Hasbro questioned by shareholder!

Alta Fox urges Hasbro to address questions on Q1 earnings call

Alta Fox Capital Management, the beneficial owner of approximately 2.5% of the outstanding shares of Hasbro (HAS), urged the Company to address the following questions when it reports Q1 financial results tomorrow:

“Why has the Company pushed back the record date for the 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders?

Given that the Board of Directors appears to be more focused on entrenchment than value creation, we are forced to question the motivation behind moving the record date to May 9th.

We fear the Board is hoping that the delay will provide time to court friendly shareholders, who are likely to support the incumbents.

In our view, this seemingly self-serving maneuver has parallels to the defensive PIPE transactions recently initiated by other underperforming companies facing election contests.

Why is the Company forcing a costly election contest instead of accepting a modest Board refresh and a capital allocation review committee in response to shareholders’ concerns regarding Hasbro’s chronic underperformance?

In our view, investors have reason to question whether the Board is acting in shareholders’ best interest or engaging in further entrenchment to maintain the Hassenfeld family’s influence.

Why did the Company expand its Board to 13 members instead of carrying out a viable director refresh?

We contend the decision to expand the Board from 11 members to 13 members following our nomination reflects an unacceptable level of dysfunction and entrenchment in the boardroom.

Why did the Company feel it was appropriate for Cynthia W. Williams, the newly appointed President of Wizards of the Coast, to join another public company’s board within two months of being appointed to her new role?

We question why Williams would want to join the board of Aterian, a company whose stock is down almost 70% from its IPO in 2019 and which has been accused of serious wrongdoings.

We find it surprising that Hasbro’s Board allowed Ms. Williams to dilute her attention so early in her tenure at Wizards of the Coast and was comfortable associating Hasbro’s senior leadership with Aterian.

Cynthia W. Williams

How did the Board determine so quickly that a spin-off of Wizards of the Coast was ill-advised, and why will it not share this analysis with shareholders?

We believe spinning off Wizards of the Coast could help enhance Hasbro’s corporate structure and unlock the full value of the division, which has a completely different growth, margin and valuation profile than the Consumer Products and Entertainment segments.

In light of the Board’s apparent credibility issues, we find it hard to believe the Company comprehensively and objectively evaluated strategic alternatives for the unit.

We believe shareholders deserve a detailed explanation of the Board’s purported evaluation, and that the analysis should be re-examined with shareholder-appointed directors focused on creating shareholder value rather than preserving the Hassenfeld family legacy.

To date, the Company has provided little evidence of business unit “synergies” that could not be accomplished through a partnership arrangement.

Why is the Board resistant to forming a capital allocation committee when investments, such as the Entertainment One deal, have been value destructive?

It is confounding to us that Hasbro continues to assume no accountability for poor capital allocation when organic and inorganic investments have failed to produce meaningful shareholder value over many years.”

Alta Fox has filed a preliminary proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with its nomination of five candidates for election to the Company’s Board at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Hasbro reports on April 19th before the market open. HAS is down 2% to $83.47.

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Mimecast receives take over offer

Mimecast discloses ‘non-binding expression of interest’ at $92.50 in go-shop

In a regulatory filing earlier, Mimecast (MIME) disclosed that it received, and rejected, a $92.50 per share proposal from a group identified in its proxy materials as “Portfolio Company A.”

The filing states: “On December 31, 2021, Portfolio Company A submitted to the Special Committee a non-binding expression of interest to acquire all outstanding ordinary shares of Mimecast at a price of $92.50 per share in cash, subject to completion of customary due diligence.

This expression of interest did not include the proposed quantum of debt and equity financing or copies of debt commitment letters or whether offers for debt commitments had been secured.

Portfolio Company A indicated that it was likely Portfolio Company A could pay a higher price following access to due diligence information… Immediately following the special joint meeting of the Special Committee and the Company Board held on January 6, 2022, representatives of Goodwin advised outside counsel to Portfolio Company A that the Company Board had determined that priority financial, legal and customer due diligence information would not be provided at such time and that consistent with the Special Committee’s position that had been conveyed on multiple occasions since November 2, 2021, Financial Sponsor A and Portfolio Company A needed to satisfy the Special Committee and its antitrust advisors that the antitrust risks for such a transaction would not subject Mimecast shareholders to substantial timing and execution risk due to expected scrutiny from antitrust regulators.

Counsel for Portfolio Company A did not share any additional information or analyses regarding the antitrust process for a transaction between Mimecast and Portfolio Company A or the timing and execution risk due to expected scrutiny from antitrust regulators.

Portfolio Company A also did not elect to submit any further or updated indication of interest or provide a markup of the antitrust-related provisions in the Permira Transaction Agreement (or clarify its position with respect thereto).

At 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time on January 6, 2021, the go-shop period set forth in the Transaction Agreement expired.”

Mimecast jumped 6% on December 7th after the cybersecurity company announced it was being acquired by private-equity firm Permira for $80 a share in cash or $5.8 billion.

That bidder, according to a report Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond, is Proofpoint, which was taken private last year by Thoma Bravo.

Mimecast Limited, a British company, provides cloud security and risk management services for corporate information and email.

This is how ProofPoint describes itself “Email, social media, and mobile devices are the tools of your trade—and for cyber criminals, the tools of attack. Proofpoint protects your people, data and brand against advanced threats and compliance risks.”

MIME is up $1.29 to $80.49.

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RAPT Therapeutics shares soar on data

RAPT Therapeutics, Inc. (RAPT) announced positive topline results from its randomized placebo-controlled Phase 1b clinical trial of RPT193 as monotherapy in 31 patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD).

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

After four weeks of treatment, patients with moderate-to-severe AD who received RPT193 showed a 36.3% improvement from baseline in the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, a standard measure of disease severity, compared to 17.0% in the placebo group.

Notably, in the two-week period following the end of treatment, the RPT193 group showed continued improvement and further separation from placebo with a 53.2% improvement in EASI at the six-week time point compared to 9.6% in the placebo group. This continued improvement may be related to RPT193’s mechanism of action, which is upstream of other agents targeting cytokines or signaling pathways.

Emma Guttman-Yassky, M.D., Ph.D., the Waldman Professor of Dermatology and System Chair Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and member of RAPT’s Scientific Advisory Board, added, “I am very excited about these results as they not only demonstrate clinically meaningful improvement after just four weeks of treatment, but also further improvement for two weeks after completion of treatment. This may suggest that this novel mechanism of action targeting CCR4 on Th2 cells could have prolonged, disease-modifying effects, which could differentiate it from other agents. Along with being an oral drug that seems to have promising clinical activity and a well-tolerated safety profile, RPT193 could fill a high unmet medical need for AD patients.”

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised the firm’s price target on Rapt Therapeutics to $71 from $51 and reiterates an Overweight rating on the shares. The stock in midday trading is up 110%, or $19.60, to $38.17. This morning’s RPT193 data update “was robust with clear clinical benefit compared to placebo on all exploratory endpoints,” Young tells investors in a research note.

The analyst took the drug’s probability of success in atopic dermatitis to 50% from 25% previously, and increased her peak sales estimates. Young sees a “large unmet need” for a safe and effective oral treatment which is separate from the injectable market, and models peak sales of $4B in atopic dermatitis by 2035. She views Rapt’s risk/benefit profile as potentially best-in-class for an oral treatment.

RAPT is up 107% to $37.70.

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FDA Approves Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug

FDA approves Biogen Alzheimer’s drug, says benefits outweigh risks

The FDA approved Biogen’s (BIIB) Aduhelm to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“This approval is significant in many ways. Aduhelm is the first novel therapy approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003.

Perhaps more significantly, Aduhelm is the first treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, the presence of amyloid beta plaques in the brain.

The clinical trials for Aduhelm were the first to show that a reduction in these plaques – a hallmark finding in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s – is expected to lead to a reduction in the clinical decline of this devastating form of dementia,” the FDA said in a statement.

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly is a partner with Biogen

It added, “We ultimately decided to use the Accelerated Approval pathway – a pathway intended to provide earlier access to potentially valuable therapies for patients with serious diseases where there is an unmet need, and where there is an expectation of clinical benefit despite some residual uncertainty regarding that benefit.

Brain of an Alzheimer patient

In determining that the application met the requirements for Accelerated Approval, the Agency concluded that the benefits of Aduhelm for patients with Alzheimer’s disease outweighed the risks of the therapy.”

The FDA said in its approval statement: “Additionally, FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct a post-approval clinical trial to verify the drug’s clinical benefit. If the drug does not work as intended, we can take steps to remove it from the market. But hopefully, we will see further evidence of benefit in the clinical trial and as greater numbers of people receive Aduhelm. As an agency, we will also continue to work to foster drug development for this catastrophic disease.”

STIFEL

Stifel analyst Paul Matteis reiterates his Buy rating on Biogen shares following the FDA granting accelerated approval of aducanumab, now to be called “Aduhelm,” for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Approval based on amyloid plaque as a “surrogate” is “definitely unexpected” and appears to be a way for FDA to work around the contentious advisory committee meeting, argues Matteis, who adds that the approval “is a big win.” How investors will risk-adjust revenues that are modeled after completion of a Phase 4 trial and how insurers will treat access for a drug approved based on a biomarker are “highly interesting” questions that will now “be debated at a materially higher stock valuation,” added Matteis. Biogen shares remain halted for trading at midday following news of the FDA approval.

JEFFRIES

Jefferies analyst Andrew Tsai said news of Biogen (BIIB) being granted FDA approval for aducanumab is likely to spark investor enthusiasm across all Alzheimer’s names and he believes the longer-term setup for Athira Pharma (ATHA) looks more attractive now. Given what he views as “the FDA tailwind,” he would buy on strength as he believes the FDA’s aducanumab decision “clearly has a positive readthrough” to Athira, whose Phase I data suggests ATHA-1017 could produce “a profound cognitive benefit” in Phase 2/3 studies expected to read out in 2022, Tsai tells investors.

In that context, he thinks a 25%-50% short-term move for Athira shares “seems reasonable” relative to the company’s current market cap.

Shares of Biogen (BIIB) remain halted while Eli Lilly (LLY), who has an Alzheimer’s disease drug in its pipeline, is up 4% to $210.78 following the news.

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Consolidation in the media space!

AT&T, Discovery to create global DTC business through Reverse Morris Trust

AT&T (T) and Discovery (DISCA) announced a definitive agreement to combine WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery’s nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses to create a standalone global entertainment company.

ATT to merge it’s media assets with Discovery

Under the terms of the agreement, which is structured as an all-stock, Reverse Morris Trust transaction, AT&T would receive $43B in a combination of cash, debt securities, and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt, and AT&T’s shareholders would receive stock representing 71% of the new company; Discovery shareholders would own 29% of the new company.

The boards of both AT&T and Discovery have approved the transaction.

Discovery to merge with ATT media

Bringing together the leadership teams, content creators, and series and film libraries.

The new company is projected for 2023 revenue of approximately $52B, adjusted EBITDA of approximately $14B, and free cash flow conversion rate of approximately 60%.

The transaction is expected to create at least $3B in expected cost synergies annually for the new company.

The new company will compete globally in the direct-to-consumer business bringing content to DTC subscribers across its portfolio, including HBO Max and the recently launched discovery+.

The transaction will combine WarnerMedia’s content library of IP with Discovery’s global footprint, local-language content and regional expertise across more than 200 countries and territories.

The companies announced that Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav will lead the proposed new company with a management team and operational and creative leadership from both companies.

Discovery’s current multiple classes of shares will be consolidated to a single class with one vote per share.

The new company’s board will consist of 13 members, seven initially appointed by AT&T, including the chairperson of the board; Discovery will initially appoint six members, including CEO David Zaslav.

The combination will be executed through a Reverse Morris Trust, under which WarnerMedia will be spun or split off to AT&T’s shareholders via dividend or through an exchange offer or a combination of both and simultaneously combined with Discovery.

The transaction is expected to be tax-free to AT&T and AT&T’s shareholders. In connection with the spin-off or split-off of WarnerMedia, AT&T will receive $43B in a combination of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt.

David Zaslav to head the new company

The new company expects to maintain investment grade rating and utilize the significant cash flow of the combined company to rapidly de-lever to approximately 3.0x within 24 months, and to target a new, longer term gross leverage target of 2.5x-3.0x.

WarnerMedia has secured fully committed financing for the purposes of funding the distribution.

The transaction is anticipated to close in mid-2022, subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.

No vote is required by AT&T shareholders. Agreements are in place with John Malone and Advance to vote in favor of the transaction.

Elliott Management

Elliott Investment Management released a statement on behalf of Managing Partner Jesse Cohn and Portfolio Manager Marc Steinberg regarding AT&T’s plan to merge media assets with Discovery:

Elliott is a major shareholder in ATT

“It has been a transformational year at AT&T year since John Stankey took over as CEO, and today’s announcement represents another impressive step in the Company’s recent evolution.

AT&T has now executed on its promise to streamline operations and re-focus on its core businesses, all while improving operational execution, enhancing its financial position and advancing its corporate governance. As investors, Elliott supports AT&T in its efforts to best position the company for future success.”

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Rig Counts Decline!

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Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count down 1 to 438 rigs

Baker Hughes (BKR) reports that the U.S. rig count is down 1 from last week at 438 with oil rigs down 1 to 343, gas rigs unchanged at 94, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 1.

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Rig Counts Decline- See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more

The U.S. Rig Count is down 27 rigs from last year’s count of 465, with oil rigs down 35, gas rigs up 9 and miscellaneous rigs down 1.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is down 1 to 11, down 6 year-over-year.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners
The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is down 1 to 11, down 6 year-over-year.

The Canada Rig Count is down 1 from last week to 55, with oil rigs unchanged at 17, gas rigs down 1 to 38.

The Canada Rig Count is up 29 rigs from last year’s count of 26, with oil rigs up 9, gas rigs up 20.

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.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is up $0.45 to $61.88 per barrel. Brent crude is up $0.44 to $65.850 per barrel. Gasoline last traded at $1.99 per gallon.

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Welbilt sold for $4.3B

Middleby to acquire Welbilt in an all-stock transaction

The Middleby Corporation (MIDD) and Welbilt (WBT) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Middleby will acquire Welbilt in an all-stock transaction, enhancing the Middleby Commercial Foodservice platform with an attractive portfolio of products, brands and technologies.

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This transaction will bring together two complementary businesses, accelerate the Middleby growth strategy into key markets globally and increase core capabilities in highly attractive segments.

The combined company will have approximately $3.7B in combined 2020 sales, 73% of which will come from the Commercial Foodservice segment.

Under the terms of the agreement, Welbilt shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.1240x shares of Middleby common stock for each share of Welbilt common stock in an all-stock transaction, with an implied enterprise value of $4.3B.

Based on Middleby’s volume-weighted average price during the 30 consecutive trading days ending April 20, the offer price represents a 28% premium to Welbilt’s 30-day VWAP.

Upon closing, Middleby shareholders will own approximately 76% and Welbilt shareholders will own approximately 24% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

The Boards of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction. In addition, Carl C. Icahn, Welbilt’s largest shareholder with an 8.4% ownership position, has entered into a support agreement in favor of the transaction.

Following closing, Timothy FitzGerald will continue as CEO and as a member of the Middleby Board of Directors. Bryan Mittelman will continue to serve as Middleby’s CFO.

Middleby will expand its Board to include two new directors from the Welbilt board, Chairperson Cynthia Egnotovich and William Johnson. Middleby intends to refinance Welbilt’s existing debt through its committed Senior Secured Facility.

Based on the expected pro forma leverage ratio at closing, the interest on the incremental financing would be approximately L + 162.5 bps.

The transaction is expected to close in late 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Middleby and Welbilt shareholder approvals.

The Middleby Corporation designs, manufactures, markets, distributes, and services a range of foodservice, food processing, and residential kitchen equipment.

Welbilt, Inc., designs, manufactures, and supplies foodservice equipment for commercial foodservice market worldwide. The company offers commercial upright and undercounter refrigerators and freezers, blast freezers and chillers, and cook-chill systems under the Delfield brand; and walk-in refrigerators, coolers and freezers, and prefabricated cooler and freezer panels under the Kolpak brand. 

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RealPage sold for $10.2 billion

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

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

Real Page sold for $10.2 billion

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

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

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

Thoma Bravo buys the real estate software company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RP closed at $67.83.

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Merger creates $4B cannabis company

 Aphria, Tilray announce $3.9B combination

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

Aphria merges with Tilray

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

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

Tilray merges with Aphria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

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

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

Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

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

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

Company has benefited from “stay home”

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

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

Vista gambles $3.5 billion on cloud based learning

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

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

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

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PNM Resources sold for $4.3B

PNM Resources to be acquired by Avangrid for $50.30 per share

PNM Resources (PNM) announced with Avangrid (AGR) that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Avangrid will acquire all the outstanding shares of PNM Resources.

The agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both companies’ boards, creates a U.S. regulated utility and renewable energy platform.

PNM sold for $4.3B

Under the terms of the agreement, PNM Resources shareholders will receive $50.30 in cash for each share of PNM Resources common stock held at closing, representing an equity value of approximately $4.3B.

The proposed transaction implies a 19.3% premium to PNM Resources 30-day volume weighted average price, or VWAP, as of October 20.

The combination creates a larger, more diversified regulated utility and renewable energy company with electric and gas utilities.

Regulated utility operations expand under the transaction and provide increased operational and regulatory diversification, serving more than 4M electric and natural gas customers of 10 regulated utilities across New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Texas.

These combined operations are supported by $14B of rate base, including more than 104,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines.

PNM Resources operations will continue to be overseen locally and the current headquarters of the utilities in New Mexico and Texas will remain.

Pat Vincent-Collawn will step down as chairman, president and CEO upon closing of the transaction. Don Tarry, current CFO of PNM Resources, will oversee the continuing operations of PNM and TNMP.

Two directors from the current PNM Resources board will serve as independent directors of Avangrid. One director from the current PNM Resources board will also serve on the board of the Avangrid Networks business.

PNM remains committed to exiting coal through the approved abandonment of San Juan Generating Station in 2022 and the continued efforts to exit its 200-megawatt ownership interest in the Four Corners Power Plant earlier than originally planned.

PNM sees the potential for additional customer savings by exiting the plant sooner than the expiration of the ownership and coal supply agreements in 2031.

An earlier exit from Four Corners also opens the door for the combined company to bring additional renewable resources onto the grid in support of New Mexico’s increasing renewable energy standards and 2045 carbon-free mandate.

The transaction is subject to PNM Resources shareholder approval, regulatory approvals from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Justice, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Communications Commission and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction is expected to close between October and December 2021.

PNM closed at $45.74. AGR closed at $54.06.

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Eaton Vance sold for $7B

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

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

Eaton Vance sold to Morgan Stanley

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

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

Morgan Stanley buys Eaton Vance for $7B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Safe Harbor Marinas sold for $2.1B

Sun Communities to acquire Safe Harbor Marinas for $2.1B

Sun Communities (SUI) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Safe Harbor Marinas. Safe Harbor’s full operating team, led by Baxter Underwood, will run Safe Harbor as a subsidiary of the Company independently from Sun’s manufactured home and recreational vehicle community business.

Safe Harbor is the largest and most diversified marina owner and operator in the United States.

It owns and operates 101 marinas, manages five marinas on behalf of third parties and has an approximate 40,000-member network of boat owners across 22 states.

Safe Harbor’s portfolio of high quality, prime coastal market marinas generates recurring rental income from annual and seasonal leases and further diversifies Sun’s geographic and demographic footprint.

Safe Harbor has a proven ability to generate organic and external growth. The acquisition, which is expected to be accretive to 2021 Core FFO per share, will comprise approximately 15% of the Company’s pro forma total annual rental revenue.

Safe Harbor marinas located throughout the Nation

Subject to closing adjustments, the aggregate purchase price for Safe Harbor is approximately $2.11B.

At the closing, the Company will assume debt in the estimated amount of approximately $808M, issue the sellers REIT operating partnership common and preferred OP units in the estimated amount of approximately $130M, and pay the balance of the purchase price in cash.

The mix of consideration will depend on the amount of common and preferred OP units the sellers elect to receive and other factors. The actual amounts of each component of the merger consideration may be materially higher or lower than the foregoing estimates.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter 2020.

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Walden University sold for $1.48B

Adtalem to acquire Walden University from Laureate Education for $1.48B in cash

Adtalem (ATGE) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Walden University, an online healthcare education provider, from Laureate Education (LAUR), Inc. for $1.48B in cash.

With the addition of Walden, Adtalem will become a national healthcare educator, providing workforce solutions to employers through learning modalities with academic outcomes.

By adding Walden to its existing healthcare portfolio, Adtalem said it is better positioned to increase the talent supply to address the rapidly growing and unmet demand for healthcare professionals in the U.S. and globally.

The combined companies will have 90,000 students

The combined organization will have 26 campuses across 15 states and four countries, 6,100 faculty members, and more than 90,000 students with 34% African American enrollees.

The company said, “The acquisition is expected to provide significant potential for growth and margin expansion through new and expanded offerings as well as revenue and cost synergies.

These financial benefits are expected to lead to substantial gross margin and EBITDA margin expansion, and robust cash flow generation to invest in its offerings while paying down debt.”

Adtalem expects to generate upside to revenue by providing new and complementary educational offerings, increased student acquisition and retention capabilities as well as enhanced scale and coverage that will allow for new partnerships with large-sized employer partners in the healthcare sector.

The company noted, “The purchase price represents a compelling, pre-synergy adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.4x, and the transaction is expected to contribute significantly to Adtalem’s free cash flow and earnings per share, generating $60 million in incremental free cash flow excluding special items in year one and adding $0.75 in earnings per share from continuing operations excluding special items in year two as synergies begin to offset the dilutive effect of purchase price accounting.”

Walden Univ. Campus

Adtalem expects to generate annual cost savings of approximately $60M driven by increased efficiencies in marketing spend and back office operations. Approximately $30M of these cost savings are anticipated within 12 months of closing and the remainder within 24 months of closing.

Additionally, Adtalem expects that this acquisition will generate between 10% and 12% ROIC beginning in year one, significantly exceeding the company’s current WACC of approximately 8%.

Adtalem expects to fund the cash consideration through a combination of cash from its balance sheet and committed debt financing.

Adtalem expects to realize the full potential of the transaction while maintaining a strong balance sheet.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 of FY22, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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Fulgent Genetics shares soar on Covid-19 testing

Fulgent Genetics surges after ‘record’ Q2 results

Shares of Fulgent Genetics (FLGT) have surged during Wednesday’s session after the company reported second quarter results after the market close last night.

The company noted that it had “record” figures for quarterly revenue, billable tests, adjusted earnings, and adjusted EBITDA, as it has commercially launched several tests for COVID-19 since March 2020.

EARNINGS

In its latest report, Fulgent Genetics reported Q2 adjusted EPS of 17c on revenue of $17.3M, compared to analysts’ estimates of (5c) and $10.05M.

The company delivered 180,513 billable tests in the quarter, an increase of 1003% year-over-year, and gross margin for the quarter improved roughly eight percentage points from the previous quarter and roughly 81% year-over-year.

Commenting on the results, chairman and CEO Ming Hsieh said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic has tested who we are as a company, and now more than ever we have demonstrated that Fulgent is a technology company with a proprietary platform built for massive scale.

Our technology is the cornerstone for all facets of our business, including cloud computing, pipeline services, record management, web portal services, clinical workflow, sequencing as a service and automated lab services.

Covid-19 Test Kit

Our second quarter results illustrate how we quickly applied our technology to the needs of today, organically developing and launching multiple tests to detect COVID-19 with Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, including an at-home test offered through Picture Genetics, our patient-initiated product.

These offerings have attracted major new customer accounts, resulting in an inflection point in our business and outlook.”

GUIDANCE:

On Fulgent’s quarterly conference call, CFO Paul Kim said that based on the “explosive” demand the company is seeing from the market and the quality of its customers, he continues to see the upward trajectory and transformation of the business continuing for the balance of 2020.

Fulgent now projects test volumes for 2020 to be over 1.3M, which translates to into over $120M in revenues. Kim added that he sees adjusted net income of $25M, or about $1.00 per share in FY20.

Analysts had expected the company to report FY20 EPS of 12c on revenue of $45.02M.

Analysts Comments:

Following the results, Piper Sandler analyst Steven Mah maintained an Overweight rating on Fulgent Genetics and raised his price target on the stock to $68 from $31.

Mah, who continues to believe COVID-19 testing is durable for the coming years, said he is encouraged by Fulgent’s early success in test volume, adding that his higher revenue estimates are due to increased COVID-19 expectations.

PRICE ACTION:

In afternoon trading, Fulgent Genetics shares are up nearly 23%, trading at $36.46.

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