One thing to start: Activist investor Third Point has built a stake in Vivendi, the media group controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, as a shareholder vote on its plan to spin out Universal Music Group looms. More here.
The last time DD checked in on events at Toshiba, private equity firms were sniffing around a buyout of the business that would have valued the Japanese industrial conglomerate at about $20bn.
That was back in April and just a few short days after Toshiba’s chief executive Nobuaki Kurumatani, who used to work at CVC, the private equity firm sizing up a bid, was out of a job. The events were described as a boardroom coup led by the company’s “old guard” who wanted to block a deal. No bid materialised.
To say things at Toshiba have gone from bad to worse since then would be an understatement.
Last week, a long-awaited report by an independent panel of investigators was released that left in its wreckage a long roster of powerful figures and institutions in Japan.
The list includes Toshiba’s management, the influential Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the former head of Japan’s $1.6bn pension fund Hiromichi Mizuno and potentially Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
At issue was Toshiba’s handling of an activist shareholder campaign last year, an event that seems to have brought out the worst in corporate Japan.
The 147-page report, that the FT’s Leo Lewis in Tokyo described as “villain rich”, details the extent to which the Japanese government and Toshiba’s management colluded to lean on shareholders before its annual general meeting to get their way.
At that meeting, in July last year, Kurumatani survived a knife-edge vote on his leadership and was reappointed with just 58 per cent support from investors.
It also prompted some serious behind the scenes shenanigans that (thanks to reporting by the FT, Reuters and others) laid bare Japan’s hostility to both foreign shareholders and activists.
Months after the AGM, shareholders demanded an extraordinary general meeting. That meeting, itself a rarity in Japan, took place this past March. There, investors backed a proposal that called on the company to launch an investigation into its behaviour and actions ahead of the AGM vote.
We’ve linked to the full report up above, in case you want to have a read, but it’s safe to say it took no time for the findings to lead to further change.
On Sunday, four senior Toshiba executives, including two board members, were forced out of their positions after a heated four-hour emergency board meeting.
Among them was Masaharu Kamo, who was hired from McKinsey just last year to help guide a turnround following Toshiba’s accounting and financial crisis.
Some Toshiba shareholders are now calling for its chair Osamu Nagayama to also step down. In a 75-minute press conference on Monday, Nagayama rebuffed those calls and placed the blame for the events on the company’s former boss Kurumatani.
The underlying cause of the company’s miseries, he said, was the “somewhat confrontational stance towards shareholders” fomented by Kurumatani.
A year ago to almost this very day, Hertz shares traded at roughly $5 a piece. Today they are approaching $8. That three dollar surge is more remarkable than you may think.
Hertz had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late May 2020 and notwithstanding those problems, a Robinhood army sent its shares soaring in the weeks after.
Experts said that such a run was lunacy and that Hertz equity surely must be worthless. Yet what followed turned into one of the most remarkable corporate restructurings in American history.
In a deep dive, DD’s Sujeet Indap takes us into an incredible year at Hertz, which featured a miracle economic recovery, a private equity stand-off and a tense auction in Miami.
At the centre of the drama was Thomas Lauria, a White & Case bankruptcy lawyer who ginned up the fevered bidding to a point where Hertz shareholders are now set to receive a once unthinkable $1bn recovery.
The saga also featured firms such as Knighthead Capital, Centerbridge and Apollo, along with dozens of other figures who huddled in White & Case conference rooms on May 10 only to emerge nearly 36 hours later.
At one point in the proceedings, Lauria took a swig of Jack Daniel’s whiskey to calm his nerves and give him the energy to keep the auction going. And after this crazy year on Wall Street, who could blame him for needing such a pick-me-up?
If you aren’t already familiar with the winter sport of skijoring, it’s likely you don’t rank among the high net worth clients that usually get the annual invite from Credit Suisse to White Turf.
A more than century-old equestrian event held annually in St Moritz, it involves horses pulling skiers around a frozen, icy track at breakneck speeds.
One man who made the elite cut to attend last year was Sanjeev Gupta, the so-called man of steel, whose ongoing woes and massive corporate debts helped to sink Greensill Capital earlier this year.
His invitation is significant. The Swiss bank has until now given the impression that it hasn’t been too closely involved with the business dealings of Gupta, whose rickety steel empire employs over 20,000 people, has annual revenues of $35bn and is increasingly in trouble due to its perilous finances and investigations from authorities.
In this deeply reported piece, the FT’s Robert Smith and Tabby Kinder reveal the extent to which Credit Suisse courted Gupta as a client and a long list of their dealings together.
They find that Credit Suisse handed Gupta everything from a mortgage on a trophy mansion, advised him on an aborted takeover attempt and gave him a private audience with its then chief executive Tidjane Thiam.
The news will make for uncomfortable reading for the Swiss bank, especially since after years of courting Gupta, it’s now petitioning courts in the UK and Australia to place several of his core businesses into insolvency.
Then there is the need to recover about $1.2bn in client funds linked to Gupta that are at risk as a result of Greensill’s collapse.
Rob and Tabby reveal that some of Gupta’s companies’ debt facilities from Greensill benefited from personal guarantees, which could allow creditors to chase him down.
According to three people familiar with the matter, Credit Suisse recently hired private investigators at Kroll to trace Gupta’s assets around the world.
DD will be watching closely as this once warm client relationship now turns very frosty.
A risk too far Credit Suisse promised a risk-taking, 30-year-old prodigy his own fund. Chastened by the Greensill and Archegos crisis, the bank changed its mind. (BBG)
Tax-advantaged The IRS can’t keep up with private equity’s aggressive tax-reducing techniques. Meet the “fee waiver”, which minimises levies even on management-fee income. (NYT)
Come undone Hedge fund manager Dan Kamensky, who’s heading to prison after breaking bankruptcy laws, says he regrets letting anger get the better of him. (WSJ)
CVC buys into UK staycation boom with deal for holiday park operator (FT)
Shares linked to Indian tycoon Adani tumble as foreign funds frozen (FT)
Pennsylvania pension furore widens with push to oust leaders (Bloomberg)
Entry-level lawyers are now making $200,000 a year (WSJ)
Investor behind Moderna raises $3.4bn biotech-focused fund (FT)
HK fund takes action on alleged unpaid debts by Gupta’s GFG Alliance (FT)
AMC bet by hedge fund unravels thanks to meme-stock traders (WSJ)
Germany’s Signa Sports agrees $3.2bn Spac deal for NY listing (FT + Lex)
Law firms Cooley and Clifford Chance offer UK staff fertility benefits for first time (FT)
Greensill scandal spurs call for tighter curbs on ex-officials entering private sector (FT)