European Capital Announces Completion of Debt Restructuring

ST. PETER PORT, Guernsey, June 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — European Capital Limited (“European Capital”) announced today that it has recently completed the restructuring and partial retirement of its debt.  European Capital’s parent company, American Capital, Ltd., is also announcing today completion of its debt restructuring.

On 18 December 2009, European Capital’s wholly owned subsidiary ECAS S.a r.l. amended its existing secured multi-currency credit facility into a term facility.  As of 31 May 2010, the balance under the facility was euro 272 million.  Interest on the borrowings under this amended facility is charged at Euribor or LIBOR, depending on the currency of the borrowing, plus a margin of 2.5%, and a Program Fee of either 5.0% or 7.5%, paid in kind, based on the amount outstanding under the facility as shown in the table below.  This facility is collateralized by the assets of ECAS S.a r.l. The facility matures on 31 December 2011, with all scheduled principal amortization until 30 June 2011 already met.

    
    
    Program Fee declines as principal is repaid:
      Advances outstanding                         Program fee
      Greater than euro 200 million                    7.5%
      Less than euro 200 million                       5.0%

As of 4 March 2010, European Capital S.A. SICAR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of European Capital, paid down the remaining euro 85 million balance on its unsecured multi-currency revolving credit facility.  American Capital funded $75 million to European Capital S.A. SICAR as a bridge loan.  As of 31 May 2010, the amount outstanding under the bridge loan was $15 million.

European Capital now has euro 283 million of secured debt, euro 142 million of unsecured debt and euro 168 million of securitized debt and has approximately euro 583 million of net asset value.

“I am pleased to complete the amendment and partial retirement of European Capital’s debt, having delevered our balance sheet by more than euro 201 million over the past six months,” said Malon Wilkus, Chairman and Director, European Capital Limited.  “This should enhance shareholder value and provides us with a capital structure to continue to finance and grow our portfolio companies.  Since November 2009, European Capital has had euro 224 million in realizations, which has resulted in significant deleveraging.”

ABOUT EUROPEAN CAPITAL

European Capital is an investment company for pan-European equity, mezzanine and senior debt investments with euro 1.2 billion in assets under management.  It is managed by European Capital Financial Services (Guernsey) Limited (“ECFSG” or the “Investment Manager”), a wholly-owned affiliate of American Capital, Ltd.

ABOUT AMERICAN CAPITAL

American Capital (Nasdaq:ACASNews) is a publicly traded private equity firm and global asset manager with $14 billion in capital resources under management.  American Capital, both directly and through its asset management business, originates, underwrites and manages investments in middle market private equity, leveraged finance, real estate and structured products.  Founded in 1986, American Capital currently has eight offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  For further information, please refer to www.AmericanCapital.com.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/European-Capital-Announces-prnews-2839481662.html?x=0&.v=1

D.light lands $5.5 million to light up developing world with solar lanterns

Most people don’t know that much of the developing world is still relying on kerosene lamps for light. Kerosene is very expensive and emits toxic fumes, causing millions of deaths every year (1.6 million women and children die every year of resulting respiratory diseases, according to one source). Now one company, a small spinout from Stanford University called D.light Design, is combating the problem with solar-powered, light-emitting diode lanterns — and it just raised $5.5 million to fuel its cause.

D.light is one of a number of Silicon Valley startups determined to mix money-making with having a positive social impact. It believes there are viable markets to be tapped in the poorest parts of the world, and its investors, including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the Acumen Fund and Nexus Venture Partners, seem to agree.

The number of homes in Africa and India with no access to power grids is staggering, not to mention small businesses, schools and other public buildings that would benefit greatly from keeping the lights on after dark. D.light offers three different models of lights.

Its Nova model resembles a floodlight, emitting a cool, white light than can run for 12 hours after absorbing sunlight for an entire day. It can also be used to charge cell phones — an increasingly important double-feature as more residents of the developing world rely on mobile phones for internet access — in as little as two hours. D.light says it is about 10 times brighter than an average kerosene lantern and almost 50 percent more energy efficient than fluorescent lights.

Its Kiran model (pictured above), which looks a lot like something Apple might make, shines for 8 hours on a full charge and is four times brighter than kerosene. A single unit, with no detachable parts, it casts off 360 degrees of light to illuminate whole rooms for cooking, and after-school homework. It could make a major impact on the lives of children and women, who might otherwise be restricted to cooking or housework during daylight hours, giving them less time for school or other, potentially empowering, employment.

One of D.light’s case studies is of a 14-year old girl named Monika Singh, who was able to use a D.light lantern to study longer each day. It replaced a kerosene lamp that would continually blow out or fill her house with smoke. The quality of the light (cool, bright, and unflickering) also helped her finish her homework faster, Singh said.

Lastly, its Solata model — an average-looking desk lamp — provides 15 hours of light on a full charge and is five to six times brighter than kerosene. Like the Nova, it comes with a portable, detachable solar panel.

All three products are manufactured fairly cheaply, and sold for more than $10 but generally less than $20. This sounds like a hefty price tag for regions where the average daily income is significantly below $10, but that’s built into D.light’s business model. It wants its lamps to be a significant household purchase. Considering that households in its target regions spend up to 30 percent of their monthly incomes on kerosene, this seems justified.

That said, the company has been making a major push to lower its own costs — allowing it to continually drop prices. After starting up in Silicon Valley, it moved operations to New Delhi, India. And is now based in Hong Kong, where it can build relationships with and oversee even lower-cost manufacturing facilities. In 2008, when the company initially raised $6 million, its high-end products ranged up to $30, so prices have clearly come down.

That original $6 million came from the investors named above, in addition to Garage Technology Ventures, Mahindra Group, and Gray Matters Capital. The fact that D.light has been able to secure another round of funding is indicative of a trend toward more venture interest in social impact enterprises — especially from firms like Acumen and Gray Matters, which specialize in the field. Doing good may no longer mean that a company can’t do well. It’s a concept that’s catching on.

http://green.venturebeat.com/2010/06/21/d-light-lands-5-5-million-to-light-up-developing-world-with-solar-lanterns/

Is BP a Buy? Wall Street isn’t sure.

FORTUNE — Simply put, the crisis in the Gulf is an environmental, political, and financial disaster. You will hear no argument on any of those counts here.

What you will get are short answers to two pressing questions about BP and a longer one to a third. Now that BP (BP) has suspended its dividend and agreed to set aside $20 billion for costs relating to the spill, it’s time to determine what the future might look like for the embattled oil giant. And who else to ask but Wall Street?

Without further ado:

Should BP fire CEO Tony Hayward for his seeming inability to ever say the right thing?

They could, but it’s not going to change anything. This thing was going to be a public relations debacle no matter who was at the helm, and Hayward’s worst utterances have merely been the expressions of a human under great stress. The company will pay for its mistakes; of that there is no doubt. Hayward is paying his own price as we speak. So ends his corporate career. He will soon be a “consultant.” (See also Tony Hayward’s greatest gaffes)

Does the whole brouhaha over the fact that BP is a British company mean that we’re headed for a political freeze-out between the citizens of Empire Past and those of Empire Present?

No, it does not. That’s all sound and fury, and should be ignored. Or watched for pure entertainment value: the Brits haven’t felt so relevant in years, so let’s let them vent away about the outrage of it all.

Most importantly, is it time to buy BP stock, now that it’s down more than 50 percent since the disaster?

Ask ten Wall Street analysts, and they’ll give you ten different answers. Estimates of the ultimate liabilities to BP from the oil spill range from $30 billion to nearly $100 billion. That’s an extremely wide range, with a similar variance in whether it’s the right time to stock up on some BP shares for your portfolio. (Several analysts have taken to putting a value on the company’s US operations, with the suggestion that they might lose them in their entirety. That seems unlikely.)

So who thinks that BP shares are a buy at Wednesday’s price of $31.85?

Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer does. He states it baldly: “We believe the upside potential from current price levels is significantly greater than any further downside risk from the oil spill.” There you have it. Fred Lucas of J.P. Morgan (JPM, Fortune 500) is equally forceful, writing that, “BP continues to trade at less than half our sum-of-the-parts value.”

Mark Fletcher of Citi Investment Research is also bullish on the stock. “We are buyers of BP,” he writes. “The…price will likely continues to whip saw on speculation until the company can kill the leak, clean up the damage and give more certainty around the costs. However, we still believe the…price discounts pessimistic cost outcomes rather than most likely case outcomes.”

Good on you, Mr. Fletcher, for following through to the logical conclusion of your analysis. (We are assuming he is British.)

And then there are those who can’t muster as much conviction, despite the fact that most of them think that the share price movement has been overdone.

Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) goes all wishy-washy on us. Analyst Theepan Jothilingham calls it a “cheap” stock, but prefers Total, another mega-cap oil company. That’s called trying to have it both ways.

Likewise, Lucy Haskins of Barclays Capital. She sees potential upside of 56% from current levels, but cannot summon the necessary courage to call it a buy.

Societe Generale can’t step up either. “Despite the depressed price, a better opportunity to buy the share is likely to arrive over the coming weeks and months, we believe.” Sounds like a sell rating to us, but Soc Gen calls that a hold. Maybe it’s lost in translation.

The most remarkable holdout from what could prove to be the trade of the year: Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), supposedly the swashbucklingest firm on Wall Street. Goldman has a 12-month price target of $53 on the shares – that’s more than 75% above current levels – but analyst Michele della Vigna just can’t pull the trigger on calling it a buy, instead sticking with the lukewarm rating of neutral. The stated reason: “uncertainty.”

One wonders whether Goldman’s proprietary traders lack such clarity.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/17/news/companies/BP_stock_Wall_Street.fortune/index.htm?source=yahoo_quote

Microsoft Releases Office 2010 Worldwide

Microsoft announced the worldwide availability of Office 2010, more than a month after releasing the software to business consumers. In a bid to bolster its hardware partners, Microsoft is touting the versions of Office 2010 pre-installed on new PCs. Although Office 2010 is expected to sell well, it enters a changing landscape marked by the rise of cloud-based productivity apps such as Google Docs, something Microsoft has somewhat anticipated with its own new Office Web Apps.

Microsoft is announcing the worldwide availability of Office 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010. While expectations for the software’s success runs high, Office 2010 enters a market under rapid change due to cloud-based productivity apps such as Google Docs.

The worldwide launch of Office 2010 follows the software’s release to business consumers, along with SharePoint 2010, on May 12.

Perhaps in an attempt to bolster its hardware partners, Microsoft is emphasizing its plan to pre-install the latest version of Office on a variety of PCs; while purchasers of those machines will have access to a stripped-down version of the software, full functionality can only be “unlocked” with a special card. In previous blog postings, Microsoft executives have alluded to the free, stripped-down Office 2010 as “advertising-supported.”

Users can also download Office directly.

“For the first time, people can purchase a Product Key Card at retail to activate Office 2010 preloaded on new PCs,” Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Division, wrote in a June 15 statement. “For those who want to download Office 2010 direct from Office.com for an existing PC, the new Click-to-Run technology will have them up and running in a matter of minutes.”

Microsoft claimed in a June 15 press release that, based on its own survey, some 75 percent of Office 2010 beta users plan to purchase the retail version of the software within six months. “We predict this will be the biggest consumer release of Office, ever,” Elop wrote in the accompanying statement.

One analyst from Forrester, JP Gownder, seems to agree with the Microsoft assessment. “On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of packaged software in general,” he wrote in a June 14 posting on his eponymous blog. “In some ways, the Office versus Google Docs debate doesn’t merit a lot of consideration—it’s still no competition.”

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Microsoft-Releases-Office-2010-Worldwide-414186/

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BioSolar Unveils Strategic Manufacturing Plan for Production and Distribution of Commercial Grade BioBacksheet

SANTA CLARITA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–BioSolar, Inc. (OTCBB: BSRCNews), developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, unveiled its strategic manufacturing plan for the production and distribution of its unique BioBacksheetTM protective backing designed to replace current expensive and environmentally hazardous petroleum-based backsheets.

“Biosolar’s manufacturing model will employ a ‘manufacturing-lite’ production and distribution model. In this model, Biosolar will perform research and development internally while outsourcing plastics compounding and film extrusion.

“At a time when explosive demand for PV modules globally is fueling demand for module components, building our own manufacturing facilities does not allow us to be flexible, and may actually limit our growth,” said Dr. David Lee, CEO of BioSolar. “Recognizing that building our own manufacturing capacity is both extremely capital and management intensive, BioSolar will instead enter into manufacturing supply agreements with experienced plastics compounders and film extruders, allowing us to reduce production costs while simultaneously providing flexible manufacturing capacity to meet increasing demand from PV module manufacturers.”

This strategy leverages Biosolar’s unique product development capabilities and ties to the plastics manufacturing industry, allowing both our balance sheet and product inventories to remain ‘lean and mean’ – a key element in our future success. This strategy will allow us to ramp up production quickly by adding suppliers as needed, as well as leverage the expertise and experience of established industrial suppliers to provide consistent high quality from the start.”

“By utilizing partners such as Rowland Technology (www.rowtec.com) in Wallingford, CT, we can bolster our resistance to changes in the economy. Biosolar can respond to swings in demand without having a fixed overhead, providing a consistent profit margin and better returns to our investors,” said Lee.

Lee recently reported to Recharge News, “Over the past month, we have been demonstrating the BioBacksheet to solar panel manufacturers. Many have requested large quantities for full scale integration trials into their solar panel production lines.” “Biosolar will provide technical support to our potential customers as they complete their internal testing and qualification processes over the next few quarters,” added Dr. Lee. “Our flexible manufacturing model will also allow us to respond quickly to requests for larger volumes needed for manufacturing.”

The primary material for the commercial grade BioBacksheet™ is a durable polyamide resin made from castor beans, which is then compounded with a secondary non-petroleum material during the extrusion process to form a unique and highly durable PV backsheet film which, in addition to being “green,” has several additional advantages over other commercial backsheet films.

“BioSolar’s main issue is the paradox of manufacturing solar power installations from components made with petroleum products. The fact that a non-petroleum product is cheaper, well that’s just icing on the cake,” according to a May 19 article by Tina Casey on CleanTechnica.com.

About BioSolar, Inc.

BioSolar, Inc. has developed a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that will reduce the cost per watt of solar cells. Most of the solar industry is focused on photovoltaic efficiency to reduce cost. BioSolar is the first company to introduce a new dimension of cost reduction by replacing petroleum-based plastic solar cell components with durable bio-based materials. To learn more about BioSolar, please visit our website at http://www.biosolar.com.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/BioSolar-Unveils-Strategic-bw-3876571879.html?x=0&.v=1

Morgan Said to Eye Deeper Brokerage Cuts

Morgan Stanley is preparing to wield the axe over its brokerage business, with plans to close down 300 branch offices and cut as many as 1,200 jobs in order to bring down costs related to the integration of the Smith Barneyunit it bought from Citigroup last year, Fox Business reported.

Morgan Stanley is seeking to save as much as $1.1 billion through the merger of Smith Barney with its own brokerage unit and has already slashed 200 jobs — mostly support staff — to eke out savings, Fox Business said.

Morgan’s deal to buy Smith Barney from Citigroup, announced in early 2009, came as the bank sought ways to make up for reduced trading activity in the wake of the financial crisis, Fox Business noted.

However, the report continued:

Since then, there has been a significant slowdown in small investors turning to brokers to execute orders; many investors are sitting on cash because they are fearful of the recent volatility in the markets. Because of the declining retail order flow, every major brokerage firm will have to cut staff, Morgan even more so because of the overlap from the Smith Barney acquisition.

Now, voices are being raised at Smith Barney that their side faces harder cuts than the Morgan Stanley side, Fox said, and it is not only the companies’ “so-called support staff” that may be in danger of losing their jobs.

Both companies also employ research analysts to write reports for retail customers; these positions, too, are endangered by the cutbacks, Fox said, citing people close to the matter.

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/morgan-said-to-eye-deeper-brokerage-cuts/?partner=yahoofinance

MSCI Completes Acquisition of RiskMetrics

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–MSCI Inc. (NYSE: MXBNews), a leading global provider of investment decision support tools, including indices and portfolio risk and performance analytics, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of RiskMetrics Group, Inc. Under the terms of the transaction, each outstanding share of RiskMetrics common stock not held by MSCI, RiskMetrics or any of their subsidiaries has been converted into the right to receive a combination of 0.1802 of a share of MSCI’s Class A common stock and $16.35 in cash, without interest.

“Today, we take another significant step forward in our ambition to become the leading provider of mission-critical investment decision support tools to investors globally,” said Henry Fernandez, Chairman and CEO of MSCI. “The addition of RiskMetrics greatly expands our capabilities in the high growth, high margin business of multi-asset class risk management analytics. Recent events continue to demonstrate the importance of managing risk in today’s financial markets and our clients will benefit from our company’s expanded product range and enhanced risk management offerings.”

“MSCI now has annualized revenues of more than $750 million and more than 2,000 employees worldwide. Our increased scale and scope will enable us to invest more in developing new products and capabilities for our clients which should, in turn, lead to additional growth for our shareholders,” added Mr. Fernandez.

In conjunction with the acquisition of RiskMetrics Group, Inc., MSCI also announced that it has raised $1.375 billion of debt financing, including a $1.275 billion term loan and a $100 million undrawn revolving credit facility. The additional capital was used to fund the acquisition of RiskMetrics as well as to repay all prior outstanding terms loans of both MSCI and RiskMetrics.

For RiskMetrics Shareholders

MSCI has appointed Mellon Shareowner Services as exchange agent in connection with the merger. RiskMetrics registered stockholders with questions regarding the exchange of their RiskMetrics common stock for the merger consideration should contact Mellon Shareowner Services at 1-800-777-3674 (toll free) or 1-201-680-6579 (outside of the U.S.). Additional information will also be mailed to RiskMetrics registered stockholders. RiskMetrics stockholders who hold stock through a broker or bank should receive information regarding the exchange or conversion of their shares from the party holding their shares.

About MSCI Inc.

MSCI Inc. is a leading provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally, including asset managers, banks, hedge funds and pension funds. MSCI Inc. products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools.

The company’s flagship product offerings are: the MSCI indices which include over 120,000 daily indices covering more than 70 countries; Barra portfolio risk and performance analytics covering global equity and fixed income markets; RiskMetrics market and credit risk analytics; ISS out-sourced proxy research, voting and vote reporting services; CFRA forensic accounting risk research, legal/regulatory risk assessment, and due-diligence; and FEA valuation models and risk management software for the energy and commodities markets. MSCI Inc. is headquartered in New York, with research and commercial offices around the world. MXB#IR

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/MSCI-Completes-Acquisition-of-bw-2612743365.html?x=0&.v=1

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