Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the U.S. stock market.
An Independent member of Ontario’s legislature has apologized for a post in which he used names and photos of people to suggest, without evidence, that they had died or suffered harm due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Randy Hillier, who represents Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, has frequently posted COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories throughout the pandemic.
In social media posts shared on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Oct. 19., Hillier used an array of photos from news articles about what he believed to be the sudden and unexplained deaths of young people and called on police to investigate links to vaccines.
Family members of some of those people told various media outlets, including CBC News, that they were angered by Hillier’s post and denied his allegations, while the legislature unanimously passed a motion last month condemning him.
Hillier shared an apology Friday night saying he has removed that post and offered sincere regrets for further distress his actions caused the grieving families.
“In my quest for truth, I exercised poor judgment in not first contacting these families for permission to repost publicly available information regarding their family members,” the statement read.
“To these families, I offer my most sincere regrets for the further distress my actions have caused them, and I sincerely apologize for the disruption to your lives that my actions have caused,” the statement concluded.
Last month, two Ontario NDP MPPs called on the integrity commissioner’s office to investigate the posts and determine whether a contravention has occurred under the Member’s Integrity Act or Ontario Parliamentary Convention provision.
Public Health Ontario says all deaths following vaccination that are reported to public health units are thoroughly investigated, and it has so far determined in one case that vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia was a cause of death in someone who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
There are seven other reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination that meet the provincial surveillance definition. In four, the adverse events were found to have possibly contributed to the death but were not the underlying cause, and in the remaining three the vaccine was not a cause of death.
Public Health Ontario says another 30 deaths following COVID-19 vaccination that have been reported to public health units are “persons under investigation.” They don’t meet the provincial surveillance definition, but investigations are underway.
“Preliminary information suggests that these events occurred in individuals with multiple co-morbidities which may be related to the cause of death,” a recent Public Health Ontario report said. “There has been no association with the vaccine identified at this time.”
Health officials say the approved vaccines are effective and safe.
The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former U.S. president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand. He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.
Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.
The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement. They did not respond to requests to name the investors.
Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt. The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday. Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.
Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE. Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.
Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence. The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.
“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.
The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.
Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20% discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.
If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40% with a floor of $10, the companies added. Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.
Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.
Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.
Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.
Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.
TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.
In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.
Donald Trump‘s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner say the partner has agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional investors.
The former president launched his new company, Trump Media & Technology Group, in October. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called “Truth Social” to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.
The institutional investors were not identified in a press release issued Saturday by Trump Media and Digital World. The money would come from “a diverse group” of investors after the two companies are combined, it said.
Digital World said in the release that the $1 billion is above the $293 million (minus expenses) that it may invest.
“I am confident that TMTG can effectively deploy this capital to accelerate and strengthen the execution of its business, including by continuing to attract top talent, hire top technology providers, and roll out significant advertising and business development campaigns,” Digital World CEO Patrick Orlando said in the release.
Trump is listed as chair of TMTG. He will get tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well, handing the former president possibly billions of dollars in paper wealth.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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