E How To Give To Harvard

We spent the Labor Day weekend in Cleveland which is exactly the same distance from Washington, DC, as Moscow is from the nearest Ukrainian border.

How to handle the dunning letters from Fair Harvard? A classmate, Sherman Lewis (no relation) suggests trying to donate to your Alma Mater by demanding that the money go to a new Social Alternative Fund. Go to http://alumni.harvard.edu/ways-to-give/social-alternative-fund and put “credit to the class of 19xx” in the comments box. Then the website will tell you you have made a mistake.

His strategy is intended to keep the money from the underperforming overpaid Harvard Management Co. and to protect against investments in a corrupt Rumanian company, 100% owned forestry firm Scolapax SRL; a Chilean logging co. it also owns, convicted of illegally chopping down native forests to plant eucalytuses; and two further stakes in Argentina's Corrientes Province which threaten wetlands/ These are to build up Harvard holdings in “alternative investments” like timber.

Real Estate diversification is just as shady. Harvard Endowment owns 100% of the non-union Double Tree Allston Hotel (across the River Charles). Boston has seen attempts to unionize hotel workers. The Endowment also invested in what may have been groundwater supply plays in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, California to benefit from drought.

Despite its salary excess, but perhaps because of the underperformance of these controversial “alternative investments”, endowment staffers are walking, starting with the CEO and CFO. Visit www.responsibleharvard.com and click to http://divestharvard.com to get a more transparent and responsible endowment.

*Update on soaring Novartis, now over $93. From TV comment last night, NVS will apply for a new drug authorization for the still-unnamed heart failure drug by year end and aim to launch the unique drug on the market in 2015. It today paid over $35 mn to take a 15% stake and an option for more in Gamida Cell, harvester of progenitor cells from umbelical cords to treat sickle cell and thalassemia disease, blood cancers, and other nasties. It may pay up to $165 mn if milestones are met by the end of next year plus royalties. It earlier pulled out of a straight acquisition (before we owned NVS.) More drug news below.

*Update on Paddy Power plc, subject of another note on Labor Day. Its stock traded in Dublin rose 2.53% in trading today. PDYPF has boosted its purchases of its own shares to be less depending on market-roiling trades by institutions, which is legal and easy in Ireland. I have no idea if the price boost came from US retail investors, the institutional crowd, or buy backs.

*Bombardier was hit by news that Japan Airlines was buying regional jets made by Embraer, its Brazilian rival, Friday. Its C-series first operator-buyerBraathens Malmö Aviation of Sweden cancelled its orders citing delays. Now today Goldman Sachs chopped its price target for the Canada transportation firm to C$3 from C$3.20 and put a sell rating on BDRAF. The reason: it cannot meet its flying schedule to luanch the plane a year from now and faces further delays for the maiden flight. Analyst Noah Poponak wrote that “the Cseries will negatively impact Bombardier's financial results and create negative catalysts for the next several years.” The maiden flight was delayed because of problems with engines supplied byPratt & Whitney during ground testing 6 mos ago. Having flown to Cleveland in an ERJ regional jet guaranteed to generate road rage in even short passengers I want a better plane and so we are sticking with the Canada company which also produces railroad and tram carriages. I also want my dividend.

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