Hedgefund News Wrap: Week Ending 03/11/2016

FORGET DRONES, AMAZON NOW HAS PLANES

(CNN Money) – As predicted, Amazon is officially in flight. News broke that the retail-giant has leased 20 Boeing 767 cargo planes from Air Transport Services Group Inc.

In an effort to reduce delivery troubles and delays, Amazon is looking to lessen its dependence on UPS and FedEx. The first lease of just 20 planes reinforces that this is just a test and not a full-fledged dive into the deep end, but according to Bloomberg they have been planing this for nearly three years now.

“It gives you a sense of the scale at which they are operating and the scale at which they plan on operating in the future,” said Steven Weinstein, an analyst at ITG. “To take on something this ambitious really requires a great deal of confidence that you are going to be moving significant volumes for a long period of time.”

Amazon’s Prime customers depend on that free 2-day delivery and the more planes they have in the air, the more happy customers will be.

Read the entire article at CNN Money
More coverage: Bloomberg and Tech Crunch

VOLKSWAGEN’S U.S. CEO IS OUT 

(Bloomberg Business) – As Volkswagen deals with its emission-test cheating scandal, they now have another problem on their dirty plate. The leaders of the VW brand in the U.S., Michael Horn, abruptly left the automaker and will be replaced by executive Hinrich Woebcken, according to the company.

Interestingly enough, when the scandal broke, independent retailers lobbied for him to remain on the job, as his removal would be “catastrophic.” Oops, looks like they are screwed. The longer Horn was required to be the public face of the most-hated auto brand, the more apologies he had to give at auto shows and other events.

“People know this scandal was rooted in Germany, which is why this is so surprising,” said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for auto researcher Kelley Blue Book. “In terms of scapegoats, there are other goats out there who would have been better” to take the fall.

Horn had been with VW since 1990, but apparently the immoral behavior that his company participated in was just too much.

Read the entire article at Bloomburg Business 
More coverage: NBC News and CNBC

GM BUYS SELF-DRIVING CAR TECH STARTUP FOR OVER $1 BILLION

(Fortune) – General Motors entered the self-driving car race today with the purchase of a tech startup for the hefty price of over $1 billion.

Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based developed of autonomous vehicle technology in a deal valued at “north of $1 billion,” in a combination of cash and stock. Previously, Cruise has raised $20 million from various investors and was a product of the Y Combinator accelerator program.

“GM shares a common vision for the deployment of autonomous vehicles at a mass scale — a clear and vivid vision,” said Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s founder and CEO.

Read the entire article at Fortune
More coverage: Wall Street Journal and Business Insider