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Cars, Boats & Planes 31 May 2019

a princely debut for top marques supercar show

A PRINCELY DEBUT FOR TOP MARQUES SUPERCAR SHOWThe 16th Edition of Top Marques supercar show opened under brilliant blue skies in Monaco today at the Grimaldi Forum.H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco joined Salim Zeghdar, the newly appointed CEO of the show, along with ambassadors Thierry Boutsen, Eddie Jordan and David Couthard. Mr Zeghdar said: "I would like to sincerely thank H.S.H. Prince Albert II for his presence this morning, as well as our three ambassadors. I am very touched by their support of Top Marques, and I am genuinely delighted by this first day. There is a wonderful atmosphere and I have heard such positive feedback, especially from the exhibitors. I can’t wait for the rest of the show!"Prince Albert sent time visiting all the stands including the 100% electric yacht by X Shore before descending into the Espace Diaghilev to present no less than six world premieres.Zacaria SC, the first ever road-worthy Formula 1 is a unique model manufactured by Zacaria, an Australian workshop. Also, from Australia, Ferox unveiled its’ Azaris, a hybrid laboratory vehicle equipped with six wheels, the back four having no axes and therefore be able to ride over the rough terrain better than any existing vehicle. With a torque similar to that of a Lamborghini Aventador, it can achieve high speeds over any terrain. The e-bike company Stajvelo presented its Beau Rivage, unveiled by S.A.S. Prince Albert II and Thierry Manni, the CEO of the new brand of electric bikes ‘Made in Monaco’.On the two-wheel side, L’Atelier du Gentleman presented the Carbon Zero world premiere, also unveiled by the Sovereign.The iconic British manufacturer McLaren presented it brand new model, the Grand Tourer, in a world premiere.Aston Martin also unveiled a limited edition of its DBS Superleggera, the OHMSS inspired by James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  

Business 08 Mar 2019

market viewpoints: a g-2 world beckons

By: Manish SinghCrossbridge Capital LLP Chimerica: A G-2 world beckons The Chinese economy of today is a far cry from the days of Chairman Mao Zedong and the “Great Leap Forward” – his second Five Year Plan which lasted from 1958 to 1963 – and proved a complete disaster for China. It left millions of people dead and many more miserable for decades to come. Frank Dikötter a Dutch historian in his excellent book – “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962–1976” – has painstakingly gone through the Chinese Communist Party’s own record and declassified letters of complaint, secret police reports, statistics, surveys and other archived papers, to draw the picture of misery that China was in the 1960s. By Dikötter’s count, the Cultural Revolution – formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966 until 1976 – left 45 million dead as Mao forced peasants off their land on to co-operative farms and mindless industrial projects. Mao wanted to lift Chinese steel production by putting the whole nation to work at over 600,000 backyard blast furnaces. Instead, he got famine and tens of millions dead. Mao had been warned by then Soviet Union leader, Nikita Khrushchev, that China’s course to industrialisation risked a famine. Khrushchev knew it from his own knowledge of Josef Stalin’s reckless ambition for industrial power that unleashed a famine in Russia in 1932-33 and killed up to five million in Ukraine, a country land rich and fertile for agriculture. Today however, China is the world’s second-largest economy using its wealth to build “colonies” around the world and the only real challenger to US hegemony. This miraculous turnaround achieved in just over 40 years – beginning with the “reform and opening up” of China in 1979 – has led to multiple years of double-digit growth (see chart below). At a time when American prestige is fading and China’s status is rising and as the US and China work to find a mutually acceptable trade deal and negotiate as equals, it is difficult to imagine how unequal the two nations were in 1979 – the year of the big reforms in China – let alone in 1949 when Mao established the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In 1979 China’s GDP stood at $178bn and was 6% of US GDP. Today, China’s GDP is 63% of US GDP ( chart below). The history of US-China relations is a fascinating read and China has gone from being a pariah state to the US in 1949 to its most important trade relationship in the world. So much so that we are heading into a G-2 world where China and the US will make rules for the rest of the world to follow. Europe is the big loser in all this and only has itself to blame – no structural reforms, low growth, high unemployment and an over-reliance on exports and not domestic demand. Feb. 28th, 2018.

Business 14 Feb 2019

deal, no deal or second referendum?

Deal, No Deal or Second referendum? Aricle By:Manish Singh, CFAChief Investment OfficerCrossbridge Capital LLPJanuary, 21th, 2019.Last week, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer the head of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Germany and the likely next Chancellor, as well as over two dozen other German luminaries from the fields of politics, art, industry and sport issued a plea to the UK to change its mind and stay in the European Union (EU). The letter published in The Times of London marks a significant shift in Berlin’s tone. It talks about the role of Britain – “we realise that the freedom we enjoy as Europeans today has in many ways been built and defended by the British people” and its continued importance to Europe’s future – “Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity.” And goes on to implore –“We would miss Britain as part of the European Union, especially in these troubled times. Therefore, Britons should know: from the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay.”A bit too late in the day, I’d say. Where were these good people before the referendum in 2016? That was the time for the esteemed leaders of the EU to give then UK Prime Minister David Cameron a worthy deal that he could sell to the British people. Instead, they gave him a bag of crisp hot Brussels air which Cameron tried to present to the British voters as a “great win,” and was repudiated. The realisation is dawning on many in the EU that a No Deal Brexit would hit the EU very hard and is therefore an undesirable outcome.  After hoping and wrongly presuming that the UK would cancel Brexit (a ludicrous thought that only highlights the gulf in understanding between the UK and the Continent), it is only now – after being convinced of the likelihood of collateral damage in its own country – that Germany is taking a more conciliatory approach. The realisation is finally dawning on many in Europe that a No Deal Brexit would hit the EU very hard and is therefore an undesirable outcome.Anyone with any interest in Germany and the EU and where they’re headed, would be well served to read the masterful analysis of the topic in the book Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way. It is written by Sir Paul Lever, former British Ambassador to Germany and a senior member of the European Commission in Brussels who attended all European Council meetings from February 1979-85. In its institutional form, he suggests that the EU looks and “will continue to look like Germany” and that its “leadership of the EU is geared principally to the defence of German national interests.” His conclusion is that Germany will prevent the creation of the “all-powerful European super-state that ” and in 20 years’ time many (Brits) will have forgotten Britain was ever a member of the EU to make them regret their choice” and “others… may wonder what all the fuss was about.” I recommend the book highly.Last week also saw UK Prime Minister Theresa May suffer the largest parliamentary defeat in British political history, as the House of Commons rejected her Deal on Europe by 432 to 202 votes. By any yardstick, the defeat that May suffered is entirely of her own making. Tin-eared, distant, and reticent don’t even begin to define the approach she took to agreeing a “Withdrawal Agreement” with an intransigent EU. May couldn’t persuade a starving man to eat with the approach she has taken thus far. Tories must fear a terrible drubbing at the elections, if May continues as PM. Thankfully, she has promised she won’t lead the Tories into the next election. So, what’s next?To those who say “No Deal” is off the table or Brexit could be cancelled, I say this – No deal is not “on the table” but it is in the Statute Books. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 was passed through both Houses of Parliament and became law by Royal Assent on 26 June 2018. 498 of 650 MPs voted to trigger Article 50 i.e. a clear and overwhelming commitment to leave the EU. Over 80% of MPs subsequently were re-elected in 2017 on manifestos pledging to implement Brexit. Legally, in the absence of an agreed deal, the UK, therefore, will leave with “No Deal” on March 29, unless the Article 50 deadline is extended by the mutual agreement of the EU and the UK. A No Deal, however, doesn’t mean “crashing out” as some like to fear monger. It just means agreeing a set of side deals and a temporary return to WTO rules for trading, until new trade deals and arrangements are worked out between both parties.As I said on Bloomberg TV last week- I still believe that the UK will leave the EU with a deal. An extension of Article 50 is likely to give enough time to conclude a deal. There will be a transition period in which the UK will be part of the customs union and at the end of the transition period, the EU and the UK will move on to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). As far as the UK is concerned the “freedom of movement” of workers is a red line and will not be up for negotiation. The EU doesn’t want a No Deal scenario. Nor does the UK for that matter. A No Deal would be very inconvenient for the UK in the short term, as details of new arrangements are worked out, but it would be a growing tragedy for the EU to lose a nation it has a big trade deficit with. Besides a No Deal at, minimum, means: Immediate halt to the £39 billion “divorce payment” to the EUNo further annual contributions of £13 billion to the EU budgetThe EU’s entire exports to the UK – £341 billion last year would be put at riskA severe macroeconomic calamity for IrelandThis, at a time when the economic woes of Germany (the driver of the EU 27) are growing as it is hit by weaker exports to China and elsewhere, as well as softer demand at home. A German slowdown is already ringing alarm bells in Brussels and at the European Central Bank (ECB). Weaker German growth is very bad news for the rest of the European continent, where many economies are linked to the demands of the German export machine and German consumers. For instance, Germany is France and Italy’s top export destination with 15% of total French exports and 12.5% of total Italian exports going to Germany. A slowdown in Germany would hit France and Italy hard. The possibility of a No Deal or messy Brexit, populism and unrest in France, mounting US protectionism and the slowdown in China all are major headwinds for Germany and the Eurozone. China is Germany’s largest trading partner ahead of the US. If that’s not enough, cast your mind back to last July and the Trump-Juncker conference that temporarily diffused the risk of damaging tariffs on EU auto exports to the US, in return for the EU pledging to work to achieve “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” Fast forward 6 months, and the EU is now being accused by US officials of dragging its feet on trade talks in the hopes of waiting out the Trump administration. It won’t end well if you know what Trump is like. President Donald Trump is about to conclude a trade deal with China. With the Mexico-Canada and China deals completed, all efforts and urgency will go into taking on what Trump likes to call the EU’s “unfair trade deal” with the US that “robs” the US and treats it like a “piggy bank”. Expect fireworks soon. I see a second referendum as the least likely outcome. A general election is more likely than a second referendum. We know that the country is divided roughly down the middle – half favouring Leave and half favouring Remain. A new referendum will only frustrate those who voted to leave and waste valuable time and resources. Even if there were a second referendum, in my opinion, Leave is likely to win again. In a tweet, Robbie Gibb, Director of Communication at 10 Downing Street reminded us as much – “1.9 million Leave voters say they would now vote to Remain. But 2.4 million Remain voters would now vote to Leave. The country hasn’t changed its mind.” Remember also that the voters were told the Brexit referendum was a “once in a lifetime vote” and 3 years is not a lifetime by any stretch of the imagination. For many in the UK – whether Remainer or Brexiteer, a second vote amounts to a violation of democracy. As for GBP/USD, the UK economic data on a relative basis is getting better and the US is unlikely to raise rates until the summer given concern about the economic slowdown in the US. Therefore I see GBP/USD getting to 1.32 by June, creeping up to 1.36 or higher by September and 1.40 or higher next year. Link to the newsletter: https://www.crossbridgeconnect.com/january-2019-market-viewpoints/ --------------------------------------------------Manish Singh, CFAChief Investment OfficerCrossbridge Capital LLP9 South StreetLondon W1K 2XA

News, Media & Society 22 Jan 2019

patek philippe may come up for sale?

Patek Philippe Watchmaker May Come Up for Sale SIHH speculation perhaps?  ZURICH, Switzerland — Patek Philippe, the closely held maker of $10,000-plus Calatrava watches, may be coming up for sale, according to analysts at Berenberg who cited industry talk. The 180-year-old Swiss watchmaker could fetch 7 billion to 9 billion euros ($8 billion to $10 billion), analysts led by Zuzanna Pusz wrote in a note. Patek Philippe has been owned by the Stern family for almost a century, and Thierry Stern became the company’s chairman in 2009. “It was interesting to hear in the corridors of the Geneva watch salon that a potential sale of the high-end watch brand Patek Philippe could be approaching soon,” the analysts wrote, noting that it could be just a rumor. A Patek spokeswoman declined to comment except to say deal speculation tends to occur during the annual watch fairs in Switzerland, including last week’s Geneva show. A sale of Patek Philippe would upend the watch industry and could lead to a bidding war, as it’s one of the last prize assets that hasn’t fallen into the hands of a luxury conglomerate. Swatch Group AG, which has bought up brands including Omega, and Richemont, which owns Cartier, make more than half of Swiss watches. Patek Philippe has sales of 1.5 billion francs, according to Berenberg estimates. On its website, the company says its “intention is to independently pursue the path that led to its success.” “We understand that one of the largest conglomerates in the sector would likely be interested in the asset given its currently relatively low exposure to the watch category,” the analysts wrote. Pusz wasn’t immediately available to comment further. Two years ago, family-owned Breitling was sold to private-equity owners CVC Capital Partners for more than 800 million euros. In 2014, Stern told Swiss newspaper Le Temps that the company may eventually need to leave Geneva or put itself up for sale if its tax burden wasn’t reduced. Months later, the company announced a 450 million-franc ($451 million) investment plan in the canton. Stern’s wife, Sandrine, works in design at Patek Philippe. Their children are in their teens, and Patek’s chairman has said he wouldn’t push them into the business if they didn’t want to join. By: https://www.businessoffashion.com

Art & Culture 14 Nov 2018

rene magritte set a record for his work

Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte set a record for his work at a Sotheby's auction in New York. New York: A painting by Rene Magritte sold for $26.8 million Monday at a Sotheby's auction in New York, setting a record for a work by the Belgian surrealist.The painting entitled "Le principe du plaisir" topped the price fetched by "La corde sensible", which was sold in February 2017 in London for $17.9 million.Sotheby's had estimated the painting sold Monday as being worth 15 to 20 million dollars. It said seven collectors -- an unusually high number -- bid for it.Other paintings on offer on the second night of the autumn art auctions in New York also surpassed their estimated value."Improvisation on Mahogany" by Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky, fetched $24.2 million, compared to its pre-sale estimate of 15-20 million dollars.A painting that was supposed to be one of the main attractions of the auction failed to lure a buyer.It was Marsden Hartley's "Pre-War Pageant", considered to be one of the first totally abstract works in the history of American art.It was estimated at $30 million, nearly five times the record for that US painter.On Sunday, the Vincent Van Gogh Painting "Coin de jardin avec papillons", estimated at $40 million, went begging at a Christie's auction of Impressionist and Modern art. 

Art & Culture 29 Oct 2018

audemars piguet will present albedo

AUDEMARS PIGUET WILL PRESENT ALBEDO— A NEW ARTWORK BY TOMÁS SARACENO FOR AEROCENE—AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH 19 October 2018: Audemars Piguet is delighted to announce a new artwork imagined by Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno for Aerocene. His sustainable, site-specific installation Albedo will be unveiled at Art Basel in Miami Beach on the oceanfront sandlot across from Collins Park, on December 5–9, 2018.  Albedo is a large-scale temporal pavilion developed by Saraceno, comprised of approximately 40 reflective, out-turned umbrellas. Together, the parabolic structures create a large hemispherical sundial on the Miami Beach oceanfront. Seen from above, these experimental structures form an impressive geometric constellation, transforming the usual shielding purpose of umbrellas into a community act to protect the thermodynamic balance of the Earth. The solar energy harnessed is used to lift Aerocene’s iconic aerosolar sculpture, the Aerocene Explorer, into the air. These floating sculptures imagine a new aerial infrastructure that demonstrates the possibilities of an ethical, fossil-fuel-free movement in the atmosphere, while challenging and redefining a global right to mobility.  Saraceno’s Albedo resonates strongly with Audemars Piguet’s long-term commitment to environmental sustainability. Albedo stems from Saraceno’s long-standing vision of Aerocene, an interdisciplinary artistic and scientific endeavour visualising ethical collaborations with the environment, embodying newly developed aerosolar technology devised by the multidisciplinary collaborators and scientists of the Aerocene community, supported by the Aerocene Foundation. Since 1992, the Audemars Piguet Foundation has been dedicated to the cause of worldwide forest conservation through environmental protection and youth awareness-raising programmes organised with local communities. In this way, the driving concerns of Saraceno’s aerosolar investigations resonate with the aims of the Audemars Piguet.  Foundation, as Tomás Saraceno shared: “Our mutual interest in preserving our planet for future generations makes our collaboration in Miami Beach all the more meaningful.”  Albedo by Tomás Saraceno for Aerocene is separate from Audemars Piguet’s Art Commissions (the most recent edition of which was presented earlier this year at Art Basel in Switzerland). However, Albedo bears a strong kinship with other artistic projects raising ecological awareness commissioned by Audemars Piguet and presented at Art Basel Miami Beach, including the 2017 Audemars Piguet Art Commission Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan, and Theo Jansen’s 2014 Strandbeests, an artistic project in collaboration with the Peabody Essex Museum. Similar to Albedo, these installations investigated fundamental questions about our shared social and ecological future in the form of interactive, experiential, participatory installations marked by a high degree of technological complexity and precision. The Miami Beach oceanfront is, therefore, an inspirational venue to share Albedo with an international public to probe issues of urgent historic and cosmic relevance, and move towards a new Epoch of post-extractivism, the Aerocene.  Albedo is highly interactive and has been developed with specific sustainable functions. Visitors are invited to participate in this immersive artwork that hosts performative experiments in tune with Miami Beach’s usually sunny December weather, including community solar cooking—a first within an Aerocene project, which represents a new visionary method of communicating the intrinsic multifunctionality of solar energy. Aerocene Explorer backpacks will also be available for visitors to fly on Miami Beach. A series of talks presented by Saraceno, the Aerocene community, and Audemars Piguet will be hosted throughout the week. Additional details on all programming is forthcoming.  As Olivier Audemars, Vice President of the Board of Directors, commented: “When the opportunity to support Tomás in creating a new artwork presented itself, we knew we had to bring his vision to life. Tomás is a master craftsman and similar to how we view ourselves at Audemars Piguet. A term like ‘artist’ doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the complexity of his work or vision. He is also a scientist, master connector and champion of the environment. The artwork in Miami Beach this December will take the art projects Audemars Piguet has directly championed to a new height.”  In parallel with the presentation of Albedo in Miami Beach, a major solo exhibition of Saraceno’s work, ON AIR, is taking place at the Palais de Tokyo (Oct 17, 2018 – Jan 6, 2019), and focuses his ongoing innovative research on the environment and cosmos. The exhibition includes a prototype for Albedo as well as detailing on the work of the Aerocene Foundation within the installation.

Art & Culture 06 Aug 2018

blockchain in the art world: the pros and cons

Blockchain in the art world: the pros and consThe technology could improve efficiency and transparency but it poses questions about the future of dealers and auction housesFor Sylvie Gleises, head of marketing at insurer Axa Art, the problem is all too familiar. A fire sweeps through the home of an art collector, reducing their treasured hoard to ashes. But they find that not only have the much-loved artworks gone up in flames, so have their documents of ownership, tucked away in a drawer in the same home. Proving the collector’s ownership rights now becomes considerably harder. But what if the history and proof of their purchases, the provenance of works in their collection and all related legal and insurance documents were held on a permanent, trusted database to which the collector and trusted advisers could gain access via a secure key? “If you have all the certificates and no questions about provenance and authenticity, then it’s easy for us to settle the claim,” says Gleises. This is one example of the potential benefits of the distributed ledger technology — otherwise known as blockchain — currently animating a wave of entrepreneurship in finance, healthcare, manufacturing and the art world. Used since 2009 to underpin the cryptocurrency bitcoin, blockchain allows a transaction to be permanently recorded on a database shared between computers, without relying on a third party to authenticate or process it. Immutability and security are written in to blockchain; when no single authority is in charge of the ledger, no one may remove entries or fiddle with them. It could bring efficiency and transparency to the buying and selling of art, currently a fragmented and opaque marketplace. But it also poses some searching questions about the future of the dealers and auction houses accustomed to carving off a profit: the market’s traditional middlemen. Christie’s, the venerable 252-year-old auction house, is one of the last institutions one might expect to embrace the potential of this disruptive technology. But last week it brought together technologists, art experts, entrepreneurs, financiers and lawyers at its London showrooms to discuss how blockchain could redefine processes and relationships in the art market. Anne Bracegirdle, a specialist in Christie’s photographs department, said blockchain had a “potentially revolutionary impact on our business” in its ability to host all data about an object or artwork, from catalogue details, sale prices and provenance, linked to invoices and certificates of authenticity. In her view, it reduces the room for human error, boosts trust and therefore could tip hesitant buyers and sellers over the line. “Property titles and full provenance are often missing, and that information can make or break a sale.” Digital artists are particularly captivated by the possibilities of blockchain. The market for art created to exist on a screen has suffered from the ease with which it can be replicated. But blockchain allows artists to create digital editions of their work — just as photographers create a limited number of prints — and ensure that ownership can be tracked and verified. Smart contracts — an innovation of the Ethereum blockchain on which nearly all art-related blockchain activity is taking place — also allow them to make more money out of their work, even perhaps selling portions of their work on blockchain, bringing fractional ownership to the art market. Digital art, however, is where incumbent companies appear especially vulnerable, since the role of the dealer or auction house in authenticating art, judging value based on previous prices, researching provenance and bringing together buyers and sellers could become redundant when all that information is held on a blockchain. J ohn Zettler, president of Rare Art Labs, a digital gallery for artists, says: “A simple coding script could ask where this artist has already sold and where this particular piece has sold in the past. There would be no concern about the authenticity of the piece — and no real need for a physical location where buyers and sellers gather.” One of the pioneers of blockchain-based digital art is Matt Hall, co-creator of “cryptopunks”, a series of 10,000 unique digital artworks in the shape of pixelated heads that he and his business partner released on Ethereum last year. They no longer control the art; it has taken on a life of its own, with rare cryptopunks changing hands for the equivalent of thousands of dollars.While he sees the experiment as an unexpected success, Hall says it raises “tricky questions” about people’s willingness to buy art that only exists online. Debate also rages about the technical question of where the digital art should reside. Since keeping work on the blockchain itself is expensive, it is typically used to host a proof of ownership and a link to the work itself on a separate third-party site. Purists say that offends the principle of independence that is the point of the technology; it also leaves owners vulnerable to the possibility the third-party company could go out of business, putting their art out of reach or even destroying it. Few deny that dealing with blockchain is currently tedious: users have to go through the process of acquiring a “digital wallet” and negotiate a barrage of technical jargon. For art entrepreneurs wishing to launch services on Ethereum, the price of engaging with the network to set up or make changes to data — known as the “gas price” — is also painfully volatile. “There are so many rough edges. You can’t plan for success by buying a bigger server. You don’t control the servers and you can’t call the helpdesk,” Hall says. Others worry that data held on blockchain will fall foul of the European general data protection regulation (GDPR) that came into force in May and has required monumentally complex and expensive preparations on the part of big corporations. Richard Entrup, Christie’s global chief information officer, says doubts over blockchain’s compliance with GDPR were an “aha moment” for him. “It immediately takes it off the table for a number of applications,” he says. Christie’s is nonetheless exploring the technology’s potential, with hints of an as-yet-undisclosed blockchain initiative coming soon. For some, the lack of a central authority overseeing the Ethereum blockchain is both its central appeal and its Achilles heel, since it leaves unanswered questions about what happens in the event of disputes. This is particularly acute where the blockchain is linked to artworks in the physical world. When that fire rips through the luxury apartment, who is in charge of telling the blockchain that the items in question are gone? “If a trusted party is required to do that, then how decentralised is the system really, and how different is it from doing it the old-fashioned way?” asks Hall. The need for expertise in navigating these dangerous shoals means, for the time being at least, that dealers and auction houses are likely to have a role to play. Gleises also believes they have other reasons to keep a tight grip on the market. “There are plenty of intermediaries who don’t have any interest in change. It’s a very small market, and very profitable for some. Who is going to be willing to let go of some of the margin for the market to grow?” By James Pickford FT 

Cars, Boats & Planes 28 Apr 2018

the 15th anniversary edition of top marques monaco

The Principality of Monaco was saturated in sunshine and  supercars last weekend for the 15th anniversary edition of Top Marques, the world’s only live luxury automobile show. More than 40,000 people turned out in the unseasonably warm weather to visit the show where they discovered a magical collection of world premier supercars, rare classic cars and a number of revolutionary green vehicles. A dazzling display of luxury products including unique timepieces and  bespoke jewellery were also on show in Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum at the luxury event, held in partnership with the Mairie de Monaco, the Monaco Convention Bureau and the Mondial Paris Motor Show. However, the scintillating spectacle of colour and opulence did not stop at the doors of the venue. The USP of Top Marques is its live test drives, with more than 25 vehicles lined up in the Pits this year for potential buyers, journalists and VIP visitors to trial on parts of Monaco’s famous Formula 1 Track. Thanks to a long-lasting partnership with the Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Societe des Bains de Mer, Top Marques was also present in Casino Square where this year’s display included the incredible Apollo IE supercar which checked in to Monaco on its official road tour. Supercar fans from all corners of the globe descended on the Principality to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary supercar, valued at 2.3 million euro, as well as the scores of other luxury vehicles which could be seen circulating around Monaco over the four day show.Manoj Bairstow, managing director of Top Marques Monaco, said last night : “We would like to thank each and every one who participated in - and visited - our anniversary edition of Top Marques. The atmosphere inside and outside the Grimaldi Forum was extremely celebratory throughout the show, and we were delighted to see so many people who came to share in this special occasion. The streets of Monaco were also absolutely packed with supercar fans and the ambiance was incredibly festive – just like a Grand Prix weekend !  “Our enormous thanks go to the Grimaldi Forum for helping us put on such a wonderful display – this year and every year since our conception in 2004. I would also like to offer our appreciation to the police authorities for their support of Top Marques as well as the Government of Monaco and of course, our High Patron H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Cars, Boats & Planes 11 Apr 2018

top marques monaco 15th anniversary

TOP Marques Monaco, the world’s only live auto show where visitors can trial the latest supercars on a F1 track, will celebrate its 15th anniversary next week. To mark this auspicious milestone, the show is returning to its roots to bring you a spectacular display of world-class supercars in and around the Grimaldi Forum from April 19th to 22nd. World premier supercars, rare classic cars and groundbreaking ecological vehicles will be on display in the Ravel Supercar Hall whilst more than 25 vehicles will be available for test drive on the iconic Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Meanwhile, in the show’s Watch Pavilion and Luxury Lane – visitors will have the opportunity to marvel at – and buy - watches from leading independent horologers as well as exquisite jewellery pieces and the latest luxury lifestyle must-haves. Manoj Bairstow, Managing Director of Top Marques Monaco, said today: “To celebrate our 15th anniversary edition we have decided to return to the essence of what Top Marques is all about it – a live supercar show where visitors can get to see and try out some of the most incredible supercars in the world. “We have supercars coming from all corners of the globe including six vehicles that will be unveiled for the first time. But that’s not all. There will be stunning jewellery collections for our female visitors, watches that most of us can only dream of owning and some very unique luxury products.” Despite its relatively short history, Top Marques is now Monaco’s third most popular event attracting visitors from a far afield as Japan, Canada and New Zealand. A record-breaking number of tickets have already been sold for the show, billed the ‘ultimate luxury car show’ by Bloomberg TV. Tickets including VIP entries offering access to the VIP Lounge and Test Pits are available through the website www.topmarquesmonaco.com or from the Grimaldi Forum www.grimaldiforum.com

Business 21 Mar 2018

where to find successful family businesses?

Where in the world will you find the most successful family businesses? Behind a successful family business there is usually a story of hard work, dedication, inspiration and sacrifice. It may even be a tale of someone achieving great things against incredible odds. Certainly, the 500 largest family firms in the world today are towering examples of human endeavor – among them are household names such as Wal-Mart, Volkswagen, Ford and ALDI. Each year, the Center for Family Business at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, in cooperation with EY’s Global Family Business Center of Excellence, compiles an index of the largest 500 family firms around the world. To qualify as a family business for the index, the family must control more than 50% of the voting rights in the case of a privately held firm, or 32% of the voting rights in the case of a publicly listed firm. The index offers some fascinating insights into the world’s largest family-owned businesses, in terms of where they are based, how much wealth they generate and how many people they employ. The US is home to more than a quarter (27.8%) of the businesses on the index – more than any other country – which may surprise those who see it as the land of publicly listed companies and unicorns, rather than a haven of sustainable, trans-generational businesses. Next on the list comes Germany, followed by France. These rankings reflect the strong culture of family-owned businesses in the Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) region, which hosts more than half (51%) of all firms on the index. Not unexpectedly, we have started to see the emerging markets make their presence felt. Asia-Pacific has 59 entries on the index in 2017, up from 52 in the last edition of the index. Furthermore, it boasts the fastest-growing family-run business in the world – automotive parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group Corporation – which racked up an impressive compound annual growth rate of 203.3% between 2012 and 2015. China Fortune Land Development Company also made the list of the world’s 10 fastest-growing family-run businesses. Yet despite China’s growing economic might, I don’t expect to see Chinese family-run businesses start to dominate the index in the near future. Succession limitations restrict the pool of people eligible to take over the running of a family business. Also, with second-generation family members more likely to be “global citizens” than the first generation, they may prefer to exit and become investors with their own wealth management vehicle instead of manage the business. By Marnix van Rij

Gadgets & Trends 19 Mar 2018

baselworld 2018, a glimpse of what’s to come

The largest watch and jewellery event of the year will unveil the latest in timekeeping from hundreds of watch manufacturers from around the world, starting March 22. Before that, we have here a sneak peek at what you can look forward to  Set in the eponymous town of Basel in northern Switzerland, Baselworld is the watch and jewellery show that defines the landscape of the watch market for the rest of the year. And we’re not talking only about luxury watches or Swiss watches. Unlike the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), which showcases only brands that are premium and higher up on the luxury scale, Baselworld is home to exhibitors from all segments and from around the world. Having said that, the range of brands at Baselworld from the luxury and prestige segments is as wide as you can imagine. From the prestigious Patek Philippe and the pioneering Breguet to the iconic Omega and the grand Rolex, the products showcased by the high-end names at the fair always baffle one and all.For the Baselworld 2018 edition, there have been a few pre-event announcements that have already got the conversation started. In fact, a few brands even had the buzz going on their 2018 releases before SIHH in January. Take a look at the announcements of new products that we are particularly looking forward to seeing at the fair. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic With Vibrant Ceramic  Hublot’s all about the ‘art of fusion’, and after creating their own gold alloys, hardened carbon fibre and leather-and-rubber fusions, this year, they’re all set to present some vibrant ceramic. Yes, ceramic in watches isn’t something new. It’s been used extensively by Rado, Chanel, Dior, Panerai, and even Hublot in the past. However, there haven’t quite been any drastic colour variations beyond blacks, whites and other neutral tones, barring some exceptions. Now though, Hublot’s research and development has led to ceramic in a rich, vibrant hue like red for the first time. And not just that; with extreme density, it’s even harder than conventional ceramic. Moreover, the watch we’ll see it in incorporates this material in every component of the case. The limited edition watch is in a 45mm case, housing a Unico HUB124 in-house movement, and features an open-worked display. The brand calls the vivid red the ‘first coloured ceramic’, which implies that there could be other rich hues as well. Won’t that be vibrant!  TAG Heuer’s New Partnership With Aston Martin And 55 Years Of The Carrera Every year, a few brands end up marking milestones of various kinds. This year, one of them will be TAG Heuer, celebrating 55 years of the Carrera collection. A major pillar for the brand, and a strong representation of its association with motorsports, the Carrera collection will see an evolution in this anniversary year, with the new Heuer 02 Calibre manufacture movement. The new calibre will be seen in four new Carrera chronograph models, each in a 43mm case, either in steel, rose gold or ceramic. The steel versions are either with a blue bezel and blue leather strap or with a black bezel and brown leather strap. The black ceramic version comes with a black ceramic bracelet, while the gold model has a black leather strap. All models have skeleton displays, with distinctive hour markers, hands and chronograph counters. A Never-Seen-Before Avatar Of The Breitling Navitimer Breitling is in a new set of hands this year, with a new CEO, Georges Kern – who was with IWC earlier – and a new creative director, Guy Bove. Everyone’s looking forward to seeing the first collection of Breitling under Kern. For now, the fresh perspective that Kern and Bove bring to the brand is already quite discernible, through the new edition Navitimer 8, a visibly distinct departure from the Navitimers we’ve seen so far. This sharp evolution of the collection comes in the form of a cleaner design for one of the most iconic series of aviation watches ever. The inner-bezel slide rule is gone, which instantly clears up the dial in a big way. So for those who found the Navitimer too cluttered, this is good news. he other significant development is the replacement of the hour markers with Arabic numerals – a simple change that gives it a more contemporary look. The numerals do bear a striking resemblance to those used by IWC on their Big Pilot watches. However, for those who liked the Navitimer as it was, the good news is that this new edition doesn’t replace the existing designs, as Kern informs. It is just an addition to the line. The new Navitimer 8 comes in five versions – two chronograph versions, one with the date and the other with day and date indicators; two automatic versions, one with date and the other a Day-Date; and finally the Navitimer 8 Unitimer, which has a multiple time zone display. These five watches will be available in various combinations of colours and gold, steel and leather.   

Business 13 Mar 2018

trends that are expected to rule social media

Trends That Are Expected To Rule Social Media In 2018 The most common thing we hear and experience ‘Social media is evolving everyday’, which is indeed true.It’s only few months left for 2017 and we can see enormous changes in social media industry every day. On one hand we can see new social media platforms coming up and on other hand the existing social media is updating and coming up with new Ideas.There are certain predictions made every year but technology never fails to surprise us.Here are the trends predicted in social media. Where most of the points are referred from Hubspot, Forbes and Spread social, the final concluded points are my personal opinion.Increase of Paid Ads: The organic approach is no longer working like it did 5 years back. According to Hubspot, the paid campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram has increased 30% and trend is expected to go upward only in 2018.Customer Support via Social Media: The response to the customer queries is much better and quicker on social media platforms when compared to the traditional Email method. Let me share an incident, I was booking movie tickets online and the transaction got failed and I raised a mail to their Help desk and also tweeted them using my twitter handle. The response to my tweet was in 15-20 minutes and reply to my mail was 2 hours later. This clearly showed how brands are using social media to provide quicker and better customer support.SnapChat: A new social media platform which is booming among teenagers. A complete unique user experience is reason of its success. According to Forbes, Snap chat has 200million active users (It includes 11% of the total US population) with a daily data sharing up to 700 million pictures and 8.1 billion videos. Even after several controversies there are around 40 lakhs Indians users on SnapChat (Source: quora user) 99% of which is teenagers. Even in 2018 the numbers of users are predicted to increase more.Demand for Advanced content: People in 2017 are well aware of the technology. Their demand for new age and advanced content is growing day by day. Content like 360 degree video and VR (virtual reality)experience is expected to grow more and more on Social Media in coming years.More and more video: The rate of response is much more when it comes to video content on social media. And we can all see that the live video is setting trend all over Facebook and Instagram. With LinkedIn enabling video optionwill diversify the way of conducting Webinars, etc. According to Business Insider, Apple and Facebook is spending billions of dollars for original video content in 2018.More on manual work than automatic: Well, few years back when the social media was roaring it’s sky-high there plenty of automated options of uploading data, instant reply to the messages via automated plugin. But these methods are not recommended anymore, a personal touch is needed all over which boldly and clearly states, MANUAL over AUTOMATIC.Unique approach: Facebook has recently observed ‘Upload profile picture with customized frame’. This unique approach is trending on social media a lot. Any movie whose release date is near is releasing their frame and it is doing their much needed promotion. More such unique approaches will be observed in 2018.Content in multiple Languages: In countries like India with recent revolution of telecom industry, Internet users are increased tremendously. Plenty of which are using internet, Social media with their regional languages. So what I feel is in order to target and engage each and every one, Content in multiple languagesis recommended.Still there are many points raised like Twitter is losing its charm because of the popularity of # tags on Instagram, Facebook is feeling insecure with G+ coming up and growing steadily.Let’s see what 2018 will bring change in Social Media.What do you think? Please comment below.

Cars, Boats & Planes 14 Feb 2018

15th anniversary edition top marques monaco

Live supercar show Top Marques Monaco is moving up a gear this year with a sensational line-up of vehicles confirmed for its 15th anniversary edition including brand-new supercars, rare classic cars and a million-dollar motorbike._______________This year’s Top Marques, being held from April 19th to 22nd, will mark the important milestone with a stunning showcase of some of the world’s most exclusive cars inside & outside the Grimaldi Forum, including an unprecedented number of test drives in Monaco. Organisers of the annual supercar show are keen to keep elements of this anniversary edition under wraps until the opening day, but yesterday revealed the following: 30+ supercars will be available for test drives on the F1 circuit including the brand new ZENVO, drivable for the first time during the show & high performance tuners by Moldavian customizing company ALANDI PERFORMANCEVisitors will be able to get up close to the MISSILE by CORBELLATI, being touted as the world’s fastest supercar with estimated top speed of 500 km/hFour world premieres, including an ultra lightweight hybrid hypercar with top speeds of 380 km/h by Slovenia supercar specialist Tushek & bespoke supercar from British newcomers BDI.Largest ever display of ‘green’ vehicles including a special edition electric sports car designed for H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco, the show’s patron  Private collection of classic cars once owned by the world’s most notorious statesmen in a specially designated area of more than 300 m2Extremely rare sighting of unique motorbike designed by Massimo Tamburini, mastermind behind Ducati known as the ‘Michelangelo of motos’Manoj Bairstow, managing director of Top Marques Monaco, said: “We are extremely delighted to bring you our 15th anniversary show, which we hope will be our best ever show yet. “The concept behind Top Marques was to create an exhibition which went beyond the static events of Paris, Frankfurt and Geneva, where visitors could actually test drive the vehicles that caught their eye. And Monaco, which hosts probably the most famous Grand Prix in the world, was the obvious venue for a live auto show with test drives taking place on the F1 circuit. “It’s fitting therefore that for our 15th anniversary show we will have more test drive cars available than ever before – the pit lanes will be lined with cars available for test drives including the new Zenvo, which can be seen in motion for the first time at the show." Visitors wanting to enjoy an extra special experience at Top Marques this year can take advantage of a new VIP pass, which offers test drive pit access as well as the chance to benefit from multiple refueling pit-stops in the VIP Lounge. There will also be a new Top Marques Restaurant, open to all visitors, which will offer first class dining in a discrete setting within the exhibition.The Missile by CORBELLATI : Possibly the Fastest Supercar in the WorldFamily jewellers Corbellati have swapped their bespoke bijoux for what is being billed as potentially the world’s fastest supercar - aptly named the Missile. This twin-turbo charged V8 hypercar with 1,800 horsepower is understood to have the capacity to reach 500 km/h (312 m/h).“The adventure began a few years ago, a little for fun and a little for passion, but in a short time, it became a serious and demanding project that absorbed all our energies,” a spokesman for the company said. “Our hard work has been rewarded: we will show to the world our car at Top Marques in Monaco.“Monaco is the emblem of luxury, and Top Marques is therefore the best event to show our Corbellati Missile."WORLD LAUNCH: TUSHEK TS900 H, a hybrid hypercar like no otherTeam Tushek, founded by Slovenian racing driver Aljoša Tushek, will be unveiling its’ latest supercar at Top Marques: the all new Tushek TS 900 H, a hybrid hypercar weighing just 1400 kg but with 950 horserpower. Acceleration is brutal as it gets from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds, while top speed is limited to 380 km/h.A spokesman for the company said: “It is in a league of its own as it is the only hypercar currently in existence weighing under 1400 kilograms. Our team has crafted an incredible machine, which feels alive on the straights as well as in the corners. It offers an exclusive driving experience, matched by no other hypercar out there.“We are proud to reveal our brand new hypercar to the world for the first time at the 15th anniversary of Top Marques in Monaco.” Latest supercar from ZENVO will be available for TEST DRIVEThe 15th anniversary edition of Top Marques will see more cars than ever available for test drive on the famous Grand Prix F1 circuit. In excess of 30 supercars and luxury vehicles will be lined up in the Pits outside the Grimaldi Forum, including the latest supercar from Danish designers Zenvo.Very little is currently known about the new supercar apart from a trio of teasers released last month by the company which describes the new model as a crossover between the TS1 GT car, which can also be seen at Top Marques on the Zenvo stand,  and its racetrack-bred sibling, the TSR. Only five cars will be built annually.The supercar will be launched at Geneva Motor Show next month, but only available to drive at Top Marques.  A spokesman for Zenvo said: “Changing the ubiquitous ‘booth’ culture that surrounds the industry, Top Marques combines the values that defines Zenvo: showcasing unrivalled design with an engaging experience.” Brand-new supercar by British designers BDIBritish design and development company BDI has handpicked Top Marques as the podium on which to launch its brand-new supercar the “Enigma”, being billed as a ‘world beating supercar with more torque than the Bugatti Chiron.’The hybrid supercar, which has electric front wheel drive and petrol rear wheel drive, has 2150 NM of torque – some 550NM of torque more than the Bugatti Chiron – and top speeds of 290 km/h (180m/h).Phil Bevan, CEO and Founder of BDI, said: “The Enigma has more torque than the Bugatti Chiron, it’s quicker on acceleration because the 550 NM of torque at 4400 rpm is supplemented with two electric hub motors driving the front wheels that contribute a further 1600 NM of torque.”The hybrid supercar can also go 50km on electric power – meaning 0 emissions. “Top Marques Monaco is the perfect platform to launch our new supercar and we can’t wait until April. We’re big fans of Top Marques and it makes perfect sense to unveil our supercar in Monaco,” said Mr Bevan.RADICAL RXC Returns to Monaco for Test DrivesOne of the most popular supercars to have appeared in the Top Marques pits in recent years is the Radical RXC – which we are thrilled to announce will be returning to celebrate our 15th anniversary with us. The fastest street-legal sports car will be available for test drives to customers who reserve directly with the manufacturer.The Radical RXC has 650 horsepower and weighs just 1130kg - with a top speed of 290 km/h (180 m/h) ensuring that visitors who venture in the car for a test drive will be in for an exhilarating ride.A spokesman for the company said: “A place amongst the nicest car paradise in the world, Monaco and Top Marques Monaco are the place to be if you want to talk the international language of sports and racing cars to enthusiasts.  

Fashion & Design 19 Jan 2018

sihh 2018 new watches

SIHH 2018: All tSIHH 2018Every year the high echelons of the watch industry gather in Geneva for a week to unveil their new watch collections for the year to come. Stories start to slip out from about November – we’re gathering up every new watch launch from SIHH 2018 here, from mainstream chronographs to esoteric jewellery creations. MontBlancAs Montblanc marks what would have been the 160th anniversary of Minerva, it looks to conquer the middle ground with some handsome complicationsIntroduced in 2015, Montblanc’s 1858 collection has been rightly cooed over by journalists ever since. At its core is a design that’s as vintage-inspired as any on the market, executed better than most (lack of date window; old-school logo) with enough personality running through the range for it to stand out – think the Dual Time automatic, for instance Jeager-LeCoultreA brand new range of stainless steel sports and travel-oriented watches brings back the Polaris name and aims to revitalise Jaeger-LeCoultre’s fortunesthe Polaris collection, and if that sounds familiar to you, it’s because the name is not a new one for the brand. It originally adorned a line of Memovox alarm watches in the 1960s, badged either as Jaeger-LeCoultre or LeCoultre, for the US market – and has been revived once before already, when Jaeger-LeCoultre released a limited edition 768-piece run of a Polaris Memovox tribute in 2008. Ten years later, Polaris is back, and this time it covers more than alarms. Audemars PiguetFor SIHH 2018, Audemars Piguet has created the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar.When we write about ultra-thin watchmaking, we tend to focus on the outright record-setters. The watches – predominantly from Piaget, Bulgari and Jaeger-LeCoultre – which stake a claim to new ground, albeit often by tiny margins, in the simplest expression of mechanical watchmaking: thinnest mechanical watch, or thinnest automatic watch.There’s something fitting about that; the quest for ever slimmer movements and watches is bound up with simplicity, with the reduction of things to their most essential, so it feels right to be talking about watches concerned only with hours, minutes and maybe seconds.Similarly, when we talk about Audemars Piguet concept watches, we have an image that comes readily to mind. The “stormtrooper” type of Royal Oak Offshore models.IWCIWC gets its 150th anniversary celebrations underway early with two new Portugieser tourbillons.IWC is going all out for its 150 anniversary celebrations in 2018, announcing no fewer than 27 limited edition novelties across the Portugieser, Portofino, Da Vinci and Pilot’s collection to be announced as well as the Tribute to Pallweber Edition.Two of the more haute horlogerie offerings to wear the Jubilee Collection’s ‘150 years’ 18ct gold medallion sit within the Portugieser line; a perpetual calendar tourbillon and a constant force tourbillon.The Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’ is a 46mm platinum watch (we’ll let you know just how heavy that is when we go hands on at SIHH in January) limited to just 15 pieces.IWC have employed a variation of its 94800 calibre (the 94805) which installs a second escapement between the escape wheel and the fourth wheel which winds a balance spring ensuring constant force is supplied. This movement has already graced IWC’s Ingenieur Constant Force Tourbillon and the Portugieser Siderale Scafusia, although this twin barrelled version boasts 96 hours of power reserve, double that of previous iterations. The tourbillon itself is visible through the dial beneath a very bold, open-worked, cross-shaped bridge.Complementing the platinum case is a white lacquered dial with blued hands, moon phase accurate to one day for 577.5 years.Each of the watches within the Jubilee Collection feature either white or blue dials, inspired not only by the look of the aforementioned Pallweber pocket watches but the imprinted dials and blued hands of the original 1939 Portugieser models. The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’ also comes down on the side of white lacquer with blued hands.

Art & Culture 11 Dec 2017

16th edition of art basel in miami beach

The 16th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach concluded with strong sales and high praise for the new floor plan and show design. December 10, 2017, Art Basel’s 16th edition in Miami Beach closed following strong sales across all levels of the market and robust attendance from international collectors and institutions. This year's show saw the debut of a new floor plan and show design, which was widely praised by exhibitors and collectors alike. The show, whose Lead Partner is UBS, featured 268 premier galleries from 32 countries, who presented outstanding works, ranging from Modern masterpieces to contemporary painting, sculpture, performance, photography, works on paper and film – some of which were created specifically for the fair. Across the five show days, the fair attracted an attendance of over 82,000, including influential collectors, directors, curators, trustees and patrons of leading international museums and institutions.See pictures for an impression of the 2017 show..

Travel & Events 27 Nov 2017

dubai’s first bulgari-branded hotel

Dubai’s first Bulgari-branded hotel is set to open on December 7, 2017. The luxury property will be the world’s fifth Bulgari Hotels and Resorts property and will be operated by Marriott International.Designed by Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners, the first Bulgari property will be located on Jumeirah Bay Island, off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Road and sculptured in the shape of a seahorse.“The Bulgari Resort & Residences Dubai is anothermilestone for the Bulgari Hotelsand Resorts Collection and represents a tribute to the importance of the Middle East Market for the Bulgari brand.It is an honour for us to partner with Meraas on this extraordinary project, which brings the best of the Italian design and lifestyle culture to one of the most modern and future orientated cities in the world,” comments Jean-Christope Babin, chief executive office of Bulgari.The 1,700 sq m Bulgari Spa, will be equipped with eight treatment rooms, a 25-metre indoor pool with a sea view floor-to-ceiling windows.Dubai will be joining the ranks of luxury Bulgari resorts located in Milan, Bali, London and Beijing, and the 101-key resort has 20 private beachfront villas, and a private beach.

News, Media & Society 15 Nov 2017

oak ceramic perpetual sells for 800,000 chf

Oak Ceramic Perpetual Sells For 800,000 CHF At Only Watchtes.Outfitted with a new and unique dial color, an AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar crushes pre-sale estimates.The big sales keep piling up in Geneva. The latest big one to drop is CHF 800,000 ($803184.75 at the time of publication) paid for an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in ceramic. It's one hell of a watch, and an expensive one too. Back when this reference came out at SIHH 2017, its retail price was announced at $85,000. When AP announced that they'd made a unique blue-dialed version of this guy for Only Watch, the estimate was CHF 80,000-120,000. Boy, was that number way off!By Jason Watts. 

Art & Culture 14 Nov 2017

slow-moving luminaries by lars jan

SLOW-MOVING LUMINARIES BY LARS JAN FOR THE 3RD AUDEMARS PIGUET ART COMMISSION.  Le Brassus, 26 October 2017: Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is delighted to announce the details of its 3rd Art Commission, realised by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Lars Jan, in collaboration with artistic director and guest curator Kathleen Forde. The large-scale immersive installation entitled Slow-Moving Luminaries will be shown this year at Art Basel in Miami Beach.   Audemars Piguet will unveil its 3rd Art Commission on the Miami Beach oceanfront to coincide with Art Basel in Miami Beach (6-10 December 2017). The Audemars Piguet Art Commission’s aim is to contribute to global artistic innovation by supporting artists who explore ideas related to complexity, precision, technology and science. Audemars Piguet not only provides the financial support to develop and present each project, it also gives the selected artist access to the advanced tools, craft expertise and sophisticated technology necessary to realise the finished artwork. Slow-Moving Luminaries will take the form of an immersive and kinetic large-scale pavilion that will host a labyrinth within. Presented on a site spanning 100 by 50 feet, the work will invite viewers to partake in a journey across its upper and lower decks. Standing in stark contrast from one another, the lower deck will boast an extravagant maze of scrim and flora, and the upper deck a shallow, reflective pool of water, through which building models that mimic the surrounding skyline will emerge and recede in concert, but at varying speeds throughout the day. The artist notes: ‘It’s a visceral response to the water — I find it exquisitely beautiful, but I have a kind of anxiety about it. I came into this commission thinking about time, but also the cycles of the planet versus the cycle of human behaviour and our built environment — the changing of our world converging with the changing of the biosphere’.  This major new work will examine the oscillating conflict between an individual’s state of meditation and that of crisis—both internal and external. Within the work, Jan will manipulate scale and temporality, presenting viewers with a reality that can be experienced beyond the day-to-day and allowing them to become participants, choreographing the experience freely. Jan comments: ‘the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission will see its viewers act as performers, becoming a part of the piece as they interact with it. The performance will be spontaneous and remain unscripted, allowing the viewers to set their own pace. This is the first time I will not have control over my performers’ movements. The piece will be totally experiential for the viewer and go beyond the simple act of contemplation’.  Lars Jan was one of seven artists invited by guest curator Kathleen Forde to submit an idea for the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission, four of whom were shortlisted for the Commission. The shortlisted artists were invited to the Valle?e de Joux in Switzerland to familiarise themselves with the brand’s origins and values. Known for his cross-disciplinary experiments in performance, art, and technology, the artist Lars Jan describes his collaboration with Audemars Piguet saying: ‘They’re really courageous — they put the art first and value the concepts and ideas that are part of the work’.  Kathleen Forde, guest curator of the 2017 project speaks of the artist as ‘the perfect fit for this year’s Art Commission. His art mirrors the complexity, precision, technology and science that defines Audemars Piguet’. Olivier Audemars, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, says: ‘As a company, we want to be transformed by art. Artists have a capacity to see things differently; as if they have special glasses that one can borrow and see what they can see’. He reflects on the upcoming project: ‘One of the reasons we were so impressed by Lars’ [work] is that it’s quite strongly linked to something that we know: our environment is very fragile. We are just a little part of the history of the earth and the universe, and it’s up to us to find a solution to continue to exist’.  

Business 13 Nov 2017

paradise papers

Since the story broke just short of a week ago, much of the western world has been consumed by the Paradise Papers leak. Many have been quick to point the finger at the public figures whose names have turned up in the documents and attack them for alleged “tax avoidance”. Is that fair? By Adam Ramlugon  Another day, another so called scandal for the wealthy elites caught up in the Paradise Papers fracas.  A lot of electronic ink has been spilled since this story broke, with calls for those named in this latest leak to “apologise” all the way up to far more colourful language. Reports suggest that HMRC has as many as 66 criminal investigations are now on foot as a result of last year’s Panama Papers leak, the inference being that there is more to come from this most recent lifting of the lid on the tax affairs of what Bernie Sanders described as a “global oligarchy”.Speaking as a lawyer who has not seen one shred of the swathes of Paradise Papers material (something I have in common, I would imagine, with the majority of commentators outside the journalists who broke the story), I must say that I have been troubled by two things:First, the (vitriolic) tenor of some of the comments left on social media pages and comment sections which are directed at the individuals whose names have turned up in the documents. In many cases the subjects of these tirades will simply have entered into legal arrangements on professional advice. Whatever your view on the practices brought to light by the Paradise Papers, such “trials by media” should not be condoned. Anyone with an axe to grind should direct their complaints at legislature that make the rules, not those who comply with them. Second, what appears to be conflation between the terms “tax avoidance” and “tax evasion”. The first, when conducted reasonably and not abusively, is entirely legal (and we’ll come back to that). The second is not. A great many commentators do not seem to appreciate the distinction and by doing so, end up accusing their targets of doing nothing more than complying with the law. I would encourage you to listen to Peter Bone MP’s comments to the Shadow Chancellor in this regard this week. Put another way, there does not seem to be a clear enough line drawn between acts which might constitute tax evasion or abusive practices and tax avoidance, which is part of reasonable tax planning strategy. Consider for a moment, that if you take advantage of your personal income allowance, or pay savings into an ISA, you are a tax avoider too. I now want to turn to address the argument that UK taxpayers have an untrammelled right to arrange their affairs in whatever manner they like in an effort to avoid tax. This is simply not true, and has not been so since, at the very latest, the introduction of HMRC’s General Anti-Abuse Rule (the “GAAR”) which came into force in July 2013. Revised Guidance on the intended purpose of the GAAR was published earlier this year on 31 March. Here is a brief summary of that Guidance. Tax avoidance - The Law   My colleague Mark Needham wrote a post earlier this week (which has since gone viral) in which he quoted the famous judgment of Lord Clyde in the Ayrshire Pullman case. In that judgment, the Lord Justice held as follows: “No man in this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so as to arrange his legal relations to his business or to his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel into his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow – and quite rightly – to take every advantage which is open to it under the taxing statutes for the purpose of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is, in like manner, entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.” Although this judgment was handed down in 1929, its principles remain relevant today and it is still a touchstone for those who believe that, given the balance of power between the state and the individual taxpayer, it is only right that the latter should be entitled to avail themselves of whatever reliefs or other arrangements exist within the letter of the law. That being said, the GAAR has surely had the effect of cutting down what have often been looked upon as rights enshrined by the courts. The Guidance makes it clear that in enacting the GAAR, Parliament: “…rejects the approach taken by the Courts in a number of old cases to the effect that taxpayers are free to use their ingenuity to reduce their tax bills by any lawful means, however contrived those means might be…” And also takes direct aim at Ayshire Pullman which: “…illustrates the approach which Parliament has rejected in enacting the GAAR legislation. Taxation is not to be treated as a game where taxpayers can indulge in inventive schemes in order to eliminate or reduce their tax liability…” What the Guidance boils down to, however, is an effort to strike a balance between keeping reasonable courses of action (making use of statutory incentives, EIS reliefs and so on) which are outside the scope of the GAAR, and abusive arrangements which “viewed objectively, has the obtaining of a tax advantage as its main purpose…”. So, in sum, whilst there may be some difficulty in determining what is and is not a reasonable or abusive arrangement, there are rules in place that are directed at some of the practices that are perceived in some quarters as abusive, aggressive or immoral tax arrangements. So, whilst Lord Clyde’s judgment is most certainly still of some utility, the GAAR has slightly watered down how much overt reliance can be placed on it, at least for the purposes of English law. Summary It may very well be the case that the Paradise Papers have or will provide some evidence of out and out tax evasion or other practices deemed abusive as a matter of law which will be met with sanctions. My personal view is that this is purely a matter for HMRC. Any attempts to put individual taxpayers through the court of public opinion are at best premature and in any event ill-conceived. Those of us within society that take the view that there are shortcomings with the UK’s tax system should take this matter up with Parliament through their local representatives. That being said, it does seem clear that there is something of a gap between the UK’s tax laws as they currently stand and what the court of public opinion (albeit fuelled with inflammatory commentary by the media) believes they should be. Parliament take note.

Business 06 Nov 2017

the most desirable business schools

The Most Desirable Business SchoolsBy Gregory YangCritics argue that the MBA is on its last legs, but demand at the top MBA schools is continuously growing.Ready4, a Boston-based company that creates test prep apps, recently released its annual ranking of the “The Most Desired Business School Programs.”Among the 25 schools ranked, Harvard secured the number one spot with Stanford following in second. Four new schools made this year’s rankings, including the London School of Economics (17th place), Cornell (19th place), University of Michigan (24th place), and Dartmouth (25th place). At the same time, Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Imperial College, and USC fell off the list.Rank and SchoolAvg. GMAT% of Ready 4 Users Indicate as a Top Choice1. Harvard2. Stanford3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)4. MIT (Sloan)5. Indian School of Business6. Columbia7. London Business School8. New York University9. INSEAD10. University of California Berkeley11. University of Chicago12. Northwestern13. Indian Institute of Management14. Yale15. Duke16. University of Oxford17. London School of Economics18. HEC Paris19. Cornell20. University of Cambridge21. National University of Singapore22. UCLA23. SP Jain Institute of Management24. University of Michigan Ann Arbor25. DartmouthThe MethodologyReady4’s rankings are based on methodology that’s reported by current and prospective students. In other words, students themselves are ranking which schools they find most desirable.Registered Ready4 users from 195 countries register to download the platform’s GMAT prep mobile application. In the process, they are required to select 10 schools they are interested in applying to. The data was based off 250,000 site visitors since November 2015, with men comprising 62% of the sample. Among its rankings, Ready4 also displays the average GMAT score, acceptance rate, and percentage of students who indicate the school as a top choice.Top B-Schools Are Getting More ApplicantsWhat does this ranking say? For one, it appears that student demand for the top b-schools hasn’t changed. According to a Fortune report, top b-schools are seeing an increase in applicants. “Yale University’s School of Management has seen a whopping 45% increase inapplications since 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School ofBusiness has seen a 28% increase, and University of California-Berkeley’s Haas hasseen a 20.7% uptick.”Along those lines, t is a reflection of which programs are generating the most interest before applications are submitted. According to Ready4, the respondents possessed 4 years and 7 months of work experience, with 65% of them looking to start business school within the next year. As a result, the survey is a measurement of school interest from the Class of 2020 and 2021.Not surprisingly, the big three – Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – continued to garner the most interest. For the most part, the top schools cited by Ready4 users were larger programs (300+ student annual intake) and urban. The majority were American – though by a slimmer 15-to-10 margin than might be expected. That said, several international schools, including the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Oxford, and the National University of Singapore experienced the biggest drops in interest.

News, Media & Society 27 Oct 2017

paul newman's rolex sells for record $17.8-million

Paul Newman's Rolex Sells For Record $17.8-million at Phillips Bacs & Russo Auction in New York A Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239, known as the "Paul Newman" owned by legendary actor Paul Newman sold for $15.5-million, plus buyer's premium of 12.5%, for a final price of $17,752,500 at a Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo auction tonight in New York City, setting a new record for a Rolex sold at auction. It is also the record price for any wristwatch sold at auction, and is considered the most iconic wristwatch of the 20th Century. The previous record for a Rolex sold at auction was $5-million for a Rolex Ref. 6062, nicknamed the “Bao Dai” because it was owned by the last emperor of Vietnam. Previously the highest price paid for a Rolex Daytona – the most collectible Rolex model – was $3.7-million, set last spring at a Phillips, Bacs & Russo auction. Previously the most expensive wristwatch sold at auction was a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518, for $11-million, also sold by Phillips. The so-called “Paul Newman” Daytona, worn by the actor, is the most sought-after Daytona model, and the model sold tonight was the original: Paul Newman's "Paul Newman". The reference, which wasn’t called the Paul Newman until the 1980s when it began to gain traction as a collector’s piece is distinguishable from other Daytona models for the “square lollipop” ends on the subdial markers and for its Art Deco font. It also has contrasting colored seconds scale along the periphery of the dial, and a Daytona signature over the lower subdial rather than under the upper signature, as on most other Daytonas. Officially called the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona, it was produced in six different series between 1963 and the late 1970s, but was discontinued because of poor sales. Paul Newman wore the one auctioned today – a Ref. 6239, made in 1963. It was a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward, who engraved “Drive Carefully, Me” on the caseback. Newman gifted it in 1984 to James Cox, the former boyfriend and now close friend of Paul Newman’s daughter Nell. A portion of the proceeds of tonight's sale will go to the Nell Newman Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports her father’s philanthropic values, while serving Nell’s commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture.  A portion of the sale proceeds will also go to benefit Newman’s Own Foundation.Carol Besler covers watches for Watch Journal, Watch Time, Robb Report, Nuvo, Revolution and International Watch. For more of her stories see watchdetail.com

Fashion & Design 23 Oct 2017

the audemars piguet royal oak double balance wheel

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Fully ExplainedAt the SIHH 2016, Audemars Piguet introduced a new version of its Royal Oak Openworked, and this time, it featured a Double Balance Wheel… Why replace this superb model? And why have two balances? We all know that images are better than words in order to understand, so let’s turn the floor over to the CEO of Audemars Piguet, François-Henry Bennahmias (and you’ll see, there’s a fun story behind the creation of this watch) and Gilles Pellet, Head of Product Quality Department at Audemars Piguet, to discover the superb and technically-advanced Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked 15407.One of the boldest models in the Royal Oak collection, alongside the classical 15400 and the ultra-thin 15202, has always been the Openworked Selfwinding version 15305 – so-to-say, a connoisseur’s watch, made for the collectors who care about watchmaking and who know how to recognize a true Haute-Horlogerie execution and decoration. This watch, in a 39mm case, features an evolution of the well-known calibre 3120, in a fully skeletonized version, finished in a superb way: anglages executed by hand, multiple inner and outer angles… Yet, in 2016, Audemars Piguet decided that this watch should be updated, by introducing the new Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked reference 15407. Why would they do that?First of all, this new Openworked version updates its case to a 41mm diameter, in line with the rest of the “automatique” collection (understand here the 15400). But that’s not the main evolution point. What impresses most is the addition of a second hairspring to the regulating organ of the calibre 3120. What could be the advantages of such a feature? There are different perspectives to take into account. The first one is about visual pleasure. Having a double balance wheel, one of them being placed on the dial side of the watch, allows the wearer to enjoy the view on the regulating organ’s ballet even when wearing his watch – and also when observing the movement…However, the main upgrade concerns the technical aspects, mainly the chronometrie. Placing this double balance wheel device on a classical calibre 3120 allows to properly measure its benefits, in comparison to a traditional “single balance”. The idea was to use the advantages of having two balance springs, without the issues that come with them. Having a double spring increases the precision. However, this construction (when you have two hairsprings on the same side of a single balance) is known to be difficult to adjust and does create extra friction on the balance staff. In an escapement with one spring, an error occurs due to the point where the spring is attached to the hairspring stud. One solution to solve it was the Breguet terminal curve (which already solves this issue quite well). Another effect is the error you have in the alloy of the spring itself. Taking 2 springs made of the same alloy and set them 180° apart cancels this completely, which benefits the overall chronometric performance of the watch.The idea of having not a dual-hairspring but a double balance, meaning a construction with a balance staff carrying one balance and one hairspring on each side, is to allow to regulate the watch from each side of the movement. Because there are two variable inertia balances placed oppositely (each of them being adjusted by 8 inertia-blocks/masselottes), it means that the weight is perfectly distributed around the balance staff and that watchmakers can extremely finely tune the watch, in all positions. Also, because the weight is equal on both sides of the balance staff, it means that frictions are reduced and also better distributed – explaining the advantage of a double-balance compared to a dual-hairspring on a single balance.Finally, there’s the look of this movement… With these superb decorations and the pink-gold coloured bridge, which contrasts in this anthracite environment. The entire calibre 3132 is opened and completely hand finished, with numerous inner and outer angles that we know can only be the product of the human hand and of hours of painstaking work.By Monochrome-watches.com

Cars, Boats & Planes 13 Oct 2017

monaco yacht show 2017

MONACO YACHT SHOW 2017: THE SUPER BOWL OF LUXURY YACHTING From 27 to 30 September last in Monaco, the world’s greatest superyacht event brought together an exceptional concentration of superyachts and presented an exhibition of outstanding quality on the quayside.The 27th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show thus fulfilled all its promises and reflected a more buoyant market, supported notably by the strong attendance of American and Russian clients on the quays of Port Hercules to visit the 125 superyachts.This year’s fleet was larger and younger (average length 49m, 50% of the yachts less than two years old) and according to Gaëlle Tallarida, Managing Director of the Show, it appealed to visitors right from the start: “The exhibitors were busy from Wednesday morning with business meetings on their stands and a full list of bookings for yacht visits. We felt that the whole industry was concerned by an event they’ve been preparing for months, with high trade expectations. By midday this impression was shared by all the different participants, brokers or shipyards who already confirmed negotiations with visitors interested in chartering or purchasing a yacht.” A new superyacht clientele invited by the MYS Organisers Attendance at this year’s edition is higher than last year with 36,400 participants (+8%) including an international business clientele but also private visitors invited by the MYS organisers via the Sapphire Experience programme. 160 ultra-qualified individuals thus enjoyed a bespoke stay in Monaco with visits of the superyachts displayed in Port Hercules. Around 400 appointments* on board were scheduled with the yachts’ representatives; one “Sapphire Experience” guest has already placed an order for a yacht (*calculated according to the aggregate total of visits scheduled for each guest). On the eve of the MYS, the 2nd edition of the Monaco Yacht Summit welcomed some fifty potential new superyacht clients – or their representatives – to discuss the key information to be borne in mind when chartering or purchasing a luxury yacht for the first time. The presence of these future owners or charterers in Port Hercules was the tangible result of the marketing and public relations actions managed by Gaëlle Tallarida and her team to promote encounters between the 580 exhibitors and new clients: “the Monaco Yacht Show has become a brand with a strong identity, clearly defined since the first edition in 1991. The MYS is unique in being the only “hybrid” show in the world exclusively dedicated to the universe of superyachting. We are proud to host both the B2B community and today’s and tomorrow’s superyacht purchasers. They make a perfect fit. A new yacht order generates important business activity for all sectors in the yachting industry. Owners are more and more involved in the building of their yachts. At the MYS, future buyers also meet the nautical suppliers to discover the latest interior designs, cutting-edge equipments or brand-new gadgets. And they love it!”An enthusiasm that was also obvious on Quai Antoine Ier with Tenders & Toys, the new exhibition dedicated to the trendiest luxury tenders and water toys on the market. An area unanimously praised by its exhibitors, who signed great sales and who have already requested bigger exhibition spaces for 2018. This success confirmed the boom of leisure activities linked with yachting, appreciated by a younger generation of clients for whom they represent one of the main reasons for chartering a yacht.For its second year of operation the Car Deck was again a great success, with the exhibition of 16 exclusive thoroughbred cars like the new Continental GT by Bentley unveiled for the first time in Europe at the Monaco Yacht Show. The classic cars by Mercedes-Benz, integrally rebuilt by Hemmels, or the iconic Cobra models by the US manufacturer Shelby – represented by Gentleman Car – generated business leads that will surely turn into sales in the coming weeks. Hoffmann & Novag,ue with the limited series of their HN R200 sports car, also enjoyed a successful first participation in the Car Deck. Aston Martin, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz completed the car exhibition offered to the Show’s superyacht clientele.Launched in 2016, the Car Deck exhibition is a response to this natural convergence between yachting and the luxury car manufacturers, whether for joint projects or for the buyers of rare prestige cars who would like to discover the world of yachting. An exhibition extended to the whole of Port Hercules Extension of the 2017 MYS to the entire port made for greater fluidity of movement between the historic exhibition areas (Darse Sud, Parvis Piscine and the other quays) and the new tent on Quai Albert Ier or the Quai Antoine Ier, reorganised to provide a superyacht lifestyle environment. Exhibitors and visitors could discover the Starboard, the new exhibition lounge with its outdoor restaurant overlooking the port and a direct access to the Car Deck and to Tenders & Toys.Travel within the port was made easier by the various transport services including electric golf carts, shuttle boats and the MYS official application that calculated the fastest way to reach a stand or a yacht. Over 150 private events Press conferences, product presentations, cocktails on board yachts or on stands, private evening receptions – the enormous range of events organised by the exhibitors during the four days (and nights!) reflected the importance of public and press relations actions aimed at the high-end international audience and influential media at the Show.On Tuesday 26 September, the Monaco Yacht Show opened the four days of festivities with the MYS Inaugural Gala Party, held this year at Le Méridien Beach Plaza Hotel.400 privileged guests were invited to the Gala Party during which awards were made to three superyachts: Home (49,8m, 2017, Heesen Yachts), winner of the 2017 MYS/RINA Award, given to the most environmental-friendly yacht at the MYS; the Italian superyacht Seven Sins (52m, 2017, Sanlorenzo), winner of the 2017 MYS Interior Design Award; and the megayacht Jubilee (110m, 2017, Oceanco) which received two awards: the 2017 MYS Exterior Design Award and the 2017 MYS Finest New Superyacht Award.

Fashion & Design 09 Oct 2017

audemars piguet royal oak frosted gold

Introducing – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm & Redesigned Royal Oak CufflinksBy Brice GoulartBack in November 2016, as part of the pre-SIHH 2017 reveal, Audemars Piguet introduced a surprising and amazing version of its emblematic Royal Oak, the Frosted Gold version. This watch featured a superb surface finishing known as gold hammering or frosting. And even with its 37mm case, we told you why, as men, we also liked it. However that was without knowing that the brand had something even more masculine in mind, as that same surface treatment has now been applied in a men’s version, with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm… And that comes along with redesigned Royal Oak Cufflinks (and we all know how cool they are).While I always tend to say that the 37mm edition of the Royal Oak shouldn’t be seen as a ladies-only model, as clearly it looks perfect for a man with smaller wrists, what Audemars Piguet has today makes no doubt on why frosted gold isn’t just a feminine option. Because it is now featured on the robust 41mm Ref. 15400 version of the Royal Oak – and to make sure no confusion is possible, the hammered case is made of white gold, and paired with a deep blue dial – very like the look of the standard steel version for men. But the most important detail here is about this “frosted” surface. The technique used here is named frosting, gold hammering or Florentine technique. To test and try on prototypes, Audemars Piguet and Carolina Bucci (the jewellery designer behind this idea of a Royal Oak Frosted) started with the antique manual solution, with a diamond-topped tool (a technique frequently used in jewellery). While, at first, the surface was created by hand (by beating the gold with a diamond-tipped tool), in order to create the first prototypes (as seen in the official images of the 37mm version), the brand finally achieved the development of a more industrialized process in order to increase precision and to make sure this surface could be applied in a commercial watches. The main challenge was to create this frosted finish, only on flat surfaces (top of the bezel, top of the case, top of the bracelet) without altering the rest of the case and its sharp angles and polished or brushed surfaces.The result is a sparkling surface, with an uneven granularity and render, which feels both extremely delicate under the eye, and surprisingly rough when touched – something which in fact goes quite well with the Royal Oak; a delicate, brutal, sporty and haute-Horlogerie watch… Of course, the look is not the most discreet one and the style is slightly different from a regular Royal Oak 15400, but it is an interesting piece.The rest of this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm 15410BC is similar to a standard 15400, with the same dimensions, same overall design, it is crafted in 18K white gold, with blue-toned “Grande Tapisserie” dial and Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, and the same calibre 3120, with automatic winding. This Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm 15410BC is a Limited Edition of 200 pieces. Considering that the 37mm is priced at EUR 56,100, you can expect this 41mm version to be north of EUR 60,000.Specifications: 41mm diameter x 9.8mm thickness – 18k hammered white gold – sapphire crystal on both sides – 50m water resistant – blue guilloche dial – Calibre 3120, 3Hz frequency, 60h power reserve, automatic, hours, minutes, seconds, 22K gold rotor – 18k white gold bracelet.In addition to this Royal Oak Frosted Gold 41mm, Audemars Piguet also introduces some new accessories to pair with your Royal Oak: some cufflinks. Without being a complete necessity, these might be some of the coolest accessories you can think of when wearing a Royal Oak. Audemars Piguet refreshes its collection with six new pairs of Royal Oak cufflinks:The collection comprises three versions in stainless steel with either a blue, black or silver “Tapisserie” pattern in the center. Also, two versions in pink gold with blue or black “Tapisserie” in the center will be available. And last but not least, one version in yellow gold with a blue “Tapisserie” pattern in the center will be offered. It means that for each Royal Oak (whether 15400 or 15202), there will be the dedicated pair of cufflinks. Of course, these cufflinks use two of the most emblematic characteristics of the watch: the octagonal shape (with vertical brushed flat surface, polished bevel and brushed flanks, just like the watch) and the hexagonal screws (always in white metal).

Travel & Events 05 Oct 2017

why rwanda is the next luxury travel hotspot

Over 20 years on from the devastating genocide, pockets of Rwanda have found their groove, providing a mix of luxury and adventure for discerning touristsBy Debra KaminWhen Alissa Ruxin moved to Rwanda in 2005 with her new husband Josh, the nation’s wounds from its horrific 1994 genocide were still palpable. The couple, both public health professionals, settled in Kigali, where roads were unpaved, electricity was sporadic and everyone they encountered, it seemed, was battling unspeakable grief. Ruxin, a San Francisco native, began volunteering at an orphanage for children who had lost parents to the genocide, and in her off hours she and her husband bemoaned the shortage of quality restaurants in Rwanda’s capital city. She decided to do something about both.She never believed, she says now, that less than a decade later Kigali would emerge as one of the most exciting new luxury destinations in Africa. She was just trying to build a project that would help her community and also supply hungry expats with a decent place to eat.But the timing was right for Heaven, a dreamy open-air restaurant built into a tranquil hill and offering a small, curated menu of African fusion served by a team of young Rwandans eager for training in the hospitality sector. Ruxin opened its doors in 2008, just as Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s goals for Vision 2020, a sweeping development plan promoting efficiency, technology, infrastructure overhaul and rapid modernization, were kicking into high gear.Change has since come swiftly to the land of a thousand hills, whose plucky capital city, long relegated to pilgrimages of grief and airport stopovers on the way to see mountain gorillas, is emerging as East Africa’s greatest success story. In Kigali, a slew of gleaming new luxury hotels, an international restaurant boom and sparkling-litter free streets are luring travellers who might otherwise have overlooked the city in favour of rural safaris. Rwanda, which was ranked as the ninth-safest nation in the world (and number one in Africa) by the World Economic Forum this year, is changing its narrative."Kigali is the epicentre of the land of a thousand hills and rapidly becoming the tourism and business hub for the region,” says Belise Kariza, chief tourism officer at the Rwanda Development Board.Radisson Blu launched a new Kigali complex in 2016 which consists of a 292-room luxury hotel whose exterior is lined with colourful metal ribbons, and the egg-shaped glass-and-steel Kigali Convention Center, which was unveiled just in time for the 2016 African Union Summit last July. Marriott followed suit three months later, launching its first-ever property in sub-Saharan Africa on the opposite side of the city. The two new international brands have brought competition to a market once dominated by the Serena, a former InterContinental property that for a decade was considered Kigali’s only real luxury bolthole; and the grand Hotel des Milles Collines, made famous by the film Hotel Rwanda. The sparkling new Ubumwe Grande Hotel, which also opened just in time for the 2016 African Summit, newbie The Manor, and Swiss International's Villa Portofino are also now in the mix.And cuisine and culture in Kigali have upped their game in tandem. At bustling nightspot Repub Lounge, locals gather on the open-air patio above the city’s twinkling lights to sip Virunga beer and feast on coconut curry fish, beef brochettes and liboke chicken in steamed banana leaves. At sleek Pili Pili, an urban lounge with a chill party vibe, it’s hard to decide what to focus on: the breathtaking view, the turquoise pool, or the solid bistro fare of pizzas, pastas and tapas, all served under pink and purple lights. Sushi lovers now have two duelling hotspots from which to source their sashimi: terrace-style Sakae and super-authentic Kiseki, while Sol E Luna and Brachetto offer top-notch Italian.The Inema Arts Center sponsors workshops, dance performances and happy hour events in addition to housing 13 resident artists and a women’s craft collective; their mission of nurturing Rwanda’s next artistic generation is echoed by fellow creative spaces Ivuku Arts and NIYO Art Gallery.And at Heaven, which locals point to as the spark that started the movement, Ruxin says she is just getting started. Heaven Boutique Hotel, a charming 22-room lodging house with bright, eclectic rooms and soft, mosquito-net covered beds, opened adjacent to the restaurant in 2015, and this summer, Ruxin welcomed the first guests to The Retreat, an 11-room wellness-themed property offering bespoke luxury experiences on a level never before seen in Kigali.“I think we are on the cusp of something so exciting in Rwanda,” Ruxin says, noting that the price for a permit to view Rwanda’s sought-after mountain gorillas has increased to $1,500, and the jungle lodges that house gorilla tourists routinely charge $800 a night or more. “There is a niche, there is a market; [gorilla tourists] have to fly in and out of Kigali. I want to be their first night and their last night   

Cars, Boats & Planes 04 Oct 2017

perini navi absorbs picchiotti brand

Perini Navi has confirmed at a press conference during the Monaco Yacht Show that it was shutting down its Picchiotti standalone brand, which was previously responsible for the yard's motor yacht activity. The brand will be consolidated into Perini Navi.Picchiotti Yachts was one of the oldest brands in the yachting industry. Founded in Pisa, Italy in the 16th century, it was later acquired by Perini Navi, which gave the brand a chance to shine. During its years of operation, the brand was behind such yachts as the 73m Grace E, 55m Galileo G or 50m Exuma. News of the brand consolidation follows the Tabacchi family's €27 million capital injection into Perini Navi Group for a 49,9% stake. "It was not a decision agains Picchiotti, but a decision for Perini Navi" explained Lamberto Tacoli, Perini Navi's CEO, "We are thinking about strategies for a line in the future, it is a quesDespite this decision, Perini Navi does not seem to stray away from building motor yachts as at least two are currently being developed by the shipyard for customers. Indeed in March of this year, the Italian group picked up an order for a PY 52m and a custom, aluminium motor yacht.During the press conference, Perini Navi also revealed the sale of a new 60-meter sailing yacht, which will become the 4th hull in their series that already includes Seahawk, Perseus 3 and Seven, on display at the yacht show. 

Travel & Events 02 Oct 2017

the the 70th anniversary of ferrari

Major exhibition announced by the Design Museum in London to mark the 70th anniversary of Ferrari - 15 November 2017 - 15 April 2018The Design Museum in London announces Ferrari: Under the Skin, a major exhibition exploring the history and design of Ferrari. The show celebrates 70 years of creative development since the launch of the first car in 1947. Displaying rarely seen material from private collections, the exhibition provides a unique insight into the meticulous and glamorous world of Ferrari. This ambitious collection, the first outside the Museo Ferrari in Maranello, brings together early design models, drawings, personal letters and memorabilia as well as some of the most famous cars to grace the world’s roads and racing circuits. Together, these artefacts and original documents provide an unprecedented study of automotive design.Dedicated displays explore the life of Enzo Ferrari, the design of the cars, the brand’s famous clientele, its racing prowess and today’s technical innovations.Placed against a backdrop of post-war austerity, Enzo Ferrari and a small but dedicated team decided to create an elite performance vehicle whilst many were manufacturing economy vehicles and scooters. The opening section of the exhibition charts the story of Enzo Ferrari and his remorseless drive to create the perfect driving machine for track and road. Key exhibits include Enzo Ferrari’s driving licence, original photography, the original drawings and an exact replica of the 125 S - the first Ferrari ever made - and hand-written documents from Enzo Ferrari himself.The exhibition offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the secretive world of car design. Original hand-drawn sketches feature next to high-tech wind tunnel models and beautifully crafted early wooden master models to present a survey of the manufacturing process and the relationship between form and function. Charting the varied techniques used throughout Ferrari's history, the exhibition demonstrates how drawings are translated by sculptural techniques into the final form of the car. An original 1:1 scale hand-crafted clay design model of the J50 is a highlight of the exhibition and offers an exclusive view into the factory’s techniques. The limited edition J50 was made in a run of only 10 cars exclusive to Japan, celebrating 50 years of Ferrari in the country.The exhibition also looks at Ferrari’s extraordinary celebrity clientele. It was these discerning clients who helped establish Ferrari as the brand we know today. Notes by Miles Davis feature alongside archive photography of famous clients with their cars, including Clint Eastwood, Sammy Davis Jr, Brigitte Bardot and Peter Sellers. The centrepiece of the section is a 250 GT Cabriolet (1957) owned by one of the most famous British racing drivers of all time – Peter Collins. Other cars in this section include an F40 (1988) belonging to Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and a 166 MM (1950) formerly driven by Gianni Agnelli, head of Fiat.It is competitive racing that has remained at the heart of Ferrari from its inception to today. As well as previously unseen documents from the early history of the racing team, the exhibition includes helmets worn by Alberto Ascari, Mike Hawthorn, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Räikkönen. The 1952 British GP winner’s trophy and a selection of famous racing suits are also on display. The evolution of racing car design is represented through the Ferrari 500 F2 (1952), which Alberto Ascari drove to victory at the F1 championship in 1952 and 1953, and the Ferrari F1-2000 (2000), the championship-winning car driven by Michael Schumacher.The exhibition culminates in a look at Ferrari today. A LaFerrari Aperta, owned by Gordon Ramsay and the most technologically advanced Ferrari to date, represents the company’s continuing innovation. This hybrid vehicle is accompanied by concept sketches and an in-depth look at the engine.Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum said:‘I think I speak on behalf of millions of ambitious people of all ages that we have all at some point had delicious dreams of owning a Ferrari. The brand itself has become a worldwide symbol of design success, whether it is their road models or Grand Prix cars. The Ferrari story is truly one of the great adventure stories of the industrial age and I am very proud we are able to tell it at the Design Museum. The depth of emotion goes far beyond the external beauty of their cars: what excites me so much about this exhibition is the rare opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes and experience the dynamic between engineering, manufacturing and design, which produces Ferrari's magic ingredient. It is a magic ingredient that means I am here, aged eighty-five and still lusting after the idea of owning a Ferrari – I want to go out with a beautiful, powerful and perfectly designed vroom!’Andrew Nahum, co-curator of Ferrari: Under the Skin commented:‘Ferrari represents an ideal case study in design and development. Ferrari uses the subtle and often unseen techniques of automobile design, but with the utmost care and precision. The exhibition provides an insight into the history and practice of the whole private world of automotive design.’Ferrari: Under the Skin is a behind-the-scenes look at the design, people and engineering that created one of the most iconic car brands on the planet.

News, Media & Society 26 Sep 2017

monaco foundation’s 2017 award ceremony

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s 2017 Award Ceremony will be held in MontrealAfter Shanghai in 2010, London in 2012, Palm Springs (California) in 2014, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s 2017 Award Ceremony will once again be held outside of Monaco. It will take place in Montreal’s Imperial Cinema on 30 September 2017.During the morning of that same day, the second 2017 meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Directors will be held, chaired by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, in the presence of the presidents of the foreign branches.Since 2008, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Awards have recognised exemplary initiatives linked to the Foundation’s three main areas of intervention: the fight against the effects of climate change, the preservation of biodiversity and access to water, and the fight against desertification.“I wanted to create these Awards in order to show my support for the exceptional men and women who are committed to saving our planet“, explained HSH Prince Albert of Monaco.The Foundation will also present Special Awards to individuals who have carried out exemplary work in connection with environmental issues.The award ceremony will be followed by a private screening of Luc Jacquet’s film, “March of the Penguins 2: The Call” 

Business 25 Sep 2017

at audemars piguet, sales go beyond the showroom

At Audemars Piguet, Sales Go Beyond the ShowroomBy RACHEL GARRAHANSEPT. 19, 2017 ORLANDO, Fla. — Amid the Spanish moss and manicured lawns of the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, François-Henry Bennahmias was in his element during Audemars Piguet’s golf tournament.The chief executive of the Swiss watchmaker, himself once ranked 25th on the French Golf Tour, held court in April with more than 70 clients from around the world who had gathered to play alongside what the brand calls its “dream team” of golf pro ambassadors.As well as competing in a convivial atmosphere with the likes of 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett and 2016 British Open winner Henrik Stenson, guests enjoyed the company of Serena Williams, another brand ambassador. The “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, described as a friend of the brand, also attended. (He frequently wears one of its Royal Oak timepieces on the ABC sitcom.)Mr. Bennahmias said he believes that this kind of money-can’t-buy experience has been key in Audemars Piguet’s record of annual growth since 2009, despite challenging conditions in the global watch market.“We have something truly special in terms of connection with our clients,” the 53-year-old executive said during an interview at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, which was host of the event.Client experience may be the luxury industry’s phrase du jour but Mr. Bennahmias said his approach is at the core of the brand’s approach to both sales and after-sales.“I answer every single client’s email personally,” he said by way of example. “I want them to feel that they don’t have to go through many doors before getting their answers, or speaking to whoever they want to talk to.”The strategy appears to be paying off. While signs of the watch market’s recovery have begun to be seen this year, the market’s 2016 totals showed a sales decline of almost 10 percent in 2015 totals — while Audemars Piguet’s revenue was up seven percent, to almost 900 million Swiss francs, or $937 million.Mr. Bennahmias is as competitive in business as he is on the golf course. He has ambitious plans to increase revenue by almost 50 percent, to 1.3 billion francs, although he has not disclosed a timetable. “How do we do that? What we are doing here this week is one thing and there are many others,” he said. “We need to connect more and more everyday to potential buyers, in any way, shape or form.”If establishing an authentic connection with the customer sounds like it came from a sales handbook, it is not surprising that the French executive describes himself first and foremost as a salesman. “I could pretty much sell anything,” he said with a laugh.Before joining Audemars Piguet in 1994, he worked in fashion distribution for the likes of Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferré. It would be accurate, however, to say that he started out in croissants.It was as an 8-year-old in Paris that he spied his first business opportunity, enlisting his 6-year-old brother as partner. “We were living in a residence where there were 15 buildings with three floors each,” he said. “I got the idea that if we could bring them breakfast, instead of them going to the bakery, that we could make money. So we made a deal with the local baker.”The enterprise however was short-lived. “My brother wouldn’t wake up, he was too lazy and I couldn’t carry the whole thing myself,” he added. “We went bankrupt pretty quick.”At Audemars Piguet, however, he became responsible for building its American business in 1999. The territory remains its largest single market today.In January 2013 he became chief executive, and immediately began making changes to the business, which is still owned by the families that founded it in 1875. “We decided: fewer, bigger, better,” he said. As well as shrinking the watchmaker’s range from about 300 styles to a more manageable 140, he also reduced its number of retail partners.“Less references, less doors,” Mr. Bennahmias said. “It meant more quality at every level: quality of the collection, quality of the distribution network, quality of the training of the retailers, quality of the training of the staff in our boutiques, and quality of the client experience.”Another popular decision announced about two and a half years ago was that the company would produce no more than 40,000 watches a year for at least five years. “A lot of clients loved that,” he said. “The notion that we wouldn’t chase revenue just by increasing the quantity of watches made.”He credits Audemars Piguet’s continued status as an independent watchmaker, a rarity in today’s conglomerate-heavy market, for his ability to make quick decisions. “There are things we’ve done as a brand in the last five years that if we’d belonged to a big corporation, would never have seen the light of day,” he said. “It would have taken too long to get a yes.”Another area that has been overhauled since his appointment is Audemars Piguet’s women’s offering. “Five years ago, we were selling roughly between 15 to 20 percent of our watches to women,” he said. “We’ve now reached 30 percent.” (Partly through such introductions as the Royal Oak Frosted Gold, a 2016 version of the brand’s popular style for women.)As well as making its communications and its retail spaces less masculine, the company has honed its watch range to suit a female customer who buys for herself.It was Mr. Bennahmias who demanded a high jewelry collection that broke the mold of the diamond-encrusted flowers and butterfly-decorated timepieces that have long dominated the market. “I said, ‘Show me high jewelry from the 22nd century. I want to see tomorrow, not yesterday.’ ”The resulting Diamond Trilogy succeeded in attracting not only press attention from around the world for its aesthetic daring and considerable craftsmanship, but also in increasing the brand’s high jewelry market from just one country, Hong Kong, to six or seven.The overall retail strategy is now in Mr. Bennahmias’s sights. As well as increasing revenues by shifting away from wholesale partnerships in favor of its own boutiques, the company is preparing to open the first of what it calls its “lounges,” above-ground-level retail spaces where the focus will be on a premium customer experience rather than costly build-outs for showcase spaces with premium rents. The first are scheduled to open in London, Munich and New York by the end of this year.Innovations like these, as well as searching for a solution to the thorny problem of online watch retailing, are required, Mr. Bennahmias said, to serve a new generation of consumers. A generation that includes his daughter, who recently received her first Audemars Piguet on her 20th birthday, and who is accustomed to plentiful choice and immediate gratification at the touch of a finger.“We have to be pragmatic and deliver what they want. And what clients want today is to be able to trust in the brand they’re purchasing from, to know that the service is going to be good after the purchase, and the speed of the whole thing,” he said. “We are not there yet; we have a long way to go.” 

Business 23 Sep 2017

who is the american entrepreneur?

Who is the American Entrepreneur?By :John Dick, Founder and CEO, CivicScience, Inc.Entrepreneurs are a different breed, across a number of dimensions you would never even think of. We gathered the data to prove it.IntroductionI started my first company when I was 24 years old. Unlike many of my business- owning peers, it wasn’t a childhood dream or something I even prepared for in college (though I wish I had). I simply had an idea, one that I couldn’t shake, and one that only grew more seductive when I found a business partner who believed in it as much as I did. We left decent jobs, a predictable career path, and a guaranteed income to start a company from scratch. We had no business experience or education, no discernible high-value skills, and even less money.Still, somehow it worked. Sure, we owe a lot to good (if dumb) luck, fortuitous timing, and an immeasurable amount of hard work. But, as I’ve met hundreds of other entrepreneurs in the 18 years since – people of all shapes, sizes, educational backgrounds, and means - I’ve realized there is something in a business-starter’s personality and temperament that distinguishes them from everyone else. I can see it from a mile away, even if I can’t describe it.Beware, the EntrepreneurFriends often ask me if I would be willing to meet and counsel an aspiring business-starter they know. I always say yes (I have a lot of past generosity in my career to pay forward) and I always do it at the local coffee shop by our office. And I can almost always tell, before I finish my coffee, whether the person I’m meeting has the necessary screws loose to give it a go. It doesn’t mean I can tell if they’ll be successful - if I could, I wouldn’t be flying commercial. I can just sense whether they have the combination of courage, humility, commitment, and some degree of blissful ignorance and flexibility to see it through.I’m not just talking about the stereotypical entrepreneurs in tech, professional services, or other trendy businesses you’d find in an urban, shared working space. My cousin Bob Merkel owns the only restaurant, catering business, and food truck in a tiny Western Pennsylvania town of less than 1,000 people. He never got an MBA, didn’t grow up in the restaurant business, and didn’t buy into an entrepreneurship-in-a-box franchise. Yet, he’s perhaps the most entrepreneurial person I know.I’m also not suggesting that entrepreneurs are better than anyone else – far from it. I know too many people who failed miserably, wrecked their finances and their families, and had to work well into their golden years to make up for it. We tend to be overly self-centered, stubborn, and aloof in our other personal responsibilities. I would think twice before marrying an entrepreneur. My wife is a saint.Business-Owner Big DataGiven my fascination with this subject, I am quite lucky to have the data access at CivicScience that I do. Since 2011, we have polled over 88,000 people in our database who own and/or operate their own business. They’ve given millions of answers to thousands of different questions about their likes, dislikes, lifestyle, media habits, personality, and much more. We can compare them to their non- business-owning peers, on near-countless dimensions, and find the things that make them most different. We can see trends over time.So, I recently embarked on an extensive study – comparing these business owners to the general U.S. population - to add some quantitative backing to my personal experience. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.About This ResearchThe following is a brief synopsis of analysis conducted by CivicScience on 23,795 U.S. adults who own and/or operate their own business. These individuals were analyzed across hundreds of dimensions ranging from their demographics, to their media consumption, shopping behaviors, lifestyles, and much more. The goal was to identify the ways in which entrepreneurs differ from non-entrepreneurs. What we found was an interesting mix of surprises and common sense validation.Who We StudiedAnytime we engage in comparative research like this, our biggest fear is that all of our findings will stem from one or two demographic “proxies” that explain all of our differences. For example, if we wanted to compare people who use Snapchat to the general population, the majority of our findings would simply relate to the fact that Snapchat users are younger. That’s not very interesting. Instead, we need to use sampling and statistical techniques to prevent that from happening when we can.For this study, I made two decisions (either of which is arguable, but it’s my company, so whatever): First, I constrained our sample only to business owners and non-business owners between the ages of 25 and 54. Why? Because older business owners, many of whom are phasing out of their business operations, and those in their teens, who may believe that their grass-cutting gig qualifies, look nothing like those who are in the rush hour of their lives. This brings our sample of business owners to 23,795, still a sizable number for analysis.Second, we reweighted our numbers – within that age group – by gender. Despite a lot of progress in recent years, women still represent only about a third of U.S. private business owners. Thus, our initial unweighted results merely yielded a bunch of gender-related differences. By multiplying our number of female respondents to line up with the Census, we were better able to contrast entrepreneurs, apples-to-apples, with the rest of the U.S. population.What We FoundThis link will take you to a PDF file of what we call a DeepProfileTM report, including category-by-category graphs, scales, and full results for most of the larger topic areas we studied. Check it out if you want. Otherwise, here are the Cliff’s Notes:DEMOGRAPHICSNo surprise, rates of entrepreneurship increased with the age of respondents. Business owners were less likely to be between age 25 and 34 and most likely to be between 45 and 54. As such, entrepreneurs are slightly more likely to be Parents/Grandparents, and to own their own home.Likewise, rates increased with rising income, though not as dramatically as we might expect. People making between $25-50k per year (18% of all entrepreneurs) make up only 1% less of the business owner group than those making over $150k (19% of all entrepreneurs).Rates of entrepreneurship correlate with education level, but only barely. 39% of US adults in our age group have a bachelor’s degree and only 38% of entrepreneurs. 34% of entrepreneurs never completed college. Business owners were, however, much more likely than average to have a graduate degree. They’re also 24% more likely than non-owners to have an undergraduate degree in Business.One finding that did surprise me: Entrepreneurship was more common in rural areas, less so in urban ones. Perhaps because there are less corporate centers in rural towns, more people turn to self-employment.SHOPPING AND FINANCESEntrepreneurs are much more likely than the general public to be what we call “Market Mavens.” It means that they are more likely to try new products and technologies before others; and tell people about it – either directly or via product reviews. They also consult online reviews before buying. They’re much less likely to be price conscious, in every area other than household products.Entrepreneurs are more likely than other 25-54-year-olds to favor locally-owned establishments but NOT socially-conscious ones. They’re much more likely to say they manage their money “very well,” closely follow the markets, and monitor their retirement savings. They’re much LESS likely to use a mobile device for banking.Overall, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs are equally tech-savvy, but in very different ways. Our business owners over-index in terms of following technology trends and in adopting new technologies like augmented reality and smart home products. They are less likely, conversely, to own a smart watch or to consider themselves “addicted” to their digital device.ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORTSWhen it comes to entertainment technology, entrepreneurs over-index as users of eReaders and wireless speaker systems. But they’re less likely than their non- entrepreneur peers when it comes to streaming music or TV/videos, particularly via Netflix.Those differences can be largely attributed to the fact that entrepreneurs watch less television than others. They only over-index significantly as Documentary fans, while vastly under-indexing in the Sitcom and Drama department.Entrepreneurs do rank higher than non-entrepreneurs as sports fans, particularly when it comes to Major League Baseball, the NHL, and NCAA football. They’re also more likely to attend sporting events.HEALTH AND LIFESTYLEOne of the biggest disparities we found between business owners and non-owners were their attitudes and behaviors around health and wellness. Entrepreneurs are noticeably more likely than non-entrepreneurs to exercise, not smoke, take vitamins or nutritional supplements, and value health and fitness overall.Entrepreneurs are also more likely to be passionate about food and cooking. They cook dinner most often in their homes, search for new recipes online, and follow food and cooking trends.Entrepreneurs are also more likely to dine out, though they’re pickier about when and where they do it. Our business owner respondents, unsurprisingly, are more likely to eat out for lunch, eat at upscale restaurants, and order take-out. They’re less likely to eat at casual, fast-casual, or quick-service restaurants.SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESSEntrepreneurs significantly over-index as charitable givers – even though their income isn’t significantly higher. They donate to causes of all kinds more than non-entrepreneurs and even do volunteer work at a much higher rate.This socially-conscious streak can be found particularly in environmental areas. Entrepreneurs are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly products, use reusable shopping bags, and eat locally grown, and organic foods.MISCELLANEOUSYou won’t find these in the PDF report because I did some extra, manual digging on my own. Here are a few interesting stats I uncovered.Entrepreneurs are more likely than non-entrepreneurs to:• Have an UNFAVORABLE view of Amazon• Choose an Import beer over domestic or craft beers• Live in the U.S. West or U.S. South, not the U.S. Northeast• Use AT&T as their wireless carrier• Value performance, design, and technology when buying a car•  Contribute to political candidates or parties• Live in a household with someone who has heart disease• Have either zero siblings or 4 or morePERSONALITY TYPEFinally, I looked at a series of questions in our database relating to things like personality type, cognitive attributes, and overall happiness – attempting to trace them back to my personal observations. Here’s what I found:Entrepreneurs are more likely than non-entrepreneurs to like keeping their plans flexible, as opposed to making plans and sticking with them (business folks call this “pivoting”). They’re more likely to make decisions objectively, not based on how they feel or how others will be affected. When making major decisions, however, entrepreneurs like to keep their options open, as opposed to having things settled.When discussing touchy issues, entrepreneurs are more straight-forward and direct, versus sensitive and diplomatic. And when someone is trying to convince them of something, they are more persuaded by logical, not emotional arguments.OVERALL HAPPINESSDespite all of those differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, they don’t necessarily end up in different places. We already touched on the fact that income varied only slightly between the two groups. Marriage and divorce rates were virtually identical. When we looked at corresponding levels of reported stress, no group was better off than the other.Business owners are more likely than non-owners to say they are “Very Happy” in their lives. Perhaps they’re happier because they don’t have a boss breathing down their necks or because they get to hand-pick their own coworkers. Or maybe it’s because they’re chasing a dream. Or maybe it’s just because you need to be a blissfully ignorant fool to start a business in the first place. We don’t have the data to answer that question.CONCLUSIONI suppose none of these findings fully confirmed or refuted my personal observations about entrepreneurs, other than the fact that they’re a different breed of cat. Age, education level and income are factors but not major ones. It doesn’t matter so much where they live. Business-starters have different shopping, media, technology, entertainment, and lifestyle attributes. Some of these may be a cause of entrepreneurship; some might be an effect.Entrepreneurs do have a consistent personality type – unemotional and objective (perhaps “heartless”) in their decision-making, direct (see: “confrontational”) in their communications, and flexible and open-minded (ie. “flaky”) in their planning. Maybe these are the things I can sense in a 30-minute meeting with someone over coffee. Takes one to know one, I guess.In the end, happiness is what counts. Entrepreneurship surely isn’t the only path but it’s a great one if you can take it. Just ask yourself this question: If you fit the entrepreneurial profile I outlined above, you’re at a stage in your life when you can do it, and you have an idea that won’t leave you alone, what are you waiting for?

Cars, Boats & Planes 19 Sep 2017

bmw hinted to replace car keys with mobile apps

Automobile giant BMW hinted that the company might permanently replace car keys with Mobile phones apps.Smartphones have made the lives of humans easy in more than one ways such as if you have a smartphone you don’t have to carry a watch, calendar or a compass, the smartphones features all in itself. Moreover, you don’t even need iPods or same sort of gadgets to listen to songs as through smartphone you can do that as well.And now with the more and more apps keep popping out smartphone has become more involved in the lives of people. The same thing said BMW’s Ian Robertson, the company’s board member responsible for sales while talking to a media outlet. He said, “BMW is reviewing the necessity of car keys” as its customers now have BMW app in their smartphones which allows them to directly open the car without the need of traditional keys.He further said that how many people in today’s time and date open and start the car with the key. They don’t even bother to take out the key from their pockets. The smartphone does all the work. Roberto said, “We are looking at whether it is feasible, and whether we can do it. Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future, remains to be seen”.Aside from BMW opting to make its car key free, last year two Pakistani entrepreneur developed a device called CarChabi to completely replace your traditional key. The device aside from completely replacing car keys also gives the liberty to control multiple features of a car from the smartphone using an app.Via: news18, Featured Image Source: TheDetroitBureau

Fashion & Design 18 Sep 2017

london fashion week opens

London Fashion Week opens with the news that Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders in the UK luxury fashion marketLondon Fashion Week and the spring summer 2018 season kicked off on Friday, just as news came in that Chinese tourists collectively are the biggest spenders in the UK luxury fashion market, taking 23 per cent, and followed by the Americans. There’ll be plenty for them to pluck from the opening shows - especially with Burberry collection hitting stores and online as models finished on the runway.BurberryThe walls of social portraiture and the clothes on the Burberry catwalk were a celebration of the British at play. Christopher Bailey was rebooting the brand that has been languishing of late, revisiting signatures like the famous Burberry check that he made so iconic in his early days, now as rain blousons and jockey hats, and the trench coat and shearling jacket marked with tattoo prints.Tartan was also a big part of the story for skirts, military trews and coats that were slipped over embroidered tea dresses, as if heading to a party on a damp autumn evening. Burberry’s historical associations with the military were rekindled with red Guardsmen’s jacket re-imagined as skirts while there was a hint of humour about British weather with colourful plastic macs layered over knits and long woolly scarves worn with evening dresses. Will this refreshing sense of fun and dry wit restore Burberry’s fortunes?J.W.AndersonSimple silhouettes and the ease of the everyday symbolised J.W’s summer collection. He talked about “the sanctuary of calmness,” more in reference to the media frenzy around the catwalk shows, but given another terrorist attack in London and anti-fur protestors at venues, people are on edge, and so this collection was meant to be a soothing antidote. Anderson referenced his heritage with Irish linen dresses and sweet crop tops and gathered skirts that had a soft artisanal air. He spoke of “everything coming back around again,” so there was a recycling of ideas like his favourite asymmetric wrap skirts in leather stripes and silky fabrics, and the stitched bra cup style of cotton jersey tops. He even transformed the humble Irish tea towel into a fashion item as tunic tops: “the normality of something you touch every day.”Simone RochaThere is always an girlish air of enchantment about Simone Rocha’s collections, often rooted in Victoriana and a childlike playfulness or young models with wavy hair pinned back with pearl barrettes. Embroidered daisies and naive figures skipped across her black and white cotton and nude tulle smocks, while painted flowers decorated black silk dresses. The silhouette that reminisced the famous drawings of Alice in Wonderland and Victorian dolls is essentially full, but bunchy skirts were balanced with neatly tailored jackets in woven ticking stripes. The collection “Red Dolls” was both romantic and nostalgic and felt familiar but for a couple of bias cut 30s style gowns that shows signs of Rocha exploring new avenues. Ralph & RussoSeven years after launching their haute couture Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are expanding their brand with a new ready-to-wear collection which owes much to the cut and polish of their couture line. Glossy and glamorous it is like their couture without all the embroidery, and presumably the big price tags. There were sportier looks such as the zipped blouson in a silk scuba fabric and the safari style dresses and jumpsuit. A trench coat and some studded black leather pieces, and a couple of shiny rose gold metallic dresses were simplified versions of the rose gold couture gowns on that feature in the haute couture. This is ready-to-wear at a luxury, elevated level.By: http://www.scmp.com 

Art & Culture 13 Sep 2017

art basel cities: buenos aires

Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires Art Basel and the City of Buenos Aires are delighted to share details of the first Art Basel Cities initiative. A long-term collaboration, Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires has been set up to support the city's cultural ecosystem including artists, galleries, not- for-profit spaces and public institutions and to highlight its vibrant cultural scene, promoting it to a global audience and Art Basel's extensive network. In 2017 the partnership will focus on providing structural support to the local art community with the launch of the Art Basel Cities Exchange, comprising several initiatives to help facilitate professional collaborations, catalyze support for cultural projects, and to strengthen the local artworld. Next year in September, Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires will launch a week of public art programing directed by Cecilia Alemani, which will take place throughout the city.   To celebrate the launch of these first elements of Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires and to share further information about the partnership, Art Basel Cities will set up the Art Basel Cities House in Buenos Aires. From November 2 to November 5, 2017, the Art Basel Cities House will host a series of events and workshops and will launch a talks series to take place throughout the year, in which local cultural partners will be invited to collaborate and participate, and to learn more about the future program. Further partners will be selected in the next few years to be part of the wider Art Basel Cities initiative. In addition, Buenos Aires will welcome an international delegation of artworld professionals including collectors, curators, and directors of museums and not-for-profit spaces, discovering and engaging with the vibrant local art scene during that week.  Underlining the durational aspect of the multi-year partnership, Art Basel and the city of Buenos Aires have initiated the Art Basel Cities Exchange to help support and strengthen the local art scene on a long-term basis. As Art Basel started working closely with key stakeholders in Buenos Aires to define the city's needs, it became clear that the first elements of this collaboration should support the City of Buenos Aires' own initiatives to help develop the key structures of the city's cultural scene. While first elements of Art Basel Cities Exchange such as the Project Bureau, an internship program and crowdfunding campaigns are launching this fall, further elements will be rolled out on an ongoing basis throughout this partnership.  Over the coming months and years, the Art Basel Cities Exchange will host residencies around the world for Argentine professionals working in the arts: from internships and curatorial residencies to artist exchanges and mentorships. This November at the Art Basel Cities House, the City of Buenos Aires will host an open call for an internship program, placing young artworld professionals from Buenos Aires with leading galleries from across the world. Further information on the application process will be shared at the Art Basel Cities House this November and will then also be available online.  Further initiatives of the Art Basel Cities Exchange include the setting up of Project Bureau, a digital platform that aims to connect international art professionals with the local art scene to realize large-scale projects in Buenos Aires. From November onwards, artworld professionals will be invited to apply with either new project ideas or specific  needs concerning existing projects to the Project Bureau. These will be reviewed by a committee consisting of Argentinian and international experts. Successful applicants will then be connected with potential partners in the Buenos Aires cultural landscape.  Furthermore, the Art Basel Cities Exchange will put in place a number of structures to enable organizations, individuals and institutions to catalyze support and build resources for new projects. In this context, Art Basel's Crowdfunding platform will be activated to support not-for profit institutions in Buenos Aires in realizing a wide variety of artistic projects, including exhibitions, public installations, films, artist books, education programs, artist residencies, talks programs, archives, libraries, and other innovative projects. Art Basel is now actively reaching out directly to not-for profit institutions in Buenos Aires and is guiding them through the application process, with the first crowdfunding projects from Buenos Aires launching in October. Further information on the application process can be found on artbasel.com/about/initiatives/crowdfunding.  In addition to these long-term structures, Art Basel and the city of Buenos Aires will next year launch a week of public arts programing in the city. Taking place from September 11 to September 16, 2018, the week will be directed by Cecilia Alemani, Director and Chief Curator of High Line Art in New York and the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Over the coming months, Alemani will work closely with cultural partners in Buenos Aires on the week's program.  Finally, a newly formed advisory board – consisting of prominent artworld figures with strong ties to Buenos Aires – has been created to contribute to the further development and implementation of the partnership. Members of the board comprise: Ariel Aisiks; Pablo Leo?n de la Barra; Orly Benzacar; Gustavo Bruzzone; Ximena Caminos; Eduardo Costantini; Marlise and Anibal Jozami; Dani Levinas; Alec Oxenford; Glenn Phillips; Frances Reynolds; Adriana Rosenberg and Juan and Patricia Vergez, and from the government of the City of Buenos Aires Diego Radivoy, General Director of Creative Industries.

Business 07 Sep 2017

teetering on the cusp of a kodak moment

Teetering on the cusp of a Kodak moment Vladimir Berezansky considers the implications of rapid technological change for regulatory and compliance specialistsThroughout human history, especially modern history, certain attributes or characteristics have been applied as cognitive placeholders for variouseras, usually grouped into decades: The Roaring 1920s; The Great Depression of the 1930s; the prosperous post- War 1950s; the rebellious 1960s. Whilst such aggregative adjectives may be less than entirely accurate, they are more than mere cliche?s.The factors most commonly identified with defining these eras are geopolitical and/or macro-economic: two world wars; the Great Depression; American prosperity and the Marshall Plan, etc. But what remain under-represented in many of these collective recollections are the significant technological advances that often launched and even defined an historic era such as, for example, the Age of the Telegraph.This diminished appreciation for technological achievements and their significance in shaping historical eras can be traced at least in part to a collective fearof the uncontrollable consequences that technological developments might unleash. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, and HAL 9000, Stanley Kubrick’s stealthily lethal on-board computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we humans are quite aware that technological achievements could well prove our undoing as the dominant species on this planet.Banking’s “Kodak moment” Antony Jenkins, the former CEO of Barclays, recently o ered a telling comparison while chatting with a Bloomberg presenter2, juxtaposing significant modifications and improvements along a linear progression of technological development (which he termed an “Uber moment”) against developments that transform an industry, thereby rendering the previous methods used irrevocably obsolete (which he termed a “Kodak moment”, in so doing dating himself and anyone able to follow his line of thought without having recourse to Google).According to this paradigm, the “gradual” transition from “bricks and mortar” banking to mobile banking would be an Uber moment, whereas a change to market conditions whereby the customers’ primary – and perhaps preferred – means of interaction with their banks would be viaa bot or other AI-supported interface would constitute a Kodak moment. In the latter instance, the customer is engaging the bank in a fundamentally di erent context.This leaves today’s banking industry in an historically anomalous situation. Many of the recognised captains –the CEOs and former CEOs such as Jenkins – and thought leaders in this sector seem to have an at least roughly- articulated concept of where banking-related financial services are headed, but with little idea – at least at present – as to how to get there.This conundrum is compounded by two sources of collective anxiety: the relatively near-term threat that AI-based enhancements could give rise to a massive depopulation of the banking / financial services sector; and the long-term fear of creating a Frankenstein-esque financial services matrix that would no longer be susceptible to human control (i.e. a meta-bank without a kill switch, or with a kill switch that the AI control function has defeated). In this scenario, HAL has successfully locked David (Dr Bowman) out of the spaceship.Not only do we lack a critical path for reaching this AI-supported Holy Grail, we are unable to define, muchless account for, systemic risks that come under Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns” rubric. Considering that cyber warfare as a conceptual threat has been in the public eye since at least 1983 (with the release of the film War Games) it is more than mildly disturbing that the financial regulatory community is only now – literally a generation later – getting down to articulating meaningful protocols and procedures towards establishing best practices for cyber security – and this only after the recent and jarring “WannaCry” and “Petya” shocks to the system.3Rethinking the financial regulatory function That we live in an era of geometrically diminishing (sequentially truncated) generations of technological evolution has long become a truism. If we take Moore’s Law4 – i.e. that chip (integrated circuit) performance doubles approximately every 18 months – as axiomatic,it seems self-evident that the heretofore traditional regulatory paradigm – i.e. (1) a newly-developed technology is introduced into the banking / financial services sectors; (2) after an initially unregulated experimental / phase-in period, financial regulatory authorities seek consensus among themselves and with regulated (licensed) market players; (3) regulations are promulgated, revised (as necessary) and enforced – is no longer workable.This cascading tide of technological innovation – the background music of Uber moments, as it were, but playing at an ever quickening pace – a ords neither the regulatory authorities nor their licensed entities the luxury of adhering to the rhythms of their traditional, genteel three-step. Moreover, as previously discussed, an unquantifiable number of Kodak moments – i.e. unforeseeable yet transformative innovations that do not arise from or follow an articulable arc of technological development – will inevitably demand the ad hoc, stop-gap attention of both the regulator and regulated simultaneously. This dynamic necessarily places both sides ofthe regulatory community on the receiving end of innovative forces and technological trends that neither controls.Collectively, these developments, in combination, yielda new dynamic that, for the banking and financial markets, constitutes a Kodak moment. Fundamentally new challenges demand innovative solutions. A logical and adequate reaction to these profoundly changed circumstances would be a complete rethink of the relative positioning and interactions of the regulatory and regulated communities.If, earlier in its development, the compliance function – in a possibly misplaced but understandable e ort to establish itself as a “business friendly” support function to the front o ce – positioned itself to some degree in opposition to the regulator, then the exigencies of this industry sector’s collective Kodak moment have militated – or at least should have done so – a complete rethink of these premises. Conceptually and perhaps even structurally, the time has come for the regulatory compliance function to approach its common task from the vantage of an interpenetrated, if not wholly integrated, approach. Indeed, we’ve seen the first glimmers of these tendencies with the placement of Justice Department-appointed monitors in banks that became the subjects of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).Taking into account the very real prospect of, in Antony Jenkins’ typology, a steadily-increasing pace of Uber moments punctuated by an unforeseen but no doubt significant number of Kodak moments, this would seem a modest proposal – i.e. a reconfiguration and consolidation of professional regulatory attention as mandated by profoundly-changed market circumstances. Given the rising tide of technological innovations likely to continue challenging the regulatory – including the in-house regulatory (compliance) – function, such fundamental changes to the structure and dynamic of ensuring robust regulatory oversight seem inevitable. Vladimir Berezansky was one of the first foreign professionals to bring Western (US, UK, EU) regulatory compliance leadership to the Russian/CIS/CEE financial services market. He has more than 15 years of work experience in Russia/CIS and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus, Switzerland and in London’s financial markets  

Cars, Boats & Planes 29 Aug 2017

aston martin revenues almost double

Revenues almost double year-on-year to £410.4m Wholesale deliveries rise 67% in first half 2017 versus prior year periodFirst Half 2017 Highlights:• Revenues jump 94% to £410.4m (H1 2016: £211.8m) on rising demand for DB11• LTM revenue exceeds $1bn (and £750m) for the first time in the company’s history• Pre-tax profits of £21.1m, reversing £82.3m pre-tax loss in first half of 2016• Underlying EBITDA increases almost fourfold to £93m• Strong cash generation of £94.6m from operating activities• Wholesale units jump 67% to 2,439 vehicles• Continued momentum in second quarter with pre-tax profit of £15.2m• Net debt/LTM EBITDA ratio falls further to 2.4 from 2.9 in prior quarter• Increasing full-year baseline revenue guidance to £830m and EBITDA guidance to £175m 25 August 2017, Gaydon, UK: Aston Martin Holdings (UK) Ltd today reported sharply improved first-half and second quarter financial results amid rising global demand for its luxury handcrafted sports cars.For the six months to June 30, the company reported pre-tax profits of £21.1m – reversing a loss of £82.3m in the same period of 2016 – on revenues that increased to £410.4m from £211.8m in the first half of 2016.In the second quarter, pre-tax profits reached £15.2m on revenues of £222.0m, compared with a pre-tax loss of £52.6m on revenues of £119.2m in the prior-year quarter.Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Aston Martin is accelerating financially with our third successive quarter of pre-tax profit. Our improving performance reflects rising demand for our new DB11 model, as well as for special edition vehicles and the ongoing benefits from our Second Century transformation plan.”For the first half, global wholesale volumes rose by 67% to 2,439 vehicles as orders continued to rise in the UK, mainland Europe, the Americas and China. The average selling price per model, excluding special editions, rose 25% to £149,000 – principally driven by DB11 – and a higher option take rate across the range.During the period, Aston Martin completed a £550m refinancing to enhance liquidity, reduce borrowing costs and increase financial reserves. The offering of senior secured notes due in 2022 carry interest of 6.50% on the dollar tranche and 5.75% on the sterling bonds, compared with maturing 10.25% US dollar PIK notes and 9.25% bonds.The company generated cash from operating activities of £94.6m through the first six months of 2017 and ended the first half with £123.1m in cash. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to £93.0m in the first half, up from £19.4m in the first half of 2016. For the second quarter EBITDA increased almost threefold to £50.4m, representing an EBITDA margin of 22.7%. During the second quarter, Aston Martin continued its product offensive with the launch of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 variant of the DB11, which combines a top speed of 187 mph with the most fuel efficient powertrain on offer by the company. It also announced plans for its first all-electric, zero-emission model: the limited-edition RapidE set to begin production in 2019. Demand for the DB11 and continued strong sales of the V12-powered Vanquish S and Vantage S models coincided with sell-out success for special-edition vehicles such as the Vanquish Zagato Coupe and continued development work on the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Technologies. As the company expands, conversion work is well underway on the new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in St Athan, where assembly of the upcoming DBX SUV model is due to start in 2019, supporting up to 750 new jobs in South Wales.Mark Wilson, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, said: “The strength of our first-half results prove that our strategy is on track. We exceeded our budget for the tenth consecutive quarter, giving us confidence that we will deliver a step-change in full-year performance. We are increasing our baseline guidance for underlying earnings of £175m on revenues of £830m in 2017.”

Sports & Leisure 28 Aug 2017

may weather joins the billionaire athletes club

Floyd Mayweather won "the money fight" on Saturday and is now poised to enter a new arena: the billionaire athletes club.Mayweather is expected to bring in over $300 million for his fight against Conor McGregor, the MMA fighter he beat in 10 rounds. The boxing superstar -- he now boasts a 50-0 record -- has already grossed a reported $700 million in his career from fight purses, which include money from pay-per-view sales, ticket sales and fight endorsements.After this fight, Mayweather should join Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods as the first three athletes to make more than $1 billion, said Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions. "I don't think he's done too bad in his career," Ellerbe added. Jordan made more than $93 million over his career, according to salary tracker Spotrac. However, he had several lucrative endorsement deals, including a lifetime deal with Nike. Those endorsement deals helped him break into the billionaire's club, as well as his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets. In 2015, he made Forbes' list of billionaires for the first time.Tiger Woods was also on the exclusive list, at least for a time. In 2009, Forbes estimated that his winnings and endorsement deals made Woods a billionaire. But his stock has fallen in recent years. Woods hasn't won a major tournament since 2008. And a high-profile sex scandal caused some sponsors to walk away from him. Forbes estimated his net worth at $740 million in 2016.One athlete who's made it very clear he wants into the club: LeBron James. The NBA player seems to be well on his way. He's made millions over his playing career and has signed lucrative endorsements, including a lifetime deal with Nike in 2015. And he's also befriended billionaire investor Warren Buffett. James' high school friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, told CNNMoney in 2007 that James' billion-dollar goal hinged on his investments more than his playing income or endorsement deals

Travel & Events 05 Aug 2017

saudi arabia plans luxury beach resorts on red sea

Saudi Arabia plans luxury beach resorts on Red Sea Saudi Arabia has launched a massive tourism development project that will turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts. It hopes to attract both foreign tourists and domestic visitors as part of efforts to diversify the Saudi economy, as oil prices have fallen. Visa restrictions on foreigners are to be eased in the tourist zone.However, it is not clear whether dress codes and other restrictions in the conservative kingdom will be relaxed. Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Women must wear loose-fitting, full-length robes known as "abayas" in public, as well as a headscarf if they are Muslim. They are not allowed to drive and often require a male guardian's permission to study or travel abroad.Construction of the new resorts is due to start in 2019. The first phase will include developing a new airport as well as luxury hotels and housing, and is expected to be complete in 2022. The tourism project is part of a plan, known as Vision 2030, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to become the first in line to the Saudi throne in June. The Red Sea development will be built along 125 miles (200km) of Saudi's western coastline, according to the Vision 2030 fund.Among the attractions will be protected coral reefs, dormant volcanoes, and a nature reserve inhabited by rare wildlife like Arabian leopards and falcons. Visitors will also be able to take trips to the ancient ruins of Madain Saleh, classified as a Unesco World Heritage site, and take part in activities such as parachuting, trekking and rock climbing. 

Fashion & Design 05 Aug 2017

gen z is becoming an important demographic

Consignment is attractive to Gen Zs, who prefer secondhand Chanel, Hermès, Louis VuittonOnline marketplace The RealReal’s fastest-growing market segment for the first half of 2017 is not millennials, but the coming-of-age Gen Z demographic who are outpacing their elder counterparts' sales by 35 percent. Marketers have been laser-focused on speaking to millennials, but Gen Z is quickly becoming an important demographic for high-end brands to cultivate a relationship with. the Gen Z consumer is an early adopter of consignment and the “lifecycle of luxury,” preferring secondhand Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton goods, making the resale market an opportunity for brand discovery.Secondhand news The RealReal’s “State of Luxury Resale” mid-year 2017 report charts marketplace trends, bestselling brands and emerging designers popular on its consignment platform.Among the best-selling brands on The RealReal, the marketplace found that interest in French fashion house Chloé continues to rise as its handbags are extremely popular.The trending popularities of luxury’s top brands on the secondhand market are tied to a label’s current successes as well.For example, Gucci has held The RealReal’s number four spot two years in a row and Saint Laurent moved up from 23 to 14, but Burberry and Lanvin, two houses with internal struggles, saw a dip in their popularity scores.Burberry is listed at number 15, and Lanvin dropped out of the top 20, going from 18 to 26 since The RealReal’s year-ago report.The RealReal’s mid-year report also found that women’s designer brands saw triple digit sales growth for the first half of 2017. For example, Vetements’ resale figures increased 548 percent and Aquazzura and J.W. Anderson’s sales grew by 188 and 143 percent, respectively. The unavoidable influence of streetwear is also making an impression of high-end consignment. Supreme, for example, saw a spike in consumer interest and demand. The streetwear label, fresh off the heels of its Louis Vuitton collaboration (see story), saw its year-over-year search rate on The RealReal increase 1,500 percent. The RealReal has also forecast a number of fashion trends based on what consignment consumers are buying from its marketplace.For instance, whimsical Gucci’s sell-through on The RealReal is 10 percent stronger than minimalistic Céline, as searches for graphic and print apparel grew by 37 percent year-over-year.Also, colorful knitwear brand Missoni saw searches jump 30 percent and its sales increase by double digits on The RealReal. Additional trends include backpacks, which saw searches increase by 70 percent, and investment footwear. The RealReal found that pairs priced more than $500 are selling 11 percent faster than handbags listed at the same price. Vintage is also an attractive category with one-off pieces having increased by 60 percent. Outside apparel and accessories, The RealReal reports home items on consignment increasing by 207 percent and engagement rings sales rose 150 percent year-over-year. As for the behavior of its consumers, The Real Real found that 85 percent of consignors use the commission of sale to shop on the full-price, primary market. Also, 70 percent of consumers research the resale value of a brand or product on The RealReal prior to making a full-priced purchase. Mobile is also a strong point for The RealReal even for “forever purchases” such as engagement rings. For the mid-year, The RealReal saw 33 percent of engagement rings being purchased via mobile devices, a rate 50 percent higher than average purchases. Delights in consignment The fashion market category that relies on consigning high-end apparel and accessories is witnessing a period of enormous growth, outpacing the full-price segment of its industry by 20 percent, according to a new report from Fung Global Retail & Technology. The entire resale industry is expected to grow from $18 billion in 2016 to $33 billion by 2021. This data comes from retail think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology, which released the "Fashion Re-Commerce Update" report to dig into exactly how and why this sector has been taking off. Interest in consignment has also heated up the competition for resale marketplaces. For example, online resale platform thredUP just recently entered the world of high-end consignment with the introduction of a luxury-specific marketplace  and also in Luxury community Miljonet.com it's marketplace becomes one of their most important features.  Also, resale platform TrueFacet recorded an 18 percent monthly increase for pieces priced at $25,000 or more. The jewelry resale site also saw 34 percent growth in the value of average orders.By Luxury Daily 

Business 01 Aug 2017

virgin atlantic: where does it go from here?

Anyone who has endured economy class on Air France’s 'Caribbean configuration' Boeing 777s will be dreading the prospect that Virgin Atlantic might emulate it from Gatwick to Antigua and Barbados“It’s strange to think but Virgin Atlantic has now been flying for half my lifetime,” wrote Sir Richard Branson in his letter to the airline’s staff about the sale of 31 per cent to Air France.“I can still remember the day we started when Lord King from British Airways forecasted our early demise, claiming we were ‘too old to rock n roll, too young to fly’. Well, together we proved how wrong he was.”Fresh, distinctive, innovative: that sums up the airline created against all the odds by a young record-company mogul. “Virgin Atlantic has made a massive difference to people’s flying experience and changed the airline industry for the better,” says Sir Richard. He’s right. Starting with a single Boeing 747, Virgin Atlantic transformed transatlantic travel: an exclusive “bubble” on the Jumbo jets for Upper Class passengers, with free inflight massages, and free ice-cream with the movies down below. Europe’s first premium economy soon followed. By moving from Gatwick to Heathrow and cherry-picking British Airways’ prime routes, Virgin Atlantic became a thorn in the flag-carrier’s side.  BA responded with the so-called “Dirty Tricks” campaign, hacking into Virgin Atlantic’s reservations to divert business passengers from Virgin’s Upper Class to its own cabins; it resulted in what Sir Richard calls “the largest libel settlement in British history,” divvied up among Virgin employees as a “BA Christmas Bonus.”At the turn of the Millennium, the founder pocketed a cool billion pounds by selling a 49 per cent share to Singapore Airlines.But as the traditional airlines upped their games, and US carriers freshened up financially with Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the skies became more turbulent. After 9/11 and the 2008 economic dive, Virgin Atlantic struggled. Singapore Airlines sold on its holding to Delta, and frequent flyers began to complain that the shots were being called from Atlanta (Delta’s HQ) rather than Crawley, where Virgin Atlantic has always had its base. But the airline retained its identity.“Willie Walsh predicted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would disappear within five years as a result,” said Sir Richard. “Whether childishly or bravely, he also said he’d accept a knee in the groin from me if it didn’t. Well Willie, that five year point is up this December. And Virgin Atlantic is still flying strong.”By Simon Calder 

Fashion & Design 31 Jul 2017

the perfect summer luxury watch?

The Perfect Summer Luxury Watch? The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors ReviewedBy Brice Goulard The summer is here. That means our thoughts turn to the seaside, sunshine, heatwave, mojitos, yacht deck, beach parties… and of course, what watch to wear this summer? You probably don’t want to take your treasured extra-flat, gold perpetual calendar watch out there. So, you’d likely be leaning towards some kind of dive watch, as it would be the best option, both to look classy, and to be able to jump in the pool without having to think about your watch. You’re on the right direction. But do you want to be part of this growing group of Submariner wearers? Maybe not, and thus, Audemars Piguet might have a pleasant and bold option for you, with the new Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors.BackgroundFirst of all, to understand the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors 2017 Collection, we have to reflect on some of the watches that compose the Royal Oak Offshore – or ROO – collection (a collection born in 1992, as a sportier and bolder evolution of the 1972-born Royal Oak). In 2015, Audemars slightly redesigned the Royal Oak Offshore Diver with the introduction of a new ref. 15710. No drama, no big move here, as the base recipe did not require much alteration. For this new reference, AP chose to only update the model, by giving it an extra color (white, in addition to the black dial version), and the addition of a sapphire caseback, to reveal the calibre 3120. Then, at the SIHH 2016, Audemars Piguet introduced new versions of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph(ref. 26703ST), with bold and bright colors. Yellow, orange, lime green or blue/yellow were available, with all of them on matching rubber straps. Colorful, very colorful, and popular too, as this new collection was more successful than we expected. Thus, for 2017, Audemars Piguet has decided to merge the ROO Diver and the colors of the Diver Chronograph, to create the 2017 Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors Collection. And it’s not 4 watches like the chronograph, but 5 that Audemars is presenting:White dial, blue indexes and hands, blue scale, blue rubber crowns, white rubber strap – ref. 15710ST.OO.A010CA.01Blue dial, white and yellow indexes and hands, yellow scale, blue rubber crowns, blue rubber strap – ref. 15710ST.OO.A027CA.01Yellow dial, white indexes and hands, blue scale, blue rubber crowns, yellow rubber strap – ref. 15710ST.OO.A051CA.01Orange dial, white indexes and hands, blue scale, blue rubber crowns, orange rubber strap – ref. 15710ST.OO.A070CA.01Lime Green dial, white indexes and hands, blue scale, blue rubber crowns, lime green rubber strap – ref. 15710ST.OO.A038CA.01 Just like the colorful collection of the Diver Chronograph, these watches are bold and loud… Very loud for some of the versions. Of course, this means that it won’t please all collectors, and that it will require a certain confidence to wear them (especially the yellow, orange and lime green versions). Yet, these colors do not feel out of context in the case of the ROO. It is the kind of watch that actually “accepts” to be bold and flashy, and as with the chronograph versions, the result is surprising at first, but ends up in being quite desirable. Let’s look at this watch more in details. Besides being priced over 20,000 Euro, besides its overall luxurious feel and besides the name that is printed on their dials, these new and colorful ROO Diver watches are still essentially what is indicated in their names: diving tools. Even if some owners will be quite reluctant to bring such expensive pieces underwater, and to treat them as recreational watches, that’s what they are designed to do. The overall construction of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver is extremely solid, and you can properly feel that quality when on the wrist. It’s a massive, rugged and sturdy block of stainless steel. Adjustments on the case are precise and the overall assembly is what you would expect from such a high-end watch.The case is also sporty and perfectly adapted to recreational diving sessions. The crown is well protected by a large piece on the side of the case, and is coated (as well as the second crown at 10) with rubber, to help using it, even with wet gloves. However, you’ll never forget that even if it’s a dive watch, even if it’s part of the Offshore collection, this watch is after all a Royal Oak, and thus its finishing is top-notch. The case alternates between polished and brushed surfaces, with clear distinction between these areas. Like all RO, it is precise, very well executed and offers this surprising combination of sturdiness and quality, with a delicate finishing. These Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver are built to withstand 30 bar of pressure (300m underwater), and benefits from all the required elements that a dive watch should have. Unsurprisingly there’s no external rotating bezel on this watch – in fact it would be quite odd to have an octagonal rotatable bezel, and one with a diving scale engraved would certainly ruin the signature design of the RO. Thus, the solution found by AP to calculate elapsed times is an internal rotating chapter ring, on the periphery of the dial. It is actuated by a second crown, positioned at 10. Admittedly it might be less practical than an external bezel, but it certainly does the job – and clearly, design-wise, this solution is certainly the best one. Thus, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver watches retains the octagonal bezel with 8 white gold screws on each corner. In terms of experience on the wrist, it has to be reminded that the ROO doesn’t wear like a standard watch. While on paper, the proportions feel rather restrained for a dive watch (let’s say that it’s on the average side), the 42mm diameter and 14.1mm height are not clear indications of the feeling you’ll get when wearing this watch. With its monobloc case, with integrated lugs, and its quite massive shape, the ROO Diver wears much larger than an equally sized Tudor Pelagos for instance. It has more presence on the wrist, yet it remains extremely comfortable and gently “hugs” the wrist. The main evolution for the 2017 collection is on the colors, as apart from this, the rest of the watch remains faithful to the previous black or white dial versions of the Royal Oak Offshore Diver. Thus, we have the classical squared texture, here with large “Méga Tapisserie” pattern (not hand-guilloche here but classically stamped). Indexes are crafted in white gold and applied onto the dial, and the hands use the classical, marginally oversized, RO design. Both are filled with enough luminous material to offer a good night-time legibility, and their shape and dimensions are generous enough to provide the required contrast during the day. Overall legibility is very good, whatever the color you choose. Same goes for the date, which is placed under a magnifier and thus easily readable. As said in the introduction, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors Collection comprises 5 different options for the dial – all with a matching rubber strap. Two of them are rather classical and quite easy on the wrist – the white dial with blue indexes and hands certainly is the more understated. Three of them are, on the other hand, as bright as you can imagine. Yellow, Orange, Lime Green… All of them using white-filled indexes and hands, as well as blue tracks. However, as these ROO Diver are to be considered as weekend / summer watches, and not daily business-oriented timekeepers, a bit of color is not that of a bad option. Of course, the latter three will require some confidence, but the result actually befits the Royal Oak quite well.The movementHere, no surprises. Inside the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors watches is the brand’s widely-used Calibre 3120 – as seen in the RO Automatic 15400, the ROO Chronograph and Diver Chrono (as a base calibre), and of course in the other ROO Diver watches. The 3120 is a self-winding movement, with a central rotor in gold, and has a classical, yet solid architecture. It ticks at a frequency of 21,600vph, it has a balance with variable inertia blocks, it features 40 jewels (which is quite high for a time-and-date movement), overall 280 parts and boasts a comfortable 60h power reserve. Finishing and decoration are as always carried out to  a very high standard, with diamond-polished bevels, Geneva stripes, polished countersinks and nicely engraved rotor. Yet this movement would be even more pleasant to look at if it were not for one issue: its small diameter. Indeed, and even if this has no influence on its efficiency, this calibre 3120 measures only 26.6mm in diameter (11¾ lignes), which considering the 42mm diameter of the case, leaves an impressive amount of steel around it. This can be explained by the relatively old conception of the Calibre 3120 (first designed in 1998, with a serial production started in 2003), when watches were smaller. This, however, doesn’t remove any of the beauty of this engine, considered as one of the best time-and-date automatic movement available. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky Colors Collection is, overall, no big surprise. With the exception of the colorful dials, it remains the sturdy and robust dive watch we’ve been used to now for a few years. Yet, it still pleases by this combination of robustness and luxury. Indeed, despite the delicate finishings and well-decorated movement, it is nonetheless a performance dive watch, which can comfortably withstand some recreational diving sessions (or a splash of Aperol Spritz…) I leave it to you to be the judges of these colorful dials, as clearly, the orange, yellow and lime green versions must be regarded as bold and personal choices. I’ll personally go for the blue or white versions, yet I’m sure some will have the assurance to go for the 3 others – and they will be right to do so. To conclude, if you are looking for a real luxury watch, with an iconic DNA, but which is equally at home during active sports and summer activities, consider this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver as a pretty good offer – even if not a cheap one, as priced at 19,300 Euro (white version) and 20,200 Euro (for the 4 other models). More details on www.audemarspiguet.com.ProsSuperb execution of the caseThe DNA of the Royal Oak, mixed with a sturdy dive watchLarge but comfortableLegibility is not impacted by the bright colorsNicely decorated and performing movement…Cons… but too small for the caseThese colors won’t be to everyone’s likingThe ease-of-use of the internal bezel is debatableSpecifications – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Funky ColorsCase: 42mm diameter x 14.1mm height – stainless steel, polished and brushed, 8 white gold screws on the bezel – sapphire crystal on both sides – internal rotatable diving scale – 300m / 30 bar water resistantMovement: Calibre 3120, in-house – self-winding – 3Hz frequency – 60h power reserve – 280 components – time and dateStrap: Rubber strap matching the dial of the watch, steel pin buckle – additional blue rubber strap includedReference: 15710ST.OOPrice: 19,300 Euro (white version) and 20,200 Euro (blue, green, yellow and orange models)Availability: Special Editions – White and Green versions being Boutique Exclusive

Business 27 Jul 2017

lvmh profit grows at fastest rate since 2011

LVMH Profit Grows at Fastest Rate Since 2011 as Asia ReboundsProfit from recurring operations rose 23 percent to €3.64 billion ($4.23 billion) in the first half, the French luxury goods conglomerate reported Wednesday.PARIS, France — LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury-goods maker, reported first-half profit in line with analyst estimates as earnings grew at their fastest rate since 2011.Profit from recurring operations rose 23 percent to €3.64 billion ($4.23 billion) in the first half, the owner of Louis Vuitton leather goods and Sephora cosmetics stores said Wednesday. Analysts expected €3.61 billion. Second-quarter sales rose 12 percent on an organic basis, slower than the first quarter’s 13 percent jump but above analyst predictions.Shares in the maker of luxury goods ranging from Tag Heuer watches to Veuve Clicquot Champagne are up about 20 percent since the start of the year, as investors have welcomed rebounding demand in China as well as a €6.5 billion deal for LMVH to take full control of Christian Dior, whose beauty business the company already owned. In May, LVMH surpassed energy giant Total SA to become France’s most valuable company.“LVMH has enjoyed an excellent first half, to which all our businesses contributed,” chief executive officer Bernard Arnault said in a statement. “In an environment that remains uncertain, we approach the second half of the year with caution.”The company said it benefited from rebounding demand in Asia, as well as from a favourable comparison base in its domestic market, which was hurt by a fall in tourism a year earlier.

Business 26 Jul 2017

michael kors agrees to buy jimmy choo

Michael Kors Agrees to Buy Jimmy Choo in $1.2 Billion Deal Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. agreed to buy Jimmy Choo Plc for about 896 million pounds ($1.2 billion), as the maker of handbags popular with the commuter set seeks to restore lost luster by adding “Sex and the City” stilettos.The purchase of Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors’ first deal to expand beyond its own brand name since its initial public offering in 2011, gives the New York fashion and accessories company a presence in higher-end luxury, in a move similar to Coach Inc.’s 2015 acquisition of shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. London-based Jimmy Choo rose to prominence in the late 1990s, boosted by high-profile devotees including the late Princess Diana and the fictional Carrie Bradshaw in television series “Sex and the City.” The deal comes amid consolidation in the U.S. luxury industry, with Coach also agreeing to buy Kate Spade & Co. this year.“Again, Michael Kors follows the path of Coach -- and again, on steroids,” wrote Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas. “After a meteoric rise and spectacular crash, it is now the time to recycle cash into other brands.”The company has been closing stores and reducing its exposure to department stores in an effort to boost its exclusivity. Alongside Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, Michael Kors has struggled to maintain its brand image after broadly distributing its products in discount stores and outlet malls. On the Macy’s website, for example, the brand’s signature $298 tote bags are currently sold for as low as $149.Jimmy Choo competes with the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin for the attention of fans of high-heeled women’s shoes, selling models like the $800 Lance. The brand gets its name from its Malaysian-born co-founder, who created it in 1996 with British designer Tamara Mellon and opened its first store in London a year later.JAB Holding Co., owned by the billionaire Reimann family, has committed to sell its 68 percent stake. The investment company bought Jimmy Choo for more than 500 million pounds in 2011 and later pared its holdings in a 2014 initial public offering. Before that, Jimmy Choo has been bought and sold by private-equity investors three times.In April, JAB said it was reviewing options for the shoe brand and leather-goods maker Bally International AG to step away from fashion and footwear. The company plans to focus on its food and beverage businesses, which has grown into one of the world’s largest coffee sellers through acquisitions of brands such as Caribou Coffee Co., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread.Michael Kors will pay 230 pence a share for the luxury shoemaker, a premium of 18 percent over Monday’s close, the companies said Tuesday. The price is equal to about 13 times Jimmy Choo’s adjusted Ebitda for 2017, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Deborah Aitken.Michael Kors stock has lost about two-thirds of its value since peaking in February 2014. The stock had more than doubled in the two years prior. Jimmy Choo shares rose as much as 17 percent in London Tuesday, coming within 1 penny of the bid price. Michael Kors rose 2.8 percent to $35.90 in pre-market trading.“Jimmy Choo is a higher-end brand that gives Kors a bit more diversity,” said John Guy, luxury analyst and managing director at MainFirst Bank AG.The deal could be susceptible to a counter-offer, Guy said, as some minority shareholders are likely to hold out for a better price.BofA Merrill Lynch and Citigroup advised Jimmy Choo. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Michael Kors, which said it would keep Jimmy Choo’s existing management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Pierre Denis.

Business 25 Jul 2017

how cost-cutting increases costs

British Airways: a brilliant example of how cost-cutting increases costsIn the 1990s, Sir Colin – later Lord – Marshall, Chief Executive of British Airways was being interviewed by a journalist. The latter asked him, as leader of a famous brand, what he feared most. Sir Colin said something along these lines: “the pilots can be ill, the food can taste bad, the plane may be late and we lose the passengers’ baggage. I know I can fix these things and I will. But the thing I fear most is our Information Systems going down. We are critically dependent on our IT people for delivering our customer experience and for our survival. Our IT is of strategic importance and I keep my Chief Information Officer really close to me. Our IT is so important we would never outsource it.”Sir Colin was a deeply experienced leader who had invested very heavily in creating the unique British Airways’ customer experience for the “world's favourite airline”. He made mandatory attendance at a training program called Putting People First and attended in person at the end of every program to take employees’ questions. All those in leadership positions went through its sister program Managing People First and he attended that one too. A charismatic forthright, rigorous and determined leader, he made British Airways a customer driven company. Sadly, none of his successors have had the IQ or the EQ (nor the training he had as a Purser in P&O) to understand the world's favourite airline customer experience or to keep it going. Since the Marshall days the British Airways’ customer experience has been progressively eroded by a succession of cost cutters. We have had Ayling, Eddington, Walsh and now Alex Cruz who has just had what is probably the most catastrophic meltdown of any information systems in modern times. As a public relations disaster, it is up there with United’s Dr David Dao event.Here is a vignette of what it meant to one high-margin customer: The customer was flying from JFK to LHR in business class. Half an hour before the flight was due to leave, the information board said: “flight delayed”, and then soon after “cancelled”, without reason. The customer was told to go back through security to the BA desk, where BA’s staff had no idea that the flight has been cancelled or why.The customer was then told to collect his checked-in luggage from the returns area and “in the meantime the BA staff will look at other flight options”. The bag was returned last despite being a business class ticket holder, at which point the customer had to join the back of the queue (fortunately the priority queue) to check in for the next flight. Once at the front of the queue the desk agent told the customer that their new flight “is departing now”; he needed to rush for it. The customer checked with the check-in desk that the luggage would also make the flight, and the desk confirmed this. The customer then rushed to the departure gate and just made it before the doors were shut.After landing at LHR and waiting at the luggage belts it was apparent that his luggage had not make it onto the plane. On enquiring with the service staff about the location of the bag, there was no record of it. The customer filled out a lost bag form along with instructions to deliver the bag in the evening, as no one would be at home if the bag was returned in the daytime.The following day the customer received a text message from BA stating that their luggage would be delivered to his home address between 1pm and 3pm, a time when he was at work and was unable to receive it. Delivery was rescheduled for the evening of the next day. All-in-all a poor customer experience delivered by British Airways. Bad communication about the delay and subsequent cancellation of the flight. Followed by a poor procedure to rebook and recheck-in people and luggage. And then finally poor handling of the return of the luggage despite the customer being explicit about the time when they would be available to take delivery.Of course BA's competitors are in heaven but won't say it. Ryanair immediately took the opportunity to make public the fact that none of their IT is outsourced and that backups exist in three different countries.This sad story is all because of cost-cutting Cruz and his naive team who have now increased costs for British Airways. At time of writing the extra costs from the IT meltdown are estimated to be £120 million. You may assume that this figure will double or even treble when the costs of customers switching to other airlines, for ever, is taken into consideration. This will be far more than BA hoped to achieve by cost-cutting. Running a full-service airline using operational effectiveness techniques just does not work and never will. It is a major strategic error.I'm writing this on a British Airways plane, on the tarmac at Heathrow, away from the jetty, where we are waiting for take-off from Frankfurt. The plane has been delayed by two hours by thunderstorms in Germany. Not British Airways’ fault. But the cabin crew are still insisting we have to pay for the Marks & Spencer's food, rather than giving us free drinks and food as Virgin did when I experienced the same problem several years ago. They don't get it, nor clearly do their managers. It's not the crew’s fault but it is Cruz’s. Their managers are not encouraged to empower them, a key component of a high performing customer experience.I have been a member of British Airways Future Lab for over four years. This is the British Airways method for obtaining detailed feedback from customers. It is done via a special website and a series of questions we members answer every week. It appears most of the members are, like me, Gold Card holders. These are the 20% of customers who provide 80% of British Airways’ revenue.Over the last few months I have noticed a trend in the comments on Future Lab. Many are frustrated that British Airways does not seem to pay any attention to what we say and takes no action on our suggestions. This is despite that, from reading the comments, it is clear that members of Future Lab want British Airways to be successful and make the airline competitive, improving and to have an excellent customer experience.And it is not just the customers that are unhappy. Currently about 58 cabin crew are resigning at Gatwick every month; this is not sustainable. So here are a few messages for Messrs Cruz and Walsh.Firstly, Mr Cruz, resign. It happened on your watch, do the honourable thing get out of the way and let somebody who really understands how to run a full-service airline take on the job.Mr Walsh: find Cruz’s replacement from a decent airline; I recommend Cathay, Singapore or Emirates. If not, do what Apple did and go to a top-class hotel chain. They know how to create a branded customer experience.Stop trying to compete with the low-cost airlines; as I have said many times on Future Lab: THEY ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION! Lufthansa, Cathay, Finnair, Qatar, Emirates, Singapore, United, Delta and Etihad are.Switch all of the energy that you currently devote to cost-cutting into reduction of any errors, waste and rework that is destroying the BA branded customer experience. Singapore Airlines is the best example of doing this but, if you cannot attract anyone from them, go to Nissan in Sunderland. They know how to reduce failure demand; that is demand on the system caused by failure (often called rework or doing it right the second time when you got it wrong the first time). The average organisation has 35% re-work, and cutting that delights customers, employees and shareholders. It also increases loyalty and profits. You will save far more money this way.Take a rigorous and very detailed look at the way you select, train, lead and subsequently develop your people. Focus selection on the right attitudes required to deliver the customer experience which itself is about 70% related to people and 15% to do with the product. Put in place lean methods for continuous improvement of the customer experience. The new Chief Executive needs to follow Sir Colin’s example and attend every training program to demonstrate how important they are to him.Take a leaf out of Ryanair's book: bring all of your information systems in-house and have at least three back-up systems in different countries so that if one goes down you have a failsafe back-up. Don't outsource it to India or to Spain, it is far too important to do that.Stop cutting the customer experience. Get rid of the Marks & Spencer's food and paying for it, you are not the ghastly Ryanair and should be moving in the opposite direction to the lightweight O’Leary. Then really make a very big deal about free baggage, free food and drink, easy-to-get-to airports and genuine service offering as in “To Serve To Fly”. Make your customer experience the centre of your differentiated service offering. Don’t copy, differentiate!Re-train all of your customer-facing staff and make the training mandatory and assessed. Get rid of some of the old deadwood (and goodness me there is plenty of it) and enhance the customer engagement with newly selected and properly trained staff. I've only ever handed out two Golden Tickets and one of them was to a ground crew person who sorted my lost baggage. Oh and for goodness sake pay them properly!  Make properly paid people the focus and the gathering of customer feedback the two issues that you pay attention to at the highest level. Do not focus on satisfaction but on the performance against what your customers expect. Get Future Lab to do that, using people who really do know how to do this; the current people in Future Lab obviously do not. It is not about satisfaction; that is an idea beyond its sell-by date. Engage much more at CEO level with British Airways Future Lab. Invite us to come and talk to you, in-depth and often. Bring us into your closest decision-making, listen to what we say carefully, act on it and go on using us. We are willing to do it for you (for nothing) providing that you engage with us.Don't outsource your call centres! They are critical to your customer experience and should be run by well-paid and well-motivated BA employees not by some people who do not understand your culture or how to delight your customers.Do that and you will have, just possibly, a chance to recover from this disaster.Fail to do so and Sir Colin will continue to spin in his grave. By: Rowan Jackson 

Travel & Events 23 Jun 2017

ritz-carlton's new yachts

Ritz-Carlton's new yachts will be luxury hotels at sea(CNN) — Luxury hotels are always looking for ways to outdo each other, from death-defying infinity pools to custom lobby fragrances. But Ritz-Carlton has taken a slightly different approach by branching out into the luxury yacht business.The hotel brand has announced that is building three custom seafaring vessels, with the first ready to sail in 2019."It's a hybrid between luxury cruising and yachting," Doug Prothero, managing director of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, told CNN Travel of the new venture. The small ships, which will each have fewer than 300 guests on board at a time, are designed to bring the Ritz-Carlton mentality to the sea. That means Michelin-starred dining, one-on-one attention from crew members and customizable shore itineraries.Prothero, however, doesn't think only Ritz loyalists will want to try out the new yacht service."Existing cruisers will look at it because it's new, loyal RC customers will come because it's new from the brand they love and people who would not otherwise go cruising because it doesn't feel like too much like a [stereotypical] cruise."In other words? Don't expect crowded free-for-all buffets or jostling to get off the ship when it docks."With the first two ships we will do the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Eastern Canada, New England, the Caribbean and Latin America. The second ship will get the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes," he explains. "The third ship we envision being based in the Pacific."While rates have not yet been announced or itineraries finalized, tickets for the first sailing will go on sale in May 2018, so mark your calendars now.  

Fashion & Design 21 Jun 2017

how high can the hermés birkin go?

Breaking Records: How High Can the Hermés Birkin Go?The prized handbag continues to break records auction after auction.By Sheila Gibson Stoodley On Robb reportThe month of May means flowers in bloom, long sunny days—and lately, it seems, record-breaking Birkin sales. On May 25, 2015, a fuschia Hermés Birkin sold for $222,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong, a then-world-record for any handbag at auction. Almost exactly a year later, a matte white Birkin topped it, selling for $300,000 (again at Christie’s). And this year, on May 31, the Hong Kong auction house brought the gavel down on a matte white-and-grey Birkin for an astounding $380,000. Matthew Rubinger, international director of handbags and accessories for Christie’s, says the series of records “signifies the growth of the market itself”—a market born in 1978 when Christie’s London sold Coco Chanel’s handbag to the Smithsonian for $800. By Rubinger’s reckoning, the newest record holder, a 2014 Himalaya niloticus crocodile Hermés Birkin with 18-karat white gold and diamond“Within the handbag auction market, the biggest brand is Hermés, and it has to do with the quality of the pieces. All the top pieces are made by hand from end to end, and they’ve stuck to that for the last 150 years,” Rubinger says. “The most important [Hermés handbag] is the Birkin. Within the Birkins, the crocodile Birkins are [made from] the finest material used. Among the crocodile Birkins, the Himalayas in white and grey with diamond hardware are the pinnacle of the market. I’m not surprised it holds the world record.”But how long will it hold the record? This spring, Rubinger and his team embarked on a jet-lag inducing tour that scheduled sales in Hong Kong, London, and New York mere weeks apart. On June 12 in London, a 2007 shiny bleu marine porosus crocodile Hermés Birkin 35 with 18-karat white gold and diamond hardware sold for roughly $196,540, setting an auction record for any handbag sold in Europe. Could a bag in the New York online auction—taking place now through June 22—set a record, too? One thing is for sure: The current Birkin record won’t last for long. 

Art & Culture 13 Jun 2017

david rockefeller’s legendary art collection

Sale of the Century? David Rockefeller’s Legendary Art Collection to Be Sold by Christie’sThe sale could be the most valuable collection ever to come to auction. The estate of banking scion and art collector David Rockefeller, who passed away in March at the age of 101, and his wife Peggy, who died in 1996, will be sold at Christie’s New York in the spring of 2018. Experts are already speculating that it could be the most valuable collection ever sold at auction, surpassing the 2009 sale of the estate of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which totalled $484 million.Rockefeller’s will estimated his assets at $700 million, and Christie’s is expecting a sales total in that range, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Rockefeller provenance will only increase interest in a collection that is more than impressive in its own right.“It will be the sale of this century and the last as well,” former Sotheby’s co-chairman of Impressionist art David Norman told Bloomberg. “Every work lives up to the Rockefeller name. It’s a perfect match of a great historic family and a great historic collection.”The last-surviving grandson of Standard Oil giant John D. Rockefeller, David Rockefeller was known for his philanthropy, and the proceeds of the sale’s approximately 2,000 items will benefit a dozen institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Arrangements were made before Rockefeller’s death for Christie’s to handle the estate. The Rockefellers had worked for many years with Marc Porter, who recently returned to the house following a short stint at Sotheby’s.The sale is especially noteworthy because Rockefeller rarely brought his holdings to auction during his lifetime. The one major exception, Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink, and Lavender on Rose), 1950, fetched $72.84 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2007. He had bought it for just $10,000.A major donor to MoMA, Rockefeller and his collection was the subject of the museum’s 1994 exhibition “Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso,” featuring 21 canvases gifted or promised to the institution. He gave MoMA a then-record $100 million donation in 2005, and was a fixture at their annual Party in the Garden, attending at the age of 100 in 2016.Rockefeller founded the 30,000-object JPMorgan Chase Art Collection in 1959, and donated his parent’s collection to New York’s Asia Society. Among his wide-ranging personal holdings, estimated at 15,000 pieces, were Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern art, American paintings, English and European furniture, Asian art, European ceramics, silver, and American decorative arts and furniture.Highlights from the collection, once valued at $500 million, according to NBC, will tour Asia, Europe, and the US ahead of the Christie’s sale. The auction house has yet to reveal any of the works involved.Coincidentally, a massive 18.04-carat emerald ring once owned by Rockefeller is also hitting the auction block on June 20, when it is slated to be among the highlights of the “Magnificent Jewels” sale at Christie’s New York. Set in a platinum and diamond setting by jeweler Raymond Carter Yard at Rockefeller’s request, the Rockefeller Emerald carries an estimate of $4–6 million.

News, Media & Society 07 Jun 2017

vladimir putin’s $1 million watch to auction

Vladimir Putin’s $1 Million Watch Coming to Auction Vladimir Putin, watch guy. Yup, the president's best frenemy is something of a horological connoisseur, and, as reported over the years, his collection includes everything from a Blancpain Aqualung that he wore while signing the treaty to annex Crimea to a range of other watches that make up six times what his declared yearly income is. Today, however, we've found the most impressive and expensive timepiece from the Putin collection, and it's coming up for sale.The watch is none other than a true grand complication Patek Philippe wristwatch—a reference 5208P. The 5208P is one of the most complicated watches Patek has ever made, and it includes a minute repeater, a mono-pusher chronograph, and an instantaneous perpetual calendar. It is one of the most impressive wristwatches in the world, and also one of the most expensive—it costs roughly 980,000 CHF and is offered only to top clients of the brand by application.The watch was seemingly sold to Mr. Putin at London's Watches of Switzerland location, though a date is not visible on the documentation. Now, to be clear, it is possible that someone may have filled out the certificate of this watch with Mr. Putin's name, so there is no way to confirm it was actually sold to him—but that seems unlikely, as Patek Philippe retailers are instructed to print the real name of the purchaser on the papers as the watch is delivered. Still, anything is possible, and Antiquorum's listing is anything but complete at this moment—further it is hosted on Antiquorum's new partner in European auctions, Monaco Legends. There is not even an estimate listed on this lot yet, and the auction house is still looking for more consignments for this mid-July sale in Monaco.  

Business 06 Jun 2017

high-net-worth millennials

High-Net-Worth Millennials Very Confident About FinancesMany are taking a proactive approach to managing their wealth.High-net-worth Millennials are far more confident than other generations when it comes to talking about their wealth, according to research by RBC Wealth Management. Eighty percent of them think they have a responsibility to understand their finances, and 69% conduct research on their own to expand their financial knowledge. By comparison, only 61% of those in the 35 to 55 age group and 47% of those older than 55 do so.Millennials have also gotten a head start on understanding finances, with the average starting age being 20. By comparison, Gen Xers said they started exploring finances at age 25, and Baby Boomers, age 32.“Millennials are more educated than previous generations, with more attending college than their parents and grandparents,” says Angie O’Leary, head of wealth planning at RBC Wealth Management-U.S. “They’re a more mindful generation with a global perspective—all of which has factored into their sense of responsibility about finances.”Fifty-one percent of high-net-worth Millennials said they had discussed wealth transfer with a member of their family, a discussion other generations pay little attention to.However, only 35% of Millennials have a will, and 36% have done nothing about wealth transfer. On the other hand, 38% have a wealth transfer strategy in place, 41% plan to distribute their wealth gradually over the course of their lifetime, and 53% plan to educate their beneficiaries.RBC Wealth Management conducted the survey in collaboration with Scorpio Partnership. 

Fashion & Design 04 Jun 2017

the hermès tie society,

If the idea of selecting a necktie—Solid? Woven? Whimsical motif?—ties you up in knots, Hermès has a new solution. Beginning in June, just in time for Father’s Day, the venerable French luxury brand is launching The Hermès Tie Society, a subscription service that provides members with new neckwear on a monthly, bi-monthly,  or quarterly basis.The idea for the Tie Society started in 2015 when Hermès tested a similar concept at the Madison Avenue boutique in New York. “It was called Tie Subscription Service and it was born from the idea of service and convenience for today’s time-starved man,” says Robert Chavez, president and CEO of Hermès in the United States, who notes that silk represents about a quarter of the men’s business. “The service could be self-purchased or gifted.  They would not have to come to the store every month for a new tie, and we would select for them based on their preferences.  What we learned is that clients love the convenience and the personal touch and service.” The new Hermès Tie Society will launch in 10 stories in the U.S.—Beverly Hills; San Francisco; Chicago; Houston; Dallas; Boston; Washington D.C.; Costa Mesa, California; and Wall Street and Madison Avenue—with plans to roll it out gradually across the country and internationally. Customers can also call one of those boutiques to register if they can’t sign up in person.Before becoming a member, customers are encouraged to fill out a brief questionnaire about preferred patterns, colors, and materials. There are also some light multiple-choice questions about personality type. (“How do you like to spend your free time?” a) Jetsetting about; b) In quiet contemplation; c) On the playing field; d) What is free time?) There’s even a short essay portion if you’re so inclined.As for the cost, the month-by-month subscription begins at $180 (plus tax) and includes free delivery, a laundering service as well as reshaping and repairs. Tie Society members will also be invited to exclusive events, including Hermès tie collection premieres at the Madison Avenue boutique.Chavez doesn’t have a specific goal in mind for membership or sales, he simply believes Tie Society is the kind of “specialized personal and convenient service” that the Hermès client appreciates. But women shouldn’t expect an Hermès Scarf Society any time soon. “We have no current plans to expand the concept,” Chavez says. “But you never know!” 

News, Media & Society 03 Jun 2017

the jim pattison children's hospital

The Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan will be getting a new name following the largest private donation in Saskatchewan history.The $285-million construction project adjacent to Royal University Hospital will now be known as the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital. Pattison was on hand Tuesday as officials announced his $50-million pledge to support equipment purchases and research.At a news conference, Pattison was presented with a construction vest and hard hat to symbolize the ongoing work on the hospital. The 88-year-old native of Luseland, Sask., grew emotional at the podium as he described his Saskatchewan roots.He said it was Saskatchewan people and members of a local Apostolic church that fed and clothed his family when they lost their business during the Depression.Pattison would go on to make his fortune in the auto, media, real estate and grocery sectors. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $5.6 billion."My family owes a lot to Saskatchewan," said Pattison. "My mom's family were homesteaders and my dad's family were homesteaders, so we wouldn't be here without Saskatchewan people."Pattison said it's important to recognize the work of volunteers and how important they are to society."I think any effort, no matter how small, can help," he said. "That's what builds a community and what builds a country."Premier Brad Wall said he's grateful for the donation, and that the new hospital is needed."We're going to have a world-class children's hospital," he said. "I think it was always the vision of our government that we would have one in the province."Wall lauded Pattison's commitment to Saskatchewan."He has never forgotten the province," Wall said. "It's just great to have him home, and we're grateful for his generosity."The Ministry of Health said the hospital has recruited more than 70 per cent of the pediatric specialists it will need. Thirteen interested candidates have made site visits to Saskatoon since January.The hospital was 55 per cent complete at the end of April, and is on-time and on-budget. The hospital is expected to open in 2019.

News, Media & Society 01 Jun 2017

executive airshare launches jet card program

Executive AirShare Launches Jet Card Program Using Days Instead Of HoursRegional fractional provider Executive AirShare is launching EMBARK, a membership program for flying 10 flight days a year with no long-term commitment. The program enables customers to select a renewable one-year term or 20 total flight days they can take up to two years to use. The company, which was founded in 2000, had previously been using the “per day” model to sell fractional shares. It is an ISB-AO certified operator. The key difference with EMBARK’s sales pitch is the use of days instead of hours in a jet card like product. A 10-day program for using a Phenom 100 for one-year is $49,500, a King Air 350i or Cessna CJ2+ is $61,500 while a Phenom 300 is $84,750. Above and beyond there are then additional charges which cover either an hourly rate (for one-way flights) or what officials describe as something closer to direct operating costs. There are no ferry fees.So what will you pay?Using a Phenom 100 for 10 days within a year, you would pay $49,500 to start. When you add in the extra direct fees based on your usage, EMBARK prices work out to be between $3,500 to $4,600 per hour inclusive Executive AirShare CEO Keith Plumb tells Private Jet Card Comparisons.Two examples of usage would be doing a round trip the same day to see a college football came versus a one-way to a vacation house where you plan to stay for a week or so with the former being less expensive than the latter.The program does not guarantee availability. The capacity is being fed through shares the operator owns as part of its fractional fleet of 32 aircraft. Reservations are handled on a first come, first-served basis, so Plumb says EMBARK is a good plan for somebody who knows their travel dates in advance, such as said college football game six months from now.Since its fractional owners are business slanted, Plumb says availability on holidays and weekends for EMBARK is very good. “Wednesdays and Thursdays are our peak days,” he says. Executive AirShare serves customers in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Kansas and Missouri); Wichita, Kan., Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla.; Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and Buffalo, N.Y. Its subsidiary, Executive Flight Services, manages aircraft for owners from bases in Fort Worth, Dallas, Wichita, Kansas City and Buffalo. Executive AirShare currently serves the Central U.S. and Great Lakes regions, operating a fleet of Bombardier Learjet 45XR, Embraer Phenom 300 and Phenom 100, Cessna Citation CJ2+, and Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft. The target customer is flying within the above cities or travel from or to them or places nearby, Plumb says.   

News, Media & Society 31 May 2017

selfridges leverages luxury’s butterfly mark

Selfridges leverages Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark to up transparencyBritish department store Selfridges is furthering its commitment to sustainability by including Positive Luxury’s Trust Button.Industry and brand transparency is valued, but in many cases the consumer, especially one not familiar with the inner workings and practices of a particular brand, may be unaware if products meet a wanted standard of sustainability. London-based Positive Luxury and its interactive Trust Button use technology to keep consumers informed of luxury brands’ commitments to quality, design, craftsmanship, service and sustainability. On the wings of awarenessPositive Luxury uses a butterfly symbol to alert consumers of its Trust Button on brand and retailer’s online platforms. The Butterfly Mark was inspired by the Large Blue butterfly species that was nearly driven to extinction in the 1970s, but was successfully reintroduced in the U.K. For Positive Luxury, the symbolism reflects how the human race has the collective power to make changes to positively impact the world.Positive Luxury’s most recent partnership for its Trust Button is with Selfridges. The British department store chain will now display the Butterfly Mark on its Web site and mobile application to highlight brands that can be trusted. By tapping the Butterfly Mark, consumers are shown the positive actions associated with the brand they are considering buying from. By improving transparency and closing the trust gap, consumers can be more confident in their purchase decisions. “Positive Luxury is delighted to be partnering with Selfridges and bringing the Butterfly Mark to a new wave of consumers that care,” said Diana Verde Nieto, CEO and co-founder of Positive Luxury, in statement. “We admire the efforts that Selfridges has already taken to communicate sustainability to their customers, and are excited to be part of this ongoing journey to helping people buy better,” she said. Selfridges’ partnership with Positive Luxury is part of its “Buying Better, Inspiring Change” campaign.By Luxury Daily

Business 30 May 2017

buffett buys stake in german lanxess

Buffett Buys Stake In German Specialty Chemicals Maker LanxessLanxess AG soared in Frankfurt trading after Warren Buffett’s General Reinsurance AG unit bought a 3 percent stake, placing the U.S. investor among the top six shareholders of the German chemicals company. The stock rose as much as 6.8 percent, erasing an earlier decline, after the stake holding was disclosed in a statement to the stock exchange on Monday. Buffett, who as chairman and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the world’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of US$74.5 billion, purchased the shares on May 19, according to the notification. Lanxess stock, which was also trading ex-dividend, gained 6 percent to €66.30 (US$73.71) as of 2:34 p.m. in Frankfurt, a one-year high.

Business 29 May 2017

there are 9 types of intelligence. by bill gates

There are 9 types of intelligence. Bill Gates says finding yours is key. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knows that intelligence isn't one-size-fits-all.By Marguerite WardGates built his career on strong logic and mathematical skills, establishing himself as a brilliant coder with a knack for solving technical problems. But he admits he lacked other strengths, such as strong interpersonal skills.In a series of posts on Twitter, Gates shares the things he wishes he knew when he was just starting out in his career."Looking back on when I left college, there are some things I wish I had known," Gates writes."Intelligence takes many different forms," Gates says. "It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think."In the 1980s, psychologist Howard Gardener identified nine types of intelligence. Funders and Founders designer Mark Vital highlighted what each type of intelligence can offer in this infographic.Spatial: Visualizing the world in 3DNaturalist: Understanding living things and reading natureMusical: Discerning sounds, their pitch, tone, rhythm and timbreLogical-Mathematical: Quantifying things, making hypotheses and proving themExistential: Tackling the questions of why we live and why we dieInterpersonal: Sensing people's feelings and motivesBodily-Kinesthetic: Coordinating your mind with your bodyLinguistic: Finding the right words to express what you meanIntra-personal: Understanding yourself, what you feel and what you wantThere are multiple benefits to embracing your own type or types of intelligence. For starters, you can stop comparing yourself to others, and find your best work environment. You're also more aware of what skills you may need to develop.Gates ended his string of thoughts on a resoundingly hopeful note: "This is an amazing time to be alive. I hope you make the most of it."

Business 23 May 2017

the booms and busts of american luxury

The Booms and Busts of American LuxuryWhile Europe’s luxury houses play a long game, working hard to maintain the perception of exclusivity, America’s largest luxury businesses tend to follow a turbulent cool/not cool cycle.NEW YORK, United States — Today’s luxury market is about maintaining the illusion of exclusivity, while selling units by the millions. Shatter the illusion and brand cachet is lost — and with it goes growth, margin and, ultimately, value. While Europe’s luxury houses play a long game, working hard to maintain the perception of exclusivity, America’s large luxury players have adopted a different approach altogether, sprinting to sell as much as possible, as fast as possible, then suffering the consequences.Indeed, the US luxury industry tends to follow a cool/not cool cycle: a brand is suddenly perceived as cool; the company goes all-out to distribute as widely as possible; revenues shoot up, followed by returns; then the brand becomes ubiquitous and is no longer cool. This has resulted in a luxury model based on higher off-price engagement, broader distribution and lower entry-level price points than is generally found in Europe. The financial returns can be exhilarating: analysis of the figures show fantastic progression among US luxury companies during the early years of this century, with returns on invested capital (ROIC) attaining heights unknown to European players. Then came the inevitable crash, sending returns at almost all US luxury companies back to the levels of the early 2000s.This makes American luxury goods stocks volatile as they tend to trade on quarterly results. Fundamental investors interested in medium- to long-term prospects would need to bet on entering share positions when valuations, revenues and profits are at rock-bottom levels, when brands have purged the excesses of the previous cycle, in the hope that new management is able to ignite a new boom (and bust) cycle. Of course, buying into a brand before its initial rise is ideal. But at this early stage in a company’s life-cycle, hits are rarely easy to identify and the investment could fail.The American luxury company whose model is closest to the European model is Tiffany. Its brand equity, especially outside the USA, is very strong. The company is not without its shortcomings, but these do not seem impossible to address: poor in-store merchandising, poor in-store experience, poor “exclusivity pretence.” There are also a number of avenues for creating value, for example, differentiated retail concepts for jewellery and silver — which could work well online — and developing its designer jewellery and watches offering.The appointment of a new CEO to replace Frederic Cumenal, who stepped down in February, could usher in a new era for Tiffany and bring an end to the tug-of-war on strategic direction. At the same time, the company’s strong brand equity and untapped potential makes Tiffany an appealing takeover target for a large European player, especially given the prospect of a US “border adjustment tax.”Of the rest, Coach is probably the most interesting company in the US soft luxury space. The company seems intent on revitalising its core brand while acquiring new assets that could drive fresh growth. Yet Coach is still highly dependent on its off-price business and so still tied to the short-cycle world.Ralph Lauren’s experiment in injecting new “mass fashion” life into the decaying designer business model seems to have failed. Former H&M executive Stefan Larsson, who held the role of CEO at Ralph Lauren for less than two years, is now gone and we are back to square one. Meanwhile, Michael Kors seems close to the bottom — at least in terms of its stockmarket value — and the company seems likely to remain there for some time before there is any hope of another meteoric return.By: www.businessoffashion.com

Gadgets & Trends 17 May 2017

the new lamborghini phone

Luxury phones still have a market. Just like the cars, the new Lamborghini phone is made with liquid metal that is described as “stronger than titanium” which makes it ready for more rugged use. Device is durable yet classy-looking with the fine Italian leather material and golden sttching. Features include the following: 5.5-inch QHD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 64GB onboard storage, 4GB RAM, dual SIM support, and a 3250 mAh battery. We’re not convinced about the processor because the brand could have used the newest S835 instead.So let’s talk about the price. The Lamborghini Alpha One costs $2,110 which is way more expensive than the latest premium flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, LG G6, Huawei P10, and the recently announced HTC U11. Lamborghini ALPHA ONE will be available in Russia, South Korea, UAE, China, and the United Kingdom.

Business 16 May 2017

sheikh mohammed launches new $1.7bn mega-project

 Sheikh Mohammed launches Dubai's new $1.7bn mega-projectMarsa Al Arab will include three new hotels, marine park, new Wild Wadi, Middle East's first Cirque du Soleil theatre and a private resort, all to be built on two islandsDubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed has announced the launch of Marsa Al Arab, Dubai Holding's latest tourist destination development in the emirate.The $1.7 billion (AED 6.3bn) mega-project, spread across 4 million sq. ft, will be developed on new two islands on both sides of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Marsa (Arabic for marina) Al Arab is expected to be completed by 2020.One island will be dedicated to entertainment and family tourism, while the other comprises an exclusive luxury resort. The two islands will add 2.2 kilometres of beach frontage, as well as three new hotels and a number of new tourist attractions.The family resort island will see Jumeirah Group introduce new leisure concepts and services as well as a new family-oriented hotel. To boost guest experience, Wild Wadi Waterpark will be moved from its current road-side location closer to the beach, and will be more than double its existing size when fully completed. Dubai Holding will also develop ‘Marine Park’, a first-of-its-kind marine life edutainment centre in the Middle East, with a live theatre of a 1,000 seat capacity that will attract world-class shows to showcase various elements of marine life. Marsa Al Arab will also include a private marina and a yacht club, as well as diverse food and beverage offerings, as well as a helipad.Complementing Madinat Jumeirah, the development will include a mixed-use convention centre capable of hosting large international conferences and festivals. The convention centre will be supported by a new hotel, offering a selection of services for businessmen and corporates.The project will also include a large retail space stretching across 20,000 sq. m, which will replace the current Wild Wadi Water Park area. The shopping centre will consist of international high-end brands, as well as a selection of restaurants and coffee shops to meet the needs of its luxurious shoppers. Marsa Al Arab will also offer 300 sea-front residential apartments in the heart of the development.Together, the enhanced Wild Wadi and Marine Park will sprawl over an area of 2.5 million sq. ft.Middle East's first Cirque du Soleil venueThe new family destination will house a dedicated theatre with a capacity of 1,700 seats, which will become home to the world-renowned show Cirque du Soleil for the first time in the Middle East.Dubai Holding will develop 140 luxury villas on the ‘exclusive private island’, which will include a marina for its residents. Located on the left of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the luxury villas will be operated by Jumeirah Group. The island will also host a boutique hotel equipped with world-class facilities that reflect ‘Marsa Al Arab’s status as an attractive destination for elite travellers. Overall, Dubai Holding will add 2,400 hotel rooms to Jumeirah Group’s portfolio, bringing its total offering to 8,428 rooms. There will be 400 new F&B outlets throughout the destination.The existing hotels in the vicinity will be transformed into a unified tourist destination.The development will offer pedestrian pathways, a jogging track, large swimming pool and a cycling course, allowing its residents to practice a diverse selection of physical activities. Jumeirah Group will offer 10,000 additional parking spaces to accommodate the anticipated influx of visitors, as well as work closely with various government entities and other relevant companies to provide a rapid transport network to interconnect the resorts and entertainment destinations, facilitating fast and easy movement throughout Marsa Al Arab.The project will break ground in June 2017 and will completed by late 2020.

Business 13 May 2017

the most valuable resource is no longer oil

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime. The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Few want to live without Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery or Facebook’s newsfeed. Nor do these firms raise the alarm when standard antitrust tests are applied. Far from gouging consumers, many of their services are free (users pay, in effect, by handing over yet more data). Take account of offline rivals, and their market shares look less worrying. And the emergence of upstarts like Snapchat suggests that new entrants can still make waves.But there is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy” (see Briefing). A new approach is needed.Quantity has a quality all its ownWhat has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable. Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic, virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. As devices from watches to cars connect to the internet, the volume is increasing: some estimate that a self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes per second. Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning extract more value from data. Algorithms can predict when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens now sell themselves as data firms.This abundance of data changes the nature of competition. Technology giants have always benefited from network effects: the more users Facebook signs up, the more attractive signing up becomes for others. With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on. The more data Tesla gathers from its self-driving cars, the better it can make them at driving themselves—part of the reason the firm, which sold only 25,000 cars in the first quarter, is now worth more than GM, which sold 2.3m. Vast pools of data can thus act as protective moats.Access to data also protects companies from rivals in another way. The case for being sanguine about competition in the tech industry rests on the potential for incumbents to be blindsided by a startup in a garage or an unexpected technological shift. But both are less likely in the data age. The giants’ surveillance systems span the entire economy: Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy. They own app stores and operating systems, and rent out computing power to startups. They have a “God’s eye view” of activities in their own markets and beyond. They can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Many think Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees, falls into this category of “shoot-out acquisitions” that eliminate potential rivals. By providing barriers to entry and early-warning systems, data can stifle competition.Who ya gonna call, trustbusters?The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required—and as the outlines of a new approach start to become apparent, two ideas stand out.The first is that antitrust authorities need to move from the industrial era into the 21st century. When considering a merger, for example, they have traditionally used size to determine when to intervene. They now need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of deals. The purchase price could also be a signal that an incumbent is buying a nascent threat. On these measures, Facebook’s willingness to pay so much for WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of, would have raised red flags. Trustbusters must also become more data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics, for example by using simulations to hunt for algorithms colluding over prices or to determine how best to promote competition (see Free exchange).The second principle is to loosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them. More transparency would help: companies could be forced to reveal to consumers what information they hold and how much money they make from it. Governments could encourage the emergence of new services by opening up more of their own data vaults or managing crucial parts of the data economy as public infrastructure, as India does with its digital-identity system, Aadhaar. They could also mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data, with users’ consent—an approach Europe is taking in financial services by requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon. By:http://www.economist.com

News, Media & Society 08 May 2017

britain has more billionaires than ever before

Britain Has More Billionaires Than Ever Before, 2017 Rich List Reveals Britain has more billionaires than ever before, according to the new Sunday Times Rich List.The 2017 list, which is in its 29th year, reveals London has more billionaires than any other city in the world, with 86.There are now 134 billionaires in the UK, which has increased from 120 in last year's list.The latest individuals to join the elite billionaire club are software entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brooke and his business partner Scott Farquhar.Just two years ago Mr Cannon-Brooke was worth £591million and has almost doubled his wealth since.Brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, from Blackburn, who made their wealth through their petrol station empire, also join the billionaires on the list.Brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja have been ranked the richest people in Britain.The pair previously held the title in 2014, but have been in second place for the last two years.However, this year they have seen their wealth increase by a further £3.2billion to take them to the top of list with a fortune of £16.2billion.The Hinduja brothers have gained their wealth through property development and car manufacturing. They are presently behind the redevelopment of the old War Office in London's Whitehall, which they are transforming into a £1billion hotel.The combined wealth of the top 500 individuals was £580.4 billion, which is more than the £575.6 billion total of all 1,000 richest people last year.The total wealth of the top 1,000 people on the list has increased by 14 per cent since last year, according to the Rich List. It has risen by £83 billion to £658 billion.In 2016 the super-rich suffered their worst fall in fortune since the credit crunch in 2007.It saw previous title holder Lakshmi Mittal, who topped the list in 2008 with £27.7 billion – the biggest fortune achieved by anyone on the Rich List before or since, lose  three-quarters of his wealth and drop to £7.12 billion.This year singer Adele enters the main list for the first time with a fortune of £125 million and becomes the richest musician under 30 in Britain and Ireland.The Hello singer's global success has rocketed her wealth to a £125 million, an increase of almost 50 per cent in the past year alone.She is the 19th richest musician – and only solo female artist – in the Music Millionaires list, which is topped by Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell, who are worth a combined £780 million.Harry Potter author JK Rowling is listed as having a £650 million fortune, meaning her wealth has grown 10 times since she first entered the list on £65 million in 2001.To gain a place in the top 1,000, individuals needed a fortune of £110 million this year. 

Business 01 May 2017

technology is changing business life for everyone

Technology is changing business life for everyone from celebrities to best-selling writers, and from shop owners to venture capitalists. Walk into almost any business, big or small, and you'll see how technology has transformed the way we work. Whether you're an entrepreneur or a corporate lawyer, one thing is clear: all areas of our lives are surrounded by technologies that just a few years ago would have seemed impossible. echnology – in particular portable technology – has transformed the life of entrepreneurs in the last decade. When I started out as a freelance journalist, there were no iPhones; you went into the office, where you checked your messages written on post-its and typed up your stories, checking facts on the slow dial-up connection. You wrote down your interviews on paper. If you were the editor, and the magazine was flush, you might have a chunky Blackberry to slowly check your emails away from the office. But today with flexible working, WiFi, and cloud collaboration, it’s possible to run your business entirely from home, or the café down the road. The smartphone and social mediaOn June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released, and then all the other mobile phone manufacturers had a race on their hands to make phones that were as desirable and had the same functionality. Though it’s undeniable that there were bugs in those early phones, and they ate through your data allowance, in the last ten years what you can do on a phone has changed irrevocably.Hand-in-hand with the growth of the smartphone has been the usage of social media. As social media becomes more and more entrenched in our daily lives, so small businesses are using it with great effectiveness to reach out to potential customers in greater numbers; Sarah March, owner of Kent-based yoga practice KentKundalini said: “Where previously a lot of my clients came through word of mouth, social media is essential to my marketing now.”But has this empowering connectivity also taken a toll? We respond to emails late into the night, social media buzzes at us with its bright blue glow 24-7, and does today’s entrepreneur ever really take time to switch it all off?    Virtual officesAs a freelance journalist, I’ve always worked from home. Previously though, I had to borrow the work laptop, plug it into a modem and connect to the network via Remote Desktop. Now most places, I just jump on WiFi on my tablet, laptop or phone. All of which I can make notes on, or record interviews with. Using the cloud I can backup and protect my data, and collaborate with team members anywhere in the worldIn fact, the ability to work from anywhere has been one of the most important changes to the lives of entrepreneurs in the last decade, though can also be a poisoned chalice, as you find yourself answering emails from the beach.  A recent study estimates that the average person spends nearly two hours per day on social media, and many point out in order to have a happy work-life balance we need to make some time to get away from the technology. If you’re still struggling to put your phone down – there are even various apps which can help you step away from the screen!The next 10 years?Now that we can easily design a website, record videos, post photos or record music, people are turning their smartphones and laptops into mixing desks, film studios and online stores. Today’s business owner must be prepared to embrace a multimedia world; emailing, tweeting, posting, updating, Skype-ing, YouTube-ing, as well as dealing with clients face-to-face. As we move further into another decade, who knows what technological innovations will come next to help our businesses flourish?

Sports & Leisure 24 Apr 2017

how to charter a luxury yacht

How To Charter A Luxury Yacht – Advice From The Experts A yacht charter, as you know, is an investment -- in your own relaxation, your own pleasure abroad. Like any discerning investor, you want to make sure your return justifies the expense. If this is your first time chartering a yacht, there are several considerations that can make or break your experience. Ready for the good news? We’ve compiled information from the experts to help unveil how to charter a luxury yacht, as well as details about several different styles of yachts for your convenience.Only Deal with Reputable BrokersChartering a yacht typically happens through a yacht broker -- an agent that is dedicated to you and your experience, who is available for your entire journey, and who communicates on your behalf to move your plans forward.Your yacht broker should be familiar with yacht models, location-specific amenities, and details about captains and crews. They should be willing to work with you at length to determine what options best serve your needs. They will also help you understand the contract and any stipulations; clauses detailing incident handling, safe waters and any restricted areas, as well as when, where, and if you will come to land.Be wary of a broker who won’t allow you to tour a yacht before chartering. The minute details of a luxury vehicle of any kind is a large part of what makes it luxury to begin with, and seeing the yacht in person will allow you to judge its value. A good broker will encourage you to get all of the information you can; they will want to ensure that you are as satisfied as you can possibly be, with no strings attached.Another method a good broker will use is to start off small. Don’t feel insulted by this -- a good broker won’t pressure you into chartering up simply because you can. Looking at smaller models first also helps give you the confidence that you’re paying for true luxury and class, not simply spaciousness and prow length.Captain and Crew are as Crucial as LocationWhen chartering a yacht for any period of time, it’s important to consider the captain and crew of the boat you choose -- they’re key to ensuring the experience you’re looking to cultivate. Because captains are people, too, they each will have preferences and experiences. Some captains are smooth sailing sightseers who can take you to the perfect romantic coastline or island chain. Others still love getting people set up in waters, perfect for toys like jet skis.Talk to your broker about your goals for the trip, whether or not you have children, or if you’ll be looking for a formal outing with five-star meals prepared on a schedule. Some yachts have a permanent crew that includes a chef, while others are laid back and minimal.The Finer PointsWith the big things right up front, let’s move to some of the more tedious (but no less important!) aspects of yacht chartering.Deposit PercentThe Mediterranean Yacht Broker Association determines much of a chartering contract’s financial details. One of the most notable and more common sections is the up-front deposit required. Oftentimes, a contract requires 50 percent at time of signing.Another detail is the Advance Provisioning Allowance that most contracts include. This covers expenses like the food, the fuel, and much of the rest of supplies. Also crew gratuity at your discretion. Any difference is refundable.SchedulingPrepare yourself before embarking by studying the schedule. Most chartered yachts will operate on a schedule that is predetermined and locked in. Don’t let yourself get caught off guard by an unexpected stop or an inability to stop. Take time to read the details and to take notes. After all, it’s your vacation -- you should choose a yacht tour that fits your interests and desires.Yacht Style RundownUnderstanding what kind of yacht you want before moving on to chartering can help make the overall process smoother. It can also mean the difference in an enjoyable and relaxing vacation and a nerve-wracking nightmare. Motor YachtsThe most popular style of luxury yacht, motor yachts are spacious and comfortable. This is a great style for first-time yacht charterers due to the viability and variability of options, from simple getaways to full-blown parties. SailingSimilar to a sail boat, a sailing yacht is mainly wind-powered. Most have some simple engine for careful maneuvers around ports and in calm waters. The sailing yacht has changed much over the past decades, and now many include a level of luxury similar to the highest class motor yacht. GuletSimilar in style to a sailing yacht, a gulet features a specific arrangement and offers very big volumes. They are almost always beautiful wooden vessels with shining hulls and sweeping sails. Gullets originated in Turkey as shipping yachts for the Turkish coastline. CatamaranThis style is unique in that is is a multi-hulled vessel. Similar to a pontoon boat, a catamaran has two hulls spanned by the deck or decks. A catamaran is the perfect yacht for shallow waters such as the Bahamas. Another benefit is the smoothness of the sail. If you experience sea sickness, this is a good option for you.From selecting the best broker, captain, and crew, to managing your deposit, scheduling, and choosing a type of yacht, a yacht charter can become complex somewhat quickly. However, with your new know-how on these six essential steps, you’re on your way to an unforgettable luxury experience at sea.By:Joan Plana Palao

Business 18 Apr 2017

amazon's jeff bezos

Amazon's Jeff Bezos constantly reminds his workers about the biggest enemy: 'Irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline.' Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about building a successful business.Several analysts have predicted that Amazon will be the world's first company with a trillion-dollar valuation, and Bezos recently became the second-richest person on earth.In his latest letter to Amazon shareholders, published Wednesday, Bezos explains why he believes centering a business on "obsessive customer focus" is the best way to succeed.He also touches on Amazon's use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, one of the biggest trends in tech, and how it touches nearly every part of the company.You can read Bezos' full letter below:"Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?"That's a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I've been reminding people that it's Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic."Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.I'm interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?Such a question can't have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don't know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here's a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision-making.True Customer ObsessionThere are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here's the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don't yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.As companies get larger and more complex, there's a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it's dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2. A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you're not watchful, the process can become the thing.This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you're doing the process right. Gulp. It's not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, "Well, we followed the process." A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It's always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it's the second.Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers — something that's especially dangerous when you're inventing and designing products. "Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey." That's hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead.Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you'll find on surveys. They live with the design.I'm not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won't find any of it in a survey. The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won't or can't embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you're probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We're in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.Over the past decades, computers have broadly automated tasks that programmers could describe with clear rules and algorithms. Modern machine learning techniques now allow us to do the same for tasks where describing the precise rules is much harder.At Amazon, we've been engaged in the practical application of machine learning for many years now. Some of this work is highly visible: our autonomous Prime Air delivery drones; the Amazon Go convenience store that uses machine vision to eliminate checkout lines; and Alexa, our cloud-based AI assistant. (We still struggle to keep Echo in stock, despite our best efforts. A high-quality problem, but a problem. We're working on it.)But much of what we do with machine learning happens beneath the surface. Machine learning drives our algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deals recommendations, merchandising placements, fraud detection, translations, and much more. Though less visible, much of the impact of machine learning will be of this type — quietly but meaningfully improving core operations.Inside AWS, we're excited to lower the costs and barriers to machine learning and AI so organizations of all sizes can take advantage of these advanced techniques.Using our pre-packaged versions of popular deep learning frameworks running on P2 compute instances (optimized for this workload), customers are already developing powerful systems ranging everywhere from early disease detection to increasing crop yields. And we've also made Amazon's higher level services available in a convenient form. Amazon Lex (what's inside Alexa), Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition remove the heavy lifting from natural language understanding, speech generation, and image analysis. They can be accessed with simple API calls — no machine learning expertise required. Watch this space. Much more to come.High-Velocity Decision-MakingDay 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business — plus a high-velocity decision-making environment is more fun too. We don't know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you're wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year's letter.Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you're good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.Third, use the phrase "disagree and commit." This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there's no consensus, it's helpful to say, "Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?" By the time you're at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you'll probably get a quick yes. This isn't one way. If you're the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren't that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with "I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we've ever made." Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.Note what this example is not: It's not me thinking to myself "well, these guys are wrong and missing the point, but this isn't worth me chasing." It's a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way.And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I'm just glad they let me in the room at all!Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately.Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.I've seen many examples of sincere misalignment at Amazon over the years. When we decided to invite third party sellers to compete directly against us on our own product detail pages — that was a big one. Many smart, well-intentioned Amazonians were simply not at all aligned with the direction. The big decision set up hundreds of smaller decisions, many of which needed to be escalated to the senior team."You've worn me down" is an awful decision-making process. It's slow and de-energizing. Go for quick escalation instead — it's better.So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world's trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? And most important of all, are you delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.A huge thank you to each and every customer for allowing us to serve you, to our shareowners for your support, and to Amazonians everywhere for your hard work, your ingenuity, and your passion.As always, I attach a copy of our original 1997 letter. It remains Day 1.Sincerely,Jeff

Travel & Events 11 Apr 2017

£250 million superyacht

This £250 million superyacht will be a ‘floating private member’s club for the global elite’British luxury concierge company Quintessentially is building the world’s largest superyacht.It will “provide the opportunity for the global elite to tour the world and attend the world’s most desirable events,” such as the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix, and plays host to mega parties with star performersDue to make its first voyage in 2019-2020, Quintessentially One is billed as the “the world’s largest floating private membership club,” but securing a spot onboard will be by invitation only.Quintessentially has released some concept images of the superyacht. From an on-board theatre to a big name restaurant, scroll down to take a closer look at the Quintessentially One.It is set to be “the world’s largest floating private membership club,” featuring an invite only members lounge with a restaurant, bar, beauty treatments, and a fitness studio, as well as a boutique hotel and permanent luxury residences.By Business Insider 

Business 10 Apr 2017

brexit is coming. and it’s going to hit big.

?It’s been nine months since the Brexit vote, but the world has moved on to other political stories (Trump, Trump, Trump), and Brexit hasn't (yet) had much impact. After all, Brexit itself hasn't happened yet. Everyone’s talking about it, but the hard bargaining has yet to begin. The outcome remains far enough in the future (at least 2+ years) that it feels like something people should be concerned about, but not yet an urgent reality.But Brexit is coming. And it’s going to hit big. For now, we should look to the future of Europe as much as to the future of the UK. That makes assessing Brexit a hell of a lot more complicated.The strongest argument for Brexit has always been that if Europe is bound to fall apart, the UK should get out early. During the referendum campaign, that argument was mostly shrugged off as “sky is falling” spin. But as far-right and anti-EU parties gain traction in this year’s election polls—the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the National Front in France, and Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany chief among them—upheaval in EU politics looks increasingly plausible, if still not imminent.But even if none of those parties will lead a government in 2017, their move from the fringes into the political mainstream fundamentally alters European politics, gives concrete shape to the anti-EU movement, and makes the eventual breakup of the EU ever more likely. If that happens, the Brits will end up looking brilliant.But if Europe stays together, the Brits must negotiate an unwind, and any agreement on Britain’s post-EU future will leave the UK worse off than today. Europeans at the bargaining table know this, and they want to send an unmistakable message to other EU members that exit comes with pain, particularly for those who might want to follow the Brits toward a "hard Brexit" that leaves the UK out of open immigration, the European judicial system, and the common market. That means that the UK will end up with a European offer that inflicts real damage on its all-important financial sector and gives regional businesses less incentive to base operations in the UK. By the way, the Scots may have plans for another try at exit from the UK—even if it makes little economic sense.For our part, Brexit has been good for the political risk industry. People turn to Eurasia Group in times of extreme political uncertainty—and this story will be spinning out uncertainty for years. At every stage, in many countries, in multiple industries. No firm is as well-equipped as ours to respond to these complex political stories.There’s one last factor that makes Brexit especially compelling for us. As I’ve said many times, working in political risk is like driving a cab—you get more business when it’s raining outside, but you lose when it’s raining so hard that people stay home. For now, Brexit is raining hard. Here’s hoping that the geopolitics surrounding Brexit don’t make it a torrential downpour. By Ian Bremmer

Business 06 Apr 2017

the pink star diamond

A rare diamond known as the Pink Star has been sold in Hong Kong for more than $71m (£57m), setting a new world record for any gemstone at auction.The oval-shaped 59.6 carat stone was bought after just five minutes' bidding at Sotheby's, reports said.It is the largest polished diamond in its class to go under the hammer.It sold for $83m in Geneva in 2013 but the buyer later defaulted. The record until now was held by the Oppenheimer Blue, which sold for $50m last May. Bidding for the gem, which was found by De Beers at a mine in Africa in 1999 and cut over a period of two years, began at $56m.Sotheby's said the buyer was Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery. Alexander Breckner, head of diamonds at jewellers "77 Diamonds", told the BBC that the stone was exceptional. "It's the largest pink diamond ever found in the history of humankind. It's an incredible colour to it."And the sheer size of the stone already makes it so rare and so beautiful." Previous records set in stoneMay 2016: A large diamond known as the Oppenheimer Blue set a new auction record, reaching a price of $50.6m (£34.7m at the exchange rate then current). The 14.62-carat gem was sold after 20 minutes of phone bidding at Christie's auction house in Geneva. The buyer's identity is unknown.November 2015: The Blue Moon, a 12.03-carat ring-mounted blue diamond, caught the eye of Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau, who paid a record $48.4m (£31.7m) for the cushion-shaped stone. He bought it for his seven-year-old daughter, renaming it the "Blue Moon of Josephine" after her.May 2015: An unnamed buyer made history after purchasing the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59-carat "pigeon blood" coloured gemstone, for $30m (£19.1m). At that price, it became the world's most expensive precious stone other than a diamond.November 2013: The "largest vivid orange diamond in the world", according to Christie's, attracted the highest price paid per carat for any diamond at auction, selling for $35m (£22m), or $2.4m (£1.5m) per carat.November 2010: The Graff Pink, a 24.78-carat "fancy intense pink" stone described as "one of the greatest diamonds ever discovered", auctioned for $46.2m (£29m). At the time it was believed to be the most expensive gemstone bought at auction and was sold to the well-known British dealer Laurence Graff.

Business 28 Mar 2017

rockets, cars, and now brain chips

Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AISpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company, which is still in the earliest stages of existence and has no public presence whatsoever, is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices. Musk has hinted at the existence of Neuralink a few times over the last six months or so. More recently, Musk told a crowd in Dubai, “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” He added that “it's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output." On Twitter, Musk has responded to inquiring fans about his progress on a so-called “neural lace,” which is sci-fi shorthand for a brain-computer interface humans could use to improve themselves. These types of brain-computer interfaces exist today only in science fiction. In the medical realm, electrode arrays and other implants have been used to help ameliorate the effects of Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases. However, very few people on the planet have complex implants placed inside their skulls, while the number of patients with very basic stimulating devices number only in the tens of thousands. This is partly because it is incredibly dangerous and invasive to operate on the human brain, and only those who have exhausted every other medical option choose to undergo such surgery as a last resort. This has not stopped a surge in Silicon Valley interest from tech industry futurists who are interested in accelerating the advancement of these types of far-off ideas. Kernel, a startup created by Braintree co-founder Bryan Johnson, is also trying to enhance human cognition. With more than $100 million of Johnson’s own money — the entrepreneur sold Braintree to PayPal for around $800 million in 2013 — Kernel and its growing team of neuroscientists and software engineers are working toward reversing the effects of neurodegenerative diseases and, eventually, making our brains faster and smarter and more wired. “We know if we put a chip in the brain and release electrical signals, that we can ameliorate symptoms of Parkinson's,” Johnson told The Verge in an interview late last year. (Johnson also confirmed Musk’s involvement with Neuralink.) “This has been done for spinal cord pain, obesity, anorexia… what hasn’t been done is the reading and writing of neural code.” Johnson says Kernel’s goal is to “work with the brain the same way we work with other complex biological systems like biology and genetics.”Kernel, to its credit, is quite upfront about the years of medical research necessary to better understand the human brain and pioneer new surgery techniques, software methods, and implant devices that could make a consumer brain-computer interface a reality. The Wall Street Journal says Neuralink was founded as a medical research company in California last July, which bolsters the idea that Musk will follow a similar route as Johnson and Kernel. To be fair, the hurdles involved in developing these devices are immense. Neuroscience researchers say we have very limited understanding about how the neurons in the human brain communicate, and our methods for collecting data on those neurons is rudimentary. Then there’s the idea of people volunteering to have electronics placed inside their heads. “People are only going to be amenable to the idea [of an implant] if they have a very serious medical condition they might get help with,” Blake Richards, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, told The Verge in an interview earlier this year. “Most healthy individuals are uncomfortable with the idea of having a doctor crack open their skull.” 

Travel & Events 24 Mar 2017

basel world highlights

We bring you in-depth coverage of the new releases and developments on display at Baselworld. There's a lot to sort through, with a nearly infinite number of watches to choose from. Here's a recap of the best things we saw during the first official day of Baselworld 2017.OmegaOmega is surely having one of the strongest fairs so far, showing not only some amazing limited editions that have the interwebs chattering, but also some really nice commercial pieces such as the racing dial master chronometer Speedmasters. Today, Ben and Louis sat down to discuss their favorite pieces from the 2017 Omega collection and provide all the information you've been waiting for in regards to the "Trilogy" set.Patek PhilippeThis is the new perpetual calendar from Patek Philippe, the reference 5320G. The look is pure vintage Patek, and I mean proper vintage Patek from the 1940s and 50s. You have two apertures for the day and month, a moonphase display with date window at six o'clock, a killer, complex case, and luminous syringe hands.TudorTudor has just shared with us information sure to be of interest to not only Tudor fans, but also, intriguingly enough, Breitling fans as well: the new column-wheel chronograph caliber MT5813, featured in the new Black Bay Chronograph, is the result of a collaboration with Breitling, and is based on the Breitling B01 chronograph movement.SeikoGrand Seiko watches up to now have been a Seiko sub-brand, with the Seiko logo at 12:00 and Grand Seiko at 6:00. However, moving forward, Grand Seiko will be presented as an independent brand and the dials will simply read "Grand Seiko." To mark the occasion, Seiko is releasing three limited edition watches in steel, gold, and platinum.RolexWell, 2017 is the year where we finally see a moonphase complication come back at Rolex, something fans have been waiting for since the 1950s. Seriously. And, as you'd expect from Rolex, this modern take is not "just" a moonphase complication, it's astronomically accurate for 122 years.BulgariThe Octo Finissimo Automatique's caliber BVL 138 Finissimo is a micro-rotor, self-winding movement only 2.23mm thick, at 36.60mm in diameter. The Octo Finissimo Automatique is the third world record for ultra-thin watchmaking to be seized by Bulgari, following on the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon from 2014, which has a movement only 1.95mm thick, and the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater from last year, whose caliber BVL 362 is 3.12 mm thick.HermesHermès has been doing steadily great work in the watch space over the last few years, especially with the Slim d'Hermès line. Another speciality of the maison though is what it calls "poetic complications," which take a less function-driven approach to watchmaking, instead opting to delight or surprise (such as with Le Temps Suspendu). Well, today the two families are coming together in the Slim d'Hermès L'Heure Impatiente, which features a brand new complication.TAG HeuerIt’s here. The new Autavia. The one chosen by you, the public, when TAG Heuer announced it would revive one of 16 first generation Autavias – the watchmaker’s iconic chronograph – and let online users vote for their favorite. The winner was the hugely popular Autavia Ref. 2446 with Mark Three dial, designed in 1966 and famously worn by Formula 1 champion Jochen Rindt. It beat out other popular three-register (ref. 2446) and two registers (reference 3646) models. And, now, here it is.There's a lot more to see and review in our next blog, more information...

Business 14 Mar 2017

how uber could crash!

Just a year ago, Uber reigned as the tech industry’s awe-inspiring, all-powerful Wizard of Oz. But lately, the curtain is being pulled back to reveal a guy who’s more like an angry drunk frantically yanking levers while taking roundhouse swings at the Tin Man and propositioning Dorothy.   Uber is in a whole lot of bad right now, and there’s growing concern that it’s about to melt down like a haywire nuclear reactor, which would leave a crater in the heart of Silicon Valley. Uber gave us on-demand transportation. Countless people all over the world love this new kind of service. The category is only going to get bigger. But it’s possible it will do that without Uber.Rotten Culture, Bad PressAt the heart of Uber’s trouble is its culture, which seems to have been born from a one-night stand between John Belushi’s crude Bluto in Animal House and Ayn Rand’s hypercompetitive Hank Rearden. That culture got put on public display in February, when former engineering employee Susan Fowler published a blog calling out Uber’s rotten treatment of women and its general dysfunction. The place is so cutthroat, she wrote, “it seemed like every manager was fighting their peers or attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor’s job.” If anyone thought Fowler was a lone whiner, a few days later tech industry legend Mitch Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor, who is an expert in workplace mores, published an open letter to Uber’s board. The Kapors were early investors in the company, and they were unhappy about Uber’s tepid response to Fowler’s post and fed up with Uber’s “destructive culture,” to use their term. “We are speaking up now because we are disappointed and frustrated; we feel we have hit a dead end in trying to influence the company quietly from the inside,” they wrote.  A week later, while riding in an Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick was captured on video berating the driver, who dared to complain about cuts to his income because Uber keeps reducing fares. “I’m bankrupt because of you,” the driver told Kalanick, who then erupted. After Bloomberg obtained and published the video, Kalanick found himself in the all-too-familiar position of publicly apologizing. He posted on Uber’s site, “I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up.” Duh.ADVERTISEMENT Negative publicity keeps battering Uber. The company ran afoul of the protesters who flocked to airports after Donald Trump’s travel ban, then had to fend off a #DeleteUber movement. (Some estimates say 200,000 people deleted the app in the days after the hashtag went viral.) About six months earlier, Uber took a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a move that made Uber look as if it was buddies with a government that won’t let women drive and puts gay men in jail.One Uber investor said to Fortune about the deal, “It goes to the heart of who Travis is. He just doesn’t give a shit about optics. Ever.”Now Uber is being painted as a technology thief by Google’s parent, Alphabet. Last year, Uber bought a company called Otto for a reported $680 million. Otto develops autonomous driving technology. A bunch of people who work there came from Alphabet’s autonomous car subsidiary, now called Waymo. Alphabet alleges that some of those people stole technical data from Waymo, and Alphabet is suing to stop Uber from using it. Uber has often stated that its future rests on having a fleet of self-driving cars—so, of course, it won’t have to share revenue with those pesky human drivers. If Alphabet wins its case, Uber would pretty much have to start building the technology all over again or pay a ton of money to buy someone else’s.Dissatisfied Drivers, Bleak FinancialsWhile Uber is counting on a hazy future of self-driving cars, in the meantime it has to keep its 160,000 drivers happy, and they are not, as Kalanick’s video encountered showed. Drivers want the Uber app to allow tips; Uber won’t do it. Uber has fought court cases brought by U.S. drivers asking for employee benefits. It settled a suit for $20 million for posting ads that were misleading about how much its drivers can earn. Rival Lyft has been running ads lampooning Uber’s treatment of drivers, hoping to lure away Uber drivers—and convince conscientious riders they should prefer a company that treats its drivers better.nap's IPO may be a huge vote for privacyStrategically, Kalanick and his team seem guilty of constant overreach. Does anybody ever order a falafel from UberEats? Who at Uber thought it was a good idea to take on Seamless? Not only did Kalanick buy Otto to get into self-driving cars, but in February he hired a former NASA scientist to develop flying cars. Trump likes to say we always lose to China—well, Uber proved him right by going into China ill-prepared. Last summer, Uber cut a deal with China’s Uber clone, Didi Chuxing, to leave China in exchange for 17.5 percent of the Chinese company and a $1 billion investment by Didi. Is that setting up Didi to eventually beat Uber worldwide? Trump will have a seizure if the day ever comes when U.S. riders no longer say they’re going to “Uber” somewhere and instead say they’re going to “Didi.” And then there is Uber’s financial picture. The company is private, but some of its numbers have been leaked. Bloomberg reported that Uber lost $800 million in the third quarter of 2016. Some speculate Uber may have lost $3 billion last year. Uber is a costly business to run. To serve more customers, it needs to bring in and pay more drivers, so the company can’t take advantage of economies of scale. It has little pricing power because it still faces competition from Lyft and taxis and other newcomers including Maven, which is a unit of General Motors. In order to have the cash to fund operations and expansion, Uber has brought in round after round of private investment, pumping up the valuation of the company to nearly $70 billion. That would make Uber worth more than GM. Raise your hand if you think that makes sense.The sky-high valuation may be haunting Uber. Kalanick has famously refused to take Uber public, even though the company, at eight years old, is in the sweet spot of when many tech companies do an initial public offering. He makes his stance sound like a maverick’s declaration of independence from public markets, but whispers now are that Uber’s finances might not justify an IPO at a valuation high enough to make current investors happy. If that’s true, Uber is in a hole. It won’t be able to raise money from anyone who has passed sixth-grade math.If Uber stalls, it isn’t going to be saved by a loyal consumer fan base. There is no stickiness to Uber. It has no frequent-rider program. It has no social component. It prevents users from forming bonds with drivers. No one gets a heightened sense of self by identifying as an Uber rider versus some competitor. We’ll stick with Uber as long as it continues to get us where we want to go at a price we like. Someone else comes along with a better service or lower price, we’ll use it.Drexel of the 2010s?It’s hard to imagine the devastation that would come with an Uber collapse. Its dozens of investors range from venture capital companies to individuals like Kapor and companies such as Microsoft and Citigroup. The company employs 11,000 people (excluding drivers), mostly around Silicon Valley, and is in the process of spending $250 million on new offices. The blow to Silicon Valley’s ego might be up there with the pain the Democratic Party has been feeling lately.Uber has done amazing work in its short life. It created, defined and has so far dominated a new market of on-demand transportation, changing the way we do things today and profoundly changing the way we think about the future of urban transportation. It is a historically important company. No one will ever take that away from Kalanick and his crew. But Uber has proved to be a flawed company. To find a business tragedy that’s an appropriate warning for Uber, go back to Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s, when Kalanick was in grade school. (He is, believe it or not, 40 years old.) Drexel, led by investing legend Mike Milken, defined and dominated junk bonds as a category of finance. This changed Wall Street and business forever. Drexel was a superstar. But the company had a flawed culture of insane pressure to perform, so employees took sketchy risks that ultimately led to criminal charges. Within a couple of years, the company fell from the pinnacle of Wall Street power to filing for bankruptcy. Milken went to prison for securities fraud.The category Drexel created lives on. Today, junk bonds are a $1 trillion market, without Drexel.The Kapors are pushing Kalanick to reinvent Uber’s culture so it can become an enduring company. It would be awesome if Uber can fulfill its promise and stand next to companies like Apple and Amazon. But as Uber’s bad days pile up, it often looks as if Kalanick has built the Drexel of the 2010s.By Newsweek.

Business 13 Mar 2017

coming to the surface

Coming to the surface One year on from their release, Vladimir Berezansky considers the impact of the Panama Papers  O shore tax haven”... what a supremely evocative designation! It conjures up scenes from1950s-era films of pre-revolutionary Cuba... delightfully rakish raconteurs flaunting opaquely-generated wealth, which they’ve stashed away in SPVs bearing innocuous names... hot jazz (“bah-bah loo!”) and chilled cocktails laced with rum and Angostura bitters... “Taxes? What taxes? All my taxes are away on holiday – ha, ha, ha!”Recent leaks – typified by the Panama Papers of last year – have largely dispelled this romanticisedview of o shore tax havens as being “intriguingly dodgy yet exclusive”. Instead, the popular attitude towards the “o shore-osphere” is currently better described as “righteously indignant and o ended”. In the words of Juan Carlos Varela, President of Panama: “It is clear that the a air shined a light into the dark corners of global finance and sparked a worldwide reform agenda. Despite the unfortunate name, the Panama Papers has been good for Panama as well as for the world.”1  PrecedentsThe Panama Papers was by no means an unprecedented event. Quite the contrary; it was only the most recent in a series of similar instances in which pilfered – hacked or otherwise illicitly- removed – proprietary information with compromising and/or sensational implications was divulged to the general public and/or to interested governmental (primarily tax) authorities.In this respect, if the definition  articulated by Nassim Nicholas Talebin “The Black Swan” (2007)2 is to be applied, the Panama Papers scandal was by no means a “black swan” event. Rather, this was an enormous grey or perhaps even white swan. Previous similar events include:• “Cablegate” (2010) – In late November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing classified cables thathad been sent to the US State Department by 274 of its consulates, embassies, and diplomatic missions from around the world. Dating from December 1966 to February 2010, these cables contained diplomatic analyses from world leaders, and assessments by American diplomats of their host countries and o cials.3• O shore Leaks (2013) – This disclosure could be described as a full dress rehearsal for the Panama Papers. In April 2013, an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report was released, disclosing details of 130,000 o shore accounts. It detailed the results of an ICIJ investigation based on a cache of 2.5m secret records obtained by ICIJ Director, Gerard Ryle. In producing this document, the ICIJ collaborated with journalists from around the world to produce a series of reports published in connection with the ICIJ’s “The Global Muckraker.”4• Luxembourg Leaks or “LuxLeaks” (2014) – In November 2014, the ICIJ brought to light a financial scandal based on its investigations into confidential information on tax rulings in Luxembourg, which were organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers from  2002 to 2010 to benefit the firm’s clients. This investigation resultedin the disclosure of tax rulings for over three hundred multinational companies based in Luxembourg. The scandal attracted international attention to tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg and elsewhere, and contributed to the implementation of measures to regulate tax avoidance schemes beneficial to multinational companies.5• Swiss Leaks (2015) – In February 2015, the ICIJ website released “Swiss Leaks: Murky Cash Sheltered by Bank Secrecy”, detailing the results ofan investigation conducted by over 130 journalists in Paris, Washington, Geneva, and in 46 other countries. The report alleged that, between November 2006 and March 2007, €180.6bn passed through HSBC accounts held in Geneva by over 100,000 clients and 20,000 o shore companies. The data for this period came from files surreptitiously removed from HSBC Private Bank in late 2008 by Hervé Falciani, a former employee, which he subsequently handed over to French authorities. The ICIJ’s “Swiss Leaks” report concluded that the bank profited from its clients’ tax evasion practices.6Two equally vital questionsA favourite didactic question of lawyers and financial forensics professionals in explaining their methodologies is: cui bono? (i.e. to whose benefit?). But when judging the overall utility of o shore tax havensto the global economy, a second (Sadly often ignored) question must also be considered: cui detrimento? (i.e. to whose detriment?). Neitherof these questions is rhetorical, and they are equally vital to an adequate assessment of the broader significance of o shore tax havens.One reason why o shore tax havens are ignored and/or discreetly accessed by so many “upstanding” citizens of so many Western democracies is a collective failure of logic regarding their tangible and measurable detriment to the global economy. Indeed, invoking a concept as arguably insubstantial as “detriment to the global economy” – beyond the ranks of those professionally sensitised – can be a tough slog even today, much less a decade or two ago when the problems engendered by o shore tax havens first began to fester and multiply. A major inhibiting factor in assessing the relative benefits and detriments of o shore tax havens to the global economy is the continuing absence of reliable statistics regarding the total amountof funds and/or in-kind assets that correspond to this category. Putatively sound estimates range between $21tn and $32tn7, but the implied margin of error in such estimates renders them essentially useless for any purpose other than shock value.To be clear, o shore tax havens have entirely legitimate and beneficial business purposes. But these circumstances are often forgotten, usually as a result of collective emotional whiplash caused by careening from the “intriguingly dodgy yet exclusive”  perceptions (as parodied above) to the “righteously indignant and o ended” mindset that takes hold after yet another scandal or exposé – especially on the scale of the Panama Papers – erupts via the world’s media outlets.Low- or no-tax havens and relative national advantage To revert briefly to basic principles: every sovereign nation has essentially complete discretion over its domestic revenue-generating infrastructure(i.e. articulating the type and rates of taxes, customs duties, administrative fees, etc that shall apply withinits territorial borders and to its citizens). One of the many legitimate policy goals of a nation’s revenue- generating infrastructure is enhanced competitiveness designed to attract foreign investment.Not surprisingly, national governments tend to shape their revenue-generating infrastructures to encourage foreign investment that is most consistent with the contours of their domestic economies. Territorially large nations with big populations tend to use their tax codes to encourage so-called foreign direct investment (FDI) in large-scale infrastructure projects, often on a jointly-managed basis in which issues such as project cost allocations, technology transfers (if relevant), and profit sharing arrangements are carefully detailed.A geographically smaller, more remote and/or less populated country usually needs to compete for foreign investment (often as a major supplement  to its domestic revenue base) in “niche” sectors of the global economy, i.e. by emphasising its specific history, culture and geography as a tourist destination and by heavily promoting natural resources and products that might be either unique or of high value-added net worth (such as rare gems, cutting edge electronics, Swiss watches, etc).From Watergate to 9/11During the three decades beginning approximately with the Watergate Scandal and ending quite abruptly with 9/11, Western governmental investigators, law enforcement authorities and regulators – primarily those focused on enforcing tax, banking and securities markets regulations – became increasingly aware of the trend towards “anonymising” the seed funds and the proceeds of criminal activity within the legitimate funds flows of entirely legal business and commercial activity.During this period, the realisation that profits generated from longstanding and well-known international criminal structures – those engaged primarily in narcotra cking, the “white slave” trade (as it was then known) and other illicit commercial activity such as smuggling – were viewed largely as a nuisance that required appropriately aggressive intervention by law enforcement and the prosecutorial power of all a ected nations. The policy construct that drove Western and other national governments to take measures deemed necessary at this time could be described as not dissimilar to a  farmer’s approach to weed control or a homeowner’s struggle with rodents and insects.  Compliance to the rescue!With 9/11 and related terrorist-instigated tragedies such as the 07/07 bombings in London, Western governments rapidly recalibrated their national securityand law enforcement strategies. The ease with which international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda were able to “anonymise” their funds was suddenly identified as a global security threat, and sweeping measures were demandedfor addressing this threat immediately and definitively. Hence, the innocuous- sounding Watergate-era mantra“Follow the money” morphed into the increasingly invasive and sweeping (i.e. extraterritorial) policy imperatives now known as Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Client (KYC) and, most especially, Countering (or Combating) the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).On so many di erent levels 9/11 was a watershed moment in world history. This includes, of course, the virtual conscription and militarisation of the middle and back o ces of licensed and regulated financial institutions, and the emergence of compliance as a conceptually-distinct function and area of expertise. Indeed, it would not be a distortion to assert that compliance, in macroeconomic terms, was a demand-driven function for which there was initially no supply. Specifically, the unprecedented and fundamentally innovative regulatory obligations created by the post-9/11 esprit de guerre and imposed on major global banks – eventually, on the entire financial services sector – created (or perhaps identified) a vacuum that needed to be filled; and it was filled by the compliance function.Following the 9/11 call to arms, another decade was needed to achieve full articulation and deployment of financial regulatory compliance as a comprehensive array of robust internal policies and procedures designed to mitigate assessed degrees of exposure to specifically identified regulatory (and, over time, reputational and other) risks. By the time of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, most banks, investment firms, insurance companies and other licensed financial institutions at least understood what “global best practices” required of them in their respective markets, even if meeting such exacting standards was not a fully achieved goal in specific instances.Concentric circles of influenceLed primarily by the US and UK investigative and financial regulatory authorities, North American, Western European and mature Asian global banks, securities exchanges and capital markets undertook and fulfilled a comprehensive programme aimed at ensuring the continuity and interconnectedness of domestic financial regulatory regimes for individual nations.Back when fundamental principles and metrics for robust compliance enforcement mechanisms were being promulgated by national legislative initiatives, international efforts such  as the Wolfsberg Group, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF / GAFI) and the Basel Accords were fostering cross-border consensus on relevant financial regulatory standards to facilitate maximum uniformity and e ciency of multinational banking and securities market activities.It is important to understand that this process began first between and among financial services regulators and licensed financial institutions in the US, the UK, Western Europe and several mature Asian markets. The first concentric circle beyond this “inner core” consisted ofthe mainly contiguous large emerging market players in Latin America, Eastern Europe / Eurasia, the Middle East and Asia. Only after the gradual integration of this second concentric circle was well underway did the influence of global best practices finally reach the more far- flung jurisdictions, including many – but not all – of the o shore tax havens.Progress towards harmonisingmost of the world’s major, second-tier and outlying banking and financial services markets was anything but linear or uniformly successful. To the present day, for example, FATF / GAFI continues to identify (“name and shame”) so-called “high risk and non- cooperative jurisdictions”8 and builds consensus towards full implementation of global best practices within a tolerable bandwidth of local diversity.Not surprisingly, o shore tax havens have been among the most reluctant – even recalcitrant, at times– jurisdictions to import and implement robust financial regulatory compliance. Over time, the “pincers” of bottom- p momentum – most especially, the aggressive extraterritoriality of certain national players (primarily the US and the UK) – in combination with top-down pressures exerted by a growing array of international and continental / regional organisations – including, quite recently, the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters9 and its implementing mechanism, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) – have borne tangible results throughout much of the o shore world of tax havens.The foregoing notwithstanding, one cannot a ord the luxuries of naïveté or rudimentary linear thinking. The processes of multilateral (institutional) and cross-border (bilateral national) brow-beating of a steadily diminishing number of recalcitrant o shore jurisdictions into compliance with a gradually increasing minimum threshold for qualifying as having adoptedglobal best practices are meeting with increasingly sti resistance. This should surprise no one. As discussed previously, there are no truly reliable– much less proven – estimates ofthe amount of o shore wealth that exists. Certainly this “dark matter” of our global financial universe includes enough funds to coerce key persons and institutions to forbear from cutting o the Hydra’s last head.  Eruption and aftermathThe timing of the Panama Papers scandal was quite fortuitous and possibly instrumental in focussing global public attention on the heretofore little-noticed world of o shore tax havens. Given the interplay of disparate forces eventually coalescing on the “o shore-osphere” as an objectof collective concern, the overall impact of the Panama Papers might have been blunted had this scandal erupted any earlier. As considered previously, there was nothing conceptually novel or distinctive about the Panama Papers (except for the volume of data divulged).Approaching the one-year mark of this scandal’s spectacular explosion, it seemed at first as though most of the immediate fallout would be surprisingly meagre. After the initial eruption of the o shore island’s dreaded “righteously  indignant and o ended” volcano, the native population, fearing the worst, took to their boats and relocatedfor an indefinite period to several neighbouring inhabited islands of the “intriguingly dodgy yet exclusive” archipelago... and waited.A few of the braver souls among the displaced population undertook occasional exploratory forays to their home island, where they found clear evidence of the volcano’s damage. Government investigators and an evidently large contingent of law firms and auditors had left unmistakeable traces of their ravages: the Prime Minister of Iceland had abruptly resigned from o ce; and the Presidents of Argentina and Russia as well as the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and (at the time) the UK all felt themselves compelled to issue blanket denials of illegal relationships with the devastated o shore island. In the aggregate, a ponderous amount of structural damage had occurred, to be sure; but with each succeeding visit, the recon teams were bringing gradually more encouraging reports back to the displaced population.But just a day or two before their o shore island was to be declared once again safe to inhabit, the natives were horror-struck to learn that an even more powerful earthquake on the Brazilian mainland had wrought far more devastation than the volcano which had originally forced them from their homes.At the time of writing, Panamanian prosecutors have arrested the founding partners of Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak. According to Kenia Porcell, Panama’s  Attorney General, the decision to arrest Ramón Fonseca Mora and Jürgen Mossack was related to the Panamanian bank regulator’s seizure of FPB Bank in connection with its alleged involvement in Latin America’s largest ever corruption investigation, Lava Jato, or “Operation Car Wash”. Lava Jato is a Brazilian bribery probe involving prosecutors in numerous jurisdictions who are investigating allegations of systematic bribery of public o cials by Petrobras (Petróleo Brasileiro SA), Brazil’s state-run oil company, and Odebrecht, a Brazilian- listed engineering company (the largest of its kind in Latin America). Regardless of where these investigations may ultimately lead, there seems little room for doubt that the Golden Age of the “o shore-osphere” has waned, and those who continue to make use of their “tax optimisation” features now have the burden of proving that their decisions are at least legal, if not perhaps entirely ethical. By: Vladimir Berezansky, one of the first foreign professionals to bring Western (US, UK, EU) regulatory complianceleadership to the Russian/CIS/CEE financial services market. Hehas experience in Russia/CIS and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus, Switzerland and in London’s financial markets. Among his specialisations, he is a recognised expert in structured o shore Russian wealth. 

Business 08 Mar 2017

qatar airways in the battle of business class

Qatar Airways Ups The Stakes In The Battle Of Business Class Today in Berlin, during ITB, the world's largest travel trade show, Qatar Airways raised the stake in the battle for business class travelers with the introduction of its QSuite.There are several breakthroughs with the suites.  First, four suites can be linked together enabling families or business associates to converse, play games or have a meeting. Also, for couples traveling together, there is the ability to be able to have a conversation without bending one's neck. The seats, which convert to flat beds, now standard in most business class cabins, in this case, can be converted into a double bed. Reverse herring-bone design used by airlines such as American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Airways and even Qatar's Boeing 787s are popular for their spacious configuration and privacy, but make it hard to talk with your traveling companion. atar Airways, with the launch of the Q-Suite, becomes the second airline to introduce a business class product with a door, following Delta Air Lines, which announced its Delta One Suite last April. The introduction of "suite" seats with closing doors is part of a trend by airlines to provide roomier business class products. British Airways, which first brought seats that convert into beds to the business class cabin more than 15 years ago, has said it will introduce a new business class seat soon. Air France recently announced it will change its business class seats to a reverse herringbone format, while Korean Air and Japan Airlines are rolling out new seats for their business class cabins offering more space and privacy. United Airlines is rolling out news seats as part of its Polaris business class product. Qatar Airways has built its reputation on providing a high standard of seating and service, with its business class menus often compared to first class on other airlines. It offers dine-on-demand, meaning you can eat when you want as opposed to during a specific service period. For the new QSuites, there will be snack trays you can share with your suite companions.It is with some irony that Qatar and Delta are the first two airlines to bring doors to their business class suites. The two airlines have had a CEO-level spat about whether or not the fast growing gulf-based airlines such as Qatar, Etihad Airways and Emirates are competing unfairly against the U.S. airlines.In the case of the new business class suites, it appears Qatar has a bit of an edge in terms of design with more high-end finishes, such as hand-stitched Italian leather. Qatar has also said they will be rushing the new seats onto their planes. While these announcements are always exciting, it can often take several years before the new seats are installed in the majority of the fleet, meaning chances you might end up in an older style business seat. By Doug Gollan 

Business 06 Mar 2017

qatar's multi-billion dollar tourism investments

Qatar plans multi-billion dollar tourism investmentsQatar plans to almost double tourism income over the next few years as visitor numbers grow and the nation hosts the 2022 Fifa World Cup.The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) predicts the tourism sector’s total economic contribution will reach 81.2 billion Qatari riyals (Dh81.9bn), or 7.3 per cent of GDP, by 2026, up from 48.5bn riyals in 2015, according to the QTA.In 2015, investment in travel and tourism activity comprised 2.2 per cent of the country’s total spending, with this expected to rise by 8.6 per year to 2026. The introduction of new demand drivers is seen as vital to supporting the continued rise in leisure spending, which is expected to reach 44.9bn riyals in 2026, while business travel spending is expected to rise to 17.5bn riyals in 2026.  Experiential travel, the main theme of this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), is driving tourism growth in Qatar, as the country works towards its 2030 ambitions to welcome 10 million visitors a year and generate US$17.8bn in tourism receipts. According to research released ahead of ATM 2017, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre April 24-27, Qatar will look to generate 5.2 per cent of its GDP through tourism over the coming years, creating 98,000 jobs and managing an inventory of 63,000 hotel rooms.  Qatar is also set to invest up to $45bn in new developments under the national tourism sector strategy 2030. These include $2.3bn earmarked for 2022 World Cup facilities and $6.9bn for transport infrastructure and associated projects."Qatar’s well-paced national tourism sector strategy 2030 will steadily boost tourism numbers over the coming decade, with the first milestone of four million visitors a year by 2020, well on track," said Simon Press, the ATM senior exhibition director.   "The government, hotel operators, airlines and other stakeholders are now beginning to see a return on their investment into the country’s tourism sector. "Qatar among the fastest-growing destinations in the region in terms of visitor arrivals, averaging 11.5 per cent growth over the past five years, according to the QTA. The authority recorded arrivals of 2.18 million visitors in the first nine months of2016, including more than one million GCC nationals.  Qatar’s Hamad International Airport saw passenger traffic jump 20 per cent in 2016, handling some 37.3 million passengers, a rise of 7.3 million from the previous year. The surge is partly attributed to Qatar Airways’ addition of 14 new destinations last year. The airline has also announced the world’s longest flight by duration – a 17-plus hour route from Auckland to Doha.Arrivals in 2017 will also receive a boost from the cruise season, running from October 2016 to April 2017, the QTA said. It is expected up to 30 ships will dock in Doha during the current season, generating 55,000 visitors. This could reach as many as 250,000 passengers by the 2018/19 season.  To deal with the expected demand, Qatar currently has 22,921 hotel rooms with a further 15,956 rooms under contract, representing a 69 per cent increase in total stock in the current pipeline. However, the country posted a decline in hotel performance across all key metrics over 2016, as overall occupancy dropped 12.2 per cent and RevPAR, or revenue per room, fell by 18.8 per cent.

Business 23 Feb 2017

snap's london ipo road show

London-based analyst calls 'neutral' after Snap's London IPO road showSnap Inc. took its initial-public-offering road show to London on Monday, looking to persuade potential UK investors to buy up the company's stock, but one London-based analyst remains "neutral" about the company's ability to drive upside beyond its initial price range of $14 to $16 a share.Atlantic Equities research analyst James Cordwell did not attend the presentation on Monday but spoke with clients who did. (Atlantic Equities is also not one of the banks underwriting Snap's IPO.)In a detailed research note, Cordwell set a $14 price target for Snap's stock for the end of this financial year. That would imply a market cap of $19.5 billion.He said while the Snapchat app was an "impressive 'made for mobile' service" that was popular among young users, it would be difficult to expand its audience base beyond this demographic. And, all the while, competition is intensifying from Facebook, which is adding Snapchat-like features to many of its major properties, including Instagram, Messenger, and, most recently, WhatsApp.Cordwell wrote: "With expansion beyond the core audience likely challenging, sustainability of engagement concerns to persist, and margins structurally lower than peers, we do not see upside to the $14-$16 IPO valuation range."Revenue projectionsSnap generated $404.5 million in revenue in 2016, according to its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cordwell thinks that may rise to $1.13 billion this year. Cordwell projects revenue will increase to $2.16 billion in 2018, rising to $3.03 billion in 2019.Snapchat's average revenue per user is less than 15% that of Facebook, a fact Cordwell said demonstrated a "clear opportunity for significant near-term revenue growth."But Cordwell assumes Snap will reach only 55% of Facebook's current monetization level by 2020, given Snapchat's heavy skew toward developed markets, its demographic skew toward younger users who are less likely to spend on advertisers' products, and the smaller amount of user data Snapchat has compared with Facebook, which could limit its potential among direct-response advertisers. Snapchat will need to match Facebook's monetization levels on a per-hour basis if it is to ramp ad spending beyond the $2 billion a year at which Twitter began to run into revenue growth issues, Cordwell predicted.Smaller margins compared with its peersSnap's margins are lower than its peers', a reality Cordwell says is owing to the infrastructure costs required to deliver messaging centered on videos and photos, the revenue it shares with publishers in exchange for their content, a focus on direct sales versus self-serve, and its research-and-development costs.Cordwell predicted Snap wouldn't reach non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profitability until at least the end of 2019 — with its GAAP operating margin in the long term unlikely to be higher than 15%. By comparison, Facebook is at about 45%. Snap posted adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, deprecation, and amortization) loss of $459.4 million in 2016. Cordwell predicted that loss would widen slightly to $482 million in 2017 before coming down to $184 million in 2018 and then turning to profitability of $44 million in 2019."Our price target effectively assumes Snap trades at over 50x FY20 EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) multiple at YE19, well in excess of the historical range of this metric for Facebook, though Snap’s margins still likely to be below structural potential at this point."Cordwell says Snap will need to gain better leverage on its tech spending and improve its sales efficiency to become profitable.Snap has been pitching itself to investors as a "camera company," which would imply that it does not want to become wholly reliant on ad sales in the future. So far, Snap's only hardware product is Spectacles, the camera glasses it launched last year that are available only in the US.Cordwell doesn't think Snap's hardware products will be a near-term profit driver, but he notes that new products focused on "mixed reality" could help drive the company's stock multiple.He writes: "To drive upside to the IPO range it seems necessary to believe Snap can leverage its AR (augmented reality)-style features and hardware efforts into a strong position in 'mixed reality', but it seems too early to attach value to this opportunity."Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported that while investors attending the London leg of the Snap IPO road show were impressed with "sleek" presentation, some were disappointed the company did not provide projections on future revenue and advertising share.By Lara O'reilly

Business 13 Feb 2017

is politics harming ivanka's fashion label?

Is the politics of Ivanka Trump's father harming her fashion label?The brand would tell you "no." A spokesperson for the first daughter's fashion label said Wednesday that the brand's overall sales were up 21% in 2016 compared to the prior year. Rosemary K. Young, senior director of marketing at Ivanka Trump said the brand is growing. "The Ivanka Trump brand continues to expand across categories and distribution with increased customer support, leading us to experience significant year-over-year revenue growth in 2016. We believe that the strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains. The women behind the brand represent a diverse group of professionals and we are proud to say that the Ivanka Trump brand continues to embody the principles upon which it was founded," Young said.Ivanka Trump has taken a leave of absence from her namesake company while she serves as a White House adviser.  The first few weeks of 2017, however, have brought some unfavorable news for the brand. Nordstrom (JWN)decided to stop carrying the label "based on the brand's performance," spurring President Trump to tweet a controversial jab at the company on Wednesday. "Sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn't make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now," a Nordstrom spokesperson said. "We've had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we've seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January."There are other indicators that retailers are looking to distance themselves from the brand. The company that owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls confirmed to CNNMoney on Wednesday that it recently sent a memo to workers instructing them not to highlight the Ivanka Trump brand in stores. TJX Companies (TJX) spokesperson said employees were told to "remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into the runs" -- meaning the brand should not be highlighted on a standalone rack. The New York Times said it reviewed the memo and reported that employees were also told to throw away any Ivanka Trump signage. The company declined to provide a reason for the instructions. Neiman Marcus recently removed its Ivanka Trump brand landing page from its website, and there's no longer any Ivanka Trump products for sale on its site. A spokesperson for Neiman's confirmed to CNNMoney last week that the store has had a "very small Ivanka Trump precious jewelry business," and the company "continuously assess whether our brands are carried in stores, on our website, or both...based on productivity." Neiman's declined to indicate whether it intended to keep Ivanka Trump products in stores or resume online sales in the future. Retailer Belk said Wednesday that it plans to pull Ivanka Trump products from its website, but will continue to offer the line in its flagship stores. The retailer indicated that the decision was in response to customer feedback. "We want to thank all of you who have reached out to express your views about Ivanka Trump branded merchandise sold by Belk," a company statement reads. "We continually review our assortment and the performance of the brands we carry. We make adjustments as part of our normal course of business operations. In this regard, we are no longer carrying Ivanka Trump branded merchandise on our website." There are, however, plenty of retailers that are still carrying the brand. A spokesperson said over 800 retailers -- including Bloomingdale's, Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Lord & Taylor, Macy's (M)and Zappos -- all carry Ivanka Trump products. Brand and marketing expert Eric Schiffer of Reputation Management Consultants said the negative publicity may affect the label's performance in the U.S., but the Ivanka Trump brand will likely perform just fine abroad. "It would be near impossible to nuke Ivanka's brand given the proximity she has to the White House and the glamor that heats up to any brand tied to it," Schiffer told CNNMoney. "Ivanka's brand should continue to do well overseas where fewer details filter through about Trump...But Ivanka absolutely won't be boosting her brand in the U.S., and it will continue to get bashed in the teeth with far lower sales from women disgusted at Trump and his positions."BY CNN Money

Business 06 Feb 2017

america’s coolest car company

Tesla Motors officially changed its name on Wednesday. The company, known for its impressive electric cars, will now simply go by Tesla Inc. While it may seem like a small change, the move marks a symbolic shift for the company. For the last few years, Tesla has been pushing beyond electric cars into new areas of business, specifically energy storage and generation. But Tesla’s journey to becoming this new company has not always been easy. While the company has celebrated plenty of achievements, it has also experienced its fair share of setbacks. Here’s a breakdown of the company’s most defining moments since its founding. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has led Tesla for the majority of its existence, he wasn’t always at the helm of the company. Tesla, which is named after the famous physicist Nikola Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Other co-founders included JB Straubel, Ian Wright, and Elon Musk.Musk led the company’s Series A funding round in 2004, but at the time he served as the company’s chairman. Eberhard served as CEO until August 2007, at which time he was  reportedly asked to leave the company. On November 28, 2007 Ze’ev Drori, an Israeli engineer and businessman, was named CEO of the company.Musk has never been shy about his intentions for Tesla. In 2006, Musk published a blog post entitled “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)” in which he made it crystal clear that Tesla’s mission is to speed up the adoption of a “solar electric economy.”“As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high-performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster,” Musk said. “However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.” Tesla announced Drori would take the helm at Tesla at the end of November. Drori officially took the reigns of the company on December 3, 2007. Drori, an Israeli engineer and tech veteran, was tasked with bringing Tesla’s first car, the Roadster to market by the first quarter of 2008. Drori managed to bring the Roadster into production on time and the first vehicle was delivered to Musk, who was serving as the company’s chairman at the time. To celebrate the occasion, Musk jumped in the Roadster (P1) and led four other prototype Roadsters packed with engineers down Highway 101 and University Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif. By mid-March, the company had met its goal of getting regular production of the Roadster up and running. At the time, Drori referred to the event as a “milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles.”Tesla produced the Roadster, which priced at $109,000, until January 2012 and in total sold 2,450 Roadsters, according to a 2012 SEC filing.By October, Tesla was feeling pressures created by the financial crisis. “The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way through every facet of the economy. It’s not an understatement to say that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well,” Musk said at the time. Musk announced he would be taking over the company and that there would be layoffs. He also pushed back the launch date of the Model S to mid-2011. It was previously slated to go into production in 2010. By November 2008, the company’s financial situation had worsened and Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy. To help restore Tesla’s coffers and speed up the production of the Tesla Roadster, the company’s board of directors approved $40 million in convertible debt financing.However, while the board approved the deal in November, the documents for the financing round weren’t signed until December 2009, putting Tesla in a perilous situation. “Even then, we only narrowly survived…We actually closed the financing round on Christmas Eve 2008. It was the last hour of the last day that it was possible,” Musk said during a Q&A at the Paris-Sorbonne University in December 2015. Tesla unveiled its first electric sedan, the Model S, in March 2009 in Hawthorne, California at the SpaceX headquarters. The first generation Model S had a range of more than 300 miles per charge and could go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. By May 12, 2009, Tesla had already surpassed 1,000 reservations for the Model S. The $40 million financing round helped get Tesla through its darkest hour, but the company needed more resources to further develop its battery technology. Tesla and Daimler had already been in partnership for about a year working on an electric Smartcar. But by May, Daimler made a long-term bet on Tesla by taking a 10 percent stake in the company. The two companies agreed to work together on developing battery and electric drive systems.“We are looking forward to a strategic cooperation in a number of areas including leveraging Daimler’s engineering, production, and supply chain expertise. This will accelerate bringing our Tesla Model S to production and ensure that it is a superlative vehicle on all levels,” Musk said at the time. In June 2009, Tesla also received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, which it repaid in full by May 2013. Tesla offered 13.3 million shares at $17 per share. The company raised $226.1 million. Tesla gave a glimpse of what it’s future car would be like when it revealed a Model S prototype at an event in October at its Fremont factory for about 3,000 reservation holders. Musk revealed that the vehicle would get 320 miles per charge and go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. “The oil companies said electric cars can’t work, but the truth is, they don’t want them to work. But here it is. They would say this car is the equivalent of a unicorn. Well, tonight you had the opportunity to ride a unicorn,” Musk said at the event.Just a few months after the Model S reveal, Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model X, the company’s first crossover SUV. The car’s most novel feature, of course, was its Falcon Wing doors. The Model X was very well received. By Feb. 14, 2012, the company had amassed advance sales of more than $40 million. In fact, on Feb. 9, the night reservations opened up, traffic on TeslaMotors.com increased 2,800%, the company said. At the time of its reveal, Tesla aimed to have the Model X in production by 2014. However, it wouldn’t actually really enter production until the end of 2015.Tesla originally intended to deliver the Model S in 2011. However, the company didn’t begin deliveries until late mid-2012. Tesla delivered the Model S to the first customers at an event at the Tesla factory in Freemont, California on June 22, 2012. Musk further demonstrated his commitment to advancing the adoption of electric cars when he open-sourced Tesla’s patents in 2014. At the time, Musk said that Tesla would not take legal actions against other companies who wanted to use the patents to create EVs. “Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” Musk said in a blog post.“Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”Tesla announced its plans to build its giant battery factory, dubbed the Gigafactory, in February 2014 and it didn’t wait long before looking for somewhere to build it. Tesla ultimately decided on a site in Storey, Nevada appropriately located along Electric Avenue. The original site was 1,000 acres, but in June 2015 the company purchased an additional 1,864 acres of adjacent land.According to Tesla’s website, the giant factory will help it dramatically cut the cost of its batteries by “using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof.”Once the factory is fully operational by 2020, Tesla estimates the factory will enable it to reduce its battery prices by about 30%.The lowered cost of the batteries will enable the company to price its Model 3 at about $35,000.At a company event in October, Musk revealed a new dual motor option for the Model S and announced that all Tesla vehicles produced beginning October 2014 were installed with Autopilot hardware. The system was composed of four parts: a forward-looking radar, a camera with image recognition, and sonar sensors that give the system a 360-degree view around the car. Musk said that some of the initial features included in the system would be automatic cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and active emergency braking. Tesla made a big push into energy when it unveiled the Powerpack and Powerwall at an event in Hawthorne, California in 2015.Musk said that batteries were the “missing piece” of Tesla’s business model and claimed that 160 million Powerpacks could power the United States.The company followed up in a statement on its website declaring that “Tesla is not just an automotive company it’s an energy innovation company.” Tesla had originally planned to launch its Model X Crossover SUV in late 2013 or early 2014, but production delays forced the company to push back deliveries by almost two years. The vehicle’s highly-specialized features, like its Falcon Wing doors and bioweapon defense mode air-filtration system, made the car complicated to manufacture on a mass scale. In fact, during Tesla’s 2016 second-quarter earnings call, Musk emphasized just how dire the production situation had become. “We were in production hell,” Musk said. “We climbed out of hell in June.” Tesla began rolling out its  7.0 software update in October, which ultimately activated Autopilot features in cars equipped with the hardware. The feature initially enabled cars to drive themselves in certain conditions. However, in January 2016, the company rolled out its 7.1 software update which gave Autopilot-equipped vehicles more features, including the ability to self-park. Musk finally unveiled the much-anticipated Model 3 during the first quarter of 2016. While only a prototype, the car gave Tesla fans a good idea of what to expect with the production model. Musk announced that the car would get 215 miles or more per charge and go from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. Tesla plans to launch the $35,000 car by the end of 2018.The first fatal Autopilot accident occurred in May, but word didn’t get out about the incident until more than a month later. On June 30, government regulators revealed they were looking into a tie between the fatal accident and Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot function. Tesla also issued a statement and Elon Musk shared his condolences, calling the incident a “tragic loss.” According to Tesla’s statement, the Model S was driving down a divided highway when a tractor trailer cut across the highway perpendicular to the vehicle. “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S,” Tesla said in its blog post.Tesla took everyone by surprise in June when the company made a $2.6 billion bid to acquire SolarCity, a solar installation company run by Musk’s cousin. Not surprisingly, the deal was controversial from the start, primarily because SolarCity was about $3 billion in debt and the deal was seen as a bailout. Further complicating the matter, Musk was also the chairman of the company.In July, Musk finally revealed the second part of his company’s “master plan,” a plan which focuses on four key goals: 1. Develop “stunning” solar roofs that seamlessly integrate with Tesla’s battery storage.2. Roll out more affordable vehicles “to address all major segments.”3. Advance its self-driving technology so that it is “ten times safer” than manual driving. 4. Roll out a car sharing program that enables Tesla owners to make money by renting out their autonomous car. Musk’s plans for an autonomous “shared-fleet” program were especially interesting.Musk said that Tesla owners will be able to add their vehicle to the shared fleet and start making money by simply tapping a button on their Tesla phone app. “It generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost,” Musk said in a company blog post. “This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla.” Musk made it clear in early 2016 that automation was the future for Tesla. During a shareholder meeting in June, Musk said that he saw a huge opportunity in “building the machine that makes the machine.” Musk reiterated these comments in September during an interview with Y Combinator’s Sam Altman. “The biggest epiphany I’ve had this year is that what really matters is the machine that builds the machine, the factory,” he said. “And that this is at least two orders of magnitude harder than the vehicle itself.”So it wasn’t all that surprising when Tesla announced it was buying Grohmann Engineering, a German engineering firm that specializes in designing systems for manufacturing automation. After months of criticism, Tesla was finally able to close its  deal with SolarCity in November. Both SolarCity and Tesla had a special meeting for shareholders to vote on the deal and according to a statement from Tesla, more than 85% of its shareholders voted in favor of the merger. Both Musk and Rive recused themselves from the vote. The deal was worth about $2 billion and Tesla absorbed SolarCity’s $3 billion in debt. After a six-month investigation, Tesla could finally let out a sigh of relief. In January 2017, federal regulators closed their investigation into the first Autopilot fatality and said that they had found no defects with the system. Tesla may have officially changed its name earlier this week, but its new identity had actually been in the works for a while.In February 2016, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about acquiring the domain. And in July the company shortened its website from teslamotors.com to just Tesla.com.But on Wednesday the company said in a filing with the SEC that the company was officially changing its corporate title to just Tesla Inc, bringing the company into a new era of being an energy company.By Business insider  

Business 30 Jan 2017

tesco, to buy brooker group for £3.7bn deal.

The UK's biggest supermarket group, Tesco, has agreed to buy the UK’s biggest food wholesaler, Booker Group, in a £3.7bn deal.The firms said the deal would create the "UK's leading food business". Booker Group is the UK's largest cash and carry operator, and supplies everything from baked beans to teabags to 700,000 convenience stores, grocers, pubs and restaurants.Booker also owns the Premier, Budgens and Londis convenience-store brands.What does Booker Group do?By combining with Booker Group, Tesco is expanding beyond its traditional food retailing business and making strides into the restaurant and takeaway food sectors."Wherever food is prepared and eaten - 'in home' or 'out of home' - we will meet this opportunity with the widest choice and best service available," said Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis.Mr Lewis said rising prices from suppliers had played no part in the decision to sign the deal.Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Mr Lewis said he believed the transaction would not face a challenge from competition authorities, as it would not result in Tesco owning any more stores, and he dubbed it a "low risk" merger.But others were not so sure. One UK supermarket executive told the BBC the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) "may not like the idea of one company's products in so many convenience stores".Satyen Dhana, a competition partner with law firm CMS said the CMA will look "very carefully" at the deal."Whilst Tesco and Booker do operate in largely different segments, the CMA is likely to examine where the parties overlap and if the enhanced new business becomes a must-have trading partner for customers and suppliers. "Tesco may not be owning any more stores, but potentially it becomes a key supplier to a large number of independent convenience stores that may compete at the local level with its own stores. "Suppliers of goods to Tesco and Booker may also want the CMA to consider if the transaction now combines two of their largest customers," Mr Dhana added.A spokesman for the CMA said: "We do not comment on potential investigations." Retailers are eyeing the deal with interest.James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores said the merger is "hugely significant"."Some retailers will welcome this news, others will be concerned about competing with stores supplied through the merged Booker and Tesco business, and some will be uneasy at the prospect of working in partnership with one of their biggest historical competitors." New strategiesInvestors welcomed the surprise announcement, sending Tesco's shares up 10% in morning trade.Under the terms of the cash and shares deal, Booker shareholders will end up owning about 16% of the combined group."The deal with Booker shows Tesco is not going to sit on its hands and wait for its dominant market position to slowly leak away to competitors," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown."The UK's supermarkets are engaged in new strategies to cope with the brave new world, where the discounters have stolen market share and consumers have turned away from big superstores, preferring instead to do their shopping in convenience stores or on their mobile phones."Sainsbury bought Argos, Morrisons is flirting with Amazon, and now Tesco has revealed its plans to drive further growth."   

Business 18 Jan 2017

black swans by vladimir berezansky

Black swans fading to grey and white By Vladimir Berezansky"Vladimir Berezansky considers the game changing events of 2016, their impact for the coming year, and potential furtherblack swans on the horizon" In late 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a relatively unknown Lebanese-American theoretical statistician, published “The Black Swan.” Its release was as if perfectly timed to provide a tangible, accessible context for the financial crisis that quickly engulfed the world’s major banks and capital markets. Typical of many eureka moments in human history, Professor Taleb’s insight was blindingly simple.According to Taleb’s paradigm, a “black swan” is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: (1) it is unpredictable; (2) it is an unequivocal game changer; and (3) following its occurrence, explanations are essentially reverse- engineered to provide artificial intellectual comfort (i.e. reasons why the black swan should have been anticipated but wasn’t).2016: two “real” black swansLeaping ahead almost exactly a decade, we have recently been confronted with two jarring game-changers: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. By way of confirming that each of these events was indeed a black swan, one need only survey the millions of words generated in earnest on the world’s television and radio broadcasts or in print, all intended to explain why we should have foreseen these eventualities long before their arrival. QED.In one of his recent weekly broadcasts, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria reminded his viewers of a tongue-in-cheek adage about how journalists are taught to keep count of recurring (or highly similar) current events, namely: “One, two... trend.” This is actually a significant corollary to Prof. Taleb’s doctrine of the black swan. In the media’s haste to identify subsequent world events as confirmation of the brave new world of the Brexit-Trump black swans, the results of the subsequent – but by no means consequent – Italian referendum were press- ganged into service.If anything, the Italian constitutional referendum held on 4 December 2016 only reinforced the distinct essence ofthe two genuine black swans of 2016 (i.e. as unpredictable game changers). The Italian plebiscite was highly specific and domestic, sharing few, if any, of the dynamics of populist rage that propelled Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.Compliance professionals working at multinational banks and other cross-border financial institutions should give thought to preparingfor scenarios wherein one set of regulatory standards is stepped back, while a functionally equivalent regulatory regime is maintained or, perhaps, even ratcheted up Trump: deregulation and diverging standards? President-elect Trump has already made known his position that the US banking sector is over-regulated. Specifically, he has identified Dodd-Frank as an object of his disdain. For our purposes, it might be most useful to focus on Title VI, the Volcker Rule, and Title VII, containing provisions for subjecting OTC derivatives to mandatory clearing with regulated trading platforms. Other potential aspects of Dodd-Frank that might be rolled back include: the requirement that banks establish Board-level risk committees; fee disclosure requirements for retail cross- border transactions (Remittance Regulation 1073); and the prohibition of US-based sales or traders from dealing with counterparties that have not acceded to the rules of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).Compliance professionals will need to monitor media coverage of specific Executive branch initiatives to weaken or repeal these or perhaps other aspects of the Dodd-Frank regulatory infrastructure. Additionally, US banks and non-US banks with American subsidiaries or branches mightalso seek to maintain open channels of communication with relevant US Government regulatory authorities and self- regulatory organisations (SROs). As soon as a short list of likely near-term targets for reduced or rescinded regulatory enforcement becomes known, it will be necessary to review in-house protocols and procedures in order to identify a prioritised action plan for making responsive adjustments. You should have no doubt that Front O ce colleagues will be quick o the mark in demanding that corresponding reductions to Compliance’s internal controls be implemented.Finally, compliance professionals working at multinational banks and other cross-border financial institutions should give thought to preparing for scenarios wherein one set of regulatory standards (such as Dodd-Frank) is stepped back, while a functionally equivalent regulatory regime (such as the European Market Infrastructure Regulation on derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories; EMIR) is maintained or, perhaps, even ratcheted up.SanctionsNext, news media have consistently reported that Mr Trump and several of his advisors are keen to turn relations with Russia back onto a more productive track. To these ends, it is possible that, as President, Mr Trump might rescind the Executive Orders that constitute the US legal authorisation for the Russian sanctions regime. A proactive compliance contingency plan for 2017 should include detailed procedural guidance for phasing out and/or rapidly lifting the relevant US sectoral sanctions (keeping in mind that there are other, unrelated US sanctions restrictions also in place, such as the “Magnitsky List”), but anticipating an indefinite period during which such US sanctions may be summarily removed (by a deft stroke of Mr Trump’s pen) while EU sanctions, which are based on properly-enacted EU legislation, remain at least temporarily in force.At the time of writing, it is not yet clear whether the US Congress might attempt to pass “veto-proof” legislation imposing additional sanctions on Russia in response. Recent allegations that Russian government-backed hackers interfered with the US presidential electoral process. The outlook for potentially even drastic changes to the US sanctions regime as it applies to Russia therefore could change on a daily basis leading up to and immediately following Mr Trump’s inauguration. Sanctions compliance professionals should closely monitor changes to the O ce of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions Lists and other o cial US Government information sources.Further to sanctions lists, forward-looking compliance professionals would do well to give thought to how specific sanctions regimes might be stepped down gradually – and possibly in their entirety, depending on relevant geopolitical developments – in the cases of (at least) the following countries: Cuba, Myanmar (Burma), Iran and Colombia. Asa recent example of how national political agendas often drive sanctions regimes, many were caught o guard by how quickly OFAC acted to remove certain specific US currency controls from the Cuba sanctions regime in anticipation of President Obama’s historic visit to Havana in March 2016. “Business friendly” compliance professionals will have contingency plans already in place in anticipation of similarly rapid changes to other country and/or sector-specific sanctions regimes.The Brexit swanWith regard to the other “real” black swan of 2016, it appears – for now, at least – that compliance-relevant events will be unfolding at a relatively more moderate pace. Nonetheless, compliance professionals should continue to monitor news reporting on UK-EU negotiations – once they commence in earnest – on key issues such as passporting and the continued applicability of EU banking regulations to UK banks.Another important, although perhaps “softer” category of current developments that merits monitoring is the extent to which global and/or EMEA headquarters for multi-national banks begin to migrate from London to other EU cities. There are already media reports that Dublin, Paris, Amsterdamand Frankfurt – and perhaps other contenders – have prepared and launched publicity and bank-specific marketing campaigns aimed at attracting at least the EU silos if not the entire global headquarters of major multinational banks away from London.Future swansThese measures could be considered logical and even obvious preparations that compliance professionals should be considering in anticipation of the grey and white swans that are likely to be seen in the coming months, given the two black swans of 2016. As indicated earlier, however, the far more daunting task facing compliance professionals is to prepare, to the extent possible, for the next truly black swans that will occur sooner or later. Meeting this challenge will require creativity and ingenuity.Looking forward into 2017, what is the significance for compliance of these two clear-cut black swan events? I submit that they constitute a wake-up call that challenges us to review our basic principles and to rethink and re- engineer our approach to the array of risks that we are charged with mitigating. "The daunting task facing compliance professionals is to prepare, to the extent possible, for the next truly black swans that will occur sooner or later. Meeting this challenge will require creativity and ingenuity" "Black swans occur and will continue to occur; we must therefore devise the intellectual and practical tools necessary to react adequately to such inevitable future occurrences" Without undue dramatisation, let’s be clear about what we are facing: As we bid farewell to 2016, we now know that black swans are not just a useful statistical tool for placing a specific variety of abnormal historical events into a broader perspective. Black swans occur and will continue to occur; we must therefore devise the intellectual and practical tools necessary to react adequately to such inevitable future occurrences.To adjust our focus properly it is necessary to step back and identify trends that are likely to raise significant future implications for the compliance function. Which major developments and significant tendencies are likely to raise complex issues that will most likely challenge our fundamental assumptions and working premises?One such development is the gradual realisation in the banking and financial services sectors that the practice of occupying substantial o ce premises – whether it be a far-reaching network of small branch o ces or an imposing urban skyscraper – has become obsolete. The obvious corollary to this tendency is the drastic downsizing of banking sta s, a process that is already well underway. The overwhelming trend is clearly toward remote, online, and virtual banking in all aspects and respects.A related development is the question of how proper onboarding “know your customer” (KYC) checks could be performed if the prospective client completes its application by speaking to a chatbot. In this new paradigm, what kindof documentation should and must be compiled for the completion of adequate and reliable due diligence? Will a bank or other licensed financial institution need to maintain digital KYC files on its premises? Moreover, in this radically disrupted context, what might constitute “premises”?Is it su cient for the Compliance Function to have secured the services of a reliable (licensed?) third-party vendor of outsourced KYC processing? In this scenario, which entity bears legal (including potentially criminal) liability before the regulator: the bank, or the vendor to which it has outsourced the KYC on-boarding function? If the latter, then what will compliance’s indispensable role be?Can a bank or its properly accredited third-party vendor maintain KYC files in the Cloud? Would regulators be comfortable with this type of architecture? Would this configuration pass muster with the restrictions imposed by personal data privacy legislation in many countries?Future challengesThis has been just a brief overview of the questions that compliance professionals need to be considering now to ensure the Compliance Function’s adaptability and viability in light of inevitable changes to the broader structural banking paradigm. Peering at the horizon line’s furthest crest, financial regulatory compliance professionals will need to adapt quickly to the following – and perhaps other, as yet unforeseen – game changers:• Cyber security – This is no longer the exclusive preserve of IT and/or Security. Compliance needs to become intensely involved in establishing, maintaining and managing metrics for cyber security protocols, procedures, and interface with relevant governmental authorities and SROs. In early December 2016, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), O ce of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Fed announced the opening of a notice and comment period for proposed cyber security requirements as part of their collective e orts to help protect financial markets and customers from cyber attacks. Later the same month, the New York (state-level) financial regulator proposed revisions to the nation’s first prototype for cyber security regulations for banks and insurers, including heretofore unprecedented requirements for financial firms to protect their networks and customer data from hackers.• Crypto-currencies – This is no longer a hybrid, countercultural, elitist hobby, but rather a viable and readily accessible alternative to sovereign (“fiat”) currencies. In early December 2016, Bloomberg reported: “In Denmark, the [Central Bank is] now looking into producing a virtual currency, which they predict will make crime harder and oversight easier. The Danes aren’t alone. Britain and Sweden are blazing a trail in Europe. Singapore and Canada have already tested blockchain-based currency systems for internet payments.”• FinTech – The competition to establish global leadership in this developmental vector has become quite aggressive. The UK, Switzerland and Singapore have implemented regulatory holidays for government-supported incubators; and Singapore is providing government grant funds to attract fintech expertise to their national incubator.Finally, if readers were perhaps expecting to see the Panama Papers treated – whether or not in the guise of a black swan – in such a year-end summary of recent (past) and (future) anticipated compliance highlights, they should take note that this will be covered in my next article for inCOMPLIANCE (which will be published in March 2017). Peering ahead into 2017, it appears that there are, if anything, even more complex compliance challenges awaiting us than those encountered in 2016.Vladimir Berezansky was one of the first foreign professionals to bring Western (US, UK, EU) regulatory compliance leadership to the Russian/CIS/CEE financial services market. He has more than 15 years of work experience in Russia/CIS and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus, Switzerland and in London’s financial markets. Among his specialisations, Vladimir is a recognised expert in structured o shore Russian wealth, including how and why these specific strata of global o shore wealth were created, their legitimate uses, and indicia of suspicious and/ or potentially illegal uses.   

Business 16 Jan 2017

tesla's customer service

Elon Musk Takes Customer Complaint on Twitter From Idea to Execution in 6 DaysFor business leaders, social media can be confusing (and sometimes dangerous) territory.But last month, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk provided a master class in how to use social media effectively. When a Tesla owner complained about fellow consumers hogging spots at a local charging station, Musk took the feedback seriously.Entrepreneur Loic Le Meur shared his story on Medium:"I was recently driving to a meeting in Silicon Valley and had to charge my Tesla. I decided to stop at the San Carlos supercharger on my way to Palo Alto and there were 5 other Tesla cars waiting in line to get a charging space. Most drivers seemed to have gone somewhere else as their cars were charging. The San Carlos supercharger is located within walking distance from Whole Foods, Peet's Coffee, a gym and some restaurants. Many drivers therefore keep their cars parked at the supercharger even once their cars have finished charging.I tweeted at Elon to tell him.Within minutes, Elon promised to take action."Just six days later, Tesla announced the following policy on its official website:"We designed the Supercharger network to enable a seamless, enjoyable road trip experience. Therefore, we understand that it can be frustrating to arrive at a station only to discover fully charged Tesla cars occupying all the spots. To create a better experience for all owners, we're introducing a fleet-wide idle fee that aims to increase Supercharger availability."The announcement reminded Tesla owners that the company's app will alert them once their car's charge is nearly complete, adding: "For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee." (The fee is waived if the car is moved within five minutes.)And that, ladies and gentleman, is what we call customer service.Or, as strategy consultant Richard Jhang put it on LinkedIn:"Idea to execution in 6 days. Copy that."[Update: As news site Electrek noted, a line for "idle fees" was found in the updated code of Tesla's webpage some months ago, indicating a change might be coming. But this doesn't change any of the following lessons.]Learning From Mr. MuskExactly how Musk can manage this type of response while running multiple companies is hard for many to understand.But a quick look at his Twitter feed reveals the man knows how to use the platform. He regularly responds to customer questions and complaints. He shares big ideas, like his recent epiphany regarding how to improve traffic problems in the U.S. ("Boring, it's what we do." You've gotta love that.)And he does it all while allowing his personality and humor to shine through.This type of communication contributes to what people love about Musk, and what they value in leaders today: authenticity. Not only does Musk say he values customer feedback--he hops on Twitter to prove it.I've written lots on the pitfalls of social media, including how it can easily suck away your most productive hours of the day. But with this recent experience, Musk teaches business owners everywhere a fundamental truth:Social media can be great for marketing. But it's much more valuable as a learning tool: Feedback--whether it comes from customers, colleagues, or critics--can give you much needed perspective and motivation.So, ask not what your Twitter followers can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Twitter followers.And in the end, everybody wins.   

Business 08 Jan 2017

whisky or whiskey, the older, the better?!!

For quite some time the demand for old cask matured Scotch Single Malt Whiskies is growing. Yet, the stocks of this type of high-end whisky don’t –or rather can’t– respond to the spectacular price development that accompanies rising demand.Whisky or Whiskey, the older, the better?!!It is said that the process of distillation was discovered in China around 800 BC where the Chinese distilled liquor from rice. Originally, the Babylonians in Mesopotamia used this technique to make aromatic substances and perfumes.Most likely missionaries brought the art of distillation from the Mediterranean to Europe between the 6th and 7th century and the process of distillation found its way to Western Europe with the Arabs in the 8th century. Initially the use of distillation spread through the monasteries, mainly for medicinal purposes. Between 1100 and 1300, distillation spread to Ireland and Scotland. Since these islands had few grapes to make wine, barley beer was used instead, resulting in the development of whisky. The first writings of whisky making are dated 1494, when the Scottish Exchequer decided to give malt to John Cor, a monk, who produced about 1,500 bottles of liquor. The prominent role of the celebrated and fabulous brown brew – distilled from fermented grain and aged in wooden casks – started from the 1880s, when the Phylloxera vastatrix rapidly spread and destroyed almost all the original vines in the Cognac region and with that the entire brandy industry in France. The French accepted the blended whisky as an alternative. However, by the time the French won the battle against the phylloxera and the vineyards reached their initial level, whisky gained the status of one of the popular beverages around the world. Although whisky is produced all over the world, for example in the USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Australia Germany, India, Japan and Ireland, the most popular whiskies come from Scotland, and are internationally often simply called Scotch. Scotch, the Lush ‘water of life’: discover and enjoyDrinking good whisky says much about whom you are, your uniqueness, your lifestyle and habits.Forbes and Style Crave, Mens Fashion & Luxury Life Style identified the most expensive whiskies in the world. Four of the most expensive whiskies come from the Macallan Distillery one of the first whisky distilleries established in 1824 in Scotland. The most expensive one is the Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare Collection, which costs about € 53,752. Another whisky from The Macallan mews: the Macallan 55–year–old Lalique Crystal Decanter (€ 8,959). The dazzling crystal decanter was exclusively designed for Macallan by the well–known French crystal house Lalique. A 40–year–old whisky bottled in 1979 from the Macallan Fine and Rare Collection: the Macallan 1939 (€ 7,257) is also an exclusive whisky. Slightly more affordable is the Macallan 1947 Fine and Rare Collection, which costs € 4,874.The 2nd most expensive whisky is the Dalmore 62 Single Highland Malt Scotch from the distillery of the same name also in Scotland. This whisky that costs € 41,568 was produced in 1942. The 3rd best unforgettable whisky experience is from the Glenfiddich Distilleries: the Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection that is distilled by William Grant & Sons. The only produced bottle of the Glenfiddich’s 1937 costs € 14,334.“No matter what the price is, or the colour, it is all about the taste buds and how they experience this golden coloured beverage.”Text: Evita Tjon A Ten

Business 30 Dec 2016

china's economy in 2017

A recent report from China Beige Book, a survey of the country's economy, is challenging Wall Street's prevailing notion about China in 2017.It all hinges on one word: stability.The expectation on Wall Street is that since the Chinese Communist Party will be holding its 19th National Congress — a process in which the party chooses its top leadership positions — in 2017, President Xi Jinping will want to keep the economy stable so there's no distraction from his relentless effort to consolidate power."The Chinese leadership will likely face significant political uncertainty both internally and externally, and in response they will likely place social and economic stability as a top priority throughout 2017," a Credit Suisse research team led by Vincent Chan wrote in a recent note. "We believe the government will adopt pro-growth measures to boost economic growth ahead of the political transition."That means the government will provide the most dangerous part of the economy — massive, indebted quasi-state companies — with enough cash to continue powering through the year, and that it will support banks so they can support the corporate sector and the country's GDP growth. Things will stay stable. Nothing to see here.The problem with that is, it seems like that's not the stability the Chinese government really cares about.WordsWhat the Chinese government really cares about is employment. Unemployment leads to social unrest, and social unrest makes Xi Jinping look bad. (In China it's always politics first, economics second).Now, as China Beige Book points out, net hiring looks good in China, as 43% of firms hired, up from 30% this time last year. These measures are looking good even after the government stopped juicing the economy in the first quarter of 2016.  (You'll recall that the beginning of 2016 was somewhat rocky.)"If the jobs picture deteriorates later next year, then Beijing is likely to respond forcefully," said the China Beige Book report. "But even an effective response will not take effect immediately and its effects, as always, will be transient. The stability the Party wants is a solid but not certain bet. The stability investors want is a crapshoot." What all this means is that the country has no reason to put its foot on the gas as it did early in 2016 unless the jobs picture really gets bad.Last week, Xi already told a group of Communist Party members of the economic and finance group not to worry if they don't hit their target of 6.5% GDP growth (down from 6.7%). In fact, he told them not to try to hit it if doing so would create too much risk.In other words: Xi is not scared of a slow down, he's more scared of the unrest that unemployment and a full blown debt crisis could bring.That means investors worried about growth can't be sure the government will help them along. Some companies may very well be losers. We've already seen 55 corporations go bankrupt in 2016, up from 24 in 2015.So be careful, one man's bankruptcy could be another man's perfectly stable, healthy-enough economy.By Linette Lpez