Ameriprise Boosts Staff Across USA

Ameriprise Financial Inc announced that it has hired five new advisors to different locales across the country.

During the past several weeks the asset manager and brokerage firm hired John Ledford from Commonwealth Financial Network; Steve Jacobson from James Financial; Kevin Barnes who left ProEquities; from Morgan Stanley Ron Camisasca; and Sandra Hudgins joining from Merrill Lynch.

Ledford will be going to Ameriprise’s Orando, Florida office. According to Ameriprise he will have $138 million in assets under management. Jacobson will have $124 million in AUM, based in the New Orleans branch office. Stationed in Bentonville, Arkansas with $148 million will be Kevin Barnes. In Clearwater, Florida Camisasca will manage $96 million in assets, while Hudgins will control $100 million from the Dallas, Texas branch.

Four of the managers were taken on as employees, and the fifth, namely Kevin Barnes was hired as and independent advisor.

Ironic Criticism of US Issued from Egypt

In what many are interpreting as a not-so-veiled insult, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging the US to “exercise restraint” while dealing with violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri. The statement is not only insulting, but also ironic, as it echoes the language used by the US towards Egypt during its own crackdown on violent Islamic protests last year.

Observers are unsure why the Egyptians, who generally do not criticize one of their most important sponsors, would choose to make such a biting statement.

In the wake of the hard-line crackdown on protestors last year in which hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members were gunned down by Egyptian forces, relations between the US and Egypt became strained. The protestors were demonstrating against the forced ouster by the Egyptian army of democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood member President Mohamed Mursi in July, 2013.

Western countries remain suspicious of Mursi’s replacement, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who ousted Mursi and then won the votes he needed to become president. Despite the US discomfort with al-Sisi they have continued to provide monetary and military support to the regime.

The statement released by Egypt came after protests denouncing the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri became increasing violent and out of control. The statement made was uncomfortably close to a statement issued by the US in July 2013 in which the White House “urged security forces to exercise maximum restraint and caution” in dealing with protests by Mursi supporters. Egypt even added that the foreign ministry was “closely following the escalation of protests” in Ferguson.

Cruising to the Bahamas? Bimini Superfast, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Offer Great Choices

Bimini Boats
Bahama-style fun in Bimini and Beyond

If you are considering a vacation cruise to the Bahamas, there are several excellent options to choose from.

If you only have one day, a good choice to consider is the Bimini Day Cruise on the Bimini Superfast cruise liner from Resorts World Bimini (RWBimini.) The Bimini cruise from Miami leaves every Friday through Sunday at 9AM, gets you there in record time, drops you off for a day of exploring, and then gets you back to Miami by 8PM. The Bimini Superfast is a luxuriously equipped cruise liner which is also the fastest cruise ship in America. So the fun begins as soon as you board the Bimini Superfast to the Bahamas, and does not end until you get back to port.

Also leaving from Miami and presented by the International Royal Caribbean company are four-night Bahama cruises. These holiday get-aways offer an enormous number of on-ship activities from ice skating, rock climbing to relaxing at the pool. Passengers sail to CocoCay and Nassau on day 2 and 3, where they disembark and explore the islands. Cruising on Majesty of the Seas, passengers can enjoy the luxurious on-board Day Spa & Fitness Center, refurbished staterooms, and a just recently remodeled pool deck adds to the enjoyment.

Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida are 3 and 4-night Bahamas Holiday Cruises on board the Celebrity Constellation. The cruise ship speeds to Key West, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and then back to its port of origin, Fort Lauderdale. Celebrity X Cruises specializes in high-end service, from greeting passengers by name, to having a dessert that a passenger mentioned and having it appear at dinner without asking. All suites have butler services, a luggage valet and the possibility of extended stay on board when the formal cruise has come to an end.

Treasury Calls for Financial Institutions and Congress to Boost Cybersecurity

Urging financial institutions and companies to do what is needed to protect consumers; US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew spoke at the Institutional Investor’s 4th Annual Delivering Alpha Conference and CNBC. Lew said that US financial institutions must protect their customers against cybersecurity thefts, disruptions and attacks.  He said that our institutions of finance should utilize the Administration’s new cybersecurity framework not only with their own systems but also as a means to evaluate outside vendors.

“The consequences of cyber incidents are serious,” Secretary Lew said. “When credit card data is stolen, it disturbs lives and damages consumer confidence. When trade secrets are robbed, it undercuts America’s businesses and undermines U.S. competitiveness. And successful attacks on our financial system would compromise market confidence, jeopardize the integrity of data, and pose a threat to financial stability.”

While the new framework, which is called “Improving Critical Infrastructure and Cybersecurity” as 2013 Executive Order 13636, is being implemented, more needs to be done to improve our ability to fight cyber threats. Secretary Lew has been calling on Congress to pass all-encompassing laws which will improve the state of information sharing by making provisions for targeted liability protections while at the same time protecting privacy.

“As it stands, our laws do not do enough to foster information sharing and defend the public from digital threats. We need legislation with clear rules to encourage collaboration and provide important liability protection. It must be safe for companies to collaborate responsibly, without providing immunity for reckless, negligent or harmful behavior. And we need legislation that protects individual privacy and civil liberties, which are so essential to making the United States a free and open society. We appreciate the bipartisan interest in addressing this important issue, and the Administration will continue to work with key stakeholders on the various bills that are developing in Congress,” added Secretary Lew.

Toys ‘R’ Us Fires CFO Creasey

Taking Out the Old and Bringing in the New (CFO)
Taking Out the Old and Bringing in the New (CFO)

No reason was given as yet for the summary firing of Chief Financial Officer F. Clay Creasey Jr after serving in the role since 2006. Replacing him will be Michael J. Short, former executive at AutoNation.

Toys ‘R’Us will pay Mr. Short $700,000 as his annual base salary. He will also be able to receive up to the same amount in yearly bonuses. In addition the company will offer Mr. Short stock options.

Mr. Short was the CFO for seven years at AutoNation. He also had financial roles at Universal Orlando, Seagram & Sons, and IBM Corp previous to his stint at AutoNation.

“We are delighted to have Mike join the organization during this transformational time for our company and look forward to the benefit of his strong financial and strategic experience, as well as his unique insights and fresh perspective on the business,” said Toys ‘R’ Us Chairman and Chief Executive Antonio Urcelay.

Spotlight on India for General Motors

General Motors India has announced that it will start exporting its cars out of the country. It will sell left-hand-drive versions of its Chevrolet Beat hatchback to Chile in 2015.

Up until now, the production in India hasn’t been at capacity. Their two factories can build 282,000 cars each year, but until now they have used less than a third of their total capacity. During the fiscal year that ended in March, they sold approximately 81,000 cars in India.

Many global automakers are looking to India now to become a regional export hub, especially for small cars. They hope to take advantage of the low-cost manufacturing base there.

Getting to the Bottom of Hidden Expenses

When people have money issues and sit down to make a concrete budget, they are often surprised to see just how much money they spend – and on what they spend it. Most of us budget for life’s basics which include food, housing and transportation. We forget, however, how much money is needed for other items and for odds and ends. In a recent blog post on their site, Primerica helps those in debt to think about what they spend. Here are a few of the areas they touch upon:

  1. Gifts: While we want to be generous, and we think spending $20 for a birthday gift here or there isn’t a big deal – it all adds up. It’s important to write down every time that you spend money for weddings, showers, birthdays and other events.
  2. Medicines and other items: Do you go to the pharmacy each week to buy toiletries, new brushes and some medicine? These items add up, even though they feel like necessities.
  3. Child care: How much are you spending for the care of your children? This could include babysitters in the afternoon or evening, full day care and more.

These are just a few of the hidden life expenses presented by Primerica that people need to consider and budget for. When you start to look at all of your expenses and to see where your money goes, you start to get a better handle on your debt and your future needs.

Luxury Hotel Group Acquired by Vladislav Doronin

Amanapuri amanresorts purchased by Vladislav Doronin
Amanapuri amanresorts purchased by Vladislav Doronin

Russian businessman and real estate investor Vladislav Doronin was recently involved in the purchase of the high-end hotel group Amanresorts. The deal included Peak Hotels & Resorts Group partnering with the management of Amanresorts International in order to effect the acquisition of Amanresorts from the hotel subsidiary of India-based DLF for $338 million.

The new business will be known as Aman Resorts Group Ltd. The partnership between Doronin and Peak Hotels is reportedly planning to upgrade already owned properties as well purchase new ones with money set aside for those purposes.

The luxury hotel group Amanresorts includes the upscale Amanyara in Turks & Caicos and Thailand’s famed Amanpuri.

GoPro Files for IPO: Hopes to Raise at Least $100 Million

GoPro, maker of wearable cameras designed to be used by extreme sports enthusiast and

GoPro GoPublic
GoPro GoPublic

others, has filed documents with regulators of its intention to sell shares of their company. The numbers of shares they intend to sell, and their price, have not yet been disclosed.

The company did say that they hope to pay off a $111 million debt with proceeds from their IPO, and with any additional money they raise, “it may use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire or invest in complementary businesses, technologies or assets.”

Net income in 2013 was $60.6 million, almost twice what it brought in in 2012.  GoPro has sold over 8.5 million HD cameras since they first launched that product in 2009.

The company intends to list on the NASDAQ using the symbol “GPRO.” JP Morgan, Citigroup and British Barclays Bank will be working on the IPO. Nicholas Woodman, founder and CEO, and his family, are the largest shareholders, with 49 percent. The company stated that Woodman was a crucial player in the future success of the company.

“The loss of Mr. Woodman could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results,” the company said in a statement

FoxConn, a Taiwan-based manufacturer, has a minority share in GoPro. In 2012 they purchased the company for $200 million. That deal values the camera maker at about $2.25 billion.

Sterling’s Remarks Leading to Loss of Income for Clippers

LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling
LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

In the wake of Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks several companies have taken action to either cut-off sponsorship funds completely, or to just temporarily withhold support until more clarity is established.

The first company to react to Sterling’s hate speech, which was first brought to light on the celebrity gossip/news site TMZ, was State Farm insurance. At first it seemed they were going to completely cut their ties with the Los Angeles Basketball team, but have since recanted, saying in an official statement that the brand would only be “taking a pause” from lending its support for the team.

Next came CarMax, which took a more extreme position, completely ending their relationship with the Clippers. After CarMax’s hardline stand Virgin America took a similar position and withdrew their sponsorship as well. Joining the avalanche of brands ending support for the LA Clippers was Mercede-Benz, cutting all ties completely. A presenting sponsor, the Chumash Indians has also decided to end ties with the beleaguered Los Angeles team.

“I would advise any of my clients to distance themselves completely from the situation,” said David Spencer, a sports marketing expert for Talent Resources.  “I don’t see a negative of jumping ship at all.  The only negative would be to stay on the sinking ship.”