Juul Labs Inc.’s founders used a US$12.8 billion investment from Altria Group Inc. to enrich themselves, a minority shareholder in the e-cigarette maker claimed in a lawsuit.
The board broke laws that govern its obligations to shareholders, according to the lawsuit, which singles out the company’s co-founders, Adam Bowen and James Monsees. The suit, filed in California state court last week, says each sold US$500 million in stock after the Altria deal while denying similar opportunities to minority shareholders.
“Bowen and Monsees are using their control of the company to cause the board to rubber-stamp their self-dealing conduct,” according to the plaintiff, Daniel Grove. The suit seeks to block Juul’s board from approving further transactions involving its members and to make the company hold annual meetings. It also seeks to represent others as a class of plaintiffs.
Juul’s board should have used the Altria money to invest in the company’s controls to avoid a US$19 billion loss of value as Juul was beset by lawsuits and regulatory actions, Grove claims.
After negotiating the investment by Altria, which was made in December 2018, Juul’s directors paid themselves a special dividend and bonus, taking liquidity out of the company that could have been used for general corporate purposes, Grove says. The board also put restrictions on stock sales by minority shareholders that didn’t apply to its own members, he says.
Juul said in a statement that the suit is “without merit and filled with factual inaccuracies.”
“We remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” it said.
The suit adds to a growing number of legal actions against Juul, of San Francisco. They include parents who say the company’s sleek devices addicted their teens and school districts that argue they’re bearing the financial burden of widespread addiction. Juul has already scaled back its business, pulling most of its flavored vaping products from the market and curbing much of its advertising and lobbying.
The complaint was reported last week by Law360.
In a suit of its own, filed against Grove just before his, Juul seeks to stop him from gaining access to its books and records, saying he signed a waiver of his rights to do so.
Grove’s lawyer, Francis Bottini, said his client is seeking information about payments to Juul board members related to the Altria deal and that under California law he didn’t sign away those rights. Bottini said Juul’s lawsuit against Grove is “without merit.”
The case is Grove v. Bowen, CGC20582059, Superior Court of California (San Francisco).
Funding unveiled for mining investment event – Whitehorse Star
The federal government is investing $500,000 in an Invest Canada North initiative at a large prospecting convention this spring.
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell made the announcement on behalf of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) in Vancouver over the weekend.
The two-day northern-focused event will take place within the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention in Toronto.
“This project demonstrates the clear strategic advantages of partnership and collaborations in the North among industry, governments, service sectors and Indigenous development corporations to promote investment in the territories,” Bagnell said.
“Increased investment in the North benefits all northerners.”
Invest Canada North will be hosted in partnership with the Yukon Mining Alliance, N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and the three territorial governments.
It will consist of “an exclusive networking reception” of food and entertainment inspired by northern culture and a forum that will inform attendees of the investment opportunities in the North.
There will also be the opportunity to interview exploration stakeholders: mineral and mining companies, government officials, Indigenous development corporations, and others.
The conference will kick off on March 1 with a premier networking reception. Attendees will be invited to try the Yukon’s Sourtoe Cocktail, and there will be an Inuit throat singing performance.
The single-day forum will take place on March 2. It will include a keynote presentation by Anmar Al-Joundi, the president of Agnico Eagle Mines.
The three territories will each host individual forums throughout the day.
Byron King, the editor of Agora Financial, and Andrijana Djokic, the CEO of the Na-Cho Nyak Dün Development Corp., will moderate the Yukon’s forum mid-morning.
There will be a fourth forum entitled “Environmental Social Governance” which will explore the future of mining in the changing environmental landscape.
In a press release issued this morning, Premier Sandy Silver expressed optimism for the conference’s potential for attracting mining investment Northward.
“Yukon is a great place to invest,” Silver said.
“This strategic initiative will raise the investment profile of Canada’s North on the global stage and advance our mineral industry.”
Anne Turner, the Yukon Mining Alliance’s executive director, said the conference will bring attention to the territory’s undiscovered resources.
“Invest Canada North will connect global investors with the significant untapped mineral potential, strong geopolitical stability and progressive Indigenous and community partnerships found in Canada’s North,” Turner said.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention will take place March 1-4.
Last year, the Toronto conference attracted 25,000 attendees from 132 countries.
London Community Foundation tackling lack of housing with $20-million investment – Global News
The London Community Foundation (LCF) is committing up to $20 million to addressing London’s affordable housing crisis.
The funds will be used to create a dedicated affordable housing fund of $17 million to $20 million to support the creation of more affordable housing options in the city.
“Adequate, safe and affordable housing should not be out of reach,” said LCF president and CEO Martha Powell.
“The shortage of affordable housing in our community is at a crisis point.”
London currently has a housing shortage of 3,000 units and more than 2,400 individuals and families accessing emergency shelters each year.
The fund is designed to offer flexible financing for community organizations interested in creating affordable housing.
According to the LCF, a major barrier to entering the affordable housing market is the high startup costs.
LCF is proposing low-interest, early-stage, flexible financing to help groups with initial startup costs like fund assessments, land acquisition, and planning and zoning expenses needed before the first phase of a project can be completed.
This idea builds upon the concept of LCF’s $10-million Social Impact Fund, which has helped to create 341 units of affordable housing.
In addition to the $20-million fund, the foundation announced the establishment of a Housing Action Committee, which will identify organizations that have an interest and capacity to help create affordable housing but who need more information and financial assistance to develop their plans.
“We hope to help those already providing housing solutions and those who may be able to help,” said committee chair John Nicholas.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Kate Middleton and Prince William host glamorous reception for UK-Africa Investment Summit
William a speech at the event in which he spoke about the important relationship between the UK and Africa.
“The African continent holds a very special place in my heart,” the Duke of Cambridge said in a speech after arriving in the Music Room for the event. “It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died.
“And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.
“Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to spend time in many other parts of Africa. I’m also honoured to be the Patron of the Royal African Society.
“And as Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children.”
Photo: © Yui Mok/AFP via Getty Images
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