Sweetgreen the restaurant world’s first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 Billion

Source: CNBC

Sweetgreen is now the restaurant world's first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 billion. Started by three college friends out of their dorm room at Georgetown University, the salad company has 91 locations with more in the works and is vying to become the digital food platform of the future.

How New York Got Its Skyline

Source: Bloomberg

Why do so many of New York's older skyscrapers have a similar design? The answer can be traced back to a monumental 1916 zoning law, which established “setback” requirements for buildings above a certain height. In the heart of the Financial District, the Equitable Building, a historic skyscraper that predates the law, remains a symbol of the excesses of the pre-zoning era.

How Comcast is looking to invest $50M dollars in a new esports stadium in Philadelphia

Source: Bloomberg

Telecom titan Comcast is investing $50M dollars in a new esports stadium located in the center of the Philadelphia sports complex. But that’s just the beginning of their plan to build a global esports empire.

Shell Energy Retail boss apologises for overcharging around 12,000 customers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 14th June 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Shell Energy Retail’s top boss apologised to customers after Britain’s energy regulator ordered the utility to compensate around 12,000 customers it overcharged on default tariffs after a price cap was introduced this year.

Ofgem said Shell Energy Retail Ltd, previously known as First Utility, will pay 200,000 pounds ($253,520) in addition to the refund to its consumer redress fund, bringing the total payment to 390,000 pounds.

This is the first such action against a company for overcharging since the price cap on default energy bills came into force on Jan. 1.

The price cap was aimed at saving households about a billion pounds a year following a government promise to tackle what it had called “rip-off” prices.

Shell Energy Retail overcharged a sum of 100,737 pounds collectively above the level of the price cap between January and March this year, Ofgem’s said.

“We’d like to apologise to all customers who were temporarily out of pocket,” Shell Energy Retail Chief Executive Officer Colin Crooks said in an e-mail to Reuters.

Crooks said the company had a small number of customers on fixed-price default tariffs to whom it didn’t apply the capped rates since most of those customers would have been better off remaining on their existing tariff.

“However, we recognise that there were some who would have been better off on the capped rates or who suffered a delay in changing their payment method,” he added.

Ofgem said it decided not to take formal enforcement action since the company addressed its failings.

Reporting by Muvija M and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru

UK economy contracted by 0.4% after ‘dramatic’ fall in car output – ONS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th June 2019) London, Uk – –

A “dramatic” fall in car production and an easing of stockpiling by manufacturers meant the economy shrank in April, official figures show.

The economy contracted 0.4% from the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The contraction meant growth for the three months to April slowed to 0.3%.

Factory shutdowns designed to cope with disruption from a March Brexit slashed UK car production in April by nearly half, the industry said last month.

‘Hangover'

The economy seen a spurt of growth in the run-up to the proposed March date for the UK leaving the European Union, as manufacturers stockpiled parts, raw materials and goods in the anticipation of holdups at the border.

After the Brexit deadline was extended to October, it suffered the reverse effects as these supply reserves were used up and fewer purchases were made.

“The hangover that's followed the UK's original exit date is proving stronger than anticipated,” said Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountants KPMG UK. “Today's figures signal the UK economy is likely to experience more subdued growth for the rest of the year, marred by Brexit uncertainty.”

“The significant drop in car manufacturing, and in broader manufacturing activity at the start of [the second quarter], point at more than just a reversal of the stock building effect seen as businesses prepared for an expected Brexit in March.”

ONS statistician Rob Kent-Smith said: “Growth showed some weakening across the latest three months, with the economy shrinking in the month of April mainly due to a dramatic fall in car production, with uncertainty ahead of the UK's original EU departure date leading to planned shutdowns.

“There was also widespread weakness across manufacturing in April, as the boost from the early completion of orders ahead of the UK's original EU departure date has faded.”

‘Sluggish growth'

The contraction in April was far sharper than economists had expected.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said the figures suggest “underlying growth is pretty sluggish”.

“With the Brexit paralysis and a slowing global economy taking its toll, we doubt GDP will grow by much more than 1.5% or so in 2019 as a whole and expect interest rates to remain on hold until the middle of next year.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimated car production for the whole of 2019 would be about 10% down on last year. It said the market might pick up by the end of the year if there was a favourable deal between the UK and the EU and a substantial transition period to adapt to trading outside the single market.

But it has said a no-deal Brexit would make the declines worse with the threat of border delays, production stoppages and additional costs.

Thomas Cook confirms Fosun takeover bid

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Confirmation of Fosun's bid comes after Sky News reported that the Chinese firm was in secret talks with the UK tour operator.

Thomas Cook has confirmed a takeover approach by China's Fosun Tourism Group for its tour operator business.

Shares rose 12% after the company confirmed the preliminary approach on Monday.

The move could pave the way for the break up of the 178-year old company, which is looking to sell off its airline business.

Thomas Cook's confirmation of the Club Med owner's approach comes after Sky News' report over the weekend that Fosun was in secret talks to buy the UK tour operator.

The firm, which is listed in Hong Kong, is already ‎Thomas Cook's biggest shareholder with an 18% stake.

Thomas Cook said in a statement: “There can be no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer.

“However, the board will consider any potential offer alongside the other strategic options that it has, with the aim of maximising value for all its stakeholders.”

More from Thomas Cook

If Thomas Cook was to accept an offer and sell to Fosun, the move would rank among the most significant and prominent acquisitions of a British business by a Chinese rival to date.

Thomas Cook and Fosun already have a joint venture in China which is showing strong growth, with an eight-fold increase in customers last year.

The introduction of own-brand resorts in the world's second-largest economy has also opened up the domestic Chinese market to Thomas Cook.

However, any deal agreed between the two companies would be complicated by separate interest from private equity firm Triton, wanting to acquire Thomas Cook's airline and tour operating assets in northern Europe – as revealed by Sky News in May.

‎Triton, which bought the travel company Sunweb Group last December, wants to buy a portion of Thomas Cook that employs roughly 20% of Thomas Cook's workforce.

Thomas Cook reported a half-year loss of £1.46bn, citing uncertainty around Brexit and UK consumers delaying their holiday plans.

The bulk of the loss for the six months to the end of March was caused by Thomas Cook's decision to write down the value of part of the business by £1.1bn in the light of the weak trading environment.

Drive Through Supermarket Concept

Source: Wise Wanderer

Market from the company Dahir Inshat Drive Market is a shop in which visitors make purchases without leaving the car. This approach to service is convenient first of all for those who can not afford to waste time searching for and choosing goods in the usual hypermarket.

How Brunei Became One of The World’s Richest Countries

Source: Alux

In this Alux.com video well try to answer the following questions: Which is the richest country in the world? Why is Brunei so rich? Who runs Brunei? How much oil does Brunei have? How much oil does Brunei export? How is life in Brunei? Who is Hassanal Bolkiah? How rich is Hassanal Bolkiah? How powerful is Hassanal Bolkiah? How did Hassanal Bolkiah became rich?

Ford’s to shut Bridgend engine plant by September 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 6th June 2019) London, Uk – –

The company is set to confirm details of its plans this afternoon as it battles weakening demand for internal combustion engines.

By James Sillars, business reporter

Ford is to close its engine plant at Bridgend in South Wales by September 2020, Sky News understands.

The company is due to make a formal announcement this afternoon once the decision – widely reported on Wednesday night – has been fully communicated to the factory's 1,700 staff.

The Unite union reacted by saying it would fight the closure “with all our might” – accusing the company of breaking promises to its 13,000-strong UK workforce.

The Bridgend plant, which opened almost 40 years ago, has faced a series of recent cutbacks as orders dried up amid the growing backlash against petrol and diesel engines in favour of electric vehicles.

Sky News revealed in February a voluntary redundancy programme would result in 400 job losses – with 600 further posts at Bridgend under threat as Ford moved to cut costs and drive profitability across its European operations.

It announced just weeks ago that 550 jobs at its Dunton technical centre were to go as part of 7,000 job losses worldwide.

GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck said: “We're hugely shocked by today's announcement, it's a real hammer blow for the Welsh economy and the community in Bridgend.

“Regardless of today's announcement GMB will continue to work with Ford, our sister unions and the Welsh Government to find a solution to the issue and to mitigate the effects of this devastating news.”

The industry is grappling not only the environmental challenge but also vying to win the race for self-driving technology at a time of tougher conditions for the world economy.

The US-China trade war has been blamed for depressing demand for new vehicles in key markets.

While Ford is not expected to specifically blame Brexit for its Bridgend decision, the company told Sky News earlier this year it would have to carefully consider its UK operations in the event of a no-deal scenario.

The UK car industry has been one of the most vocal opponents of a so-called messy divorce from the EU, saying it is imperative that the flow of goods is maintained and that products remain tariff-free.

Ford is the latest firm to cut back in the UK as the Brexit issue remains unresolved and the sector looks for savings to invest in the future.

Honda is to cease production at its Swindon plant by 2021 with the loss of 3,500 jobs while Jaguar land Rover is cutting 4,500 roles.

Nissan also announced it had cancelled plans to build its new X-Trail in Sunderland.

Boeing warns airlines on potentially defective 737 wing part

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 3rd June 2019) London, Uk – –

The company says it is taking action after a batch of slat tracks used on wings were found to be potentially defective.

Boeing has urged a number of airlines to replace a potentially faulty part on the wings of up to 133 of its 737 aircraft – months after the next generation versions of the planes were grounded after two fatal crashes.

The crisis-hit US company announced the action after an issue with “slat tracks” was disclosed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Boeing said it had identified 21 planes most likely to have the parts in question.

It was advising airlines, which it did not identify, to also check an additional 112 planes.

The company said the slat tracks – found on the leading edge of an aircraft's wings – were manufactured by a third party and confirmed the tracks should be replaced before planes return to the air.

The FAA ruled the affected parts “may be susceptible to premature failure or cracks resulting from the improper manufacturing process”.

It said that while a complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not result in the loss of an aircraft, a failed part could cause damage in flight.

Boeing said the same parts were also believed to have been used on 179 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft – the updated versions of the 737.

They were banned from flying by the world's aviation authorities after a crash in Ethiopia in March, which killed all 157 people on board.

That followed the deaths of 189 people on an Indonesian Lion Air flight when it crashed last October.

Both crashes involved the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and both have been blamed on problems with the flight-control software.

Air industry group IATA said last week it could be mid-August before fixes have been completed and the planes are judged airworthy again.

Boeing said it had seen no reported incidents involving the slat tracks and the remedial work was precautionary.

Kevin McAllister, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “We are committed to supporting our customers in every way possible as they identify and replace these potentially non-conforming tracks.”

Kiss Your Car Goodbye | Say Hello to “Mobility As A Service”

Source: Bloomberg

Drivers are already ditching their cars because of apps like Uber. Imagine what happens when driverless cars hit the roads. Bloomberg QuickTake explains the idea known as “mobility as a service”.

Uber posts $1bn loss in first quarter after stock market listing

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 31st May 2019) London, Uk – –

Uber has posted a $1bn (£790m) loss as the ride-hailing firm delivered its first figures since a disappointing flotation earlier this month.

The quarterly loss came despite a 20% rise in revenues to $3.1bn and increase in monthly active users to 93 million.

The results were in line with many analysts' forecasts and may provide reassurance about the company's future profitability.

Uber shares have sunk almost 11% since it listed on Wall Street on 10 May.

The company is the biggest of a group of Silicon Valley start-ups that have gone public this year against the backdrop of a global stock market sell-off sparked by renewed US-China trade tensions.

But Uber has also faced strong competition in the smartphone ride-hailing business, and incurred extra costs for signing up new drivers and establishing the Uber Eats delivery service.

‘Long journey'

Finance Chief Nelson Chai said he had recently seen some less aggressive pricing by competitors, which include arch rival Lyft.

He added that Uber was prepared to keep spending. “We will not hesitate to invest to defend our market position globally.”

The company has ambitions to move into electric scooters, e-bikes, and even aircraft, allowing people to hail rides via their smartphones.

During a conference call after publication of the results, Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said the company's disappointing start as a public business was just a step on “the long journey of making Uber a platform for the movement of people and transport of commerce around the world at a massive scale”.

Short sellers

The share price was almost flat in after-hours trading immediately following release of the numbers, but then jumped 1.6% higher before falling back.

Some analysts have expressed unease about the company ever making a profit. The number of investors betting that Uber's share price will fall – called short-selling – has risen during the past two weeks.

One analyst, Atlantic Equities' James Cordwell, said a lack of any forward guidance in Thursday's statement “is a little disappointing”.

Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool call for termination of Northern rail

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 29th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram urge transport secretary to act after year of misery

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool city region have called on the transport secretary to terminate the Northern rail franchise after a year of sustained misery for passengers.

Speaking on behalf of the 4.3 million people they represent, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram made the demand 12 months on from last May’s timetable chaos.

They believe Northern, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn, the German state railway company, has consistently failed to show it is able to take the action required to restore public confidence or deliver its legally-binding franchise requirements. These include:

  • Failure to deliver a significant and sustained improvement in performance, with nearly a fifth of all services arriving late, 28,000 services cancelled in the last year and a huge increase in services being “shortformed” – reducing the number of carriages on the train – from 2,825 in December 2018 to 4,172 in April 2019.
  • Failure to resolve the RMT industrial dispute, which has led to 46 days of strike action since March 2017.
  • Failure to operate Sunday services, with 165 unplanned cancellations and 90 planned cancellations last Sunday.
  • Failure to deliver new services, such as a range of promised additional hourly services in much-needed parts of the network.
  • Failure to introduce new trains, which means hated Pacer trains may not be gone by the end of the year as promised

Burnham and Rotheram are urging the Department for Transport to implement an “operator of last resort” and bring in a new board and team of directors to run the company as soon possible.Advertisement

Making the call in Salford on Wednesday, Burnham said: “We have been extremely patient with Northern but enough is enough. They promised us that things would be significantly better by May 2019 and that hasn’t happened. Train services across Greater Manchester and the north-west remain unreliable and overcrowded. Sunday services are still subject to widespread cancellation and promises of new rolling stock have not been kept.”

Rotheram said: “Given Northern’s consistent failure to provide an acceptable service we believe it is now time for Chris Grayling to terminate their franchise and move to that operator of last resort, as soon as possible.”

The mayoral call took Northern by surprise; it took two hours before the operator released a response, which suggested it had no intention of relinquishing the franchise. “We agree the north deserves the best possible rail service and are working hard to improve the performance and reliability for customers,” said David Brown, the managing director.

“The unacceptable disruption following the May 2018 timetable change was caused by delays in infrastructure projects out of our control. We have apologised to our customers for the pain this caused. We have seen two successful timetable changes since then, introducing many more new services.

“Since last year, we have made a large number of improvements for customers, including better punctuality, investment in new and refurbished trains, over 2,000 new services and hundreds more people employed to help customers.

“These improvements are still a work in progress, but we are making things better for our customers. We want and expect things to continue to improve.”

Rail unions welcomed the call. The TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, described the move by Burnham and Rotheram as a “vote of no confidence in an operator which has consistently offered an unacceptable third-rate service”.

He added: “Northern Rail is barely functioning and passengers deserve so much better. These services must be brought back into public ownership now. Failing Grayling would be wise to listen on this occasion and do the right thing, but I won’t hold my breath.”

On Tuesday the government announced an “exciting” competition, which invites northern towns and villages to bid for Pacer trains to be turned into “community spaces, cafes or new village halls”.

The proposal was greeted with incredulity by northern MPs, after nine years of austerity cuts from central government in which councils have lost almost 60p in the £1 from Whitehall for local services, with northern authorities worst hit.

“I am not sure my constituents will agree that this is an ‘exciting opportunity’, unless one of them is turned into a museum dedicated to highlighting years of under-investment in northern transport,” Jonathan Reynolds, the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, told the Manchester Evening News. “My personal suggestion would be to invite my fed-up constituents to dismantle them piece by piece, a bit like when the Berlin Wall came down.”

Ministers should keep all options on the table, including further devolution to the north and the option of public operation, Burnham and Rotherham said.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, terminated Virgin Trains East Coast’s contract and took the service in-house last year.

The Northern franchise is supposed to run until 2025, with an option for an additional year dependent on performance.

By Helen Pidd

Huawei on US trade blacklist could harm billions of consumers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 29th May 2019) London, Uk – –

A US move to put Huawei on a trade blacklist “sets a dangerous precedent” that will harm billions of consumers, the firm's top legal officer said.

Speaking at a press conference, Song Liuping said the trade ban would also “directly harm” American companies and affect jobs.

Washington recently added Huawei to a list of companies that US firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence.

The trade ban is part of a wider battle between the US and Huawei.

Washington has moved to block the Chinese company, the world's largest maker of telecoms equipment, on national security concerns.

Huawei has repeatedly denied claims the use of its products presents security risks, and says it is independent from the Chinese government.

“Politicians in the US are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company,” Mr Song said.

What did Huawei say about the trade ban?

Mr Song said the decision to put Huawei, which is also the world's second largest smartphone maker, on the so-called “entity list” would have far-reaching implications.

“This decision threatens to harm our customers in over 170 countries, including more than three billion consumers who use Huawei products and services around the world.”

“By preventing American companies from doing business with Huawei, the government will directly harm more than 1,200 US companies. This will affect tens of thousands of American jobs.”

What about other US moves against Huawei?

Speaking to reporters in Shenzhen, Mr Song also outlined steps that Huawei had taken in relation to a lawsuit it filed against the US government in March.

The case relates to restrictions that prevent US federal agencies from using Huawei products.

The firm said it has filed a motion for a “summary judgement”, asking US courts to speed up the process to “halt illegal action against the company”.

“The US government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat. There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation,” Mr Song said.

A hearing on the motion has been set for 19 September.


Analysis: Robin Brant

Sitting up on a stage, in a large theatre-like room at its headquarters, there was much talk from the Huawei executives of America's rural and “poorer” customers who deserve “equitable access” to good broadband.

Billions of customers are facing the threat of having their welfare “damaged” apparently, so the firm wants to speed things up.

The other reason of course is that the assault from the Trump administration is biting. Asked if Huawei would still be around in a year's time, one executive said its business plans go well beyond next year.

The company insists it is – proudly – privately owned. Nonetheless, I asked if the two senior executives present were members of China's prevailing Communist Party. One said he wasn't. The other wouldn't say.


What about the US-China trade war?

Washington's clampdown on Huawei is part of a wider conflict simmering between the US and China.

The US has pushed to persuade allies to ban the Chinese company over the potential risks of using its products in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Some countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G mobile networks.

Additionally, the company faces almost two dozen criminal charges filed by US authorities. Washington is also seeking the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wangzou from Canada, where she was arrested in December at the behest of American officials.

It comes as trade tensions between the US and China also appear to be rising.

The world's two largest economies have been locked in a bruising trade battle for the past year that has seen tariffs imposed on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods.

Earlier this month, Washington more than doubled tariffs on $200bn (£158bn) of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate with its own tariff hikes on US products.

US President Donald Trump has, however, sought to link the two, saying recently that Huawei could be part of a trade deal between the US and China.

Fiat Chrysler and Renault propose merger announced

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 27th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Fiat Chrysler has made a “transformative” merger proposal for French carmaker Renault, the Italian firm said on Monday.

The combined business would be 50% owned by Fiat shareholders and 50% by Renault stockholders.

The carmaker said the merger would create a global automotive leader, with 8.7 million vehicle sales.

Carmakers have faced pressure to consolidate amid major industry shifts, including towards electric vehicles.

Shares in both companies rose strongly following the announcement.

In a statement, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said the planned merger would create a “world leader in the rapidly changing automotive industry with a strong position in transforming technologies, including electrification and autonomous driving”.

Fiat said that if the firms' 2018 financial results were totted up, the combined company's annual revenues would be nearly €170bn (£149.6bn; $190.5bn), with operating profit of more than €10bn and net profit of more than €8bn.

No plant closures would be caused as a result of the tie-up, the carmaker said.

Robotics sale

It will aim to save €5bn a year by sharing development costs on technology such as electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It is thought some managerial positions may be lost, but the companies will be keen to show that production-line jobs are being preserved.

The new company will be based in the Netherlands and will be listed on the Milan, Paris and New York stock exchanges.

To make the merger one of equals, the slightly-wealthier FCA will pay a special dividend of €2.5bn and sell its Comau robotics business.

The proposal will be considered by the Renault board. Who will lead the new entity and what it might be called are not yet decided.

New competitors

If the plan goes ahead, Nissan and the French government will own about 7.5% apiece of the new, merged company.

The French government favours the merger but wants more details before giving its final approval, a spokeswoman said.

The Italian government may want to acquire a share of the new firm to balance France's stake, said a politician from the Northern League, the country's largest party, according to Reuters.

By sales, the new company will be number four in North America, number two in the region which covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the biggest in Latin America.

Industry shifts toward electric models, along with stricter emissions standards and the development of new technologies for autonomous vehicles, have put increasing pressure on carmakers to consolidate.

Renault already has an alliance with Japan's Nissan, in which research costs and parts are shared. The companies own shares in each other, too. Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan's shares and Nissan owns 15% of Renault.

The former chief executive of both Nissan and Renault, Carlos Ghosn, is awaiting trial following his fourth arrest amid allegations of financial misconduct.

The allegations have put a strain on the 20-year-old alliance, which also includes Japan's Mitsubishi Motors.

New entrants in the motoring sector such as Tesla, as well as cash-rich companies developing driverless technology such as Amazon and Google-owned Waymo, are putting pressure on older and often heavily indebted carmakers to keep up.

How Singapore developed one of the world’s best public housing programs

Source: Bloomberg

Singapore had a severe housing shortage decades ago. But it developed one of the world's best public housing programs, which has also allowed a huge number of its citizens to buy their own homes.

The process of a traditional Italian olive oil mill

Source: UK Business Insider

Business Insider UK was allowed inside a traditional olive mill in Italy, to see the process behind one of the world's most-used cooking ingredients. Olive oil comes in many varieties and flavours that change depending on soil, climate, age, and production. The most refined olive oil is called ‘extra virgin.' To be called so, the olives need to be crushed within 24 hours. They also need to be ‘cold pressed,' meaning the oil is extracted mechanically at room temperature without the use of heat or chemicals. While modern mills use steel drums to cold-press their olives, some smaller, often family-run mills are still making it the old-fashioned way with giant granite wheels. The mill we visited in Monopoli, south Italy, produces around 800 litres per day of extra virgin olive oil, crushing about 5,000 kg of olives. Harvested olives enter the mill on a conveyor belt, losing around 90% of the leaves. The last 10% is ground into a paste with olives and pits. The paste then moves into a kneading machine, which helps break the paste down into water and oil. It’s then spread over large fibre discs that are piled up and pressed for around 2.5 hours. Finally, the oil is separated from water and ready to be sold, or it can be filtered to give it a clearer appearance. Filtering is done through a funnel and cotton wool. While filtered oil has a longer shelf life, it has less flavour than the unfiltered product.