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Japanese car maker Honda is set to announce it's closing its only British car plant in 2022 with the loss of 3,500 jobs, a lawmaker told Reuters, in the latest blow to the UK car industry as Brexit approaches.


Honda Motor said on Tuesday it will hold a news conference at 0800 GMT, a day after a British lawmaker said the Japanese car maker will announce the closure of its only British factory, in another blow to UK's auto industry before Brexit.


A new round of talks between the United States and China to resolve their trade war will take place in Washington on Tuesday, with follow-up sessions at a higher level later in the week, the White House said on Monday.


Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday the most difficult part in trade negotiations between Europe and the United States started now.


British engineer Cobham said on Tuesday it would take an additional exceptional charge of 160 million pounds ($206 million) in relation to a dispute with Boeing over an aerial refueling program.


Paul Elliott Singer, the hedge fund manager behind activist investor Elliott, has taken a 6.1 percent stake in Dutch trust and business administration company Intertrust, according to a filing published by the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets (AFM).


Goldman Sachs Group Inc's Chairman and Chief Executive for the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, Ken Hitchner, is retiring from the company, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.


HSBC Holdings Plc posted a disappointing profit growth as higher costs and a stocks rout took a toll on business, while cautioning that a weaker economic outlook for China and Britain would throw up further hurdles this year.


Mexico's new leftist government is betting on financial technology to help lift people out of poverty.


Britons could face shortages of fresh food, price rises and less variety if the country leaves the European Union next month without agreeing trade terms, food industry officials say.


Asian shares hovered near four-month highs on Tuesday as investors took heart from some progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks, while the yen slipped as the Japanese central bank said it won't rule out further policy easing.


Europe’s biggest bank warns on US-China tension in first results under CEO John Flint 


UK, France and Germany under pressure from Trump to repatriate militants


Focus on Huawei, regulation and high costs risk region falling further behind, says Börje Ekholm


With revenues flat and shares falling, the food group is cooking up fresh plans


Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said on Monday that the arrest of his daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, was politically motivated.


Founder of Moscow-based private equity business was seen as savvy operator


Wishy-washy job titles encourage wishy-washy ideas. And that is fatal for corporates


Mongolia has temporarily suspended operations of all KFC restaurants in the country to conduct an inquiry, as 42 people were hospitalized and hundreds showed food poisoning symptoms after eating at one of the outlets of the fast-food chain.


Ren Zhengfei says arrest of group’s CFO and daughter is ‘politically motivated’


Challenge to presidential attempt to use powers to fund building of US-Mexico barrier


Brent crude oil prices eased away from 2019 highs on Tuesday on caution that economic growth may dent fuel demand this year, although supply cuts led by producer cartel OPEC still meant markets were relatively tight.


Agricultural lender Norinchukin, burnt a decade ago by debt products, piles back in


British security officials do not support a full ban of Huawei from national telecoms networks despite U.S. allegations the Chinese firm and its products could be used by Beijing for spying, people with knowledge of the matter said.


President says regime supporters are risking their lives as power struggle looms


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Southwest Airlines Co for widespread failure to accurately track the combined weight of checked bags loaded onto its jets, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.


"We have to be mindful of the moments in life our customers are in," says storage boss Anthony Paine.


The value of the pound has changed a lot over the past three years - making us all a little poorer.


Ren Zhengfei described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer, as politically motivated.


Large property groups buy up rivals’ soured loans, accelerating sector consolidation


The U.S. auto industry urged President Donald Trump's administration on Monday not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, after the U.S. Commerce Department sent a confidential report to the White House late on Sunday with its recommendations for how to proceed.


New group has potential to recruit Conservative as well as more Labour MPs


Moderates disillusioned with party’s stance on Brexit and the economy


The U.S. Commerce Department sent a report on Sunday to U.S. President Donald Trump that could unleash steep tariffs on imported cars and auto parts, provoking a sharp backlash from the industry even before it is unveiled, the agency confirmed.


U.S. President Donald Trump has promised European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he will not impose additional import tariffs on European cars for the time being, Juncker was quoted in a published interview as saying on Monday.


Company needs faster hardware for smart digital assistant and real-time video moderation


Move would place 3,500 jobs at risk just weeks before Brexit


masayoshi son

  • Two major credit ratings agencies have opted not to upgrade SoftBank's debt and may well instead downgrade the already below investment grade company.
  • It's another blow to the company's high leverage ratio and a very high level of net debt which stands at $96 billion as of the end of December. 
  • Companies with high debt piles have been on a mission to cut levels in 2019 with warnings about poor quality debt becoming starker. 

SoftBank, the giant fund behind investments including Uber, Slack, and WeWork, is under pressure from analysts with a negative sentiment on the company's net debt and leverage. 

Founded by Masayoshi Son, SoftBank is well known for its large scale investments in tech companies — particularly through its involvement in the Saudi Arabian funding vehicle Vision Fund. However, one of the company's key rating metrics, loan-to-value, has been a negative for credit rating analysts at Moody's and S&P, as reported by Bloomberg.

The company's loan-to-value metric (the amount of exposure to a borrower a company has through its funding) is seen to be between 25 and 35 according to Moody's and S&P, far higher than SoftBank's own figure of 14.

The metric has taken on greater meaning since the company floated its telecoms business in a $23.5 billion IPO last year. 

The major difference between the calculations comes down to the higher estimation of SoftBank's net debt with ratings agencies including the company's commitments as part of the $100 billion Vision Fund. High leverage has been a major factor in company's thinking of late with warnings about the high debt levels of companies such as GE and AT&T. 

SoftBank is currently rated one notch below investment grade and its debt heavy strategy could be seen as a concern for analysts and potentially investors. Last month the company significantly scaled back planned investment into WeWork amid questions about the viability of the loss-making office space company. 

"Mr. Son says he intends to monetize the portfolio more actively, but the company has yet to establish a track record of that," said Motoki Yanase, Tokyo-based vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s, said in a phone interview Wednesday with Bloomberg. “It would be a very challenging step to upgrade this company to investment grade.”

Research firm CreditSights also recently suggested cutting back on exposure to the company's bonds as a result. 

SEE ALSO: Here's how the risky behavior of debt-heavy corporate giants like GE and AT&T could spark the next financial crisis

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Apple went from a $1 trillion company to losing over 20% of its share price



European Commission to ‘react in a swift and adequate manner’ to any levies


Honda

  • Japanese car manufacturer Honda is said to be preparing to shut one of its UK plants with 3,500 jobs on the line. 
  • Honda is set to announce a closure to its Swindon plant in 2022. 

Japanese automaker Honda could be set to cut 3,500 jobs from the UK in plans to close one of its plants. 

Honda could close its plant in Swindon by 2022, according to Sky News. The plant is the company's only manufacturing operation in the EU with production of its Honda Civic model topping 100,000 a year. 

The company is still expected to keep its European headquarters in Bracknell as well as its Formula One racing team in the UK but the blow is another major problem for the British car making industry. 

Sky's report suggests that Brexit is not the only factor in the decision to close the plant.

Fellow automaker Nissan recently announced that it was cancelling plans to build its X-Trail SUVs in Sunderland despite previous assurances from the British Government. 

Honda's decision is the latest in a line of Japanese companies moving operations away from the UK since the Brexit vote with Panasonic and, recently, Sony opting to move their operations to Amsterdam. 

SEE ALSO: Brexit isn't even here yet, but here's a list of the damage that's already been done

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NOW WATCH: Meet the three women who married Donald Trump



Logan Green John Zimmer Lyft

  • At a growing number of companies, particularly in the tech sector, CEOs and other insiders have outsized control over their corporate decisions. 
  • The executives have that control through special shares that give them extra votes. Such arrangements used to be rare, but are becoming much more common.
  • Lyft and several other tech companies that are likely to hold their initial public offerings this year will likely debut with such dual-class stock structures.
  • Companies say such arrangements allow their executives to focus on their long-term success.
  • But because they insulate insiders from legitimate concerns, they can be detrimental to investors and society as a whole.

If anyone thought the problem of unaccountable tech CEOs was going to go away anytime soon, think again.

In reality, it's likely to get much worse before it gets any better, especially with a new wave of tech companies preparing to hit the public markets.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the founders of one of those companies — Lyft — are working on a plan that would give them near-majority control of the app-based car ride firm after its initial public offering.

The plan is a familiar one among those who have been raising concerns about unassailable tech executives — Lyft would create a new class of shares that would give John Zimmer, its president, and Logan Green, its CEO, extra votes. Those extra votes would give them far more power than their actual stake in the company, which stands at less than 10% of total shares combined, according to The Journal.

Zimmer and Green are likely to be among a sizeable group of tech executives at newly public companies that have disproportionate control over their firms. When they debut on the markets, Slack and Pinterest — among other companies — are both likely to include share structures that give extra votes to select insiders, The Journal reported.

Dual-class structures are becoming more common

Dual-class share structures have a long history, but until recently, they were rare. Investors, markets, and regulators all typically frowned on them. Google and Facebook both hit the markets with supervoting shares for their voters, but they were the rare exceptions to the general rule.

In 2004, when Google went public, for instance, it was one of just three tech companies and 13 firms overall that went public with a dual-class structure, according to data collected by Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida. That year, 174 total companies had an IPO.

Read this: That this year's IPO market is considered a 'boom' shows how low our expectations are — and why we still haven't figured out the problem

In the last several years, though, dual-class share structures have become much more common, particularly among tech companies new to the public markets. In three of the last four years, more than a third of the tech firms that had an IPO had multiple classes of stock, according to Ritter's data. In each of the last two years, 13 tech firms debuted with such structures. Among those companies were Snap, Roku, Dropbox, and Spotify.

The dual-class structures give those holding the superpowered shares outsized say in corporate decisions. Frequently, the shares give insiders the ability to determine the outcome of any shareholder vote by themselves alone, or to choose by themselves the composition of their company's board.

Companies that have created such structures for their founders or executives generally argue that they allow those leaders to focus on their firms' long-term health and growth. But the structures also insulate leaders from shareholders' legitimate concerns and often allow them to run their companies with little check on their power.

Early investors are signing off on the arrangements

In theory, investors could veto such arrangements at the time of companies' initial public offerings. The institutional investors who buy shares in public offerings could push back against companies' plans to create dual-class stock structures or refuse to take part in any offerings that involve them.

Larry PageBut that hasn't been happening. Investors generally have been desperate to buy shares in fast-growing tech firms, investment bankers who work on tech IPOs have said. They've been more than willing to overlook dual-class structures if it means getting in early on growing company that can boost their returns.

The problem is that many of the companies that have launched with dual-class structures have done so without putting an end date on them. Their insiders will continue to have extra votes for as long as they want them. The vast base of shareholders can't overturn the structure, because they don't have the votes to do so.

That's created a kind of agency problem. The initial investors who sign off on the dual-class structures are agreeing to those terms on behalf of all those who will own shares of the company in the future. While some initial shareholders end up being long-term owners, many don't. Instead, in many cases, they use the IPO as a way to make a quick buck off a first-day trading pop. And while those initial shareholders may be comfortable with giving insiders extra votes, future investors may not be so happy with such an arrangement — but won't have any power to change it.

The early returns of Google and Facebook seemed to indicate that some companies can benefit from insulating their leaders from shareholder pressures, at least initially. But lately, there's been mounting evidence that such structures can be detrimental to investors and everyone else.

Over the longer term, investors lose out...

Last year, Robert Jackson, a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, had his staff look at the stock market performance of companies with dual-class structures, comparing that had sunset provisions on their supervoting shares with those that would allow them to last in perpetuity. Within two years of an IPO, those with sunset provisions significantly outperformed those without them, according to Jackson's research.

Evan SpiegelSnap is a case in point about the danger to investors. For much of the time since its March 2017 IPO, it's traded below its $17 debut price, and it's consistently traded below $10 a share since September. The company has been struggling since late 2017 when it launched a disastrous redesign of its Snapchat app that CEO Evan Spiegel insisted on — and that ended up alienating users.

At a typical company, investors or Snap's board might have held Spiegel accountable for the company's poor performance. But that was impossible at Snap. The company has a structure that gives regular investors zero votes per share. Investor input is so meaningless to the company that Snap didn't even bother to hold an in-person shareholder meeting last year, instead holding a conference call that lasted all of three minutes.

...but so does everyone else

But it's not just investors that can lose out because of all-powerful CEOs. The rest of us can too, as Facebook has made clear.

facebook ceo mark zuckerbergBy just about any measure, the company's last several years have been horrible. Its service has been hijacked repeatedly to spread propaganda and misinformation, some of which had led to deaths. It's been plagued by repeated scandals, many of them due to mismanagement. Last year, its stock fell 26%, and its growth slowed markedly. And it faced a growing threat that regulators would come down hard on it.

There's a good chance that any other company that had gone through what Facebook has experienced recently would have responded by firing its CEO and other top executives, if only to placate shareholders and regulators.

But not Facebook.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided he and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were the best ones to keep running the company. And because Zuckerberg has shares with supervoting powers that give him majority control of the company, his decision stood — no matter the cost to shareholders, users, or society in general.

Some investor groups and advocates have raising a fuss about dual-class shares, most notably the Council of Institutional Investors. But so far, their efforts haven't done anything to stop the growing trend.

It's not looking like much will. Corporate founders are unlikely to turn down the prospect of having perpetual power over their companies. Initial investors aren't balking at giving them that power. And everyday shareholders have no ability to revoke such arrangements once they're in place.

So the era of the all-powerful tech CEO is likely just dawning. God help us all.

SEE ALSO: Mark Zuckerberg’s tone-deaf declaration of victory in 2018 should make everybody worry about what’s going to happen with Facebook next year

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NOW WATCH: Here's how to use Apple's time-saving app that will make your life easier



Bernard Kuhnt BMW

  • Bernhard Kuhnt has been leading BMW's North American business since 2017.
  • He's presiding over a big launch of new and refreshed vehicles in 2019.
  • Kuhnt is also dealing with BMW's electric-vehicle strategy in the US.

Bernhard Kuhnt took over as CEO of BMW North America at a bit of a tough moment for the automaker. In 2016, BMW had just finished third in the US luxury-brand race, behind Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

In 2017 BMW's total US sales dipped to 305,685 from 313,174 the previous year, but in 2018 sales recovered to 311,014. Mercedes sales fell 6.3%, to 315,959, and Lexus slid 2.2%, to 298,310, Automotive News Europe reported.

It was a second-place finish for BMW, but for Kuhnt, it was good to grow.

"We gained volume," he said in a recent interview with Business Insider. He added that BMW expects to see further growth in 2019, in the 1% to 3% range.

New and revamped older models will drive that growth. BMW finally has an entry in the full-size SUV sweepstakes with its X7 arriving this spring. With the X3 compact SUV and the X5 midsize SUV, the automaker's crossover portfolio is complete.

Read more: BMW claims its upcoming Tesla rival will have almost double the range of a Model 3

The 'heart and soul' of BMW

BMW 3 Series 2019

A redesigned 3 Series sedan will also land at US dealerships later in 2019, reinvigorating what Kuhnt called the "heart and soul" of the brand. The car dates to 1975 and has defined BMW's premium identity in America for decades. It's the original "ultimate driving machine" of the famous bimmer advertising tagline.

Touting a four-door in the age of the SUV — crossover sales have surged in the past few years, while passenger cars have collapsed — might seem odd, but BMW is committed to the horses that it rode to its lofty US market position among Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler.

"We believe in sedans!" Kuhnt said. "We're not giving up on sedans."

With the new 3 Series on the way, the new 5 Series putting up its best US sales numbers since 2015, the 7 Series being substantially refreshed — "nearly a new car," Kuhnt said — and a new 8 Series aiming for the top of the market, BMW clearly has a healthy respect for sedans, as Kuhnt put it.

"We will give consumers a tough choice to make," he joked about deciding between a BMW sedan or coupé and an SUV.

Conquesting new customers, and bringing BMW passion and emotion to EVs

bmw vision inext

Kuhnt expects 2019 to be a year in which BMW sustains its most loyal customers — the ones who have been buying or leasing 3 Series without interruption — and win over new buyers.

"To keep an existing customer is our goal," he said. "But we want to deliver a new 3 Series that's much better than the old one. The sedan's upgrade technology package will help BMW achieve that objective.

But Kuhnt said that competition is good.

"It keeps us on our toes, and with X7, we expect to conquest a lot. Early indications are that it will be a good path," he said.

BMW has also been selling all-electric and hybrid-electric/range-extended electric vehicles in the US for some time, but the numbers have been modest. As Tesla has grown, however, the competitive situation has intensified. Between now and 2025, BMW will roll out 25 electrified vehicles — 12 battery electric, the remainder plug-in hybrids.

"I raise my hat to Tesla," Kuhnt said. "They're a success story."

Yet he said that BMW has a core strength in its dealer network — Tesla has opted for a direct-sales approach in states that have allowed it, bypassing the franchise-dealer system. "We feel that we have an advantage," Kuhnt said. "Tesla had a period where they were in their own. But they'll find it increasingly competitive in the US."

Kuhnt acknowledged that BMW would encounter a spread of consumer reactions as it introduces new electric vehicles. But he said that, in his experience, new EV drivers are "blown away" by what happens behind the wheel.

That's critical, in Kuhnt's mind, because thrills are an integral part of the BMW DNA.

"We are the ultimate driving machine," he said. "What we're trying to do is create passion and emotion."

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NOW WATCH: BMW just showed off the futuristic interior of its next-gen cars



Worried nervous trader

  • Global debt has risen to high levels with US government debt reaching a record $22 trillion recently. 
  • Research suggests that the figures aren't as bad as they were during the financial crisis, but could get worse. 
  • Deteriorating corporate credit quality and the impact already had by high debt levels on emerging markets are key factors in causing a global economic slowdown. 

Global debt is at elevated levels, but isn't high enough to draw comparisons with the 2008 financial crisis just yet.

Risky corporate debt, particularly in the form of leveraged loans, has been on the rise for a number of years, with analysts suggesting the recent build up could be a significant risk to global GDP growth.

Since 2015, world private sector debt has risen by around 15% of world GDP  — a level higher than it was prior to the global financial crisis, according to Oxford Economics.

Emerging markets have been the main driver of this trend with debt levels in major growing economies such as China increasing rapidly in the past decade. 

Growing global debt is a major concern for the world economy because recent evidence has indicated that credit booms often end in busts of seismic proportions. A recent study found that of 175 such credit booms a staggering 70% have ended in busts, a worrying sign for the current debt buildup. 

In a sample of large economies, up to 60% of GDP is in economies with "risky" corporate debt and up to 30% of GDP is in economies with risky household debt, according to the Oxford Economics note. 

The boom in emerging market debt is coupled with a rise in increasingly risky debt in Europe and the US. Leveraged loan quality is now at its lowest ever level having reached a peak of new deals in the past few years. 

Oxford Economics' research also suggests that the countries at the highest risk are Hong Kong, China, France, Canada, and Chile. China's debt problem is already at a critical stage and a failure to address it could have major implications for the world economy.

The danger of not adjusting debt levels could have a severe impact on already slowing global growth.  

Global debt as a % of GDP

SEE ALSO: China's 'zombie' companies are a big threat to the economy — and JPMorgan says their debt pile means the country could be slowing faster than anyone thought

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Sea cucumbers are so valuable that people are risking their lives diving for them



Some officials think balance sheet reduction programme will end this year


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to shore up Saudi Arabia's Asian allies.


China investors 21

  • Asian markets rocketed higher Monday on trade-war optimism.
  • The biggest gains in China came from the Shenzhen Component Index, which rose just shy of 4% during Monday trading.
  • Trade discussions between the US and China ended over the weekend, with both nations seemingly positive about them.
  • "Trade negotiators have just returned from China where the meetings on Trade were very productive," President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday night.
  • US markets are closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day.
  • You can follow the latest market action at Markets Insider.

Asian markets surged to start the week Monday as investors took heart from positive comments surrounding trade negotiations between the US and China.

The two nations are discussing their future trading relationship following the tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs during 2018.

Representatives from the two countries began talks in Beijing last week with the aim of making progress toward a trade deal of some form before the 90-day deadline imposed at the G20 summit in Argentina late in 2018.

Talks ended over the weekend, with President Donald Trump seemingly enthused by the discussions.

"Trade negotiators have just returned from China where the meetings on Trade were very productive," he tweeted on Saturday night.

"Now at meetings with me at Mar-a-Lago giving the details. In the meantime, Billions of Dollars are being paid to the United States by China in the form of Trade Tariffs!"

Though it is true that the US has raised billions of dollars from increased tariffs during the trade war, the tweet repeated Trump's debunked claim that US duties on Chinese goods were paid for by China; economists say the tariffs are generally paid for by US companies that import goods.

Still, Trump's positivity around the talks, alongside a positive reaction to the talks from Chinese officials, has helped to push Chinese stocks to their best individual session in about three months, with all mainland indexes rising 2% or more on the day.

Read more: This is the only chart to watch ahead of the world's impending economic slowdown

"In the absence of data, politics (trade) is likely to dominate markets. The US and China resume trade talks in Washington this week. Asian markets have strengthened on hopes and dreams of a trade deal," Paul Donovan, the chief global economist at UBS Wealth Management, said in a morning email.

"US President Trump reiterated that the 1 March tax-hike deadline could be extended. Chinese officials sounded positive (more positive than US officials) about a deal.|

Here's the scoreboard as of 10:05 a.m. GMT (5:05 a.m. ET):

  • Chinese markets ripped higher, with the biggest gains coming from the Shenzhen Component Index, which gained just shy of 4% during Monday trade. Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite was up 2.7%, the China A50 was 2.6% higher, and the Dow Jones Shanghai gained 2.9%.
  • In Europe, stocks were little moved, but most indexes nursed small losses. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index was down 0.2%, while Germany's DAX lost 0.5%. Stocks in Spain and Italy bucked the broader trend on the continent and saw gains of about 0.4%.
  • US stocks were closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Sea cucumbers are so valuable that people are risking their lives diving for them



Barclays' CEO Jes Staley arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain January 11, 2018.

  • One of Barclays' largest investors, US hedge fund Tiger Global, has sold its entire holding in the bank. 
  • It is a major blow to the lender as it bids to turnaround its performance in its investment banking division. 
  • Tiger Global had been a major backer of CEO Jes Staley, but the move points to a weaker sentiment in the lender. 

One of the largest shareholders in Barclays has cut its stake in the lender during a crucial period for the bank. 

Tiger Global, a hedge fund, had held a top 10 stake in Barclays but has since cut its entire holding, according to the Financial Times.

It's a major blow to Barclays CEO Jes Staley who had received backing for his plan to reinvigorate the lender's investment banking operations and focus on the UK retail sector from the fund. 

The multibillion dollar fund had been reducing its stake since last summer and has now entirely offloaded its shareholding during a tricky period for Barclays as it fights off a challenge from activist investor Edward Bramson.

Staley's plan for the lender was well received initially with Barclays' share price touching £2.17 ($2.80) last March but its share price stands at £1.59 as of 9.40 a.m in London — down 0.5%. 

Tiger spent more than $1 billion building up a roughly 2.5% stake in Barclays due to its sizeable presence on Wall Street. Part of the decision to build the stake was the belief that the bank would likely see a boost from rising US interest rates and the corporate tax cuts last year. 

Barclays recently transferred billions in assets to Dublin and has spent large sums preparing for Brexit. 

SEE ALSO: This US tech start-up helped a maker of football helmets tap investors with new VC funding platform

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NOW WATCH: Earth's north magnetic pole is on the move — here's what will happen when our poles flip



Marcello Buttonwood

  • Buttonwood Network is attempting to disrupt the way in which late stage start ups secure VC funding by making the process quicker and more efficient.
  • The company was only founded six months ago but has already raised $45 million in funding for companies on its software platform. 
  • VCs from across the world have taken an interest amid a changing environment for investors with lower fees and greater transparency now key for fundraisings. 

It's not easy raising money if you're a start-up. Founders must pitch their wares to investor after investor hoping to drum up enough interest in the business to win funding. 

Buttonwood Network is a six-month-old service based in New York that is trying to streamline the process. It operates a software platform for firms and venture capitalists to match, reducing the usually arduous process. 

The company says the idea is gaining traction. 

Founded by former investment bankers and hedge fund managers, Buttonwood is keen to cut down the amount of time high growth businesses spend fundraising and also widen the net of options available to companies. 

"It's clearly a distraction to spend a large amount of your time fundraising when you're trying to build a business," said Marcello Halitzer, co-founder of Buttonwood Network to Business Insider in an interview. "Usually companies pitch to investors one at a time before they do their own due diligence, this is the opposite now the investors are invited to opportunities at some incredible companies."

Halitzer compares the process to an investment-bank roadshow, where company executives travel around the country to give presentations to analysts, fund managers, and potential investors. Usually companies have to pitch their business to potential investors one by one, but Buttonwood attempting to reverse the concept of a roadshow by bringing investors directly to the company. 

Buttonwood is also selective about the companies it allows on its platform, maintaining an exclusive edge for investors invited to fundraisings. 

For example, companies are required to have 100% year-on-year growth, need at least $10 million in funding, and a history of raising $5 million previously.

One of Buttonwood's recent successes was VICIS, a football helmet manufacturer that is backed by former NFL legends such as quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The company raised $28.5 million in funding through Buttonwood in an oversubscribed deal that took just three months to complete. 

"The platform allowed us to share information about the company with scores of HNW [high net worth] individuals and families quickly and efficiently," Dave Marver, CEO of VICIS, said in an email.

Similarly, Modumetal, a start-up from Seattle, brought in $14 million through Buttonwood in funding led by Vulcan Capital. The company has attracted interest from oil and gas majors for its unique alloy which it says is more efficient and cheaper than conventional steel. 

It's part of a move away from more traditional attempts access VC funding for exciting companies with high growth prospects towards a more streamlined experience.

"We're trying to be friendly to investors through this platform and we want to empower entrepreneurs to make the funding process more efficient," said Halitzer in an interview with Business Insider. 

SEE ALSO: Meet the start-up bank with millions of customers trying to disrupt the 'adversarial' American banking system

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NOW WATCH: How Apple went from a $1 trillion company to losing over 20% of its share price



Why aren't more parents signing up for a scheme that provides extra money towards the cost of childcare?


Mark Zuckerberg

  • Facebook's latest quarterly report with the SEC contains a little-noticed update to its risk factors.
  • For the first time ever, Facebook acknowledges that concerns about users' well-being could hurt its business.
  • It's a striking change from the company's altruistic boasts of the past. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has talked a lot about making sure that users' time on his social network is "time well spent."

After a year of headlines blasting Facebook for negatively affecting everything from mental health to memories, Zuckerberg was responding — and, he said, showing responsibility — to growing public concerns about the age of social media.

But as Facebook revealed in a tiny but telling change to its latest quarterly report, the company also appreciates the very real threat these concerns pose to its business. 

"Any number of factors could potentially negatively affect user retention, growth, and engagement," Facebook explains in the section of its 10K report devoted to risks related to its business. If, for example: 

— "there are decreases in user sentiment due to questions about the quality or usefulness of our products or our user data practices, or concerns related to privacy and sharing, safety, security, well-being, or other factors;"

We bolded "well-being" to highlight the two words because they were not included in the same boilerplate sentence in the report released three months earlier. Go ahead, check for yourself.

Sure, regulatory filings to the SEC are kitchen-sink exercises, with every potential risk a corporate attorney can dream up explicitly spelled out. The company isn't saying it expects any of these risks to actually occur in the near future; it just wants to be able to say it warned you they might occur in case you ever decided it might be a good idea to sue the company. 

That said, Facebook never thought its impact on people's well-being was a notable risk before. To the contrary, the company couldn't stop bragging about its altruistic "social mission."

Remember Zuckerberg's letter to shareholders in its IPO prospectus. Here's an excerpt, with emphasis his:

"We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other. 

Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people. 

Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness."

It's been seven years since Zuckerberg wrote those words, and 15 years since the social network was created. A lot has changed in that time. But sometimes two small words buried in a dense regulatory filing say how much has changed better than anything.

SEE ALSO: When Amazon threw in the towel on the New York City HQ2, it showed the rest of the world how to beat Silicon Valley

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