Astra outlines its plan to avoid Nasdaq delisting, including possible reverse stock split
Astra / NASASpaceflight
With an exchange-imposed deadline of April 4 drawing near – and Astra’s stock still below the $1 a share level it needs to exceed to remain on the exchange – the company filed a plan earlier this month, seeking an 180-day extension, it said Thursday.
If successful, the appeal would give Astra until Oct. 1 to get its shares above $1 for at least 10 consecutive business days.
“Based on our discussions with representatives of Nasdaq, we expect to hear back from Nasdaq regarding the status of our application on or around April 5, 2023, and we are not aware of any reason why our application would not be approved,” Astra CFO Axel Martinez wrote in a blog post.
In its plan, Astra also noted the possibility of conducting a reverse stock split to get back into compliance with Nasdaq’s listing standards. A reverse split does not affect the fundamentals of a company, as it is not dilutive to the stock and does not change the company’s valuation, but it would lift the stock price by combining shares.
A reverse split can be seen as a sign a company is in distress and is trying to “artificially” boost its stock price, or it can be viewed as a way for a viable company with a beaten up stock to continue operations on a public exchange. Functionally, a reverse split, often done as a 1-for-10, would mean a $3 stock, for example, would become $30 a share.
“Astra continues to actively monitor our listing status and intends to preserve our Nasdaq listing,” Martinez wrote.
The company is expected to report fourth-quarter results after market close on Mar. 30.
— CNBC’s Scott Schnipper contributed to this report.
Home prices cool in January, even falling in some cities, S&P Case-Shiller says
Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Prices have been falling for seven straight months, but the decline was a bit smaller in January. That was likely due to a brief drop in mortgage rates and a resulting jump in sales.
The 10-city composite rose 2.5% year over year, down from 4.4% in December. The 20-city composite also rose 2.5%, down from 4.6% in the previous month.
Home prices have been cooling due to higher mortgage rates. The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage set more than a dozen record lows during the first two years of the pandemic, briefly going below 2%, but it grew sharply. Since fall, the rate has been hovering in the high 6% range, although it’s been volatile in recent weeks due to several bank failures and the resulting stress on the overall banking industry.
“Despite this, the Federal Reserve remains focused on its inflation-reduction targets, which suggest that rates may remain elevated in the near-term,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI, in a release. “Mortgage financing and the prospect of economic weakness are therefore likely to remain a headwind for housing prices for at least the next several months.”
Prices were lower year over year in San Francisco (-7.6%), Seattle (-5.1%), Portland, Oregon (-0.5%) and San Diego (-1.4%). They were flat in Phoenix.
Miami, Tampa and Atlanta again saw the hottest annual price gains of the top 20 cities. Miami prices were up 13.8%, Tampa prices up 10.5%, and Atlanta prices rose 8.4%. All 20 cities, however, reported lower prices in the year ending January 2023 versus the year ending December 2022.
Homebuyers may be seeing more flexible sellers this spring, but there are still too few homes available for sale. Mortgage lending may also tighten in light of pressure on the banking system.
“More expensive, less available borrowing, especially with an unclear economic outlook, is likely to continue to limit buyer demand. Though home sales are expected to rebound in line with seasonal trends, this spring’s sales pace is expected to remain lower than last year, as uncertainty and high costs limit activity,” said Hannah Jones, economic data analyst for Realtor.com.
Virgin Orbit extends unpaid pause as Brown deal collapses, ‘dynamic’ talks continue
Matthew Horwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Some of the company’s late-stage deal talks, including with private investor Matthew Brown, collapsed over the weekend, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
Hart previously planned to update employees on the company’s operational status at an all-hands meeting at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon, according to an email sent to employees Sunday night. At the last minute, that meeting was rescheduled “for no later than Thursday,” Hart said in the employee memo Monday.
“Our investment discussions have been very dynamic over the past few days, they are ongoing, and not yet at a stage where we can provide a fulsome update,” Hart wrote in the email to employees, which was viewed by CNBC.
Brown told CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” last week he was in final discussions to invest in the company. A person familiar with the terms told CNBC the investment would have amounted to $200 million and granted Brown a controlling stake. But discussions between Virgin Orbit and the Texas-based investor stalled and broke down late last week, a person familiar told CNBC. As of Saturday those discussions had ended, the person said.
Separately, another person said talks with a different potential buyer broke down on Sunday night.
The people asked to remain anonymous to discuss private negotiations. A representative for Virgin Orbit declined to comment.
Hart promised Virgin Orbit’s over 750 employees “daily” updates this week. Most of the staff remain on an unpaid furlough that Hart announced on Mar. 15. Last week, a “small” team of Virgin Orbit employees returned to work in what Hart described as the “first step” in an “incremental resumption of operations,” with the intention of preparing a rocket for the company’s next launch.
Virgin Orbit’s stock closed at 54 cents a share on Monday, having fallen below $1 a share after the company’s pause in operations.
Virgin Orbit developed a system that uses a modified 747 jet to send satellites into space by dropping a rocket from under the aircraft’s wing mid-flight. But the company’s last mission suffered a mid-flight failure, with an issue during the launch causing the rocket to not reach orbit and crash into the ocean.
The company has been looking for new funds for several months, with majority owner Sir Richard Branson unwilling to fund the company further.
Virgin Orbit was spun out of Branson’s Virgin Galactic in 2017 and counts the billionaire as its largest stakeholder, with 75% ownership. Mubadala, the Emirati sovereign wealth fund, holds the second-largest stake in Virgin Orbit, at 18%.
The company hired bankruptcy firms to draw up contingency plans in the event it is unable to find a buyer or investor. Branson has first priority over Virgin Orbit’s assets, as the company raised $60 million in debt from the investment arm of Virgin Group.
On the same day that Hart told employees that Virgin Orbit was pausing operations, its board of directors approved a “golden parachute” severance plan for top executives, in case they are terminated “following a change in control” of the company.
Disney layoffs will begin this week, CEO Bob Iger says in memo
Randy Shropshire | CNBC
The cuts are part of a broader effort to reduce corporate spending and boost free cash flow. Disney said last month it plans to cut $5.5 billion in costs, including $3 billion in content spend.
“This week, we begin notifying employees whose positions are impacted by the company’s workforce reductions,” Iger wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNBC. “Leaders will be communicating the news directly to the first group of impacted employees over the next four days. A second, larger round of notifications will happen in April with several thousand more staff reductions, and we expect to commence the final round of notifications before the beginning of the summer to reach our 7,000-job target.”
The layoffs were initially announced in February. The job cuts will be cross-company, hitting Disney’s media and distribution division, parks and resorts, and ESPN.
Disney is following the lead of Warner Bros. Discovery and other legacy media companies that are cutting jobs and spending. Disney has said its streaming business, led by Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, will stop losing money in 2024. Disney shares are up about 8% this year after falling 44% last year.
“We have made the difficult decision to reduce our overall workforce by approximately 7,000 jobs as part of a strategic realignment of the company, including important cost-saving measures necessary for creating a more effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to our business,” Iger wrote. “For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward.”
Since returning as CEO, Iger has reorganized the company and acknowledged that he’d consider selling Hulu. Disney will host its annual shareholder meeting April 3.
Read Iger’s full memo:
Dear Fellow Employees,
As I shared with you in February, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our overall workforce by approximately 7,000 jobs as part of a strategic realignment of the company, including important cost-saving measures necessary for creating a more effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to our business. Over the past few months, senior leaders have been working closely with HR to assess their operational needs, and I want to give you an update on those efforts.
This week, we begin notifying employees whose positions are impacted by the company’s workforce reductions. Leaders will be communicating the news directly to the first group of impacted employees over the next four days. A second, larger round of notifications will happen in April with several thousand more staff reductions, and we expect to commence the final round of notifications before the beginning of the summer to reach our 7,000-job target.
The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly. This company is home to the most talented and dedicated employees in the world, and so many of you bring a lifelong passion for Disney to your work here. That’s part of what makes working at Disney so special. It also makes it all the more difficult to say goodbye to wonderful people we care about. I want to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to every departing employee for your numerous contributions and your devotion to this beloved company.
For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward. I ask for your continued understanding and collaboration during this time.
In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world – now, and long into the future. Please know that our HR partners and leaders are committed to creating a supportive and smooth process every step of the way.
I want to thank each of you again for all your many achievements here at The Walt Disney Company.
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