What is it with Fortress Investment Group and Michael Jackson? Every time the Gloved One gets into trouble, there's the Publicly Traded One with an open cheque book.
In 2005, Fortress was initially instrumental in helping the embattled singer avoid bankruptcy when it purchased $270 million in debt held by Bank of America. Fortress refinanced the loan, backed by Jackson's 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV Music, the owner of highly valuable publishing rights to songs by the Beatles, Bob Dylan and others. Some saw Fortress' loan as a bet that Jackson would default and cede ownership of the music catalogue to the private investment giant, which listed on the NYSE last year. But before defaulting, Jackson sold an option for part of his ownership in the music to Sony.
Now reports claim that Fortress has struck a confidential deal with Jackson to save him from auctioning off his famed Neverland ranch in Los Olivos, California. The singer reportedly owes $24.5 million on the ranch. Presumably if Jackson fails to keep up payments to Fortress, the firm will gain ownership of the property, which includes a zoo, bumper cars and a Ferris wheel, among other, mostly juvenile, attractions.
Given the choice between seizing ownership of the rights to Yesterday versus the one-time home of Bubbles the chimp and Louie the llama, we have to say our taste lies with the former option.
“Such trends in UK taxation, making the UK a less competitive financial centre than it was, have caused us to review our UK activities and may result in future growth being pursued through our other European offices.” The BVCA may have more cause for concern as Terra Firma chief Guy Hands reveals in an interview with London's Financial Times that he is considering moving at least part of his firm's activities overseas in response to recent tax increases in the UK on capital gains and non-domiciled residents.
“The assembly is clearly concerned that other governments will use their investments to pursue political agendas. Now, where could they have gotten that idea?” Benn Steil, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticising a bill making its way through California's state assembly that would forbid CalPERS and CalSTRS from investing in private equity funds partially owned by sovereign wealth funds. Steil argues that the pensions have themselves long tailored investment programmes aimed at political objectives.
“When you look back at things, we hope people will say this was not Carlyle's darkest hour. We hope people will look back and say this is a very strong hour for Carlyle. We will help investors. We will be transparent about our mistakes and will be careful to recognize what we can do to improve our performance in the future.” Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, quoted in the Washington Post, remains optimistic in the wake of the collapse of a $22 billion mortgage-backed securities fund the private equity firm floated last year. Carlyle has pledged to compensate investors hit by the collapse.