Monday, 27 July 2020

Hedge-funder gambles on coronavirus to build casino empire

Soo Kim, co-founder of hedge-fund giant Standard General, has already scooped up three casinos on the cheap since the pandemic struck in March, including Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino — which he bought for $25 million, the price of some New York City metro-area homes.
But Kim, a 45-year-old Queens native, sees more such opportunities opening up as the pandemic drags on, squeezing gambling houses loaded down with debt.
“A lot of casino companies, due to their balance sheets going up too high, are in tough shape now and are not prepared to take advantage of this regional opportunity,” the Stuyvesant HS graduate told The Post.
“We are one of the few that have scale and a good balance sheet,” he said of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, an operator of no-frills gambling houses that is 38 percent owned by Standard General.
Twin River, based in Lincoln, RI, now owns 10 gambling properties across six states, as well as a horse racetrack with 13 authorized off-track betting licenses in Colorado.
It acquired three of those properties in April as casino giants Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts scrambled to sell assets to close on a planned $17 billion merger.
In addition to buying Bally’s — a 1,251-room hotel and casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk — from Caesars, Twin River also scooped up Eldorado’s namesake property in Shreveport, La., and its Montbleu in Lake Tahoe, Nev., for $155 million.
Twin River paid just 3.6 times earnings for the three venues, or roughly the cost of the real estate, Kim says.
“The price we offered was really low,” he said. “Even if these casinos are closed for two years, it’s a good deal.”
While Caesars and Eldorado sold to win regulatory approval for their merger, the coronavirus also played a role, experts said, noting that the Shreveport property was on track to fetch as much as $230 million in January before the deal fell through.

Kim made headlines in 2014 for partnering with American Apparel’s controversial founder and CEO, Charney, after Charney had been ousted for alleged sexual harassment. Efforts to revive the retailer failed, however, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015.
Among Standard General’s more successful turnaround efforts is Turning Point Brands, licensor of Zig-Zag tobacco wrapping paper. Standard General bought it in 2010, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. The stock closed on Friday at $29.67 a share.
Kim is hoping for a similar success story with Twin River, known for its focus on regional, no-frills casinos — a sector that has been doing well of late because they attract heavy gamblers instead of families and conferencegoers, analysts said.
When Standard General first got involved with its Twin River stake in 2016, it was generating $50 million in annual earnings. That’s now projected to grow to $200 million. As Twin River’s chairman, Kim is aiming for earnings of $500 million a year, he said.
With the exception of Bally’s, all of Twin River’s casinos are in the green since reopening in May, Kim said.
“It’s amazing how behavior bounces back,” Kim said. “I think spending has been a little better [at the casinos] than for discretionary purchases. People enjoy gambling.”

Thursday, 23 July 2020

How to get incredibly cheap student loan refinancing rates

Managing student loan debt can be a financial juggling act, especially if you have private student loans with high-interest rates. Refinancing your student debt could save you money on interest charges, help to lower your monthly payments, and potentially help you repay your loans faster. If you're considering private student loan refinancing, here are some important things to know. 

How to refinance your student loans

Student loan refinancing means taking out a new loan to pay off existing loans. You'd then repay the new loan going forward. 
Refinancing private student loans isn't a complicated process. It starts with finding a lender, then applying for a loan. Credible can help you compare multiple lenders at once to ensure you find the best rates and offers currently available.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Chicago bar shut down, fined for breaking coronavirus rules

But now, a co-owner of the bar is speaking with FOX 32 about what happened. He says it was not their fault.
The Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse was issued immediate closure orders by the City of Chicago both Saturday and Sunday evenings and now one of the co-owners says the fines they face could put them out of business.
The city says Wise Owl on S“I think that’s taken out of context,” said co-owner Andy Gowin, who disagrees with the shutdown. “I believe that both nights the task force was coming in, we were already closing up for the night. We can’t control what the customers do after we call last call.”
The city says the Wise Owl was operating over capacity and failed to maintain social distancing, have patrons wear masks and stay seated.
Gowin says those are difficult to monitor.
“If people are going to get up and walk to another table, it’s really hard to talk to these customers, to tell them they need to put on a mask every time,” he said.
The orders required the Wise Owl to immediately close both nights. It also received four citations, each with a fine up to $10,000.
“If we have to indeed pay those fines, it’s gonna possibly put us out of business,” Gowin said.
The city also denied the Wise Owl's expanded outdoor dining permit, which is why tables in their parking lot are now vacant and off limits.
Gowin says after Sunday’s incident, additional staff has been brought on to monitor that customers follow social distancing guidelines from here on out.
“We just, we’re a small business in Chicago that is trying to stay open,” he said.
The city says while the closure orders were issued for Saturday and Sunday evenings of this past weekend only, it is also pursuing additional disciplinary actions.outh Racine Avenue egregiously and blatantly disregarded reopening requirements.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

One million Brits to pay £38k extra a year for care after Covid crunch

More than a million people may be forced to pay almost £40,000 extra a year to be cared for at home, or have to move in with their children, because they would no longer consider living in a care home after Covid-19, new research seen by Telegraph Money shows.
Coronavirus has caused a crisis of confidence in care homes. A fifth of over-60s are rethinking how they will manage in their later years as they have now ruled out living in one, exclusive data from Canada Life, a wealth manager, found.
More than a million people who are over 60 and not already receiving some form of care will now be looking at alternatives such as at-home support. Costs for this depend on the person’s needs, but can be far higher than care home fees....

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Mengandeng Google Cloud, BRI Makin Canggih Berdayakan UMKM

Bank BRI terus melakukan terobosan baru dalam memperkuat peran digitalisasi bagi pelaku Usaha Mikro, Kecil dan Menengah (UMKM) di Indonesia. Salah satunya melalui kerja sama dengan Google Cloud dalam rangka memperluas jangkauan dan kapasitas layanan teknologi digital.
“Ini sebuah langkah maju dari transformasi digital Bank BRI. Kami memiliki kepedulian dan tanggung jawab dalam meningkatkan layanan kepada pelaku UMKM untuk go digital,“ ungkap Direktur Digital dan Teknologi Informasi (TI) Bank BRI Indra Utoyo dalam sesi virtual meeting bersama CEO Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian (01/07)
Terdapat tiga tujuan utama dalam kerja sama ini yakni pertama, mendorong ekonomi kerakyatan melalui pemberdayaan UMKM di Indonesia dengan high tech dan low touch. Dalam poin ini, Bank BRI akan mempertajam merchant assessment melalui pemberdayaan data UMKM yang dimiliki Google yang mencakup seluruh Indonesia.
Kerja sama dengan Google Cloud juga akan meningkatkan kompetensi UMKM melalui pelatihan digital bersama Google Academy (Youtube, dan Google MyBusiness).
Kedua, melalui kerja sama ini Bank BRI berupaya menciptakan micropreneur baru melalui penyaluran KUR Digital. Bank BRI juga akan meningkatkan eksposur dari KUR Digital ke seluruh pelosok dengan pemanfaatan Google Ads dan mempertajam penerapan KUR digital dengan teknologi Cloud dan Artificial Intelligence.
Poin ketiga, kerja sama ini akan menciptakan keunggulan bagi BRI dalam menciptakan Artificial Intelligence based Risk Management milik Bank BRI. Dengan kerja sama ini, Bank BRI akan mempertajam akurasi Artificial Intelligence BANK BRI yaitu “BRIBRAIN” dengan best practice dan kerjasama teknologi yang dimiliki Google.
“Untuk masuk ke micro dan ultramicro, Kami perlu melakukan terobosan dalam penerapan Artificial Intelligence untuk Merchant Assessment, Credit Scoring, Product Recommendation dan Fraud Detection. Kami harus dinamis, cepat, dan akurat,” tegas Indra.
Indra menambahkan sebagai Bank terbesar yang menyalurkan pendanaan bagi pelaku UMKM, kerjasama dengan Google Cloud akan membantu BRI untuk memperluas jangkauan layanan keuangan untuk UMKM, meningkatkan kompetensi UMKM, dan penyaluran produk keuangan sesuai dengan profil dari UMKM.
Kerja sama ini pada akhirnya juga membantu Bank BRI dalam meningkatkan leading financial indicator berupa Loan, Savings, Current Account Saving Account (CASA) dan Fee Based Income (FBI).

Friday, 3 July 2020

Impact of Coronavirus - have Air France discuss thousands of layoffs

Activists from the far-left CGT union protested at Air France headquarters at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport as the talks began.
They’re particularly angry that the French government didn’t require Air France to protect jobs when it won 7 billion euros ($8 billion) in state bailout funds in May. Unions warn that job cuts will ripple across the French economy.
French media reports have said the airline is looking to cut 7,500 jobs, primarily through voluntary departures.
Airlines around the world are forecast to lose $84 billion this year, with revenue halved. Some have filed for bankruptcy or sought bailouts to survive the near-shutdown in their activity, and officials predict the industry will take years to recover.
The 7 billion euros in state aid for Air France is in the form of loans and loan guarantees and part of a broader 15 billion euro rescue plan from the government for the aviation sector.
The Air France meetings come days after European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, based in France, said that it must eliminate 15,000 jobs to safeguard its future.

The impact of mortgage applications increases dramatically - this is the reason

And the housing market? That felt the burn, too.
Forbearances surged. Popular iBuyers like Opendoor and Offerpad halted operations. At one point, mortgage applications decreased nearly 30 percent in just one week.
That was spring, though. It’s now summer — not that far removed from the first COVID-19 case hit — and it seems housing may be on its way back up. In fact, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 26 percent in just May alone. For the first week of June, refinance applications were up another 11 percent.

Why are people buying and refinancing homes right now?

Still, mortgage applications are rising despite it all. Buyer demand is up, too. According to real estate brokerage Redfin, overall demand from homebuyers is now up 25 percent over pre-pandemic levels.
What’s causing this jump in activity with all that’s going on? There are a few factors:

1. Low mortgage rates

Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hit record lows in May, at one point reaching 3.15 percent. For buyers, those low rates can mean a more affordable mortgage payment or more homebuying power.
Credible can help you to compare rates, loan terms and assess your likely mortgage payment. Visit today to see what a mortgage loan might mean for you.
“Homebuyers can now afford more home than previously budgeted thanks to mortgage rates floating at or near historic lows,” said Bill Banfield, EVP of capital markets at Quicken Loans. “Their housing options are increasing significantly – all while maintaining the monthly payment they can comfortably afford. This sudden surge in buying power offers a great opportunity for Americans searching for a new home after months of being confined during the period of quarantine.”
Low rates are also good for existing homeowners. Just a small dip in rates can mean big savings — both on the monthly payment and in long-term interest costs. In fact, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor report from data firm Black Knight, about 14 million homeowners could shave at least 0.75 percent off their mortgage rate through refinancing.
Keep in mind, getting those low rates requires shopping around. Rates vary widely by lender, so use a tool like Credible to compare your options and get the best deal.

2. Reopenings and lifting of stay-at-home orders

Many parts of the country have started lifting shelter-in-place orders, and businesses and workplaces are beginning to reopen. As this happens, homebuyers who may have been putting off their purchases are getting back into the market. 
Homeowners are starting to feel more comfortable going out, too — including to the various lenders and title companies required to refinance their loans.

3. Demand for more space

After months in lockdown, often with kids, spouses, and extended family members, many Americans are feeling stifled. They’ve been homeschooling, working from home, and confined to small spaces for weeks on end — and it has many yearning for a more spacious property.
Many are looking for houses with home offices, more outdoor amenities, or just extra rooms to allow for more privacy. There’s also been an interest in moving to the suburbs and more rural parts of the country, particularly from those living in urban regions. This is likely a result of social distancing recommendations, as Americans look to create more space between them and their neighbors.

Should you make your move?

With mortgage rates so low, it could be a good time to buy a house, but keep in mind: housing inventory is low right now. That means fewer options and more competition as you hit the market.
To stand out from other buyers, make sure you get preapproved for your mortgage loan before shopping for your home (Credible can help here) and increase your earnest money deposit if you’re up against a bidding war.
You can also write a letter to the seller making a personal appeal for the property or include an escalation clause, which increases your offer — up to a certain point — if you get outbid.