Skip to main content
Apr 14, 2023

The week in investor relations: BlackRock to manage $114 bn disposals portfolio, Amazon CEO reassures investors and Warren Buffet labels Bitcoin a ‘gambling token

Our pick of the IR stories from around the web you might have missed this week

– According to the Financial Times (paywall), US regulators appointed BlackRock’s advisory arm to help sell a $114 bn portfolio of securities inherited after the government takeovers of failed lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March. The fate of the holdings, which consist of mortgage-backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations and commercial mortgage-backed securities, rattled bond markets, which feared the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) might choose to dump the portfolio and push down prices. But the FDIC, which was left holding the assets after it seized control of the two banks, said the asset sales would be ‘gradual and orderly’. The disposals ‘will aim to minimize the potential for any adverse impact on market functioning by taking into account daily liquidity and trading conditions,’ the regulator added.

– Amazon CEO Andy Jassy published his annual shareholder letter, in which he reflected on one of the most challenging periods in the e-retailer’s history and signaled he remains confident that recent cost-cutting efforts will pay off, CNBC reported. Jassy said he’s spent the last several months taking a ‘deep look across the company, business by business’ to examine whether each unit has the ability to generate enough revenue, operating income, free cash flow and return on invested capital. ‘In some cases, it led to us shuttering certain businesses,’ Jassy wrote. Even amid the cutting, Amazon is still focused on growing some of its more unproven businesses, like its Kuiper internet satellite and grocery units, Jassy added. 

– In crypto news, Markets Insider reported that Warren Buffett called Bitcoin a ‘gambling token’ with zero value this week as the cryptocurrency traded near 10-month highs. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO ratcheted up his fiery crypto commentary, describing investing in digital assets as akin to spending time at a casino. ‘It doesn’t have any value, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting to play a roulette wheel,’ the 92-year-old told CNBC in an interview.

Crypto markets have experienced a broad upswing recently. Price action in crypto can be volatile and markets have been especially sensitive to speculation around the US central bank’s monetary policy tightening, as risk assets like crypto have sold off heavily in the face of higher interest rates. ‘[You could] spend the rest of your life spinning around the roulette wheel because it features the winners and people get excited about it,’ Buffett said. ‘[But] that’s why the slot machines make a lot of noise without paying out.’ 

– Meanwhile, according to CoinDesk, SEC chair Gary Gensler got further reinforcement for his quest to force crypto firms to conform with existing securities laws when his agency’s investor advisory committee backed him on almost every aspect of his campaign except one: it requested that the SEC actually provide formal industry guidance. The committee, a group of people from traditional finance, academia and consumer advocacy groups, sent Gensler a letter dated last week that included a sliver of agreement with the years of requests from cryptocurrency businesses that the SEC give them some official word on how to meet the regulator’s expectations.

‘The SEC should consider issuing a request for comment regarding areas where additional guidance is needed related to the application of the federal securities laws to crypto assets,’ noted the letter.

– Twitter will let its users access stocks, cryptocurrencies and other financial assets through a partnership with eToro, a social trading company, CNBC reported. From this week, a new feature will be rolled out on the Twitter app that will allow users to view market charts on an expanded range of financial instruments as well as buy and sell stocks and other assets from eToro. It’s already possible to view real-time trading data from TradingView on index funds and shares of some companies such as Tesla.

– According to The Economic Times (paywall), retail investors increased their stakes in all 10 listed Adani Group stocks in the quarter to March after allegations of price ‘manipulation’ and ‘fraud’ by US short-seller Hindenburg Research erased more than $110 bn off the conglomerate’s market value. The Adani Group denied the allegations. Its flagship company, Adani Enterprises, gained 493,000 new retail shareholders in the quarter to March. Retail shareholding increased from 2.09 percent to 3.61 percent during this period.

Staff Writers

The staff writers on IR magazine are from our team of highly experienced journalists.