How This Icon of Italian Culture – The Vespa Scooters Are Made

Source: BI

Vespas are more than just scooters. Over the years, they have become an icon of Italian culture and of the made in Italy itself. They have been featured endlessly on the big screen in movies like Fellini's “La Dolce Vita” or “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn.

William Hill to close 700 betting shops across the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 4th July 2019) London, UK —

The cut in the maximum stake to 2 pounds ($2.62) followed complaints that the machines, which had allowed gamblers to bet up to 100 pounds every 20 seconds, were highly addictive and allowed players to rapidly lose large sums of money.

William Hill, which last year warned that about 900 shops could be shut as a result, said on Thursday it had suffered a significant fall in gaming machine revenues since the change was introduced in April, adding that the closures were likely to begin before the end of the year.

The British government had rejected industry suggestions when it brought in the stake cut that such a big reduction in the maximum stake could cost thousands of jobs.

Rival GVC Holdings (GVC.L) has warned the restrictions would lead to the closure of up to a 1,000 shops and cut its 2019 core profit by about 135 million pounds ($170 million).

William Hill’s retail business has about 2,300 licensed betting shops and is its largest division, generating 56% of its net revenue in 2018 and employing around 12,500 people in Britain, which accounts for about 90% of its business.

The company said in January that it would remodel its retail business after performance at it was hit by tighter regulations, particularly on lucrative FOBTs.

In May William Hill, which has betting shops, sports books and online and mobile channels in eight countries, said that UK retail gaming net revenue was down 15%.

William Hill’s Chief Executive Officer Philip Bowcock had earlier said that the introduction of the 2 pound stake limit was in line with expectations and that the company was confident in its plan to manage the change.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S and Shashwat Awasthi




Lego family agree to pay £4.8bn for Merlin Entertainments

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 28th June 2019) London, Uk – –

In the words of the film, everything appears to be “awesome” in the world of Lego as it expands its empire by snapping up Legoland and Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments

The Danish billionaire family that controls the Lego toy firm, with other investors, is paying £4.8bn for Merlin.

Kirkbi Invest says it has the money and experience to “realise the company's potential to grow”.

Merlin also owns the London Eye, Alton Towers and Chessington Adventures.

Kirkbi already owns almost a third of the shares in Merlin Entertainments, and says it does not expect the deal to lead to any significant changes.

All existing Merlin attractions in the UK will remain open and it has no plans to sell any part of the business, it said.

Kirkbi chief executive Søren Thorup Sørensen said the group wanted to help the firm reach its “full potential, which we believe is best pursued under private ownership”.

“With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin, for their next phase of growth,” he added.

Private equity firm Blackstone – part of the investment group – said it had the “substantial resources” required to support Merlin's long-term plans “which will require significant investment to ensure its long-term success”.

Merlin is the second-largest operator of visitor attractions globally with more than 130 attractions in 25 countries. It said it had already rejected several approaches.

The move comes just weeks after activist shareholder ValueAct Capital, which holds a 9.3% stake in Merlin, called on the company to find a private buyer.

The sale means that Merlin's shares will be delisted from the London Stock Exchange, which it floated on six years ago.

The offer price of 455p a share values Merlin's share capital at £4.77bn, but the deal also includes £1.2bn of debt giving the group an enterprise value of just under £6bn.

Merlin chairman Sir John Sunderland said its board unanimously recommended the deal to the company's shareholders.

“The company has generated meaningful value since its IPO (Initial Public Offering), with significant growth in revenue, earnings and cash flow.

“The Merlin independent directors believe this offer represents an opportunity for Merlin shareholders to realise value for their investment in cash at an attractive valuation.”

Profit warning

Merlin has faced some high-profile struggles, including a crash in 2015 at one of its Alton Towers rollercoaster which injured 16 people. Visitor numbers to its attractions were also hit by the terror attacks in London and poor weather which led to a profits warning in 2017.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst George Salmon said the firm's recent troubles meant the price agreed for the deal was lower than it would have been two years ago.

“For the new owners, the move is motivated by a desire to remove the company from the daily scrutiny of the public markets, and focus on longer-term investments,” he said.

Bookmakers offering increase of £100m to tackle problem gambling

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 19th June 2019) London, Uk – –

The UK's biggest gambling firms are offering the government a significant increase in the money they contribute to tackling problem gambling.

The owners of William Hill, Coral Ladbroke, Betfair Paddy Power, Skybet and Bet 365 will offer to increase the voluntary levy on their gambling profits, the BBC has learnt.

They have offered to up the levy from 0.1% to 1% over the next five years.

The new level would eventually raise £100m per year for gambling charities.

Last year, the voluntary levy raised £10m.

The firms made the pledge in a letter to the Department for Media Culture and Sport seen by the BBC.

The Gambling Commission recently said the need for more staff, research and treatment required an annual contribution from the industry of £70m.

The firms said they would also consider increasing the amount of safer gambling messaging and reviewing the “tone and content” of its advertising.

The pre-emptive offer is part of an effort by the industry to improve its image after what insiders acknowledge was a reputation-damaging battle over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which eventually saw the maximum stake in any one spin reduced from £100 to £2.

‘Industry on a precipice'

One source told the BBC that “the industry is on a precipice – if we don't get ahead of this we will end up where the alcohol industry was ten years ago and tobacco thirty years ago. The fear is that we face a ban on touchline advertising or football shirt sponsorship”

The gambling firms have already agreed to a voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on advertising during sporting events from August of this year.

In an extract of the letter to Jeremy Wright, the firms say that as companies representing half of the gambling industry, “we are committing to collaborate to address gambling-related harm with the priority of protecting the young and vulnerable.”

Labour Deputy leader Tom Watson has described Britian's “gambling epidemic” as a public health crisis as it can lead to debt, loneliness and suicide.

He has called for all gambling firms to be forced to reapply for their licence to review their commitment to corporate responsibility. He has also recommended the establishment of a gambling ombudsman to provide redress for customers who are treated poorly.

A recent report published in the British Medical Journal found that the economic and social harms of problem gambling have been underestimated.

The gambling commission estimates there are 430,000 people with a serious gambling addiction in the UK. If you include those they deem at risk of addiction the number rises to over two million

By Simon Jack

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.

India’s Reliance Industries acquires British toy retailer Hamleys

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 10th May 2019) London, UK —

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Reliance Industries has acquired British toy retailer Hamleys, the energy-to-telecoms conglomerate said on Thursday.

Reliance Industries, which runs the world’s biggest single-location crude oil refinery in western India, has been gradually transforming itself into a consumer-facing behemoth through its retail and telecoms ventures.

Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the company signed an agreement to buy Hamleys from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.

Reliance did not disclose the price, but in 2015 C Banner had bought it for 100 million pounds from France’s Groupe Ludendo.

The acquisition marks the first foray of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries in an overseas retail brand.

“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail,” said Darshan Mehta, chief executive of Reliance Brands.

Reliance Retail has the licence to sell Hamleys products in India.

Founded in 1760, Hamleys resonates with a sense of nostalgia for adults and children alike, with its flagship Regent Street store in Central London recognised around the world.

Hamleys has withstood global recessions, and world war bombings and has changed hands several times, the latest being the 2015 sale by Groupe Ludendo.

The toy seller runs 167 stores across 18 countries, the majority of which are in India. Reliance, which owns the master franchise, operates 88 Hamleys stores across 29 Indian cities.

Having established itself as India’s leading telecoms player, Reliance Industries has been firming up plans for a major retail onslaught to combine its traditional outlets with an online foray aimed at taking on Amazon and Walmart in India.

It is already the country’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in terms of revenue and number of stores.

The conglomerate’s strategy to diversify beyond refining and petrochemicals has began to bear fruit, with its fast-growing telecoms and retail operations driving quarterly profit to record highs despite its gross refining margins taking a hit from oil price volatility and slowing global demand.

The group’s retail business doubled revenue to 356 billion Indian rupees ($5.1 billion) in the three months to Dec. 31 while earnings before interest and tax more than tripled to 15 billion rupees.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee

Beyond Meat’s share price doubles in the vegan burger maker’s debut IPO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 3rd May 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Shares of vegan burger maker Beyond Meat Inc rose more than 160 percent in their market debut on Thursday, as investors look to cash in on the first publicly listed veggie meat company and the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives.

The stock opened at $46, well above its IPO price of $25. Shares surged minutes after starting to trade and were halted due to volatility. They traded up to $72 during the day, before closing at $65.75.

Beyond Meat, which has warned it may never turn a profit, closed with a market capitalisation of around $3.8 billion, based on shares outstanding including underwriters’ option.

Earlier on Tuesday, the company raised the size and price of its offering after increased demand from investors. The IPO raised $240 million.

The money raised from the IPO gives Beyond Meat firepower to compete with other rivals in the increasingly crowded imitation meat market, such as Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods Inc.

Beyond Meat founder and Chief Executive Ethan Brown told Reuters on Thursday the proceeds would be used to expand marketing efforts, develop new products, establish production centres in Europe and Asia and open additional manufacturing facilities in the United States.

The Los Angeles-based company, which counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates among its investors, aims to market its meatless burger patties and other products to meat-loving consumers. It avoids terms such as vegan or vegetarian and instead displays its products in the meat case of supermarkets.

Plant-based substitutes for meat have been gaining popularity as more people shift towards vegan or vegetarian diets, amid growing concerns about health risks from eating meat, animal welfare and the environmental hazards of intensive animal farming.

Beyond Meat creates substitutes for meat by using ingredients that mimic the composition of animal-based meat, mainly employing pea protein that looks and cooks like beef or chicken.

Currently, some 70 percent of the company’s revenues are generated by its flagship Beyond Burger patties. The company also sells imitation sausages and vegan ground beef.

But Beyond Meat said it has struggled with production capacity issues in the face of growing demand, and interruptions in the supply of pea protein, which it currently sources from two producers in Canada and France.

“We’re looking very much at not only expanding the number of pea protein providers but also getting into new types of protein,” Brown said.

Brown said protein blends, including from mung beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds, would not only offer pricing protection and supply chain diversity, but also provide consumers with a variety of plant-based protein options.

But Beyond Meat is not the only company vying for health-conscious consumers.

Tyson Foods Inc, the No.1 U.S. meat processor, owned a 6.5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, but last week said it sold its holding, as it looks to develop its own line of alternative protein products.

Burger King and Impossible Foods last month started selling their vegan burger Impossible Whopper in 59 stores in and around St. Louis, Missouri, with nationwide sales expected by the end of the year.FILE PHOTO: Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, and guests ring the opening bell to celebrate his company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Beyond Meat began selling its plant-based burger at more than 1,100 U.S. locations of fast-food chain Carl’s Jr in January.

In 2018, some $50 million of Beyond Meat’s revenues came from retail sales, including at Amazon.com Inc’s Whole Foods Market and Kroger Co supermarkets, while some $37 million was generated at restaurants.

Brown said the company planned to expand its network of restaurant and retail partners outside the United States, which currently account for 7 percent of revenues, but declined to provide further details.

In 2018, Beyond Meat’s net loss narrowed marginally to $29.89 million, from $30.38 million a year earlier. Net revenue more than doubled to $87.93 million in the same period.

Reporting by Bharath Manjesh and Tina Bellon

Take A Look Inside The World’s 5 Fastest & Most Expensive Private Jets

Source: Sam Chui

This video gives a tour inside the latest Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G650ER, Airbus ACJ 319, Boeing 757 BBJ, Sukhoi Superjet RRJ95, Bombardier Global 7500 and Vista Jet Bombardier Global Express 6000.

Inside Lenny Kravitz’s Amazing Brazilian Farm Compound

Source: Architectural Digest

Lenny Kravitz takes us on a tour of his incredible Brazilian farm compound. Built on an 18th-century coffee plantation, his home is set on a working farm that feeds every guest that comes through. Featuring a Brazilian barbecue, a full-sized football field and 19th-century Portuguese colonial-style farmhouses and outbuildings, it's a wonder Lenny ever wants to leave home.

Disney launched new streaming service to take on Netflix

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 12th April, 2019) London, Uk – –

Entertainment giant to take on Netflix with Disney+ platform, which will also stream The Simpsons in US

Disney has launched its own streaming service with the announcement of new productions, including a Marvel TV series starring Tom Hiddleston as Loki, a new Star Wars series with actors from Rogue One and US streaming rights to The Simpsons.

The entertainment behemoth has been planning its own streaming venture for years as a competitor to Netflix, but on Thursday in California, it announced new TV spin-offs and that it would stream The Simpsons, which Disney acquired when it bought 20th Century Fox last month. Disney already owned Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.

The company intends to make any new film releases exclusive to its platform, and has already begun the process of pulling its content from other services like Netflix.

Disney Plus will launch in the US on 12 November, at a cost of US$6.99 a month. The company has not yet released details for any other markets.

On Thursday, Disney announced three original Marvel-based TV shows would be developed for the platform.

One will feature Hiddleston in the role of Loki from the Thor movies, one will follow the characters of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) from the Avengers films, and one will feature the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) from the Captain America franchise.

It will also launch a TV series spin-off of the Star Wars film Rogue One. Titled The Mandalorian, it will be a spy series with Diego Luna reprising his character of Cassian Andor.

All of the original and prequel Star Wars films – as well as The Force Awakens – will be on the service at the launch, as well as the recent Captain Marvel movie.

All new Disney theatrical releases – including the upcoming Marvel and Star Wars movies – will be on the platform, and Disney plans to eventually move all existing Disney films on to the platform, once current deals expire.

By Peter Bradshaw

Broadband and landline users given automatic compensation for poor service with effect from today

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 1st April, 2019) London, Uk – –

Five UK broadband and landline providers will now automatically compensate customers when services do not work.

From Monday, customers who experience delayed repairs, installations or missed engineer appointments will be compensated, without having to ask.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have joined Ofcom's scheme, which is not compulsory.

Hyperoptic, Vodafone, EE and Plusnet have also committed to the plans.

According to industry watchdog Ofcom, there are 7.2 million cases each year where broadband or landline customers suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed appointments.

Previously, only about one in seven broadband or landline customers received compensation from providers for these delays.

Ofcom consulted on enforcing formal regulations regarding compensation of broadband and landline services in 2017.

However, some service providers then approached the regulator independently and offered to pay compensation to customers.

This led to Ofcom releasing details of its voluntary automatic compensation code of practice in November 2017.

“We think it's unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed,” said Ofcom's chief executive Sharon White.

She added that the new rules would provide an incentive for service providers to want to avoid problems occurring in the first place.

“But if they fall short, customers must be treated fairly and given money back, without having to ask for it,” she said.

Money back

TalkTalk, Sky, Zen Internet and BT all use BT's Openreach network to provide broadband and landline services.

In December, the providers agreed a deal with Openreach that if any delays to repairs or installations occurred, Openreach would compensate the providers.

The providers would then use that money to automatically compensate their customers.

Under the terms of the agreement, if an engineer does not arrive on schedule, or cancels within 24 hours, the compensation will be £25.

If a service stops working and is not fully fixed after two working days, customers will be entitled to £8 a day in compensation.

There will also be £5-per-day offered for new services not starting on time.

Hyperoptic and Vodafone will begin automatic compensation later this year, while EE plans to start paying compensation automatically in 2020.

Plusnet has committed to the scheme, but has not provided a timescale for when it will begin providing automatic compensation.

Asked why Ofcom had chosen not to implement formal regulations for automatic compensation, an Ofcom spokesman told the BBC: “This is the quickest way of putting money back in people's pockets. All the largest firms have committed, with more than 95% of households covered.”

He said that customers with providers not in the scheme from Monday could choose to switch to a new provider if they were unhappy with their current service.

However, Ofcom added that it was keeping “a close eye” on the firms in the scheme.

“If they don't comply, we'll step in and take action,” the spokesman said.

How Eric Clapton’s Fender Guitar Gets Made

Source: Bloomberg

Fender Musical Instruments is one of the world's largest manufacturers of guitars, basses and amplifiers. They revolutionized rock ‘n' roll with their iconic electric guitars such as the Telecaster and the Stratocaster. Bloomberg visits the Corona, California factory to see how a guitar is hand-made, and learn why Fender will never move production out of southern California.

Apple unveils TV streaming platform and credit card at a star-studded event in California

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 26th March, 2019) London, Uk – –

By Zoe Kleinman

Apple has unveiled its new TV streaming platform, Apple TV+, at a star-studded event in California.

Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey were among those who took to the stage at Apple's headquarters to reveal their involvement in TV projects commissioned by the tech giant.

The platform will include shows from existing services like Hulu and HBO.

Apple also announced that it would be launching a credit card, gaming portal and enhanced news app.

The event was held in California and Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was clear from the start that the announcements would be about new services, not new devices.

It is a change of direction for the 42-year-old company.

Apple TV

There had been much anticipation about Apple's predicted foray into the TV streaming market, dominated by the likes of Amazon and Netflix.

The Apple TV+ app was unveiled by Steven Spielberg and will launch in the autumn.

Spielberg will himself be creating some material for the new platform, he said.

Other stars who took to the stage included Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Big Bird from Sesame Street.

The app will be made available on rival devices for the first time, coming to Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio smart TVs as well as Amazon's Firestick and Roku.

The subscription fee was not announced, and notably absent from the launch line-up was Netflix, which had already ruled itself out of being part of the bundle.

“The test for Apple will be, can new content separate them out from their competitors and can they commission and deliver on fresh new content that can reach audiences in the same way that Stranger Things has for Netflix for example?” commented Dr Ed Braman, an expert in film and production at the University of York.

Apple Card

The Apple Card credit card will launch in the US this summer.

There will be both an iPhone and physical version of the card, with a cashback incentive on every purchase.

The credit card will have no late fees, annual fees or international fees, said Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey.

It has been created with the help of Goldman Sachs and MasterCard.

News stand

The firm also revealed a news service, Apple News+, which will include more than 300 magazine titles including Marie Claire, Vogue, New Yorker, Esquire, National Geographic and Rolling Stone.

The LA Times and the Wall Street Journal will also be part of the platform, the firm said.

It added that it will not track what users read or allow advertisers to do so.

Apple News+ will cost $9.99 (£7.50) per month and is available immediately in the US and Canada. It will come to Europe later in the year.

Unlike TV+, the news platform will only be available on Apple devices.

A new games platform, Apple Arcade, will offer over 100 exclusive games from the app store which will all be playable offline, in contrast with Google's recently announced streaming platform Stadia.

It will be rolled out across 150 countries in the autumn but no subscription prices were given.

in 2018 analyst firm IHS Markit valued the global gaming market on iOS, Apple's operating system, at $33.5bn.

There is space within that market for a platform like Apple Arcade which is not financed by in-app purchases or advertising, said IHS director of games research Piers Harding-Rolls.

“Apple's decision to move up the games value chain with a new, curated subscription service and to support the development of exclusive games for its Arcade platform is a significant escalation of the company's commitment to the games market,” he said.

“Apple joins the other technology companies Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon and others in investing directly in games content and services.”

Anaylsis David Lee

Apple is making an aggressive push into several markets in which, thanks to sheer scale alone, it immediately becomes a massive player.

Its TV service has been long in the making, and Apple has amassed a roster of big stars, as expected.

A bigger test will be how creative those ideas will be – a lot of Netflix's success has been about finding new talent, not throwing money at already famous names.

I also have reservations about how many boundaries Apple will be prepared to push with its creative endeavours: if it's as controlling with its television as it is with its brand, it will create a catalogue bereft of risk-taking.

But TV is just a small part of what Apple is going for here. It wants (and needs) to turn its devices into the portal through which you do everything else – TV/film, gaming, reading the news… and you'd presume other things in the very near future.

The announcement of a credit card shows how far Apple is prepared to go to make sure life is experienced through your iPhone.

As Oprah put it on stage: “They're in a billion pockets, y'all.”


Kerry Washington’s tour of her beautiful New York City apartment on the Hudson River

Source: AD

Kerry Washington takes us on a tour of her beautiful New York City apartment, designed by RH, Restoration Hardware. From the unobstructed view of the Hudson River to her impressive crystal collection, Kerry shares it all! Kerry is wearing a Prada shirt and Dior skirt with Manolo Blahnik shoes, Mindi Mond earrings and a Movado watch.

How Hugh Hefner Built The Playboy Empire making it one of the world’s Top Brands

Source: Business Casual

Playboy is an American men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine. History: it was founded in Chicago in 1953, by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. Notable for its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models (Playmates), Playboy played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one of the world's best-known brands.

Today it has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium. In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide. After a year-long removal of most nude photos in Playboy magazine, the March-April 2017 issue brought back nudity.

Elon Musk’s $100K Roadster Sent To Space on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket

Source: Tech Insider

In February of 2018, Elon Musk launched his personal Tesla Roadster into space on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. A little more than a year later, the Roadster is still cruising around our solar system on its elliptical path around the Sun.