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Ken Griffin Moving Citadel From Chicago to Miami Following Crime Complaints

Billionaire Ken Griffin is relocating his hedge-fund firm Citadel from Chicago to Miami, the third major employer to announce the move of a corporate headquarters from Illinois in the past two months.

In a letter to employees Thursday, Mr. Griffin said he had personally moved to Florida—a state that doesn’t collect personal income tax—and that his market-making business, Citadel Securities, would also transfer. He wrote that he views Florida as a better corporate environment and though he didn’t specifically cite crime as a factor, company officials said it was a consideration.

Mr. Griffin has been the wealthiest resident of Illinois, so his departure will hurt state tax collections on both the individual and corporate side. It could also be a blow to Chicago’s philanthropic scene. Mr. Griffin has given more than $600 million in gifts to educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations in the area, spokesman Zia Ahmed said.

The 53-year-old has an estimated worth of $28.9 billion and is among the world’s top 50 wealthiest, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Late last year, he won a $43.2 million first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution at auction and is putting it on display at public venues nationwide.

Mr. Griffin has also been active in making sizable donations to institutions including his alma mater, Harvard University, where he famously started his initial trading business in his freshman dorm room. He has broken records with his art and real-estate purchases, including a lavish compound in Florida that The Wall Street Journal previously reported made up part of a sprawling, $1 billion portfolio of residential real estate for Mr. Griffin.

A condominium building’s top four floors that Mr. Griffin spent more than $58 million to acquire several years ago—setting a record for the most expensive home ever bought in Chicago—will be put on the market, Mr. Ahmed said.

“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Mr. Griffin wrote. “Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world.”

The move is expected to be a multiyear process and will involve developer Sterling Bay and architecture firms to design a new office tower. There are currently about 1,000 employees in Chicago and many are expected to remain.

Citadel is one of the most successful hedge-fund firms, managing $51 billion in assets and consistently outpacing competitors via its multistrategy funds after surviving steep losses in the 2008 financial crisis.

Executives at Citadel estimated the value of the hedge-fund business alone was between $5 billion and $7 billion when it managed much less, the Journal reported in 2019. In January, Citadel Securities agreed to take its first outside investment in a deal valuing the electronic-trading operation at around $22 billion, a move seen at the time as a potential precursor to an initial public offering of the business.

Mr. Griffin and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune and the brother of former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, have had a running feud in recent years, lately over rising violence in Chicago.

In an April interview with the Journal, Mr. Griffin suggested he might move his operations out of Illinois because of a rising crime rate and incidents involving employees in the state’s largest city.

“If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” he said then. “I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”

Caterpillar Inc. said earlier this month it was moving from its longtime Illinois base to Texas. Manufacturers have increasingly turned to the Southwest as a destination for new factories, drawn by available space, appealing tax policies and an expanding technology workforce.

In May, Boeing Co. said it was moving its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Va., in order to be closer to top federal officials.

As part of plans to break up its business into three companies, Kellogg Co. said earlier this week that its global snacking business would be based in Chicago, with a second corporate campus in Battle Creek, Mich.

Citadel Securities has had a presence in Florida since March 2020, when employees started working from a high-end hotel there at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In his note to employees, Mr. Griffin said the new headquarters would be on Brickell Bay, “in the heart of Miami’s booming financial district.”

 

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Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail

Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.

Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.

Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”

Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”

The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.

Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.

While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.

 

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Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.

“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.

We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.

Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.

Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.

The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal

 

 

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Florida

‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price

Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.

What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?

It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.

A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.

Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.

She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.

Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.

“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.

It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.

She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.

“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.

The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.

Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.

“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.

Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.

She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.

“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.

In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.

News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.

“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.

One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”

That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.

No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.

They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.

“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.

 

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