Generic Drug Makers Bought by Pharmaceutical Giants

In a move that will make Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc the sixth largest US generic drug provider, the Jordanian company said it is going to purchase the German drug manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim’s US specialty generic drugs business. The deal is worth an estimated $2.65 billion in cash and stock.

The company’s stock climbed 8 percent on late Tuesday trading. Previously the stock had fallen about 13 percent since it was included in the British benchmark FTSE 100.

The sale is just one more in a series of high profile deals in the generics sector. On Monday Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced it will purchase Allergan’s generic drug business for $40.5 billion. This move serves to strengthen Teva’s position as the world’s largest producer of generics.

South America the New China?

Not all business opportunities are found in Asia. An ever growing number of investors are looking south, betting on growing economies and other opportunities in countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.

In the insurance sector, Travelers increased its stake in J. Malucelli in 2012, and became the majority interest holder in the property casualty business of the joint venture three years later, in 2015.

Commenting in 2012 on the joint venture with J. Malucelli was Alan Schnitzer, Travelers’ Vice Chairman and head of Financial, Professional & International Insurance.

“The venture continues to be the market leader in the surety insurance business in Brazil, with a market share of approximately 30 percent. In addition, we are making good progress on our early efforts to expand beyond the surety business into the growing property and casualty market.”

The renewable energy market is also expanding into South America. The excellent wind and solar natural resources found in much of the continent makes this a tempting area for expansion. Recently Enel Green Power signed a 25-year contract for electric power with Empresa Nacional de Electricidad in Chile. The deal, which is estimated to be worth as much as $3.5 billion, will support the construction of a solar-power plant, wind farm, and a geothermal facility.

Potential for growth in the more traditional energy sector in Mexico has also been expanding, especially since Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto pushed through a change in his country’s constitution in 2013. The constitutional amendment allowed private and foreign companies to explore for and produce oil and gas there for the first time in 80 years.

As of July 15, 2015, those first international investors finally began their venture into Mexican oil, whose reserves could be, according to the Financial Times, “as big as the proven reserves of Kuwait.” The FT estimates the oil potential in Mexico could be as large as 107.5 billion barrels, saying that “The country is viewed as one of the dwindling number of opportunities to add substantial reserves to portfolios after several years when the oil majors have struggled to make big discoveries.”

In the coming years, as growth opportunities continue to develop south of the border, South America can certainly become the new China.

US Wins IMO for First Time Since 1994

"IMO logo" by International Mathematical Olympiad - Official site. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
“IMO logo” by International Mathematical Olympiad –

For the first time since 1994 a US team prevailed at the International Mathematical Olympiad.

The Olympiad is a yearly competition for high school students that challenge the math skills of teens from around the world with highly difficult math problems. This year’s event included students from over 100 countries.

The head coach of the US team is math professor Po-Shen Loh of Carnegie Mellon University. Loh described the problems as helping to “bridge the gap between the kinds of problems most kids see on their high school math homework and real math research.”

The competition takes place over two days. On each day the students spend about 4.5 hours solving two sets of three problems. The problems are in no way formulaic. The students are forced to think creatively, to come up with “out-of-the-box” solutions to straightforward, but complex problems.

As an example, one of this year’s problems asked the teams to find all the sets of three whole numbers such that multiplying together any tow of the numbers and subtracting the third number gives you a power of two. The solution cannot be found using any formula; rather it is like solving a puzzle or brain teaser.

Finding the answer requires looking at problems from different perspectives and using creative solutions. That is what the competition is all about.

Ford Moving Small Car Assembly Off-Shore

2015 Ford Focus Photo by Jakub "Flyz1" Maciejewski
2015 Ford Focus Photo by Jakub “Flyz1″ Maciejewski

Underscoring the difficulty US automakers have making fuel-efficient cars stateside, Ford Motor Co, announced it will be moving its Focus compact cars and C-Max hybrids out of its Michigan Assembly Plant near Detroit. The move is scheduled for 2018.

The announcement has placed worry about the long-term viability of what is one of Ford’s largest US manufacturing plants. It also casts a pall over a meeting, scheduled for just a few days from now, between Ford executives and heads of the United Auto Workers Union to forge a new labor agreement. It is expected that the UAW will ask for higher wages and keeping the status quo on healthcare. Ford has proposed cuts in healthcare benefits to trim expenses.

The company did not announce where production of the Focus and C-Max will move to. Mexico is a possibility since less than three months ago Ford said it was planning to spend $2.5 billion on transmission and engine plants in Mexico. The company also has assembly plants in Mexico which build midsize Fusion sedans and small Fiestas.

Kristina Adamski, spokeswoman for Ford, said that all decisions Ford makes is based on the necessity to keep the company competitive.

“We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with United Auto Workers leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations,” she said.

Nancy Glass: The Business of TV Productions

Nancy Glass of Nancy Glass Productions, has taken quite a lead in cable TV programming  in Philadelphia. Her company’s profile speaks for itself: Nancy Glass has produced: Dangerous Grounds, Tanked, R.V. 2015, We Move Animals, Footsteps in the Snow, to name but a few. Having brought in Argle Bargle Films and Rearrange Media earlier this year, Nancy Glass Productions has been able to “diversify content and leverage facilities.” With this arrangement, Nancy Glass Productions takes a 50% profit, and Argle Bargle Films/Rearrange Media, the other 50%.

Running a TV business in Philadelphia – over New York or LA – Glass has found comes with pluses and minuses. In terms of benefits, overheads are definitely cheaper but then being away from central TV locations means that travel is involved as Glass seeks to sell her “sizzle reels.”

Still, overall, given the way the world is moving increasingly into web-based operations, being a little further out shouldn’t be too much of an inhibition for companies such as Nancy Glass Productions.  As Glass herself pointed out: “We go to everybody. We talk to online platforms; we talk with cable; we talk with broadcast networks…You take a risk on things you like. That’s what you do. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

So far, though, things seem to be working out pretty well for Nancy Glass Productions.