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Guitar company Gibson reportedly facing bankruptcy

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Slash performs in concert with Slash and the Conspirators at the American Airlines Center on August 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

Gary Miller | Getty Images

Slash performs in concert with Slash and the Conspirators at the American Airlines Center on August 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

Iconic guitar brand Gibson could be on the brink of bankruptcy, according to a report.

The company, whose Les Paul and SG instruments have been played by generations of musicians, including stars such as Slash, Bob Marley and Carlos Santana, was founded more than 100 years ago in Michigan.

Gibson’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Lawrence recently left the firm just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes were due to mature, according to a report by the Nashville Post earlier this month. He had been working for the company for little over a year before departing.

Gibson, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, has another $145 million in bank loans that will be due immediately if those senior secured notes are not refinanced by mid-July, the report said.

CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is thought to be in a race against time to decide whether to exchange the company’s debt, look to try and pay it off using his equity or try to declare the company bankrupt.

The U.S.-based company has hired investment bank Jeffries to help with its current financial situation.

On Thursday, Gibson issued a statement that said an ongoing streamlining strategy would soon help it record the “best financial results the company has seen in its history within the next year.” It also said the firm would have the ability to pay back the company’s debt in whole within seven years.

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Bitcoin (BTC) price slides as US seizes most of Colonial ransom

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A banner with the logo of bitcoin is seen during the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021.

Marco Bello | AFP | Getty Images

Bitcoin’s price slipped again Tuesday. The reason for the move was unclear, however it may be related to concerns over security of the cryptocurrency after U.S. officials managed to recover most of the ransom paid to hackers that targeted Colonial Pipeline.

Court documents said investigators were able to access the password for one of the hackers’ bitcoin wallets. The money was recovered by a recently launched task force in Washington created as part of the government’s response to a rise in cyberattacks.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency slid over 7% at 5 a.m. ET to a price of $32,952, according to Coin Metrics data. Smaller digital coins also slumped, with ether falling 7% to $2,524 and XRP losing around 6%.

In April, 2021 was looking to be a banner year for digital assets, with bitcoin having topped $60,000 for the first time ever. But a recent plunge in crypto prices has shaken confidence in the market. Bitcoin sank to nearly $30,000 last month, and is currently down almost 50% from its all-time high.

The digital currency is now up only 14% since the start of the year, though it’s still more than tripled in price from a year ago.

U.S. recovers most of Colonial ransom

On Monday, U.S. law enforcement officials said they had seized $2.3 million in bitcoin paid to DarkSide, the cybercriminal gang behind a crippling cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline.

According to a court document, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to access the “private key,” or password, for one of the hackers’ bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin has often been the currency of choice for hackers demanding ransom payments to decrypt data locked by malware known as “ransomware.”

Crypto media outlet Decrypt reported there were unfounded rumors that the attackers’ bitcoin wallet had been “hacked,” an unlikely scenario.

DarkSide, which reportedly received $90 million in bitcoin ransom payments before shutting down, operated a so-called “ransomware as a service” business model, where hackers develop and market ransomware tools and sell them to affiliates who then carry out attacks.

According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the seized funds represented the bulk of the DarkSide affiliate’s share of the ransom paid out by Colonial.

John Hultquist, vice president of analysis at Mandiant Threat Intelligence, called the move a “welcome development.”

“It has become clear that we need to use several tools to stem the tide of this serious problem, and even law enforcement agencies need to broaden their approach beyond building cases against criminals who may be beyond the grasp of the law,” said Hultquist.

“In addition to the immediate benefits of this approach, a stronger focus on disruption may disincentivize this behavior, which is growing in a vicious cycle,” he added.

Crypto crackdown

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Alibaba expands cloud products with livestream shopping in its battle against Amazon

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Alibaba trails Amazon and Microsoft in the global cloud computing market and hopes new products such as livestreaming e-commerce can help it stand out.

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Industry has to remain competitive as it goes green: RWE Krebber

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Electricity pylons and wind turbines stand beside the RWE Niederaussem coal-fired power plant while Steam rises from cooling towers on February 16, 2016 near Bergheim, Germany.

Volker Hartmann | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A transition to greener industry has become a priority in Europe but the head of a major German energy producer said there needs to be a “level playing field” so the region’s companies can compete globally.

“What we need is a global level playing field,” Markus Krebber, chief executive of RWE, the biggest producer of energy in Germany, told CNBC on Monday. “[Otherwise] it will be very difficult to compete with CO2-intensive imports when you are forced, in Europe, to decarbonize your industries.”

“It needs to be clear that, whatever politicians come up with [in terms of] a regulatory framework, we need to keep that level playing field otherwise we risk not only losing jobs but also risk losing the acceptance of our societies,” he added.

Germany’s government has recently increased its carbon emission cutting targets, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approving draft legislation in May that aims to see carbon emissions cut by 65% from 1990 levels by 2030. The country is also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2045.

Germany’s emission levels are already 40% lower than they were in 1990, according to the country’s environment minister.

The more ambitious government targets have been set amid an upswing in support for Germany’s Green Party, which polls suggest is likely to become a partner in a coalition government following a federal election in September.

RWE’s Krebber said that, in the long-term, he was not concerned by government policies aiming at “greening” industry because the public supported the transition.

“If it’s wanted by the consumer and he pays for it you don’t need a support scheme, you just need a regulatory framework. But that will not happen overnight,” he noted.

“So I think that, in the beginning, we need support. But I would really urge everybody to think about market-based systems and not direct subsidies, which are not based on a competitive process, because we cannot risk to implement very expensive technologies in Germany. We currently have the highest power prices across Europe.”

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