Mud-splattered tractor race draws crowds in southern Russia

Crowds cheered as drivers raced at speeds of up to 70 km (43 mph), making sharp turns on the dusty track and splattering mud as they plowed through a pond in the annual tractor race in the Rostov…

With this cast, Pacific Rim 2 is poised to rule the world

Kaiju vs. jaeger total badass action mania freakout OMG this is the greatest seriously I watched this video like twenty times.

Let’s savor all the things. First, the Pacific Rim 2 movie is actually happening, after a year of swirling rumors. And now it’s being cast, with John Boyega (Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens) joining the team as the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). That means Mako Maki has a brother! Will she be drifting with Boyega’s character? We have no idea, because no details of the story have been released yet, but shooting starts late this year. In fact, Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro has even hinted that he’s at work on a script for the third movie in the franchise.

Said del Toro in a statement about Boyega’s casting: “I am very proud and happy to welcome John into a fantastic sandbox. The Pacific Rim universe will be reinforced with him as a leading man as it continues to be a multicultural, multi-layered world. ‘The World saving the world’ was our goal and I couldn’t think of a better man for the job.” Fans of the original movie loved the way it developed complex, heart-breaking characters while never scrimping on the kaiju vs. jaeger action. Universal will release the sequel everywhere except China—but given that the first film was huge in that country, there will likely be a local distributor. Indeed, Pacific Rim‘s success was largely due to the global market. It was a film that translated well across every continent, and it made most of its money overseas.

Though del Toro will be working as a producer of the new film, the director will be award-winning screenwriter Steven S. DeKnight, known for helming several of the Spartacus series for Starz and for his work on Daredevil and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. DeKnight has also written for several comics, and he has a flair for combining white-hot action with meaty stories. The movie couldn’t be in better hands.

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Ready, steady, throw: teams fight it out at UK custard pie contest

LONDON (Reuters) – Dressed as fairies, musketeers and zombies, teams of eager competitors in fancy dress battled it out at the annual messy custard pie championships in rural England at the weekend.

Thousands of Colombians shed inhibitions for nude photo project

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombians turned out en masse on Sunday and shed their inhibitions along with their clothes for American photographer Spencer Tunick’s nude photo art project in Bogota’s Bolivar…

Star Trek Beyond will be one extended HPE commercial, according to HPE

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) gleefully announced on Monday that it has been working with Paramount over the last few months to “develop three conceptual technologies” for Star Trek Beyond, the latest in the new Star Trek movies.

In an HPE press release, the company writes: “Without giving any spoiler alerts [editor’s note: I think you simply mean “spoilers” here, HPE], we collaborated on three different technological concepts in the film: The quarantine, the diagnostic wrap, and the book. Each of these concepts showcase HPE’s vision for the future of technology, but are rooted in developments we hope to introduce much sooner.”

That futuristic technology that HPE is promising “much sooner” is related to a product called “The Machine,” which a larger, less-fractured HP promised in 2014. The Machine would use memristors (technology theorized in the ‘70s and built in 2008 by HP to employ flexible electrical resistance as memory) as well as optical interconnects to create a new genre of hardware that was supposed to revolutionize supercomputers and mobile devices alike. The company was sufficiently gung-ho about its R&D to claim in 2014 that it would commercialize the technology in The Machine within the next few years “or fall on its face trying.”

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Onex Corp reverses its normal exit strategy, plans to use IPO to sell stake in JELD-WEN

It’s not the normal exit strategy adopted by Onex Corp. but the country’s best-known private equity firm is set to realize on one its investments via an initial public offering of shares.

JELD-WEN Holding Inc., a manufacturer of windows and doors and which has been part of the Onex group since October 2011, is set to go public in the U.S. The company, that was started in Oregon and is now based in Charlotte N.C., has filed what’s known as an S-1, a step that’s required for an initial public offering.

It’s not known how much the company plans to raise from the offering. What’s known is that the company filed a US$100 million maximum aggregate offering price, a number that’s required “for the purpose of calculating the registration fee.” A US$100 million offering comes with a US$10,700 registration fee. What else is known is that four firms – Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan – are acting as joint book-running managers in the proposed offering.

In a note, Paul Holden, an analyst at CIBC World Markets said that “overall, we view this event as positive. While it is difficult to quantify potential accretion to NAV, we do expect there will be some increase in Onex’s mark-up for private investments as the actual IPO approaches. We expect Onex to realize a significant gain on the sale of JELD-WEN given the growth in margins and EBITDA in recent years.”

According to Onex’s web site, that investment started in late 2011. Back then Onex invested $US871 into the company, of which US$689 million came from Onex Partners 111, a fund managed by Onex. (Of the US$689 million, Onex’s share was US$124 million.) The rest of Onex’s investment (US$182 million) came from its role as a co-investor. At that time Onex didn’t buy all the shares of JELD-WEN leaving a minority stake with employees and family members of the founder. The fund owns 83 per cent of the company, of which Onex’s share is 21 per cent.

Onex’s US$871 million investment was in two parts: US$700 million of convertible preferreds that gave it the right to acquire a 58 per cent ownership stake; and a US$171 convertible note that could be redeemed within 18 months from the sale of non-core assets, or (of not redeemed) converted into additional convertible preferred stock.)

It’s not known why the Onex Group decided to monetize part of its stake via an initial public offering. Calls to Onex seeking a comment weren’t returned – though it has been reported that last August that it was seeking a buyer for the whole company. A sale, over time allows for the possibility of higher proceeds, if the stock market co-operates. Since last August the US market – as measured by the S&P 500 – is up by at least 15 per cent.

But selling the whole thing at one time has been Onex’s modus operandi. Earlier this year it used that normal exit strategy to monetize its investment in KraussMaffei Group via a sale to China National Chemical Corporation for a cash enterprise value of €925 million (Three years earlier, the Group invested €276 million investment in the company.)

In 2015, two of the Group’s investments – the Tropicana Las Vegas and Sitel Worldwide Corp. – were sold again without using an IPO.

Financial Post

bcritchley@nationalpost.com

Risks to Canadian economy pile up as outlook looks bleaker and bleaker

OTTAWA — Canada’s central bank governor Stephen Poloz has left little to the imagination on the current state of the economy: It’s looking bleak and will likely get bleaker before it gets better.

We’ve already seen export activity and business investment slip this year. As a result, the overall economy has wobbled into the second quarter — and could end up negative overall — along with inconsistent and often weak job creation.

But there are other concerns for Poloz, as well, including still-low oil prices and the Alberta wildfires that have cut deeper into the province’s output.

“The data are volatile,” he told reporters in Ottawa, following a weekend speech to the Canadian Economic Association. But, he added later, “The economy isn’t as volatile as the data, that much we know.”

“Views in the market — about what policies might do — change virtually every week,” Poloz said. “So, our job is to continue to do our analysis to see our way through that volatility and focus on getting the trends right.”

Trade is one example of a volatile sector. After two months of declines, Canada’s exports rose 1.5 per cent in April, with imports increasing by 0.9 per cent — narrowing the country’s trade deficit to $2.9 billion from a $3.2-billion shortfall in March, according to Statistic Canada.

Meanwhile, Poloz will highlight the growing threats in the real estate market and household debt — with Vancouver and Toronto again playing a major role — on Thursday, when he releases the bank’s semi-annual Financial System Review, an in-depth look at the key domestic risks to Canada’s financial system, as well as global concerns and the possible impact on the domestic  economy.

The twice-yearly review will be followed by a Poloz news conference on the same day in Ottawa, and come ahead of Friday’s employment report — this one for May — from Statistics Canada.

While U.S. employment disappointed in May — growing by just 38,000 positions when 164,000 new hires were anticipated — monthly jobs data in Canada continues to be widely unpredictable, often swaying between big jumps and equally large declines.

In the case of April’s labour force survey, the overall reading was flat, keeping the jobless rate at 7.1 per cent. What is for sure, though, is that the recent wildfires in Alberta have aggravated the collapse of the provincial economy and widespread layoffs that followed the global plunge in oil prices. 

“Since this (labour force) report is for May, there’s lots of uncertainty due to the unknown impact of the wildfires,” economist Benjamin Reitzes, at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note to investors.

“StatsCan hasn’t told us how they’ll treat the fires, so a big negative is not out of the question,” he said. “No matter the print, it will be tough to be any more disappointing than last week’s U.S. payroll print,” which appears to be frustrating Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen’s plans to relaunch interest rate increases in June.

But it’s also been a tough few months for Poloz. With the federal government’s promised fiscal surge in stimulus spending slow to get off the ground, the governor is in a wait-and-see mode as the economic numbers — mostly disappointing recently — continue to roll in.

The Bank of Canada’s main policy lever is its trendsetting interest rate, now at 0.5 per cent, which is used to nudge the rate of inflation toward a two-per-cent target — the midway point of a one-to-three-per-cent comfort range.  

“What we’re looking at is a situation where the mix of policy going forward, if it has a little bit more fiscal (than monetary) …  that is preferable to having lower interest rates and no change in fiscal (policy),” Poloz told reporters Saturday in Ottawa.

“Interest rates don’t deliver much when you’re that low already,” he said. “That shift in (policy) mix is a small one but a very positive one.”

Financial Post

gisfeld@nationalpost.com

Twitter.com/gisfeld