South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry welcomes regulator’s dramatic change of heart
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry is anticipating much better times as the market regulator changes tack from its tough stance on the virtual coin trade, promising instead to help promote blockchain technology. The regulator said on Tuesday that it hopes to see South Korea — which has […]
VW bid to delay first U.S. diesel emissions trial rejected
FAIRFAX, Va. (Reuters) – A Virginia state court judge on Tuesday rejected a request by the U.S. unit of Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) to delay several of the company’s trials over excess emissions because of “inflammatory” comments made by a lawyer representing car owners that it fears will prejudice the jury.
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Bruce White said after a hearing that he would proceed with a Feb. 26 trial involving a North Carolina man who bought a 2014 diesel Jetta. Volkswagen said publicity from a Netflix documentary that disclosed the company had jointly sponsored tests that exposed monkeys in 2014 to toxic diesel fumes could prejudice its chances of receiving a fair trial. Judge White said he was satisfied a fair panel could be seated for the expected three-week trial. “The jurors don’t know much about these cases,” White said generally of high-profile cases.
Gender pay gap: Men still earn more than women at most firms
The majority of small and medium-sized companies are still paying male employees more than their female colleagues. Almost three in four firms pay higher wages collectively to men, according to the latest government figures. Just 15% of businesses with more than 250 employees have a higher wage bill for women. The remaining 11% claim there is no difference between the salaries paid to men and women. The BBC analysis shows that the average gender pay gap across all medium and large-sized firms is now 8.2%. That means men typically earn 8.2% more an hour than women. Among those with the largest gender pay gap are airlines such as Tui and Easyjet, and banks including Virgin Money, the Clydesdale and TSB.
The cosmetics company selling Siberia to the world
If it wasn't for the intoxicating smell of competing perfumes, you might think that cosmetics company Natura Siberica was making ice cream. At its factory in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, large vats of shampoo the colour of raspberry ripple soft scoop are being whipped into a smooth consistency. Nearby, a body cream that looks like mint yoghurt is being slowly churned in a large metal cylinder, and a worker is adding dried berries to gallons of body rub that could be strawberry sorbet. Founded in 2008, Natura Siberica is a Russian company that makes a wide range of organic hair and skincare products made with extracts from herbs grown and harvested across the vast and remote Russian province of Siberia. With 4,000 employees across its three Russian factories, and one in Estonia, it now exports around the world and has annual sales of more than $300m (£214m).
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N), the world’s biggest retailer, on Tuesday posted a sharp drop in profit and online sales growth during the critical holiday period and forecast annual profit at the lower end of expectations. Its shares fell 9.4 percent as investors worried that Walmart would not be able to keep pace with Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), the world’s biggest online retailer, as it struggles with managing its online business. Even as comparable sales in the U.S. market rose for the 14th consecutive quarter, Walmart’s online sales grew 23 percent in the fourth quarter that included the holidays.
In the same period a year ago, sales grew 29 percent, while online sales were up 50 percent in the third quarter. It was also slower than Amazon’s North American sales growth of 40 percent during the holiday quarter.Walmart’s online performance was hurt during the quarter as growth fueled by the purchase of Jet.com began to lessen and the retailer struggled to balance its online inventory, Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said on a conference call with investors. While Walmart added more holiday merchandise like electronics, toys and gifts, it did not stock enough everyday items, which hurt sales.
Apprentice levy needs total overhaul, business chief will say
The government's apprenticeship levy on employers has been “disastrous”, according to the head of one of Britain's biggest business groups. Dame Judith Hackitt, who chairs the EEF manufacturers' body, will say later on Tuesday that the levy is “complex” and seen as just another tax on business. She will make the comments in a speech at the EEF's annual dinner, attended by Business Secretary Greg Clark. The scheme needs a complete overhaul, Dame Judith will say. Many companies have postponed or even halted apprenticeships because of the levy.
How lasers and robo-feeders are transforming fish farming
Fish farming is big business – the industry now produces about 100 million tonnes a year – and with salmon prices soaring, producers are turning to lasers, automation and artificial intelligence to boost production and cut costs. How do you know if farmed salmon have had enough to eat? Well, according to Lingalaks fish farms in Norway, which produce nearly three million salmon each year, the fish make less noise once the feeding frenzy is over.
The firm knows this thanks to a new hydro-acoustic system it has installed at one of its farms. The system listens to the salmon sloshing loudly about as they feed in a cluster. When the fish have had enough, they swim off and the noise lessens. Lingalaks chief executive Erlend Haugarvoll hopes this knowledge will save his firm lots of money in reduced feed, as much of it currently gets wasted.
“I think it could improve [expenditure] by about 5%,” he says. “That could be between 7m-10m krone (£630,000-900,000, $900,000-$1.3m) for our firm.”
One of Britain's biggest electronics retailers is in talks with potential buyers amid reports it is seeking to head off the threat of administration. Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, hopes to strike a deal this week, the company said. News of a possible sale, first reported by Sky News, comes after insurers withdrew credit cover last year because of falling profits. Maplin, owned by Rutland Partners, is the latest High Street name in trouble. A string of clothing retailers and restaurants, plus Toys R Us UK, have all run into financial problems in recent months. However, Maplin said it expected to be able to unveil a “solvent sale” within days.
“Once secured this will stabilise the business to the benefit of all stakeholders and provide Maplin with the financial firepower to deliver its 2020 multi-channel strategy focused on smart tech,” the company said in a statement.
Over half of Japan firms do not plan base pay rise this year
TOKYO (Reuters) – More than half of Japan’s companies do not plan to raise base pay in annual wage talks in coming months, a set back for the prime minister and the country’s main business lobby which has called for wage rises of 3 percent to fuel an economic revival. In a monthly Reuters Corporate Survey, just less than half said they would raise pay and most in this group said the increase would be similar to last year’s level of about 2 percent.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Keidanren business group have sought a 3 percent wage rise to encourage consumption and inflation, key elements of Abe’s bid to vanquish the country of years of deflation. A rise in fourth-quarter GDP reported last week marked Japan’s longest continuous economic expansion since the 1980s but significant wage rises remain elusive even though the labor market is its tightest in about four decades. In the past four years, major companies agreed to raise wages about 2 percent at annual wage negotiations with labor unions, a benchmark that sets the tone for talks across the country.
The bulk of that – about 1.8 percent – comes automatically under Japan’s seniority-based employment system. Anything beyond that is a hike in “base pay.” But many firms are wary of raising wages as it commits them to higher fixed personnel costs, so they prefer to pay one-off bonuses instead. The survey was conducted between Jan 31 and Feb 14 on behalf of Reuters by Nikkei Research. Of some 240 companies that responded, 52 percent said they would not raise base pay.
Corbyn warns bankers: finance will serve Britain under Labour government
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial sector will be “the servant of industry not the masters of us all” if the opposition Labour Party gets into power, its leader Jeremy Corbyn will say on Tuesday, accusing bankers of taking the economy hostage. Corbyn, a socialist who has won over many voters with his promises to renationalize services and increase public spending, has long targeted London’s lucrative financial sector, saying politicians have become in thrall of money makers for too long. In a speech to a manufacturers’ conference, Corbyn will renew his pledge to rebalance Britain’s economy if he wins power in an election not due until 2022, and will also criticize Prime Minister Theresa May for offering little clarity over Brexit.
“For a generation, instead of finance serving industry, politicians have served finance. We’ve seen where that ends: the productive economy, our public services and people’s lives being held hostage by a small number of too big to fail banks and casino financial institutions,” he will say.
“No more. The next Labour government will be the first in 40 years to stand up for the real economy. We will take decisive action to make finance the servant of industry not the masters of us all.”
Big business has been cautious toward Labour, with financial services company Morgan Stanley warning investors that Corbyn winning power was a bigger political risk than Brexit.
Jamie Oliver's two flagship London restaurants have gone into administration, although the celebrity chef immediately bought one back. His upmarket Barbecoa steak restaurant in London's Piccadilly will close a year after it was re-launched. The other outlet, near St Paul's Cathedral, has been saved after the chef bought it for an undisclosed sum via a newly-created subsidiary. The move comes as Mr Oliver makes cuts in other parts of his business.
Barbecoa St Paul's was bought back under a so-called pre-pack arrangement, which allows the purchase of the best assets of a business before it actually goes into administration. The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group was already cutting costs in other areas, despite the chef putting £3m of his own money into the business in December. Last month it announced that it was shutting down 12 of its 37 Jamie's Italian restaurants – the mainstay of the group – as part of a rescue plan with creditors that would enable it to continue trading. The closure of the 12 restaurants will affect at least 200 jobs. Court documents revealed that Jamie's Italian had debts of £71.5m.
Sir Philip Green faces more pension questions from Frank Field
MPs are to scrutinise pension schemes at the retail empire of Topshop boss Sir Philip Green. Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, said the move follows reports Sir Philip was in talks to sell all or part of his business. The Sunday Times claimed that the […]
‘You’ve got to make tough decisions, but in partnership’
Cadbury's is a British chocolate firm founded two centuries ago by a Quaker, John Cadbury, who was famous for his kindness to his worker. When Mondelez took over the firm, it had to make mass redundancies to keep it in business. How do you do that without ruining the company's reputation? The job fell to Glenn Caton, Mondelez's President for Northern Europe.
Carillion's investors fled the failing company as it headed for disaster, according to MPs. The construction firm's annual reports were a worthless guide to its financial health and raise major questions about corporate governance, the MPs say. The comments come in a joint report published on Monday by the Work and Pensions and Business committees. Carillion's former auditor, KPMG, will be questioned by MPs on Thursday.
The beauty entrepreneur who turned snakes into ladders
Snake Serum and Dragon's Blood – not names you'd first associate with a high-end skincare range. So, when Maria Hatzistefanis decided after several years in business to give her beauty products more eye-catching names she knew it might be risky. It worked, though. Not only did the names create a talking point, they led to the products flying off the shelves.
For years, the chief executive and founder of beauty brands Rodial and Nip + Fab had erred on the side of safety. “That didn't help us a lot,” she now admits.
“I was going to launch the serum with the name ‘anti-wrinkle serum' but that wasn't exciting,” she says.
Ms Hatzistefanis, 47, says a key ingredient used in her products, syn-ake peptide, replicates the reaction to a snake bite, resulting in a mild freeze-like effect in facial muscles.
Japan’s Mizuho sees pickup in U.S. M&A lending after tax cut
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group Inc (8411.T) sees a pickup in overseas lending after a slowdown last year in the United States, where a recently enacted corporate tax cut is widely expected to spur mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Major Japanese banks are placing increased emphasis on lending abroad, particularly in busy M&A markets such as the U.S., as they seek more means of growth while their domestic lending businesses suffer persistently low interest rates.
“We expect companies that become cash-rich from the tax cut to accelerate acquisitions,” said Akira Sugano, head of overseas business at Japan’s third-biggest bank by market value. “There are actually companies planning such moves among our clients.”
Mizuho is already working with U.S. clients to provide finance for billion-dollar deals, Sugano said.
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Punjab National Bank branch in south Mumbai sits just down the road from both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of India, at a physical center of one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.
The branch, clad in a stately colonial edifice, is now also at the heart of a fraud case linked to billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi that has shaken confidence in a state banking sector that accounts for some 70 percent of India’s banking assets.
It was here, according to accounts from Punjab National Bank (PNBK.NS) executives and government investigators, that a lone middle-aged manager, later aided by his young subordinate, engineered fraudulent transactions totaling about $1.8 billion from 2011 to 2017.
The bank says it is still investigating how they were able to do so and go undetected for so long. The accounts given by current and former executives who spoke to Reuters suggest an answer as simple as it is alarming: no one was paying attention.
Lego builds foundations in China classrooms as old markets slow
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Danish toymaker Lego is hoping to build a following with Chinese parents by promoting its place in the classroom as well as the toy box. The firm, famous for its brightly colored building blocks, is working with local education departments, state schools and the private education providers to get kids playing with Lego as a way to boost motor skills, creativity and attention spans.
The educational push in China goes beyond what Lego does in other markets, in part a nod to the country’s disciplined focus on learning but also a reflection of how the market is booming in importance as growth in the United States and Europe slows. It also taps into the desires of Chinese parents to give their children a competitive edge – even at a young age. Deng Xianyu, 48, has been buying her 8-year-old son Lego blocks since he was 2 and now sends him to Lego classes every weekend. She said she likes that the students learn specific skills such as computing and science as they play. The focus on learning, in a market notorious for its rigid exam-oriented education system and piles of homework, could help Lego in China as business elsewhere softens.
Nirav Modi: Who is India’s scandal-linked billionaire?
Nirav Modi (right) is a jeweller to the stars including Naomi Watts (left) He was already the second most famous Mr N Modi of India. But now Nirav Modi – the billionaire diamond trader and jeweller to Hollywood and Bollywood stars – is in the news for very different […]
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – When a Mexican real estate investment trust bought four hotels along the country’s Gulf coast operating under the Marriott, Quality Inn and Fiesta Inn brands, it expected the government’s recent energy reform to attract droves of oil executives, engineers and technicians. Instead, FibraHotel’s properties in Ciudad del Carmen and Villahermosa and an earlier purchase in Coatzacoalcos, like many along the Gulf, are pinched for guests.
President Enrique Pena Nieto’s 2013-14 legislative overhaul of the energy sector, which broke a 75-year monopoly by state oil firm Pemex, had been expected to jumpstart the economy and revive the declining oil industry. It coincided, however, with a global collapse in oil prices that muted investors’ interest. Prices are now rebounding, and the government forecasts that some of the world’s largest oil companies will ultimately invest about $150 billion in Mexico if they succeed in extraction efforts. But experts say the promised growth could still be several years coming.
As mining investors push caution, Glencore differs from rivals
TORONTO/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – As shareholders push the world’s cash-rich miners to maintain lush dividends and make the most of existing assets, Glencore is taking a slightly different tactic that positions it for shrewd acquisitions. Like other big rivals, Glencore is expected to lift its dividend payout when it reports results next week, but the Swiss miner and trader is also “open for business” when it comes to buying mines or companies, its chief financial officer said in December.
“Glencore’s deal-making is now very strategic. They’re trying to find businesses with the highest margin and get into sectors where they will have a competitive advantage,” said David Neuhauser, managing director of Livermore Partners, which holds Glencore shares.
“They want to do deals where they are not just first movers, but can become leaders,” he added.
Rising commodity prices, cost cuts and global growth have improved their balance sheets, but most miners are not plowing money into mega-mines or big acquisitions – caution welcomed by investors burned by massive losses in the last downturn.
US rejects China-led bid for Chicago Stock Exchange
The US has rejected a proposed merger between the Chicago Stock Exchange and a Chinese-linked investor group. The decision comes after more than two years of reviews by officials. The tie-up was initially approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, pending further approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
But US politicians, including President Trump, have said letting a Chinese firm invest in a US exchange was a bad idea. Under the proposal, the Chinese-led North America Casin Holdings group would have bought a minority share of the privately owned Chicago Stock Exchange. The exchange, which handles just 0.5% of US stock trades, had said the deal would have provided the exchange with “vital capital”. That funding would have been used “to boost numerous initiatives designed to benefit the city of Chicago, the US economy and market structure as a whole”.
(Reuters) – CBS Corp (CBS.N) topped Wall Street’s quarterly revenue and profit estimates on Thursday as U.S. and international distributors licensed more of its shows. The owner of the most-watched U.S. TV network said it also expects high single-digit revenue growth for 2018 and earnings per share growth in the high teens, ahead of Wall Street’s average estimates. The company’s shares were slightly higher in after-hours trading.
CBS, whose shows include “Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS,” has focused on diversifying its revenue away from advertising as many brands shift spending online from TV. Advertising accounted for 44 percent of its revenue in the quarter, compared to 51 percent a year ago. The company said it now has nearly 5 million subscribers for its CBS All Access and Showtime online streaming services. Its goal is to have 8 million subscribers of the two services by 2020. The New York-based media company beat Wall Street’s expectations despite a 3 percent drop in advertising revenue after hitting a record the previous year. CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said on an analyst call he is “optimistic” that this year will see stronger political advertising than 2016 with the U.S. midterm elections.
GE moves to sell part of overseas lighting business
(Reuters) – U.S. industrial conglomerate General Electric (GE.N) has reached a deal to sell parts of its overseas lighting business to a company controlled by former executive Joerg Bauer for an undisclosed amount. Bauer most recently served as President of GE Hungary where GE Lighting’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and Turkey business is headquartered, the company said in an emailed statement.
The deal, which marks the first step in the divesture of the lighting business, includes GE Lighting in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, along with its Global Automotive Lighting businesses. The remaining pieces of GE Lighting, as well as the Current, will now be marketed as part of a separate sale or sales, the company also added.
The lighting business dates to the earliest days of GE, which was co-founded by Thomas Edison more than a century ago.GE has been preparing to sell the lighting business, as part of a broad restructuring plan aimed at shedding $20 billion worth of assets and focus the remaining company on three core divisions: power, aviation and health care. Profit fell sharply at GE’s lighting business last year. It earned $93 million on revenue of nearly $2 billion in 2017, down from $199 million on $4.8 billion in 2016. GE Chief Executive John Flannery last month said the conglomerate was looking at restructuring options “including separately traded assets” after it announced more than $11 billion in charges from its long-term care insurance portfolio and new U.S. tax laws.
Volatility holds key to bank revenue revival from 2017 slump: survey
LONDON (Reuters) – Revenues at the world’s 12 biggest investment banks fell to their lowest levels since 2008 last year, a survey showed on Friday, while a return to more volatile global markets in 2018 could be a mixed blessing for their business.
“In January banks were thinking ‘2018 will be bad for equities revenues but not as bad as 2017’, but now with the volatility of the last two weeks all bets are off,” Amrit Shahani, research director at analytics firm Coalition said.
Revenues for the 12 investment banks in the survey fell to $150 billion in 2017, a 4 percent decline on 2016, Coalition said, with falls in income from trading in equities and fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), two of their three main business lines, with the latter dropping 11 percent. Investment banking advisory, the third main plank, was 2017’s bright spot with revenues up 10 percent annually thanks to a strong flow of underwriting fees from stock offerings. The decline in revenues meant that return on equity, a key measure of profitability, fell to an average of 8.6 percent, a level at which most banks do not meet their cost of capital.
South Africa's new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, will have a daunting in-tray, including a formidable economic agenda to tackle. Growth under Jacob Zuma's leadership has been weak and unemployment is painfully high. It is one of the most unequal countries on the planet – the legacy of apartheid is still evident. And businesses face many barriers that make it harder to contribute to addressing these problems.
Here are some figures to set out the challenge. Over the last decade, the South African economy has grown at an average annual rate of 1.4%. An emerging economy should be able to manage much better, perhaps something close to 5%. Turkey and Malaysia both have, and China, in spite of its much vaunted slowdown, has done a good deal better. South Africa's growth in the last few years has weakened to such an extent that it's slower than the increase in population. GDP (gross domestic product) per person, which is a rough and ready indicator of average living standards, has declined. The unemployment rate is worse than one in four.
Here's a question. Does a bag have a gender? My husband recently spent more than £100 on a Scandi-made rucksack – black canvas, hint of leather on the trim. But has it ever crossed his mind that he's carrying a manbag? Well, yes, as it happens. To my surprise it has and he's happy, proud even, to admit it. And he's not alone – according to Mintel 15% of British men bought a manbag last year – and that rises to nearly a quarter among 16-34 year olds.
Of course it doesn't hurt that big names have flocked to adopt the trend. Pharrell Williams, David Beckham, Kanye West, Ryan Gosling and Justin Theroux are just some of those who've been spotted rocking a manbag. Last year style bible Vogue got to grips with the issue. From it we learnt there are also such things as “murses” – man purses – or, if bigger, “motes” – men's tote bags. It seems though it's not a new fashion. Back in 2016, GQ magazine investigated “A brief history of the man-bag” and traced its origins back to Renaissance girth pouches.
Report proposes £10,000 for everyone under 55
A new report suggests the government should give £10,000 per year to every citizen under 55. The Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) says it could pave the way to everyone getting a basic state wage. The Labour party has also said it is looking into similar arguments for a Universal Basic Income (UBI).
And Scotland is already piloting UBI schemes in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire. The RSA report says the payments would come from a British sovereign wealth fund in the form of two annual £5,000 dividends. The payments would not be means tested, and applicants would only have to demonstrate how they intended to use the money. Most state benefits would be cut under the scheme. The RSA said the dividends would help steer people through the challenges of the 2020s.
Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, yet has a business culture that discourages bragging about its success. So is this humility a help or a hindrance when it comes to start-ups? From household names such as Spotify and Skype, to gaming leaders King and Mojang and cashless payment companies iZettle and Klarna, Sweden is a hotspot for industry-changing new technologies.
Despite just 10 million inhabitants occupying a land mass largely defined by forest wilderness, the Nordic nation has in recent years created more billion dollar companies per capita than anywhere else outside Silicon Valley. Last month, Sweden was top in Europe in Bloomberg's global innovation ranking. The more familiar narrative for Sweden's start-up success story typically touches on several factors. It has a strong digital infrastructure, a highly educated, tech-savvy workforce, and an ideal population size for testing new innovations. And for those whose ideas don't take flight, there is a strong social welfare net to set them back on their feet.
GKN to sell off assets and return £2.5bn to shareholders
Engineering giant GKN says it will sell off parts of its business and return £2.5bn in cash to its shareholders over the next three years. The plans are part of its defence against a £7.4bn hostile takeover bid from Melrose Industries. GKN's new strategy and transformation plan includes the […]
South Africa Zuma: Controversial Gupta family home raided by police
Two people have been arrested in a raid on the home of the controversial Gupta family in South Africa as part of a government influencing investigation. The wealthy India-born Gupta family have been accused of “state capture” – using their friendship with President Zuma to wield enormous political influence for their business interests. Both Mr Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations made against them. Mr Zuma is under pressure to resign, in part because of links to the Guptas. He is expected to respond later today to a formal request from the African National Congress (ANC) to step down.
World chess body accounts closed over president’s Syria sanctions
The World Chess Federation (FIDE) says its Swiss bank accounts have been closed after its president was accused of facilitating transactions on behalf of the Syrian government. Russian millionaire Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list in 2015 for his alleged dealings with the Assad government. He denies wrongdoing, and stepped back from FIDE to try to resolve the issue. But FIDE says Swiss bank UBS closed its accounts as he is still sanctioned.
Gasoline, rents seen lifting U.S. monthly CPI; annual rates to slow
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer prices likely increased solidly in January, boosted by rising gasoline and rents, but annual inflation growth is expected to have slowed as the large price gains from last year drop out of the calculation. Despite the anticipated moderation in the annual inflation rates, Wednesday’s report from the Labor Department will probably not change expectations for an acceleration in price pressures this year. A surge in annual wage growth in January ignited inflation concerns, sparking a sell-off on Wall Street and lifting benchmark U.S. Treasury yields to a four-year high. There are fears that inflation, which is seen driven by a tightening labor market and increased government spending, could force the Federal Reserve to be a bit more aggressive in raising interest rates this year than is currently anticipated.
The U.S. central bank has forecast three rate hikes this year, with the first increase expected in March.
Toshiba appoints ex-banker as CEO, forecasts first profit in four years
TOKYO (Reuters) – Toshiba Corp appointed a former banker from a key creditor bank as CEO and forecast its first annual profit in four years, making progress in its efforts to recover from billions of dollars in losses at its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse. Nobuaki Kurumatani, a former executive of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, will become chief executive and chairman from April 1 and will be responsible for longer-term strategic decisions as well as dealing with outside parties. Current CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa who has overseen Toshiba’s attempts to dig itself out of its financial crisis, will become chief operating officer and be responsible for day-to-day operations.
Bolstered by its chip business, the struggling industrial conglomerate predicted net profit of 520 billion yen ($4.9 billion) for the year ending March, up from a prior forecast of a 110 billion yen loss and much higher than a consensus estimate of a 188 billion yen profit. The revised estimate comes on the back of a sale of Toshiba’s claims against now-bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Co LLC to a group of hedge funds, a deal that also affords the Japanese firm tax benefits. The return to net profit, combined with an additional 600 billion yen gained from the issue of new shares to overseas funds, will help Toshiba avoid falling into negative net worth for a second consecutive year, allowing it to remain a listed company. That in turn means less urgency for Toshiba to sell its prized chip business – the world’s second biggest producer of NAND memory chips – to a consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital. The revised estimates also showed, however, that without the memory chip division, its annual operating profit is set to be zero.
A final call? Unilever threatens to pull ads from platforms swamped with ‘toxic’ content
Consumer packaged goods maker Unilever, an advertising force with a $9.8 billion annual marketing budget, is ringing the alarm bells that all is still not well in the environments fostered by the likes of Google and Facebook. Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed spoke about the need […]
How should retailers respond to Amazon Go? 7 experts weigh in
Last month, Amazon’s fully automated grocery and convenience store, Amazon Go, opened in Seattle to widespread coverage — and long lines of local shoppers eager to try the line-free checkout experience. Is this traditional retail’s “Uber moment?” In other words, will Amazon Go directly change or disrupt traditional retail stores or is this merely the latest development in a long-term evolution of retail shopping? I asked a range of companies and retail experts to weigh in. The question I asked was, “How can or should traditional retailers respond to Amazon Go?” Some of these experts felt that Amazon Go would be disruptive, while others counseled retailers to focus on what they do best, only do it better with data and technology. The themes that emerged from the comments below are:
Shoppers still like to interact with human associates in stores, but store employees need to be used more effectively and better trained.
Retailers need to do a better job of leveraging their own data for insights and more interesting and personalized customer experiences.
Retailers need to use technology more effectively across channels and to improve the in-store experience.
Pixability guarantees YouTube brand safety for advertisers
In response to repeated brand safety flare ups on YouTube over the past year, Pixability has launched a new solution that includes a 100 percent brand-safe spend guarantee for YouTube advertisers. The Boston-based video advertising platform for campaigns on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram says its new technology takes into account each advertiser’s unique definition of brand safety as well as more nuanced settings of campaign-specific brand appropriateness.
“The brand safety conversation has evolved significantly over the last few months, as advertisers wake up to just how individualized their approach to the issue needs to be,” said Bettina Hein, Pixability Founder and CEO.
There are two tiers of the new managed service. The higher end version, DependAbility Premium, provides access to the entire campaign placement list via Pixability’s AI technology, third-party verification of viewability and video completion measurement by Moat, and human review of placements to ensure 100 percent contextual relevancy.
Use These Tips to Gain the Greatest Visibility and Avoid Suspension on Google
By claiming and optimizing your listing correctly, you have the opportunity to show up in the local pack (map) results when someone is searching for a nearby lawyer or law firm. Your information will also appear on the right side of the page in the knowledge panel when someone does a branded search.
However, there are best practices to follow, as over-optimization can actually hurt your listing. In what follows, we’ll discuss nine common mistakes that almost every business owner makes on their listing and how to correct them.
If you take nothing else away from this, just remember that you should always optimize for your customers —not to manipulate rankings.
Mistake #1: You have a spammy business name.
This is by far the most common mistake law firms make with their GMB listing. Having the wrong business name on your listing is bad for Google and even worse for your clients. Everyone tries to add their city, location, or even their legal area of practice into their business name, thinking it will benefit them for “SEO reasons.” While it may work in the short term, it will have negative long-term effects. For example, a firm who wants people to know they are located in New York might add “Midtown” or “NYC” to their GMB name.
These directly violate Google’s guidelines on how you should represent your business online. Your business name on Google should be your actual real-world business name that is registered with the state, not a keyword-stuffed name that will flag your listing as spam. If your listing is flagged more than once, it can be suspended, and then you’ll lose all visibility for your firm.
That additional information that you’re trying to squeeze into your GMB name — city, location, locality, area of practice — should be placed in the appropriate “business” and “address” fields.
Make sure your business name is correct and consistent throughout your GMB listing, your website, and your other local listings. Consistency and accuracy are important.
Mistake #2: You have a virtual office.
In theory, a virtual office for your business can be extremely helpful. By sharing space with other attorneys and/or businesses, you get “visibility” within a city for a fraction of the price. Even better, you only have to show up when you have client appointments.
However, if you want to have a business listing on Google, you cannot claim this type of location. In fact, it goes directly against their guidelines: “If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.”
This is the second most common mistake made by law firms today. In recent years, Google wasn’t so strict on this “rule” but over the last few months, they have really cracked down, and businesses who have these locations verified are falling off the map. Also, PO boxes and/or mailboxes located at remote locations are not eligible for GMB listings.
Make sure you are claiming and verifying your actual physical location on Google — not the remote location 45 minutes across town that you go to once a month to pick up mail and meet clients by appointment only.
Mistake #3: You’re listed as being open 24/7.
Another common mistake that we see with firms is that they claim to be “open 24 hours.” Just because you have a chat operator on your website or have an overnight answering service does not mean you are open 24/7.
On GMB, your listed hours should be those hours you are able to see clients at the office. They are the hours someone can walk into your office and speak with you or a staff member. Having misleading hours violates Google’s guidelines, and even worse, can mislead a potential client.
Do you really want someone showing up at your office at 10:00 PM if no one is there?
Tip: Google also gives you the option to list “special hours.” So if you’re closed on Martin Luther King Day or closing the office early on the Friday leading into Memorial Day weekend, you can list those hours specifically for those days. Make sure to do this so your clients (or potential clients) don’t show up when the office is vacant.
Mistake #4: You don’t have your website listed or it’s incorrect.
One of the main benefits of claiming your GMB listing is that you’re able to add your website to it. This allows customers to easily navigate to your site and read more about your firm.
You should provide a website that represents your individual business location: It must be your actual website for your actual business in that location. Redirecting the user to another website or social platform can cause your listing to get suspended, and then no one will find you.
Tip#1: If you have multiple office locations, create “local pages” for each location, and link them to your GMB listing. A local page should include information about your firm, information about that practice area, and also information about that location. This will help a user understand exactly where you are located, who you are, and what services you provide. Imagine if you had five office locations but your page only said “serving all of New Jersey.” It would be better if they were looking for an attorney in New Providence, and the page they landed on (tied to the GMB listing) was all about your law practice in New Providence. This helps with conversions.
Tip #2: If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, and you’re interested in finding out how much traffic you get from your GMB listing to those pages, you can track with UTM codes.
Mistake #5: Your phone number is incorrect.
Your phone number cannot redirect to another number; it must connect to your individual business location. When you include a phone number on your GMB listing, the user is expecting to connect with your business and speak to a real person. Make
sure this is the case. This also means that you should be using your local phone number on your GMB listing, not a call tracking number.
If you’re interested in tracking when and how many times customers called your business via your GMB listing, those insights are available via the GMB dashboard. For the date dimension, you are able to toggle between the days of the week and the time of day. For date range, you are able to toggle between “last week,” “last 4 weeks,” and “last 12 weeks.” This solves the issues of call tracking.
Mistake #6: You’re not adding photos to your listing.
People want to know who you are, where you’re located, and what you’re all about. By adding photos to your GMB listing, you begin to build trust with someone even before meeting them. In addition to adding your logo, include photos of:
Your building (inside and out)
You with clients (when you have their permission)
You in the communityAnything else that will resonate with people in a positive way.
Google has made adding photos to your GMB listing extremely easy, offering a place for each type of photo within the GMB dashboard.These photos appear in the “Knowledge Panel” when people search for your business name on Google:
Sometimes, these photos may also appear in the Google search results!
Mistake #7: Your GMB category is either wrong, missing, or you’ve added too many categories.
When you add in your specific business category, users can recognize what services you provide. However, firms often view this as a way to stuff “keywords” for their listing(s), assuming that they’ll rank for all those keywords.
By doing that, however, their business becomes misrepresented. You should only add the appropriate categories for your business. If you are a sole practitioner, you should drill down to the “attorney” categories. If you are a law firm with multiple areas of practice, than you should be listed as either “Law Firm” or “Legal Service.”
As Google suggests: Select categories that complete the statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a.” The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.
Another mistake is having the wrong category on your GMB listing. If you’re a divorce lawyer, you don’t want to be listed as “Divorce Service,” unless you provide mediation.
Google already has a ton of information about your business, and for the most part, knows what you do. Not following the category guidelines can raise a red flag, get you suspended, and harm your business. Think of categories as a way to reinforce what your business does; they let the searcher know that right away.
Mistake #8: You’re not getting reviews.
Google won’t penalize you for NOT having reviews, but Google will reward you FOR having reviews. The reason people search for attorneys online is because they obviously need legal help, and they don’t already have someone to turn to. So, how are they going to trust you? Or more importantly, how are they going to choose you over the attorney down the street?
It all comes down to reviews. Consumers want to know what people who’ve used your services think of you: Are you reasonably priced? Do you offer personalized attention? Do you return calls promptly?
Mistake #9: You haven’t added in your location attributes.
Last month, Google enabled business owners to add attributes to their GMB listing via the dashboard. These attributes tell customers even more about your business. Things like “has wi-fi” or “family-friendly” are examples of local attributes. However, those don’t apply in the legal vertical, and aren’t even available yet to you.
Recap One of the first things you should do is to claim your GMB listing. After that, make sure it’s optimized properly and is attractive to potential customers. Add your correct hours, plenty of photos, and get reviews. All of these things will help convert searchers into clients. Don’t overthink it, and don’t spam out your listing! Follow the guidelines so that your listing offers you the greatest possible advantage in marketing your firm.
Qualcomm, Broadcom plan to meet on February 14: sources
(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc ( QCOM.O ) and Broadcom Ltd ( AVGO.O ) plan to meet on Wednesday to talk about the latter’s $121 billion acquisition offer, the first time the semiconductor companies will discuss the potential deal, people familiar with the matter said. The meeting comes after Broadcom […]
Citigroup to invest in London, hire staff despite Brexit: FT
(Reuters) – Wall Street bank Citigroup Inc (C.N) will set up an innovation center in London in one of the first investments by a big U.S. bank since Brexit, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. Citi will initially hire 60 technologists for the center, James Cowles, chief executive Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told the FT. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
A new publicity drive is aiming to encourage higher take-up of shared parental leave. Around 285,000 couples are eligible every year for shared parental leave, but take-up “could be as low as 2%”, the Department for Business said. Around half of the general public are still unaware the option exists, nearly three years after it was introduced, the government said.
It now plans to spend £1.5m to better inform parents about the policy. Experts say that as well as a lack of understanding of what is on offer, cultural barriers and financial penalties are deterring some parents from sharing parental leave.
The specialist insurance company Hiscox has grown from one small office to a global brand by concentrating on specialist areas like cyber attack, terrorism and kidnap. It also covers the homes and property of the rich and famous. But given how unpredictable the terror threat is and how many different forms an attack can take, it is hard to price up the cost of insuring against it, says chief executive Bronek Masojada.
“Yes it is a bit arbitrary but people want the cover. It isn't the sort of thing like car accidents where there's lots of them and you can work it out,” he told 5Live's Wake Up To Money.
“We don't want lots of terrorist events.”
Terrorism can affect businesses in different ways. For instance, the attack on the Manchester Arena last May which left 22 people dead also damaged buildings and infrastructure.
“We price by analogy” says Mr Masojada. “So if to insure a building is 100 for all risks it doesn't seem unreasonable to say OK then, for terrorism, which is only one peril, we might charge 25 to the 100 for the property.”
The firm selling raincoats with added Swedish melancholy
While most consumer brands like to suggest they will make the buyer feel happier, Swedish rainwear firm Stutterheim warns that its coats may make the wearer feel a bit blue. It is a somewhat novel approach to marketing yourself, but with fast-growing global sales, and celebrity fans including singers Kanye West and Jay Z, it seems to be working rather well.
“Melancholy is an essential part of being a human being, and you shouldn't fight it,” says founder Alexander Stutterheim.
It is said that inspiration for a business idea can come from anywhere, and in Mr Stutterheim's case it was stumbling upon his melancholic grandfather's old fishing coat. Fast forward to today, and the raincoats – sold with the strapline “Swedish melancholy at its driest” – are sold around the world via the firm's website, from retailers in 29 countries, and at Stutterheim's own physical stores in Stockholm and New York. The company's annual turnover was 48.5m kronor ($6m; £4.3m) in 2016, and it is expected to post a 25% increase when 2017's results are published, led by the ecommerce side of the business.
A rise in oil prices and higher imports contributed to a widening of the UK's goods trade deficit in December. The gap between exports and imports rose to £13.6bn, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said , which was higher than analysts' forecasts. Separate ONS data showed industrial output […]
Russian nuclear scientists arrested for ‘Bitcoin mining plot’
Russian security officers have arrested several scientists working at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility for allegedly mining crypto-currencies. The suspects had tried to use one of Russia's most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoins, media reports say. The Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov, western Russia, is a restricted area. The centre's press service said: “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining.”
The supercomputer was not supposed to be connected to the internet – to prevent intrusion – and once the scientists attempted to do so, the nuclear centre's security department was alerted. They were handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian news service Mash says.
“As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them,” the press service told Interfax news agency.
Channel tunnel train service Eurostar is launching a new service between London and Amsterdam. Eurostar is due to launch the service on 4 April and it says the journey between London and Amsterdam will take three hours and 41 minutes. However, for an initial period, the Eurostar service will only run direct from London to Amsterdam. Passengers travelling from Amsterdam to London will have to change at Brussels to clear passport controls. Eurostar says the connection at Brussels is a temporary measure until the British and Dutch governments reach an agreement to allow passport checks to be conducted on departure in the Netherlands. It says this should be in place by the end of 2019. The rail company will be running two services a day, departing at 08:31 and 17:31 respectively, with one-way fares starting at £35.Eurostar also says the new service will cut the journey time between London and Brussels by 17 minutes to one hour and 48 minutes.
Trump ‘energy dominance’ policy pits Washington against Moscow
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last July, U.S. President Donald Trump stood beside his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, in Warsaw and promised to help wean the nation off Russian energy imports. He offered U.S. fuel as an alternative, “so that you can never be held hostage to a single supplier.” Trump was tapping into longstanding European concerns about Russia’s ability to shut off natural gas supplies – which it has done in past pricing disputes. U.S. lawmakers say Russia’s influence over energy has proven effective in silencing critics of its human rights abuses, annexation of Crimea, and incursion into eastern Ukraine, an assertion the Kremlin has denied.
Six months after Trump’s trip, Poland has contracted for imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude oil, and coal, and announced it will not renew a gas supply deal with Russia’s state-owned Gazprom when it expires in 2022 – halting an exclusive and troubled relationship dating to 1944. The episode exemplifies a key goal of Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda – using rising energy exports to bolster Washington’s geopolitical influence.The policy also seeks to boost domestic production through rollbacks of environmental regulations and expanded energy leasing in federal territories, but those efforts have so far had little impact. Trump nonetheless inherited a booming oil and gas industry that has given his administration more international clout in energy markets than any White House has enjoyed in decades.
Exclusive: China’s Ant plans equity fundraising at potential $100 billion valuation – sources
HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Ant Financial Services Group is planning to raise up to $5 billion in fresh equity that could value the online payments giant at more than $100 billion, people familiar with the move told Reuters. A fundraising would bring Ant, in which e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a one-third stake, a step closer to a hotly anticipated initial public offering by establishing a more current valuation. Ant’s last fundraising in 2016 valued the owner of Alipay, China’s top online payment platform, at about $60 billion. The new round should start with a valuation of between $80 billion to $100 billion, the people said.
Ant is currently in talks to appoint advisers for the fundraising which is expected to be launched in the next couple of months, they added. Ant declined to comment on its fundraising plans. All the people spoke to Reuters on the condition they not be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Google fined by India watchdog for ‘unfair search bias’
Google has been fined 1.36bn rupees (£15.2m; $21.2m) by India's competition regulator for abusing its dominance in the country. Users searching flight details were directed to Google's own flight search page, the Competition Commission of India found. Rival business were disadvantaged by that “search bias”, the regulator said. A Google spokesperson told Reuters that they were reviewing the CCI's concerns.
In its 190-page report, the CCI found that the company had abused its dominant position, causing harm to both its competitors and Google users.
News Corp results beat on gains in digital real estate unit
(Reuters) – Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp (NWSA.O) reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit on Thursday, as growth in its online real estate business helped offset a fall in advertising revenue. Sales in its news and information services business, which accounts for about two-thirds of total revenue, fell marginally to $1.30 billion in the second quarter. Advertising revenue fell 6 percent, but those declines were made up by a similar increase in circulation and subscription revenue.
The company’s Dow Jones unit helped drive most of those gains on the back of continued digital subscriber growth at the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper’s average daily digital subscribers jumped 28.6 pct to about 1.4 million. The company, which is controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, also owns the New York Post and major newspapers in the UK and Australia. Earlier in the day, rival New York Times Co (NYT.N) also posted strong revenue growth, driven by its online business.
Could plant-based plastics help tackle waste pollution?
We know that plastic waste is a big problem for the planet – our oceans are becoming clogged with the stuff and we're rapidly running out of landfill sites. Only 9% is recycled. Burning it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So could plant-based alternatives and better recycling provide an answer? We have grown to rely on plastic – it's hardwearing and versatile and much of our modern economy depends on it. And for many current uses there are simply no commercially viable biodegradable alternatives.
The humble single-use drinking straw is a case in point. Primaplast, a leading plastic straw manufacturer, says “greener” alternatives cost a hundred times more to make.
Are we stuck with plastic straws?Takeaway coffee cups are another example. In the UK alone we throw away around 2.5 billion of them every year, many of us thinking that they are recyclable when they're not, due to a layer of polyethylene that makes the cup waterproof.One company trying to change this is Biome Bioplastics, which has developed a fully compostable and recyclable cup using natural materials such as potato starch, corn starch, and cellulose, the main constituent of plant cell walls. Most traditional plastics are made from oil.
No matter how far you’ve come in your content marketing career – and how much you continue to progress – there are always a few things you wish you were better at, understood more deeply, or had known about earlier. On my career path, I traveled from print journalism […]
How to Face 3 Fundamental Challenges Standing Between SEOs and Clients/Bosses
Every other year, the good people at Moz conduct a survey with one goal in mind: understand what we (SEOs) want to read more of. If you haven’t seen the results from 2017, you can view them here. The results contain many great questions, challenges, and roadblocks that SEOs face today. As I was reading the 2017 Moz Blog readership survey, a common thread stood out to me: there are disconnects on fundamental topics between SEOs and clients and/or bosses. Since I work at an agency, I’ll use “client” through the rest of this article; if you work in-house, replace that with “boss.”
About six years ago, our industry was subjected to yet another buzzword: omnichannel. Specific to marketing, the term caused more confusion than clarity. What did, and does, it really mean? No one really knew or knows. But of course, everyone threw the term around anyway. The way I saw it, omnichannel was a way to look at marketing spend across multiple channels like digital, outdoor, TV, in-store, print, radio and more, with the ability to fine-tune budgeting across all of them to make it more effective and efficient. Of course, measuring all of that proved to be very difficult beyond a dashboard of spend.
In Q1 and Q2 of 2017, Merkle (my employer) reported on a positive trend for advertisers that showed a decline in brand cost per click (CPC) year over year. The CPC of brand terms is often determined by Google’s algorithm as opposed to the competitive landscape, so brands are often left to Google’s mercy in determining the price paid for this traffic. In the case of the mid-2017 decline, it seems advertisers were benefiting from Google’s May ad rank change, which appeared to reduce first-page and top-of-page minimum bids in the search results. However, despite a continued decline in minimum bid estimates, brand CPC rebounded sharply in Q4.
YouTube sees 80% lift in people watching sports highlight videos during the last year
In advance of this weekend’s Super Bowl LII game, YouTube has pulled together data around how people are watching — and searching for — sports-related video content on the site, and a few of the growth stats are quite remarkable. There has been a 90 percent increase in searches for “football highlight” videos during the past year, YouTube reports. The company says that in addition to the rise in search activity, watch-time of sports highlight videos skyrocketed 80 percent between 2016 and 2017.