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Investors flee James Dolan decision to merge MSG’s owner with its cable network

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Billionaire James Dolan is merging the company that owns the Madison Square Garden arena with the cable network that broadcasts New York Knicks games to local fans — and investors are running for the exits.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment — which in addition to the Garden owns Radio City Music Hall and the Tao restaurant and nightclub chain — on Friday announced it will buy MSG Networks for about $900 million in stock.

Shares of the companies — both of which are controlled by Dolan, who also owns the Knicks and the New York Rangers — tanked on the news, with MSGE closing down 9.9 percent at $84.67, and MSGN tumbling 7.6 percent to $16.06.

That’s on top of steep drops since word of the deal was first reported on March 10. While MSGE’s takeout offer represents a 4-percent premium to MSG Network’s shares on that day, investors on Friday groused that their combined market values have already sunk by roughly $750 million.

Wall Street is afraid of the tie-up partly because MSG Entertainment, after losing more than $250 million in the pandemic, appears to be moving forward on a controversial plan to build its pricey, ball-shaped Sphere arenas across the country. To some, Friday’s deal looks like a signal that MSG Entertainment needs MSG Networks as a source of cash.

“The question for shareholders is if this is an indicator that there are financing challenges at MSGE,” one miffed shareholder told The Post, adding that during a Friday conference call, executives “didn’t address what the two businesses could do better together than what they can do separately.”

In a written statement, MSG Entertainment said the new company would be better positioned to latch on to the expansion of legalized sports gambling. MSG Networks owns two regional sports and entertainment channels as well as a streaming service in the New York area.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment — which in addition to the Garden owns Radio City Music Hall and the Tao restaurant and nightclub chain — on Friday announced it will buy MSG Networks for about $900 million in stock.
The merger likewise disappointed some MSGE shareholders as it changes the rationale for buying the stock.
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The new company also would enjoy tax efficiencies and “would have enhanced financial flexibility to fund current growth initiatives, including its planned state-of-the-art venue in Las Vegas, [the] MSG Sphere at the Venetian,” MSG Entertainment said.

Dolan wasn’t on Friday’s call, and company executives refused to answer several questions about MSGE development projects. That included whether the merger would accelerate the timing of the opening of the London Sphere. MSG’s Las Vegas Sphere is scheduled to open in 2023, the company said.

The merger likewise disappointed some MSGE shareholders as it changes the rationale for buying the stock.

“The thesis on MSGE is this is live entertainment — a reopening of the economy play,” the miffed shareholder griped. “Buying a cable network dilutes that story.”

In 2015, Madison Square Garden spun off its sports and entertainment businesses from its media business, making MSG Networks a stand-alone media company. Last year, Madison Square Garden spun off its MSG Entertainment from Madison Square Garden Sports, which owns the Knicks and the Rangers.

Officials at MSG Entertainment declined to comment further on Friday.

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
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Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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