Another Reason Life is Better Here in The Jungle

[For the moment I am subscribing to a newsletter called The Hustle. I don’t know how long I will last with it, however, because just about every article pisses me off about how un-Junglelike the world is today. In one daily issue they reported on 4000 luxury vehicles, along with a ship going to the bottom of the Atlantic, how Ikea tricks us into buying things we don’t need, and how companies in Texas can legally worm their way out of obligations to consumers. We don’t allow this shit in The Jungle. SB SM]

Felicity Ace Sinks with $400M in Lost Cars During Tow off Azores

Car carrier Felicity Ace sinks
Felicity Ace burnt for more than a week before a tow line could be secured (Portuguese Navy)

The car carrier Felicity Ace transporting nearly 4,000 cars for the Volkswagen Group sunk this morning, March 1, near the Azores, nearly two weeks after the vessel was devastated by a fire. Salvage crews had been working to tow the vessel after securing a line last Friday, February 25.

Few details were offered, but reports indicate that weather conditions had deteriorated in the area, making the tow more difficult. A spokesperson for the ship’s managers, MOL Ship Management Singapore, told Bloomberg they were surprised by the reports from the salvage team when the vessel went down. As late as last Friday, MOL and Portuguese officials said the stability remained satisfactory. The vessel, however, had developed a list as the tow began.

MOL said that the vessel went down approximately 220 nautical miles off the Azores. The Portuguese Navy reported that the vessel was about 25 miles outside the limit of the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone. Depth in the area is reported at about 3,000 meters.

The Navy is reporting that some debris has been seen in the area and a small oil stain. Dispersant was being sprayed from one of the salvage vessels. Other agencies are also monitoring the situation, with the Portuguese Airforce expected to overfly the area.

One of the salvage vessels has been sent to Ponta Delgada to load additional equipment to fight pollution. At the same time, the Navy’s vessel NRP Setubal, which had left the area to resupply in Porta Delgada, is also being sent back to the scene. MOL reports that salvage vessels remain in the area to monitor the situation.

News of the loss of the vessels comes after Volkswagen Group confirmed to car buyers some of the details of the extent of the damage and models involved. The company is estimating that $400 million worth of cars were aboard, including 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys and unspecified numbers of cars from Audi, Volkswagen, and Lamborghini. Volkswagen confirmed to buyers that its highly sought-after ID.4 electric SUVs were among the cars lost telling buyers that they would be revising production plans to prioritize replacements and that they would be getting the newer 2022 model year vehicles that included improvements over the prior model year cars which were lost in the fire.

The Texas Two-Step Explained

The Texas two-step, explained
The Texas two-step is a dance. But it’s also a bankruptcy maneuver, legal in Texas, that some US legislators want to outlaw.The backstoryJohnson & Johnson is facing 38k+ lawsuits alleging that its talc baby powder led to medical issues including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. (You’ve probably seen the commercials…)Documents examined by Reuters, some dating back decades, showed that J&J’s talc occasionally tested positive for asbestos and that the company didn’t tell the public or regulators.J&J disagrees, claiming its talc baby powder is safe, and plans to appeal cases in which jurors have already awarded money to plaintiffs.Meanwhile in Texas…Texas defines mergers as either 2 companies coming together or one company splitting up — that’s called a divisive merger.The so-called two-step has, well, 2 steps:Step 1: A company goes to Texas and splits into 2 or more new companies. One gets the assets, the other the liabilities. In this case, J&J — headquartered in New Jersey — spun off a new subsidiary in Texas called LTL Management last fall, shielding J&J’s assets.Step 2: The company with the liabilities files for bankruptcy, which LTL did.Now what?Attorneys representing the LTL plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss LTL’s bankruptcy, calling it an abuse of bankruptcy laws that could encourage other companies to do the same.But last week, a US bankruptcy judge threw out that motion, saying that a court-supervised trust settlement agreement would be better and faster for plaintiffs than jury trials. LTL has already established a $2B trust to resolve claims.For now, however, most lawsuits will go nowhere while a settlement is negotiated.As for the fate of the two-step…… some lawmakers want to end it, including Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin who called it a “get-out-of-jail-free card for some of the wealthiest corporations on earth” — J&J’s market cap is ~$430B — and says a draft bill is forthcoming.

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