Category Archives: Monopolies

Rothschild and Rockefeller families join forces for some extra added wealth and power


The transatlantic alliance cements a five-decade acquaintance between the now ennobled Jacob Rothschild (R), 76, and David Rockefeller (L), 96, the grandson of the ruthlessly acquisitive American oilman and philanthropist John D Rockefeller.

Telegraph | May 31, 2012

By Alistair Osborne

RIT Capital Partners, which is chaired by Lord Rothschild, has taken a 37pc stake in Rockefeller Financial Services, the family’s wealth advisory and asset management wing. It has snapped up the holding from French bank Société Générale for less than £100m.

The transatlantic alliance cements a five-decade acquaintance between the now ennobled Jacob Rothschild, 76, and David Rockefeller, 96, the grandson of the ruthlessly acquisitive American oilman and philanthropist John D Rockefeller.

The two patricians now plan to capitalise on their family names to buy other asset managers or their portfolios, using their networks of top-notch contacts to ensure they get a seat at the table for any deal.

“We’ve known each other for a long time, they have a good business,” said Lord Rothschild yesterday. “We haven’t got a presence in the US and this brings together two formidable names in finance.”

He said the two firms planned to capitalise on current market conditions where banks, like SocGen in this instance, are selling non-core assets to rebuild capital ratios. “At a time when big banks are destabilised, there may well be opportunities,” he said. “We could buy an asset management company or grow one. Rockefeller already has $34bn (£21.9bn) assets under administration.”

Rothschild and Rockefellers in joint venture

Rockefeller and Rothschild Dynasties Join Forces

The Rockefellers and the Rothschilds Make a Deal

The Rockefellers and Rothschilds Hook Up

Old money alliance will attract new wealth

Rothschild buys into Rockefeller wealth business

RIT Capital Partners, Chaired By Lord Rothschild, And Rockefeller & Co. Announce Strategic Partnership

He said David Rockefeller was still “very involved” in the business, though it is run day to day by chief executive Reuben Jeffery.

The Rockefeller group goes back to 1882, set up to invest the family money made by John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the forerunner for today’s Exxon Corporation, which he built with a Darwinian aggression. “Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in,” he once said.

The Rothschild banking dynasty has its roots in the 18th century when Mayer Amschel Rothschild set up a business in Frankfurt.

Lord Rothschild fell out three decades ago with his cousin Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who then ran the UK branch of the family bank NM Rothschild. That sprang to fame in 1815 when it bought government bonds in anticipation of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

Lord Rothschild’s relations with the French side of the family have been better though and he likened the Rockefeller deal to RIT’s tie-up earlier this year with the Edmond de Rothschild Group, which has €150bn (£120bn) under management.

“We think that having that span of interests in Europe and America – as well as China – will give us a better chance of finding exceptional investment opportunities,” he said.

RIT, which has net assets £1.9bn, has had a tricky few months with the shares down about 14pc in the past year. They fell 6 today to £11.25.

Lord Rothschild said: “Everyone has been marked down. We didn’t have a brilliant year on the quoted side but we did do very well on the private side,” realising investments in North Sea operator Agora Oil and Gas and credit manager Harbourmaster.

 

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Communist Chinese conglomerate buys AMC to form world’s largest cinema chain


Under the new U.S.-China deal, more IMAX or 3D films are being allowed into China

CNN | May 21, 2012

By Kevin Voigt

(CNN) — China’s Dalian Wanda Group and AMC Entertainment announced Monday a $2.6 billion deal to take over the U.S. theater group, forming the world’s largest cinema chain, according to a new release on the deal.

The move is the latest in a raft of deals between U.S. entertainment companies and Chinese firms, linking the world’s largest theater market with the world’s fastest growing.

“This acquisition will help make Wanda a truly global cinema owner, with theatres and technology that enhance the movie-going experience for audiences in the world’s two largest movie markets,” said Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Wanda.

Wanda, a private company that previously operated solely in China, generates $16.7 billion in annual revenue from its commercial development and entertainment businesses, the company said. The group owns 86 theaters with 730 screens in China.

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“As the film and exhibition business continues its global expansion, the time has never been more opportune to welcome the enthusiastic support of our new owners,” said Gerry Lopez, chief executive officer and president of AMC.

AMC operates 346 multiplex theaters, largely in North America, with a total of 5,034 screens. Headquarters of AMC, a privately held company, will remain in the Kansas City area and day-to-day operations, including the process for film programming, will remain unchanged, the release said.

In a deal last February, China agreed to increase the quota of 20 foreign films per year — most of them from the U.S. — to add an additional 14 IMAX or 3D films each year, and nearly doubled the cut foreign film companies can take from Chinese box office to 25%.

In April, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment of Beijing announced a production deal in which “Iron Man 3” will be co-produced in China. That follows the February announced that a $330 million joint venture between DreamWorks Animation, China Media Capital (CMC) and two other Chinese companies to establish a China-focused family entertainment company, Oriental DreamWorks.

Last month came revelations, first reported by Reuters, that the Securities and Exchange Commission sent inquiries to 20th Century Fox, Disney and DreamWorks about whether Hollywood studios were paying bribes to get a foothold in the China theater market.

I’m not that powerful, Rupert Murdoch tells judge


News Corp Chief Rupert Murdoch (L) and his wife Wendi Deng (R) drive away from the High Court in central London on April 25, 2012 after Rupert Murdoch gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry. Rupert Murdoch tried to downplay his political influence in landmark testimony to the inquiry into press ethics on April 25, even as evidence from his media empire prompted a government aide to resign. The 81-year-old mogul, speaking on oath during his first appearance at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, hit out at ‘sinister inferences’ about his ties to British leaders over the past four decades. Getty Images

Associated Press | Apr 25, 2012

By RAPHAEL SATTER

LONDON (AP) — News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday that his globe-spanning TV and newspaper empire doesn’t carry as much political sway as is often believed, telling a British inquiry into media ethics that he wasn’t the power behind the throne often depicted by his enemies.

Speaking softly, deliberately and with dry humor, Murdoch sought to deflate what he described as myths about his business, his agenda and his friendships with those at the pinnacle of British politics.

“If these lies are repeated again and again they catch on,” he said. “But they just aren’t true.”

The 81-year-old media baron denied ever calling in favors from British leaders and dismissed the oft-repeated claim that his top-selling daily, The Sun, could swing elections.

“We don’t have that sort of power,” he testified.

Murdoch was being quizzed under oath before an inquiry run by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who is examining the relationship between British politicians and the press, a key question raised by the phone hacking scandal that brought down Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in July.

Revelations of widespread illegal behavior at the top-selling Sunday publication rocked Britain’s establishment with evidence of media misdeeds, police corruption and too-cozy links between the press and politicians. Murdoch’s News International — the tabloid’s publisher — has been hit with over 100 lawsuits over phone hacking and dozens of reporters and media executives have been arrested.

Showing little equivocation, Murdoch batted away challenges to his ethics by inquiry lawyer Robert Jay.

Asked whether he set the political agenda for his U.K. editors, he denied it.

Asked whether he’d ever used his media influence to boost his business, he denied it.

Asked whether standards at his papers declined when he took them over, he denied it — and threw in a quip about his rivals.

“The Sun has never been a better paper than it is today,” Murdoch said. “I won’t say the same of my competitors.”

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron following the scandal’s resurgence in July. Murdoch’s testimony was among the most heavily anticipated — not least because of his close links to generations of British politicians, both from Cameron’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party.

Murdoch made few concessions to his inquisitor.

He denied that former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Labour Party had consulted with him on how to discredit French leader Jacques Chirac in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He denied strategizing with Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, on whether to call a snap election. And he denied lobbying Cameron on issues including broadcasting regulations, the ins-and-outs of which have since helped feed the scandal.

He did reveal a tense telephone exchange with Brown in September 2009, after the tycoon had decided to throw The Sun’s support behind rival Cameron.

“Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company,” Murdoch quoted Brown as saying, adding he did not think that the prime minister “was in a very balanced state of mind.”

Brown released a statement Wednesday characterizing Murdoch’s version as false.

“I hope Mr. Murdoch will have the good grace to correct his account,” Brown said.

Murdoch also owned up to having made a colorful joke first reported by Blair: “If our flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, then I suspect we will end up making love like porcupines, very very carefully.”

But he denied that his personal friendship with Blair had led to any favors, thumping the table to punctuate his sentence.

“I never. Asked. Mr. Blair. For anything,” he said.

Media-watchers have speculated that Murdoch would seek to inflict political pain on the Cameron’s Conservatives, rumors which gained force when his son James gave damning testimony about British Olympics czar Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday. The younger Murdoch released documents that suggested that Hunt, a Cameron ally, had secretly smoothed the way for News Corp.’s bid for full control of the British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, a lucrative satellite broadcaster.

The bid was contested by Murdoch’s competitors, who feared that if News Corp. increased its stake in BSkyB, it would reinforce his dominance of the British media landscape. Hunt had told lawmakers he would be impartial, but the documents showed his department giving News Corp. behind-the-scenes advice and intelligence.

Hunt’s political aide Adam Smith resigned Wednesday, saying he was responsible for the perception that News Corp. had “too close a relationship” with Hunt’s office. Smith said he had acted without Hunt’s authorization, but it was not clear how a special adviser could have acted so independently.

Although Murdoch was cooperative with the inquiry on Wednesday, he evoked a healthy helping of the phrase “I don’t remember,” particularly when confronted with potentially embarrassing anecdotes about his alleged remarks.

At one point, Jay quizzed Murdoch about a gleeful comment in which Murdoch took credit for smearing his left-wing opponents.

“If I said that, I’m afraid it was the influence of alcohol,” Murdoch replied.

Throughout the hearing, Murdoch attacked the idea that he traded on his political influence, calling it a “complete myth. One I want to put to bed once and for all.”

So determined was he that Murdoch appeared to claim he was totally blind to business considerations when deciding which politicians to back.

“You’re completely oblivious to the commercial benefits to your company of a particular party winning an election. Is that really the position?” asked a skeptical-sounding Jay.

“Yes,” Murdoch said. “Absolutely.”

His testimony resumes on Thursday.

As Gas Prices Rise, Oil Companies Enjoy Multibillion-Dollar Rise in Profits

technorati.com | Feb 26, 2011

by John Egan

Pumped up about skyrocketing gas prices? Many American motorists are.

According to AAA, the average U.S. price for a gallon of gas was $3.33 on Feb. 26, up from $2.70 a year ago. Some experts predict gas prices in some areas of the country could skyrocket to $5 a gallon this summer.

While we’re paying more to fill up, the three largest publicly traded oil companies based in the United States have been filling up on profits.

Those three companies – ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – collectively pulled in an eye-popping $58.3 billion in profits in 2010, according to financial figures announced in January 2011. Mind you, that’s profit – the amount of money that companies pocket after covering their expenses.

By means of comparison, the net worth of Microsoft founder Bill Gate has been pegged at $53 billion, about $5 billion less than the combined profits of the Big Three oil companies.

Here’s the breakdown of the Big Three’s profits in 2010:

• ExxonMobil: $30.5 billion, up $11 billion from 2009. In a substantial understatement, ExxonMobil’s vice president of investor relations, David Rosenthal, said he was “very pleased” with the company’s financial results for 2010.

• Chevron: $19 billion, up from $10.5 billion in 2009.

• ConocoPhillips: $8.8 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2009.

Certainly, massive profits for Big Oil are nothing new. And for years, American motorists have been moaning about high gas prices while oil companies have been raking in billions of dollars.

“Enough is enough. We need Congress to stand up to Big Oil and pass legislation that addresses the problems with oil profits and oil use,” Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at American Progress, wrote in April 2010.

“In short, Big Oil’s profits climb higher and higher as American consumers feel more and more pain at the pump. This needs to stop.”

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British Gas makes record £742m profit just weeks after households hit with 7% price hike


Huge gains: British Gas’ residential arm made profits of £742m last year, after hiking prices by seven per cent

Daily Mail | Feb 25, 2011

By Sean Poulter

A major inquiry is being demanded into profiteering energy firms after British Gas figures soared to a record £742million.

Profits were up by a quarter in 2010 following the coldest December in 120 years and a shock 7 per cent price rise ahead of the winter.

The firm’s parent company Centrica also announced record profits of £2.4billion – up by almost a third on 2009.

The huge profit margins enjoyed by country’s ‘big six’ energy suppliers are being investigated by the industry regulator Ofgem.

It is coming under pressure to announce a formal inquiry by the Competition Commission to establish whether consumers are being overcharged.

The allegation is that firms are quick to pass on any increases in wholesale energy costs, but delay passing on cuts – raking in billions from struggling customers.

High energy bills over the winter have been a disaster for families and pensioners also struggling with big increases in the cost of food, petrol and clothes.

Research suggests that millions rationed their heat and endured the cold over the winter for fear of generating bills they could not pay.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of the official customer body, Consumer Focus, said: ‘We need successful energy companies – but consumers may look at today’s profits and at recent prices rises and question how one justifies the other.

‘The issue is about whether the energy market is working properly and Ofgem’s review must try to answer this question once and for all.

‘If the regulator identifies systemic weaknesses in the energy market then it should seriously consider whether a Competition Commission investigation is needed,’ he added. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: ‘Soaring  profits will be cold comfort to  British Gas customers who  were slapped with a price hike  at the beginning of the winter  and have been feeling the impact ever since.

‘More than three-quarters of consumers have cut down or rationed their energy use this winter because of cost.’

However, Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw said the company’s profits were ‘for a purpose’.

The company has pledged to spend £15billion over the next decade on nuclear, wind farms and gas-fired generation.

Yesterday, the firm announced a £2billion deal with Qatar for the supply of enough gas to meet the needs of around 2.5million UK households. It will also invest £450million in its Ensign and York gas fields in the southern North Sea.

Mr Laidlaw said: ‘We’re in a volatile situation with commodity prices and we will do all we can to keep bills as low as we can.’

MY SHOCK AT £20,000 BILL

An elderly customer awaiting a heart operation has been traumatised by receiving a bill for £20,000 from British Gas, backed up with threats of legal action.

David Exon, 71, who lives with his wife Mila in Eastbourne, said: ‘I have a pacemaker and am due to have a new one  fitted. I also have serious angina.

‘The effect of suddenly receiving a bill for £20,000 is quite traumatic.

‘Even though I know full well it is rubbish, the trouble is you can’t stop them sending out these bills.

‘My worry is that they will pass the case to a debt collection agency and I will lose my creditworthiness.’

Asked about the utility  company’s recent announcement of record profits, he said: ‘I am not surprised if this is how they make their money.’

After being contacted by the Daily Mail, a British Gas spokesman admitted there had been a mistake.

He said: ‘We are undertaking a thorough account review.’

Some tout Jeb Bush as GOP savior in 2012


Jeb Bush with fellow Knights of Columbus Jim Geuin, Bob McGivern, Bill Stoye, Dave Busch, Dean Bunton and George Englemark of Assembly 0170  in Aug 2007 attending the “Red Mass” in Tallahassee (photo: vaticanassassinsarchive.com)

UPI | Feb 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) — Some Republican activists unexcited by their presidential field are clamoring for a familiar name: Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor and son and brother of presidents has said repeatedly he will not run in 2012, although he has not ruled out later elections.

Still, some hope he can be convinced, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reports.

“None of the candidates talking about running now really stands out, but Jeb Bush would be really strong,” said Adam Hubler of Virginia, one of the activists attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last week.

“There’s no question Jeb Bush is one of, if not the, most popular Republican in the country, but the fact is he’s not running,” said Ron Kaufman, a strategist who helped President George H.W. Bush get elected in 1988.

The presumptive GOP front-runner, Mitt Romney, is saddled with a label of flip-flopper and a healthcare reform program in Massachusetts that closely resembles “Obamacare.”

Bush has been active giving speeches on education reform and consulting.

Readers upset by Huffington Post AOL take-over


AOL, led by Tim Armstrong, is making waves with its $315m deal to buy Arianna Huffington’s website network

Financial Times | Feb 7, 2011

By David Gelles in New York and Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

AOL has sharply divided opinion on the web with its purchase of one of the biggest names in the blogosphere.

The US internet company will buy Huffington Post for $315m, the latest and most significant step it has taken to remake itself as a serious player in advertising-supported internet content.

The deal represents a big payday for Arianna Huffington, the political pundit who owns a significant stake in the left-leaning website which she co-founded in 2005. She will now become the face of AOL’s collection of online content, which includes everything from moviefone.com, the film information site, to the local news site Patch, and the TechCrunch technology blog.

But many comments posted on Huffington Post since the deal was announced late on Sunday expressed outrage that the company being sold to a conglomerate. “I think it’s time to take Huffpo out of my favourites,” wrote one commenter. “So disappointed.”

AOL is still reliant on its dwindling dial-up internet access business for much of the company’s profits. Yet it has been building a network of specialist sites, and the Huffington Post will give it access to one of the largest audiences among news websites.

The Huffington Post’s sites have a monthly audience of nearly 25m unique users who come for a blend of comment and news, often written by unpaid bloggers and derived from other sources around the net.

“[The deal] does make sense,” said Shahid Khan, a consultant with MediaMorph. AOL will round out “its offering with a well-respected news and politics site, and it rounds out its demographic with a well-educated and younger audience”.

The Huffington Post’s revenues from advertising were about $30m last year when it was profitable for the first time. It expects revenues to grow in the coming years as website traffic increases and online advertising continues its rebound. Yet its costs may increase as it begins investing in original content and paying high-profile writers.

With AOL paying $315m, nearly all in cash, the Huffington Post has commanded a much higher multiple than TechCrunch, which had revenues of about $10m when it was sold in September to AOL for between $25m and $40m. The Huffington Post was started with backing from several liberal supporters, including Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld, and David Geffen, the film and music billionaire. It has taken an additional $35m in venture capital.

Tim Armstrong, a former Google advertising executive, was appointed AOL chief executive in 2009 with a mandate to reinvent the company as a hub of specialised online content. So far his efforts to cash in on this strategy have fallen flat in the eyes of many analysts and observers.

“This acquisition by AOL is another shot at aggregating more content, but probably not yet knowing quite what to do with it,” said Joel Hollander, former chief executive of CBS Radio.

AOL also has a patchy track record in mergers and acquisitions. It sold ICQ, the instant messaging service, last year for $187.5m – less than half of what it paid for it in 1998. It also made a big loss on Bebo, the social networking site.

Its biggest deal was also widely regarded as the worst in history. It acquired Time Warner in an all-share deal worth $164bn in 2001. Anticipated synergies failed to materialise and a string of writedowns followed including a $100bn charge only a year later. AOL was eventually spun out of Time Warner in 2009.

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