GameStop Finance Chief to Depart After Stock-Trading Frenzy: Live Updates

GameStop Finance Chief to Depart After Stock-Trading Frenzy: Live Updates

GameStop Finance Chief to Depart After Stock-Trading Frenzy: Live Updates

A GameStop store in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Jim Bell, the company’s chief financial officer, who joined the company in mid-2019, is leaving.
Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

GameStop’s chief financial officer, Jim Bell, is leaving the company in late March, following a stock-trading frenzy that briefly sent shares in the video game retailer surging.

The company gave no reason for Mr. Bell’s departure in its announcement on Tuesday, but noted it would look for a successor “with the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation.” Mr. Bell joined GameStop less than two years ago.

GameStop jumped into the headlines in late January when amateur investors used trading apps to buy options and pump up its share price, defying hedge funds that had bet the price would fall. The chaotic trading led to congressional hearings last week, but executives from GameStop, which was essentially caught in the middle, were not called to testify.

GameStop’s share price closed at about $45 on Tuesday. It reached $483 on Jan. 28 after starting the year at $19.

The wild swings in share price were detached from what was happening at the company, where a major stockholder has been trying to force a turnaround. In early January, Ryan Cohen, the manager of RC Ventures and a large stockholder, joined the GameStop board. He has been pressuring the company’s executive team to overhaul GameStop’s strategy and focus on digital growth. The company has more than 5,000 stores, many in American malls and shopping strips, but has steadily lost sales to major online retailers like Amazon.

Mr. Bell joined the company in June 2019 at the age of 51 from Wok Holdings, which owns the restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s. In a short statement, GameStop thanked Mr. Bell “for his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

A line at a San Antonio food distribution center on Sunday after a winter storm left millions without power.
Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

A winter storm in Texas that pushed its power grid to the brink of collapse and left millions without electricity during a brutal cold snap has led to the resignations of five officials who oversaw the state’s electric grid.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which governs the flow of power for more than 26 million Texans, has been blamed for the widespread failures. The governor, lawmakers and federal officials quickly began inquiries into the system’s failures, particularly its preparation for cold weather, reports Rick Rojas for The New York Times.

The five board members, who announced on Tuesday that they intended to resign after a meeting set for Wednesday morning, were all from outside of Texas, a point of contention for critics who questioned the wisdom of outsiders playing such an influential role in the state’s infrastructure. In a statement filed with the Public Utility Commission, four board members said they were stepping down “to allow state leaders a free hand with future direction and to eliminate distractions.” In a footnote, the filing added that a fifth member was also resigning.

Those departing are the chairwoman, Sally Talberg, a former state utility regulator who lives in Michigan; Peter Cramton, the vice chairman and an economics professor at the University of Cologne in Germany and the University of Maryland; Terry Bulger, a retired banking executive who lives in Illinois; and Raymond Hepper, who is a former official with the agency overseeing the power grid in New England. Another person who was supposed to fill a vacant seat, Craig S. Ivey, has withdrawn from the 16-member board.

The board became the target of blame and scrutiny after the winter storm last week brought the state’s electric grid precariously close to a complete blackout that could have taken months to recover from. In a last-minute effort to avert that, the council, known as ERCOT, ordered rolling outages that plunged much of the state into darkness and caused electricity prices to skyrocket. Some customers had bills well over $10,000.

Natasha Van Duser has war stories from bartending during the pandemic. She has since left service work.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

During two enormous crises — a public health emergency and an economic crash — restaurant service workers have found themselves double-exposed.

Many say their average tips have declined, while they’ve been saddled with the added work of policing patrons who aren’t social distancing, or as one service worker put it, “babysitting for the greater good,” Emma Goldberg reports for The New York Times.

On top of this, women, who make up more than two thirds of servers, say they are facing “maskual harassment” — a term coined by the nonprofit organization One Fair Wage to describe demands that servers remove their masks in order to get tipped.

The economic challenges have raised existential questions: Could this crisis herald the end of tipping, or a raise in the minimum wage for tipped workers? Depending on subjective gratuities has long been a fraught issue, but rarely has it had the safety consequences that it does now, when workers are struggling to enforce public health compliance from the customers whose tips they depend on.

Natasha Van Duser, 27, who tended bar in Manhattan, had never thought to show up to work with pepper spray. That was before last spring, when, she said, a customer dining outside spat on her and threatened to kill her when she asked him to put on a mask before walking to the bathroom; there were others who shouted expletives at her or suggested she take the temperature of their behinds instead of their foreheads.

In a recent national study of more than 1,600 workers, conducted by One Fair Wage and the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, over three-quarters of workers reported “witnessing hostile behavior” from customers who were asked to comply with Covid-19 protocols, more than 40 percent reported a change in the frequency of unwanted sexual comments during the pandemic and over 80 percent reported that their tips had declined.

Credit…Andrea Chronopoulos

Last month, Laurence D. Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive, wrote that the company wanted businesses it invests in to remove as much carbon dioxide from the environment as they emit by 2050 at the latest.

But crucial details were missing from the pledge, including what proportion of the companies BlackRock invests in will be zero-emission businesses in 2050. On Saturday, in response to questions from The New York Times, a BlackRock spokesman said that the company’s “ambition” was to have “net zero emissions across our entire assets under management by 2050,” The New York Times’s Peter Eavis and Clifford Krauss report.

As the biggest companies strive to trumpet their environmental activism, the need to match words with deeds is becoming increasingly important.

Household names like Costco and Netflix have not provided emissions reduction targets. Others, like the agricultural giant Cargill and the clothing company Levi Strauss, have struggled to cut emissions. Technology companies like Google and Microsoft, which run power-hungry data centers, have slashed emissions, but are finding that the technology often doesn’t exist to carry out their “moonshot” objectives.

Determining how hard companies are really trying can be very difficult when there are no regulatory standards that require uniform disclosures of important information like emissions.

Institutional Shareholder Services, a firm that advises investors on how to vote on corporate matters, analyzed what corporations are doing to reduce emissions. Just over a third of the 500 companies in the S&P 500 stock index have set ambitious targets, it found, while 215 had no target at all. The rest had weak targets.

“To realize the necessary emission reductions, more ambitious targets urgently need to be set,” said Viola Lutz, deputy head of ISS ESG Climate Solutions, an arm of Institutional Shareholder Services. “Otherwise, we project emissions for S&P 500 companies will end up being triple of what they should be in 2050.”

The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday chose Oshkosh Defense, a manufacturer of military vehicles, to build the next generation of postal delivery trucks, shunning an all-electric vehicle maker that had been in the running for the multibillion-dollar, 10-year contract.

Under an initial $482 million deal, Oshkosh will complete the design and then assemble 50,000 to 165,000 vehicles over 10 years, the Postal Service said.

Oshkosh was awarded the contract over two other bidders. One, the Workhorse Group, a small producer of electric delivery trucks based in Loveland, Ohio, was counting on the postal contract to provide a surge in revenue. At its height this month, the company’s stock was up more than tenfold in a year, in part on hopes it would win all or part of the postal contract. On Tuesday, after the Postal Service announced its decision, Workhorse shares lost nearly half their value. The other final bidder was Karsan, a Turkish maker of trucks and buses that was considered a long shot for the contract.

The choice of Oshkosh, which has no track record in producing electric vehicles, over Workhorse raised questions among some environmentalists over President Biden’s promised push to electrify the federal fleet. But some critics had also raised concerns that too swift a transition to plug-in trucks made by a fledgling company — and the buildup of charging infrastructure that would require — could burden a Postal Service already struggling with delivery delays.

Oshkosh has promised to shift to battery-powered vehicles if necessary, reflecting a wider push by automakers to bolster their offerings of electric vehicles to cut down on the industry’s carbon footprint. The new vehicles will be equipped with either fuel-efficient gasoline engines or electric batteries, and they will be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technology, the Postal Service said.

The Post Office operates almost 230,000 vehicles and has one of the world’s largest civilian vehicle fleets, but its aging fleet — which federal data shows gets only about 10 miles a gallon — had also long been due for an upgrade.


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