News, analysis and personal reflections on the markets & the financial sector

Saturday, April 14, 2018

==Executive pay : Doug Becker, chairman of Laureate Education (LAUR)

  • Doug Becker the former CEO and current chairman of Laureate Education Inc. saw his compensation increase 257 percent in 2017 mainly because of the company's initial public offering.

Doug Becker's compensation totaled nearly $23 million in 2017, his last year as Laureate Education Inc.'s CEO and the company's first as a public company.

Becker's pay package was 257 percent higher than the prior year, according to the company's proxy statement filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The increase was mainly a result of stock option awards Becker received that were related to Laureate's (NASDAQ: LAUR) initial public offering, The Baltimore-based for-profit education provider became a public company for the second time last year with a $490 million IPO.

Excluding $14.6 million in option awards related to the IPO, Becker's compensation rose 29.8 percent to $8.3 million. Becker retired on Dec. 31 and was succeeded by Eilif Serck-Hanssen, the company's chief financial officer. He is still the company's non-executive chairman.

Becker's salary rose 9.9 percent to $1.1 million. He received $1.4 million from Laureate's non-equity incentive compensation plan.

His overall option awards totaled $20.4 million. Of that total, $14.6 million relates to profit interests Becker received from a group called Wengen Alberta Limited Partnership. Wengen was the private group consisting of Becker and other major shareholders that took Laureate private in 2007.

Serck-Hanssen's compensation increased 87 percent to $5.8 million. His base salary was $686,716. He also received $1.7 million in stock awards and $2.4 million in option awards. He received $1 million from Laureate's non-equity incentive compensation plan.

Ricardo M. Berckemeyer was formerly chief operating officer and Latin America CEO. He became president of Laureate on Jan. 1. His compensation in 2017 totaled $6.6 million, an increase of 57 percent from the prior year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

==Executive pay : McCormick & Co. CEO earned $9 million in 2017, a 39% jump

The CEO of McCormick & Co. Inc. earned $9 million in compensation last year, a 39 percent increase, as the Sparks, Maryland-based spice and flavorings maker reported record financial results for the year and completed the acquisition of the maker of French’s Mustard and Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

Performance-based pay made up the bulk of compensation for Lawrence E. Kurzius, who also serves as the company’s chairman and president.

On top of a base salary of $965,385, Kurzius earned $2.8 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, $2.3 million in stock option awards and $1.2 million in stock awards, according to a proxy the company filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. His total compensation was up from $6.5 million in 2016.

McCormick reported a profit of $477.4 million, or $3.72 a share, on $4.8 billion in sales in 2017, all up from the prior year. Last year, McCormick acquired Reckitt Benckiser Foods, the maker of French’s Mustard and Frank’s Red Hot sauce, a deal expected to spur its growth globally.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

=Chicago : Washington Federal Bank for Savings fails after CEO's suicide

A low-profile, 104-year-old thrift in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood became the city's second bank failure of 2017 with no warning that the lender was troubled.

Washington Federal Bank for Savings, a $166 million-asset institution that on paper was a simple mortgage lender, was closed Dec. 15 by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The thrift was extremely well-capitalized and showed no signs of liquidity issues.

In a terse statement, the OCC said it "acted after finding the bank had experienced substantial dissipation of assets due to unsafe or unsound practices, and that the bank's assets were less than its obligations to its creditors and others."

A spokesman declined to elaborate.

Adding to the mystery: The bank's chairman, CEO and president, John Gembara, hanged himself on Dec. 3, according to a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. That was just 12 days before the feds moved in.

Gembara's grandfather started the bank in 1913, and his father, Emil Gembara, ran it from 1980 to 1997 and remained chairman until his death in 2005. Emil Gembara was a deacon in his church and assisted in a Mass said by Pope John Paul II during the pope's 1979 visit to Chicago.

Efforts to reach Gembara's widow and other family members were unsuccessful.

The bank's sudden collapse apparently will leave some depositors holding the bag—a rarity when a bank fails and another lender assumes the branches and deposits.

The parent of Chicago-based Royal Savings Bank agreed to acquire only the insured deposits of Washington Federal from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That left about $11.6 million that were above the FDIC's $250,000 threshold for insuring deposits when a bank fails. That amounted to 8 percent of Washington Federal's total $144 million in deposits, according to the FDIC.

The last time a Chicago bank's uninsured depositors weren't made whole in similar circumstances was in 2002 when Chicago-based Universal Federal Savings Bank failed, an FDIC spokesman said. Before that, the failure of Superior Bank & Trust, co-owned by the billionaire Pritzker family, led to losses for some depositors and then years of litigation to try to recover some of that shortfall.

More recently, the FDIC was unable to find a buyer for the deposits and assets of Chicago's New City Bank. Depositors in that case received checks for just the insured portion of their deposits.

The FDIC estimated the bank's failure would cost the agency's insurance fund more than $60 million. That was the most solid hint from the regulators that Washington Federal's filings bore no resemblance to the thrift's true financial condition.

In addition to Washington Federal's insured deposits, Royal agreed to purchase just $23.7 million of the thrift's $166 million in assets, according to the FDIC. The remainder will stay with the FDIC, which will attempt to sell or collect them to reimburse uninsured depositors for at least some of their losses.

The two locations of Washington Federal, in Bridgeport and Little Italy, now are branches of Royal Savings. Royal, which has $324 million in assets and seven local branches, has the option to purchase the buildings, it said in a release.

As of Sept. 30, Washington Federal's FDIC's filings showed virtually no delinquent loans. It posted $1.7 million in net income year to date, an annualized return on equity of 10.7 percent—quite healthy for a bank that small.

Last year, the bank generated $2.3 million in net income, a market it was on pace to hit in 2017 as well.

The failure appeared to be so sudden that Washington Federal's website still was up as of this afternoon. A note from the now-deceased Gembara read, "We know that many banks have more branches than we do, but few, if any, can offer the legacy of service to the community and to our customers that we can. It is how my grandfather began in the banking business 100 years ago, and it is how we continue to operate today."

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Industria de Diseño Textil, S.A. (Inditex) is a Spanish multinational clothing company headquartered in Arteixo, Galicia.   Inditex, the biggest fashion group in the world, operates over 7,200 stores in 93 markets worldwide.  The company's flagship store is Zara, but it also owns the chains Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius and Uterqüe.

  • Owner: Amancio Ortega (59%)
  • Headquarters: Arteixo, Spain
  • Founded: 1963, A Coruña, Spain
  • Stock: ITX (BME) 
  • Profit: €2.9 billion (2015)

Monday, July 17, 2017

=Uber rival Grab raising $2 billion from SoftBank, China's Didi

  • Operates in 55 cities and seven countries.
  • Formerly Known as GrabTaxi, Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform. Grab solves critical transportation challenges and make transport freedom a reality for 620 million people in Southeast Asia. Grab offers a wide range of services through one mobile app.
  • Founders: Tan Hooi Ling, Anthony Tan

Grab, Uber Technologies's biggest rival in Southeast Asia, is raising as much as $2 billion in funding from Japan's SoftBank Group and China's top ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The deal, which could close in the next few weeks, would value Singapore-based Grab at more than $5 billion, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The reported funding comes amid efforts by Grab to transform into a consumer technology firm that also offers loans, electronic money transfer and money-market funds.

Grab declined to comment, while SoftBank and Didi did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Grab, which operates its ride-hailing platform in 55 cities across seven countries, raised $750 million in a funding round in September, with sources then valuing the five-year-old startup at over $3 billion.

The reported deal also comes at a time when San Francisco-based Uber, the world's largest ride-hailing service, faces setbacks at home ranging from accusations of a sexist work culture and driver protests.

Uber's challenges have culminated in the departure of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down under investor pressure last month.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

=H&M chairman Stefan Persson ups ownership stake

H&M Chairman Stefan Persson has bought 2.1 million shares in the company, taking his ownership to 40 percent in the clothes retailer, documents filed with the financial watchdog showed on Tuesday.

Persson bought 1.6 million B-shares in the company at the price of 209 Swedish crowns ($24.50) per share on 29 June, the day of quarterly report, and 520,000 B shares on July 3 for 214 crowns per share.

Stefan Persson, along with his family, now owns 468 million B-shares and 194 million A-shares in the company, representing 40 percent of the share capital and 70.9 percent of the vote.

  • H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (STO:HM-B)
  • Div/yield 4.85/4.58

H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB is a Sweden-based company active in the clothing industry. It operates under such brand names, as H&M, H&M Home, COS, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday and & Other Stories. It is engaged in the design, manufacture and marketing of clothing items and related accessories. The Company’s product range comprises clothing, including underwear and sportswear, for men, women, children and teenagers, as well as cosmetic products, accessories, footwear and home textiles. The Company offers its products in a number of branded stores spread across over 40 markets. Additionally, the Company offers online and catalogue sales in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, among others.

Key stats and ratios

Q2 (May '17)2016
Net profit margin11.48%9.69%
Operating margin14.89%12.39%
EBITD margin-16.55%
Return on average assets23.83%20.21%
Return on average equity40.83%31.25%