Terrible Thursday on Wednesday

Wed, 2017/11/08 - 4:21pm | Your editor
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Poor Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Not only is he now in the spotlight for his Navigator offshore entity engaging in shipping services on behalf of a Russian company on the embargo list after the father-in-law of the company head, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, was sanctioned for illegally taking control of Yalta from Ukraine, but he is being removed by Forbes' rich list. Today's Financial Times writes that that Ross claimed he was worth over $2 bn but he only claimed $700 mn in net worth to Congress when he was nominated for the cabinet by Pres. Trump.

Forbes, which no longer counts as a serious business magazine, publishing mostly puffery, is a questionable source nowadays. And the missing money is probably in entities revealed by the Paradise Papers which were published by rival news sources to both Forbes and the FT: the Guardian and the BBC. Mr Ross will probably have to be reinsstated in the next rich list.

However the latest news from Canada's Valeant (VRX) and ADP may keep Bill Ackman from rising on the rich list. He famously backed VRX despite a pattern of using acquisitions to increase its metrics and stock price while its basic business floundered under former manager Mike Pearson. Now VRX has sold given back its female Viagra to the firm from which it bought the product, Sprout, a mere 3 years ago after it paid $1 bn for the drug. Apparently it doesn't boost ladies' libido.

Moreover Ackman's proxy fight for ADP board seats was roundly voted down by shareholders. A couple of months ago Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings, which we used to own (as it was a rare vehicle for retail investors to get into a hedge fund via a British-listed entity like a US closed-end-fund) was also voted down over Procter & Gamble board seats. I sold when I realized he was not making money for me and my readers.

Unlike Ross, Ackman is not a self-made rich man as he was born into a wealthy New York real estate family, which owns Ackman-Ziff. Unlike Ross also, Ackman backed Clinton after failing in a move to get NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg the Republican nomination for the 2016 Presidential election. However after Trump won, Mr Ackman said he was “bullish” on Trump's administration.

 

David Goldman writing in Asia Times notes that Prince Mohammed bin Salman's purge of oligarchs and lots of his cousins in Saudi Arabia is supoorted not only in Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris, and Tokyo, but also by Jerusalem. He quoted from officials or newspapers in each of those capitals. While MbS may not succeed, he seems to be the Man of the Year for 2017 for his combination of anti-corruption and industrialization for Saudi Arabia reducing the power of the clergy and increasing the role of women. All of which is still not to say that the arrest of Prince Walid bin Talal has not shocked the international invesstment community which worked with him—and his daughter.

 

Time-Warner is being asked by the US DoJ to sell CNN cable channels or DirecTV to complete its merger with AT&T, the first time I think in history that a huge divestiture has been sought for a vertical (as opposed to a horizontal) merger. This reeks of revenge over CNN's view of the Administration.

Thanks to those who asked. Our daughter won election to the Cleveland suburban school board where her kids attend high school.

This week terrible Thursday is falling on a Wednesday and we have a glut of new quarterly results. More for paid subscribers follow from Argentina, Australia, Brazil Britain, Canada, Colombia, Dutch Antilles, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Serbia (a first), South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Switzerland, We start with the spate of  quarterly results. We have a sell.

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