US-China Trade Truce; Scooter Braun Buys (Another) Record Label; Madame Tussaud’s Taken Private

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Trade War


Good(ish) news coming out of the G20 summit over the weekend as the US and China agreed to begin trade talks again. Washington and Beijing went all “Zack Morris timeout” on any new taxes for the time being and agreed to end the six-week escalation that began with the US increasing tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.

While the sides are back at the table, both agree that it will take work for a trade deal to get done. Still, the news that the US will halt any further tariffs on Chinese imports sent stock futures up.

President Trump has been steadfast in his mission to reduce the US-Chinese trade deficit. While imposing the US’ will on other countries’ economies remains a priority, the administration has switched its focus to limiting Chinese access to U.S innovation.

No ‘wei

A hot topic of discussions has been the US’ beef with Chinese telecom Huawei. Currently, the US has blacklisted the 5G provider citing national security concerns, including deals with Iran, a violation of US sanctions. In order to make a deal President Xi has demanded that the ban on Huawei must be removed.



Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings has acquired Big Machine Label Group for $300M. With Schoolboy Records already under the company umbrella, this acquisition cements Ithaca as a bonafide big swinging d*ck in the music industry.

Prior to the deal, Ithaca managed big-name artists like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Zac Brown Band. The latest acquisition will add a who’s who of country music: Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Sheryl Crow, and Lady Antebellum.

Existing Ithaca investor Carylyle Group will make another investment in the company, thus pushing its valuation to $800M. But as it turns out, not everyone is happy with the move …

Spill the tea, sis

Taylor Swift is none too pleased with the announcement, as Ithaca (and its owner, Scooter Braun, whom she hates) will now be in possession of the masters for her first six records. She left Big Machine last year and signed with Universal’s Republic Records.

Scooter Braun, along with the help of Justin Bieber and Kanye West, apparently bullied Swift about a leaked phone call she had with Kim Kardashian. She wrote all about it in a Tumblr post. It’s 2019 and Taylor’s out here living in 2011.



Six years after Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum’s owner Merlin went public, the Lego founding family and Blackstone have teamed up to take it private again for $7.5B. Lego and Blackstone, who already own stakes in Merlin, said that taking the firm private would allow for more investment in assets to help deliver on growth plans. Growth plans which presumably include Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Hardrock Cafe.

Merlin currently operates more than 130 attractions in 25 countries, making it the largest operator of visitor attractions behind Disney. One of the attractions that Merlin operates? Legoland, which Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego founder Kirk Kristiansen, sold to Merlin back in 2005. Kirkbi, which owns 75% of Lego, said the acquisition would allow for better brand and product development and allow for more investment in Legoland parks.

So why now?

US activist investor ValueAct Capital, which owns a 9.3% stake of Merlin, recently wrote a letter to the board urging the company to seek a deal to take the firm private. The letter said Merlin’s share price undervalued the company, and it argued that it would be easier to make long term investments away from the scrutiny of public investors.

The transaction clocks in at 445 pence-per-share, or roughly $5.65 USD per share, marking a 15% premium to Merlin’s Thursday closing price. As of now, Kirkbi will control 50% of Merlin, while Blackstone and the rest of the investment consortium will own the remainder. Following the news, Merlin shares rose 14% in London on Friday.





  • Apparently, Macklemore was onto something. Companies like The RealReal are cashing in on thrift store’s popularity. The RealReal, an online re-seller of luxury goods, went public on Friday. Shares jumped nearly 50% above their IPO price of $20 per share. Goodwill for people with trust funds raised $300M on its way to a $2.5B valuation.


  • When he wasn’t busy ripping off other influencer’s IG posts Josh Ostrovsky aka The Fat Jewish was creating an Instagrammable canned wine whose core demo is basic white chicks whose dad’s have places in the Hamptons. The Fat Jewish and his co-founders have sold their Babe Wine brand to Anheuser-Busch InBev for an undisclosed sum as AB attempts to diversify its portfolio away from cheap, mass-produced cold boys.


  • I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news regarding Deutsche Bank. The good news is that late last week DB got word that it passed the Fed’s stress tests. The bad news? The bank is still a festering pile of burning dog sh*t sitting on the German government’s doorstep. And now the former bulge bracket bank is considering upwards of 20k job cuts, as it looks to spare more than 20% of its workforce the embarrassment of DB employment.


  • MacKenzie Bezos is about to have herself a holiday weekend. Early this week MacKenzie will officially be awarded approximately $38B as part of her divorce from Jeffrey Commerce. You might remember that MacKenzie decided to allow Jeff to retain voting rights to all of the Amazon stock that she will own. And if that wasn’t enough … she has vowed to join the “Giving Pledge.”


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