Major US Payment Processor Buying UK-based Worldpay

A merger is under way between two rival payment processing firms: the US-based Vantiv and the UK-based Worldpay. Vantiv has submitted a formal offer to purchase Worldpay for close to £8bn ($10.4bn). The offer was made after many weeks of negotiating terms of the deal, including the relocation of UK employees when the merger is implemented.

The deal values Worldpay’s shares at $5.16. When the deal is finalized Worldpay’s headquarters will move to Vantiv’s home, Cincinnati, Ohio, in the USA. As a single entity, the company expects it will be able to process about $1.5 trillion worth of payments and about 40 billion individual transactions per year. This should bring the company’s revenue up to about $3.2 billion/year.

Vitav has grown by leaps and bounds of late, becoming the largest payment processing company in the United States after its acquisition of Mercury Payment Systems and Moneris Solutions. The company is now ready to broaden its base in the European market with the purchase of Worldpay.

Worldpay not only processes traditional payments from brick and mortar shops; they also work in the growing e-commerce space, a market Vantiv would like access to. Due to the huge growth of spending on-line companies that facilitate online payments, like Worldpay, are ripe picks for well-established payment companies as a way for them to reach into the internet marketplace.

Vantiv predicts that the takeover will boost their annual savings to about $200million by the end of the third year. This will be offset against the cost of integrating Worldpay into Vantiv, which is expected to come to about $330 million, almost all over the first two years.

Technology Becomes Major Player in Wealth Management Solutions

Wealth management software solutions are a rising trend as they allow advisors to incorporate customizable technology, automation and vast amount of data into their personal practices. Though initially met with some hesitation, these services are expected to set a new bar for the industry; Morgan Stanley is planning to provide 16,000 advisors with trade-generating computer algorithms by the end of the year.

A pilot program is already in place this month, with 500 Morgan Stanley advisors set to start working with the new technology to combine their skills with those of a computer. According to a Bloomberg article, “The thinking is that humans with algorithmic assistants will be a better solution for wealthy families than mere software allocating assets for the masses.”

Numerous advisory firms have already begun taking up digital wealth management services. Take the Black Diamond Wealth Management Platform, for example, which hit its 1,000 client milestone earlier this year. Providing financial services software and compatible devices to over 1,000 firms with more than $600 billion in assets combined, Black Diamond offers technology-based solutions for services ranging from portfolio management to instant communication with clients.

Essex Financial Services, based in Essex, Connecticut, is one such firm. With a focus on its RIA business, Essex Financial utilizes a range of digital services such as Money Guide Pro, eMoney and an overlay for CRM. “We can handle a broad range of client situations, from the fairly routine retirement planning and college funding aspects, all the way up to the unique needs for intergenerational wealth transfer and legacy planning of high net worth clients,” explains Essex Financial President and CEO Charles “Chuck” Cumello. “We are spread out in multiple locations, so having a platform like Black Diamond provides the critical pieces we need to efficiently deliver advice, whether that is through the client portal, document vault and even on iPads for in-person meetings. All of those pieces combined gives us a tremendous solution.”

He adds: “The future is going to be everything mobile-oriented, maybe not for today’s clients, but for their children and grandchildren. Staying on top of these things is much better when you have a partner who continues to innovate for you.”

Parents Paying Less for Kids College Fees

Nassau Hall, the original building and current administration building of Princeton University. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Despite an improved economy and record-high stock market, parents are chipping in less for their kids’ college tuition than they have in the past.

That is according to a new study published by Sallie Mae, “How America Pays for College,” its tenth annual report.

Parents’ share of the tab for college fell to 23 percent, down from 29 percent of the average amount an ordinary family pays for college. In dollars that comes to $5,527 out of an average $23,757 yearly cost.

That number is the lowest its been since 2009, the smallest figure since the launch of the yearly study.

So where is the rest of the money for higher education coming from? Student loans have climbed to pay for 19 percent of the cost, compared to 13 percent in the past. The Sallie Mae report does not address the reasons for the changes, but there is some speculation.

“It could be price sensitivity,” says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Cappex.com, a college financing resource. “Parents may be telling students, if you want to go to that more expensive school, you’ll have to pay for it.”

Sallie Mae’s population seems to be lacking in planning ahead for college fees. The report reveals that 9 out of 10 respondents expect their kids to go to college, but only 4 of 10 budget for it.

There was some good news in the study. The report showed that 69 percent disregarded some colleges from their list under consideration because of the high price, a number significantly higher than the 58 percent of ten years ago.

Clearly, families that did plan for college for their kids, with savings plans like the 529 plan, getting to college is less troublesome.

Parents who save a little bit each month over time have a reasonable, fixed amount available to spend on college. If their kids want to spend more, then they will have to face larger loans when they graduate.

Ford Launching New Financing Scheme to Attract Young Drivers

Ford Motor Company will begin to offer a new type of car purchasing plan which will be a kind of middle ground between a traditional car finance program and a car hire agreement, which could be a model for the way cars will be purchased in the future.

The car manufacturing giant will start offering finance deals for as short a term as one month to buyers in the US who are not interested, or cannot afford longer, yearly leases. The “variable-term leases with flexible payment options” will combine maintenance, insurance and towing services into one monthly premium which can either be renewed or opted out of each month.

The hi-tech company Canvas will run the program, but Ford’s US consumer financial credit provider Ford Motor Credit, will back up the scheme. David McClelland, executive vice president of marketing and sales at Ford Motor Credit said his company “recognized the need for financial services and technology to facilitate our future vision.”

Canvas, formerly Breeze, was purchased by Ford at the end of 2016. The tech company is expert in providing short-term vehicle finance to drivers working for Lyft, Uber and others. Ford is using Canvas’s web-based platform, as well as their familiarity with short-term leasing, to attract a broader range of customers. The program is hoping to attract young drivers, especially those who would otherwise not be eligible for auto financing.

CEO of Canvas, Ned Ryan said, “Our mission is to identify, test and launch financial products that meet the changing needs of consumers. We’re addressing the void in the consumer space between daily rentals and long-term (financial) commitments.”

Summer Health & Finance Tips for the Elderly

The summer can be a brutal time for the elderly, as it’s really too hot outside to enjoy yourself. But if you don’t get out, how will you get exercise? And what will you do if the air conditioning bill is too high and you feel like you need to cut corners?

Here are some key suggestions to help the elderly get through the summer financially, emotionally and physically. It’s important to avoid heat stroke and the NIH recommends that elderly people try to stay cool through these months. If you live in a home like the Dry Harbor Nursing Home, then you’ll have air conditioning taken care of for you. If you don’t, and it’s too expensive for you to use the air all day at home, you may want to spend time at a community center, at the movies, at the mall or at the library where they have the air conditioner on all the time.

Interestingly, food borne illnesses are said to be twice as common during the summer. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bacteria grows in hot and humid environments, so the summer is a hotbed for these problems. Make sure that you don’t eat food that has been left out for more than two hours.

Be careful with your medications. This is particularly true if you are in a house where you don’t have air conditioning on.

Being home by yourself in the heat can get quite lonely. See if you can get to a neighborhood community center, to activities at the library or to an adult day care program like the type that the Dry Harbor Nursing Home has year round.

Barclays Penalized for Overcharging Customers

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that London-based Barclays Bank will be refunding its customers almost $100 million in fees that were wrongly charged.

According to the SEC the banking giant overbilled their investment clients by almost $50 million.

“Barclays failed to ensure that clients were receiving the services they were paying for,” said C Dabney O’Riordan, co-chief of the SEC Asset Management Unit.

The re-imbursement will total US$97, including the original $50 million overcharge plus a US$30 million penalty and another $13.8 million in interest. The money will be placed in a fund dedicated to reimbursement and compensation of the overcharged investors.

Barclays charged about 2,000 clients for due diligence and monitoring services which were not delivered as expected. An additional 63 investors paid too much for mutual fund sales charges as a result of the bank recommending pricier share classes.

The SEC also found that 22,138 accounts had billing mistakes.

Barclays has neither denied or admitted to wrongdoing. A formal expression of guilt could expose companies to harmful investor lawsuits. The SEC almost never requires any admission of guilt.

Bridgeton Landfill and the EPA

Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year reached an agreement with Bridgeton Landfill, LLC, there has been a noteworthy shift on the enhancement of air quality in the region.  According to Mark Hague, Administrator for the EPA Region 7, “the installation and operation of these air monitors is an important step in evaluating the air quality in the community. These monitors are the latest in a series of steps taken by the Bridgeton Landfill under EPA and MDNR oversight to help ensure air quality around the landfill is protective of public health.”

It seems that already, positive results have been incurred from the new air monitors at the landfill sites. Further air monitoring is taking place in two other places too:  one near St. Charles Rock Road and the other near the Spanish Village water tower.  These locations were chosen by the EPA in an attempt to have the monitors are able to cover air emissions under various wind directions.  As well, they will bolster the actions being undertaken the nearby Rider Trail monitored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

These monitors form just part of the $200 million that Bridgeton Landfill has invested in “odor control, environmental remediation and site improvements.”

Investment Teams with Personal Stakes

For investors choosing hedge funds and managers, trust and reputation rank high on their priority list.  M&M Investment Company have pointed out that having a large personal stake in one’s own hedge fund is a good sign of a trustworthy hedge fund.  As such, the firm comprised a list of some of those individuals and in this article, we review three of these.

JZ Capital Partners Limited founder and CEO David Zalaznick knew what he was doing when he established the firm.  Having been a Vice President Carl Marks & Co., together with Jay Jordan, he founded Jordan/ Zalaznick Advisers, Inc.  Zalaznick is also connected to philanthropic endeavors.  In the past he was Vice Chairman of the Board at Cornell University (as well as chairing its Finance Committee), while being a member of their  Private Equity and Investment Committees.  Today he is a Trustee Emeritus of the academic institute.

Reade Griffith is another hedge fund manager who has invested his own personal wealth in his hedge fund.  As co-founder of Polygon and TFM (in 2002 and 2005 respectively), Griffith boasts a long career in the industry.  In addition to these firms, in the past he founded the Citadel Investment Group’s European Office, where he was CEO.  He also had a key role at the firm’s Global Event Driven arbitrage team in Tokyo, London and Chicago, as both Senior Managing Director and Partner.

As CEO of Caledonia Investments, Will Wyatt has made some quite bold movements at the firm.  In 2011, when the firm was encountering some underperformance issues, Wyatt attempted to bring the firm through to the other end by decreasing its holdings.  He believed that a flotilla of sub-scale investments – not big enough to have any real material impact – would mean the firm was not utilizing its management resource in as efficient way as it could be. Wyatt joined the firm in 1997 and became director in 2005.  Five years later he was promoted to company CEO.

In conclusion, as supported by experts in the field and recorded in an article in The Actuary,

“hedge fund managers are encouraged to have an amount of their own money invested in the funds they are managing. This is analogous to a bank that will not lend money to an entrepreneur unless the entrepreneur has a certain amount of their own capital tied up in the enterprise. Similarly, a hedge fund manager with cash involved in the fund has an increased incentive to perform well.”

America’s Best Destinations

Photo by Hromoslav.

TripAdvisor compiled its list of 25 of the country’s best destinations. Based on millions of voluntary reviews of travelers, the ratings are based on how well the many hotels, restaurants and attractions were rated during a 12-month time frame.

New York City was the winner as the overall best rated destination for the seventh year in a row. However, coming in second place, and third, and fourth, were different cities all in Hawaii. Lets take a look at the rest of the list.

5.    Las Vegas

Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii. Photo by Amitoda.

6.    Orlando
7.    Chicago
8.    San Diego
9.    San Francisco
10.    Key West
11.    New Orleans
12.    Washington, DC
13.    Sedona, Arizona
14.    Charleston, South Carolina
15.    Mount Desert Island, Maine
16.    Savannah, Georgia
17.    Branson, Missouri
18.    Nashville, Tennessee
19.    Jackson, Wyoming
20.    Moab, Utah
21.    Asheville, North Carolina
22.    Boston
23.    Napa
24.    Miami Beach
25.    Aspen

Mandala Funding Ltd Stakes PT Sugih Energy with $41 million Loan

Cayman Islands based Mandala Funding Ltd has agreed to a funding scheme worth $41 million for the oil and gas exploration company known as PT Sugih Energy, through its subsidiary Eastwin Global Investments Ltd.

The recently appointed finance director of Sugih Energy, Rahman Akil said that $31 million would be used to pay for the Lemang oil and gas development. Sugih Energy has a 34 percent stake in Lemang.

The cost of development which was promised was for $11 million in 2016 and $20 million in future cash for the coming year of 2017.

“We will use the other $8 million to refinance corporate’s debt and the remaining $2 million for corporate’s cash,” Rahman said.

The Lemang Block exploration was approved by the government of Indonesia in 2007. In November of last year the production phase began in the Akatara field, starting with 300 barrels of oil per day.

“We plan to drill five more wells in Akatara field, increasing the production to 1,500 bopd at the end of the year,” he said.

Mandala Funding, the lender of the financing, is a subsidiary of Singaporean Mandala Energy Ltd, which also has an interest in Lemang Block. Ownership of the block is shared by three companies: PT Sugih Energy Tbk through Eastwin Global Investments Ltd with 34 percent shares; Ramba Energy Ltd through PT Hexindo Gemilang Jaya with 35 percent shares; and Mandala Energy Ltd with 31 percent shares.