First Horizon gives $25,000 to Red Cross

First Horizon Bank said Wednesday it will donate $25,000 towards the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee's tornado relief efforts. The bank will also begin accepting monetary donations to benefit the Red Cross at financial centers that have drive-thru customer service options.

"In these unprecedented times, it is important that we do all we can to take care of each other," said Jay Dale, Chattanooga market president for First Horizon. "We want to do everything we can to ensure that our community, and especially those affected by the Easter weekend tornadoes, have every opportunity to get back on their feet."

Due to the coronavirus crisis and social distancing guidelines, the Red Cross has new measures in place to help people in need. Instead of opening shelters, they have prioritized placing individuals in hotel rooms or dormitory style rooms to ensure they have a safe place to stay if they aren't able to return home after the disaster.

Julia Wright, executive director of American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee , said the monetary donations to the tornado relief effort are the biggest help since they are currently working with 150 families.

In the aftermath of last weekend's storms, the Red Cross provided hotel rooms for approximately 1,150 people across multiple states.


Publix donates to Feed America

Publix announced Wednesday a new initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk to aid dairy and vegetable farmers whose sales have suffered due to the shutdown of school cafeterias due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grocery chain said it will donate the extra produce and milk it buys to Feeding America member food banks in its operating area. The initiative will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic.

"As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic," Publix CEO Todd Jones said.

With numerous reports of farmers discarding produce and milk that isn't being sold — mostly as a result of school, restaurant and hotel closures — Publix hopes to address the needs of both the farming community and its local partner food banks through this initiative.

According to Feeding America, an estimated 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment during the pandemic.


Netflix to raise extra $1 billion

Netflix on Wednesday said it is raising $1 billion in a debt offering, money that could be used for purchases related to content and potential acquisitions.

In a statement, Netflix said money raised in the debt offering would be used for general corporate purposes that "may include content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions."

Last fall, Netflix telegraphed its plans to sell senior notes for 1.1 billion Euros and $1 billion.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak, a principal and analyst at New York-based Pivotal Research Group, said he believes Netflix doesn't need any capital and that the uncertain economic climate could create opportunities for Netflix to buy a small tech company or acquire more content.

"They are just being opportunistic and prudent after very strong results and given the uncertain global economic outlook," Wlodarczak said.


COVID-19 may end Victoria Secret sale

The private equity firm that agreed in February to buy Victoria's Secret is trying to terminate the deal as the retail chain takes a hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

Sycamore Partners had been planning to buy 55% of the lingerie chain in a deal with its parent company, L Brands, that was expected to close by July.

But in a Delaware court filing Wednesday, Sycamore said that L Brands had breached certain aspects of the agreement and made representations that were now false with its response to the pandemic. L Brands shares plunged by about 20%.

In the filing, Sycamore pointed to the temporary closure of nearly all Victoria's Secret and Pink stores, its furlough of most employees, salary cuts for senior staff and its failure to pay rent on U.S. stores in April. The firm said that Victoria's Secret was now "saddled" with merchandise of "greatly diminished value."

"That these actions were taken as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is no defense to L Brands' clear breaches of the transaction agreement," the firm said.

L Brands, which also owns Bath & Body Works, said in a Wednesday statement that it believed Sycamore's attempt to terminate the acquisition was "invalid," and that it planned to "vigorously defend the lawsuit" and work toward a close of the deal.


Fannie, Freddie to buy missed payment loans

A federal regulator took another step Wednesday to help mortgage firms dealing with a surge in missed payments form homeowners affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said that it would allow those firms to sell newly minted loans on which borrowers have stopped making payments to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the two government-backed mortgage giants. The agency said the program would be for a limited time and only for mortgages meeting eligibility criteria. It did not offer specific details, so it was not clear how many mortgages would qualify for the program.

Normally, Fannie and Freddie, which are regulated by the agency, do not buy new loans that are in a state of payment forbearance. But the regulator said it was taking this step to help keep the mortgage market running and make it easier for firms to keep writing new mortgages.

Fannie and Freddie typically buy mortgages and bundle them into securities sold to investors, guaranteeing those mortgages against the risk of default to encourage investors to buy the securities, which in theory frees up mortgage firms to write more home loans.