US launches air strikes on Iran-backed militia targets


The US has launched air strikes on the facilities of two Iran-backed militia groups on the border between Syria and Iraq, the second such attack by the Biden administration in four months.

The strikes risk stoking tensions in the region just over a week after Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner, won Iran’s presidential election.

John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said operational and weapons storage facilities, which were being used to launch drone strikes against US troops and facilities, were targeted in Syria and Iraq. 

Kirby said the air strikes were “defensive” and a response to an “ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting US interests in Iraq”. He added that they were being used by several Iran-backed militias including Kata’ib Hizbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

“The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said.

President Joe Biden first ordered strikes against Iranian-backed militias on the Iraq-Syria border in February after a rocket attack in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil killed a civilian contractor and injured several others, including a member of the US military.

Iraq is home to myriad militant groups that are backed by Iran and which regularly launch rocket and drone attacks against Iraqi bases hosting US troops and American facilities in the country. 

The attacks have increased in frequency after the Trump administration assassinated Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior Iraqi militia leader, in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January 2020.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said the Biden administration was heading in the wrong direction and following the “failed” policies of its previous president. He added that the US was “disrupting security in the region”, warning that it would be “one of the victims of such disruptions”.

“We recommend that the new US government reform its path instead of [following] such emotional behaviours, creating crisis . . . problems and dilemmas for people in the region,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in his weekly press conference on Monday. 

The declared aim of many of the militant groups is to avenge the deaths of Soleimani and Muhandis — heroes to Shia militias. After Soleimani’s death, Iran vowed to drive US forces out of the region.

There are about 2,500 American troops based in Iraq, where US and Iran rivalries play out. 

The US strikes on Sunday followed the election of Raisi, a conservative cleric and judiciary chief, which gave regime hardliners control of all branches of the Islamic republic for the first time in almost a decade. Raisi takes up the presidency in August.

The attack comes at a sensitive time as the Biden administration and world powers seek to secure an agreement with Iran that will lead to the US rejoining the 2015 nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers.

The deal’s remaining signatories — the UK, Germany, France, China and Russia — have held several rounds of talks in Vienna to revive the agreement.

Hostilities between the US and Iran escalated after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed waves of sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Biden has said the US will rejoin the deal and lift many sanctions if Iran returns to full compliance with the agreement. Tehran insists the US must lift all sanctions.

But the Biden administration is also under pressure from US politicians, Israel and Washington’s Arab partners to take a tough line on Iran’s support for regional militias and its missile programme. Iran has vowed not to roll back its support for regional militias or curb expansive missile programmes even if it means the US does not lift sanctions.

Panasonic offloads Tesla stake for $3.6bn


Panasonic has sold its entire stake in longstanding battery partner Tesla for about ¥400bn ($3.6bn) as it seeks to raise cash to finance its biggest-ever overseas acquisition.

The Japanese conglomerate, which has a $5bn joint battery manufacturing venture with Tesla in Nevada, said the sale would not affect its partnership with the US electric vehicle maker.

But the move comes after Panasonic made it clear that it wanted to reduce its heavy reliance on Tesla and supply batteries to other carmakers as the industry shifts to electric vehicles to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Japanese group acquired 1.4m Tesla shares at $21.15 each in 2010 for about $30m. As of March last year, it held shares worth ¥80.9bn, but that stake was reduced to zero by the end of this past March, according to a filing on Friday. During those 12 months, Tesla’s stock rose more than six-fold. It closed at $679.82 on Thursday.

“The purpose is to review strategically-held shares following the corporate governance guidelines,” the company said in an emailed statement. “It does not affect the partnership with Tesla and we continue to maintain good relationships.”

Since the 2010 investment, Elon Musk has transformed Tesla from a cash-strapped, lossmaking start-up to the world’s most valuable carmaker worth $655bn — almost 23 times bigger than Panasonic’s market value, even after shares closed 4.9 per cent higher on Friday.

While Panasonic used to be Tesla’s sole battery supplier, the US group has begun developing its own batteries and adding to its purchasing partners with South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL to support growing sales of its vehicles. 

For Panasonic, its $2bn-plus investment in the joint battery manufacturing venture has finally started to pay off, as the Japanese group eked out its first annual profit from Tesla’s battery business for the fiscal year that ended in March. 

But the Japanese conglomerate has been expanding investment in other areas to strengthen its position in software. In April, it announced a $7.1bn deal to buy US supply chain specialist Blue Yonder.

In an interview in March, Panasonic chair Kazuhiro Tsuga told the Financial Times that the group’s partnership with Tesla was entering “a different phase”.

“At some point, we need to graduate from our one-legged approach of relying solely on Tesla,” Tsuga said. “We need to keep an eye on supplying manufacturers other than Tesla.”

Broaden your small business having a untrue ceiling making equipment

Wanting to know the way to modernize your job and organization? Never be concerned have you heard concerning the fake ceiling, no then just read this write-up to understand the fake ceiling device? Right now every house manager wants their creating or villa to look beautiful and fancy. The title itself implies that a false roof signifies a bogus ceiling within the original roof of your space, office, properties and many others. which was designed to modernize the style of that room and with some LED lights about the ceiling or some metallic models around the ceiling and many more. The fake roof adds attractiveness and elegance for your vacant ceiling and tends to make great perception on the guests. The false ceiling has several types like solid wood patterns, metal stopped roof with LED lights and much more.

The false ceiling creating machine is a terrific way to increase the profits in your organization and will help with its enlargement. This device works well for price-reducing for your company since this machine could be operate only by one labour all things are computer-centered that may be on-screen. Having this unit within your organization may help to make footprints in producing untrue ceiling and you could add more an added company of creating untrue ceiling for your business with lower work price and something-time expenditure. Considering from where to buy this machine, don’t be concerned you will get them through the suppliers of your device by discussing together and afterwards could get them with a affordable value.

Facebook stumbles in virtual reality advert push after first gaming partner quits


Facebook’s first partner for advertising in its virtual reality headset has pulled out of the initiative less than a week after it was announced after a backlash from the gaming community. 

The world’s largest social media platform said last Wednesday that it planned to start testing advertising in Oculus, its popular virtual reality gaming headset, with commercials running in the shooting game Blaston and “a couple other developers”.

But Blaston, a title from Resolution Games, ditched the plan on Monday, following a deluge of complaints from users. “After listening to player feedback, we realize that Blaston isn’t the best fit for this type of advertising test. Therefore, we no longer plan to implement the test,” it said on Twitter.

Dozens of users had posted one-star reviews of Blaston in protest against the proposed test with Facebook, arguing, for example, that paid-for games should not suddenly bombard users with ads, according to media reports.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the decision. In last week’s statement, it said headset wearers would have controls to hide particular ads or hide ads from a particular advertiser.

Blaston’s decision is embarrassing for Facebook as it tries to grow its virtual reality business by adding advertising dollars to its hardware revenues. Last month, the company said it had started testing advertisements in the Oculus mobile app. 

The company has invested heavily in both virtual reality, where headsets block out the real world, and augmented reality, where images are overlaid on to the real world — taking on Apple and Snap in a bid to build the next-generation computing platform. All three companies are racing to build augmented reality glasses.

At the VivaTech conference last week, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company now had 10,000 people working across both virtual and augmented reality. “We’re investing billions and billions and billions of dollars to build something that we think will contribute to a compelling future five to 10 years from now,” he said.

The idea of introducing advertising to virtual reality has long been rejected by some gamers. After selling Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for about $2bn, founder Palmer Luckey said that the company would be able to continue to operate with autonomy from its new parent company, adding: “We are not going to track you, flash ads at you, or do anything invasive.”

Later on Monday, Blaston said in a tweet that as an alternative to its test, Resolution Games was “looking to see if it is feasible to move this small, temporary test” to its free fish-catching game Bait.

Conservative cleric Raisi wins Iran presidential vote by a landslide


Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and judiciary chief, has won Iran’s presidential election, in a landslide victory that will give regime hardliners full control over all branches of the state for the first time in almost a decade.

Raisi, who many Iranians believe was the favoured candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, secured almost 18m votes after 90 per cent of ballots in Friday’s election were counted.

His closest rival, Mohsen Rezaei, a senior conservative general, garnered just 3.3m votes, while the sole reformist candidate, Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former central bank governor, took 2.4m.

The cleric’s victory means that hardliners, who won a sweeping majority in parliamentary elections last year and control the judiciary and the military, are now at their most powerful since 2013. Reformists, who favour greater engagement with the west, have been pushed to the margins.

The election was held at a critical time for the Islamic republic and the region. The Biden administration is seeking to ease tension in the Middle East, which was inflamed by Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the US from the nuclear accord with Iran and impose sanctions on the nation.

Raisi has said his government would continue negotiations with the deal’s remaining signatories — the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.

But hardliners will want to negotiate on their own terms as the second and final term of President Hassan Rouhani’s centrist government ends in August. The election of Raisi, who has headed the judiciary for the past two years and was the subject of sanctions by the Trump administration in 2019, as it targeted dozens of senior regime officials, risks complicating those talks.

Raisi’s victory means that Iran will be even more unlikely to rein in its support for militant groups across the region or curb its expansive missile programme.

President Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the nuclear agreement if Tehran falls back into full compliance with the deal. But his administration is under pressure from US politicians, Israel and Washington’s Arab partners to take a tough line on Iran’s support for militias and its missile programme.

Raisi has said domestic policies would be his priority. He faces the daunting task of reviving an economy crippled by sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, festering social pressures and a deep sense of disillusionment with the theocratic system among many Iranians.

The schisms in society were underscored by the turnout.

Iranian media reported that conservatives voted in large numbers. But Iranians who want reform registered their disillusionment with the theocratic system by staying at home, in what pro-democracy activists described as an act of civil disobedience.

A low turnout would undermine the popular legitimacy Iran’s leaders seek to claim from elections at a time when the gap between the regime’s ideology and policies, and the aspirations of the youthful population is widening.

Conservative analysts said Raisi would probably be closer to Khamenei’s thinking than Rouhani, who wanted to use the nuclear deal to re-engage with the west before Trump imposed his “maximum pressure” campaign.

Unlike his predecessor, Raisi will not attempt to diminish the role of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, which dominate overseas military operations and control a sprawling economic empire at home.

“Raisi’s background in the judiciary tells us that he is obedient to the ones above him but very strict with those junior to him,” said a reformist politician.

“Two good years in the judiciary is similar to a rosy engagement period. From now on, it’s like after marriage that comes with all the realities and disappointments.”

Raisi has made few comments on foreign policy and has said his focus will be on boosting Iran’s industrial production and easing the economic pressures on Iranians.

Conservatives hope he will bring unity to the ruling system after Rouhani’s final term was blighted by bitter internal clashes. Trump’s hostility towards Iran emboldened hardliners who blamed the centrist government and its reformist backers for trusting the US.

But reformers worry that the hardliners’ victory will exacerbate the country’s problems and set back any lingering hopes of gradual reform.

“Reformists need to get prepared for a tough political era . . . and not to succumb to this result,” said Abbas Abdi, a reformist commentator.

Branding of business with Acrylic letters

The signage with acrylic letters is most cost-effective for branding your business and converting your logo designed with acrylic letters into the brand. THE acrylic letters can be designed in any fonts, numbers or styles to target your audience. These letters are a cost-effective and pocket-friendly way for startup Company who can’t afford bucks on branding and promotion. These acrylic letters are great for making the logo of their company.

These letters are the best way to branding and promotion of your product as they provide a visual effect to your customers and helps to think about investing in your business. This signage can be customized for your office, houses, kitchen walls, or bathroom walls and many more. This signage can add beauty to your home and office, hence making it the best place to live. There are many advantages of using acrylic letters signage, some of them are listed below:

  • This signage helps in the promotion of your brand and pocket friendly too, which means you don’t have to waste your money on costly branding and promotion.
  • This signage can be designed as per the choice of your colours and fonts, hence have multiple varieties to choose from.
  • This signage helps in creating a visual effect for your customers and hence help in the expansion of your business by building a customer base.

Then, why wait just grab these signboards for your business or home nameplate to expand your business and create wealth for your future.

Biden vows to tell Putin ‘what the red lines are’ at Geneva talks


US president Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva on Wednesday for talks aimed at arresting a rapid decline in relations between two countries beset by mutual distrust.

In their first face-to-face meeting as leaders, the presidents will grapple with accusations, complaints and charges against one another, including alleged Russian cyber attacks and election meddling, US sanctions against Moscow and the Kremlin’s misgivings over Nato military expansion in eastern Europe.

Other irritants in the relationship are torn-up arms control agreements, war in Ukraine and Moscow’s jailing of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, leaving few obvious areas of co-operation.

Biden has described Putin as a “worthy adversary” ahead of his meeting and said he was going to clarify to the Russian leader “what the red lines are”.

He said Russia was seeking to drive a wedge in transatlantic solidarity and that the US was experiencing an increase in malicious cyber activity.

“I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can co-operate, if he chooses,” Biden said on Monday. “And if he chooses not to co-operate and acts in a way that he has in the past, relative to cyber security and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.”

The summit is scheduled to begin at 1pm Geneva time and could last as long as five hours, including breaks and talks between the two delegations, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The presidents will meet in two formats: one a small group including the US secretary of state and Russia’s foreign minister and the other in a larger setting.

Biden travelled to Geneva after a week in Europe meeting G7, EU and Nato allies. The response to threats posed by Russia was continually raised in talks with western leaders. The US president said world leaders had thanked him for holding the summit, which some analysts have criticised as handing Putin a diplomatic victory.

Moscow has sought to play down expectations of any major breakthroughs at the talks. Analysts on both sides suggested that by simply taking place, the meeting could at the very least mark a post-cold war nadir in the bilateral relationship.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov described relations between Moscow and Washington as “dire.” “I think that both sides understand that it is time to start tackling this backlog that has piled up,” he told Russian news agencies.

The White House and the Kremlin have both said they will focus on arms control, cyber security and climate change. The US wants to discuss human rights, co-operation on Iran and Afghanistan and Washington’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, where Russia massed 100,000 troops earlier this year.

Kremlin officials said that the talks will also feature a potential exchange of citizens held in each others’ prisons.

Ambassadors posted to both countries left their posts earlier in the year after a chain of events prompted by Biden agreeing with an interviewer that Putin was a “killer”. Both ambassadors are expected to return to their seats in Moscow and Washington following the summit, according to three people familiar with the plans.

While he acceded to Russian requests over diplomatic choreography following the meeting — which might suggest a thaw in relations — Biden will conduct a solo press conference rather than make a joint appearance with Putin.

In 2018, Donald Trump gave a joint press conference with Putin in which the US leader appeared to side with his Russian counterpart over that of his own intelligence community.

The rebirth of Hertz: vaccines, meme stocks and Wall Street’s crazy year


At 2am on the morning of May 11, Thomas Lauria poured himself a glass of Jack Daniel’s even though he was still at work. A partner in the Miami office of law firm White & Case, Lauria had spent the previous 15 hours overseeing a tense auction between two rival private equity consortiums for Hertz, the bankrupt rental car group.

Dozens of financiers, lawyers and bankers had descended on the White & Case office overlooking Biscayne Bay — for many it was their first in-person business meeting in 14 months.

Fortified by what he later described as “the right mix of caffeine, sugar, carbs and whiskey”, Lauria eventually asked each bidding group to submit their “best-and-final” offers so a winner could be crowned and everyone could finally get some sleep. The bidding war that had built up over the previous two months pushed Hertz’s enterprise value to a figure approaching $7bn — a figure that was unthinkable a year before.

The remarkable turnround in Hertz’s fortunes mimics the dramatic rebound that large parts of the global economy are experiencing. When the rental car group filed for bankruptcy in May 2020, after business and leisure travel had ground to a halt, the company was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage being inflicted by the pandemic — and seemingly portended more corporate failures to come.

 Big Read chart showing share prices of leading car rental companies

Last June, Hertz somehow became the original “meme” stock — stricken companies which found frenzied support on social media among groups of retail investors whose confidence in their short-term futures was dismissed at the time as foolish by professional investors.

Yet by the spring of 2021, those terrifying early days of the pandemic were just a faded memory. Massive intervention, first by the Federal Reserve and then by the Treasury, stabilised the US economy. And then America’s furious pace of vaccinations buoyed hopes for the travel industry, allowing cruise companies and airliners to raise billions of cheap capital from flush institutional investors.

Thirty-two hours after the bidding first started, a group led by distressed debt fund Knighthead Capital prevailed in the auction. Knighthead’s group agreed a deal that gave Hertz an enterprise value of $6.9bn — including $1.1bn to a group of shareholders which, once dominated by day traders on the Robinhood app, now included a set of canny hedge funds.

Bankruptcy typically involves vultures fighting for scraps. Instead, the Hertz brawl revolved around a once broken company that was getting more valuable by the minute — the perfect metaphor for an upside-down year on Wall Street.

Thomas Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court
Thomas Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court © White & Case

Braking fast

In late March 2020, as the full impact of the pandemic became apparent, Hertz faced dual existential problems. First, as travel halted, the group’s revenues had collapsed. In April alone, turnover was down by 73 per cent. More critically, the company’s fleet of more than 500,000 cars was financed off-balance sheet through special purpose vehicles. Since cars served as collateral, it was a relatively cheap way to borrow.

These lenders, however, also had negotiated protections where, if used cars declined in value, Hertz itself was obliged to inject equity into these SPVs. In April, with used car prices plummeting, bondholders told the company it owed them more than $100m. Rather than pay, the company chose bankruptcy. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss.

Hertz’s hope was that through a court-supervised process there would be a way for the company to efficiently deal with all of its problems. Bondholders in its asset backed securities were, understandably, desperate to be repaid. And with the travel shutdown expected to continue indefinitely, there were even whispers that Hertz would be forced to simply liquidate its entire fleet.

Big Read chart showing Equity, debt, stock and enterprise values

That bankruptcy process centred on Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court. (His business card boasts the motto, “WALK IN. FUCK SHIT UP. WALK OUT”). The owner of a mansion on exclusive Fisher’s Island, Lauria had used his Miami base to become friendly with various Florida business luminaries, most notably Icahn.

White & Case had been working with Hertz for years and was the easy selection for the Florida-based company as it entered bankruptcy. This case, however, would require both more diplomacy and creativity than Lauria’s trademark bomb-throwing.

A chance for an outside-the-box gambit came within days of Hertz’s May 24 bankruptcy petition. The company, bizarrely, was becoming the hottest stock on Robinhood. Lauria and Hertz figured it was worth trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in cheap bankruptcy financing by selling stock. The bankruptcy court agreed at a Friday afternoon telephone hearing in June. But just as the company started gradually selling new stock — reaching $29m — the US securities regulator raised doubt and the company backed off. Instead Hertz was forced to take a $1.65bn loan with an interest rate approaching 10 per cent.

Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, in May 2020. After business and leisure travel ground to a halt, Hertz was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage inflicted by the pandemic
Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, in May 2020. After business and leisure travel ground to a halt, Hertz was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage inflicted by the pandemic © Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

‘Perfect scenario’

Those look like V-shaped projections, Andrew Glenn thought to himself. By early 2021, the world seemed like a brighter place and so did the recently-created Hertz financial forecasts examined by Glenn, a veteran bankruptcy lawyer who was at that point uninvolved in the case. The figures showed Hertz operating profit jumping by a factor of seven between 2021 and 2023. Armed with the data, Glenn and an ally, Pericles Capital, quietly began approaching funds who might also believe that existing Hertz shareholders, once left for dead, could now witness a decent recovery.

In early March, Lauria had just signed up a deal based on those projections with two investment firms, Knighthead Capital and Certares, that gave the company an enterprise value of $4.9bn. Even that figure seemed miraculous given the events of the previous year. In the latter half of 2020, Hertz had agreed with the ABS holders to sell 200,000 vehicles. The prospects for a Covid-19 vaccine then were promising but a recovery in travel remained uncertain.

An empty Hertz Rent-A-Car rental office at San Francisco International Airport in April  2020
An empty Hertz Rent-A-Car rental office at San Francisco International Airport in April 2020 © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Still, Knighthead and Certares, the latter a travel specialist with stakes in TripAdvisor and the American Express travel agency, were leading a deal that would inject $5bn into Hertz. The company’s junior bondholders would realise a recovery of either 70 cents on the dollar in cash or get the chance to buy into the equity of new Hertz. However, Hertz shareholders, according to the terms, were to get nothing.

“This was the perfect scenario, I just needed a couple of good bounces,” says Eric Parkinson, a retail investor who likens himself to George Soros and Warren Buffett. Parkinson, based in Los Angeles, started speculating in Hertz shares around the time Knighthead/Certares terms were announced. “I love the intersection of fear, a lazy media narrative, and where nothing makes sense,” he says, referring to the mainstream view that anyone buying Hertz stock was a sucker.

Parkinson, like the hedge funds that lawyer Andrew Glenn was pitching, noticed that Hertz bonds had jumped well over the 70 cent offer on the table. The implication was that the company’s equity would soon start to be worth considerably more. Parkinson would accumulate 67,000 shares at an average price of below $1. And another private equity group was about to jump into the fray.

Big Read chart showing the Centerbridge vs Knighthead bids compared

Let battle begin

The near $5bn that Knighthead had agreed to pay for Hertz seemed cheap to many. As such, another set of heavy hitters was ready to put up a fight. Tom Dundon knew a thing or two about automobiles. Dundon had become a Texas billionaire making subprime auto loans to Americans, eventually selling his business to Santander. Now he had teamed up with two elite private equity firms, Centerbridge and Warburg Pincus, to put in their own bid for Hertz predicated on a partnership with Carvana, an online used car marketplace whose public market capitalisation had surged to $47bn. By mid-April, Hertz had changed its mind and approved a $5.5bn bid from the Centerbridge/Warburg/Dundon consortium.

Through the course of April, the Knighthead and Centerbridge groups fought to win control of Hertz. Lauria, at the same time, wanted the company out of bankruptcy by July. To avoid an endless tit-for-tat, the court agreed to an auction for Monday, May 10 that Lauria had proposed.

The result was a late spring pilgrimage of Hertz bidders to Florida. “Why are we doing this in Miami?” one lawyer emailed to the group, incredulous that 95 per cent of the case participants lived in New York. Still, less than an hour after gathering at the White & Case office, virtually everyone had shed their masks, betting that their colleagues had already received a vaccine.

The duelling private equity groups had by now gathered critical allies. The Centerbridge team had secured the support of virtually all Hertz junior bondholders, which included the likes of Fidelity, JPMorgan and DE Shaw. These bondholders, holding $3bn of paper, were willing to take their recovery in new Hertz shares and were also purchasing more equity to fund the restructuring. These creditors had early in the process offered to buy Hertz at a $3.5bn enterprise value but now were hoping to tag along with the Centerbridge bid at a number near twice that figure.

Joining the rival Knighthead group was Andrew Glenn’s committee of hedge funds, which had bought up shares and were committing hundreds of millions in new capital. The group had also secured the heavyweight, Apollo Global Management, which was contributing $1.5bn of preferred stock. In the days leading up to the Miami showdown, the Knighthead team had seized the upper hand, offering roughly $300m to existing shareholders or $2 a share.

When the group gathered mid-morning on May 11, one banker described the vibe as “exhilarating” — a bidding war occurring live after a year of Zoom fatigue, even if the scene mostly involved long periods of sitting around with occasional moments of frenzy. Each side’s bids were complex, involving packages of cash as well as ownership in the new Hertz in the form of other complex instruments. Hertz’s bankers at Moelis & Co had to run the numbers through their spreadsheets before all sides would gather to hear the announcement that a bid had been deemed superior.

Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss
Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss © Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

By midnight, only a couple of rounds of bidding had finished. The Knighthead group was able to quickly counterbid. However, the Centerbridge group proved messier, requiring the unwieldy bondholder group’s consent before sending in a bid. Jim Millstein, the restructuring banker representing Knighthead, sent a flurry of heated text messages to William Derrough of Moelis about the perceived leniency extended to Centerbridge. At one point late at night, Lauria had an agitated argument with a Certares executive.

“Lauria thrives in the chaos,” explains one bankruptcy adviser who was in the room, adding: “As long as he is controlling the chaos.”

Still, as Lauria sipped his scotch in the small hours he knew that however erratic the process had been — each bidding group was convinced that Hertz had been prejudiced against them over the previous months — he had essentially done the unthinkable in stoking up a hot auction. By midday on Tuesday, as the White & Case office reeked of Papa John’s pizza and Cuban sandwiches along with dozens of weary bidders who had not left the premises in 24 hours, Hertz told the two groups to submit their “best and final offers”.

Each side was approaching their limit, but no one wanted to lose by a penny either. Ultimately, the margin was not close. Centerbridge offered a package worth $5.39 cents a share or $841m in the form of cash, options and preferred equity. Knighthead submitted a final bid they said was worth $1.15bn or $7.36 a share.

While that included a cash payment of $239m, more than $700m was in options derived from the Black-Scholes equation. The Centerbridge group was furious, believing Knighthead had goosed that figure by using financial inputs in their bid that defied economic reality. Still, members of the Centerbridge group admitted that its marriage with the bondholders had limited their own agility.

Overall, Hertz accepted a deal had raised $7bn in new capital, its overall enterprise value had doubled to $6.9bn in three months and all its creditors would be paid 100 cents on the dollar and in cash. Eric Parkinson, the retail investor who had loaded up shares as the bidding war began, was sitting on winnings of $400,000.

Rental cars are stored in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in LA, California, in May 2020
Rental cars are stored in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in LA, California, in May 2020 © Bing Guan/Bloomberg

Late that Tuesday, some of the bidders headed back to New York having never checked into their hotel — one banker described the ordeal as “inhumane”. Members of the Knighthead group retreated to a celebratory dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, Il Gabbiano.

On Thursday, the court approved the restructuring which is set to take effect in a few weeks. Hertz shares now trade at $7, implying a market capitalisation of more than $1bn.

“These guys paid a pretty penny,” says one person involved in the Centerbridge bid. Analysts at research firm CreditSights argue that the winning bid requires “everything to go right and lot of conviction on the forward variables”, citing not just the recovery in travel but both high rental car rates and used car prices.

Jim Millstein, the banker for Knighthead who remains irritated by the auction shenanigans, still tipped his cap to the man who had orchestrated the process, “Lauria, as much as it pains me to say it, was maybe both smart and lucky.”

Lauria, for his part, acknowledged both the challenge and the satisfaction of the Hertz case. “I got to use every braincell I have and every skill I’ve used over 35 years,” says the 60 year-old. “Hertz called it all into play.”

Biden-Johnson talks undermined by ‘deep concerns’ over Northern Ireland


Joe Biden will meet Boris Johnson in person for the first time on Thursday, with hopes over a new US-UK ‘Atlantic Charter’ undermined by “deep” concerns in Washington over the post-Brexit situation in Northern Ireland.

Biden’s anxiety was conveyed directly to London earlier this month by America’s most senior diplomat in Britain, who warned the UK to stop inflaming tensions in Northern Ireland over new Brexit trading rules.

Yael Lempert is reported to have issued a démarche, a formal diplomatic reprimand, urging Britain to make “unpopular compromises” if necessary to ease tensions over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol.

Downing Street did not comment but the incident confirms that the NI row is souring the lead-up to the G7 summit, which starts on Friday in Cornwall, and damaging relations with Britain’s main economic partners and allies.

The EU is threatening trade sanctions if Johnson unilaterally breaks promises he made relating to Northern Ireland, and the G7 summit host will face awkward encounters in the coming days with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the EU itself.

According to a UK government note seen by the Times, Lempert told Lord David Frost, Brexit minister, on June 3 that the UK was “inflaming” tensions in Ireland and Europe with its rhetoric over certain checks at ports in NI.

The memo said that the US “strongly urged” Britain to come to a “negotiated settlement”, even if that meant “unpopular compromises”. The UK note of the meeting said Lempert urged Britain to keep things “cool”, suggesting Britain had been “inflaming the rhetoric”.

It added: “Lempert said the US was increasingly concerned about the stalemate on implementing the protocol. This was undermining the trust of our two main allies.”

The revelation of the meeting confirmed the anxiety felt by Biden over the UK/EU stalemate over the border issue in Northern Ireland. Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said the president had “deep” concerns over the future of the peace process in the region.

A senior administration official told the Financial Times the US had raised its concerns over Northern Ireland with the UK in a private message ahead of their summit. But the official said the discussion was not directed by the president and “was not heightened”.

Frost and Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice-president, failed on Wednesday to resolve the row over the operation of the protocol, which in effect introduces a trade border in the Irish Sea. “There weren’t any breakthroughs, there weren’t any breakdowns either,” Frost said.

Johnson claims that the EU’s demands for checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are too onerous and are disrupting trade, inflaming tensions in the pro-UK unionist community.

The issue is a major distraction for Johnson ahead of his talks with Biden, at which the two leaders will sign a new ‘Atlantic Charter’ — an attempt to evoke US-UK wartime co-operation and the 1941 charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt that mapped out a new world order.

The new document, to be signed in Cornwall with the British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in the background, will commit both sides to defend democracy and free trade — with the subtext of a common front against authoritarian regimes in Beijing and Moscow.

After arriving in Britain on Wednesday evening, Biden told US military personnel that he saw the G7 summit and next week’s Nato summit as critical moments for America to reassert its global leadership after the Trump years.

Biden, who will also meet Vladimir Putin next week, said after arriving at the RAF Mildenhall air base: “At every point along the way, we’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future. ”

Expand your small business with Aluminium Ceiling Clip in Machines

Wondering about Aluminum ceiling clip machinery, no need to just understand it only a device or machine to the income era for your firm. This equipment is primarily for punching, developing and shearing the ceiling wall. These days, this unit is utilized in new properties to provide a contemporary layout for the roof of structures.

The Aluminium ceiling clip in machines assists in generating several kinds of ceramic tiles with new and extravagant models to get folks towards ceiling. This equipment will help with punching and creating the ceiling wall structure. This equipment mainly consists of a decoiler, straightener, perforate device and many more. This equipment will help increase the company and generate profits for future development. Setting up this aluminium ceiling clip in unit is simple and you can directly put in this equipment with the office, hence avoiding time leg. This unit helps productive operate, lessen work expense and boost the productiveness of the company. This device is primarily employed in producing suspended roof creating, untrue roof making, designing it with modernity plus in punching the information and much more. This unit will increase the imagination of your respective enterprise and helps inside the expansion of the factory. Due to installation of this machine, you are going to decrease the amount of labor with your company and raise the operate effectiveness of your own enterprise. Then why not set up this aluminium roof clip in machines inside your manufacturing facility for the future development and efficient function of your own enterprise.