All posts by 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

What Mohamed Amersi is saying about the Telia deal

Mohamed Amersi
Mohamed Amersi

Mohamed Amersi is generally unknown in Sweden, but in the 2010s he was a legendary dealmaker in the emerging markets of Eurasia. For several years, Telia hired Amersi and his company to facilitate the company’s investments in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, and Uzbekistan. 

As background, Amersi says “I have a long experience of doing M&A business in emerging markets. In Latin America for Telefonica, in the Middle East for Etisalat, Oredoo and Zain, in Africa for Etisalat, MTN and Zain, in Russia for Veon to name a few clients. In total, I have participated in transactions corresponding to approximately 1,000 billion Swedish Kronas.” Within these deals, Amersi provided both legal expertise and input from his corporate, finance, private equity, and venture capital experience.

“At the time of Telia’s business in Eurasia, the company had ambitions to become a global player in telecoms, primarily through acquisitions in emerging markets. To succeed in this,” Amersi explains,  “a successful acquisition strategy was required. At that time, the two merging companies – Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera – already had a presence in Eurasia through the operators Megafon, Turkcell, and Fintur. But the competence of the merged company needed to be strengthened to be able to continue to acquire and manage operators in Eurasia.” As Amersi attests, he is arguably the only person who could both handle the M&A directly, “and had insight into the local culture and could work both sustainably and profitably.”

Amersi reiterates that Telia Sonera was also interested in finding and acquiring operators in other emerging markets. That is why his company was hired for an ongoing role in advisement to merge Swedish-Finnish company. Ultimately, the merger was meant to bring Telia new operators outside of Eurasia, with expansions in emerging countries such as Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, and Ethiopia.

It was precisely Amersi’s cultural litheness and familiarity that allowed him to make valuable contributions to the Telia merger process. To Amersi, his role was “about general advice, resolving ownership disputes, understanding local regulatory issues and not least evaluating and concluding agreements with local partners.” These local partners, says Amersi, are often quite powerful and wealthy; their support is key to making any deal.

“But unlike what has been described in the press, it is not about bribes at all. It is crucial that the deal is started in the right way. It must be made clear to the responsible authorities, regulatory units and other authorities and parties that there will be no bribes.” 

Mohamed Amersi

Toward that end, Amersi adds that the collaboration with prominent local partners must be fully established and clarified from the very beginning. This allows for clearly described roles and responsibilities,” as well as clear payment flows. Amersi also says that local partners must be required to co-own the merged entity, giving them a financial stake (and risk) that come with the co-ownership. Amersi’s insistence on the local partners is in fact built on the principle that “value creation in the merged business that profits and dividends can be made. Not through bribes. It is in collaboration with a weak partner that corruption most often occurs.”

Furthermore, Amersi insists that a culture of giving back must be inherent in any merger process. “It is about creating local jobs, education and skills development locally, and not trying to minimize taxes, but paying full local tax.”

Mohamed Amersi

As for his involvement with Telia, Amersi clarifies “My role in this transaction was of a technical nature…I was asked as an advisor to make a check of the valuation made of Telia’s finance function and to be helpful in developing an optimal structure for the transaction. In addition to my assignment, Telia had hired world-leading lawyers with recognized good competence and experience in negotiating and drafting agreements, as well as conducting audits and due diligence.  I, therefore, did not participate in the negotiations themselves or directly in the implementation of the deal or in any part of the review and due diligence.”

Ultimately, it is clear from the investigations and a conversation with Amersi that not a single error was found, or any remark made.  Telia’s auditors also reviewed the relationship between the companies.  Amersi is a man of truth, integrity, and respect; these are his keywords for trust and transactions of all kinds.

Neil Cole Iconix Founder Introduced A New Online Shopping Experience

Neil Cole, the award-winning branding pioneer, founder of the Iconix Brand Group changed the way people shop online when he founded Next Retail Concepts – shoppers experienced an immersive experience online – and could actually feel like they are in the store. We’ve all shopped online, virtually the entire world understands how online shopping works and probably experienced doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic. But not everyone has been able to have an immersive experience of feeling like you’re in the store and actively shopping while online. As Neil Cole Iconix founder explains, “Our proprietary technology transforms the traditional eCommerce landscape within our innovative platform to create exciting and engaging immersive shoppable experiences that tell a brand story. This is a dynamic new way to shop.” Neil Cole launched the platform originally with Fred Segal and Mastercard, the shopping experience premiered at 29Rooms in Los Angeles and enabled shoppers to browse the physical store at Fred Segal with features that are similar to Google’s Street View. A shopper virtually enters a store and to navigates throughout the physical space to products of interest and clicks on products for details. Explaining how unique Next Retail Concepts is, Neil Cole said, “This experience engages the user on a deeper level and tells a better brand story. It’s like a virtual pop-up that you get to navigate yourself through to create a unique, personalized journey.” The future of shopping has arrived – and it’s certainly looking exciting!

Famed Marilyn Monroe Portrait Sets New Record

In a record-breaking sale, the famous 1964 Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $195 million. The sale took place at Christie’s auction house in New York.

While estimates before the event had the artwork priced at $200 million, this auction has set new records for 20th century American art. It is the most expensive piece of American artwork ever sold at an auction. It is also the second priciest auctioned piece of art, after Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017.

The sale of the iconic silk-screen portrait was encouraging for many art dealers. Andrew Fabricant, COO of Gagosian Gallery and a top art dealer, explained: “This shows that quality and scarcity are always going to push the market forward. It will give a bump psychologically to everyone’s thinking.”

The artwork, entitled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, was painted by Warhol two years after Monroe’s death in 1964. It is one in a series of five versions of the portrait, each featuring a different color scheme. After a woman entered Warhol’s studio and fired gunshots at a stack of the paintings, the portraits inherited their titles.

Since the 1980s, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn had been owned by a Swiss art dealer. Proceeds of this memorable sale will go to charity in support of education and health programming for children.

Honda and Sony Collaborate to Build EVs

In an exciting revelation, Honda and Sony have just announced plans to partner up and develop electric cars. The two Japanese companies have not yet announced the name of their upcoming entity. The vehicles will be manufactured in Honda’s facilities and Sony will provide the mobility service platform. Their goal is to team together this year and begin selling the first car in 2025.

While the joint venture is unique, the announcement is not entirely surprising, as there has been an international push for zero emission vehicles as well as systems that provide more advanced features. This gives tech companies like Sony an opportunity to enter the automobile market. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida reiterated the vision, remarking: “In the joint venture, we would like to lead the mobility evolution by combining our technology and experience with Honda’s long experience in mobility development and vehicle body manufacturing technologies.” When asked about the possibility of others joining the partnership, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe responded, “In the future, we would like to expand our business with an open mindset,” while adding that the focus remains on building the electric car model for now.

Brooklyn Commons: For Business and Pleasure

Brooklyn Commons is the new name of the Brookfield Properties 16-acre business and cultural campus between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street. Once named MetroTech Center, Brooklyn Commons has everything: offices for rent, trendy eateries, cultural programming, lush parks, and inviting open spaces. With an investment of $50 million, three Brooklyn Commons buildings are being overhauled and outfitted with new lobbies, terraces, and retail spaces on the entrance level.

Brooklyn Commons
Brooklyn Commons campus map

The renovations also include Brooklyn Commons Park, the 3.5-acre public park at the heart of the campus. With an ice skating rink that is open now, and new seating and lounging areas planned for the future, the space is already a great option for a day out. Brooklyn Commons also offers cultural programming for the public. The Arts Brookfield program at Brooklyn Commons has a robust schedule of educational lectures, art exhibits, film viewings, theater performances, concerts, food festivals, and holiday festivities.