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Stake in UMG, home to Taylor Swift, could be sold to SPAC | Business and Economy News



Vivendi SE is in talks to sell 10% of Universal Music Group to a blank-check firm backed by billionaire Bill Ackman while it prepares to spin off most of the world’s biggest music company.

The potential transaction would value the home of Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish at 35 billion euros ($42.4 billion) including debt, Vivendi said in a statement on Friday, above the 30 billion-euro valuation ascribed to the business in 2019 when China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. acquired a stake.

Ackman’s special purpose acquisition company, called Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd., raised $4 billion in a July initial public offering — a record-setting amount for a SPAC. Such firms list their shares and then merge with a private company to take it public.

The proposed transaction, however, is structured as a stock purchase ahead of UMG’s IPO and not a merger, Pershing Square Tontine said in a statement. Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Pershing Square Tontine intends to distribute the UMG shares to its investors after the music business’s planned public listing in Amsterdam. Ackman’s blank-check company will remain listed with $1.5 billion in cash and continue to search for a new business combination.

Pershing Square Tontine said the deal won’t require a vote from its investors because of its structure. Pershing Square funds will own 29% of the remaining blank-check company.

Investors will also get the right to acquire a stake in a new vehicle known as a special purchase acquisition rights company, or SPARC, that is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Vivendi said Pershing Square funds and their affiliates have indicated that they may acquire further exposure to UMG by buying Vivendi securities or UMG securities following the spinoff.

Shares in Pershing Square Tontine fell as much as 12% in New York trading Friday on the news.

The proposed transaction comes as music industry has rebounded from a decadelong slump thanks to surging revenue from streaming services, and Vivendi has sought to squeeze more value from UMG — especially after suffering declines in its advertising and publishing operations.

Vivendi plans to distribute 60% of the music business to its shareholders later this year and list it in Amsterdam. That deal is due to be approved by shareholders on June 22.

“The big story remains the floating of the 60%,” said Massimo Stabilini, who runs a hedge fund strategy at Sinclair Capital that bets on corporate events. “The SPAC is probably trying to produce a short-term profit by effectively putting together a pre-IPO trade. For Vivendi it’s probably useful to firm up a valuation before the IPO.”

Citi analysts said the proposed sale to Pershing Square will be viewed as “mildly disappointing” as the UMG valuation being discussed looks relatively modest.

Going public could give UMG more financial clout to compete with rivals Warner Music Group Corp. and Sony Music Entertainment. Vivendi had originally planned a 2023 IPO for UMG, but said earlier this year that it was now aiming for the business to go public by the end of 2021.

Streaming Slows

If the potential Pershing deal and the spinoff go ahead, it would leave Vivendi with no more than 10% of UMG alongside Tencent’s 20% holding, although Vivendi’s controlling shareholder — French billionaire Vincent Bollore — will hold an additional stake in the music business via his family’s holding companies.

It would also leave UMG with an investment base in the world’s three big economic regions — the U.S., Europe and Asia.

After cementing its dominance of the industry under veteran Chief Executive Officer Lucian Grainge, UMG will need to work harder to keep growing as the boom in subscription streaming starts leveling off and the company looks for further growth in Asian markets, where music piracy is still a problem.

Rock Stars Are Making Fortunes Cashing In on Their Old Songs

The big music companies aim to keep profits rising by monetizing their enormous back catalogs via deals for everyone from video-game makers to YouTube fitness coaches to use their tunes.

Smaller independent companies are luring artists away from the big majors by offering them distribution, marketing and rights-management services deals, while allowing the musicians to keep control over their output.

Activist hedge fund Bluebell Capital Partners has asked French market regulators to investigate Vivendi’s spinoff plan, saying it hasn’t been straight with shareholders over key terms of the deal and that its plan precludes other ways to engineer the separation that would be more tax efficient.

Bollore has built his fortune through canny investments and complex deals that allowed him to pull the strings without being forced to bid for overall control of the companies. Bluebell said in a letter to the regulator last week there’s a risk Vivendi may eventually allow Bollore to strengthen his control over UMG.

Bluebell Chief Investment Officer Giuseppe Bivona said in an emailed statement Friday he remains puzzled by Vivendi’s handling of UMG.

“Furthermore, the valuation obtained appears underwhelming,” he said, noting it simply reflects the fair value of UMG. “We see very limited value to UMG’s equity story being created by what has been announced today.”

(Updates with shares in eighth paragraph. A previous version corrected the status of the special purpose acquisition rights company.)
–With assistance from Nishant Kumar.

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Climate colonialism and the EU’s Green Deal | Climate Change




Since the beginning of the year, the Amazon Rainforest, our largest tropical forest full of ecosystems essential to global climate regulation networks, has had 430,000 acres (174,000 hectares) cleared and burned to supply the logging industry and clear land for livestock breeding. Between August 2019 and July 2020, another 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) were destroyed. Much of the wood and meat produced in Brazil from this deforestation ends up in Global North markets.

In Southeast Asia, deforestation linked to the palm oil industry also continues. Between 2018 and 2020, almost 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of rainforest were cleared in just three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, leading to Indigenous communities losing their land. The demand for palm oil from top food brands in the Global North remains high, despite their commitments to reduce use.

Meanwhile, the push for greener sources of energy, particularly in the Global North, is driving the demand for metals like nickel, cobalt and lithium. Labourers in mining communities working to extract these metals face dangerous and degrading working conditions.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the use of child labour in cobalt mines is widespread, putting the lives of children at risk, damaging their health and depriving them of education. In Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, lithium mining uses large quantities of water, accelerating desertification and polluting underground waters and rivers, putting the health of local communities at risk.

According to data gathered by London-based NGO Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, there have been 304 complaints of human rights violations by 115 companies mining these minerals.

Although the end of colonialism was declared decades ago, its last effects in the form of these extractive industries are clear. The system of Indigenous land takeovers, resource extraction, labour exploitation and wealth transfer set up by European colonialists continues to operate and dispossess people in the Global South.

It is against the backdrop of this neo-colonial reality that the European Union announced its Green Deal at the end of 2019.

Underpinned by an apolitical narrative that humans have already changed the Earth’s climate and degraded the majority of its ecosystems, so action needs to be taken, the Green Deal completely ignores the fact that the Global North was the main driver of climate change and environmental degradation across the world.

European governments and corporations not only damaged and destroyed the environment on the continent and exploited local marginalised communities, but have been engaged in the same exact behaviour and worse, on all other continents.

The natural world in Africa, Asia and Latin America has been destroyed through the capitalist economic systems deployed by the Global North which normalised, expanded and strengthened hyper-extraction through overproduction and over-consumption.

The European Green Deal does not outline how it will reconcile and repair the losses and damages EU countries have caused to ecosystems and communities outside of Europe. Nor does it acknowledge how these damages force people in the Global South to migrate to Europe’s shores, where they experience pushbacks, must less offer a solution.

The European Green Deal also ignores the environmental impact of Europe’s drive for renewable energy and electric mobility on other parts of the world, where resources for this economic shift will have to be extracted. It also does not pay attention to how climate change and environmental degradation have disproportionately affected its own marginalised communities and the poor and destitute in the Global South.

In other words, in the pursuit of making the EU the first climate-neutral region in the world by 2050, Brussels is falling back on its old ways and deploying what we call climate colonialism.

The EU’s apolitical narrative on climate change – ignoring the impact of colonialism and capitalism and heavily influenced by the very corporations who profit from them – could result in climate action that is not only non-impactful but, worse, could be unsustainable and damaging for marginalised communities on the continent as well as the Global South.

It relies on tech solutions and silver-bullet ideas, promising to lead a “green, sustainable” economy with electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and other exciting renewable innovations.

But the question is, who will this be sustainable for?

In order not to fall into climate colonialism, the European Green Deal needs a clear plan to eradicate harmful extractive models, recognise its historical responsibility in the climate crisis, and provide accountability for the damage EU companies cause in the Global South.

Working within the same system that causes injustice will only reproduce injustice. We at Equinox have put forward a number of important recommendations that could help steer the Green Deal away from its capitalistic, colonial foundation and towards new holistic, intersectional approaches that put social and racial justice at its core.

Among these recommendations are a clear commitment to racial justice, integrated policies linking the EU’s Anti-Racist Action Plan to the Green Deal, institutional reform, and a new relationship with civil society.

Only by acknowledging that it is perpetuating colonial capitalism, and committing to ending this approach, can the EU’s Green Deal be truly effective in addressing climate change. For far too long, European governments and companies have wreaked havoc across the world. It is time for justice, accountability and a complete overhaul of economic systems. Our collective survival depends on it.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Cameroonian Namondo Replaces Rosa Malango As Un Resident Coordinator In Uganda




The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres has appointed Susan Ngongi Namondo of Cameroon as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, with the host Government’s approval.
Ms Namondo is replacing Rosa Malango of Equatorial Guinea who first came to Uganda in 2016 as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative and Coordinator, and was in 2019 appointed Resident Coordinator reporting to the President and Secretary General of the United Nations.
Malango was recently promoted by Guterres to serve as Director, Economic Affairs for Regional Economic Commission headquartered in Europe.
Mrs Malango first communicated publicly on June 10, 2021 at the commemorations of Heroes Day at Kololo Independence Grounds that the UN Secretary, General Antonio Guterres had promoted her to serve as Director, Economic Affairs for Regional Economic Commission headquartered in Europe.
“It has been an honour for me to serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda during the past five years. The UN Secretary General has now promoted me to serve as Director Economic Affairs for the Regional Economic Commission under our headquarters in Europe. I will be coordinating the work of the economic Commission in Africa, Asia, the Americas as well as Europe,” she said.
“Today is my last Heroes Day in my current capacity. But I believe that Uganda has the potential to serve as a beacon of hope, peace and prosperity for the African continent and the world,” she added.
Ms. Ngongi Namondo has over 25 years of experience in development work, including 19 years leading development professionals in the areas of policy formulation and programme planning across four different United Nations agencies at the national, regional and headquarters levels.
Within the Organization, she most recently served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Eritrea, after occupying other senior positions with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), including Representative to Ghana and Comoros, and Deputy Representative to Liberia. She also served the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Prior to joining the United Nations, Ms. Ngongi Namondo worked with the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), an international scientific organization, and global non-profits including Caritas Internationalis and Catholic Relief Services.
She holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and in animal science from the University of Maryland, USA as well as master’s degrees in public administration from Columbia University, USA and in animal health from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

The post Cameroonian Namondo Replaces Rosa Malango As Un Resident Coordinator In Uganda first appeared on ChimpReports.

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Chad’s Football Dream




Football is a passion in Chad but the national team has yet to qualify for top African and world tournaments.

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