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Sobering Economic Data From Europe, Asia Dash Hopes for Swift Recovery [WSJ]
The U.K. economy expanded just 1.8% in May compared with April, a month that saw the country’s deepest contraction on record, according to figures published Tuesday. The rebound was feebler than economists had predicted and output in Britain remains around a quarter below the level it had reached in February.
Singapore—among the first countries to report second-quarter gross domestic product figures—estimated its economy shrank in the period by an annualized 41.2%. While Singapore has been lauded for public-health policies that have largely contained infections, its economy nonetheless suffered from the collapse in global trade….
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this month it expects the global economy to shrink 6% this year—or almost 8% if a resurgence in infections prompts governments to once again button down their economies.

Hedge fund manager Singh calls Trump's handling of coronavirus 'an incredible gift' [Reuters via Yahoo!]
"We simply never believed 'what happens in China stays in China,'" [Axon Capital co-founder Dinakar] Singh wrote in a letter to investors last week that was seen by Reuters. "Trump talking down COVID-19 risk gave investors an incredible gift -- it kept markets resilient much longer than they should have, and enabled us to ensure our portfolio was sensibly positioned…."
Axon, a 15-year-old hedge fund which oversees roughly $1 billion, gained 24.3% in the first half of the year, thanks to bets on technology giants, managed-care stocks and Japanese companies, according to the letter. In the last days Axon extended gains and is now up 30%.

Fed’s Williams says shift away from scandal-plagued, interest-rate benchmark in 2 years remains on track despite coronavirus [MarketWatch]
Williams called Libor, which is based on a survey of banks, an “unreliable reference rate” and noted that “term lending transactions based on Libor became even more scarce than usual” in the market turmoil in March at the start of the pandemic.
In contrast, the Fed’s favored replacement, SOFR, is based on actual transactions in the Treasury repo market and performed well during the crisis, he said.
“SOFR was the dog that didn’t bark or bite,” Williams said.

Oat-Milk Company Oatly Draws Investment From Blackstone-Led Group Including Oprah [WSJ]
Swedish oat-milk maker Oatly AB has sold a $200 million stake to a group led by private-equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. that includes Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, former Starbucks Corp. chief Howard Schultz and the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z.
The sale of the roughly 10% stake values Oatly at about $2 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ackman's blank check company raises IPO target to $4 billion [Reuters]
Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd, the blank check company backed by billionaire investor Bill Ackman, has increased the size of its initial public offering by $1 billion to $4 billion, the largest ever IPO by a special purpose acquisition company…. In the filing, Ackman said the company will seek to acquire a venture capital-backed firm that he called a "mature unicorn" which has chosen to remain private.

Quibi wins round in mobile technology fight with rival [L.A. Times via Yahoo!]
Tech rival Eko had accused Quibi of infringing on a patent with a feature on its app called "turnstyle," and asked an L.A. federal court judge to block Quibi from using it. On Monday, Judge Christina A. Snyder denied the request for a preliminary injunction…. Activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. is funding Eko's lawsuit.

NYC Hedge Funds Angle for Work-From-Home Windfall on Their Taxes [Bloomberg]
Investment firms that pay the city’s unincorporated business tax -- a 4% levy that brought in more than $2 billion last year -- may be able to slash their bills because, for the first time, most of their income is being earned outside Manhattan….
Businesses paying the UBT come from every sector of the city’s economy, from construction and manufacturing to advertising and performing arts. But the securities and commodities industry paid almost 30% of partnership UBT revenue in 2016, according to the latest city data. That’s second only to legal businesses at 32%, and well ahead of the real estate sector at 9.2%.

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Opening Bell: 2.2.21

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LightSquared Lenders Pressure Falcone (WSJ) If Mr. Falcone doesn't agree to eventually leave LightSquared's board and make way for new executives and directors at the wireless communications firm, lenders are likely to balk and the company could end up filing for bankruptcy protection, they said. Shareholders Rebuke Barclays, Credit Suisse on Pay (Reuters) More than a quarter of Barclays shareholders look set to vote against the British bank's controversial pay plan for bosses and Credit Suisse is also facing a backlash as investors seek a greater share of profits. Stormy annual shareholder meetings at both banks got underway on Friday with many attendees complaining executives are getting too big a slice of bank income at their expense...Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius apologized for badly communicating the bank's pay strategy and promised to "materially" increase the dividend shareholders receive, helping to lift the bank's shares more than 4 percent. But he was heckled during his speech to a packed hall of about 2,000 shareholders and his comments about pay were greeted with laughter in some quarters. Renowned short-seller bets against Fortescue (SMH) Hedge fund short-seller Jim Chanos has singled out Fortescue Metals as a "value trap" stock, telling a New York conference that shares in billionaire Andrew Forrest's company will fall "materially." In a presentation this month to Grant's Spring Conference, a private investment forum, Mr Chanos, the boss of Kynikos Associates, told investors he feared iron ore miner Fortescue has "a somewhat promotional management team." Goldman Banker Probed For Alleged Leaks To Galleon (WSJ) U.S. prosecutors and securities regulators are investigating whether a senior Goldman investment banker gave Galleon hedge-fund traders advance word of pending health-care deals, according to people familiar with the matter. The banker, whom the people identified as Matthew Korenberg, is a San Francisco-based managing director for Goldman, a senior post. Among the merger deals being scrutinized by Los Angeles federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission is the 2009 acquisition by Abbott Laboratories of Advanced Medical Optics, a Santa Ana, Calif., medical-device maker—a deal in which Mr. Korenberg advised Advanced Medical Optics, the people say. Another is the acquisition of APP Pharmaceuticals Inc. by Fresenius, announced in July 2008, in which Goldman advised APP, they say. Unlikely Allies (NYP) Billionaire hedge-fund mogul and Republican stalwart Paul Singer is in an odd position of late — asking the Obama administration for help to keep troubled mortgage lender ResCap out of bankruptcy. Singer, whose Elliott Associates owns debt in the mortgage lender, a unit of Ally Financial, asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in recent weeks to use the government’s 74-percent stake in Ally to press for an alternative financial cure. An out-of-bankruptcy solution would help Elliott, to be sure, but would also assist the White House by keeping a unit of one of its high-profit bailouts from outright failure. But Singer, so far, hasn’t gotten any satisfaction. Geithner, insiders said, doesn’t want to use Treasury’s muscle to stop the likely Chapter 11 filing because it could be interpreted as the government overstepping its bounds. Spain Urges Focus On Reforms After Downgrade (WSJ) The government has embarked on a plan of far-reaching reforms to overhaul the economy, including new labor laws and a cleanup of the banking sector. Mr. Jiménez Latorre said these reforms will pay dividends in the medium- to long-term. 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You, the dream stenographer, will sleep within arm's reach of me on selected nights when I feel my mind is operating at its peak performance level. Sleeping is mandatory as I'm not able to reach my optimum dream state when someone is watching me sleep. Remaining within arm's reach at all times is also mandatory so that I may wake you as quickly as possible to begin recording my stream of consciousness.Qualified applicants will be excellent note takers with unrivaled penmanship." KKR Earnings Beat Expectations (WSJ) Economic net income, a measure of private-equity firms' profitability that analysts follow because it includes both realized and unrealized investment gains, was $727.2 million, or 99 cents a share, compared to $742.5 million, or 96 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The earnings came in at the top end of analysts' estimates, with a consensus economic net income of $486.6 million, or 74 cents a share, according to Thompson Reuters. NYSE CEO 'very disappointed' to lose out on Facebook listing (DJ) Just so you know. Wells Fargo to Buy Merlin Securities Prime Brokerage (Bloomberg) The purchase is Wells Fargo’s first foray into prime brokerage services and the bank will use the business as a foundation to expand, said Christopher Bartlett, head of equity sales and trading at the San Francisco-based lender. Prime- brokerage includes services such as lending, clearing trades and record-keeping that help hedge fund managers run their firms. Bartlett wouldn’t say how much Wells Fargo paid and a statement set to be released later today didn’t disclose the terms. Bo Xilai's Son Ticketed in Porsche (WSJ) Disputing a notion common in China that he lives a lavish lifestyle, Mr. Bo wrote to the Harvard Crimson on Tuesday saying he wished to address "rumors and allegations about myself." Among other things, "I have never driven a Ferrari," he wrote. 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