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Rabobank Appoints Co-Heads for North American M&A

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Rabobank Appoints Co-Heads for North American M&A

Global Bank Also Announces New M&A Managing Director to Focus on Packaging and Paper

Rabobank, a leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed Gregg Fatzinger and Dean Asofsky as co-heads of its Wholesale Banking Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) business in North America.

The appointments reflect Rabobank’s growing M&A advisory presence in North America and globally, including recent deals such as Marfrig’s pending $969 million acquisition of a 51% controlling interest in National Beef and Fresh Del Monte’s $361 million acquisition of Mann Packing. Asofsky and Fatzinger are based in New York and will lead a North American team that falls under Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions Don Meltzer, and that is part of Rabobank’s corporate banking business in North America under David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America.

Rabobank also announced that Asem Mokaddem has joined the New York-based Wholesale Banking M&A team as a Managing Director under Fatzinger and Asofsky, focusing on Rabobank’s global M&A business in the Packaging & Paper sector, a critical component of the bank’s Supply Chain sector.

“More than ever, the North American M&A business is a critical component of Rabobank’s global M&A growth strategy,” said Meltzer, who was the previous North American Head of M&A but will now focus on his global M&A role. “With their combined experience in the M&A and food and ag space, Gregg and Dean are the perfect people to drive our business forward here and globally while Asem brings us key expertise and relationships in our supply chain sector.”

Asofsky, who has a 25-year career in investment banking and law, has been a Managing Director with Rabobank’s North America M&A team in New York since joining the bank in 2015. Previous to Rabobank, he worked in the M&A business at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. He holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a law degree from the New York University School of Law.

Fatzinger joined Rabobank in New York in 2016 as Managing Director, M&A and has focused nearly exclusively on the food and agriculture sector over his 22-plus year career on Wall Street. Previously, Fatzinger led strategic banking teams in the consumer industry at Credit Suisse and Nomura International. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pennsylvania-Wharton School.

Mokaddem was most recently Director, Corporate Planning and Business Development at Sonoco Products Co., where he completed multiple transactions. Prior to Sonoco, Asem spent more than 15 years in the Packaging and Paper sector, most recently as a Managing Director and Director at Macquarie Capital, and previously at Barclays/Lehman Brothers. Mokaddem has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

“Since they joined the bank, Dean and Gregg have been pivotal in our key Wholesale Banking strategies: delivering added value to our clients and prospects and differentiating ourselves in the industry through our sector-based approach to M&A,” said Bassett. “In their new leadership roles, they will continue the strong momentum we have built in M&A over the past two years.”

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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