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Thanks To Softbank's $400 Million Investment, Athleisure Brand Vuori Is Now Worth $4 Billion – Forbes

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This morning, six-year old athleisure brand Vuori announced an investment by Softbank of $400 million at a valuation of $4 billion. In its most recent capital-raise prior to this transaction, Vuori was valued in 2019 at about $200 million when Norwest Venture Partners invested $45 million in the company. Obviously, the founders, shareholders and Norwest have a big win on their hands.

There is very little public information on the financials of Vuori. But if you ask any ten people if they’ve heard of the brand, the odds are you will not get all ten saying yes. Because it’s a consumer brand, that’s an important indicator of the scale of the business. Those same ten people will have heard of Lululemon and other consumer businesses you know in the same market. Because Vuori has the potential for future growth that those brands don’t have, like opening stores and expanding awareness, it has higher growth potential than established brands. And based on the multiples we see right now for Lululemon, VF Corp.

VFC
and others, you can make the multiples make sense on the deal. For management and ownership, it’s a transaction they have to do because it’s so economically compelling; it’s smart of them to do this deal.

But what about the investor, Softbank? Are they going to make money on this investment? In order for that to happen, Vuori has to become the undisputed leader in atheleisure and it has to make money commensurate with that larger scale. There’s real potential for them to do it but Softbank is paying a full price for that potential and taking a risk in a volatile industry that Vuori will win.

Other athleisure companies will point to this transaction to value their businesses. Although the businesses are comparable, it’s unlikely that another athleisure company will be able to replicate this kind of transaction in the foreseeable future.

Of the $400 million being invested, zero is going into the company and all of it is going to shareholders’ pockets. That’s important because shareholders who take out $400 million tend to change their focus from what it was before. But it can also be true that shareholders who have money in their pocket are eager to build even bigger and step on the gas without hesitation because they’re financially secure. Whether the team stays focused on growth or gets distracted will only be known after some time passes.

No matter what, it’s a singular transaction for the athleisure industry that is driven by the importance of casual apparel, even as more people return to work. No doubt Vuori, and other athleisure companies, are going to adapt their products to a work environment. A great deal of focus now is on clothes that can go from a hike to the office and out to dinner without changing, especially for men whose clothes are more similar from event to event. There is a real opportunity in the market right now to give men the clothes they will need now to go back to the office and the athleisure companies men have been wearing while they work at home have the inside track to provide those products if they can. Whether Vuori can fulfill the promise of a $4 billion valuation is not clear but certainly Softbank believes it’s real.

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Doug Ford promises ‘huge’ investment in Windsor, Ont., auto plant after shift cuts – Global News

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TECUMSEH, Ont. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province and federal governments will be making a “huge” investment in a Windsor, Ont., auto assembly plant to help ramp up production after the company announced a shift cut.

Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, announced last week that it will cut its Windsor Assembly Plant down to one shift next spring in a move that will mean about 1,800 lost jobs.

The company says the move comes as the automotive industry faces significant headwinds including the semiconductor shortage and the effects of COVID-19.

Read more:
Feds fund initiative to develop electric and energy-efficient vehicles with McMaster

The cut from two shifts comes after Stellantis cut the third shift at the minivan plant in 2020 at a loss of about 1,500 jobs.

Ford, speaking near Windsor on Monday, says he wants to see three shifts again at the plant, and he will be speaking with Stellantis leadership on Tuesday.

The premier was not able to offer details on the investment, but said between both levels of government it’s “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

Stellantis has reaffirmed its commitment in a 2020 collective agreement with the local Unifor union to spend upwards of $1.5 billion at the plant.

The Windsor plant produces the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager and Chrysler Grand Caravan.

Ford also spoke of his interest in having a battery facility in Windsor.

“We have all the natural resources, we have the lithium, we have the nickel, we have the cobalt, folks, everything is here,” he said.

“We don’t need to bring these batteries in from overseas. We have everything here. On top of that we have the best workforce anywhere in the world … Any people out there that are listening that want to expand in Ontario, especially the battery business, we’ll be at your front doorstep and we’ll be ready to make a deal with you.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Boris Johnson Says UK Doesn't Want to Turn Away Chinese Investment – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is not about to “pitchfork away” offers of Chinese investment despite the concerns of some of his own lawmakers. 

Decisions to bar Chinese companies from Britain’s fifth-generation communication networks and nuclear power, and condemnation of China’s human-rights record have soured relations with Beijing over the last few years, but Johnson maintains he is pro-China. 

“I am no Sinophobe — very far from it,” Johnson said in an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait on Monday. “I’m not going to tell you that the U.K. government is going to pitchfork away every overture from China.”

Read More: Johnson Hosts Business Leaders’ Dinner Amid U.K. Investment Push

Johnson was speaking ahead of an investment conference in London on Tuesday designed to boost investment into the U.K. and just a fortnight before he hosts the Cop-26 climate summit in Scotland. With Chinese President Xi Jinping likely to be absent from the summit, concerns are growing China may refuse to set new climate change goals and deprive Johnson of a clear win on tackling global warming.

U.K. imports from China amounted to 67.6 billion pounds ($92.8 billion) in the year through June, according to U.K. statistics, a rise of nearly 40% from the previous year. That makes China the U.K.’s third largest trading partner.

“China is a gigantic part of our economic life and will be for a long time — for our lifetimes,” Johnson said. “But that does not mean that we should be naive in the way that we look at our critical national infrastructure.”

The government has said that Chinese firms are welcome to invest in non-strategic parts of the economy but Johnson refused to spell out exactly where he would draw the line. “You’d have to look at what you’re defining as strategic,” he said. 

As part of the investment conference, Huaneng will invest in a 50-megawatt battery project. 

The U.K. has already introduced legislation making it harder for foreign investors to take significant stakes in critical national infrastructure. 

Read More: China Blasts ‘Despicable’ U.K. Move to Ban Envoy From Parliament

Last month, China’s ambassador to London, Zheng Zeguang, was prevented from participating in a meeting in the U.K. Parliament in a case that crystallized the conflicting attitudes among Tory MPs. 

Zheng had been asked to attend by Conservative member Richard Graham, who chairs a group of lawmakers seeking to foster good relations with China. But the invitation drew outrage from others who have been sanctioned by Beijing for speaking out over alleged human rights abuses and the invitation was canceled by Parliamentary Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. 

Beijing has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority and insists crackdowns in Hong Kong are to prevent insurrection. 

Johnson insisted that the relationship can prosper “in spite of all the difficult conversations about the Dalai Lama or Hong Kong or the Uyghurs.”

“Actually trade with China has continued to expand for a very long time and I think probably will continue to expand for the rest of our lives,” he said. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Morrisons investors set to rubber stamp $10 billion CD&R takeover

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Shareholders in supermarket group Morrisons are expected on Tuesday to approve a 7 billion pound ($9.6 billion) offer by U.S. private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), bringing the curtain down on Britain’s most fiercely contested takeover this year.

CD&R, which has former Tesco boss Terry Leahy as a senior adviser, won an auction for Morrisons on Oct. 2, bidding a penny a share more than a consortium led by Softbank owned Fortress Investment Group.

Investor approval for the deal will conclude a six-month battle to buy Morrisons, Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer and one of the country’s biggest food producers.

It will end Morrisons’ 54-year run as a publicly listed company and see the ultimate decisions on the group’s future shift from its Bradford, northern England, base to the New York home of CD&R.

Morrisons, which started out as an egg and butter merchant in 1899, trails market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda in annual revenue.

The battle for Morrisons has been the most high-profile amid a raft of bids for British companies this year, reflecting private equity’s appetite for cash-generating UK assets.

With the winning bid representing a hefty 61% premium on Morrisons’ share price before takeover interest publicly emerged in mid-June, analysts expect little or no dissent.

To go through CD&R’s offer needs the support of shareholders representing at least 75% in value of voting investors at the meeting, which is being held both physically and virtually.

CD&R has committed to retaining Morrisons’ Bradford headquarters and its existing management team, led by CEO David Potts.

It has also said it will execute the supermarket chain’s existing strategy, not sell its freehold store estate and maintain staff pay rates.

These commitments are not legally binding, however.

If, as expected, shareholders approve the offer, CD&R could complete its takeover by the end of the month, making Morrisons the second UK supermarket chain in a year to be acquired by private equity after a buyout of No. 3 player Asda, by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, completed in February.

($1 = 0.7284 pounds)

 

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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