All posts by James Cannon

James Cannon

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com

Apple and Tools for Parental Control

 JANA Partners – one of Apple Inc.’s biggest investors – earlier this year wrote to the multinational technology company about technology and children safety.  Apple Inc. only found out about JANA’s (and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) that co-wrote the letter request) sentiments, before the letter was publicized.

Apple Inc. claimed the letter was not a result of prior talks that had taken place with either JANA or CalSTRS but nonetheless immediately responded with a promise to upgrade its current child safety features – something it has been offering since 2008.

The letter publicly reported on the Think Differently About Kids website, included the following statement:

“In partnership with experts including Dr. Michael Rich, founding director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor Jean M. Twenge, psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book iGen, we have reviewed the evidence and we believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner.”

The letter also offered initial steps for Apple to follow.

Shire Selling Oncology Division to French Company Servier for $2.4 billion

Dublin-based Shire pharmaceutical company has come to an agreement with French firm Servier Laboratories to purchase its oncology business for $2.4 billion ((£1.68 billion). The deal comes before a potential takeover bid by Takeda of Japan could be realized.

Shire’s board gave the OK for the agreement, which is expected to be finalized by the second or third quarter this year. The deal does not need approval by shareholders.
The drug-making giant began its search for a buyer for its oncology wing last December, considering potential companies in Europe, the United States and in Japan. The company is considering an option to return the profits from the sale back to investors via a share buyback program when the current offer period expires. During this time Japanese firm Takeda could still launch a bid.

CEO of Shire, Flemming Ornskov said:

“This transaction is a key milestone for Shire, demonstrating the clear value embedded in our portfolio.

“While the oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire’s longer-term strategy.

“We will continue to evaluate our portfolio for opportunities to unlock further value and sharpen our focus on rare disease leadership with selective disposals of non-strategic assets.

“We are confident that Servier will continue to invest in this business and our colleagues who are expected to transfer as part of the transaction in order to meet the needs of cancer patients globally.”

US-Qatar Trade Warming Up After US Mission Visit

In early April, a group of businessmen participated in a US Trade Mission to Qatar, organized by the US-Qatar Business Council. The Council is a US-based non-profit trade organization, and a key player which is improving bilateral understanding, trade and investment between Qatar and the United States.

The mission met for five days. A diverse group of public sector and private sector businesses were represented by executives who spent time meeting with Qatari business leaders and representatives of Qatar government agencies. The goal was to learn about improving US-Qatar business relationships as well as new opportunities for collaboration.

The group met with the Minister of Economy and Commerce; the Finance Ministry; the Qatar Business Chamber; the Development Bank of Qatar, which focuses on fintech and technology in general. They also met with representatives from one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, Q|A; and the Qatar Foundation, which gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US communities in dire straits, such as New Orleans and cities in Texas that were hit by several natural disasters over a short time.

Included among the delegates were important African American leaders representing real estate development, venture capital interests, private equity and entertainment. The president of the NAACP and CEO Derrick Johnson, and President of Xavier University Dr. C. Reynold Verret participated, as well as people from the National Minority Quality Forum.

“I now have a better understanding of the region and the priorities of the Qatari government and business leaders. I was impressed by their development of Education City, which hosts top U.S. universities including Georgetown, my alma mater, and which graduates more women than men. I was equally impressed by their passion across business growth and on issues around economic inequality — an issue at the heart of what LendUp is looking to solve,” said Sasha Orloff, co-founder and CEO of LendUp, a fintech company which participated in the mission.

“Like the U.S., Qatar has a large workforce population similar to what we call the Emerging Middle Class — the half of Americans without access to traditional financial services,” said Jotaka Eaddy, Vice President of Policy, Strategic Engagement and Impact at LendUp, and a former longtime NAACP executive. “The country’s commitment to new financial technologies and financial inclusion is compelling. I was encouraged by Qatar’s interest in working with business and community leaders in the U.S. focused on bringing impact to financially under served communities, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue and exploring areas of collaboration.”

Amazon Wins Luxembourg Business Award

Photo courtesy
Marco Verch

Mega on-line store Amazon will be the recipient of the coveted Luxembourg-American business award for 2018. The award is given to company’s that are considered to contribute significantly to the European country’s economy.

The award was established in 1999, and every since it has been awarded to manufacturing companies. Amazon is the first service company in the history of the award to be so honored.

Previous winners include Goodyear Rubber & Tire Company, DuPont guardian Industries, Avery Dennison Corporation, and others.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for May 15, 2018 and will take place at the Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce in New York. Miami University will also be celebrating 50 years of a presence in Luxembourg and will receive an honorary business award for its high standards in its academic, economic and institutional partnerships between Luxembourg and the United States.

It is expected that crown prince Guilaume, crown princess Stéphanie and economy minister Étienne Schneider will be present at the ceremony.

Business Economists Feel Optimistic About the Future

After tax cuts and increased spending measures have passed through Congress, business economists are expressing optimism that there will be accelerated economic growth over the next two years. This is according to a survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics. NABE projects that the economy will grow 2.9 percent this year, the best growth in the past three years. Just three months ago NABE was predicting only 2.5 percent growth.

NABE updated their prediction after Trump’s $1.5 billion tax cut passed through Congress successfully and legislatures agreed to raise the budget for military and domestic programs by $300 billion over the coming two years.

NABE forecasters believe that the tax cut and spending increase will increase economic growth by 0.45 percent this year, and 0.3 percent next year.

“In large part, the increase in growth prospects appears related to federal fiscal policies,” said David Altig, chairman of the NABE forecasting group and the director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Trump officials claim that the administration’s economic policies will speed growth to annual rates of at least 3 percent. Most economists doubt this is possible. Many analysts believe that economic growth is more likely to be about 2 percent per year for the next ten years.