The Hut abandons London stock market listing – Financial Times

n>May 26 (Reuters) – Multi-website online retailer The Hut
will not go ahead with a previously announced listing on the
London Stock Exchange amid concerns about unsustainable
technology valuations and share volatility, The Financial Times
reported late on Monday.

The British newspaper reported The Hut Chief Executive
Matthew Moulding as saying even if the company had floated at a
sensible valuation, there was a risk the share price would be
pushed to unsustainable levels before correcting. (link.reuters.com/vyc69v)

Moulding, who has a 17 percent stake in The Hut, said the
company did not need to raise funds, adding that it had returned
13 million pounds to investors.

London has been a particular hot spot for capital, as firms
tap yield-hungry investors, and private equity groups cash in on
strong equity markets to exit investments made before the
2008-2009 financial crisis.

British retailers Poundland, Boohoo and
Patisserie Valerie have all floated in recent weeks.

However, lukewarm demand for shares in retailers like Card
Factory Plc is the latest sign interest in European
company flotations may be cooling somewhat after a red-hot start
to the year.

British clothing chain Fat Face (IPO-FFFL.L) also called off
a planned 110-million-pound ($186 million) London stock market
listing last week, citing market conditions as the reason.

The Hut could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Paul Simao)

Mary Burke’s financial statement lists homes, Trek stock

Madison — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke may be a millionaire, but her portfolio comes down to just a handful of investments.

In a financial ethics statement filed with the state Friday, Burke said her holdings consist of US Treasury notes and stock in her familys privately held business — Trek Bicycle Corp. — and in Treks former parent company, Roth Corp.

The main takeaway from the statement of economic interests filed by Burke Friday is how little information the public gets from this snapshot of modern candidates financial interests. For instance, there are only two boxes that candidates and public officials have to check for investments on the form to signify whether an asset is worth between $5,000 and $50,000 or more than $50,000.

On her form, Burke reported owning at least $155,000 in stocks and one bond in addition to her Madison home and a pricey vacation home in the Village of Troy in Sauk County.

That four-bedroom home was designed by prominent architect George Keck, sits on a large lot with a sweeping view of the Wisconsin River and sold in 2012 for $540,000, according to an online property listing.

Overall, the ethics statement itself provided little insight into Burkes wealth.

On the question of her income, she had to disclose only that in 2013 she received at least $1,000 in income similar to dividend payments from both her Trek and Roth stock. The form also noted that she is a member of the Madison School Board, a position that pays a roughly $4,000 annual stipend.

Likewise in April, Burkes opponent, GOP Gov. Scott Walker, only had to disclose on the state form that he was paid at least $1,000 from his publisher, the Penguin Group imprint Sentinel, for his memoir, Unintimidated: A Governors Story and a Nations Challenge. The website BuzzFeed reported in March that Walker was paid an advance exceeding $340,000 to write his account of the well-publicized fight over the law known as Act 10, which rolled back most collective bargaining for most government workers.

Burkes form also noted that she had made a loan of at least $5,000 to Quince and Apple, a high-end Madison jam company with owners whom Burke has helped mentor in business. The statement also notes that the Democrat sits on the board of the familys charitable Burke Foundation and has an outstanding loan of more than $50,000 from BMO Harris Bank.

Wisconsin GOP executive director Joe Fadness said, With a second home and significant financial holdings in her family company, millionaire Mary Burkes personal balance sheet sets her far apart from the hard-working folks living on Main Street.

Also Friday, the detection of a GOP plant at a private fundraiser for Burke on Thursday touched off mutual recriminations about the increasingly common practice of political groups spying on one another.

An intern for the state GOP entered a low-dollar fundraiser for Burke at the home of Waukesha County Supervisor Larry Nelson, former mayor of Waukesha. The intern put on a Burke button and presented herself as a supporter of the former state commerce secretary, Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki said.

When the intern sought to ask Burke a question and take video of the answer, Burke staffers checked out the interns name online and discovered the womans now-shutdown Twitter account.

My internship is requiring me to go to an event as an undercover Democrat today, so Ive basically reached 007 status, the intern had tweeted earlier in the day in a post preserved by Democrats.

The intern was then confronted and asked to leave Nelsons property, said Zepecki, who said it was unethical to go onto private property and lie in such a way.

Thats just not how we play Bridge, Zepecki said.

Its now commonplace in modern campaigns to have young operatives called trackers equipped with video cameras who follow opposing candidates in the hope of capturing embarrassing footage to use against them.

Walker is tracked by operatives from the liberal group American Bridge 21st Century.

Fadness said that the Burke tracking job had been offered to interns and that the young woman had volunteered and hadnt been required to do so as she had tweeted.

Fadness noted that Democrats also routinely employ trackers of their own for Walker and other Republicans. He pointed to Aaron Fielding, who in 2011 worked for American Bridge as a tracker in New Hampshire and then went on to work for a time as the finance director of Burkes campaign.

Mary Burkes staff and supporters wrote the modern playbook on tracking candidates, and its the pinnacle of hypocrisy for Democrats to cry out against their very own tactics, Fadness said.

American Bridge spokeswoman Gwen Rocco confirmed Friday that her group is tracking Walker during the 2014 campaign. She said that her groups policy is to have its trackers, if asked, identify themselves by name and acknowledge that they are with American Bridge. The groups trackers will enter private homes if a political event is advertised as open to the public, she said.

Also Friday, Burke appeared at a $200 per head Chicago fundraiser for EMILYs List, a group that focuses on electing Democratic women who back abortion rights. The group helped pour nearly $5 million into Tammy Baldwins successful run for US Senate in 2012 and so far has donated $43,000 to Burke.

Thomas Piketty accuses Financial Times of dishonest criticism

Thomas Piketty has accused the Financial Times of ridiculous and dishonest criticism of his economics book on inequality, which has become a publishing sensation.

The French economist, whose 577-page tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has become an unlikely must-read for business leaders and politicians alike, said it was ridiculous to suggest that his central thesis on rising inequality was incorrect.

The controversy blew up when the FT accused Piketty of errors in transcribing numbers, as well as cherry-picking data or not using original sources.

The newspaper concluded there was little evidence in Pikettys original sources to verify his theory that the richest were accumulating more wealth, widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Europe and the United States.

In an interview with the Agence France-Presse news agency, the economist said: The FT is being ridiculous because all of its contemporaries recognise that the biggest fortunes have grown faster.

While the available data was imperfect, it did not undermine his central argument about widening inequality, he said. Where the Financial Times is being dishonest is to suggest that this changes things in the conclusions I make, when in fact it changes nothing. More recent studies only support my conclusions, by using different sources.

Writing to the FT before the AFP interview, Piketty said he had put all his data online to encourage an open and transparent debate.

I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future… But I would be very surprised if any of the substantive conclusions about the long-run evolution of wealth distributions were much affected by these improvements.

In his book Piketty draws on data spanning two centuries and 20 countries to show how the western world is reverting to levels of inequality last seen during the Belle Epoque period of 1871-1914. The findings have won him an audience with Barack Obamas economic advisers and a spot on the Amazon bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

But it is the French economists use of UK data that has proved most problematic for the Financial Times.

Chris Giles, the FTs economics editor, who launched the FTs critique, has written that the books problems are most acute for Britain, where Prof Piketty shows rising concentrations of wealth among the richest since 1980, when his source data does not. While Piketty cited a figure showing the top 10% of the UK population held 71% of national wealth, a survey by the Office for National Statistics put the figure at 44%. Piketty dismissed the ONS survey as very low quality. The FT has said Piketty seemed rather unaware of UK data.

The newspaper has rejected Pikettys accusations that its work is ridiculous and dishonest. It also defended the ONS Wealth and Assets survey, describing it as exactly the same type of survey – but with a much larger sample size – as the data Piketty preferred to use in his book for the US.

While claims against Piketty have garnered much gloating on Twitter, he has won support from the Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. Anyone imagining that the whole notion of rising wealth inequality has been refuted is almost surely going to be disappointed, Krugman wrote on his New York Times blog.

Erie’s Booker T. Washington Center battling IRS, financial woes

The Booker T. Washington Center has appealed to get its federal tax exemption reinstated, but its dispute with the Internal Revenue Service has highlighted deep financial problems at the 91-year-old Erie social-service agency.

The center, at 1720 Holland St., has been so short of cash that it was unable to pay accountants to prepare the type of mandatory tax forms the IRS is claiming it failed to submit.

The IRS in March automatically revoked the Booker T. Washington Centers status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit because, according to the IRS, it did not file a tax document, known as a Form 990, for three consecutive tax years: 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The centers executive director and its new accountant said it did file the Form 990 for 2010, a copy of which the accountant provided to the Erie Times-News. The accountant, Christopher Elwell, retained on May 2, said he has filed an appeal with the IRS to figure out what happened to that filing and to reinstate the exemption — the revocation of which has already cost the center tens of thousands of dollars in funding.

Elwell said, however, that the Booker T. Washington Center never prepared or filed 990s for 2011 and 2012, which were due in 2012 and 2013, respectively. He said the center did not have the money to pay an accountant to prepare the forms for 2011 and 2012, which Elwell said he will prepare.

It was cash flow, said Elwell, a certified public accountant with Maloney, Reed, Scarpitti Co. LLP in Millcreek Township. They no longer had a relationship with the prior accountant.

That accounting firm, Buseck, Barger, Bleil Co. Inc., of Erie, prepared the Form 990 for 2010, which is dated Dec. 27, 2011.

The Buseck firm also prepared the centers Form 990 for prior years, according to the 990s, which are public documents that detail nonprofits finances. And the Buseck firm performed an audit of the center, dated March 14, 2012, for the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2011. The certified public accountant who signed the 990 for 2010, Valerie L. Hartley, was unavailable for comment.

Elwell is the first accountant the Booker T. Washington Center has retained since the Buseck firm finished its work.

We are basically behind in our funds, said William Jeffress, executive director of the center. We were not sure we could afford a full-fledged audit, which is about $10,000.

Jeffress said the center is looking into having its accountant, from now on, perform a less expensive financial review.

Elwell said the centers immediate concern is to get its exemption reinstated. He said the center then must file the other 990s, including the one for tax year 2013, which is due in November. Failure to do so would lead to another automatic revocation.

We are not trying to point any fingers, but we are trying to get clarification and get this resolved, Jeffress said of the IRS.

Jeffress said the center also received a bill from the IRS for some taxable activities in tax year 2010, which also ended June 30, 2011. Elwell said that bill, which the center paid, also indicates the IRS received a 990 from the center for that tax year.

There is no way you could have been able to bill my client without having a tax return on hand, Elwell said.

Deficit spending

Aside from the loss of funding due to the IRS dispute, the Booker T. Washington Center has seen its amount of funding drop considerably over the past several years — a result, Jeffress said, of a reduction in government aid nationwide. The center received $703,264 in overall revenue in 2008, $434,140 in 2009 and $479,676 in 2010, according to the available 990s.

The centers expenses, much of them tied to programs, did not decline as much over that period. The centers expenses were $780,764 in 2008 (leading to a $77,500 operating deficit), $566,408 in 2009 (for a deficit of $132,268) and $608,985 in 2010 (for a deficit of $129,309), according to the 990s.

Buseck, Barger, Bleil Co. Inc. noted the Booker T. Washington Centers precarious financial situation in the March 2012 audit.

The Organizations continuing losses and decreases in cash cause doubt regarding the Organizations ability to continue unless they receive additional funding and grants, according to the audit.

The Erie Times-News obtained a copy of the audit from Erie County government through a Right-to-Know Law request. The county at the time required the center to submit an audit to receive county funding.

Jeffress said the Booker T. Washington Center spends 90 percent of its funding on programs, and plans to make a public appeal for funding once it resolves the appeal with the IRS. He said the center, among other things, needs money to fix its roof.

A lot of people think we get state and federal funds and they are flowing like water. Those funds are not flowing, said Jeffress, who earned $49,848 as executive director in tax year 2010, according to the Form 990.

Loss of funds

The loss of the 501(c)(3) status led to the suspension of the centers funding from two of its major sources — the United Way of Erie County and the city of Erie, which passes through federal block grant money to the center. The city and the United Way both require an organization to have 501(c)(3) status to receive funding.

The city alone has withheld $10,030 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding the center was to receive for summer recreational programs this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The amount the United Way has withdrawn was not immediately available, though the agency in fiscal 2010 gave the center $142,686, according to the 990.

Erie County government, another major funding source, is to provide the center $101,995 for anti-drug and anti-violence programs this fiscal year.

Tax-exempt status is not a requirement for county funding, though the director of the countys Department of Human Resources, John DiMattio, has expressed concerns about the centers long-term financial health, and he met with Jeffress on May 20.

DiMattio said Jeffress told him the center would have to consider cutting programs and other expenses to the bare minimum.

ED PALATTELLA can be reached at 870-1813 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNpalatttella.

CFO: Donors come together for education efforts

There is one constituency the Community Foundation of the Ozarks — or any nonprofit — could not survive without: donors.

Its our donors from across the Ozarks who have helped us grow to more than $250 million in total assets since 1973.

A focus on donor needs is the priority of our Donor Services department.

They also seek to educate donors on issues in the community, bringing to light initiatives that they otherwise may not know. The latest such education session happened this month, when several dozen CFO donors met to hear from five agencies addressing different facets of child abuse, neglect and family violence.

Representatives from Harmony House, CASA of Southwest Missouri, The Victim Center, The Child Advocacy Center and Isabels House talked about their organizations missions.

At a glance they would seem to offer similar, if not redundant, services.

But the panel-style discussion made it apparent how the agencies differ, and how they cooperate to provide a spectrum of care that includes crisis intervention, immediate protection for children and families, forensic interviews following suspected abuse, short- and long-term counseling and court advocacy for children who are removed from a home by the state.

The goal was to show donors how seemingly overlapping agencies are actually working together to address the severe child abuse problem across the Ozarks. In that, the program was seemingly a success.

I knew these organizations existed, however now I know in detail how they work together, refer to, and benefit each other, said Sarah Adams-Orr, a CFO donor from Ozark. Being able to share what I learned with others in my circles was another highlight.

Other CFO donor education efforts include invitations to community events like the Childrens Summit unveiling the 2013 Community Focus report; the Funders Forum to address community issues; history tours of Springfield via the History Museum on the Square; passing on unfunded proposals from the CFOs grantmaking rounds for potential individual funding; one-on-one conversations, and more.

To learn more about the CFOs Donor Services department, or how to become a donor, contact Winter Skelton at 417-864-6199.

Matt Lemmon is the CFOs communications specialist.

Slicing the Salami – Financial Reform in China

China’s advocates for financial reform have certainly talked big this year, but their agenda still remains just that. This year we have heard that the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges will link up making two way trading a reality, that private banks will be approved to take on the state banking cartel and that deposit insurance will be put in place this year “probably.” These long past due date ideas are announced to great fanfare then the market waits and waits for actions to follow. It would be great if the central bank and the securities regulator would first announce a detailed timeline to reform that the government stuck to. Instead the serial announcements have begun to seem like signals of the system’s fundamental inability to reform.

The Hong Kong-Shanghai “through train” was first announced to great fanfare in mid-2007, then pulled back. The deposit insurance scheme was also announced in 2007 and never happened. Interest rate reform has attached itself to wealth management products that seem to this analyst wholly out of control and had nothing to do with reform in the first place. And freeing up the upper limits for bank loans is beside the point; the real need is to free up deposit rates, a reform that may happen sometime in the next to years maybe.

Now we have the recent news that ten so-called private companies have been invited by the bank regulator to form five privately invested banks. This has been seen by many commentators as the first step to opening up China’s closely guarded state banking preserve to private investors. Never mind that presumably private investors own large chunks of all listed Chinese banks or that foreign banks have been operating in China for 30 years with little to show for it (foreign bank assets are less than 2% of Chinese financial assets).

These new private banks are meant to do what the state bank cartel and foreigners seem unable to do: lend to small and medium size enterprises. The list of companies that are to promote these new banks does not suggest even a hint of banking expertise. As for Alibaba and Tencent, it is one thing to place buyer deposits in mutual funds or so-called “wealth management products,” and an entirely different thing to establish and run a bank making loans to corporate entities.

Financial stress levels rising rapidly: survey

  • Consumer confidence worst in five years with biggest drop since GFC

Australian consumer financial stress is rapidly rising, as households begin to digest the federal budget, and adjust to low wages growth, a survey has found.

Dun and Bradstreets quarterly Consumer Financial Stress Index, released today, shows Australian financial stress levels have risen by almost a third, to 18.7 points from 13 in September.

The stress has been caused by a mixture of slow wages growth and the expected effect of federal budget cuts on household finances, Dun and Bradstreet said.

Sbarro Gets Go-Ahead To Exit Bankruptcy Again


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By Maria Chutchian
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Law360, New York (May 19, 2014, 11:11 AM ET) — Shopping mall pizza chain Sbarro LLC on Monday received a New York judges approval to exit its second bankruptcy in three years under a prepackaged plan that slashes its debt by 85 percent and allows senior secured lenders to take over the reorganized entity.

Attorneys for the company appeared in court before US Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn with support from its lenders and the official committee of unsecured creditors and no objections to the proposal, prompting him to sign off on the deal.

Finding that all…

Survey unpacks Gen Y’s lack of financial independence

The disconnect between Gen Y’s ambitions and the financial reality is documented in the Yconic/Abacus Data Survey of Canadian Millennials, which was conducted for The Globe and Mail earlier this year and involved 1,538 young people aged 15 to 33. The most dramatic findings concern Gen Y members’ ability to establish their financial independence from parents. Survey participants expected to reach this milestone by 27 on average, but 43 per cent of the 30- to 33-year-olds said they had not yet done so.

Parents, you’re far from alone if you help your adult kids financially. In the survey, almost one in five people in the 30 to 33 group lived with mom and dad, as did 29 per cent of those in the 25 to 29 range. Seventeen per cent of 30- to 33-year-olds said they were getting help from their parents to pay their bills and 28 per cent of youth aged 25 to 29 said this.

A fair bit of analysis has been done on whether today’s young adults have more trouble establishing themselves after graduation than their parents. The Globe and Mail’s Who Had It Worse Time Machine suggests they do, while a recent BMO Economics study said they are better off in some ways. The Yconic/Abacus survey gives us a different take by delving into the experience and attitudes of young people rather than economic indicators.

Let’s dispense with some stereotypes that are sometimes used as a rationale in blaming Gen Y for its own problems. Far from being self-absorbed slackers, this is a group with traditional middle-class values. More or less, nine in 10 participants in the poll indicated a desire to buy homes and cars, or had already bought them. Only 9 per cent were unequivocal in not wanting to have kids.

Millennials don’t play the blame game, either. Two-thirds of those in the poll said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their lives, and a similar proportion believes it will have a better or similar quality of life than their parents. There’s little variation in this thinking between the teenaged younger poll participants and those in their early 30s.

Student debt gets a lot of attention as an issue facing young adults and the Yconic/Abacus survey validates this to some extent. Only 23 per cent of survey participants aged 25 to 33 had zero non-mortgage debt, and a third of those aged 30 to 33 owed more than $20,000.

Landing a career-building, full-time job is another challenge that is well documented in the survey. One-third of people in the 30 to 33 group and 73 per cent of 25- to 29-year-olds had not found a full-time job in their field. Among those aged 25 to 29, just over one-third thought they’d need as many as five years to find full-time work in their field, and 7 per cent weren’t sure when this would happen.

Even those who are working struggle. Among 30- to 33-year-olds, 52 per cent say they can afford to pay their bills but have trouble saving money, and 22 per cent say they’re either barely making ends meet or living paycheque to paycheque.

By no means is Gen Y a financial basket case. Sixty per cent of 30- to 33-year-olds said they have bought a house or planned to do so in the year ahead, and two-thirds have bought a car. But the number relying on their parents is too high for complacency. We need to dig further into this issue.

Gen Y, at least you have time on your side. Today’s 20- and 30-year-olds should expect to live 90-plus years and work until 65 or 70. You can still meet your financial goals – just later than your parents did.

I’ll discuss what Gen Y’s financial issues mean to parents in a column later this week. Beyond supporting their kids emotionally and financially, parents could certainly get more aggressive in asking educators, politicians and the business community what they’re doing to help young adults succeed.

Like their parents, these young people want life’s full package. If they can’t get it, there’s something wrong.

Full results of the poll can be obtained through yconics website (signup required): Gen Y financials findings, Gen Y state of mind findings.

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Check out our new Gen Y blog, where a 20-something recent university graduate will chronicle her real-life journey of embarking on a career, struggling to repay her student debt and trying to find her financial footing.

Rob Carrick will answer Gen Y personal finance questions on Twitter on Wednesday (hashtag: #genYmoney).On Wednesday, I’m taking questions about Gen Y finances on Twitter. The hashtag is #genYmoney.

Follow Rob Carrick on Twitter: @rcarrick