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Ken Griffin blasts ‘insane conspiracy theory’ that he helped tank ‘Reddit Rally’

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Ken Griffin blasts 'insane conspiracy theory' that he helped tank 'Reddit Rally'

Ken Griffin brushed off accusations that his massive hedge fund Citadel Investments had a hand in spoiling the “Reddit Rally,” calling it an “insane conspiracy theory.”

Fresh off his Thursday testimony on Capitol Hill on last month’s surprise surge in shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment, the Wall Street billionaire pushed back Friday on the idea that he was playing both sides of the chaotic short squeeze.

Some Reddit-fueled retail investors have accused his hedge fund of moving to invest $2 billion in Melvin Capital — a high-profile hedge fund whose bets against GameStop shares they had attacked — even as his securities firm was tasked with executing many of their GameStop trades on Robinhood that were squeezing the crippled hedge fund.

In particular, rumors have swirled that Griffin’s fund was involved in Robinhood’s decision to limit users’ ability to buy GameStop shares, and that he was conspiring to block retail investors in order to protect Melvin and its founder, Citadel alum Gabe Plotkin.

“If I had to run my business to the possibility of an insane conspiracy theory emerging at any point in time,” Griffin told CNBC, “I would have no business.”

When asked directly if his investment in Melvin at the height of the short squeeze might have been a mistake, Griffin curtly retorted “No, I think Gabe Plotkin is one of the finest investors of his generation.”

As to the powerful financiers thoughts on the red-hot market for Bitcoin, Griffin said he doesn’t have any.

“I just don’t spend much time thinking about cryptocurrencies,” Griffin said. “I don’t see the economic underpinning of cryptocurrencies. I understand how to value a stock … I don’t know how to think about what is effectively a digital token.”

Bitcoin hit yet another all-time high earlier Friday, raising its total market value above the $1 trillion mark after Tesla chief Elon Musk called the cryptocurrency “less dumb” than cash.

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Alamo Drafthouse new co-owner embroiled in child abuse scandal

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Alamo Drafthouse new co-owner embroiled in child abuse scandal

Alamo Drafthouse revealed it is selling itself as the dine-in cinema chain filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday — and one of its new co-owners is a private-equity firm that has been engulfed in a child-abuse scandal.

Altamont Capital Partners — which alongside Fortress Investment Group and Alamo’s founder will buy the Texas-based movie chain after the coronavirus shuttered its 18 theaters nationwide and spurred a “liquidity crisis” — is also the owner of Sequel Youth and Family Services, an operator of taxpayer-funded foster-care facilities that have been accused of widespread abuse and neglect.

According to an explosive report last fall by American Public Media in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Sequel has operated facilities nationwide where children were abused, neglected, sexually assaulted and physically mistreated.

The shocking report alleged that at least 40 states at one point sent their most vulnerable children to Sequel’s facilities, which were run by “inexperienced, low-wage” employees. The reports detailed sexual and physical verbal abuse, including beatings from staff, as well as feces-infested living quarters.

“While instances of sexual assault by a staff member are extremely rare among the thousands of kids we help around the country, even one case is unconscionable,” Sequel said in a statement at the time. It also said it had initiated “better hiring practices, background checks, and the installation of cameras and other security measures” to prevent such incidents.

Meanwhile, Altamont Capital has pumped $40 million into Sequel over the past three years to fund its expansion. Sequel operates 44 programs in 19 states including a Michigan facility where a 16-year-old boy died last April after being restrained by staff members.

In February, several members of Congress requested that the Office of Inspector General in the US Department of Health and Human Services investigate youth care and residential facilities, including those operated by Sequel in Oregon.

Altamont did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Alamo — which sold its assets to a group of lenders that includes existing investor Altamont, affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, and company founder Tim League — did not return requests for comment.

League did, however, comment early Wednesday on Alamo’s prospects. The company plans to keep most of its theaters open after it emerges from bankruptcy, according to reports.

“Because of the increase in vaccination availability, a very exciting slate of new releases, and pent-up audience demand, we’re extremely confident that by the end of 2021, the cinema industry — and our theaters specifically — will be thriving,” League said in a statement to news outlets.

Josh Kosman contributed reporting.

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Samsung eyes four locations for $17 billion chip factory

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Samsung eyes four locations for $17 billion chip factory

Samsung is looking at four sites in three different US states where it could build a $17 billion computer chip plant, records show.

The South Korean tech giant is considering two locations in Arizona and one in New York in addition to a site in Austin, Texas, where it’s seeking nearly $1.5 billion in tax breaks for the semiconductor facility, according to documents filed with Lone Star State officials.

Samsung said it’s in “active negotiations” with the other three potential hosts, each of which have offered a combination of property tax abatements, grants or tax credits to support the “highly competitive” project.

The company did not identify the cities it’s courting besides Austin. But The Wall Street Journal has reported that it’s eyeing a big industrial campus in Genesee County, New York, and two sites in the Phoenix area.

“All three alternative sites have the necessary land and are capable of scaling up the required infrastructure within the requisite period of time to meet the project’s accelerated timetable,” Samsung said in a submission to the Texas state comptroller’s office dated Feb. 26.

Samsung said it’s also scouting sites in Korea but suggested that Austin is its preferred location because of its 25-year history in the Texas capital, where it already has a chip plant.

Samsung expects the roughly 7 million-square-foot factory to create 1,800 jobs in its first 10 years with average initial salaries of $66,254, according to another Feb. 26 filing.

While Austin is the apparent frontrunner, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has said he reached out to Samsung in late January about building the plant at the 1,250-acre Genesee STAMP campus, situated between the major cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

“This Samsung project is an exciting and a potential game changer for the region,” Schumer said at the time. “I know firsthand that STAMP is shovel-ready — and that, combined with upstate New York’s robust semiconductor industry, make Genesee the perfect location for Samsung’s new chip fab.”

With Post wires

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GameStop booster ‘Roaring Kitty’ testifies before regulators

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GameStop booster 'Roaring Kitty' testifies before regulators

Keith Gill, the social media persona known as “Roaring Kitty,” whose online posts helped spark January’s trading frenzy in GameStop shares, appeared before Massachusetts securities regulators on Wednesday to testify as part of an examination into his activities.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, the state’s top securities regulator, last month subpoenaed Gill, who touted GameStop stock in his spare time while he was a registered broker and working at the insurer MassMutual.

He was a key figure in the so-called “Reddit rally,” which saw shares of GameStop surge 400 percent in a week before crashing back to pre-surge levels. Galvin’s spokeswoman said Gill was giving testimony virtually in response to the subpoena.

William Taylor, Gill’s attorney at Zuckerman Spaeder, declined to comment.

Gill, 34, began sharing his positions on Reddit’s popular Wallstreetbets trading forum in September 2019, posting a portfolio screenshot indicating he had invested $53,000 in GameStop.

By late January, Gill, known as “Roaring Kitty” on YouTube and “DeepF***ingValue” on Reddit, was up over 4,000 percent on stock and options investments in the company, with his GameStop position plus cash worth nearly $48 million, according to his Reddit posts.

Gill testified before the House Committee on Financial Services on Feb. 18 that he remained “as bullish as I’ve ever been on a potential turnaround for GameStop.”

While trading in GameStop, Gill worked at MassMutual in a marketing and financial education job and was a registered financial broker in Massachusetts.

Galvin’s office said that MassMutual has told regulators it was unaware of Gill’s outside activities. He left MassMutual in late January and is no longer a broker registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The broker-dealer arm of MassMutual on Friday filed a termination notice for Gill with FINRA and said an internal review of his “outside activities” was ongoing.

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