Shares of Block lower on short seller report!

Block intends to explore legal action against Hindenburg Research

#Hindenburg Research has published a short report on Block (SQ), formerly known as Square, stating that the firm’s “2-year investigation has concluded that Block has systematically taken advantage of the demographics it claims to be helping.

The “magic” behind Block’s business has not been disruptive innovation, but rather the company’s willingness to facilitate fraud against consumers and the government, avoid regulation, dress up predatory loans and fees as revolutionary technology, and mislead investors with inflated metrics.”

The firm, which discloses that it has taken a short position in shares of Block, contends that the company “has misled investors on key metrics, and embraced predatory offerings and compliance worst-practices in order to fuel growth and profit from facilitation of fraud against consumers and the government.”

In addition, it believes “Jack Dorsey has built an empire-and amassed a $5 billion personal fortune-professing to care deeply about the demographics he is taking advantage of. With Dorsey and top executives already having sold over $1 billion in equity on Block’s meteoric pandemic run higher, they have ensured they will be fine, regardless of the outcome for everyone else.”

Block Responds

Block said in a statement: “We intend to work with the SEC and explore legal action against #Hindenburg Research for the factually inaccurate and misleading report they shared about our Cash App business today.

Hindenburg is known for these types of attacks, which are designed solely to allow short sellers to profit from a declined stock price. We have reviewed the full report in the context of our own data and believe it’s designed to deceive and confuse investors. We are a highly regulated public company with regular disclosures, and are confident in our products, reporting, compliance programs, and controls. We will not be distracted by typical short seller tactics.”

Robert Baird

Baird analyst David #Koning comments on a short report that is significantly weighing on Block shares in pre-market trading, noting that the report implies that the company’s CashApp is reasonably easy, or relatively easier than other banking services, for criminals to use and claims that CashApp is somewhat complicit in allowing this type of behavior.

However, the firm believes Block helps many underbanked access the financial markets and “like any organization probably has some clients that are criminals.” The firm views the stock as good value, but is concerned with the prevalence of any criminal activity and how this could impact investor sentiment, estimating that “in a pretty dire case” shedding 20% of accounts could impact about 8% of total gross profit. Baird has an Outperform rating and $92 price target on Block shares, which are down about 20% to $58.07 in early trading following Hindenburg Research’s short report.

KeyBanc

KeyBanc analyst Josh #Beck sees “no merit to the disparaging claims” made against Block by a “smaller outfit” that published a short report and rather views the report as “observations from a relatively novice industry outsider who is not familiar with standard operating practices and principles within the FinTech industry.”

The firm, which said Block is subject to numerous laws and regulations as a financial services provider, believes Block “fully complies with applicable regulations and laws and prevents the maximal amount of fraud possible within a business that is inherently subject to, while not immune to, any instances of fraud.” KeyBanc has an Overweight rating and $100 price target on Block shares, 

Mizuho

Mizuho analyst Dan #Dolev says Hindenburg Research’s short report “makes valid arguments,” such as the slowdown in inflows and sustainability of the instant deposit fees.

While this might increase regulatory scrutiny, other claims and risks around high, unregulated interchange fees and definition of monthly users are well known to investors, the analyst tells investors in a research note. The firm says other aspects of the report, like adding back stock based compensation after Block publicly shifted focus to include non-cash expenses in operating income, “may hold less water.”

Mizuho says the near-term bull case on Blok remains reaching better than expected profits helped by cost control. The long-term bull case remains creating a “unique” closed-loop payments network by connecting merchants and consumers, the firm adds. It has a Buy rating on the stock with a $93 price target.

Raymond James

Raymond James contends that this morning’s short report on Block issued by Hindenburg Research doesn’t include a lot of “new” news or a “bombshell” and argues that the biggest risk is potentially drawing scrutiny from regulators and politicians, which could create an overhang on the stock.

However, given the situation concerning SVB Financial (SIVB) and the current banking fallout, the firm would guess “this is way down the list of priorities” for financial regulators at this time.

The firm, which adds that “while being accused of overstating users certainly isn’t positive,” notes that there are no accusations of fraudulent accounting and the “revenue is real.” Raymond James has a Market Perform rating on Block shares.

RBC Capital

RBC Capital analyst Daniel Perlin made no change to the firm’s Outperform rating or $95 price target on shares of Block. The firm says the short report that was released today focuses on Block’s “underbanked” user base, as being a series of bad actors, enabling the overstatement of its users metrics, as well as BNPL via its acquisition of Afterpay, systematically embracing predatory pricing, the analyst tells investors in a research note.

RBC Capital’s view of the stock is unchanged, but thinks the negative overhang can persist for some time.

Shares of Block are down 20% to $58.10.

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Diversey Holdings sold for $4.6 billion

Diversey to be acquired by Solenis for $8.40 per share in cash

Solenis and Diversey Holdings (DSEY) announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Solenis will acquire Diversey in an all-cash transaction valued at an enterprise value of approximately $4.6B.

Diversey Holdings, Ltd. provides infection prevention and cleaning solutions worldwide. It operates in two segments, Institutional, and Food & Beverage. 

Upon completion of the merger, Diversey will become a private company.

Under the terms of the agreement, Diversey shareholders — other than shareholders affiliated with Bain Capital Private Equity — will receive $8.40 per share in cash, which represents a premium of approximately 41.0% over Diversey’s closing share price on March 7, 2023, the last full trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and a premium of approximately 59.0% over Diversey’s 90-day volume-weighted average price.

Bain Capital will receive $7.84 per share in cash and will rollover a portion of its shares of Diversey into an affiliate of Solenis in exchange for common and preferred units of such affiliate.

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, Solenis is a manufacturer of specialty chemicals used in water-intensive industries, which was acquired by Platinum Equity in 2021.

“The merger presents a unique opportunity to enhance value and create a more diversified business with increased scale, broader global reach, and superior customer service capabilities. It will enable the combined company to grow and provide a number of attractive cross-selling opportunities, including meeting increasing customer demand for water management, cleaning and hygiene solutions,” said Phil Wieland, Chief Executive Officer of Diversey.

Solenis CEO John Panichella will lead the combined company following the transition and integration.

Diversey’s Board of Directors formed the Special Committee to evaluate and negotiate the transaction with the assistance of independent financial and legal advisors.

Following this process, the Special Committee unanimously determined that the transaction with Solenis is in the best interests of Diversey and its shareholders, and, acting upon unanimous recommendation by the Special Committee, the Diversey Board of Directors unanimously approved the merger and recommended that Diversey shareholders vote in favor of the merger.

The Special Committee negotiated the terms of the merger agreement with assistance from its independent financial and legal advisors.

In connection with the transaction, Solenis has entered into a support agreement with Bain Capital, pursuant to which Bain Capital has agreed to vote all of its Diversey shares — which represent approximately 73% of Diversey’s outstanding shares — in favor of the transaction, subject to certain terms and conditions set forth therein.

Solenis intends to finance the transaction with a combination of committed debt and equity financing, including the contribution by Bain Capital.

The merger is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including approval by Diversey shareholders holding a majority of the outstanding shares of the Company and receipt of regulatory approvals.

Upon closing of the transaction, Diversey’s ordinary shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

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Netflix Outlines Methods to Stop Credential Sharing

Netflix provides update on sharing guidelines as 100M households share accounts

In an “update on sharing,” Netflix (NFLX) said that,

“Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts – impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films.

So over the last year, we’ve been exploring different approaches to address this issue in Latin America, and we’re now ready to roll them out more broadly in the coming months, starting today in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.

Our focus has been on giving members greater control over who can access their account.

Set primary location: We’ll help members set this up, ensuring that anyone who lives in their household can use their Netflix account.

Manage account access and devices: Members can now easily manage who has access to their account from our new Manage Access and Devices page.

Transfer profile: People using an account can now easily transfer a profile to a new account, which they pay for – keeping their personalized recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games and more.

Netflix Spain raises prices

Watch while you travel: Members can still easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental.

Netflix Canada raises prices

Buy an extra member: Members on our Standard or Premium plan in many countries (including Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain) can add an extra member sub account for up to two people they don’t live with – each with a profile, personalized recommendations, login and password – for an extra CAD$7.99 a month per person in Canada, NZD$7.99 in New Zealand, Euro 3.99 in Portugal, and Euro 5.99 in Spain.”

NFLX is up $1.26 to $364.15.

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Rig Counts Declined last week!

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count down 12 to 759 rigs

Baker Hughes (BKR) reports that the U.S. rig count is down 12 from last week to 759 with oil rigs down 10 to 599, gas rigs down 2 to 158 and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 2.

The U.S. Rig Count is up 146 rigs from last year’s count of 613 with oil rigs up 102, gas rigs up 42 and miscellaneous up 2.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is down 1 to 12, down 4 year-over-year. The Canada Rig Count is up 2 from last week to 249, with oil rigs up 2 to 159, gas rigs unchanged at 90.

The Canada Rig Count is up 31 rigs from last year’s count of 218 with oil rigs up 23, gas rigs up 8.

The Baker Hughes rig counts are counts of the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas in the U.S., Canada and international markets.

The Company has issued the rig counts as a service to the petroleum industry since 1944, when Hughes Tool Company began weekly counts of the U.S. and Canadian drilling activity. The monthly international rig count was initiated in 1975.

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West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is down $2.05 to $73.81 per barrel (down from a high of $123.70). Brent crude is down $2.06 to $80.19 per barre (down from a high of $127.98). Gasoline last traded at $2.349 per gallon (down from a high of $4.31 per gallon).

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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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Prometheus Biosciences reports positive data, shares jump!

Prometheus announces results for PRA023 in APOLLO-CD Phase 2 study

Prometheus Biosciences (RXDX) reported results from its ARTEMIS-UC Phase 2 and APOLLO-CD Phase 2a studies of PRA023 demonstrating strong efficacy and favorable safety results in both studies.

Based on the totality of the data in these two studies, Prometheus intends to advance PRA023 into Phase 3 studies for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in 2023.

Results from the APOLLO-CD Phase 2a Study: Prometheus’ Phase 2a APOLLO-CD clinical trial was a 12-week open-label study that enrolled 55 patients with moderate-to-severely active CD with endoscopically active disease who had failed conventional or biologic therapy.

Crohn’s Disease

The study enrolled a highly refractory patient population with 70.9% of patients previously treated with at least one biologic therapy and 52.7% treated with two or more biologic therapies.

The results on the key endpoints were as follows: 26.0% of patients on PRA023 achieved endoscopic response; 49.1% of patients on PRA023 achieved clinical remission; PRA023 was well tolerated in the APOLLO-CD study.

There were no treatment-emergent serious adverse events, adverse events leading to discontinuation, or severe AEs assessed as related to PRA023 by the investigator.

The predictive power of the company’s prespecified genetic markers was validated using an alternative Crohn’s-specific CDx algorithm which showed 45.0% endoscopic response relative to all-comers of 26%.

While the original algorithm provided limited benefit on some of the endpoints, the alternative algorithm demonstrated enhanced performance across both clinical and endoscopic outcomes.

As a result of these positive data, Prometheus plans to advance PRA023 into pivotal development in 2023, following discussions with regulators.

Based upon confidence in its precision approach and speed to market, the company conducted an interim companion diagnostic (CDx) analysis of Cohort 1 to evaluate the effectiveness of the CDx candidate in ARTEMIS-UC. Although from limited patient numbers, data from the subset of patients who tested positive on the CDx in Cohort 1 (N=32) demonstrated a placebo-adjusted clinical remission rate of 37.5%, compared with the placebo-adjusted remission rate of 25.0% for all-comers. The expansion cohort (Cohort 2), which is statistically powered to further assess the treatment effect of PRA023 in CDx+ patients will continue to enroll, and the company expects results in the second quarter of 2023.

RXDX is up $17 to $112.86.

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Vivint Smart Home sold for $2.8B

NRG Energy to acquire Vivint Smart Home for $12 per share, or $2.8B cash

NRG Energy (NRG) and Vivint Smart Home (VVNT) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which NRG will acquire Vivint for $12 per share or $2.8B in an all-cash transaction with an implied multiple of 6.3x run-rate Enterprise Value to Adjusted EBITDA. The agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

Vivint Smart Home engages in the sale, installation, servicing, and monitoring of smart home and security systems primarily in the United States and Canada. The company’s smart home platform includes cloud-enabled smart home operating systems; AI-driven smart home automation and assistance software; software-enabled smart home devices; and tech-enabled services to educate, manage, and support the smart home. 

NRG Energy operates as an integrated power company in the United States. 

NRG will acquire 100% of the outstanding equity of Vivint for a total transaction value of $5.2B, which consists of approximately $2.8B in cash and the assumption of $2.4B of debt (net of cash), which benefits from attractive terms and pricing.

This consideration represents a premium of approximately 33% to Vivint’s closing share price on December 5, 2022.

NRG’s capital allocation strategy will continue to opportunistically balance its growth, return of capital, and balance sheet objectives.

NRG intends to complete its existing $1 billion share repurchase program over the near term, of which $360 million was remaining as of November 30, 2022.

In 2023, NRG expects to use its excess free cash flow to fund the Vivint acquisition, reduce acquisition-related debt, and maintain its common stock dividend growth policy.

In 2024, the Company intends to return to its 50% return of capital / 50% growth capital allocation policy.

NRG remains highly committed to its dividend growth policy, which remains unchanged from previous guidance.

Management remains committed to maintaining its strong balance sheet and credit ratings.

The Company expects to achieve its investment grade credit metrics target of 2.50-2.75x Net Debt / Adjusted EBITDA by late 2025 to 2026 through the combination of debt reduction and growth.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Upon completion of the transaction, NRG intends to maintain a significant presence in Utah.

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Mirati Theraputics shares jump on take over rumors!

Mirati Therapeutics shares are up 20% on heavy trading volume

Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) is attracting fresh takeover interest from large pharma companies, sources tell Bloomberg’s Michelle Davis and Dinesh Nair.

Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage oncology company. It develops product candidates to address the genetic and immunological promoters of cancer in the United States.

The company develops MRTX849, a KRAS G12C inhibitor, which is in Phase 1/2 clinical trial for treating non-small cell lung (NSCL), colorectal, pancreatic, and other cancers; and Sitravatinib, an investigational spectrum-selective kinase inhibitor that is in Phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of NSCL cancer, as well as a KRAS G12D inhibitor program, which is in preclinical development. It has a collaboration and license agreement with BeiGene, Ltd. to develop, manufacture, and commercialize sitravatinib.

Sitravatinib

Sitravatinib (MGCD516) is an orally-available, small molecule inhibitor of a closely related spectrum of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) including MET, TAM (Tyro3, AXL, MERTK) family, VEGFR family, PDGFR family, KIT, FLT3, TRK family, RET, DDR2, and selected EPH family members. Nivolumab is a human IgG monoclonal antibody that binds to the PD-1 receptor and selectively blocks the interaction with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby releasing PD-1 pathway mediated inhibition of the immune response, including anti-tumor immune response. RTKs have been implicated in mediating an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, which has emerged as a potential resistance mechanism to checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Inhibition of these RTKs by sitravatinib may augment anti-tumor immune response and improve outcomes by overcoming resistance to checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

On November 8th, Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) reported a 3rd Quarter September 2022 loss of $3.09 per share on revenue of $5.4 million. The consensus estimate was a loss of $3.46 per share on revenue of $4.6 million.

The stock has a 52-week trading range of $32.96 to $154.17. Shares last traded at $89.50.

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City of Cincinnati gets $1.62B from Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern to purchase assets of Cincinnati Southern Railway

Norfolk Southern (NSC) announced the execution of a purchase agreement under which the company’s operating subsidiary, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, will acquire substantially all of the assets of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, an approximately 337 mile railroad that runs from Cincinnati, Ohio to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The CSR is currently owned by the City of Cincinnati and operated by the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Norfolk Southern Railway, under a lease agreement expiring in 2026.

The agreement provides the company ownership of approximately 9,500 acres of land that sits under infrastructure maintained and operated by Norfolk Southern.

Further, it ensures Norfolk Southern will own the line in perpetuity, while eliminating uncertainty around future lease costs.

The line is one of the highest density segments of the company’s network, with as many as 30 trains a day traveling the route.

Upon the close of the transaction, projected to occur in the first half of 2024, the City of Cincinnati will receive cash consideration of approximately $1.62B.

Norfolk Southern intends to finance the transaction through a combination of internal and external sources.

The City of Cincinnati plans to use the proceeds of the transaction to form an infrastructure fund that will benefit the citizens of Cincinnati for generations to come.

The trust would solely fund the rehabilitation, modernization, or replacement of existing infrastructure such as streets, bridges, municipal buildings, parks, and green space.

The closing is subject to certain conditions, including approval by the voters of Cincinnati and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

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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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Kroger in talks to buy Albertsons

Kroger in talks to acquire Albertsons in all-cash deal, CNBC says

Kroger (KR) is in talks to buy Albertsons (ACI) in an all-cash deal that it hopes can be announced as soon as tomorrow morning, CNBC’s David Faber reported on-air, citing his sources. He could not learn of the deal price being discussed, Faber noted. Earlier, Bloomberg also reported earlier that Kroger is in discussions to merge with Albertsons.

Shares of Albertsons (ACI) are up $2.45, or 10%, to $28.12 after both CNBC and Bloomberg said the grocer is in talks to merge with industry peer Kroger (KR), whose shares are down about 1% to $45.53.

Kroger (KR) is in discussions to merger with Albertsons (ACI), Bloomberg’s Michelle Davis reports. According to people familiar with the matter, an agreement could be reached as soon as this week, but caution that no final decisions have been made.

Albertsons Companies, Inc. engages in the operation of food and drug stores in the United States. As of February 26, 2022, it operated 2,276 stores under various banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Haggen, Kings Food Markets, and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market; and 1,722 pharmacies, 1,317 in-store branded coffee shops, 402 adjacent fuel centers, 22 distribution centers, and 20 manufacturing facilities.

The Kroger Co. operates as a retailer in the United States. The company operates combination food and drug stores, multi-department stores, marketplace stores, and price impact warehouses. As of January 29, 2022, the company operated 2,726 supermarkets under various banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

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ForgeRock sold for $2.3 billion

ForgeRock to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $23.25 per share in cash

ForgeRock announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $23.25 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2.3B.

The offer represents a premium of approximately 53% over ForgeRock’s closing share price on October 10, the last full trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and a premium of approximately 44% over the volume weighted average price of ForgeRock stock for the 30 days ending October 10.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the ForgeRock board of directors, is currently expected to close in the first half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by ForgeRock’s shareholders and the receipt of required regulatory approvals.

ForgeRock, Inc. operates a digital identity platform to secure, manage, and govern the identities of customers, employees, partners, application programing interfaces (APIs), microservices, devices, and the Internet of things worldwide. It offers identity management products to automate onboarding/registration and progressive profiling, identity lifecycle and relationship management, identity provisioning and synchronization, user self-service, personalization, delegation, and privacy and consent management. 

Upon completion of the transaction, ForgeRock’s common stock will no longer be publicly listed and ForgeRock will become a privately held company.

FORG is up $7.38 to $22.53.

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Exxon Mobil is eyeing Denbury!

Denbury jumps after Bloomberg says Exxon considering takeover

Exxon Mobil (XOM) is considering a takeover of Denbury (DEN), Kiel Porter of Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Exxon has expressed preliminary interest in Denbury but no final decision has been made, sources told Bloomberg. In August, Bloomberg reported that Denbury is working with an adviser to explore a sale.

Denbury Inc., an independent energy company, focuses on producing oil from mature oil fields in the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain regions. The company holds interests in various oil and natural gas properties located in Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana in the Gulf Coast region; and in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming in the Rocky Mountain region. As of February 24, 2022, it had 192 million barrels of oil equivalent of estimated proved oil and natural gas reserves. 

Denbury is working with investment bankers at JPMorgan on negotiations to be acquired by a strategic buyer, according to Street Insider, citing a source who reportedly added that the talks may not lead to a definitive transaction. Previously, on August 17, Bloomberg’s Kiel Porter, Gillian Tan, and Kevin Crowley reported that Denbury was exploring options, including a possible sale.

Key Bank

After Bloomberg reported that Denbury (DEN) hired bankers to explore a sale and mentioned ExxonMobil (XOM) as a potential buyer, shares are outperforming sharply today, noted KeyBanc analyst Tim Rezvan. M&A for Denbury has been an “active debate topic with clients” since his launch of coverage, when shares were in the $75-$85 per share range, and with the shares “flirting with the $100/share level today,” he believes “there is clearly M&A upside in the share price,” said Rezvan. The analyst, who noted that the company did not provide a comment when he reached out for information, has an Overweight rating on Denbury shares.

DEN shares are up 6% to $98.05.

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Aluminum stocks move on Russian exposure!

LME issues discussion paper on Russian metal

The London Metal Exchange, or LME, has issued a discussion paper on Russian metal, stating in a summary:

“Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, specific sectoral sanctions and related measures against Russia have been introduced; however, there has been no comprehensive government-led action to prevent the widespread use of Russian metal.

In parallel, the LME has been closely monitoring the usage and throughflow of Russian metal on the LME, to ensure that LME warehouses do not see a significant inflow of unwanted Russian stocks, posing a risk of creating a disorderly or unfair market.

Through 2022, the LME’s understanding is that consumers have broadly been willing to take deliveries of Russian metal, which is supported by data as to the flow of Russian stocks both into and out of LME warehouses.

Russian aluminnum looking for a new home

However, as the current negotiation period for 2023 supply agreements progresses, the LME understands that an increasing number of consumers may be expressing an unwillingness to accept Russian metal in 2023.

As a result, and in light of the potentially changing market landscape, the LME now considers it appropriate to gather further data and views.

Alcoa is U.S.’ largest aluminum smelter

This paper considers the role of the LME in this scenario, provides background and data on the subject, and asks for market feedback on possible routes forward.”

Aluminum stocks that have previously moved in reaction (now recovering) to reports that the London Metal Exchange was launching a discussion of a potential ban on new supplies of Russian metal include Alcoa (AA), Century Aluminum (CENX), Kaiser Aluminum (KALU), Constellium (CSTM) and Arconic (ARNC). 

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