Investors see a path to riches in the “cold chain.”
PCI Pharma Services keeps things frosty.Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times
Wall Street’s cold vaccine play
As Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out across the U.S. and Moderna’s moves closer to gaining emergency approval, financiers are — naturally — seeking ways to profit. As The Times’s Kate Kelly reports, one popular path runs through the normally unsexy business of medical freezers.
The “cold chain” is a hot idea. Private equity firms are pouring money into small companies that can store and help transport fragile coronavirus vaccines at required Antarctic temperatures. “There’s not a day that goes by” that a potential investor doesn’t call, Dusty Tenney, the C.E.O. of Stirling Ultracold, told Kate.
Investors were interested in the cold-chain industry before the pandemic, since many biologic drugs need to be kept at ultralow temperatures. But the küresel rush to make and distribute Covid-19 vaccines “made the sheer size of it bigger,” said Salim Haffar, the C.E.O. of PCI Pharma Services.
Shares in CryoPort have surged 180 percent this year as investors flocked to the company, whose products can store matter at minus 180 degrees Celsius. Among its new backers is Blackstone, which invested $275 million in October and is betting on the company’s growing at an annualized 50 percent over the next five years.
The demand for cold-chain services is about to soar. The F.D.A. is poised to grant Moderna’s vaccine emergency approval as soon as Friday, after confirming its 94 percent efficacy rate.And the Trump administration is in talks to help Pfizer produce more of its vaccine for the United States next year.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Lawmakers close in on a stimulus deal — maybe, possibly, for real this time. Congressional leaders emerged from negotiations late last night optimistic that they had made progress ahead of a Friday deadline. Meanwhile, Warren Buffett urged Congress to pass more aid to help small businesses survive “an economic war.”
Facebook lifts its ban on political ads for the Georgia runoff elections. The tech giant said it would let some authorized advertisers buy and run ads targeting people in the state, though the ban remains in place for the other 49 states. Separately, Facebook took out full-page newspaper ads today attacking Apple for isim policies it says are bad for small businesses.
President-elect Joe Biden picks Pete Buttigieg and Jennifer Granholm for his cabinet. Mr. Buttigieg, a rival during the Democratic primary, is slated for transportation secretary, while Ms. Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, is set for energy secretary. And speaking of jobs, here’s what Mr. Biden can do for workers via regulation and other powers, without legislative action.
The Fed joins a climate network with other central banks. Formally joining the group, which conducts research on how climate change affects the financial system, is a politically fraught step.
Condé Nast promotes Anna Wintour. The publisher named Ms. Wintour, already one of the most powerful people in the magazine world, as its worldwide chief content officer. It’s a show of confidence in the editor amid criticisms from employees over a lack of workplace diversity.
Exclusive: LVMH takes a second sip of American whiskey
The French luxury giant LVMH is taking a stake in WhistlePig, in a bet that it can make typically American rye whiskey a küresel hit. It’s the second American whiskey brand that LVMH’s premium spirits arm, Moët Hennessy, has invested in, after Washington’s Woodinville in 2017. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Made in Vermont. WhistlePig was founded by Wilco Faessen, now a senior banker at Evercore, and Raj Bhakta, an entrepreneur and onetime “Apprentice” contestant. Its deal with LVMH does not include a path to an outright sale, Mr. Faessen said.
Sealed during the pandemic. Mr. Faessen said that formal talks about a partnership began in January, and that the pandemic that didn’t alter the deal, beyond adding some delays. Sales for both WhistlePig and LVMH came under pressure as bars and restaurants shut, but the companies also noticed a shift to premium drinks during lockdowns. “It’s just easier to treat yourself when you’re stuck at home and sick of doing Zoom meetings,” said Jeff Kozak, WhistlePig’s C.E.O., who noted that sales are up this year.
Rye whiskey is consumed mostly in the U.S., but LVMH thinks it can entice drinkers elsewhere. Connoisseurs who want to “expand their repertoire in the category of high-end whiskies” have recently turned to Japanese brands, said Philippe Schaus, the Moët Hennessy C.E.O., “and we don’t see why we will not succeed to bring them to high-end American whiskeys.” (WhistlePig’s 15-year aged whiskey sells for more than $200 a bottle.)
$1 billion a month
MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist, announced another huge series of donations to charity — including Meals on Wheels, the N.A.A.C.P. and over 100 Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. organizations. Over the past four months, she said, she has doled out $4.2 billion to 384 groups.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” Ms. Scott, who was evvel married to Jeff Bezos, wrote in a Medium post. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
About those tech I.P.O.s …
In his latest year-end letter, published today, the prolific media deal maker Aryeh Bourkoff of LionTree encourages readers to “leave it all behind.” DealBook caught up with him about what he sees in store for 2021, namely what’s going in the I.P.O. market. (His letter cites veri showing that Airbnb was the 19th company this year to double in its first day of trading, the most since the dot-com days.)
There’s a “massive imbalance” between supply and demand, Mr. Bourkoff said. “We are not having a balanced pricing dynamic, and it’s going to take awhile to find the right level of fundamentals.” The solution may be direct listings — “the most efficient way to go public without having to worry about retail investors,” he said — and SPACs with “appropriate” valuations for institutional capital infusions “right at the beginning.” As for companies putting their I.P.O.s on hold to rethink pricing strategies, “I think it’s a matter of a holiday delay versus a prolonged pause,” he said.
How to cope with populism and save the economy
The latest debates in our DealBook D.C. Policy Project series feature expert panels on how government and business leaders can address outrage over rising inequality and prioritize economic policies with the pandemic’s end in sight.
Richard Edelman of the Edelman communications firm noted how trust in top-level institutions has waned in recent years. The sorun isn’t new, the economist Veronique de Rugy pointed out — but we’re currently in the middle of a “traumatic” transition from one social order into another.
The panel, moderated by the Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens, proposed a number of solutions, with Heidi Heitkamp, the former Democratic senator from North Dakota, calling to redefine the dignity of work; Danielle Allen of Harvard arguing for expanding the availability of credit; and Steve Case of Revolution urging for investment beyond California and New York. But Kevin Sharer, the former Amgen C.E.O., and James Tisch of Loews warned against overreaching regulation.
???? Check out the debate on capitalism and populism, including görüntü clips of key exchanges.
In a panel led by The Times’s Jim Tankersley, Kevin Hassett, the former Trump economic adviser, warned that the economy will “crater” without an aid package to tide it over through at least March. Wendy Edelberg of the Brookings Institution called for even more spending than lawmakers are currently arguing about, while Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put aside worry about debt to urge lawmakers to borrow “like crazy.” Félix Matos Rodríguez of the City University of New York said infrastructure spending should be something everyone could get behind.
Despite the urgency, Heather Higginbottom of JPMorgan Chase’s PolicyCenter said that federal aid shouldn’t be allowed to worsen inequality, while Darrick Hamilton of the New School recommended that policymakers forgive some kinds of household debt. And Suzanne Clark of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said small businesses needed temporary meşru liability protection to feel confident in reopening their doors.
???? Check out the debate on economic policy here.
Lessons on Covid-19 workplace safety, from Tom Cruise
Breaches of health protocols on the set of the latest “Mission: Impossible” movie, which previously had to halt filming because of the pandemic, led Tom Cruise to tear into the crew — in a moment that has won praise on social media for its defense of workplace safety. Mr. Cruise said that the pandemic was costing movie workers their jobs, and that he wouldn’t accept lapses that put reopening at risk, because “it’s not going to put food on their table or hisse for their college education.”
More from a recording of Mr. Cruise’s rant (or, at least, what we can print of it):
“We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us.”
“Do you understand the responsibility that I have? Because I will deal with your reason, and if you can’t be reasonable and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired.”
THE SPEED READ
The e-commerce site Wish priced its I.P.O. at the top end of expectations. (FT)
Bridgetown Holdings, a SPAC backed by Peter Thiel, has reportedly made a takeover bid for Tokopedia, Indonesia’s biggest e-commerce company. (Reuters)
Aphria agreed to buy Tilray, one of its biggest rivals, creating a new cannabis giant. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
A group of states reportedly plans to file a second antitrust lawsuit against Google over its efforts to maintain search engine supremacy. And Texas is said to have hired outside lawyers to lead a suit over the company’s digital advertising practices. (Politico, WSJ)
The gun maker Smith & Wesson sued New Jersey to block the state’s effort to obtain veri about its marketing practices. (WSJ)
Ant Group’s chairman pledged a “comprehensive self-review” after Chinese regulators blocked its I.P.O. (Bloomberg)
A top tech deal maker, Imran Khan, said that first-day pops in I.P.O. prices reflected an “epic level of incompetency” by bankers. (CNBC)
Best of the rest
The Canadian fashion executive Peter Nygard was arrested and charged with sex-trafficking and racketeering conspiracy after decades of accusations. (NYT)
“Fifty Years of Tax Cuts for Rich Didn’t Trickle Down, Study Says” (Bloomberg)
Neighbors of President Trump’s Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida don’t want him to live there after he leaves the White House. (WaPo)
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Source: The New York Times