French Company Goes Organic for U.S. Acquisition; U.S. Airlines Gear Up for Cuba; U.S. Banks Bond Over Brexit

Let them eat organic cake!

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Dannon Yogurt’s parent company, Danone (said with a French accent) is looking to pick up  a major U.S company that will effectively double its size. That’s assuming all goes according to plan. Danone wants to offer organic food provider, WhiteWave, purveyor of favorites like Silk Almond and Soy Milk, Horizon Milk and Earthbound Farms, $10.4 billion in cash for the fiscal pleasure of its company. That’s a 24% premium over WhiteWave’s thirty day average closing price and comes out to about to $56.25 per share. But for Danone, whose looking to make itself a bigger presence in the United States, it’s well worth it, since WhiteWave’s offerings tend to attract wealthier consumers. WhiteWave generates annual sales of about $4 billion and with this acquisition, Danone expects to see a $300 million boost in operating profit. Danone has also been struggling in other parts of the world and this acquisition would ease the burden of some of those lesser-performing markets. FYI, when companies offer to buy other companies, their offers tend be at least at a 30% premium. Because this offer was not, it theoretically means that the bidding door is still open to other offers from companies like Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Kellogg Co, to name but a few. In a regulatory filing, though, WhiteWave did graciously say that it wouldn’t solicit other offers. However, there are exceptions. Should WhiteWave go with another offer, Danone still wins because it will get a $310 million break-up fee.

Bienvenido…

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Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only topic of conversation today coming out of Washington DC. President Obama announced a proposal to allow eight U.S. airlines to provide nonstop service between Cuba and ten U.S. cities, beginning this fall. This will mark the first time in 50 years that travel of this kind will be available. And all this just one year after diplomatic relations were re-established. The city and airline selections were made by the Department of Transportation and the lucky airline winners are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. American Airlines is actually no stranger to the island nation, as it has been offering charter services there since 1991. Just last year the airline made over one thousand chartered flights to Cuba, while JetBlue made over 200 chartered trips. That’s awfully welcome news for an industry that took a fiscal beating lately. The cities that can look forward to the new service had to have have substantial Cuban-American populations already in place. Hence, Florida finds itself the recipient of 14 out of the 20 daily nonstop flights, since it boasts the largest Cuban-American population. The cities include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,  Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa. According to Cuban officials, the number of American travelers to Cuba is up 84%, compared to last year, in just the first half of the year.  But there is still a trade embargo in place, which does include a travel ban. However, there are twelve convenient categories of reasons to fly to Cuba that you can check off should you decide to make your way to Havana any time soon.

Come together…

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It’s a fiscal kumbaya as four U.S. banks offered up their sincerest support for London following the Brexit vote. The gracious supporters include, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. The banks agreed to help British Finance Minister George Osborne find ways to ensure that the U.K. remains the prominent financial player that it always was, pre-Brexit. And of course they all will try and find new and exciting ways to lure and retain big banking to London so that the consequences of the Brexit don’t do the country in completely. While that sentiment no doubt warmed the hearts of investors all over the world, the investment banks could not offer up as much optimism as far as the jobs situation is concerned. After all, “no one in their right mind would currently invest in Britain.” Keeping those jobs there might might be the biggest challenge of all and no one wants to make any promises on that. Especially Jamie Dimon, who had previously mentioned that around 4,000 jobs could make their way out of London. In the meantime, the French wasted no time – I mean NONE! – in announcing to the world that it would make its tax regime as enticing as possible, in a not at all subtle attempt to grab some pricey banking business from London.

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American Apparel Gets Offer with Strings; Another US Company Heads to the Emerald Isle; The Yogurt Wars. Enough Said.

Down but not out…

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American Apparel might be bankrupt but that are still a few investors who would like to help revive the company. And it’s the latest offer that’s got people talking. Hagan Capital Group, along with Silver Creek Capital Partners, want to scoop up American Apparel for a sweet $300 million. And one more thing…they want Dov Charney reinstated. It’s the same Dov Charney who is also the founder and former CEO of American Apparel, and who was booted following some sexual misconduct allegations, not to mention other allegations involving the misuse of corporate funds. Just saying. Incidentally, Dov Charney hired Cardinal Advisors to help him line up investors who would see to it that he would be reinstated at the company he founded. How clever indeed. Several backers strongly feel that the company’s performance went down after Charney was shown the door.  Chad Hagan of Hagan Capital Group feels Charney was wronged adding, “We are willing to be friendly and genteel, but the fact is we want this company and we want Dov back in…We are deadly serious.” Not sure what he means about the deadly serious part but that is still nothing short of a ringing endorsement for Mr. Charney.

Invert this…

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After six long months, pharmaceutical company Baxalta International Inc. finally said yes. Of course that yes comes with a $32 billion check but hey, it’s still a yes. The lucky suitor is Ireland-based pharmaceutical company, Shire Plc., which is offering Baxalta shareholders approximately $45.57 in cash and stock – an offer that represents an approximately 38% premium. The two companies expect to crank out $20 billion in revenues in the next year.  It’ll be helped by that fact that Baxalta’s corporate tax rate will drop from a very onerous 23%-24% in the United States, to a more corporate friendly tax rate of 16%-17% in Ireland. Gotta love an inversion. Shire’s main product is Vyvanse, used to treat symptoms related to ADHD.  But it’s Baxalta’s drug treatments that has corporate pharmaceutical tongues wagging. The company’s treatments focus on rare blood conditions, cancer and immune system disorders. While a relatively small population requires those treatments, those treatments are insanely lucrative, bringing in mega bucks for drug companies that offer them. In fact, 65% of Baxalta’s revenues come from treatments for rare blood disorders.

Not so good bacteria…

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Believe it or not it’s a yogurt smack down as Greek yogurt churner Chobani took aim at its competition last week. But now that competition is fighting back. Just three years ago, the Greek yogurt industry was growing at a rate of 60%. How ironic that the opposite is true for Greece. But I digress. In any case, the industry is now only growing at about 5%, with Chobani being the largest Greek yogurt seller in the world. The competition to differentiate is fierce – that is, if such a term can be applied to yogurt. Chobani launched an ad campaign on January 6 targeting Dannon’s use of sucralose – an artificial sweetener that has been FDA approved for food for the last 15 years. Sucralose apparently has chlorine in it and should therefore cause a potential yogurt enthusiast to purchase a container just to go ahead and chuck it – just like in Chobani’s ad. Which is weird because wouldn’t you first read the ingredients before shelling out money for the product? Just saying. Chobani also goes after Yoplait Greek 100 over its use of potassium sorbate, an ingredient that Chobani’s commercial actor points out is also used to kill bugs. Yum. Dannon wasted no time in sending out a cease and desist to Chobani charging that its claims are “false, misleading, disparaging and deceptive.” Chobani filed a complaint against that cease and desist letter arguing that its campaign for it “is not false, misleading…” Well, you get the picture.