Life as you know it is IPOver

DEAR chief executive. First, congratulations. You have decided to float your firm’s shares on the stockmarket. After years of toil behind the scenes, it’s time for the big stage. You probably feel pretty good right now, especially after those insightful bankers from Goldman Sachs said that your firm is one of the most impressive that they have ever seen in their careers and that they are generously going to give you a discount on their normal fee and charge you only 4% of the IPO proceeds. Unfortunately, though, things will now get much worse before they get better. An IPO is like having children: months of waiting, an agonising delivery and afterwards your world is never the same again.

At least you are not alone. American IPO volumes are at their highest level for three years. In New York Dropbox and Spotify recently listed. Even Michael Dell, who took his computer firm private in 2013 and grumbles about the myopia of stockmarkets, is taking his firm public again, through a merger. In China a slew of tech stars are expected to float after Xiaomi pulled it off this week, including an online-services platform, Meituan Dianping. All told, $200bn could be raised globally this year. More whoppers, among them the likes of Uber, Saudi Aramco and Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial affiliate, could take the plunge next year.

Your immediate nightmare is the flotation process, which is a cross between an election campaign, a show trial and an Ironman event. You have six months to put in place a suitable board of directors, nail down your strategy, and prepare the legal and financial documents. After that you have to sell the story. Expect to visit up to 100 fund managers in a few weeks. Train yourself to say the same thing ten times a day and to look profoundly interested as 30-something MBAs pick apart your life’s work.

Unless there is a stockmarket crash this year, you will almost certainly succeed at listing your firm, although the valuation may be less than you hoped for—Xiaomi was floated at $54bn, not the $100bn it wanted. Nonetheless, the real shock will take place after you have gone public.

Time will vanish: block out a quarter of your diary for financial-results days, speeches at investor conferences and meetings with portfolio managers, “buyside” analysts at asset-management firms and “sellside” analysts at investment banks. These encounters will seem outrageously asymmetric. You have to be consistent and calm. Lawyers will vet what you say to ensure you do not break laws on disclosing sensitive information. It is a serious breach of etiquette for you to comment on the level of your own share price or to criticise the financiers. When Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla, called analysts boring boneheads on a conference call in May, investors saw it as a lack of self-control.

The investors, on the other hand, can do what they like. They talk rubbish sometimes and switch jobs constantly. They don’t have to reveal their agenda (are they long or short your shares?) and try to tease out gossip with which to speculate. If they own your stock they may sell at any time, in mercenary fashion. They justify all this by piously invoking “shareholder rights”.

Even with thoughtful shareholders, you will have to articulate yourself in a new way. You are used to being visionary, passionate and profane. Your new financial friends will be abstract, obsessed with numbers and keen on comparing you with your competitors. Karl Popper, the philosopher, said that scientific knowledge progressed through the falsification of hypotheses. Often it will feel like you are advancing hypotheses about your firm’s opportunities, and they are just shooting them down.

You will have a new, intimate relationship in your life—with your share price. Contrary to the cliché, you will not be a slave to its short-term gyrations. Financial markets are much more sophisticated than that. But nor can you just run the firm and “let the share price take care of itself”. Lots of staff will own shares or have stock options; they will follow it closely. Your non-executive directors will use it as a rough gauge of how you are performing.

The share price will subconsciously alter the way you think. You are used to taking strategic decisions, to which your team then commits. Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, puts it best: those who dissent should “disagree, then commit”. But the share price makes dynamic judgments about the long term that will cause you to doubt yourself like never before. Think of Evan Spiegel, the boss of Snap, who redesigned how the social-media platform worked this year only to see the share price fall by 16% in a single day in May. You have to have a thick skin.

Finally, your authority will be weakened. Your old buddies—the ones with weird hair but brilliant ideas and total loyalty, will have to be hidden in the basement. Slick subordinates who establish a rapport with investors may start acting like your equals. Activist shareholders can pounce, spitting libellous criticisms and demanding that all the cash that you have stashed away for a rainy day should be blown on a share buy-back. Later you might face a hostile takeover, which will feel like a violent coup d’état.

Yours is the Earth and everything in it

One way to protect yourself is to keep voting control. But even then it pays to do more. Find trusted subordinates who can speak to the markets on your behalf. Attract blue-chip funds, such as Baillie Gifford in Scotland or GIC in Singapore, to act as anchor investors. Think deeply about your plan and stick to it. In time you will see the advantages of being listed. You can use shares to buy rivals or raise more capital. You can more easily tap the vast information machine of financial markets to gather intelligence. You will learn to judge when your critics have a point. Processes, governance, discipline and consistency are things that firms have to master if they are to grow up. With luck your private kingdom will evolve into an institution, with its own identity. So when you ring the bell at the stock exchange, remember to smile—and that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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When is it and what are the best deals?

What deals can we expect? 

While the vast majority of discounts will only be announced from 12pm on Monday, Amazon have released information on a few discounts ahead of time. When Prime Day starts, the following offers will be available: 

  • The Kindle Paperwhite will cost just £74.99, down from £109. 
  • The Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet can be yours for £59.99, normal price £99.99.
  • £40 off the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, which will be available for £89.99, down from £129.99. 
  • There will also be 30 per cent off Sony and Canon cameras and LG, Sony and Toshiba TVs. 
  • Click here to see the best deals currently available. 

Are deals only available in the UK?

No. In 2017, Prime Day took place in 13 countries: the US, UK, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria. As the sales event is a huge success for the e-tailer, there may well be more in 2018. 

What is Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime is a subscription service that gives you a host of benefits for an annual fee of £79 per year (or £7.99 per month). 

Benefits include: 

  • Free, unlimited one-day delivery on millions of items
  • Access to thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video
  • Two million songs with ad-free streaming on Prime Music
  • A massive archive of books, magazine and comics with Prime Reading
  • Exclusive discounts and memberships to online video game streaming site Twitch
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Early bid access to limited time Lightning Deals

Prime Now refers to items that can be delivered within two hours. It is currently only available in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Sheffield. 

What are the levels of Amazon Prime membership?

  • PrimeFor £79 per year (or £7.99 if paying monthly) you can get access to all of the levels of Prime membership, from shopping to videos and music. 
  • Prime Video: This membership level offers unlimited video and film streaming on Amazon’s video service. 
  • Amazon FamilyThis type of membership includes all the benefits of Prime membership, as well as an additional 20pc off nappies and baby food. 
  • Amazon Student: This is a great deal (if you’re lucky enough to qualify). For just £39 per year users can get all the benefits of Amazon Prime, plus exclusive student deals – and the first six months are a free trial. 

What other services do Amazon offer? 

Amazon has continued to grow exponentially over the past few years and is the fourth most valuable company in the world, according to Statista. Its CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. Last year, Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7bn. 

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Trump vows ‘great’ trade deal with UK, abruptly changing tack on May’s Brexit plan

WINDSOR CASTLE, England (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday the United States and Britain could secure a “great” post-Brexit trade deal, lavishing praise on Prime Minister Theresa May and contradicting his own withering assessment of her strategy publicized hours earlier.

Fresh from sending NATO into crisis talks and ahead of a summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, Trump shocked Britain’s political establishment when he criticized May’s plans for ties with the European Union after Britain leaves in March.

In a newspaper interview published just hours before holding talks with May, Trump said her Brexit strategy would “kill” any chance of a trade deal and said she had not listened to his advice on how to negotiate with the EU.

But, as the two leaders stood together for a press conference in the garden of May’s grand 16th-Century official residence Chequers, Trump said the British leader was doing a “fantastic job”, added it was up to her how to conduct Brexit, and that a free trade deal was very much on the table.

Relations had never been more special, he said, and any criticism was “fake news”.

“Once the Brexit process is concluded and perhaps the UK has left the EU, I don’t know what they’re going to do but whatever you do is OK with me, that’s your decision,” Trump said.

“Whatever you do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade together, that’s all that matters. The United States looks forward to finalizing a great bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries and we will seize it fully.”

At the same location a week ago, May finally won agreement for her Brexit plans from her cabinet after two years of tortuous internal wrangling. But within days, two senior ministers had quit, departures which Trump said earlier in the week had left Britain in turmoil.

Some lawmakers in her deeply divided Conservative Party have cast May’s “business-friendly” Brexit plan as a betrayal that would leave Britain too close to the EU and warned that she might face a leadership challenge.

May’s formal proposals were published on Thursday, but hours later the Sun published an interview with Trump where he appeared to side with the prime minister’s critics.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal,” he told the Sun. “I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”

Asked about that interview, Trump said he had not criticized May, lavishing praise on “a terrific woman”, who was smart, tough and capable.

“This incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job, a great job,” he said. “She’s a total professional because when I saw her this morning, I said: ‘I want to apologize, because I said such good things about you’. She said: ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press’.”

“HIGHEST LEVEL OF SPECIAL”

May, likewise, glossed over the comments in the Sun, saying her deal provided a platform for an ambitious free trade deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May meet at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump’s remarks to the Sun were the most biting any U.S. president has ever made on visit to Britain. However, under the blue skies of the Chequers’ garden, he said their relationship was “the highest level of special”.

However, while Trump and May exchanged warm words, tens of thousands of protesters marched against the U.S. president through central London, bringing much of the British capital to a standstill. It was one of the more than 100 demonstrations planned across the country during his four-day stay.

“The message we came here to give today is that Trump is not welcome in Britain,” said shopkeeper Grish Gregoran, 58, who took the day off to attend. “We wanted to embarrass him and I think we have done that today.

Trump has also frequently angered British politicians and has been involved in social media spats with London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan who he said had “done a very bad job on terrorism”.

Late last year, May herself criticized Trump for retweeting a message by a member of a British far-right group, and the speaker of parliament has said the president would not be welcome to address the chamber.

After leaving Chequers, Trump traveled to Windsor Castle to have tea with Queen Elizabeth. He was heralded by military bands on his arrival at the 92-year-old monarch’s home where her grandson Prince Harry married U.S. actress Meghan Markle in May.

He was due to fly to one of his golf courses in Scotland later on Friday where he will stay until Sunday when he flies to Helsinki for talks with Russia’s Putin where he said he would bring up the issue of nuclear disarmament.

However his trip is set to be overshadowed by news that a U.S. federal grand jury has indicted 12 military intelligence officers on charges of hacking the computer networks of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Slideshow (6 Images)

“We have this stupidity going on, pure stupidity, but it makes it very hard to do something with Russia because, anything you do, it’s like: ‘Russia, oh he loves Russia’,” Trump said at the press conference before news of the indictment.

“I love the United States but I love getting along with Russia and China and other countries.”

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; Additional reporting by William James, Kate Holton, Andrew MacAskill and Paul Sandle; editing by Larry King, Kevin Liffey, David Stamp, William Maclean

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