In addition to vagina-scented candles and 18-karat gold dumbbells, Goop aficionados may soon be able to buy stock in the health and wellness retailer founded by Gwyneth Paltrow.
At least that’s the chatter going around Wall Street after a monied investor launched plans for a new blank-check company focused on investing in an “aspirational lifestyle” company.
Ravi Thakran, a private equity partner and executive of luxury conglomerate LVMH, filed paperwork Wednesday for a new blank-check company called Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp., which is looking to raise $225 million to invest in “businesses with premium brands that offer an aspirational lifestyle experience to consumers.”
Such entities — formally known as a special acquisition vehicles or SPACs — have no business operations. They are created simply to raise money to buy an existing company that then takes over their stock listing.
Thakran’s SPAC could not be reached for comment about whether it has Paltrow’s health and wellness brand in its sights, but Wall Streeters say it makes sense.
“There aren’t a lot of private companies that fit the description here,” said one Wall Street banker who follows SPACs. “Goop fits, and it has a big enough profile to make SPAC investors happy.”
Adding to the intrigue, Thakran’s SPAC plans to raise $225 million, which sources note matches up with Goop’s valuation of $250 million from March.
“It’s definitely got to be on their radar,” said an investment banker. “It would be a solid business combination, and it would be very on-brand for Goop to do a SPAC while they are this hip.”
Paltrow founded Goop in 2008 as a weekly email newsletter providing new age health and advice that was often mocked, such as “eliminate white foods.” Despite on-going criticisms of Goop’s sometimes oddball offerings (including its recent $75 “This Smells Like My Vagina” candle), the actress has grown the company into a national name with more than 100 employees, Goop-branded retail stores, a line at make-up chain Sephora, and a Netflix series called “The Goop Lab.”
Sephora is owned by LVMH, where Thakran is group president of South Asia, South East Asia and Middle East.
It’s unclear if Paltrow would be willing to take Goop public through a SPAC, and her company declined to comment. But SPACs — a once backwater route to an IPO for no-name companies — are increasingly being used to create backdoor IPOs for household names like sport betting company DraftKings and electric car maker Nikola.
High-profile investors are also increasing getting in on the act, including billionaire Bill Ackman and former Goldman Sachs president turned former Trump White House advisor Gary Cohn.
China unlikely to approve Oracle, Walmart’s TikTok deal: state media
TikTok’s proposed US partnership with Oracle and Walmart is unlikely to win approval in Beijing, Chinese state media says.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper published an editorial late Monday saying the deal to keep the video-sharing app alive in America would “hurt China’s national security, interests and dignity.”
“From the information provided by the US, the deal was unfair,” the editorial reads. “It caters to the unreasonable demands of Washington. It’s hard for us to believe that Beijing will approve such an agreement.”
The deal between Walmart, Oracle and TikTok parent ByteDance must win approval from both China and the Trump administration, which has threatened to ban TikTok over concerns that Beijing could get ahold of its user data. TikTok has denied those allegations.
The Global Times noted that the proposal would hand control of the app’s business to a new US-based entity called TikTok Global. The paper also complained about a provision allowing Oracle to review TikTok’s source code, saying it could give Americans insight into Douyin, the Chinese version of the app.
“It is clear that these [terms] extensively show Washington’s bullying style and hooligan logic,” the paper wrote. “… China, also a major country, will not yield to US intimidation and will not accept an unequal treaty that targets Chinese companies.”
The Global Times weighed in after ByteDance and California-based software giant Oracle issued conflicting statements about who would control the popular app with 100 million US users.
ByteDance claimed it would own 80 percent of TikTok Global, but Oracle said the Beijing-based tech giant would not have any ownership of the US-based company and that Americans would control four out of five board seats.
American investors would own 53 percent of the equity in TikTok Global, including a 20 percent combined stake to be held by Oracle and Walmart, a source familiar with the deal told The Post on Monday.
President Trump gave his “blessing” to the proposed deal over the weekend but said Monday that he would not approve it if ByteDance remained in control of TikTok.
Neither ByteDance nor the US Commerce Department immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday morning.
Facebook exec says company is preparing for Election Day chaos
Facebook has some “break-glass options” if November’s presidential election results in chaos, a top executive said.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, told the Financial Times that the social network has drawn up contingency plans “if there really is an extremely chaotic and, worse still, violent set of circumstances” following the vote.
Clegg did not go into great detail on the measures Facebook is prepared to take, but said the company was ready to “restrict the circulation of content” on its platform.
“We have acted aggressively in other parts of the world where we think that there is real civic instability and we obviously have the tools to do that [again],” Clegg said in the interview.
Facebook, which was a favorite tool of Russia to spread misinformation in the United States during the 2016 election, has been under pressure to explain how it will protect its platform this time around.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech giant is reportedly planning for 70 different potential scenarios and has enlisted “world-class military scenario planners” to help it prepare.
Facebook has already announced that it will flag content and posts that may be misleading, including posts from political candidates who have claimed victory in their election before it has been made official.
The company’s biggest names, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s top lieutenant Sheryl Sandberg, will be in charge of high-stakes decisions, Clegg said in the interview, adding that “the amount of resources we are throwing at this is very considerable.”
World Economic Forum scraps 2021 Davos conference amid COVID-19
The World Economic Forum has canceled next year’s conference in Davos, Switzerland amid the coronavirus pandemic — but the annual event may take place elsewhere, according to reports.
The international business group recently told the town’s hotels in a letter that it would not hold its 2021 conference there, Swiss media reported Tuesday.
“As things stand today, the WEF 2021 in Davos will unfortunately be completely canceled,” Davos tourism official Reto Branschi told the Südostschweiz newspaper.
The revelation followed the Geneva-based WEF’s late August move to postpone the meeting — which attracts corporate and government leaders from around the world — from January to early summer because of COVID-19 concerns.
The organization is now looking for a different location in Switzerland to host the conference, according to Südostschweiz, which reported that most of the Alpine resort town’s hotels would be closed during the late spring and early summer months.
“We were somewhat surprised by this letter,” Tamara Henderson, president of Hotel Gastro Davos, a local hotel industry group, told Switzerland’s Keystone-ATS News Agency. “We feel left out and we want more clarity in the future.”
The World Economic Forum did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning. The group said last month that it would share details about its postponed 2021 conference as soon as it could “guarantee the health and safety of our participants and the hosting community.”
“The decision was not taken easily, since the need for global leaders to come together to design a common recovery path and shape the ‘Great Reset’ in the post-COVID-19 era is so urgent,” the group said in a statement. “However, the advice from experts is that the forum cannot do so safely in January.”
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