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WeWork’s Adam Neumann reportedly eyes SoftBank settlement

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WeWork's Adam Neumann reportedly eyes SoftBank settlement

Adam Neumann’s golden parachute keeps getting smaller.

The WeWork co-founder is discussing a settlement with SoftBank that would cut his payout from the Japanese investment giant roughly in half, according to reports.

Neumann and WeWork filed separate lawsuits against SoftBank last spring after it abandoned plans to buy $3 billion worth of shares from the office-sharing giant’s investors.

But the parties are nearing a deal that would put SoftBank — which is now WeWork’s majority owner — on the hook for just $1.5 billion of that, including nearly $500 million that would go to Neumann, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

SoftBank would get 10.5 percent of WeWork’s stock from the firm’s early investors in exchange for that pile of cash at a rate of $19.19 a share, the price it initially agreed to pay, one person familiar with the deal told CNBC.

WeWork declined to comment on the talks, which are reportedly not guaranteed to produce a final agreement. A spokesperson for SoftBank did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

If it goes through, the settlement deal would trim about another $500 million off the $1.7 billion exit package Neumann was supposed to receive after he stepped down as WeWork’s CEO in 2019 following the company’s failed attempt at an initial public offering.

SoftBank honcho Marcelo Claure, who also serves as WeWork’s executive chairman, said in October that Neuman would no longer get a $185 million consulting fee he was promised because he “violated some of the parts of the consulting agreement.”

The reported settlement discussions came amid reports that WeWork would take another run at going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company. That’s a publicly traded shell company that hitches itself to another firm which then takes over its stock listing.

WeWork has been in talks about joining forces with a SPAC called BowX Acquisition Corp. in a deal that could value it at roughly $10 billion, according to the Journal. That’s well below the $47 billion valuation the company was believed to be worth before Neumann bungled its first IPO.

Before he stepped down under pressure, reports swirled that Neumann promoted a party culture at WeWork that included him smoking weed on a private jet. He was also accused of not doing enough to rein in spending at the money-losing company.

With Post wires

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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak wants to build crypto-run private desert cities

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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak wants to build crypto-run private desert cities

Nevada, the state of legalized gambling, prostitution and marijuana, is about to add another layer to its Wild West reputation: Desert cities formed by companies and run entirely on blockchain technology.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak held a press conference on Friday to lay out his futuristic plan to open “Innovation Zones” on thousands of acres of privately owned desert that would allow private corporations specializing in emerging technology to form local governments complete with the right to impose taxes and create school districts or even courts.

It was Sisolak’s most detailed discussion of the plan, which has not yet been introduced to the legislature. He said the cities would be run entirely on blockchain technology, the digital ledger primarily used to transfer cryptocurrencies, allowing residents to buy goods, pay bills, transfer property deeds and obtain marriage licenses all using cyber coins. 

One big winner would be Jeffrey Berns, the founder and CEO Blockchains LLC, who purchased almost 70,000 acres of Nevada desert east of Reno in 2018 and said he wants to found a blockchain-based community.

Elon Musk’s massive Tesla battery gigafactory is also located in the same county as Berns’ recent landgrab. While there’s no indication billionaire electric car tycoon wants in on the plan, he would seem to be an ideal candidate given Tesla’s surprise and market-moving $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin earlier this month.

Of course, for Tesla to build its own autonomous zone, Musk would need to add almost 48,000 acres to meet the 50,000 acres of contiguous, uninhabited land required for a company to meet the rules of the proposed legislation. The rules would also require a $1 billion investment over 10 years.

During a Friday afternoon press conference addressing the plan, Sissolak said Nevada needs a bold new vision to recover from the ravages of the pandemic on the state’s tourism-centric economy.

“This is different than anything that’s ever been proposed before,” he said, hammering home the vision of interconnected modern communities bringing jobs and commerce to unused land. “Companies can collaborate on a future together that would make Nevada not just a national but global leader in Blockchain technology.

While short on some details, like how a so-called Stablecoin would be designed to facilitate a fully Blockchain economy within a US state, and who would pay for roads in and out of what would be essentially private cities, the governor asked Nevadans to think big.

“There’s gonna be a lot of naysayers,” he said at the end of the presser. “I get that, but take a moment to look at the proposal.”

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United Airlines to pay $49.5M to settle mail contract probe

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United Airlines to pay $49.5M to settle mail contract probe

United Airlines agreed to pay $49.5 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims relating to fraud on Postal Service contracts for transportation of international mail, the US Justice Department said Friday.

“United defrauded the US Postal Service by providing falsified parcel delivery information over a period of years and accepting millions of dollars of payments to which the company was not entitled,” the Justice Department’s acting criminal division chief Nicholas L. McQuaid said.

United did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said between 2012 and 2015, United defrauded the US Postal Service (USPS) by submitting false delivery scan data. The government said United submitted automated delivery scans based on aspirational delivery times. The government said some individuals at United sought “to hide the automation practices included efforts to revise the falsified delivery times to make the automated scans appear less suspicious to USPS.”

United agreed to strengthen its compliance program and to submit yearly reports to the Justice Department detailing the status of remediation and implementation of United’s compliance program and internal controls.

The government cited United’s prior history, including a 2016 non-prosecution agreement relating to potential criminal bribery violations arising out of United’s establishment and operation of a non-stop route between NJ’s Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina.

In 2019, American Airlines, paid $22.1 million to settle claims it falsely reported the times it transferred possession of US mail to foreign postal administrations or other intended recipients, the Justice Department said.

USPS contracted with American to take possession of receptacles of US mail at six locations and then deliver it to numerous international and domestic destinations. The settlement resolves claims American Airlines falsely reported the times it transferred possession of the mail. American did not immediately comment.

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Bill Ackman tells investors to follow him on Twitter

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Bill Ackman tells investors to follow him on Twitter

Billionaire Bill Ackman appears to be taking a page from Elon Musk with plans to start announcing market-moving news on Twitter.

The billionaire investor’s blank check company, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, issued a press release on Friday highlighting Ackman’s Twitter feed and saying it may be used as a venue for official announcements.

“Investors should follow this account for information about the company,” the release said.

Ackman’s #FollowFriday campaign comes as retail traders wage their second campaign on “meme stocks” like GameStop, prizing sentiment and social media posts over fundamentals and pumping so-called “stonks” unloved by mainstream Wall Street investors.

Ackman was up late Thursday night engaging with Twitter users who asked him about a second Pershing Square blank check company, aslo known as a SPAC. His terse answers thrilled some followers who seemed to read into the ambiguous responses.

When asked if investors in the first SPAC could be given priority to invest in the second, Ackman tweeted “We have the technology” leading users on Twitter and Reddit to proclaim that Ackman was about to acquire payment platforms Stripe, Plaid, or even trading app Robinhood, with dozens of users posting that Ackman’s tweets indicate he would announce a merger on Friday, on Twitter.

Despite Ackman appearing to have gained more than 1,000 new followers in a matter of hours, shares in Pershing Square Tontine were trading slightly down at midday after spiking in early trading.

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