McConnell sets Senate vote on coronavirus aid, Pelosi spurns White House bid

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday the Republican-led U.S. Senate would vote next week on a targeted, $500 billion coronavirus economic aid bill of the type Democrats already have rejected as they hold out for trillions in relief.

With negotiations on a broader package stalled and Election Day approaching, both Republicans and Democrats faced pressure to take action to help Americans weather a pandemic that has killed more than 214,000 people and damaged the U.S. economy.

Congress passed $3 trillion in coronavirus aid, including help for the unemployed, in the spring.

Both sides say more aid is needed now, but appear to remain far apart. With leaders of the Democratic-run House and Republican Senate still sparring, a bipartisan deal on coronavirus relief remains unlikely before Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.

President Donald Trump, a Republican who called off coronavirus relief talks last week only to restart them days later, pushed lawmakers again on Tuesday to “Go big or go home!!!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a swipe on Tuesday at Trump’s about-face. “Following his tweet, the stock market went down and so did he in the polls,” Pelosi said of Trump’s assertion last week that there would be no aid package before the election.

In recent days, Pelosi has refused a White House offer for a $1.8 trillion coronavirus aid package even though it moved closer to her $2.2 trillion proposal – and despite mounting pressure from some members of her own Democratic caucus who would like to see a compromise.

Pelosi angrily defended her stance Tuesday when a CNN interviewer asked her to respond to a progressive Democrat, Representative Ro Khanna, who had urged her to accept the White House proposal instead of waiting until February next year, when Democrats may also control the Senate and the White House.

“Nobody’s waiting till February. I want this very much now, because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail,” she told CNN.

McConnell said the full Senate’s first order of business when it returns on Monday would be to vote on a $500 billion relief bill. It would include more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped small businesses pay employees during the pandemic.

McConnell said the bill would include help for schools and liability protections for businesses, which Republicans sought. McConnell also said there would be more unemployment benefits and assistance for hospitals in the bill.

“I want to give our friends on the other side one more chance to do highly targeted relief that the country desperately needs,” McConnell said in Barbourville, Kentucky.

But Senate Democrats blocked a similar proposal last month. Democrats have repeatedly rejected targeted aid proposals, preferring to do comprehensive bills that also include large sums of money for state and local governments whose budgets have been slammed by the pandemic.

Pelosi,

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Royal Opera House to sell Hockney portrait in bid to survive pandemic



a person sitting in front of a building: MailOnline logo


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The Royal Opera House is to sell a David Hockney portrait of its former chief Sir David Webster in a desperate bid to raise funds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The painting will be auctioned at Christie’s this month and is expected to fetch between £11 million and £18 million, The Observer newspaper reports.

It depicts Sir David, who ran the opera house from 1945 to 1970, and was commissioned for the Covent Garden building in the 1970s.



a person sitting on a table: David Hockney's portrait of Sir David Webster it set to be auctioned at Christie's and should fetch between £11 million and £18 million in a bid to raise vital needed to survive the pandemic


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David Hockney’s portrait of Sir David Webster it set to be auctioned at Christie’s and should fetch between £11 million and £18 million in a bid to raise vital needed to survive the pandemic



a couple of people that are standing in a wedding dress: Sir David Webster, who ran the Royal Opera House from 1945 to 1970, greets the Queen Mother as she arrives for a gala performance at the Royal Opera House, in Covent Garden, in 1963


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Sir David Webster, who ran the Royal Opera House from 1945 to 1970, greets the Queen Mother as she arrives for a gala performance at the Royal Opera House, in Covent Garden, in 1963

‘This was a really tough call,’ Alex Beard, the ROH’s chief executive, told the Observer.

‘But we have to face the situation we are in and if we can remain viable and get through this, then we can get back to employing people in the future.

‘We are the biggest arts employer in the country and we knew we had to look at any assets we had.

‘And there is only really one of any note that stands out and that is this portrait.’

The sale is part of a four-pronged plan to protect the venue’s standing as the home of the Royal Ballet and of international opera in the face of the pandemic.

That strategy also includes staff redundancies and a major drive for donations, the paper said.

The Royal Opera House says the pandemic had an ‘immediate and serious financial impact’ and that they ‘lost £3 in every £5 of [their] income’ since lockdown forced them to close their doors.

Earlier this year, the Royal Opera House announced it had made an entire roster of casual staff redundant in an effort to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. 



a large building with Royal Opera House in the background: The Royal Opera House says the pandemic has cost them £3 of every £5 of their income


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The Royal Opera House says the pandemic has cost them £3 of every £5 of their income



a man standing in front of a curtain: Sir David Webster, who served as General Administrator for 25 years, was instrumental in the establishment of the now world famous Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera companies


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Sir David Webster, who served as General Administrator for 25 years, was instrumental in the establishment of the now world famous Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera companies

The ROH also confirmed chief executive, Alex Beard, had taken ‘a significant reduction in salary’ and the music director, Sir Antonio Pappano, had waived his salary since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The opera house is not the only arts institution facing financial uncertainty due to the pandemic.

Last month, Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall and chair of the National Arenas Association, told the committee that the Government’s £1.57billion rescue package did not turn out to be ‘what it was hailed to be’.

She told the 

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White House ups bid in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday. But pessimism is again seeping into the talks and the two sides switched back to attacking each other in public.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

After Pelosi said the new offer still fell short, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the speaker was “not being serious” in the negotiations.


“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi were expected to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan.

“This isn’t half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi said in a Thursday interview on Bloomberg TV.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, appears more eager than Capitol Hill Republicans to reach an agreement.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when more than $900 billion for state and local governments swelled a $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill that passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

Pelosi responded Thursday, saying the administration is still far short on aid to state and local governments. And she said she won’t agree to take half a loaf now.

“Some of you have asked, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No,” Pelosi told reporters, citing the “opportunity cost” for provisions sought by Democrats but potentially lost in any rush to agreement.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A

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World Trade Center landlord Silverstein Properties turns to ghost kitchen Zuul in bid to return workers

“Food is a major concern,” Vardi said. “People are uncomfortable going between the office and outside, and ordering food still requires going down to pick it up.”

The best way to resolve those concerns is by delivering food directly to tenants’ offices, he said. But that raises issues of security and health screenings of couriers entering the building, especially within the World Trade Center.
 
That has opened an opportunity for Zuul, which operates a commercial kitchen in SoHo where established city brands such as Naya Express, Sarge’s Deli and Stone Bridge Pizza prepare smaller versions of their menus for takeout only. The food is produced from a single commercial kitchen, disconnected from any dining room, typically referred to as a ghost kitchen or cloud kitchen.

Workers can order lunch from those restaurants using a custom app for tenants. Orders must be in by 10:30 a.m. to arrive by lunch hour.

Zuul said it will rely on a small group of couriers who have been preapproved by Silverstein to ride the buildings’ freight elevators. Meals are delivered all at once to each separate office, where they can be distributed by the tenant company. The program will be offered to workers at World Trade Center properties as well as Silverstein’s other office holdings, such as 120 Broadway, Vardi said.

Pre-pandemic, Vardi said, the areas outside of office buildings included a “tsunami” of delivery couriers waiting for someone to come grab their order.

There are no such tidal waves now, at any building, as offices throughout the city are still sitting mostly unoccupied.

Safe food delivery has become part of the pitch from landlords to change that. The program is included in Silverstein promotional materials, which also outline the company’s air-filtration systems and social-distancing plan.   

RXR Realty, a major city office landlord whose holdings include 75 Rockefeller Plaza, coordinates food orders to the building through its own RXWell app, which was developed with Microsoft. The app features options such as Chopt and Sweetgreen. Deliveries are processed by the building’s management and placed on stands in the lobby for contactless pickup, as described by an RXR spokesman.  

Covid-19 guidance from the Real Estate Board of New York recommends that landlords develop a system for handling deliveries that limits lobby access. The board also recommends that corporate cafeterias remain closed.

That’s why Zuul, which has raised $9 million this year from investors, has built a platform that landlords can tap into and integrate within tenant apps, the same as Silverstein. CEO Corey Manicone said Zuul is in discussions with several other city property managers to use its food-delivery app.

Zuul does not charge the property owners for the technology, instead recouping its costs through a fee on the sales.

“Landlords have two key objectives in navigating this environment: reduce lobby foot traffic and limit people in the elevators,” Manicone said.

Partnerships with landlords could offer a new line of business to struggling restaurants. Zuul collects a 10% fee from restaurants on meal sales, as well

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White House Ups Bid in Last-Ditch COVID Talks With Congress | Political News

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was “extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date.”

The White House proposal yielded ground on funding for state and local governments, supporting a $250 billion infusion, and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer, first reported by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed a vote Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure but could take it up again Thursday.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying that she and Mnuchin would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Their negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

Meadow cautioned that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support

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House delays vote on Covid relief package in bid for last-minute deal


Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speak at the U.S. Capitol. | Alex Brandon – Pool/Getty Images

House Democrats are waiting one more day before voting on their coronavirus aid package, giving Speaker Nancy Pelosi a final 24 hours to reach a deal with the White House before taking up their own bill and going home.

The House is now expected to vote Thursday on Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, reversing course from earlier in the day, when lawmakers were told they would vote Wednesday night.

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But Pelosi and top Democrats delayed the vote to buy more for the last-gasp negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — which are widely seen as Congress’ final chance to approve more pandemic aid before the election. Several centrist Democrats had urged party leaders to hold off, arguing it would be fruitless to take a party-line vote if a deal may be clinched.

“We’ll have to see. If we have an agreement, we’re going to pass that agreement, then we’re done until after the election,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday, noting that timing for the rest of the week remained in flux. “It’s hard to say when we’re going to leave.”

Pelosi and Mnuchin met in the Capitol for 90 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, their first in-person sit down since bipartisan talks fell apart in early August. The meeting follows days of calls between the two with both parties under immense pressure to reach a bipartisan agreement that extends a financial lifeline to tens of millions of increasingly desperate Americans before the election.

In a statement, Pelosi said she and Mnuchin will continue to talk but offered no details on whether a deal was imminent.

“We found areas where we are seeking further clarification. Our conversation will continue,” Pelosi said.

Mnuchin was also positive after meeting with Pelosi and then crossing the Capitol to huddle briefly with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days,” Mnuchin told reporters as he left the Capitol. “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re gonna see where we end up.”

Still, Senate Republicans remain cool to the talks, skeptical that they will be able to pass a large bill with majority GOP support and unwilling to simply provide a blank check to the White House. Republicans coalesced behind a $300 billion bill earlier this month, but Senate Democrats blocked it after deeming it far short of what’s needed to address the crisis.

McConnell said Thursday that Republicans want another rescue package but Democrats’ $2.2 trillion price tag is simply “too high.”

“It’s safe to say we’re far apart,” McConnell told reporters. “The thought that Senate Republicans would go up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”

The final flurry of negotiations in Washington comes as tens of thousands of layoffs are piling up in industries battered by the pandemic, from airlines to theme parks

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Meet the ‘no cap’ offer: Escalation clause to win a real estate bid

  • Matt Bauscher is one of Boise’s top real estate agents, and recently used a ‘no cap’ offer to win an in-demand home for his clients, at $125,000 over-ask. 
  • The ‘no cap’ offer is an escalation clause modified to outbid any other offers on the table. 
  • Bauscher said he’s done hundreds of escalation clauses before but never a ‘no cap’ deal: ‘No one had ever heard of what we did here either.’
  • Leader of one of Idaho’s top real estate teams, Bauscher says he’s designed many escalation clauses before, but they all had caps on them.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“No one had ever heard of what we did here either,” Matt Bauscher told Business Insider.

Bauscher, a top Boise real estate broker with Amherst Madison, was talking about his recent success winning a home for his clients with a “no cap” offer. 

Bauscher has been in real estate since 2014, and leads one of the top real estate teams in Idaho, per Real Trends.

“It was the first time I’ve ever done it — I’ve done hundreds of escalation clauses, but most with a cap.” 

Bauscher’s “no cap” offer came about as a result of the feverish Idaho real estate market, where realtors are describing a market overwhelmed with bidding wars and sales often going for $100,000 over ask. It’s a real estate “feeding frenzy,” as Bauscher puts it, as city dwellers flock to the Gem State.

While typical escalation clauses make a contractual provision in a home buyer’s offer letter that seeks to outbid competition by a designated amount, the “no cap” offer means a buyer is essentially writing a blank check for a home — determined to successfully outbid any other offers on the table. 

“I often do an escalation clause on my offers when I’m representing a buyer,” Bauscher said. For example, “I will write in the contract, ‘Buyer agrees to beat any competing bona-fide offer by $5,000 over the highest competing offer. A copy of the competing offer must be provided for escalation clause to be valid.'”

Bauscher used the example of a house being listed at $1.5 million, for which you could do an escalation clause beating any offer by $10,000, up to a max of $1.7 million. The ‘no cap’ would mean you are going to beat any competing offer for just what it sounds like, he said — without a cap.

Bauscher said the “no cap” requires proof, too: The listing agent has to provide a lender approval letter or proof of funds of the competing offer, so they can’t falsify an offer. 

It’s simple, but it works, according to Bauscher, who used the “no cap” offer to win his clients — who were coming from an affluent area out of state — a Boise home at $125,000 over ask.

“Many urban cities are losing people to Boise,” he said, pointing to the city’s safety, low cost of living, and seasonal weather, adding that residents can work from home and

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In Bid for 11th Term, US Rep Langevin to Face Robert Lancia | Rhode Island News

By DAVID KLEPPER, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin will face former state lawmaker Robert Lancia this November in his bid for an 11th term representing Rhode Island’s heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional district.

Langevin beat back a late challenge from Dylan Conley to win Tuesday’s Democratic primary. On the Republican side, Lancia defeated Donald Robbio for the right to challenge Langevin.

Results from several other races on Tuesday’s ballot aren’t expected until Wednesday at the earliest to give election officials time to collect and tabulate mail ballots from drop boxes stationed around the state.

Langevin’s contest was the night’s highest-profile race. The 56-year-old congressman, who became the first quadriplegic to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives when he was elected in 2000, defeated his fellow Democrat Conley, a 33-year-old lawyer who chairs the Providence Board of Licenses and entered the race in June.

Langevin has focused on national security, health care, cybersecurity and elections security during his congressional tenure. He is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he chairs the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

Langevin, who served as Rhode Island’s secretary of state before winning election to Congress, stopped short of claiming victory Tuesday night, saying he would wait for a final result.

“Although we are encouraged by the numbers that have been reported, we eagerly await the final vote tally and express our immense gratitude to all who are working to process ballots in an accurate and timely manner,” he said in a statement.

Langevin was 16 when he was injured while working with the Warwick Police Department in the Boy Scout Explorer program, when a gun accidentally discharged and a bullet struck him, leaving him paralyzed.

Lancia, a former elementary school teacher, ran for the U.S. House after losing reelection to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2018. The 66-year-old faced Robbio, an Air Force veteran and advocate for the elderly.

A self-described “libertarian Republican,” Lancia pledged to support tax breaks for donations to private and parochial schools catering to students “who can’t get their needs met” in a public school.

Rhode Island Republican Party chair Sue Cienki called Lancia, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, “an Energizer bunny” who worked tirelessly to advance GOP priorities in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

Voters were also choosing candidates for mayor in Cranston, Warwick, Pawtucket and Central Falls. In Cranston, Kenneth Hopkins beat Michael Farina in the Republican mayoral primary. Other races were too close to call.

In state legislative races, state Rep. Moira Walsh conceded defeat to high school principal Nathan Biah in a Democratic primary in Providence. Known for championing liberal causes, Walsh was a vocal critic of the House’s Democratic leaders. Shortly after she took office in 2017 she rebuked other lawmakers for drinking in the Statehouse.

Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline had no primary opponent Tuesday in his reelection bid in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed also sailed past the

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Japan Kitchen Battle Ends With Rare Hostile Bid Victory

(Bloomberg) — In a hostile takeover bid that centered on the role of kitchens at a Japanese eatery, Colowide Co. has shown it can stand the heat.

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Colowide confirmed Tuesday that it had succeeded in its unsolicited offer to take control of Ootoya Holdings, a well-known operator of restaurants that serves cheap, traditional Japanese food. Colowide, which runs multiple restaurant chains, wants to integrate Ootoya into its network of central kitchens — hubs that can serve multiple restaurants at once — a step Ootoya management and a group of employees rejected, saying it would be detrimental to its business.

Colowide’s stake in Ootoya will rise to about 47%, it said in a statement that confirmed an earlier report by the Nikkei. While below its target of a 51% stake, it should still give Colowide enough control of the company to install its own slate of directors at a shareholders meeting, having failed in a bid to do so earlier this year. It had been uncertain if Colowide would attract sufficient support from individual investors, many of whom hold Ootoya long-term in order to claim “yutai” shareholder gifts, including free meals and rice.

Read More: Too Many Cooks? Proxy Fight Over Kitchens Boils Over in Japan

Once considered unacceptable in Japan, hostile takeover bids involving listed companies have become increasing common in the past few years, as shareholders increase pressure on management to improve performance. Earlier this year, Maeda Corp. completed a hostile takeover of road paving company Maeda Road Construction Co., a company with which it had ties going back more than 50 years. Trading house Itochu Corp. last year succeeded in its bid for Descente Ltd., swiftly replacing its management.

Descente shares are down almost 30% since the completion of that deal, despite Itochu — one of the five Japanese companies in which Warren Buffett recently took a stake — sending in its own directors. A similar fate may await Colowide and Ootoya, with the bid meeting with little approval from analysts given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the restaurant industry.

That Colowide “is willing to pay such a large premium to purchase an unwilling asset whose strategy clearly conflicts with their own and where their own strategy has a demonstrable track record of failure is a big red flag,” Mio Kato, an analyst at LightStream Research who publishes on Smartkarma, wrote in note Aug. 26.

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