Kleiner Perkins Invested in Snapchat at $10B Valuation - WSJ Aug 26, 2014 05:51PM

Kleiner Perkins has invested in Snapchat at a $10 billion valuation, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal.


Director of Market Intelligence at Investor Relations Firm Charged with Insider Trading Aug 26, 2014 01:51PM

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that MICHAEL A. LUCARELLI, the Director of Market Intelligence at Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates, Inc. (“LHA”), an investor relations firm, was arrested this morning on 13 counts of insider trading. LUCARELLI is expected to be presented today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, and despite the well-known parade of convicted insider trading perpetrators over the past several years, Michael Lucarelli was not deterred and violated both his company’s policies and his responsibility to its clients by trading on material nonpublic information for his personal financial gain. For the over $500,000 he earned from his illicit trades he is charged with 13 counts of securities fraud.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “Instead of doing his job, Lucarelli spent his days setting up brokerage accounts to make illegal trades using inside information from unwitting clients. He violated the responsibility he had to both company and clients. He also broke the law and today finds himself under arrest and charged in a thirteen count complaint.”

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

From at least August 2013 through at least August 2014, LUCARELLI engaged in an insider trading scheme to use and trade upon material non-public information that he acquired during his employment at LHA, an investor relations firm based in Manhattan. Specifically, LUCARELLI, as an LHA employee, had access to working drafts of press releases prepared by LHA for its clients prior to their issuance to the investing public. Those draft press releases contained material, non-public information about business events and announcements relating to LHA’s clients.

In violation of LHA’s policies and in breach of his duties to LHA and its clients, on multiple occasions, LUCARELLI took positions in the stock of LHA clients shortly before the announcement by these companies of material information through press releases prepared by LHA. Shortly following the issuance of the press releases drafted by LHA, LUCARELLI exited the positions in these securities that he had acquired prior to the issuance, thereby profiting on the movement in the stock price.

LUCARELLI repeatedly traded in LHA client securities despite LHA’s written code of conduct, which strictly prohibited LHA employees from trading in any security issued by an LHA client. LUCARELLI carried out his scheme in at least four different brokerage accounts. When opening new brokerage accounts through which to conduct his illegal trades, LUCARELLI did not reveal his affiliation with LHA. And, on two occasions, LUCARELLI opened new brokerage accounts soon after his ability to trade in other accounts had been suspended by the respective brokerage firms.

On or about July 24, 2014, the FBI obtained a search warrant to search LUCARELLI’s office at LHA for evidence of his insider trading activities. During that search, which was conducted without LUCARELLI’s knowledge, the FBI located a locked briefcase which, when opened, contained a draft press release for LHA client, TREX Company (“TREX”). That press release was marked “DRAFT” and contained TREX’s second fiscal quarter 2014 financial results. The following day, after the FBI completed the search, LUCARELLI started purchasing shares of TREX. Between July 25, 2014 and August 1, 2014, LUCARELLI took a net position of 37,400 shares of TREX. Then, on August 4, 2014, shortly before the market opened, TREX issued a press release announcing its second fiscal quarter 2014 financial results. Among other things, TREX announced that sales and earnings before taxes had increased 23 percent and 62 percent, respectively, in comparison with the comparable period in 2013. TREX also issued revenue guidance for the third fiscal quarter of 2014, which was a 27 percent increase over the comparable period in 2013. Within two hours of the announcement, LUCARELLI sold 35,058 of the 37,400 TREX shares he previously purchased. Those sales yielded a profit of almost $90,000.

As a result of the 13 instances of insider trading alleged in the Complaint, LUCARELLI earned at least $538,215.32 in illicit proceeds. Furthermore, the FBI has discovered numerous additional trades that LUCARELLI conducted in LHA client securities and that exhibit a similar pattern of fraud. The FBI’s investigation is ongoing.

* * *

LUCARELLI is charged with 13 counts of securities fraud. The securities fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the SEC, which has filed civil charges in a separate action.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visitwww.stopfraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Blais and Damian Williams are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolina Fornos of the Office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.

The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


PGA's Presidents Cup Coming to New Jersey in 2017 Aug 26, 2014 11:13AM

The PGA made the following announcement on Tuesday:

Liberty's time to shine

If you ever visit Liberty National Golf Club, then you'll get an up-close view of the Statue of Liberty. It's visible from most of the course and stands just 1,000 yards from the 18th hole, offering one of the most unique settings in all of golf.

"Unlike any course in the world," said Phil Mickelson.

It's certainly a fitting site for The Presidents Cup, which Liberty National will host in 2017. The event pits an International group of players against the best that America has to offer, a proper competition in the shadow of Lady Liberty and the nearby Ellis Island.

"Ten percent of the entire U.S. population lives within 30 miles of us," said Dan Fireman, co-founder of Liberty National with his father Paul. "We have a very diverse population and I think it will make it quite interesting when we have this event."

The course was awarded The Presidents Cup 2017 by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem during a ceremony at Liberty National on Tuesday morning. It's part of a 25-year partnership with the TOUR, in which the course will host up to 10 events at the scenic venue on the banks of the Hudson River.

Liberty National has already hosted the 2009 and 2013 Barclays, the leadoff event in the FedExCup Playoffs. The course, which opened on July 4, 2006, will join the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, TPC Harding Park and Muirfield Village Golf Club as the only U.S. courses to host the competition. The 2015 event will be played in South Korea.

"Liberty National has been a great venue for two previous playings of The Barclays, and we are all thrilled that this club will be a regular fixture on the PGA TOUR schedule for many years to come," Finchem said. "This is a golf course that our players, fans and millions of television viewers love."

Not only does Liberty National offer sweeping and spectacular views of the New York City skyline, it is also a testament to American ingenuity as course designers Tom Kite and Bob Cupp created a masterpiece on top of a landfill on the Jersey shore.

Roads had to be relocated, warehouses demolished and miles of retaining walls built to help the course designers reclaim the property and create a championship course that offers views of the Statue of Liberty on nearly every hole.

Lady Liberty never far away at Liberty National

Dan Fireman called the project an "obsession" for him and his father. Paul Fireman is the former CEO of Reebok who is now chairman of Fireman Capital Partners. Dan Fireman is managing partner of Fireman Capital Partners.

"No question that the property had a lot of obstacles to build this golf course," Dan Fireman said. "Any sort of normal person trying to build a course for profit would not have undertaken this project. But for my father and I, it was not about making a profit, it was about giving back to the game.

"We wanted to take advantage of the views of the city, as well as create something that would stand up to a PGA TOUR event. We talked about the future and where the golf course would be one day."

After Heath Slocum won The Barclays in 2009, making birdie on the final hole to edge Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, the Firemans worked closely with the PGA TOUR to fine-tune the property for future events. Adam Scott came from six shots off the pace last year to win the second Barclays at Liberty National.

"It wasn't easy to do," Fireman said. "But these guys really mentored us. They appreciated our willingness to be flexible. We appreciated them working with us and being patient.

"It's been 5 or 6 years now, but it feels like we've had a partnership for 20 years already."

Dan Fireman sees a big future for The Presidents Cup 2017. He plans to have concerts nightly during competition week at Liberty State Park and would love to see events held at other nearby landmarks like Ellis Island, where more than 12 million immigrants came into the United States.

"In many respects, this is going to be a kickoff point for The Presidents Cup," Dan Fireman said. "The TOUR, the Fireman family is really going after this to build it as the biggest event yet -- and not just the competition and the teams.

Another element of the announcement on Tuesday was the $5 million, five-year commitment the Firemans made to The First Tee. Half of that total is earmarked for The First Tee facilities in the New York/New Jersey area.

"Golf is all about giving back," Dan Fireman said. "I've played the game for over 30 years. My father taught me. His father taught him. I am teaching my children. The game teaches you about integrity, sportsmanship and truly giving back to the next generation.

"This donation is not only a symbol of our wanting to give back, it's a case of putting your money where your mouth is."


China May Implement RMB100 Billion Fund for Electric-Car Chargers (TSLA) (KNDI) Aug 26, 2014 06:58AM

(Updated - August 26, 2014 6:58 AM EDT)

China said to mull RMB100 billion (about $16 billion) fund for electric-car chargers, according to Bloomberg headlines.

UPDATE - Bloomberg noted that the program will be announced soon, but it wasn't made clear whether or not the chargers would be compatible with Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) vehicles.

Local electric vehicle manufacturers in China include Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co. and Kandi Technologies (Nasdaq: KNDI).

China's new energy vehicle segment includes EVs, hybrids, and fuel-cell autos. The country has been moving to boost sales of NEVs, with the latest effort being that those vehicles will be exempt from a purchase tax starting in September.


China May Implement RMB100 Billion Fund for Electric-Car Chargers (TSLA) (KNDI) Aug 26, 2014 06:58AM

(Updated - August 26, 2014 6:58 AM EDT)

China said to mull RMB100 billion (about $16 billion) fund for electric-car chargers, according to Bloomberg headlines.

UPDATE - Bloomberg noted that the program will be announced soon, but it wasn't made clear whether or not the chargers would be compatible with Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) vehicles.

Local electric vehicle manufacturers in China include Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co. and Kandi Technologies (Nasdaq: KNDI).

China's new energy vehicle segment includes EVs, hybrids, and fuel-cell autos. The country has been moving to boost sales of NEVs, with the latest effort being that those vehicles will be exempt from a purchase tax starting in September.


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