The men profiting from demand for Plan B
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many women have been rushing to stock up on emergency contraception pills, in hopes of exerting more control over their bodies, or because they’re worried that the products could be restricted. (Birth control remains legal across the United States.) Drugstores have found themselves in short supply of the pills, and some are limiting purchases.
The uptick in demand could add up to huge profits for the two private equity firms behind the most well-known morning-after pill, Plan B. It might also put Plan B in the middle of the abortion rights fight.
The all-male teams of investors behind Plan B are poised to make big bucks. According to the websites of the two private equity firms, Kelso and Juggernaut, only men make up the teams overseeing the maker of the top-selling emergency contraception in the United States. And their paydays could be big. One dose of brand-name Plan B typically sells for around $46. And it’s probably quite profitable: It had a more than 85 percent profit margin when it was sold as a prescription drug by Barr, said David Woodburn, a former analyst who covered the company. (Neither firm responded to DealBook’s requests for comment about the gender makeup of their teams.)
Plan B’s maker had exclusive marketing rights for three years after the F.D.A. extended the medication’s over-the-counter use to all ages in 2013. That exclusivity plays a big role in how well-known the brand is. The brand has competition from cheaper generic versions, but women often prefer familiar brands of health products like emergency contraception, analysts say. Teva, which acquired Barr, sold Plan B to Kelso and Juggernaut in 2017 for $675 million. The firms run Plan B through Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that owns several over-the-counter brands, including the cold medicine Dimetapp.
The language on the emergency pill’s packaging could pave the way for its restriction. Plan B works mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovaries. But some believe that its maker had to use certain wording to get it approved by the F.D.A. in 2006 for over-the-counter use. As such, Plan B’s label says it may also prevent a fertilized embryo from attaching to the uterus. That distinction matters, because some states argue that a fertilized embryo is a person, which could create grounds for banning Plan B. To prevent that, Foundation Consumer and its owners could ask the F.D.A. for an updated label, but that could put the firms in the middle of political cross hairs they would probably rather avoid.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Ernst & Young is fined $100 million over exam cheating. The S.E.C. handed out its largest fine against an auditing firm after finding that some auditors had cheated on ethics exams. “It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams,” said Gurbir Grewal, the commission’s director of enforcement.
The Group of 7 leaders agree to seek price caps on Russian oil. As Russia’s revenue from oil remains high, officials from the G7 agreed to the temporary move as a way to slow down President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. The group will also pledge to spend $4.5 billion this year to counter global food shortages caused by the invasion of Ukraine.
At least 46 migrants are found dead in San Antonio in and around an abandoned tractor-trailer. It appeared to be one of the worst episodes of migrant death in the U.S. in recent years. Officials suggested extreme heat had contributed to the deaths of the migrants, who are believed to have crossed into the country from Mexico.
China eases its quarantine rules for international arrivals. China’s economy has endured months of uncertainty because of the country’s strict Covid rules, but the Shanghai stock market jumped on the news that the mandated time in a quarantine facility will drop to a week, half the current requirement.
Checking the receipts
Several companies have pledged to help employees travel across state lines for abortions since it first became apparent that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade. But many of those firms have also donated to political campaigns that actively worked to undercut Roe. The journalist Dan Rather asked which supportive companies “also gave money to senators who voted to confirm the justices who gutted this constitutional right?”
DealBook checked the records, and at least 11 companies that are offering to cover employees’ abortion-related travel expenses — Citigroup, Disney, Goldman Sachs, Google, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, Meta/Facebook, Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, and Yelp — also gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which helped elect some of the lawmakers who confirmed the conservative justices appointed by President Donald Trump. Their contributions via company political action committees, which gather employee donations, totaled about $440,000 from 2017 to the present, filings with the Federal Election Commission show.
The companies respond: A Yelp spokeswoman noted that the company gives to both Democrats and Republicans. An Intuit spokesman said its PAC was nonpartisan. A PayPal spokeswoman said its PAC had not made a political contribution since 2020. Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase declined to comment. Google, Facebook and Goldman did not respond to requests for comment, and Salesforce did not comment in time for publication.
Companies are big political spenders. “Leading public companies and their trade associations have been the dominant donors to the Republican Attorneys General Association and the Republican State Leadership Committee and, to a slightly lesser degree, to the Republican Governors Association,” said Bruce Freed of the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit group. Members of those Republican groups have worked to restrict abortion rights. The dating site company Match Group established a fund to cover costs associated with severe abortion restrictions in Texas last year, but as Popular Information reported, the company also gave $137,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, arguably undermining the rights of the women it now promises to support.
Pointing an arrow at Robinhood?
Last month, the crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried bought nearly 8 percent of Robinhood, the app-based brokerage firm. Now, he’s reportedly considering an offer for the whole shebang.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that FTX — which has been on a mini-acquisition spree as crypto prices have crashed — has held internal discussions on whether it makes sense to buy Robinhood. Shares of the once-hot brokerage firm rose 14 percent on the news, but are still down 80 percent from their I.P.O. price. At the current market cap, FTX could buy the rest of Robinhood for just $7 billion.
Bankman-Fried said yesterday that “there are no active M&A conversations with Robinhood.” But in a statement later in the day to DealBook and others, he said he was “excited about Robinhood’s prospects,” and thought the two firms could work together. That leaves the door open to a deal, and raises some questions.
How would a deal get done? Investors valued FTX, headquartered in the Bahamas, at $32 billion earlier this year. But does FTX really want to be within reach of U.S. regulators? It has a sister company, FTX.US, based in San Francisco, that has a much lower valuation. On his own, Bankman-Fried is worth around $20 billion, according to Forbes. How much of that is he willing to risk on Robinhood?
Would FTX change Robinhood’s commission-free business model? Much of Robinhood’s revenue comes from payment for order flow, a contentious Wall Street trading practice that the Securities and Exchange Commission plans to at least partly eliminate. Last month, FTX started a trial of its own commission-free stock brokerage firm, and has vowed not to do any deals involving payment for order flow. Perhaps FTX’s crypto trading business is profitable enough that it can use Robinhood’s stock trades as a loss leader?
What would happen if Robinhood’s meme-stock-heavy trading business mixed with FTX’s crypto volatility? “It’s a recipe for problems,” said Paul Rowady, director of research at the brokerage technology consulting firm Alphacution. He said allowing FTX customers to fund their Robinhood accounts to buy GameStop and similar stocks would be layering volatility on top of volatility. “My thought bubble for SBF would be, ‘Don’t do it,’” Rowady said, referring to Bankman-Fried.
“It’s a doomsday scenario if individuals have to bring their health care choices to their employers.”
— Dina Fierro, a global vice president at the cosmetics company Nars. The wave of new employer commitments around abortion has raised concerns from some workers about privacy.
New York’s wealth exodus
The hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who left the city during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic drained it of $21 billion in taxable income, according to IRS filings received in 2020 and 2021.
New York City relies heavily on its wealthiest residents to support schools, law enforcement and other public services. The outflow of about 300,000 residents was the biggest in the city’s records, The Times’s Nicole Hong and Matthew Haag report, and it will have long-term effects.
The top 1 percent of the city’s earners, who make more than $804,000 a year, contributed 41 percent of New York City’s personal income taxes in 2019.
The city’s outlook could be grim. It collected more tax revenue in both 2020 and 2021 than it did in 2019, thanks in part to at least $16 billion in federal pandemic aid. But many forms of stimulus have now ended. And the loss of in-person workers has caused the market value of office buildings to plunge during the pandemic, prompting a sharp decline in property tax revenue.
New Yorkers’ exodus to Florida was especially stark. The pandemic accelerated the relocation of several New York-based financial firms to new offices or headquarters in Florida, including the hedge fund Elliott Management. The firm’s co-chief executive, Jonathan Pollock, is now a full-time Florida resident, according to records obtained by The Times.
THE SPEED READ
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