its forward guidance on interest rates. It did so to underline its commitment to maintain a persistently accommodative monetary policy stance to meet its inflation target.

In support of its symmetric two per cent inflation target and in line with its monetary policy strategy, the Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching two per cent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realized progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilizing at two per cent over the medium term.

This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.

Having confirmed its June assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council continues to expect purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase program – PEPP – over the current quarter to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of the year…

The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively.”

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