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Covid-19 Diligence Briefing

Our briefing for Friday May 7, 2021:

  • In the United States, President Joe Biden reflected on the lower than expected job growth totals released on Friday noting it reveals the economy is still struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The Labor Department’s latest numbers for April revealed that 266,000 jobs were added with the unemployment rate rising to 6.1%. Dow Jones estimates before the numbers were released had been for close to one million jobs created and an unemployment rate of 5.8% “This month’s job numbers we are on the right track,” said President Biden. “But we still have a long way to go. My laser focus is on growing the nation’s economy and creating jobs. My laser focus is on vaccinating, and my laser focus is on one more thing: making sure that hard working people in this country are no longer left out in the cold.”  President Biden rejected the idea that federal unemployment benefits were removing the incentives for people to return to the labour force.
  • Bloomberg is reporting one of Canada’s largest airline carriers is calling on the federal government to lay out a plan for reopening its borders as vaccinations progress. Air Canada’s CEO Michael Rosseau said it’s now “essential” for officials to follow the United States in easing rules that have stopped most air travel. “Starting with replacing blanket restrictions with science-based testing and limited quarantine measures where appropriate, Canada can reopen and safely ease travel restrictions as vaccination programs rollout,” Rosseau said. Elsewhere in the country, Nova Scotia set another single day record with 227 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and the province’s chief medical officer noting there were “more than 200 other cases” that needed to be entered into the system. With now more than 1,400 active cases in a province of close to one million people, government is extending school closures, tightening border restrictions, changing isolation requirements for rotational workers and putting limits on shoppers.
  • In the United Kingdom, scientists believe people should still work from home if they can even after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted in June. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country remains on track to lift all legal limits on social contact by June 21st after a dramatic drop in cases in recent months thanks to lockdown measures and a ramped up vaccination program. Scientists' concern is that encouraging people back to work in office settings would risk a resurgence of the virus when many other countries in the world, such as India, are still battling dangerous levels of infections.
  • China’s Sinopharm vaccine became the first inoculation developed by a non-Western country to receive emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Sinopharm vaccine has already been given to millions of Chinese citizens and elsewhere around the world, including the United Arab Emirates. The WHO had only granted emergency approval to vaccines made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna. The green light from the WHO is a guideline for other national regulators that a vaccine is safe and effective and also means China’s vaccine can be used in the global Covax program, which aims to provide about two billion vaccines to developing countries.
  • Multiple media outlets are reporting the calls are getting louder in Japan to cancel the upcoming Tokyo Olympics as the government prepared to extend the state of emergency in the host city. A Change.org petition titled “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives” had gained more than 200,000 supporters by late Friday afternoon – Japan time. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his government are determined to press ahead with the Olympics after cancelling last summer due to the pandemic and believes it would be a sign of victory over the virus. Not helping the matter this week is learning Pfizer will donate vaccinations to all incoming athletes while Japan has only vaccinated less than 2% of its total population.
  • Australia’s international borders might be closed longer than expected, according to their trade minister, which would be a further blow to the airline and tourism industries. Speaking with Sky News on Friday, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said his best guess when Australia’s borders might reopen would be the second half of 2022. The Australian government had hoped to have its vaccination drive of its citizens completed by October, but that timeline was pushed into early 2022 due to medical complications tied to the AstraZeneca inoculation. Australia’s borders have been closed since early in 2020 due to the pandemic and as noted in Thursday’s Castle Hall COVID-19 Diligence Briefing, had to halt its quarantine-free travel with New Zealand via New South Wales on news of a new COVID-19 case that was stumping local health officials.

Covid-19 – Due Diligence And Asset Management

Wall Street Giants Get Swept Up by India’s Brutal Covid Wave

Brief : About 8,300 miles east of Wall Street, on a stretch of Bangalore’s Outer Ring Road, sits what was once the heart of the global financial industry’s back office. Before the pandemic, this cluster of glass-and-steel towers housed thousands of employees at firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG who played critical roles in everything from risk management to customer service and compliance. Now the buildings are eerily empty. And with case counts soaring across Bangalore and much of India, work-from-home arrangements that have sustained Wall Street’s back-office operations for months are coming under intense strain. A growing number of employees are either sick or scrambling to find critical medical supplies such as oxygen for relatives or friends. Standard Chartered Plc said last week that about 800 of its 20,000 staffers in India were infected. As many as 25% of employees in some teams at UBS are absent, said an executive at the firm who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. At Wells Fargo & Co.’s offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad, work on co-branded cards, balance transfers and reward programs is running behind schedule, an executive said.

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Hedge Funds Boost Shorts on European Bonds to Cushion Rate Risks

Brief: Fears of rising interest rates and warnings over bond valuations have made junk- and investment-grade rated bonds a popular short bet among hedge funds. Speculators are predicting fresh pain for the bond market, especially for longer-dated bonds with sovereign yields being tipped to rise due to an increase in inflation forecasts. This comes amid warnings from market experts regarding the “over-extended” valuations of CCC-rated bonds, the riskiest class of debt. Global high-yield bonds worth as much as $55 billion are on loan to traders seeking to profit if prices drop, according to data from IHS Markit Ltd., by a narrow margin the largest balance since the fall of 2008. This compares with about $35 billion at the start of the year. In the euro-denominated investment-grade market, roughly $30 billion equivalent of bonds have been borrowed, the largest loan balance since early 2014. “I would expect that list to get bigger as spreads tighten and/or people get worried about rates rising,” said Tim Winstone, a portfolio manager at Janus Henderson, which oversees 294 billion pounds ($409 billion). “At these levels of valuations, I’m not surprised more people, such as hedge funds, are setting shorts.”

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Tech Sector M&A Activity Hit Record High in Q1

Brief: A new report from technology-focused investment bank ICON Corporate Finance, has revealed record-breaking tech deal activity in the first quarter of 2021, up 28 per cent on Q1 2020, with 268 deals announced.  Evidencing resilience within the sector and a huge appetite for Vertical and Enterprise Software organisations, ICON believes M&A activity is yet to see its peak, and could easily surpass the UK total of 711 tech M&A deals completed last year. Digital transformation, fast-tracked by lockdowns across the world, has created a plethora of new digital solution providers that are grabbing the attention of overseas PE backed acquirers. Among these, UK Vertical Software providers are proving flavour of the month as PE houses look to buy, build and eventually sell. Corporate acquirers too are playing their part in an effort to gain an edge over rivals or to provide new revenue streams. The result has been valuations rising to near record levels. ICON believes that Digital Transformation across all industry sectors, including Vertical and Enterprise Software will continue to accelerate, boosted in no small part by appetite from overseas investors. Last year a record-breaking 48% of all UK deals involved cross-border backing, a figure which could yet be surpassed in 2021. 

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Economy Lost 207,000 Jobs in April, Unemployment Rate Rises, Statistics Canada says

Brief: Canada's labour market lost 207,000 jobs last month as a spike in COVID-19 variant cases led to renewed public health restrictions and raised concerns about longer-term economic consequences from the pandemic. The unemployment rate rose to 8.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent in March, Statistics Canada reported. It would have been 10.5 per cent had it included in calculations Canadians who wanted to work but didn’t search for a job. Ontario led the way on losses regionally with a drop of 153,000, and British Columbia witnessed its first decrease in employment since a historic one-month plunge in the labour market in April 2020. Nationally, losses were heavier in full-time than part-time work, with retail and young workers hit hardest as a resurgence of the virus and its variants forced a new round of restrictions and lockdowns. With lockdowns continuing into May, CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said more losses this month are possible. Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the latest setback in the labour market will carry a long-term impact on the workers and businesses affected, particularly in high-touch sectors that are falling further behind.

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Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Posts Record Annual Income and Investment

Brief: Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala's total income rose nearly 36% to a record high last year, driven by growth in its public equities portfolio and funds while it accelerated investment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mubadala Investment Co posted total comprehensive income attributable to the owner of 72 billion dirhams ($19.60 billion), up from 53 billion dirhams a year earlier, it said in a statement. Comprehensive income includes net income and unrealised gains such as hedges on financial instruments or foreign currency transactions. Assets under management rose 4.8% to 894 billion dirhams. It also invested 108 billion dirhams of capital in 2020, the most it has invested in a single year. Deals included 4.3 billion dirhams in Reliance Industries-owned Jio, 2.7 billion dirhams in private equity investor Silver Lake and 7.5 billion dirhams through partnerships with CVC, Citadel, iSquared Capital and Apax Partners. "We navigated our portfolio through the dramatic macroeconomic decline of early 2020 and decided to accelerate the pace of our capital deployment, ending the year with record profit and growth," said Mubadala CEO Khaldoon al-Mubarak.

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The Pandemic Caused a ‘Major Step Back’ For Women in Financial Services

Brief: For women in the financial services industry, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges they face in their jobs, resulting in a significant exodus from the field.  In a survey conducted by Accenture, a global technology and business consulting firm, 29 percent of women working in financial services said they left their job either permanently or temporarily during the pandemic, while 34 percent of women who hadn’t left their jobs said they were considering leaving their current firms. Almost half of the women who were considering leaving their firms held entry-level positions, meaning they have fewer than five years of industry experience. In an already male-dominated sector, improving gender diversity is a priority for many firms, but current initiatives may not have been effective enough to combat the pandemic’s toll on non-male employees. Across all career levels — senior, supervisory, and entry-level — over half of the women in the survey said they faced “increased pressure” as the main caregivers in their households, a dynamic they attributed to the pandemic. Among the most affected by the pandemic were executive and senior management respondents, 59 percent of whom believed the pandemic had adversely affected their career progression. As Gema Zamarro, a professor at the University of Arkansas, senior economist at the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, and mother of two kids, summed it up: “You’re doing three jobs: mom, teacher, and your own work.” 

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Contact Castle Hall to discuss due diligence
 
Castle Hall has a range of due diligence solutions to support asset owners and managers as our industry collectively faces unheralded challenges. This is not a time for "gotcha" due diligence - rather this is a time where investors and asset managers can and should work together to share best practices and protect assets. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of how Covid-19 may impact your business.

Our briefing for Thursday May 6, 2021:

  • In the United States, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the intention to offer the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to any tourist that visits in a bid to boost tourism upon reopening. Mayor de Blasio said the city needs state approval to vaccinate non-New Yorkers, but plan to begin the process as soon as if/when they are granted that approval. The plan would be to install mobile COVID-19 vaccination units in various tourist attractions across the city such as Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Highline.

  • In Canada, health experts in Ontario believe the province won’t be able to break out of its stay-at-home order on May 20th as the case count is still too high. On Thursday, Ontario reported 3,424 new cases, although the number of patients in hospital and intensive care on ventilators dropped for the first time in weeks. Health experts say lessons need to be learned from previous lockdowns and dates shouldn’t be used for when specific orders should end, instead case count rates. For instance, one health expert said new COVID-19 cases need to drop significantly to below a rate of 20 per 100,000 per week. As of May 1st, Ontario’s rate was 166.6.

  • The Bank of England is looking extremely optimistic on the outlook of the United Kingdom economy – expecting the biggest surge in household spending since 1988. Central bank officials, led by Governor Andrew Bailey, said they expect consumers to use up 10% of the savings they incurred while in lockdown, double the pace of what was previously forecasted. The central bank also sees the UK’s economic output recouping their losses by year’s end, instead of sometime early in 2022. The success of the UK’s vaccination campaign has driven down case numbers and death rates to allow the government to stay on track with full reopening of the economy thus far, with the last stage set to take place in June.

  • In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed back against the United States and the Biden’s Administration’s proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines. A German government spokeswoman said Thursday via email that America’s plan would create “severe complications” for the productions of vaccines. “The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not patents, “said the German government spokeswoman. The United States, Germany and other countries will take up the debate via the World Trade Organization but given Germany’s stance it is looking unlikely the American proposal will be pushed through as all 164 WTO members must agree on the decision to waive patent protections.

  • The Associated Press is reporting the sales of Dubai’s upscale properties soared 230% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year. A record-breaking 90 properties, worth at least 2.7 million USD each, changed hands in April, beating the 84 sales the month before. Only 54 such transactions occurred in 2020. “Tons of people are coming in and buying multimillion dollar properties on the spot, with no due diligence time whatsoever,” said Matthew Cooke, a partner at consultancy Knight Frank. Outside of a tourist influx surge in cases in January, the United Arab Emirates and Dubai have fared out relatively well with its young population and low mortality rates and has positioned itself as the world’s pandemic-friendly vacation spot.

  • Australia has reinstated COVID-19 restrictions in the Sydney area after a mysterious new case appeared. As mentioned in Castle Hall’s Wednesday COVID-19 briefing, a man in his 50s became the first reported local transmission case in New South Wales in more than a month. Further testing has determined the man was infected with the variant first discovered in India and genomic sequencing had linked the case to a returned traveller from the United States, but with no clear transmission path between the two people. The case has baffled local health officials. As a result of the new case, New Zealand has halted quarantine-free travel to and from New South Wales while authorities investigate further. The New Zealand-Australia travel bubble had opened less than a month ago.

Covid-19 – Due Diligence And Asset Management

Vendors Get Tough With U.S. Retailers After Big Losses

Brief : As U.S. retailers celebrate a boom lifting one of the pandemic’s hardest-hit sectors, scars left by a year of bankruptcies and delayed vendor payments could threaten to undermine their recovery -- just as the crucial back-to-school shopping season begins. After watching their receivables mount last year, vendors of apparel and other goods demanded change. In order to ship, many began requiring payment upon delivery of the goods or even in advance, according to people with knowledge of the demands, which were made of distressed and healthy clients alike. For merchants, that’s a big cash drain at a time of great uncertainty. The shift comes after retailers spent much of last year delaying payments to preserve cash. Such maneuvers have long been used by struggling chains, but amid the pandemic, even more stable merchants like Macy’s Inc. and Gap Inc. followed suit. An analysis of company financial data showed such buyers took at least two weeks longer to pay their suppliers than the same period the prior year. Vendors are “shell-shocked” after a string of Covid-era bankruptcies left them with large losses, and more concerned about guaranteeing they’ll be paid, said Perry Mandarino, head of restructuring and investment banking at B. Riley. “Late payments are not being tolerated,” Mandarino said.

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Covid, Cyber, Compliance and ESG Top Risk Concerns for Financial Services Sector, says New Allianz Report

Brief: Financial institutions and their directors have to navigate a rapidly changing world, marked by new and emerging risks driven by cyber exposures based on the sector’s reliance on technology, a growing burden of compliance, and the turbulence of Covid-19, according to a new report Financial Services Risk Trends: An Insurer’s Perspective from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS). At the same time, the behaviour and culture of financial institutions is under growing scrutiny from a wide range of stakeholders in areas such as sustainability, employment practices, diversity and inclusion and executive pay. “The financial services sector faces a period of heightened risks. Covid-19 has caused one of the largest ever shocks to the global economy, triggering unprecedented economic and fiscal stimulus and record levels of government debt,” says Paul Schiavone, Global Industry Solutions Director Financial Services at AGCS. “Despite an improved economic outlook, considerable uncertainty remains. The threat of economic and market volatility still lies ahead while the sector is also increasingly needing to focus on so-called ‘non-financial’ risks such as cyber resilience, management of third parties and supply chains, as well as the impact of climate change and other Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) trends.”

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‘Significant Pushback’ Expected as Biden Backs Suspending Patents on Covid Vaccines

Brief: Many are predicting a bright future for biotech firms involved in the production of Covid-19 vaccines as they are rolled out across the globe, but US President Joe Biden’s proposal that vaccine producers should temporarily waive patent protection has dampened this rosy outlook and is likely to result in significant pushback from firms in the sector. On Wednesday (5 May), Biden announced his support for waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, bowing to increasingly pressure from within his own administration and other nations to help the rollout of the vaccine in less developed countries, such as India and South Africa. The news sent some pharmaceutical stocks plummeting. Moderna's stock was down 6.2% to $163 following the announcement while the Novavax share price fell 5% to $172, though Pfizer's stock price dropped only slightly. Healthcare shares in China were also affected by the news, with the CSI Health Care index falling nearly 4% to 15,727 points. Industry experts speculate that the decision was prompted in no small measure by Pfizer's Q1 earnings update, announced the same day, where it revealed it had recorded vaccine sales of $3.5bn in the first quarter of the year and expects full year sales of $26bn. As Jim Wood-Smith, CIO private clients & head of research at Hawksmoor Investment Management puts it, this situation raises "profound moral and financial problems".

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Sculptor Hedge Fund Rebounds With First Inflows Since 2014

Brief: Sculptor Capital Management’s flagship hedge fund is finally beginning to turn around. The firm’s multistrategy vehicle scored its first quarter of net inflows since 2014, marking the end of years of client withdrawals that totaled about $30 billion. The fund and its associated portfolios attracted a net $78 million of fresh cash, bringing total assets in those products to $10.9 billion as of March 31, the firm said in a statement Wednesday. The results, achieved in the last months of Chief Executive Officer Robert Shafir’s tenure, are a vindication of his promise and efforts to reverse the asset bleed. Last month, Chief Investment Officer Jimmy Levin succeeded him. Addressing the hedge fund inflows on Sculptor’s earnings call Thursday, Levin said that the new cash came from a broad range of investors. “It’s from all types of allocators all around the world: consultant-advised, non-consultant advised, institutional, non-institutional,” he said. “It’s been a bit of everything, which is why we described it as feeling healthy.”

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SEC Chair Gary Gensler Hones in on Trading Behemoth Citadel

Brief: Citadel Securities’ outsize role in the capital markers has gotten the attention of regulators. Gary Gensler, the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, honed in on Citadel in prepared remarks to be delivered to a Thursday hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, which is looking into the GameStop trading fracas in January. The GameStop debacle resulted in sharp price hikes in so-called meme stocks, leading to restrictions on trading by broker dealers and resulting in losses among hedge funds and retail investors alike. In the process, the trading frenzy also raised questions about market structure and those who benefit from it. Citadel Securities, a market maker, emerged as a key player in January’s market events because of its acknowledged role in buying order flow from Robinhood, a retail trading app, whose customers sent GameStop shares temporarily soaring from $20 to $480.   Payment for order flow is a controversial practice and has been banned in Canada and the U.K. In the U.S., Robinhood has already settled one SEC enforcement action on the practice.

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Contact Castle Hall to discuss due diligence
 
Castle Hall has a range of due diligence solutions to support asset owners and managers as our industry collectively faces unheralded challenges. This is not a time for "gotcha" due diligence - rather this is a time where investors and asset managers can and should work together to share best practices and protect assets. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of how Covid-19 may impact your business.

Our briefing for Wednesday May 5, 2021:

  • The United States and President Biden’s administration have backed waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines as developing countries are struggling vaccinating their citizens. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement. The wavier, proposed by Africa and India, via the World Trade Organization (WTO), could remove obstacles for ramping up COVID-19 vaccine production in developing countries. WTO decisions are based on consensus, so all 164 members must agree to temporarily ease the rules protecting intellectual properties.
  • In Canada, the regulatory health body has given the green light to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination for those over the age of 12 on Wednesday. After reviewing data submitted by Pfizer last month, Health Canada have determined the inoculation was safe to use on 12-to-15 year-olds after the previous recommendation was 16 years of age. Pfizer is the only vaccine in Canada to be authorized on people this young. As of right now, Health Canada has only recommended the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines for those over the age of 18. Shortly after the Health Canada announcement, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was the first to make a move, saying the province will accelerate their vaccine rollout stating all Albertans aged 12 and above can be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday. As noted earlier in the week in Castle Hall’s COVID-19 diligence briefing, Alberta has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country, along with the United States.
  • In the United Kingdom, the entire Indian delegation at the G7 Summit being held in London have to self-isolate after two cases of COVID-19 were detected. India, although not part of the G7, were invited as guests. India was on the UK’s “red list” meaning travel from there is banned, but some jobs are exempt including representatives of a foreign country, which was the case here. India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had met with Home Secretary Priti Patel in person on Tuesday but has now pulled out of all face-to-face meetings. Elsewhere in the UK, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi announced the government has provided an extra £29.3 million in funding to help fast-track new vaccines that will help the country’s fight against new coronavirus variants.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that India accounted for nearly half of the worldwide COVID-19 cases in the past week. In their weekly report, the WHO said India accounted for 46% of the global coronavirus case count and 25% of global deaths. Unfortunately, the death toll is only going to get worse for the country of over 1.3 billion people with some research models forecasting more than double the current levels. A model from the University of Washington suggests India could have over one million deaths due to COVID-19 by the end of July.
  • The Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble is again up in the air. Bloomberg is reporting Singapore’s government is assessing any potential changes to the planned travel bubble, set to start on May 26th after a flareup of COVID-19 infections triggered fresh restrictions in the city-state. Singapore announced on Tuesday a three-week crackdown, which will see social gatherings limited to no more than five people and tightening of borders. The air travel corridor between two of South Asia’s economic hubs has been delayed several times since late 2020 due to infection outbreaks in both regions.
  • Australia’s largest state is scrambling and on alert after a man tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The state of New South Wales (NSW), home to the city of Sydney, said the man in his 50s had not recently returned from overseas, didn’t work in quarantine and had no contacts with the hospital system. On Wednesday evening, NSW Health revealed fragments of the coronavirus had been detected in an inner west sewer network, prompting a call for tens of thousands of Australians to monitor for symptoms. Australia is well known since their large outbreak in Melbourne last summer to implement strict circuit-breaker style lockdowns with only single digit cases in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 – Due Diligence And Asset Management

Economic Uncertainties Top of Fund Managers’ Concerns, Finds Funds Europe Survey

Brief : Uncertainty about the speed and sustainability of the economic recovery are at the forefront of industry concerns, Funds Europe research shows. The finding comes at a time when firms are designing strategies for growth and innovation after the Covid-19 pandemic. The research, conducted in association with Caceis, ranges cross many themes in asset management.  We found that decision makers also feel challenged by the continuing pressure of adapting to regulations, for example rules to do with ESG.  Technology is also a pain point, with managers feeling a need to redesign technology ‘stacks’ and communication interfaces because they want to fulfil the digital needs of the funds industry for current and future generations. The survey had a total of 172 responses from investment fund professionals and was conducted online during February 2021. The report confirms that ESG and climate change is moving to the forefront of the regulatory and policy agenda in Europe. As a component of the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) requires fund managers, financial advisers, and some other categories of regulated firms with activities in the EU, to disclose information on ESG implications of their investment strategies to investors.

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FCA Data Breach Reports Down 30 Per Cent Despite UK Cyber Incidents Increasing by 56 Per Cent

Brief: Kroll, a provider of services and digital products related to governance, risk and transparency, has revealed the number of data breaches reported to the FCA fell by 30 per cent between 2019-2020. This is a direct contradiction to Kroll’s own data which, looking at all industries, showed a 56 per cent average rise in incidents over the same timeframe, with the financial services industry being slightly above that average.  Freedom of Information data obtained by Kroll from the FCA shows that the number of reportable cyber incidents where company or personal data was potentially compromised or breached dropped 30 per cent to 76 in 2020, compared to 108 during the same time period in 2019.  In reality, the number of data breaches is expected to be far higher, with Kroll’s proprietary data showing that during the same period the overall number of incidents impacting UK organisations rose 56 per cent, leading to an increase in consumer notifications of more than 41 per cent when compared to 2019.   This disparity between official FCA statistics and the reality of the current cyber threat landscape means the increase in the sophistication and volume of attacks is in danger of going unaddressed, and is likely to be linked with changes to data breach reporting as a result of GDPR.

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Small Businesses COVID-19 Relief Program Runs out of Money

Brief: The program, which has run out of cash and refunded by Congress twice before, was scheduled to expire May 31. It’s not yet known if lawmakers will approve another round of funding. The SBA said in a statement it will still fund applications that have been approved. New applications made through Community Financial Institutions, which are financial lenders that serve underserved communities, would also be funded. More than half the loans and nearly a third of the loan money were distributed this year. The average loan size was $46,000, less than half the $101,000 average loan in 2020. That is a sign that smaller companies unable to get loans last year were now getting funding. Companies have been drawn to the loans because they promised forgiveness if the money is used for payroll and other essentials. But, while the PPP helped save many companies devastated by the pandemic, the Biden administration has estimated that more than 400,000 U.S. businesses have permanently closed due to the virus.

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Fed’s Evans Says Risk of Upward Inflation Spiral is Remote

Brief: U.S. inflation is unlikely to get out of control despite the unprecedented government spending that’s been authorized in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said. “I think the risk of this scenario is remote,” Evans said Wednesday in remarks prepared for a virtual speech. The Chicago Fed chief, who has long been one of the central bank’s biggest worriers about inflation being too low, was responding to critics of the Biden administration’s fiscal programs, which include not only Republicans but also some economists associated with the Democratic party. Most of Evans’s colleagues at the Fed, including Chair Jerome Powell, have pushed back forcefully against such criticisms in recent months. Instead, they’ve highlighted the importance of the fiscal support in speeding the labor market back to full employment. “With these developments, my outlook for growth and unemployment is much more positive today than it was just a few months ago,” Evans said, referring to the measures.

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After a Lackluster Year, Bridgewater Gains Some Ground

Brief: Bridgewater Associates’ main strategies posted strong gains in April, putting them solidly in the black for the year. The strong monthly performance also capped a double-digit gain for the 12 months following the sharp losses Bridgewater suffered at the beginning of the pandemic. Bridgewater’s flagship Pure Alpha macro strategy, sometimes referred to as PA 18 Percent, was up 5.34 percent in April and 4 percent year-to-date, according to a person familiar with the results as well as a private database. PA 12 Percent, which takes on less risk than the main Pure Alpha strategy, was up 3.5 percent for the month and 2.8 percent for the year. Pure Alpha has now posted a 14.23 percent gain over the past 12 months. All Weather, the firm’s beta strategy, was up 4.38 percent in April and 1.35 percent year-to-date. It was also up 18.81 percent over the past 12 months. Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund firm which is headed by Ray Dalio, generally points out that clients employ Pure Alpha as an overlay strategy, placing it on top of the benchmark of their choosing.  For example, in the 12 months through April 30, the S&P 500 was up 47.7 percent, while Pure Alpha was up an additional 14.23 percent.

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Worldwide Venture Investments Soared by 94 Per Cent in Q1 2021 to All-Time High of USD125bn

Brief: For the first time in history, global venture investments surpassed USD100 billion in Q1 2021. According to the research data analysed and published by Sijoitusrahastot, worldwide VC funding in Q1 2021 rose by 94 per cent YoY to USD125 billion. During the period, two unicorns on average were created daily, raising the quarterly total to 112. Based on a CNBC report citing Ernst & Young, VC funding in the US during the quarter hit USD64 billion. It was the highest quarterly figure on record, and it was equivalent to 43 per cent of total VC funding raised in 2020.  Late-stage funding dominated the global VC market accounting for 68 per cent of the total. The segment, together with technology growth, soared by 122 per cent to USD85.6 billion.  Some 79 per cent of the funds went into rounds worth at least USD100 million, up from 63 per cent in Q1 2021. Early-stage funding shot up by 63 per cent YoY to USD35.5 billion. Seed and angel investment held steady at USD4.1 billion while acquisitions rose by 44 per cent YoY to 631 deals worth USD57.1 billion.  In Europe, total funding rose by 130 per cent YoY from USD9.3 billion to a record USD21.4 billion. Late-stage and technology funding surged 202 per cent to USD14.3 billion. Early-stage funding rose by 62 per cent YoY to USD5.8 billion. There were a record 54 rounds worth at least USD100 million as well as two billion-dollar rounds by Klarna and Cazoo. 

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Contact Castle Hall to discuss due diligence
 
Castle Hall has a range of due diligence solutions to support asset owners and managers as our industry collectively faces unheralded challenges. This is not a time for "gotcha" due diligence - rather this is a time where investors and asset managers can and should work together to share best practices and protect assets. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of how Covid-19 may impact your business.

Our briefing for Tuesday May 4, 2021:

  • The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to authorize the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 to 15. The news was first reported by the New York Times on Monday, citing officials familiar with the FDA’s plans. Pfizer noted in March that the vaccine proved to be safe, effective, and produced robust antibody responses to those aged 12-15 in a clinical trial. The Pfizer vaccine has already been cleared in America for people aged 16 and above. Staying on the vaccine front, the White House administration has stated they need to add more flexibility to their current system and informed states on Tuesday they can no longer carry over unordered doses to their weekly COVID-19 vaccine allocations, and that unused doses will instead be shifted to states with greater demand.

  • In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his chief public health officer were kept busy during their Tuesday news briefing trying to defend/explain the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) latest recommendations. On Monday afternoon, NACI said vaccines such as the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were not the “preferred” products due to their efficacy and safety concerns compared to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. NACI also said people might want to wait for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, when faced with a choice. Prime Minister Trudeau tried to get the vaccine train back on the tracks by noting “make sure you get your shot, when it’s your turn. We are continuing to recommend to everyone get vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get through this.” The prime minister also noted he had no regrets taking the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine a number of weeks ago to protect his family and those that work around him. 

  • In the United Kingdom, a leading epidemiologist has stated recent data and rates of infection are “very encouraging” and though a third wave of infections is possible in late summer/early autumn, it is unlikely to overwhelm the healthcare system. Speaking on BBC radio, Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, and who advised the government during the beginning of the pandemic, said the concerns he and his team had about a late summer or early autumn COVID-19 wave were “diminishing”. Dr. Ferguson also noted it was essential the UK rolls out booster doses once they have finished vaccinating the entire adult population (expected to be finished late in the summer) to protect against variants of concern. 

  • In Germany, the government agreed on Tuesday to ease restrictions on people who are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Under the new rules, those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will no longer have to have a negative test to go shopping, get a haircut or visit tourist attractions. They will also be exempt from a night-time curfew and be able to meet in private without restrictions. The decree must now be approved in the lower and upper houses of parliament and could be in effect as early as this weekend. The proposed law is risky with people believing giving special freedoms to some will lead to social tensions when not everyone has received the opportunity to be vaccinated. As of Tuesday, only 8% of Germany’s population has received two doses of the vaccine with around 28% receiving their first. 

  • Hong Kong authorities have paused their plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for foreign domestic workers after human rights groups criticized the move as being discriminatory. After a domestic worker from the Philippines tested positive for a COVID-19 variant last week, Hong Kong authorities made the move that all 370,000+ foreign domestic workers in the city would have to be tested before May 9th and that all workers would need to get vaccinated before renewing their employee contracts. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the following on Tuesday: “I have asked the secretary for labour to review the whole policy, and to consult advisers and consulates for the countries where domestic workers primarily come from as to whether compulsory vaccinations can be done.” The government still plans to move forward with the mandatory testing by May 9th.

  • The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with China, Japan and South Korea vowed to strengthen regional and financial cooperation while providing continued support for countries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint statement after a virtual meeting on Monday of finance ministers and central bank governors, the ministers pledged to achieve inclusive recovery, preserve long-term fiscal sustainability and maintain financial stability. “We expect a rebound in 2021 as the recovery gathers momentum and vaccine rollouts allow a gradual opening up of our economies,” a statement read. ASEAN nations include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, among others.

Covid-19 – Due Diligence And Asset Management

Citadel Sees Most U.S. Staff Returning to the Office by June 1

Brief : Ken Griffin’s Citadel expects to have most of its U.S. employees back in its offices in New York, Chicago and Greenwich, Connecticut, by June 1, according to a person familiar with the matter. The $38 billion hedge fund, Citadel, and market-maker Citadel Securities anticipate that regular in-office operations in those locales will resume by that date, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Operations in Texas, meanwhile, will get back to normal in mid-May. Citadel’s expectation for workers’ return is earlier than some of its hedge fund peers, with many employees expressing an eagerness to get back to their desks. Bridgewater Associates and Two Sigma Investments plan to have employees back in offices in September while still allowing them to work remotely a few days a week. Major financial firms are stepping up efforts to bring workers back as Covid-19 vaccines become more broadly available and in-person schooling resumes. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plans to tell staff they should be prepared to work from offices by mid-June, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. told employees to expect a return in early July.

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Vanguard Moves to Hybrid Work Setup for Most of its Employees

Brief: Vanguard Group is adopting a hybrid work model for the majority of its staff, making it the latest company to rethink the primacy of offices in the aftermath of the pandemic. The world’s second-biggest asset manager plans to allow many employees to work remotely on Mondays and Fridays. With a staff of 17,300, Vanguard’s move represents a middle ground that other financial firms are seeking. “The pandemic has affected so many aspects of our lives, and how we work is one of them,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Vanguard will pursue a working model that will blend increased flexibility with the known benefits of in-person collaboration.” As Covid-19 vaccines become more readily available and cities reopen, U.S. companies are grappling with whether to bring employees back to offices full-time or embrace remote arrangements for the long haul. Vanguard, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, joins money managers Two Sigma Investments and Bridgewater Associates in planning to allow employees to continue to work remotely at least part-time.

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Hedge Funds Can Combat Inflation Surge as Economies Begin to Unlock says K2 Advisors

Brief: As global economies prepare to unlock, potentially driving up inflation and interest rates, hedge funds’ low sensitivity to rate moves can help bolster investors’ portfolio performance, says K2 Advisors, the hedge fund investing unit of Franklin Templeton. With economic growth tipped to trend higher, fuelling inflation, hedge fund strategies can deliver a diversifier to certain fixed income assets that may face a squeeze during inflationary or rising rate environments, said Brooks Ritchey, K2’s co-head of investment research and management. Hedge funds and other alternative investment strategies have traditionally been seen to thrive against equities and fixed income in low interest rate environments. But falling Covid cases and an accelerating vaccine roll-out across developed markets may now send consumer and industrial demand soaring, pushing global inflation trends and interest rates higher – carrying a knock-on effect for bonds and equities. As a result, hedge funds now look “particularly interesting” as a fixed income diversifier, Ritchey explained. “These strategies help to diversify one’s portfolio in a rising rate environment given the resultant increase in performance dispersion across regions, sectors and asset classes,” Ritchey wrote in a note on Tuesday.

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Biggest Economies Bet Vaccine Passports Can Save Tourism

Brief: The world’s most powerful economies agreed to back plans for so-called vaccine passports in a bid to pull the travel and tourism industry out of a pandemic-fueled slump. Tourism ministers from the Group of 20 threw their weight behind the new certificates, stressing that a resumption of normal activity for the sector is crucial to global economic recovery, according to Italian Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia. A virtual gathering on Tuesday, the first such meeting under the Italian presidency of the forum, backed efforts for safe mobility, coordinating with initiatives including the European Union’s Digital Green Certificate. That document will show the bearer has been fully vaccinated, has immunity via recovery, or recently tested negative. Garavaglia told a press conference in Rome that he had requested, and obtained from European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton, a commitment to accelerate introduction of the EU green certificate as much as possible. “Tourism will be the key to recovery once the pandemic is defeated,” Garavaglia said. Travel and tourism has been one of the industries hit hardest by restrictions on activity to contain the coronavirus.

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G7 Foreign Ministers Meet Face-to-Face After Pandemic Pause

Brief: Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy industrialized nations gathered Tuesday in London for their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years, to grapple with how to respond to the military coup in Myanmar and whether to challenge or coax a surging China. Host nation Britain was keen to show that the rich countries' club still has clout in a fast-changing world, and has warned that the increasingly aggressive stances of Russia, China and Iran pose a challenge to democratic societies and the international rule of law. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the meeting “demonstrates diplomacy is back.” The two days of talks involving top diplomats from the U.K., the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan also were to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia and the precarious situation in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops and their NATO allies are winding down a two-decade deployment. The U.K. Foreign Office said the group would also discuss “Russia’s ongoing malign activity,” including Moscow's earlier troop buildup on the border with Ukraine and the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

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Value of Private Equity Deals by HNWs Jumps Six-Fold, From GBP132m to GBP958m During the Pandemic

Brief: The value of UK buyout deals by high-net worth investors (HNWs) shot up by 626 per cent in 2020, rising from GBP132 million in 2019 to GBP958 million, says Boodle Hatfield, the leading private wealth law firm. The increasing number of buyout deals led or co-funded by HNWs goes against the overall decline in deal value across the wider private equity market over the same period. Whilst many trade buyers and to a lesser extent PE firms have stepped back from making acquisitions during the worst of the Covid crisis, HNW investors have used the crisis to buy distressed businesses at a substantial discount. Private equity deals by HNWs increased from 26 deals in 2019 to 27 deals in 2020. In contrast, last year there was a 26 per cent decline in combined deal value for UK private equity deals, according to research from a KPMG report. Overall UK private equity deal volume hit its lowest level since the 2008 economic crisis, falling from 1,200 deals in 2019 to 899 in 2020.  Boodle Hatfield explains that HNWs have been increasingly interested in leading PE transactions themselves as a way to get access to the asset class without having to pay the management and performance fees that investing through a private equity fund would involve.

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Contact Castle Hall to discuss due diligence
 
Castle Hall has a range of due diligence solutions to support asset owners and managers as our industry collectively faces unheralded challenges. This is not a time for "gotcha" due diligence - rather this is a time where investors and asset managers can and should work together to share best practices and protect assets. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of how Covid-19 may impact your business.

Our briefing for Monday May 3, 2021:

  • In the United States, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Monday, suspending all outstanding local COVID-19 emergency orders and related public health restrictions. While noting Florida wasn’t done with its fight against coronavirus, the Republican governor said they were no longer in a state of emergency and signing the order was the evidence-based thing to do. The country’s third largest state in terms of population, has the third most COVID-19 cases in the United States with 2.2 million since the pandemic began and the fourth highest death toll at more than 35,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • In Canada, the province of Alberta now has the unfortunate distinction of reporting the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country, along with the United States. CTV News is reporting Alberta has seen an average of 423.8 cases per million people in the last seven days and set a record for their province over the weekend with 2,433 new infections. Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association’s pandemic committee, says the government’s mixed messaging is to blame, “I believe we’re here because our government hasn’t taken the necessary steps in the messaging (and) what we’ve received is mixed. One day the premier is suggesting that lockdowns don’t work and the next day, suggests that we’re going to have bring in new targeted public health restrictions,” said Dr. Gibney.
  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave his clearest signal on Monday that international travel will resume as of May 17th. During a campaign visit, the prime minister said the following: “We do want to do some opening on May 17, but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.” The government is set to announce later in the week a small set of countries that will make the “green list” for travel, which means travellers returning to the country won’t need to quarantine upon arrival, but still required to take a PCR test. The list, once announced, will be reviewed every three weeks.
  • India reported more than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases for the 12th straight day with medical experts saying the actual numbers across the country of 1.35 billion people may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally. According to a mathematical model from a team of scientists advising the government, India’s coronavirus cases are expected to peak between Monday and Wednesday, a few days earlier than a previous estimate as the virus spread faster than expected. Medical experts have pleaded with the government to announce a national lockdown, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been reluctant to do so, concerned about the economic impact.
  • Bloomberg is reporting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) non-oil economy shrank 6.2% in 2020, the first such contraction since 2011. The overall GDP in the Middle East’s second largest economy contracted 6.1%, slightly more than the initial projections of a 6% downturn. “The UAE economy performed better than expected in 2020 despite the current global challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the country’s economy minister. The Ministry of the Economy and other government entities are looking to double the UAE’s economy over the next decade to 3 trillion dirhams ($816.8 billion USD).
  • In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is defending its decision to ban Australian citizens returning from India and threatening to punish those that do with fines of roughly $50,000 and five years of imprisonment. Prime Minister Morrison appeared on Australian radio on Monday and said the move was made to protect the health interests of Australians and implemented the ban on advice from his health officials. The Australian Human Rights Commission spoke out against the government decision saying the “extraordinary” ban and threat of criminal sanctions raised serious concerns. Others also said the move was motivated by racism; a claim Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne quickly rebuked. The travel ban is set to last until at least May 15th.

Covid-19 – Due Diligence And Asset Management

The Pandemic Hit Public Pensions Hard – But Now They’re Better Funded Than They’ve Been in Years

Brief : The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t hit all U.S. public pensions funds equally. Funds that were in the best financial health at the start of the pandemic took the hardest hit to their funded statuses over the course of the past year — but they’ve also benefitted most from the speedy recovery over the past 12 months, according to Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s public pension fund report for the first quarter of 2021.  The report, which is based on a performance sample of 99 public plans representing approximately $3 trillion of assets under management, found that a majority of the pensions experienced funded status declines of 10.1 to 12.5 percent in March 2020. Retirement plans which were well funded to begin with — at over 90 percent funded — experienced the largest decline in funded statuses from December 2019 to March 2020. Meanwhile, pensions that started off the pandemic with funding ratios below 70 percent experienced a single-digit median decline in funded status. GSAM suggested that the trend in funded status declines was “likely influenced by varying allocations to fixed income.” Plans with the highest rates of decline in funded positions also allocated the lowest percentages of assets to fixed income.

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World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Won’t Demand Full Office Return

Brief: Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, will let its employees continue working from home a couple of days a week once the pandemic is over, Chief Executive Officer Nicolai Tangen said. Staff at the Oslo-based investor, which oversees $1.3 trillion in assets, will be allowed to spend “up to two days” a week working from home, Tangen told lawmakers in Norway’s parliament during a hearing on Monday. But there will also be “two set office days for everyone,” he said, so that “we can have the meetings we need to have in the office.” Tangen, a former London-based hedge-fund manager, is the latest prominent member of the financial industry to acknowledge that life won’t return to pre-pandemic norms even after the Covid crisis subsides. Barclays Plc CEO Jes Staley recently said he won’t force employees to return to the office, while Deutsche Bank AG is working on plans to let staff work from home up to three days a week. At Norway’s wealth fund, Tangen said he was considering requiring staff to be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He also said no one would ever be forced to work from home, but said he thinks granting employees the option on a voluntary basis “can be positive.”

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Corporate America Rides Wave of Inflation to Record Profits

Brief: Markets have been obsessed -- and sometimes roiled -- for months over whether higher inflation is coming. The latest batch of quarterly reports suggests it’s already here and helping corporate America. Faced with rising prices for everything from lumber to oil to labor and computer chips, chief executive officers have cut costs and boosted prices for their products. The strategy appears to be working, with first-quarter income from S&P 500 companies jumping five times as fast as sales, data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence show. As a result, their net margin -- which measures how much profit companies are squeezing from their revenue -- has risen to a record high, according to Bank of America Corp. Executives mentioned “inflation” more than any time since 2011 during earnings conference calls last month, according to Bank of America. Warren Buffett joined the chorus two days ago, saying price increases are more intense “than people would have anticipated six months ago.” The billionaire added that as his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. boosted prices, customers have accepted them.

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Restaurant Survival Hopes Pick Up as $28.6B in Grants Begin

Brief: Thousands of restaurants and bars decimated by the COVID-19 outbreak have a better chance at survival as the government begins handing out $28.6 billion in grants ¬— money to help these small businesses stay afloat while they wait for customers to return. Laurie Thomas is applying for grants for her two San Francisco restaurants that have closed and reopened several times as coronavirus cases surged and declined; she’s still at just 50% of capacity. Rose’s Cafe and Terzo are operating at a loss but grant money will help them stay open. “This allows you to go back to February 2020 and apply these funds to help pay down debt, catch up on past due rent, etc.,” she says.  The Small Business Administration is accepting applications for grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as of Monday. For the first three weeks only applications from restaurants that are majority-owned by women, veterans and “socially and economically disadvantaged” applicants will be processed and paid out, although any restaurant can apply. After that, grants will be funded in the order that they’ve been approved by the SBA.

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Airlines Push for U.S-U.K. Travel Deal by G-7 Meeting in June

Brief: A coalition of airline and travel groups urged the U.S. and the U.K. governments to lift travel restrictions between the two nations, citing the growth in vaccinations and other tools that limit the spread of Covid-19. Officials should announce reopening before the Group of Seven economic talks scheduled for June, the groups said Monday in joint letters to President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “We are confident that the right tools now exist to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel,” said the letter from 49 industry groups and unions on both sides of the Atlantic. “Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and U.K. is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from Covid-19.” Exports between the two countries and tourism represent have a significant impact on each nation’s economy, highlighting the importance of resuming more normal travel, the group said. Industry officials in the U.K. have been saying that travel could begin to reopen as soon as this month, but the White House has been mum on when that might happen or what steps are needed to trigger such a move.

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Despite Pandemic Fears, A Record-Breaking ‘Frenzy’ of M&A Activity is Underway

Brief: When a pandemic was declared last spring, Paul Aversano feared the worst.  Aversano leads the global transaction advisory group at Alvarez & Marsal, which works with dealmakers across the corporate world and private equity. As stock markets plunged, investors turned their attention away from new acquisitions and toward shoring up their existing portfolio companies. It seemed like the industry-wide pipeline of deals was in danger of drying up.  “I remember last year telling my CEOs, best estimate, I think our business will be down 50%, and I’d be thrilled if that was the case,” Aversano said.  Rarely has he been happier to be proven so wrong. Deal activity did tick down during the second quarter of last year. But sooner than anyone expected, the market began to recover. In the end, Aversano’s business actually increased in 2020. And in 2021, acquisition activity of every kind is soaring to unprecedented heights.

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Contact Castle Hall to discuss due diligence
 
Castle Hall has a range of due diligence solutions to support asset owners and managers as our industry collectively faces unheralded challenges. This is not a time for "gotcha" due diligence - rather this is a time where investors and asset managers can and should work together to share best practices and protect assets. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss any aspect of how Covid-19 may impact your business.

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