Tag Archives: prospectus.com

cannabis-share-listings-canadian

Canada Stock Exchanges Weigh Walk-Back re Cannabis Share Listings

Canada stock exchange regulators appear to be suffering from a pot-hangover, as exchange execs and regulators re-visit criteria for cannabis share listings. Its a high-flying industry for sure; 69 publicly-traded cannabis companies with aggregate market cap of USD $6.4bil have their shares listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the smaller TSX Venture Exchange and the Canadian Securities Exchange. According to private placement specialist firm Prospectus.com, during the most recent 2-3 years, upwards of 300 ‘established entities’ have advanced private placement offerings that have raised nearly $1bil from private equity firms, venture capital shops and other sophisticated investors. When considering that North American sales of legal cannabis, which generated $6.7 bil in 2016  is growing at a rate of 30% YoY, its no surprise that cannabis entrepreneurs and their investors are stoking for public share listings, an avenue that provides a publicly-traded currency for them to expand and acquire others, and enables investors to benefit from greater liquidity of their holdings. That said, according to senior attorneys at Phoenix OTC Services,  “Cannabis share listings are certainly being sought by a broad spectrum of private companies, but Canada stock exchanges, which host the majority of public cannabis companies, appear to be suffering from a “pot hangover” as senior exchange executives and Canadian regulators are now weighing a walk-back on listing criteria to address fears these companies could be violating US securities laws.”

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Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF

While some ETF industry players continue to plot courses behind the scenes to follow the path of TSE-listed Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (TSE: HMMJ) in an effort to create their own cannabis-flavored exchange-traded funds, some cannabis industry legal experts are bracing for Canadian securities regulators to try and “put the genie back in the bowl” and possibly de-list companies that are viewed to be running afoul of US laws.

According to 14 Sept story in the WSJ,  the parent company of the Toronto Stock Exchange and an umbrella organization of Canadian securities regulators are looking at cannabis companies with U.S. operations—including growers, medical-marijuana distributors and pharmaceutical firms whose products include marijuana ingredients—to determine whether trading in their shares should be allowed to continue on Canadian exchanges.

The regulatory attention comes as the Toronto Stock Exchange and its smaller rival, the Canadian Securities Exchange, have been actively courting marijuana company listings from around the world. At present, roughly half the trading activity on the Canadian Securities Exchange is sourced from marijuana-based businesses, a high-growth sector that is expected to become a $50 bil global industry within the next 7-10 years. (Source: WSJ)

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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Nasdaq Bets on Blank-Check Co. IPOs To Boost Listings; SPACs are Sizzling

Competition for listings is a contact sport in the world of major stock exchanges as evidenced by the assortment of US bourses vying to increase market share in exchange-traded fund (ETFs), which represent nearly 2000 securities or more than half of all equities listed on major US stock exchanges.  While the NYSE has long been the place-to-list for issuers of ETFs, Nasdaq has proven to have sharp elbows in not only soliciting ETF issuers (with BATS taking a distant third), Nasdaq now has another card up its sleeve-the exchange operator is aiming at another listing product known as blank-check companies and is aggressively biting at the heels of Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s NYSE, which has carved out a niche in the listing of these companies, more formally known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies aka SPACs ™. In an effort to grab market share in this product away from NYSE and boost IPO listings (and hence more fees from Issuers and more revenue from distributing market data) Nasdaq recently filed proposed new rule changes with the SEC that will make it easier for SPACs ™ to list on that platform.

According to reporting by Alexander Osipovich of the WSJ, 22 blank-check companies have floated IPOs so far this year, raising nearly $7bil.

Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicles are shell companies that raise funds via a public offering whereby the proceeds are managed by a pre-selected team of industry-specific executives who receive an equity stake in the shell and are charged with acquiring an existing private company or in some cases, several private companies and roll those companies into the existing publicly-traded entity. In the event an acquisition cannot be identified and approved by an overwhelming majority of the shareholders within [typically] 24 months of the IPO, 95% of the funds raised are returned to the shareholders.

The investment vehicle construct was first created in the 1970’s, but soon fell out favor after regulators uncovered widespread abuse by operators of  blank check company managers, which led to multiple cases of securities fraud charges against many different firms.  The blank check model was later refined in the early 1990’s by GKN Securities, whose principals created a much tighter construct and trademarked the SPAC™ acronym. GKN successor firm boutique investment bank Early Bird Capital since carried the torch of its predecessor; during the past ten years, Early Bird has underwritten and/or co-managed nearly 75 SPAC™ IPOs that have raised over $4bil.

Early Bird’s early success has not gone unnoticed by leading Wall Street firms; 6-pack investment banks Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank among others have crowded into the space that Early Bird Capital forged. In 2017 alone, SPACs™ have raised nearly $4bil for an assortment of acquisition-minded firms.

According to Paul Azous, CEO of Prospectus.com, a consultancy that assists companies throughout the course of preparing investor offering documentation and via a captive network of securities attorneys, the firm also advises companies seeking to list on stock exchanges, “The blank-check concept is in vogue once again, and we’re working with at least two clients who have targeted specific industries that are seemingly ripe for roll-up.” Added Azous, “With Nasdaq easing the listing burdens, strategy of creating a public shell that can with reasonable ease, roll a private company into that publicly-listed entity should provide a good shot-in-the-arm to IPO activity, which has experienced fits and starts in each of the last several years.”

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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equity markets-you'll know it when

You Know The Equities Markets Will Move Lower When…

If you’ve been a professional trader for ‘more than 15 minutes’ (i.e. years, if not decades), you know the equities markets will move lower when (a) complacency prevails, a sense of calm is seemingly endless and equity market indices quietly creep higher and higher or (b), business news front page stories profile ‘amateur day traders’ who are minting millions of dollars by betting against volatility, and ‘selling short’ the risk of increased volatility by using VIX-centric products to capitalize on the complacent nature of markets. If this were a high school history class (or an advanced math lesson titled “revert to the mean”), the correct answer to above would be both (a) and (b). That said, professional traders who have ‘seen it all’ and are programmed to take a contrarian stand –in this case, by betting against complacency- have been suffering for months, both intellectually and P&L wise.

But when the front page of the NYT business section profiles home grown trading wizards, including a twenty-something former store manager at Target Corp who quit his day job to become a day trader, and has since made as much as 20x his prior annual income (and accumulated an eight-figure nest egg) “simply” by selling short new-fangled “VIX-flavored” financial instruments-those that measure market volatility, its no surprise that a shoe will drop and hit those folks in the head quickly and decisively. Not to suggest that MarketsMuse curators were shocked this morning when, after finishing their read of the aforementioned NYT story, US equity markets sold off by nearly 1% in early Tuesday trading. The question becomes, why is today different than other day within the context of the past 9 months, when equity market sell-offs have had a shorter shelf life than a freshly made souffle?

Out of every crisis comes opportunity, and Hurricane Harvey portends to provide a re-building boon for those areas in Texas that have been tormented by one of the country’s greatest natural disasters. Prospectus.com provides a full menu of feasibility study services for entrepreneurs who will be working to make Houston, Austin and surrounding areas great again.

US Equities, along with a discrete universe of non-US equity markets have been in a north bound trajectory for multiple months, despite ever-increasing geopolitical concerns and crises that have not merely seemingly right-minded global macro investment strategies, but have confounded highly-trained portfolio managers focused on equities markets and nearly every other asset class. Existential threats to the equities markets are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and include but are not limited to North Korean missile launches, catastrophic environmental events (e.g Hurricane Harvey), terror-wreaking incidents advanced by a faction of fools who have hijacked the Islamic faith and actually believe that after blowing themselves up, they will spend eternity with 7000 virgins as a reward, and of course, the chaos-inducing cackle that comes straight out of the mouth of the current US President–aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named further as it will only enhance his ‘ratings’.

Who do you call to distill whether equities markets are actually poised to ‘revert to the mean’ after achieving 20% gains in less than 12 months? MarketsMuse curators who connect with top gun traders and investment managers (and have collectively spent multiple decades working in/around trading desks on both sides of the aisle) have a default go-to investing guru. Will our favorite top gun, who advances a uniquely RareView have all of the right answers all of the time? Most likely not, but its better to be right more often than wrong, and better still to achieve solid performance on a consistent basis vs. flying blindly with the notion ‘keep calm and carry on’ , especially when that approach inevitably leads to undesirable outcomes..

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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Fortune CEOs Take Unequivocal Stand; This BD Bids On

Taking a Unequivocal Stand is Easier for Fortune CEOs than for POTUS–so it seems. Fortune 500 CEOs who have taken exception to erratic and equivocal statements made by the current sitting president of the United States have been systematically subjected to ‘assault by Twitter’ by the country’s CEO-in-Chief. In turn, their company’s share prices have suffered from sell-offs, as investors fear the “wrath of Trump” will extend to federal government actions intended to harm those companies who have failed to heed Mr. Trump’s so-called “lectures.” Attacks and Counter-Attacks via Twitter has become a contact sport, all thanks to “POTUS.”

Within the context of Wall Street firms, “un-biased and conflict-free” are two phrases that agency-only broker-dealers advance on a continuous basis. These phrases connote their conforming to a fiduciary posture that is intended to protect the interests of their client above all else. When it comes to political discourse, most broker-dealers are loathe to insert themselves in a political fracas, yet other BDs are run by folks whose moral compass overrides their need to keep quiet, regardless of the risk that a regulatory agency such as the SEC or FTC (overseen by Congress) will , at the urging of Mr. Trump, exact some type of revenge for challenging the current president. Courtesy of BrokerDealer.com Editorial Section, MarketsMuse editors join those who are taking the high road, and in that effort, we’re re-distributing a piece that profiles a unique broker-dealer’s viewpoint expressed via trading desk commentary and distributed to their Fortune treasury clients and the leading Wall Street ‘book-runners’. We’ll defer to our readers to click on links leading back to the minority broker-dealer in question. Hint-the firm is the oldest minority broker-dealer owned/operated by Service-Disabled Veterans.

A Special Editorial from BrokerDealer.com: Most Fortune CEOs, as well as leaders of Investment Banks and Broker-Dealers (aka BD) are typically loathe to take a political stand. For the former, making pronouncements that will raise the ire of the current president are likely to be met by “injury by twitter,” or worse still, federal agency scrutiny of the company, which could prove devastating for public company shareholders. For the universe of corporate leaders with a conscience and also recognized thought-leaders, only a few have yet to prove unequivocal when reacting to the equivocal comment made by President Trump when framing his first view of what US Attorney General Sessions labeled as a”domestic terror event.” We’re referring to the white supremacist rally that led to 3 deaths and multiple injuries in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

For investment banks and broker-dealers, let’s face it-politics and business mix best with each other when done over cocktails or discrete ‘off-site’ meetings to discuss new capital market initiatives, deal issuance and/or asset management mandates. After all, most traditional broker-dealers eschew taking a political stand that opposes the federal government administration, simply out of fear that the long lips of the current WH CEO will whisper to administration-appointed SEC bureaucrats with a message akin to ‘the right industry regulator might want to make this [firm] go away..” Most, but not all is the catchphrase that compels a re-distribution of a capital markets desk commentary that focuses on fixed income markets and along with a smidgen of geopolitical observations and delivered to a captive group of leading Fortune 500 corporate treasurers, as well as a select group of sell-side syndicate desk ‘book-runners’.

Sponsored by Prospectus.com. Our team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

Here’s the extract of the day’s piece, titled “Risk On, Risk Off, US-NOKO Tensions Subside; Ugly Heads of Racism Take Top Headline…”

Investment Grade Corporate Debt New Issue Re-Cap – A View About Charlottesville and the Aftermath

Risk was clearly back on in the financial markets today, as U.S./NOKO tensions fell to the wayside.  Unfortunately prejudice and racism reared their ugly heads in the Charlottesville, Virginia riot over the weekend.  On Monday, Fortune 500 thought leaders Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck & C0., Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, and Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour each took a stand by protesting the ‘equivocal’ comments made by President Trump in his first response to the domestic terrorism acts in Charlottesville, which were advanced by self-proclaimed alt-right and white supremacist neo-Nazis.  Mischler Financial Group  stands with every corporate executive (and every duly-elected or duly-appointed government official) who stays true to genuinely right-minded beliefs and applauds their respective organization’s dedication to doing right by doing good. In case you missed the memo, many of America’s Fortune corporations adhere to this same notion and advance their commitment via proactive Diversity & Inclusion initiatives.

 

For those corporate executives who may have spent all of their undergrad time in finance and accounting classes, and for those who are perhaps not as familiar as they could be i.e. American History (let’s not forget to mention world history, too!), racism and bigotry are diseases that spew hatefulness and cannot be allowed in a free and democratic society. The incendiary and incite-full actions for which the various white supremacist and KKK groups are notorious for, are NOT protected by “First Amendment rights.* These are cancers that cannot be discounted or condoned via equivocal platitudes; simple right-mindedness demands they be eradicated.

(*Think Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr i.e. Schenck v United States and also re-visit Brandenburg v. Ohio)

 

To the above point, one need only re-read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to appreciate that D&I is part and parcel to our country’s DNA. It is also part of the cultural foundation of many Fortune 500 corporations, including Intel, including Merck, including Under Armour and including many others! D&I infers respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. But it’s more than this. We all bring with us diverse perspectives, work experiences, life styles and cultures and we presumably all share a disdain for anyone and any group that attempts to dismantle, disrupt and or destroy. Kudos to Mssrs. Frazier, Krzanich and Plank for putting themselves in harm’s way and risk of “injury by Twitter” for being true leaders and staying true to their convictions and their constituents.

 

Kudos also to the many Fortune executives who have raised their own voices to advocate on behalf of right mindedness, and to those corporate executives such as Jamie Dimon, CEO of Citigroup, who have opted not to resign their volunteer roles serving on “Presidential Councils” in protest to seemingly wrong-headed rhetoric. One can hope they have chosen to remain in their roles so that they can be that much more proactive in their WH-appointed roles and/or similar presidential councils in which they serve as volunteers. These are jobs these business leaders have [presumably] accepted to better the country, not to help advance any political platform or political agenda. How the US Secretary of the Treasury or the Director of the National Economic Council can square the so-called ‘equivocal’ views expressed by the CEO-In-Chief vs. their own cultural beliefs will likely be subject to ongoing self-reflection, external speculation and spirited debate. These are smart folks and optimism demands these administration officials be given the benefit of the doubt, just as it is incumbent on any/every corporate leader to serve as role models for employees, customers and clients; just as right-minded parents do for their own children.

 

Today’s VIX closed 3 bps tighter versus Friday’s close. Also a reminder that tomorrow is August 15th – “mid-August” – that’s when North Korea’s illustrious “bad boy” proclaimed that he’d have his master plan ready to bomb Guam developed by.  One week from today on Monday, August 21st begin joint U.S-South Korean military exercises referred to as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian. The exercise began in our Bicentennial year of 1976. North Korea has annually perceived the joint exercise as “preparation for war.” It is the world’s largest computerized command control implementation. Up to 80,000 American and South Korean troops have participated in this exercise in the recent past.  The game will go on for two weeks before concluding on Thursday August 31st.  Enjoy the show Mr. Jong-Un. You’ll have front row seats though I recommend binoculars. Here’s lookin’ at you kid!  To continue reading the day’s debt market commentary, click here

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cannabis etf marketsmuse

Put this Cannabis Fund in Your ETF Pipe

Cannabis cures all kinds of ailments (so they say..), but whether the plant-based elixir is framed as ‘medical marijuana’ or “recreational marijuana”, investing in a nascent stage, a fast growing enterprise, or even a cannabis fund that capitalizes on pot companies can be problematic, particularly via US exchanges. So, to borrow a phrase from Horace Greeley, MarketsMuse exchange-traded fund curators say “Go North, Investors, Go North!” Pass “GO” and head straight to Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE), where you can imbibe on Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (HMMJ.TO).

With $120 million in AUM, Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF  is the first exchange traded fund in North America that focuses on the legal marijuana market.  Launched in April on the TSE, it has no U.S. competitors,  as federal law prohibits the drug, making it difficult to set up a cannabis fund or a marijuana etf that includes companies that grow and/or legally distribute wacky weed or derivative products.

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Steve Hawkins, Horizons ETF

As noted by Reuters’ David Randall in his Aug 7 profile of HMMJ and interview with Steve Hawkins, Horizons ETF co-CEO and the Issuer behind HMMJ, “Canada, is gearing up to legalize recreational use of cannabis by July 2018, and that legislation is expected to bolster investment opportunities in an industry that will be catering to 20 million+ Canadian adults aged 20-65.”

So, aside from the direct constituents of the companies that cater to the cannabis trade, the natural question is, what are the constituents of this so-called cannabis fund aka Marijuana ETF? Notes Reuters, “With positions including marijuana grower Aurora Cannabis Inc (ACB.TO), medical marijuana companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (GWPRF.PK), and fertilizer company Scotts Miracle-Gro Co (SMG.N), the fund attempts to capture the full extent of the Canadian marijuana industry, which Deloitte expects could grow to $22.6 billion if the recent bill to legalize recreational use is successful.  Scotts Miracle-Gro is a part of it because they have been extremely public about their investment in the growth of the marijuana industry going forward with respect to hydroponics and specialized fertilizer. Then there are biopharm companies which are not specifically marijuana growers or distributors but are involved directly or indirectly in a derivative.”

According to Israel Frenkel, a securities attorney for private placement and IPO documentation firm Prospectus.com, “We’re administering investor offering documents for several US-based start-ups right now, and at least one of those companies, which is positioned as a combination real estate play and  equipment leasing company would ostensibly be a candidate for HMMJ. Added Frenkel, “Arguably, there are potentially several dozen start-ups in the cannabis space that offer intriguing opportunities for public market investors, but only when the US Federal Govt gets its house in order and accepts the notion that Volstead Act didn’t stymie the spirits industry, it merely inspired a whole set of work-arounds that left out paying taxes to the US Treasury. ”

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

ledgerx-options-market-bitcoin

CFTC Approves LedgerX Exchange to Facilitate Bitcoin Options Trading

What’s Next for Option Markets? A CFTC regulated platform for bitcoin options; NY-based firm gets approval to trade puts and calls on cryptocurrency.

For bitcoin aficionados, the road to legitimacy has been pockmarked with obstacles and detractors, including those who have insisted that bitcoins are the currency of money launders, drug dealers and illegal arms dealers, as well as those who believe ‘bitcoin is a massive Ponzi Scheme’. In the meanwhile, the price of a bitcoin has increased exponentially in the last 12 months alone and has vaulted past the price of gold–which has historically been the back-up currency of choice for those hedging fiat currencies of sovereign governments.  But, innovation and disruption knows no barrier or limits, demonstrated by fact the US CFTC has put its impromptu er on New York-based LedgerX, which will be the first regulated platform to trade options contracts on cryptocurrency.

Per CNBC coverage–The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced Monday it unanimously approved digital currency-trading platform LedgerX for clearing derivatives. LedgerX initially plans to clear bitcoin options, the release said.

“A U.S. federally-regulated venue for derivative contracts settling in digital currencies opens the market to a much larger customer base,” Paul L. Chou, LedgerX CEO, said in a separate release from the trading firm.

“We are seeing strong demand from institutions that previously could not participate in the bitcoin market due to compliance restrictions against unregulated venues,” Chou said, noting a desire for assets that aren’t correlated with the broader stock market.

The firm plans to launch bitcoin options in early fall, and ethereum options “within a few months,” Chou told CNBC in a phone interview. That will mark the first federally supervised options venue for bitcoin.

LedgerX received an order of registration as a Swap Execution Facility on July 6.

The firm primarily operates in New York and said in May it raised $11.4 million in a Series B round of financing led by Miami International Holdings and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments.

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

The CFTC noted that its Division of Clearing and Risk also issued Monday a letter “exempting LedgerX from complying with certain Commission regulations due to LedgerX’s fully-collateralized clearing model.”

Chou said the exemption was due to LedgerX’s plan to “not allow very leveraged trading.”

The authorization “does not constitute or imply a Commission endorsement of the use of digital currency generally, or bitcoin specifically,” the CFTC said in a release.

Bitcoin traded Monday afternoon about two-thirds of a percent higher, near $2,780, while ethereum traded about half a percent lower, near $225, according to CoinDesk.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor  or email: cmo@marketsmuse.com.

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Institutional Investor 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

And The Winner Is….Institutional Investor Presents 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

Who says trading technology wonks are under-appreciated within the context of recognition by industry followers? Certainly not MarketsMuse fintech curators, and definitely not Institutional Investor Magazine, which brings us their annual ranking of the top trading technologists on the planet.

“The Trading Technology 40 were selected by Institutional Investor editors, taking into account nominations and input from industry experts. The leadership criteria include recent and career accomplishments and contributions to individual companies and to the industry at large; scope and complexity of executive responsibilities; and pure technological innovation.”

The 2017 ranking was compiled under the direction of II Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Profiles were written by Kutler; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Staff Writer Jess Delaney; and Senior Writers Frances Denmark, Imogen Rose-Smith, and Julie Segal.

Here’s an excerpt from the just published findings..

Modern financial markets could not function without automation. Traders, counterparties, and transaction-processing infrastructures depend on automation to cope with the avalanches of data that are both generated by the markets and essential to their reliability and integrity. Despite occasional glitches — which have become progressively less frequent and less severe since the disastrous flash crash of May 2010 — it all happens so smoothly that it is easy to take the technology for granted.

That’s a credit to the technologists of the trading world featured in this year’s Trading Technology 40. Whether they work in equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, or derivatives, the executives listed here are pioneering solutions to countless problems presented by the size and complexity of markets.

Whether your fintech or trading technology company is planning a private placement offering available to a select universe of friends and family, qualified investors or an initial public offering (IPO) via an exchange listing, a prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. The experts at Prospectus.com have prepared business plans, offering documents and more for a discrete universe of financial technology start-ups.

To view the winners and their biographies, go straight to II’s article via this link

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Finance Industry Vet Behind Non-Profit Borders.Org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org is a novel non-profit intended to provide wind in the sail for startups launched by immigrants, refugees and under-served inner-city entrepreneurs.  Created by long-time finance industry veteran Paul Azous, the altruistic initiative defies current political in-sensibilities and embraces the simple notion that small businesses are the lifeblood of a vibrant economy.

The spirited debate surrounding immigrants vs. legal immigrants, nationalism vs. populism and let’s not forget the philosophy embraced by White House Svengali Steve Bannon’s  and his leaning to  ‘traditionalism*’, MarketsMuse Curators were inspired to spotlight a news story profiling what is perhaps an easy idea to digest:  it’s all about altruism, or at least that is the thesis being advanced by a long time finance industry consultant who has accrued more domestic and international frequent flier miles than most.

Finance industry veteran Paul Azous, a Seattle-based self-made entrepreneur who is often referred to by polls across the private placement industry for being a  “Top 40 Under 40” has a view that both sides of the aisle should embrace when it comes to putting the wind in the sails of folks who aspire to achieve the American Dream. The thesis that drives the non-profit “Business Plans Without Borders”  is simple: “..if those with passion, focus and entrepreneurial aspirations who want to do good for themselves and their communities lack the compass that can point them to the on ramp are not embraced and given a lift by those who understand the obstacles faced by [legal] immigrants,  refugees and the under-served from within our very own borders, who can we support?!”

Per below news release, Azous and his wife launched the non-profit in Q4 2016 with the goal of providing business plan preparation, mentoring as well as awarding startup grant funding to inner-city entrepreneurs as well as incoming immigrants and refugees who are able to meet merit-based criteria and applicant requests are reviewed by a volunteer Advisory Board comprised of start-up gurus and thought leaders from across various industries. Azous is looking to aggressively add to the advisory network whose members not only review applicants, those advisors are also committing to match grants extended by the non-profit.

SEATTLE, Feb. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Serial entrepreneur and veteran business plan advisor Paul Azous announced that he has recently launched a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the most vulnerable in society with their business startup needs. The organization, Business Plans Without Borders  assists refugee, immigrant, and inner-city, low income aspiring entrepreneurs with business plan writing assistance in the form of business writing collaboration, the allocation of grants and facilitating networking opportunities with seasoned industry professionals. Aspiring entrepreneurs who qualify for assistance can apply directly via the organization’s website, www.borders.org . Grants are awarded based on merit.

Paul Azous is an 18 year finance industry veteran and Founder/CEO of Prospectus.com, a global consulting firm that assists startups and later stage private and public companies with a broad range of professional services, from business plan and prospectus writing to initial public offering and stock exchange listings.  During the past 15 years, Paul and his firm have guided scores of companies across multiple industries and geographic regions in helping to launch start-up and fast-growth businesses. His primary focus has been on developing business plan summaries, financial and business models, conducting company valuations and assisting with debt or equity offerings. Through a global consultancy framework, Azous has been credited with fast-tracking nearly 5,000 companies in over 50 countries with their business planning and investor documentation needs.

“Creating Borders.org has been a goal of my wife, Tamar and myself for several years, as we’ve always been determined to mentor and back aspiring entrepreneurs who have not had the benefit of a support system,” says Azous. “With Tamar’s background in micro finance and her own “momtrepreneur” experience, coupled with my background, Borders was just a matter of time.”

Entrepreneurs within Border.org’s target demographic typically lack the resources necessary to launch a successful business, even if the business fills a market need. This leaves them unable to raise sufficient funding to adequately develop and market their products or services and consequently, those initiatives are short-lived. Borders.org assists with the most important document that a business owner or entrepreneur must have: the business plan. A business plan enables entrepreneurs to build a roadmap for their company, and is a necessary component to raise capital from qualified investors and/or lending institutions. Borders.org guides entrepreneurs through the strategic business planning process and links them with a wide network of volunteer industry professionals who provide free business startup services, including legal work, accounting, and marketing.

About Borders.org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org – is a 501(c)(3) non–profit organization. The organization was created to assist low income, refugee and immigrant entrepreneurs with writing and developing their business plans. Borders.org staff works one-on-one with aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them formulate, structure and develop cohesive business models, provides merit-based grants to awardees and networking opportunities with accomplished mentors who can bridge the gap between a strong idea and successful implementation. Continue reading

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Fintech, Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-Now a Private Placement Bond Platform

Fintech Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-What’s Next? A Venue for Private Placement Bonds & MTNs

Despite the seeming oversupply of electronic bond trading initiatives, the convergence of fintech and fixed income trading continues to spawn new electronic trading start-ups, bringing the total industry count to 128 venues.  The latest player, dubbed “Origin Markets”, aims at filling a void in the $1.5 trillion Medium-Term Note space aka private placement bond market. The “still-in-beta mode” initiative is based in the UK and backed by a consortium of global banks led by BNP Paribas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale and Credit Suisse.

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Raja Palaniappan CEO Origin Markets

Origin’s founder and quarterback is Raja Palaniappan, a former Credit Suisse flow trader and MIT wonk who cut his teeth trading MTNs at various firms during the past 9 years and was most recently a VP responsible for making markets in investment grade and crossover corporate bonds and CDS at Credit Suisse.

A spokesperson for UK-based Origin said its platform “simplifies issuance in the medium-term note private placement market by acting as a central information source.” The business model allows dealers to receive targeted funding levels from issuers on a single platform and allows users to foster new relationships through cloud-based technology and bank-grade security.

“[Issuers] can optimise their funding using the built-in cross-currency pricer, comparing their funding levels to their own and their peers’ levels in the secondary markets,” Origin said.

Joakim Holmstrom, head of funding at Municipality Finance, explained the platform makes the medium term note process more efficient and provides access to a broader pool of dealers. Ben Powell, head of funding for IFC, added that Origin’s platform “simplifies what was once a manual process prone to inefficiency. It allows us to manage our dealer communication in one central place.”

The platform’s full launch is expected later this year and brings the total number of electronic fixed income platforms to 128, according to a recent compilation of platforms by front office trading consultant John Greenan.

Bob Mahdavi, the CTO for private placement bond documentation firm Prospectus.com stated “The MTN market is indisputably one of the largest sectors in terms of number of issues, yet it is populated by thousands of private issues that don’t typically lend themselves to being traded in an electronic venue.” Added Mahdavi, whose firm works with tens of dozens of Issuers, as well as attorneys and boutique investment banks throughout Europe and Asia in preparing debt offering documents, “You can build it, but will they come?”

According to fintech merchant bankers at SenaHill Partners “When considering the still nascent stage impact of electronic venues focused public company investment grade corporate bonds, including the likes of startup Electronifie among others, a platform that can prove truly effective and liquid for MTNs can prove to be a big challenge, albeit the backing of big banks does provide some wind in the sail.”

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As noted in a 11 Jan story in TheTradeNews and citing the work of Greenan, between November 2016 and January this year alone, 14 new fixed income trading platforms joined the market.

“…The asset class is overcrowded with trading venues as regulation forces the structure of fixed income across instruments away from a centralised model – mostly due to bank balance sheet constraints – towards a decentralised model….Market participants have said the explosion of venues is causing fragmentation and a ‘liquidity drought’ in global bond markets.”

Large buy-side firms and asset managers have the opportunity to act as price makers rather than price takers, according to a quarterly report published by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) this week.

The report said the bond market has seen a decrease in ratio turnover, despite an increase in market size and overall turnover against a backdrop of bond issuance, as issuers take advantage of low interest rates globally.

Joanna Cound, head of public policy EMEA at Blackrock and a member of the ICMA board, explained this has led to liquidity in fixed income markets suffering, something regulators have taken a greater interest in over the last year.

Fixed income participants are wary the bond market has not improved significantly since the financial crisis, as future stress events could have far-reaching consequences.

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Asia FinTech Funding Initiative 2x That of US and EU

Latest Chinese Fintech FOF Completes Raise of 10-billion-yuan (US $1.8b) as Asia fintech funding continues to eclipse North America and EU allocation to financial technology initiatives..

(Econotimes.com) 28 December 2016- In a move to advance China as a financial and technology hub, Asia FinTech FOF, a foundation that aims to seek investment opportunities and fuel mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Asia, was established in Beijing on Tuesday, China Daily reported. (feature photo also courtesy of China Daily)

With funds of 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion), the foundation is the second fund of funds (FOF) after the Zhongguancun FOF, which is valued at 30 billion yuan. The Zhongguancun FOF was established in 2015 and expected to support acquisitions worth 150 to 200 billion yuan.

The Asia FinTech FOF was initiated by both private and State-owned capital. This includes Hong Kong-listed Credit China Fin Tech Holdings Ltd, Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group Ltd and Jilin Province Investment Group Corp Ltd.

“Our investment will center on leading companies in the fields of big data, AI, cloud computing, mobile payment, supply chain financing and block chain,” said Sheng Jia, the executive director of Credit China Fin Tech, as quoted by China Daily.

Xie Sha, managing partner of Asia Fintech FOF, said that the fund already has some projects in the pipeline, which includes areas such as big-data driven consumption financing, blockchain infrastructure provision and AI-based credit service platforms.

While fintech has taken the global financial sector by storm, the Asian fintech funding market is spearheading this revolution. In the first half of 2016, the Asian fintech market saw $10 billion of investment far more than North America’s $4.6 billion and Europe’s $1.8 billion.

China, in particular, is in the forefront with policy support also stimulating the growth of country’s fintech market. The State Council in August published the national five-year plan on scientific and technological innovation by 2020, in which of fintech innovation is particularly encouraged.

“Fintech is reshaping the financial business. And this is an opportunity that neither traditional financial institutes nor technology firms want to miss,” said Xie.

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Steven Chow, Chief Strategy Officer, Prospectus.com

According to  Steven Chow,  the Hong Kong-based Director and Chief Strategy Officer for capital formation consultancy Prospectus.com, “Based on the projects that we’ve been engaged to assist throughout both 2015 and 2016, there is no question that that Asia domiciled companies, and particularly China-based start-ups are heavily focused on the fintech space.”  Added Chow, “However cyclical thematic investment trends tend to be, fintech is now justifiably an asset class unto itself. It is more than clear that the powers that be in China understand this, perhaps even better than their counterparts in the US or Europe.”

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2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor

Identifying the top fintech financiers is no easy task these days. It seems like only yesterday when MarketsMuse curators were among the first to advance the phrase “fintech” in the course of profiling startups seeking to disrupt the financial services sect, many of which have been led by sell-side veterans who made their best trades building innovative financial technology applications for bulge bracket banks and institutional brokerage platforms. At the outset of this now mainstream trend towards disruption of legacy financial technology tools and applications, fintech was a label given to trading system firms; now it is a ubiquitous moniker used to categorize a full-blown industry that counts more than 3000 start-ups and fast growing enterprises across the globe.

(feature images courtesy of YANN LEGENDRE)

Fintech is still the term used to to describe fast-moving firms that deliver Web 3.0 trading system and institutional broker tools, but also now includes enterprises that have brought peer-to-peer lending, crypto currency, distributed ledger companies and other offerings that are rapidly changing the way financial industry firms operate, and more important, the behavior of end-users across the globe. Along the way, this evolution has also created a cottage industry of bankers, private equity firms and VCs who share the catchphrase “What’s Next?” and whose respective vision is focused on the “next great thing” within the context of the way we interact when conducting a financial-centric task.

“Many of the Fintech Finance 35 — those ranked by Institutional Investor as the leading financiers and facilitators of the ongoing entrepreneurial explosion in financial technology — have “partner” in their titles. Their firms are structured as partnerships, but all on the list are partners in a practical, day-to-day sense. They are as much strategic advisers and collaborators as they are funders; “partnerships” are what they offer to companies they invest in and usher toward growth and maturity.” Jeffrey Kutler, Institutional Investor Magazine

With that, its no surprise that Institutional Investor Magazine, which for years has been the harbinger of the financial industry’s best-in-class people (e.g. Institutional Investor All America Research Team is the bible used to benchmark equity and fixed income research analysts) has more recently started tracking the top funders and dealmakers from across the fintech ecosystem via II’s Annual Fintech Finance 35. And, hot off the press: II’s 2016 Top Influencers in Fintech Finance! With 35 top guns highlighted, MarketsMuse team arbitrarily picked out one of the profiles from the middle of list of 35 to share with our readers. The folks who have risen from last year’s #19 spot to this year’s #16 spot are the principals of SenaHill Partners, which is arguably one of the fintech industry’s leading pioneers. SenaHill positions itself as part investment bank, part PE investor, part adviser and part incubator.  Below is the excerpt courtesy of II’s Jeffrey Kutler.

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Justin Brownhill, SenaHill

Principal investor, strategic adviser, and business accelerator, SenaHill Partners gets a lot of mileage out of just 14 people. “We’re hiring,” managing partner Justin Brownhill says — an auspicious indicator for the New York firm and perhaps for fintech deal flow overall. Founded by Brownhill and co–managing partner Neil DeSena in 2013, SenaHill is staffed by people with extensive banking, brokerage, and operational experience, further leveraged by an adviser network of dozens of industry veterans, who contribute strategic insights and help identify and vet investment candidates. “Two to three generations of knowledge,” hands-on experience and a roll-up-the-sleeves attitude set SenaHill apart, says Brownhill, 45, who was an investor in and executive at Lava Trading, which Citigroup acquired in 2004, and CEO of the Receivables Exchange from 2007 to 2012. “Venture capital in financial technology is a journey, not a me-too business,” says DeSena, 52, who started the REDI institutional trading business in 1992 and ran it until 2006, the last six years as part of Goldman Sachs Group. “ ‘Five years and exit’ isn’t the way it works.” SenaHill’s 22-company portfolio includes investment research and analytics site Market Realist, where Brownhill is a board member; blockchain smart-contracts company Symbiont, where DeSena is a director and former Morgan Stanley capital markets executive Caitlin Long recently became chairman and president; and WealthForge, a private capital–

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Neil DeSena, SenaHill

raising platform that placed third in last year’s UBS Future of Finance Challenge (see Hyder Jaffrey, No. 30). Another holding, know-your-customer platform Trunomi, represents “reg tech,” the emerging regulatory-and-compliance category that Brownhill and DeSena are following alongside other fintech themes in capital markets, banking and payments, insurance, wealth management, and infrastructure. “The interest is now top-down,” Brownhill observes, referring to incumbent financial services companies’ openness to investing in or partnering with entrepreneurs. “They are hiring us to connect them with young, emerging technologies.” Says DeSena: “The incumbents need help. Their budgets are big but shrinking.”

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

The Fintech Finance 35 will be honored at the iiFintech Awards taking place on December 1. The awards program was designed to bring together the honorees of the Tech 50, Fintech Finance 35, and Trading Technology 40 to explore how financial technology will continue to transform the industry.

This ranking was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler, Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng, Senior Writers Frances Denmark and Julie Segal, and Staff Writer Jess Delaney, as well as by former Editor Michael Peltz, Content Editor Anne Szustek, Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik, and Assistant Editor Jen Werner.  To read the entire story from II, please click here

 

2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor