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‘Roaring Kitty’ stands to rake in millions on his GameStop options bet Friday

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The Reddit logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed Wall Street Bets logo in this illustration taken January 28, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

It could be a big payday for Keith Gill, the Reddit trading crowd’s favorite and the man who inspired the epic GameStop short squeeze.

Friday is the expiration date of Gill’s 500 call options contracts he bought at the beginning of 2021. Gill — who goes by DeepF——Value on Reddit and Roaring Kitty on YouTube — attracted an army of day traders who piled into the brick-and-mortar video game stock and call options, pushing the shares up 400% in a single week in January.

GameStop closed at $156.44 a share on Thursday, up 730% for the year. Assuming Gill still holds the contracts and sells them Friday, at a $12 strike price, he will make more than $7 million on his position (The options cost the buyer $10,000 in total.)

It’s unclear if Gill has already closed his position at a profit. His last update on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets forum was on April 1, which showed 500 outstanding call options in a position worth more than $8 million at the time. (The post was not independently verified by CNBC so we are assuming that it is his actual account.)

Gill has also been holding 100,000 shares of GameStop, which he bought earlier this year at around $27 apiece, according to the screenshots he posts on Reddit. As of April 1, the stake gained more than $16 million. It wasn’t clear if he sold the shares this month.

The investor was a former marketer for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. Through YouTube videos and Reddit posts, Gill encouraged a band of retail traders to squeeze out short selling hedge funds in GameStop.

The action got so wild at one point that brokerages including Robinhood had to restrict trading in the stock as it blew up their clearinghouse margin. The mania also led to a series of congressional hearings featuring Gill around brokers’ practice, and gamifying retail trading.

Gill owned 10,000 shares of GameStop at the end of 2020 and increased his holding to 50,000 shares in January and to 100,000 in mid-February. Judging from the updates he posted on Reddit, he never sold his GameStop stakes amid the monstrous short squeeze or in the aftermath.

The GameStop story is still far from over. Besides the scrutiny the saga brought on around retail trading, the company itself is in the middle of a transformation, hoping to capitalize on the massive rally in the stock price.

GameStop announced a $1 billion stock sale at the beginning of April to accelerate its e-commerce transition led by activist investor and board member Ryan Cohen, who is Chewy’s co-founder. The company also hired former Amazon and Google executive Jenna Owens as its new chief operating officer.

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Societe Generale earnings q1 2021

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A logo outside a Societe Generale SA bank branch in Paris, France.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — French bank Societe Generale reported net income that beat analyst expectations for the first quarter of 2021, getting a boost from a strong performance in its global markets division.

Net income for the first quarter came in at 814 million euros ($977 million), the lender said Thursday. Analysts were expecting a net income of 204 million euros.

The company also surprised markets at the end of the four quarter with a net income of 470 million euros, and well above the 252 million euros estimated by analysts ahead of the results.

The stock is up nearly 40% year-to-date.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated shortly.

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Is it safe to travel this summer or fall? Here’s what experts say

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For some homebound travelers yearning for a vacation, the question isn’t whether to book a vacation this year, but when. 

Enthusiasm for travel is at its highest point in a year, with 87% of American travelers expected to take a trip this summer, according to a survey conducted last week by travel market research company Destination Analysts.

But is the summer the best time to travel this year, or is it prudent to wait? Medical professionals present several scenarios of how the rest of 2021 may play out.   

1. A summer of low infection rates

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said she expects this summer to have lower infection rates than the winter.

“When I add in the idea that kids 12 and older will also have access to vaccines this summer, the risk to families will continue to drop, allowing for more activities and with lower risk … to all,” she said.

Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said she thinks there is “a real chance at a summer with much lower rates of disease, however, it means we all have to pull together and do our part” by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and practicing hand hygiene.

Vaccinations are important for safe summer travel, said UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Dr. Anne Rimoin, though she noted they are “no guarantee” against infection.

Tetra Images/TGI | Tetra images | Getty Images

As to whether traveling is safe this summer, she said it depends on two factors: vaccinations and variants.

“It all depends upon how many vaccines we get in arms,” Rimoin said. “The variants are more contagious, so … those that are not vaccinated are more easily infected.”

2. A good summer and a ‘mild fall’

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in April that he expects infection rates to be “really low” in the United States this summer, which will likely result in “a relatively mild fall.”

After that, things may change, he said.

We’re going to have to do things differently as we get into the winter.

Scott Gottlieb

Former FDA commissioner

“I think we should be thinking about the late winter,” he said. “I think the overall death and disease from Covid, hopefully, will be diminished, but there’s a chance that it’s going to start to spread again.”

Gottlieb said Covid-19 will “transition this year … from more of a pandemic strain to a seasonal strain.” This, however, could change if variants that can “pierce” prior immunity or vaccines develop, though he noted that “right now we don’t see that on the horizon.”

“I don’t think we’re going to be having holiday parties in the back room of a crowded restaurant on December 20th,” he said. “I think that we’re going to have to do things differently as we get into the winter.”

“But I think that’s going to be a fact of life going forward for a number of years anyway,” said Gottlieb.  

3. Flare-ups and outbreaks

Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital, does not view this summer as a safe period for travel before infections return in the fall because he expects outbreaks to continue throughout the year.

He said he anticipates the majority of the United States will continue on a path to normalcy, while areas experience “episodic disease flare-ups — local and regional ‘hotspots’ — of Covid activity through the remainder of 2021 and into early 2022.”  

Mark Cameron, epidemiologist and associate professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, also doesn’t see the summer as a “window of opportunity for perfectly safe travel per se” because of concerns about last summer’s surges and the possibility of variant-fueled outbreaks.

He compared the current state of the pandemic towatching the tick and the tock of an irregular clock pendulum.” 

“The pandemic could end with the virus circulating unpredictably, with new variants causing outbreaks or epidemics on a semi-regular basis, especially where vaccine availability is low or vaccine hesitancy is high, much like the flu does now,” said Cameron.

“The moment we’re in — with vaccination rates, variant spread and Covid-19 fatigue competing with each other — is critically important in putting a lid on this virus and its growing penchant for evading our eradication efforts,” he said.

4. The chance of another summer surge

William Haseltine, former professor at Harvard Medical School and author of “Variants! The Shape-Shifting Challenge of COVID-19,” said there is a risk of another summer surge, and traveling during the summer will only exacerbate the problem.  

“The more people choose to travel as an escape from the very real pandemic stress and fatigue, the more we risk another surge of cases this summer,” he said.

Covid-19 is expected to eventually become a seasonal illness, yet it is unknown when this will occur.

Marko Klaric / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images

Read more on summer travel in the age of Covid

Dr. Supriya Narasimhan, chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, agreed that another summer surge is possible, even in places where vaccines are being aggressively rolled out.

She agreed that Covid is “less seasonal than flu” and said the factors which will affect whether another surge occurs are public compliance with masking, vaccine uptake and variants.

It is a game of cat-and-mouse with the virus mutating and the only way to stop it is to stop transmission,” she said. “We may yet hit a vaccine ‘wall’ in that people just don’t want to take it even if available.”

“In my opinion, we need more data to make travel decisions,” she said.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health care tech company Aetion Inc. and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”

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Singapore Press Holdings to transfer media business into not-for-profit entity

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Logo of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore Press Holdings, a newspaper publisher and real estate company, said Thursday it will transfer its troubled media business into a not-for-profit entity.

The company’s media business — which includes English broadsheets The Straits Times and The Business Times, as well as Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao — have struggled with falling advertising revenues in recent years.

The troubles at SPH caused its market capitalization to shrink, and the company’s shares on the Singapore Exchange were dropped from the benchmark Straits Times Index last year. The STI is made up of the 30 listed companies with the largest market capitalization.

Trading of SPH shares were halted on Thursday, pending the announcement. As of Wednesday’s close, the company’s shares have risen roughly 58% this year.

In a statement, SPH said all media-related assets will be transferred into a new wholly-owned subsidiary named SPH Media Holdings, with an initial funding that includes a cash injection of 80 million Singapore dollars ($59.81 million) and 30 million Singapore dollars worth of SPH shares.

The new subsidiary will eventually be transferred to a not-for-profit entity for “a nominal sum,” said the company.

SPH cited The Guardian in the U.K. and the Tampa Bay Times in the U.S. as examples of media businesses that employ the not-for-profit model.

In addition to media, SPH is also in the property business. It owns 66% of a real estate investment trust called SPH REIT, with properties in Singapore and Australia making up its portfolio.

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