How Kanye West Built His Yeezy Empire

Source: CNBC

Kanye West grabbed the fashion world’s attention when he debuted sneakers designed in collaboration with Nike in 2009. Retailing at over $200, the shoes were released in extremely limited quantities and sold out instantaneously. They now resell in the thousands of dollars. The success of the shoes finally put West on the map in the fashion industry. For years his designs were met with ridicule. But recently, some of that excitement has turned to skepticism. Certain Yeezy models cost a lot less on the resale market than they used to. And resale prices are a tell-tale sign of a product’s clout, especially for Hypebeasts.

2020 Mercedes Maybach GLS – Full GLS 600 Review Interior Sound Exterior Infotainment

Source: MBK

Today’s MercBenzKing's , present to you the all-new Mercedes Maybach GLS600. Equiped with highest level luxury and technology. V8 BiTurbo with EQ Boost. 558 HP and 750 Nm/Torque.

Natwest apologise to customers after banking and mobile app fail on Black Friday

( via– Fri, Nov 29th 2019) London, Uk – –

NatWest has apologised to customers after its online banking and mobile app services went down during the Black Friday sales.

The bank has said it is working hard to get the services “back up and running”.

NatWest customers have complained on social media, claiming they have been unable to make the most of Black Friday offers.

Others have said they have been unable to pay their bills.

The bank's online service for business finances, Bankline, is also down.

Our Online Banking, mobile app and Bankline are currently facing intermittent problems. We're working hard getting them back up and running smoothly for you.

We’ll post an update when we have more information. And remember to contact us if you need urgent help.

Brandon Leigh, from south Manchester, said the NatWest failure has impacted his business.

Mr Leigh runs a first-aid training business and planned to buy 36 mannequins and equipment at a 20% Black Friday discount.

The items would usually retail for a total of £5,000.

He told Sky News: “For me, it's a big saving. We went to the supplier but I can't pay them. It's terrible, I need them.

“I rang NatWest and was held in a queue for ages. They said they are working on the problems and it would be sorted, but not in the next hour or two. I can't get in the mobile app, or internet banking.”

He added: “Hopefully my supplier will honour the price for me next week.”

One Twitter user, named only as Siobhan, wrote: “Well that's just great, pay day, Black Friday and #natwest online is down. @NatWest_Help #BlackFridaySale #timetochangebanks.”

A Twitter user called Luce wrote: “Black Friday and NatWest mobile banking is down. Never known frustration like it.”

Bolaji Lawal-Sofoluwe said: “I am trying to pay a bill to get goods cleared.

“NatWest is becoming so problematic.”

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which owns NatWest, said in a statement: “We are aware that some customers are experiencing intermittent issues accessing our mobile and online banking.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and are working hard to fix the problem. There is no impact on debit cards, credit cards, ATMs, telephone and branch banking services – customers can continue to access these as normal.”

Npower energy firm to axe up to 4,500 jobs as part of restructing plan

( via – -Fri, 29th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Energy firm Npower is cut to up to 4,500 UK jobs as part of a plan to make it more profitable.

Three call centres are under threat of closure, at Houghton le Spring, near Sunderland, an office in Hull and one in Worcester.

Unions called the action a “cruel blow” for the company's workers in the run-up to Christmas.

Under the restructuring, Npower's owner E.On will merge computer systems to save money.

“The UK market is currently particularly challenging,” said Johannes Teyssen, E.On chief executive.

“We've emphasised repeatedly that we'll take all necessary action to return our business there to consistent profitability.”

The company said reports from unions of 4,500 job cuts were of the correct “order of magnitude”, but that the final figure would not be announced while it is still consulting with unions.

There are around 2,500 jobs at Houghton le Spring, and more than 600 at each of the Hull and Worcester offices.

Npower's other sites in the UK are at Leeds, Birmingham, Swindon, Solihull and Oldbury.

The restructuring plan – which is set to cost Npower £500m – would see small businesses and consumers served by the same computer systems and customer service teams. Large industrial customers would still be served separately.

Analysis: Kevin Peachey

Size matters for energy companies

This is a Goldilocks moment in the energy sector. Businesses do not want to be too big or too small to be just right.

The biggest suppliers have pointed to the pressures they face on their domestic business from the energy price cap, although this has been to the benefit of millions of consumers. Legacy IT systems also cost a lot.

Meanwhile, 16 small energy companies have collapsed since the beginning of last year. Many had grown too quickly, leading to terrible customer service. Their size also meant they struggled to cope with price changes on the wholesale markets.

So, that leaves those in the middle, some of which have been successfully picking up domestic customers through switches and serving them through more nimble IT systems.

Analysts Cornwall Insight say challenger brands now hold a 30% share of the household energy market, up from 18% two years ago. In four years, it says there could be a 50/50 split between the big six and the challengers. Npower's announcement adds some weight to that prediction.

Germany-based E.On said profit for the first nine months of its financial year fell 27% to €2.3bn (£2bn).

The firm said its division serving households would effectively be merged into E.On's. The government-imposed price cap had eroded profits, as it had at competitors, it said.

Its division serving other businesses “is a profitable very good business,” it said, and would keep the Npower brand name.

‘Cruel blow'

The GMB union said the announcement would be a “body blow” to Npower workers.

“Government has to urgently wake up to the impact that the price cap is having on good and reasonably well-paid jobs in UK energy companies.

“Npower is a poorly managed company with significant losses in the UK but it's always the workers that face the brunt of poor management coupled with regulation that sends work overseas whilst sacking energy workers in the UK.”

Unison union general secretary Dave Prentis said the news was a “cruel blow” for workers.

“They've been worried about their jobs for months. Now their worst fears have been realised, less than a month before Christmas.

“The UK energy market is in real danger of collapse. If nothing is done, there could soon be other casualties,” he said, urging the government to take ownership of the retail businesses of the six largest providers.

Npower, one of the big six energy providers in the UK, announced plans in January to cut 900 jobs in another attempt to save costs.

The firm blamed “an incredibly tough” retail energy market for the decision and the government's new price cap, which began at the start of January.

UK house prices rise to its highest in seven months – Nationwide

( via — Thur , 28th Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose more than expected in November, according to figures from mortgage lender Nationwide, suggesting next month’s national election was not putting further pressure on the market which remains sluggish.

House prices rose by 0.8% compared with November 2018, the strongest increase since April, Nationwide said on Thursday.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rise of 0.2%.

However, it was the 12th month in a row that annual price growth remained below 1%, compared with gains of about 5% at the time of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

In November alone, house prices rose by 0.5%, compared with a median forecast in the poll for a 0.1% increase.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said Britain’s housing market typically displayed little volatility at the time of elections.

“Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home,” Gardner said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an election for Dec. 12 in a bid to break the impasse in parliament over Brexit, which has left the economy mired in uncertainty three-and-a-half years after voters decided to leave the European Union.

Writing by William Schomberg

Amigo shares jump 15% as customer numbers pick up

( via – – Thur, 28th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Shares in lender Amigo jumped 15 per cent this morning after it posted a rise in customer numbers and a beefed up loan book in the first half of the year.

In the six months to the end of September, the firm’s net loan book increased 8.8 per cent to £730.7m, driven by customer growth of 17.9 per cent. It also boosted revenue from £130.1m to £145.4m.

However, top-line growth was offset by increased impairment and investment costs, as well as a provision for complaints.

As a result, the loan guarantor suffered a 12 per cent decline in pre-tax profit to £42.3m over the period.
Chief executive Hamish Paton said the figures proved there was “continued demand” for the company’s product.

“We are making encouraging progress as we roll out the operational and strategic initiatives outlined in August,” he said. “While it will take some time to see the full benefits, we are pleased with the positive start we have made.”

It comes a day after Amigo received some friendly advice from the financial regulator about how it explains the risks to people who act as a guarantor to the borrower’s family or friends.

The company yesterday said that the Financial Conduct Authority had outlined areas where its service could be improved, including more explanation of key information and more disclosure about the likelihood that a guarantor could be required to make payments.

But Amigo said that the watchdog had not raised any concerns about the lender’s product or its underlying business model.

The London-listed firm proposed an interim dividend of 3.1p and said its full-year guidance remained unchanged.

By James Warrington

Manchester City owner announced a £389m investment from US private equity firm Silver Lake

( via – – Wed, 27th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Silver Lake deal values City Football Group at £3.74bn
 Ilkay Gündogan warns team to improve in Champions League

City Football Group, the owner of Manchester City, has sold a stake of just over 10% for $500m (£389.4m) to Silver Lake, an American private equity firm. The deal values the business at $4.8bn (£3.74bn), establishing it as one of the most valuable sports companies in the world.

It puts CFG’s value more than $1bn ahead of the $3.81bn worth attributed to Manchester United by Forbes in July. At that point City were valued at $2.69bn by Forbes and the Dallas Cowboys topped its list at $5bn. In September Forbes increased the Cowboys’ value to $5.5bn.

A CFG statement said the investment from Silver Lake would be used to “fund international business growth opportunities and develop further CFG technology and infrastructure assets”. Silver Lake describes itself as a global leader in technology investing.

Sheikh Mansour is still the majority shareholder, owning 77%, while 12% is held by a Chinese consortium, headed up by conglomerate CMC Inc. Almost all the shares acquired by Silver Lake have come from Mansour.

Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the CFG chairman, said: “We and Silver Lake share the strong belief in the opportunities being presented by the convergence of entertainment, sports and technology and the resulting ability for CFG to generate long-term growth and new revenue streams globally.”

CFG, as well as owning City, owns or has stakes in clubs in the US, Australia, Japan, Spain, Uruguay and China.

City progressed to the Champions League knockout stage with Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, yet Ilkay Gündogan, City’s scorer, warned the team will have to improve.

“We didn’t do all the things right,” he said. “We struggled a little bit in some areas and this is the Champions League, it’s a very competitive competition. All the teams play very good football and Shakhtar played quite well.

“We also let them play, gave them the space to play. That shows that, if we don’t reach our best level, you are going to struggle in this competition. We need to learn from it.

“Fortunately, the result didn’t mean a negative outcome for us, but we need to be aware that in this competition it will get even more difficult, especially in the knockout stages. It’s important to learn from this kind of game.”

City have work to do in the Premier League too, trailing Liverpool by nine points. Rodri has described the remaining matches as finals and spelled out what is needed to retain the title: “If we want to fight [for] this Premier League we have to win all the games.”

By Jamie Jackson

Victoria Beckham former Spice Girl’s high end fashion label makes another loss

( via – – Wed, 27th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Victoria Beckham's fashion business has posted another annual loss as demand for the former Spice Girl's high end clothes “plateaued”.

Victoria Beckham Limited, which has not made a profit since it launched in 2008, reported a loss of £12.3m for 2018.

Sales slipped 16% to £35m, amid weaker wholesale demand.

Chairman Ralph Toledano said sales of clothing and accessories had levelled off after years of growth.

“The performance was in line with expectations, so we were not surprised. Our goal is to reach profitability as soon as possible,” he told trade journal Business of Fashion.

Mrs Beckham launched her label in 2008 with a collection of luxury dresses, and now sells fashion and accessories in more than 400 stores around the world.

But while she has received critical praise, the label has struggled financially, leading Mrs Beckham to say earlier this year that it was “not a vanity project”.

“If I want this brand to still be here in 10, 20, 30, 40 years' time, I need to break even, and then I need to be profitable,” she told the Financial Times in March. “We're on the right track to do that, but it's not going to happen tomorrow.”The company has been trying to improve its performance, launching its own cosmetics range, striking a partnership with Reebok, and making price cuts.

But it said weaker demand from wholesale customers had hit performance in 2018.

Mr Toledano said: “I firmly believe that our destiny is in our hands. We have a great talent in Victoria and, if you take that asset with a dream team, we can do it.”

Mrs Beckham controls the business with her husband and former Manchester United star David Beckham, via their company Beckham Brands Holdings.

The group, which manages Mr Beckham's endorsement deals and stake in football club Inter Miami FC, also saw a sharp fall in sales in 2018.

Losses at Mrs Beckham's label were partly to blame, as well as weaker income from Seven Global, a joint venture that manages some of his corporate partnerships.

It helped push Beckham Brand Holdings to its first ever net loss of £1.6m in 2018, which followed a net profit of £12.3m in the previous year.

London Stock Exchange shareholders vote on $27 billion takeover deal of analytics and data company Refinitiv

( via — Tue, 26th Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) shareholders met on Tuesday to vote on the exchange’s $27 billion takeover of analytics and data company Refinitiv, a deal designed to broaden LSE’s trading business and make it a major distributor of market data.

LSE Chairman Don Robert told the meeting in London that the exchange’s board was unanimous in recommending the Refinitiv deal because it was a “compelling opportunity” in the best interests of shareholders and the company.

One shareholder asked whether the LSE was simply bulking up to avoid becoming a future takeover target.

“We feel very strongly this is in the long-term strategic interest of the London Stock Exchange. It will give us an opportunity to have a truly global business,” LSE Chief Executive David Schwimmer said.

The industry has been littered with attempts at cross-border alliances between exchanges for more than a decade as profits from the traditional business of running stock markets and clearing houses have fallen. But many of the deals have run into regulatory and political opposition.

This has pushed exchanges to look for related businesses. LSE and New York Stock Exchange owner ICE (ICE.N), for example, are moving into more profitable and less politically sensitive areas such as data and analytics, where revenue is rising.

LSE executives also dismissed some shareholder doubts that the exchange has the ability to make a success of the takeover, with Schwimmer saying there was a high degree of confidence that integration of LSE and Refinitiv can be well managed.

The outcome of the vote is due to be announced later on Tuesday.

The deal was announced in August, just 10 months after a consortium led by U.S. asset manager Blackstone (BX.N) completed a leverage buyout of Refinitiv from Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO).

Thomson Reuters (TRI.N), the parent company of Reuters News & Media Limited, holds a 45% stake in Refinitiv.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (0388.HK) threatened to derail the deal in September by making an unsolicited $39 billion takeover offer for LSE. The Asian exchange walked away after failing to convince LSE management and investors to back the move.

Reporting by Huw Jones

TSB to shut 82 branches as part of a £100m cost-cutting drive

( via– Tue, 26th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

The cutbacks, which threaten up to 400 jobs, come as the bank attempts to turn around its fortunes after last year's IT fiasco.

TSB is to shut 82 branches as part of a £100m cost-cutting drive, the bank has announced.

The closures, which make up about 15% of the overall number, is part of a three-year turnaround plan by the high street lender.

Up to 400 jobs could be at risk from the cutbacks, although TSB has said it will try to find new roles for those staff affected elsewhere in the group.

A full list of the sites earmarked for closure is due to be published on Thursday.

The move comes as the bank attempts to turn around its fortunes after last year's IT fiasco, which left nearly two million people locked out of their accounts and led to the then chief executive Paul Pester to step down.

TSB said it was aiming for a profit after tax of up to £140m by 2022, from a current break-even position.

The cost of the shake-up has been put at £180m.

TSB boss Debbie Crosbie said: “The plan we're sharing today involves some difficult decisions, but it sets TSB up to succeed in the future.

“Taken together, these changes will help us to serve more customers, better, for the long-term.”

She added: “Many of these locations that we are closing are just not fit for purpose for a modern bank and they don't give us the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of our customers.”

Ms Crosbie also did not rule out more branches being shut in the future.

The overhaul will see the bank follow in the footsteps of its larger rivals like Lloyds and RBS by reducing branches and putting money into its online and mobile services.

The bank said it expects up to 80% of its sales to be digital by 2022, compared to 46% in September this year.

TSB also said it had around twice the number of stores per 10,000 customers in 2018 as the average in the UK.

“With a trusted brand, modern platform, and national presence, TSB is well placed to deliver – but we need to make changes to enable us to compete,” Ms Crosbie said.

“Our new strategy positions TSB to succeed in a challenging external environment at a time when we know customers want something different and better from their bank.”

It comes after a damning report last week that criticised TSB's board for lacking “common sense” in the lead-up to last year's IT debacle, when a computer upgrade went spectacularly wrong in April last year.

An independent investigation by law firm Slaughter and May found the lender's board should have done more to challenge bosses in charge of the project.

The technology meltdown led to one of the UK's biggest ever banking systems crises and as well as freezing people out of their accounts triggered an unprecedented wave of opportunistic fraud attacks on customers.

Just five months later it was forced to apologise again after many customers were once more left unable to access their accounts.

And only in the last few days, a fresh glitch meant some customers were left without wages in their accounts after the lender failed to process a number of overnight payments.

Commenting on the branch cuts Unite union national officer, Dominic Hook, said: “The decision by TSB to abandon 82 local community bank branches is absolutely deplorable and a tragedy for the banking sector.

“This is a betrayal of the bank's customers and staff who have remained loyal through recent tough times.

“TSB's announcement that it will reduce the branch network from 540 to around 450 will have a disastrous impact on many local communities including vulnerable customers, small business and experienced staff.

“Unite is urging TSB's new CEO to reverse this appalling decision.”

Louis Vuitton the world’s biggest luxury goods company buys jeweller Tiffany for $16bn

( via – – Mon, 25th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

The world's biggest luxury goods company is buying US-based jeweller Tiffany & Co for more than $16bn (£12.5bn).

The largest luxury goods deal to date gives LVMH's billionaire owner Bernard Arnault a bigger slice of one of the fastest growing upmarket sectors.

He said Tiffany had an “unparalleled heritage” and fitted with his other brands.

Tiffany has been hit by lower spending by tourists and a strong US dollar.

Tiffany is something of a New York institution and its flagship store is next to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. The company hit global fame after being featured in the 1961 Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Founded in 1837, it employs more than 14,000 people and operates about 300 stores.

Mr Arnault has coveted the business since buying the Bulgari brand in 2011 for $5.2bn.

“We have an immense respect and admiration for Tiffany and intend to develop this jewel with the same dedication and commitment that we have applied to each and every one of our Maisons [brand houses],” he said.

LVMH has 75 brands, 156,000 employees and a network of more than 4,590 stores. Its other brands include Kenzo, Tag Heuer, Dom Pérignon, Moet & Chandon, and Christian Dior.

“We will be proud to have Tiffany sit alongside our iconic brands and look forward to ensuring that Tiffany continues to thrive for centuries to come,” Mr Arnault said.

Known for its signature robin's-egg blue packaging, Tiffany rebuffed LVMH's initial advance made just five weeks ago, arguing it significantly undervalued the company.

The new deal values each Tiffany share at $135 in cash and is higher than the initial offer of $120 a share – which valued the business at $14.5bn.

Tiffany chairman Roger Farah said the board had concluded this deal “provides an exciting path forward with a group that appreciates and will invest in Tiffany's unique assets and strong human capital”.

The brand is associated with diamond rings but it has lost its appeal in recent years, according to Fiona Cincotta, market analyst at City Index.

She told the BBC's Today programme that there had been a “changing of the times”.

“It's not quite keeping up with millennials so it just needs a re-boost and a re-brand,” she said.

LVMH has experience of revitalising businesses. Ms Cincotta cited jeweller Bulgari, which when LVMH took it over in 2011 had operating margins of 8%. These have now widened to 25% on double the sales.

“This something that LVMH appears to do very well… this is a real turnaround story,” Ms Cincotta said.

Analysis: Domonic O'Connell

Step through the doors of the Tiffany & Co flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York and you go back in time to the 1960s.

You don't quite expect Audrey Hepburn to be gazing longingly at one of the glass display cases, but the shop's atmosphere is redolent of the eponymous film that did so much to make the jewellery chain an international name.

That ready association is an asset – everyone knows what Tiffany does – but is also a weakness.

Millennials don't want to shop where their parents did, which is why Tiffany has been struggling in recent years and has now given up the fight to remain an independent company.

LVMH is paying a decent price – $135 a share is not far off its all-time high – but it's worth bearing in mind that luxury brands are notoriously difficult to value. Tiffany's staff will be hoping that LVMH can repeat what it did with Bulgari, turning a rather old-fashioned brand into something more cutting edge, and doubling sales in the process.

Investment bankers, ever eager for the sniff of a deal, will also be wondering whether this move by LVMH might trigger a reshuffle of its sprawling empire.

One obvious deal – which has been touted many times but never made it off the drawing board – would be the sale of its majority holding in Moet-Hennessy to Diageo, the drinks giant that currently owns a one-third share. Diageo would be an eager buyer, but over the years LVMH has shown itself reluctant to sell.

Tiffany has attempted to broaden its appeal to younger customers.

Last year, actor Elle Fanning was named as the face of the brand and fronted an advertising campaign to the strains of Moon River – the theme tune to the film Breakfast at Tiffany's – but remixed and featuring the rapper A$AP Ferg.

It also secured Kendall Jenner, one of the biggest “influencers” on Instagram with 119 million followers, as one of the models for this year's spring and summer collection.

In 2018, it brought in Reed Krakoff, widely credited for transforming the US handbag brand Coach into a multi-billion dollar business, as its chief artistic officer.

One of his first collections when he joined Tiffany was called “Everyday Objects” and features products such as a sterling silver ball of yarn for £8,750 and a set of 10 Lego-like silver and walnut building blocks which cost £1,550.

Its main focus, though, is jewellery which was one of the strongest performing areas of the luxury industry in 2018. Consultancy Bain & Co forecast that comparable sales in the $20bn global market were expected to rise by 7% this year.

This has encouraged firms to expand in the sector. Luxury goods firm Kering has launched high-end jewellery lines for its fashion brand Gucci, while Switzerland's Richemont – a sector leader with labels such as Cartier – recently bought Italy's Buccellati.

Uber loses licence to operate private hire vehicles in London

( via – – Mon, 25th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Ride-hailing service likely to continue while it appeals against Transport for London

Uber has lost its licence to operate private hire vehicles in London, after authorities discovered that more than 14,000 trips were taken with uninsured drivers.

Transport for London announced the decision not to renew the global ride-hailing firm’s licence at the end of a two-month probationary extension granted in September.

Uber was then told it needed to address issues with checks on drivers, insurance and safety, but has apparently failed to satisfy the capital’s transport authorities.

TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” by Uber, including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.

In a statement, it said: “Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”

The decision is unlikely to see Uber cars disappear from London, as the firm is expected to appeal, and can continue to operate pending the outcome, provided it launches official proceedings within 21 days.

When TfL first rejected Uber’s licence renewal, in September 2017, the firm eventually persuaded judges to award it a 15-month licence to continue.

While TfL said Uber had since made positive improvements, reservations remained – including a change to systems that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other drivers’ accounts. This security lapse resulted in at least 14,000 trips where someone other than the booked driver picked up passengers, TfL said.

Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents black cab drivers, said: “It’s all about public safety and the mayor has taken the right decision.

“As far as we’re concerned Uber’s business model is essentially unregulatable. It is based on everyone doing what they want and flooding London with vehicles. Uber cannot guarantee that the cars are properly insured, or that the person driving the car is the one that is supposed to be driving, as recent incidents show.”

However, unions warned that Uber drivers could bear the brunt of the decision. James Farrar of the IWGB union said it would “come as a hammer blow to its 50,000 drivers working under precarious conditions”, who would face unemployment while needing to meet car lease payments. Farrar said the IWGB was seeking an urgent meeting with the London mayor, Sadiq Kahn, to discuss a plan to protect Uber drivers.

By Gwyn Topham 

How Investors are Looking to Yields From Music Royalties As Alternative Ways to Invest

Source: Forbes

When looking for alternative asset classes, some spenders are looking at music royalties as a way to invest without depending on traditional stock market trends. Historically, music catalogs generally cost tens or even hundreds of millions and were rarely chopped up song by song, let alone down to a percentage of a single track. Creators were often underpaid for their music as well. But, the evolution of streaming services is changing the way royalties make money. From movie and TV show music catalogs to songs by hip hop artists Cardi B and Tupac, investing in music has proven to be a lucrative business — for artists and investors alike.

How Los Angeles County is remodeling its voting experience

Source: WSJ

Los Angeles County is remodeling its voting experience. And depending how the rollout goes for the county's 5.4 million voters during its 2020 election debut, voting changes could extend further across the U.S. WSJ's Emily Glazer explains.

Why RAM is Posing a Serious Threat to Rivals GM And Ford Than Ever Before

Source: CNBC

American automakers take their trucks extremely seriously. And the ongoing battles for dominance among the Detroit three are often called the “Truck wars”. Third place challenger Ram has made waves in recent years, snagging major industry awards and stealing market share from rivals. Watch this video to find out how this upstart is now posing a more serious threat to rivals than ever before.

Ram has gone from a third-place also-ran in America's truck wars to a serious challenger. The Ram Heavy Duty pickup snatched industry publication MotorTrend's 2020 Truck of the Year award on Tuesday, giving Fiat Chrysler's pickup brand yet another award to add to its growing trophy collection. The smaller full-size Ram 1500 pickup won the same award for 2019. It is a dramatic rise for a brand that many in the industry thought Fiat Chrysler was mistaken in creating in the first place.

After the Italian automaker Fiat merged with Chrysler in 2009, management decided to spin Ram out of Dodge, allowing the former to focus on trucks and Dodge to focus on performance cars and a few other models with solid customer bases.

The move seemed dubious at a time as cross-town rival General Motors ditched some of its own brands. But Ram has roughly tripled sales over the last decade and appears to be taking market share away from rivals. It has done so by giving up on going toe-to-toe with Ford and GM on towing and capability numbers and instead offering buyers a solid all-around truck with a plush interior and a lot of highly visible technology in the cabin.

The move might have seemed like a risk of its own: truck buyers have traditionally been considered practical customers who often purchase their vehicles for work or other specific uses. But the bet seems to have paid off both in critical praise and growing market share. Now analysts say GM and Ford are taking notice and may be making similar tweaks to their own lineups.

Starbucks Just Opened The World’s Biggest Location In Chicago

Source: Food Insider

Starbucks just opened its biggest location in the world on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. It’s the newest of six Reserve Roasteries, and boasts 5 stories of coffee, cocktails, baked goods, and other treats. Other Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations include New York City, Milan, Tokyo. Insider was there for opening day, and caught up with some of the hundreds of people waiting in line to try seven different coffee-brewing methods and other drinks you can’t get anywhere else.

November is the new Black Friday For UK shoppers

( via — Fri , 22nd Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – With harsh lessons learnt from past Black Fridays, British retailers are stretching promotions over several weeks, aiming to smooth out consumer demand and reduce the pressure on supply and distribution networks.

Brought over from the United States by Amazon (AMZN.O) in 2010, the annual event started as a single day of discounting before growing into a long weekend that took in ‘Cyber Monday’.

It then grew to a week or so either side and is now getting longer and longer, though after chaos and scuffles in stores in 2014 it is now predominantly an online affair.

“We’ve re-named Black Friday, November,” John Roberts, the chief executive of AO World (AO.L), the online electrical appliances retailer, told Reuters.

With recent consumer spending subdued, Brexit still unresolved and a looming national election creating new uncertainties, retailers are in need of a tonic.

AO went live with Black Friday deals, such as a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer reduced from 449 pounds ($578) to 279 pounds, on Nov. 13 and some deals will run into December.

Dixons Carphone (DC.L), Britain’s biggest electricals and mobile phones retailer, launched a first wave of promotions on Nov. 13 on products such as laptops, TVs and vacuum cleaners, and deals will run for a few days after Black Friday itself on Nov. 29.

Amazon’s Black Friday Sale runs for eight days from Nov. 22, but it has been running early Black Friday deals this week.

Argos, owned by supermarket group Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), and department store group John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] both launched their campaigns on Nov. 22.


British retailers’ early experiences of Black Friday, when stores were overcrowded, websites crashed and delivery operations were overloaded, showed the folly of concentrating a huge amount of business on one day and then having a relatively flat period afterwards.

“While this may ease the demand on logistics operations over the period, it will mean that shoppers demand ever steeper discounts during Black Friday as they expect something more from retailers during this time,” said Zoe Mills, retail analyst at GlobalData, the data and analytics company.

It forecasts that UK shoppers’ spending in the Black Friday period would rise 2.2% year on year to 4.3 billion pounds.

Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, is so-called because it was historically the day when retailers would move into profit after months in the red. It traditionally marks the start of the U.S. holiday shopping season.

This year’s sales drive, which is often make-or-break for U.S. retailers, falls a week later than last year, leaving U.S. retailers with a shorter holiday shopping period.A customer stands next to a container advertising Black Friday offers in a branch of Mamas and Papas in Manchester, Britain November 20 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble


PwC, the advisory firm, reckons 52% of British consumers are either interested in buying or plan to buy something during Black Friday, with average spend forecast at 224 pounds. But it says consumers are increasingly cynical about the event.

“Some consumers doubt the quality of the deals on offer, with many seeing them as not especially good value or not worthy of interest, and this is likely to have been exacerbated as Black Friday deals have spread to the whole of ‘Blackvember’,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

Black Friday’s popularity has meant Britain’s Christmas trading season now has three distinct peaks – around Black Friday, the week up to Dec. 25 and the post-Christmas sales.

But nearly a decade after coming to Britain, the event’s worth to retailers still polarizes opinion.

Supporters say carefully planned, targeted promotions in close co-operation with global suppliers allow retailers to achieve a sales boost while still maintaining profit margins.

Naysayers argue the discounts suck forward Christmas sales at reduced profit margins, undermine consumers’ willingness to pay full price again before Christmas, and dampen business both in prior and subsequent weeks.

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) has dabbled with Black Friday in the past but has opted out since 2015. CEO Steve Rowe says his focus is on improving M&S’ value all year round.

“That’s the way to deliver great value for customers, not one off promotions, so we won’t be taking part.”

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter

TSB customers payments hit by IT failure

( via – – Fri, 22nd Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

TSB has been hit by another IT failure that has meant wages and other payments have not been made into some of its customers' accounts.

The bank says those affected will not be left out of pocket, and customers can get emergency cash in branches or over the phone.

But customers have complained about long call wait times.

It comes just days after TSB was criticised over IT failures that hit 1.9 million customers in April 2018.

An independent report into the incident said the bank's board lacked “common sense” as it prepared to switch customers on to a new IT system, which the investigation said had not been tested properly before going live.

‘A bit of a meltdown'

It is unclear how many customers are affected by the latest problem and when it will be fixed.

TSB has said customers can “still use their cards to make payments or withdraw cash”.

  • MPs demand action over rise in online bank crashes

A number of customers have contacted the BBC suggesting the issue goes beyond processing of payments.

Bob Skinley said: “It's not just issues with overnight payments, I've been trying all morning to get into my internet banking account and can't so looks like they're having a bit of a meltdown yet again.

“The internet banking site is dead slow and when you try to log in you either get a message saying your details are incorrect or it just sits there and freezes. Sounding horribly like the last fiasco.”

Leigh McGuigan tweeted that she has not received her pay.

Wages were paid overnight. Been checking the ac since 8am today, but still nothing. If you can get access to emergency cash, then that’s great. But what does this mean for bills etc that are collected via DD or SO? haven’t given a timeframe as to when this will be resolved!

Mollie Romain from Preston said: “I am working nights and checked my account at 3am to see no pay. Checked again at 8am and still no pay.

“I have been with TSB for nearly four years now and I have had problem after problem.”

Yanique Sharifa told the BBC: “I started to notice an issue from yesterday morning. I made a wire transaction that was not showing as it usually does right away. Then I get paid every Friday without fail, I've called and checked if payment was issued. That was confirmed but still I see no money in my bank.

“I been on the phone trying to get through to TSB for over an hour and no answer.”

Bad timing for TSB

Analysis: By Kevin Peachey

The timing of this latest IT error is bad for customers – some of who were expecting wages or preparing their finances for the weekend – but it is even worse for TSB.

Earlier this week, nobody at the bank came out with any credit from the independent report by law firm Slaughter and May into last year's meltdown.

Its new chief executive Debbie Crosbie is putting the finishing touches to TSB's new strategy, expected to be announced on Monday.

The last thing she wants is an ongoing IT problem that reminds people of a difficult recent past when she hopes to talk about the bank's future.

IT glitches are expected in most banks. Regulators call for them to be overcome quickly and without major disruption to customers. The pressure to do that today will be intense from inside and outside the bank.

Google becomes the latest tech giant to bar political ads

( via – – Thur, 21st Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Google to bar political advertisers from targeting voters based on affiliation and tighten ban on ‘demonstrably false claims’

Google will no longer allow political advertisers to target voters based on their political affiliation, the company announced Wednesday, in a move that will increase pressure on Facebook to limit micro-targeting.

Google also plans to “clarify” its ad policies around false claims to explicitly ban doctored video and images known as “deepfakes”, misleading claims about the census, and “demonstrably false claims” that could undermine trust in elections or the democratic process.

“Whether you’re running for office or selling office furniture, we apply the same ads policies to everyone; there are no carve-outs,” the Google Ads executive Scott Spencer wrote in a blogpost. The policy clarification is an implicit criticism of Facebook’s controversial decision to allow politicians an exemption from its own ban on false claims in advertising.

“No one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation,” Spencer wrote. “So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited – but we will continue to do so for clear violations.”

Under Google’s new rules, ads that refer to candidates, political parties or ballot measures will be barred from using some of Google’s powerful tools that combine data sources and target individual users, according to an email to advertisers shared by the Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s deputy campaign manager. Political advertisers will still be allowed to target voters by age, gender and location to the level of postal code.

Google joins Twitter in voluntarily limiting its political advertising offerings before the UK general election on 12 December and the 2020 US presidential election. (Targeting by political affiliation was not previously allowed in the UK, so that policy will not change in the UK.)

On 30 October, Twitter made the surprise announcement that it would ban almost all political advertising starting on 22 November. Twitter has since fleshed out a policy that will ban all candidates, elected officials and parties from advertising but allow some not-for-profit organizations and companies to promote messages about social issues.

Twitter’s decision intensified the debate over digital political ads. While the company earned some praise, many experts on political communications called for a more nuanced approach that would maintain access to digital advertising for smaller campaigns and parties. Ellen Weintraub, the chair of the US Federal Election Commission, has called for restrictions on micro-targeting, which allows campaigns to tailor different advertisements to incredibly precise segments of the electorate.

Any ban on micro-targeting would be a significant blow to Facebook, whose vast troves of personal data about individuals have turned it into an advertising juggernaut. In a statement, Facebook said: “For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all US federal & state campaigns & we prohibit voter suppression in all ads. As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”

Google, Twitter and Facebook have all introduced transparency tools that allow voters and researchers to view the political ads campaigns are running following the 2016 US presidential election, when a Russian influence operation used the various social media platforms to interfere with the election.

But criticism has continued to dog the companies as elections approach in the US and UK. Donald Trump’s re-election campaign generally launches more than 1,000 new micro-targeted Facebook ads each day, creating a huge challenge for news outlets or researchers attempting to understand how the president is communicating with the electorate.

And on Tuesday, the Guardian revealed that Google was underreporting spending on UK political ads by as much as a factor of a thousand.

Google’s changes will go into effect in the UK “within a week”, in the EU by the end of 2019, and in the rest of the world by 6 January 2020.

“Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide,” Spencer said. The company has reported approximately $128m in revenue from US political ads since 31 May 2018 – a very small percentage of Google’s overall ad revenue.

Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

British Airways report unspecified technical issues delay some flights

( via — Thur, 21st Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways said some flights were delayed on Thursday due to an unspecified technical issue which forced it to cancel some flights a day earlier.

The airline has suffered three major computer failures since 2017, the latest of which seriously disrupted operations in August.

“We plan to operate a full flight schedule today. There may be some knock-on delays to flights and we are advising customers to check for the latest flight information,” the airline said in a statement.

“We are sorry for the disruption to customers who have been affected.”

British Airways in July was fined $230 million for a huge customer data breach and in September was hit by its first ever pilot strike.

Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Brem said that he did not know the details of the latest outage but passengers should not be worried about technical issues at the airline.

“A lot of airlines have occasional outages. Part of the 6.5 billon pounds investment is going on revamping our IT systems end to end — commercial systems, operational systems, everything,” he told Reuters at an event to launch the Airbus A350 on the London-Tel Aviv route.

He adding that he was hopeful for progress in resolving a dispute with pilots union BALPA.

The union, which currently has no industrial action planned, in September held a 48-hour strike which grounded 1,700 flights.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will come to an agreement. In a sense, no news is positive news,” he said.

“I hope we will be able to announce in the not to distant future we have come to an agreement.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Steven Scheer in Tel Aviv