Featured Posts

Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

Read more

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

Read more

Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

Read more

Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

Read more

UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

Read more

Super Bowl power outage explained

Category : World News

A New Orleans power firm says the Super Bowl blackout was caused by faulty device designed to prevent failure of cables leading to the Superdome.

Here is the original post: Super Bowl power outage explained

Post to Twitter

‘No Super Bowl outage’ for Aggreko

Category : World News

Temporary power firm Aggreko says its equipment operated “flawlessly” during a power failure which disrupted the US Super Bowl.

See the article here: ‘No Super Bowl outage’ for Aggreko

Post to Twitter

Ravens achieve dark victory against 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII – Los Angeles Times

Category : Stocks

Los Angeles Times
Ravens achieve dark victory against 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII
Los Angeles Times
NEW ORLEANS — The Baltimore Ravens were almost done in Sunday by a reign delay. A power outage at the Superdome halted Super Bowl XLVII for 34 minutes, casting the stadium into a twilight-like darkness and allowing the reeling San Francisco 49ers
John Harbaugh gets best, barely, of little brother JimUSA TODAY
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens offense are the big winners in one of the New York Daily News
Lights out: Ravens Beat 49ers 34-31 in Super BowlABC News
San Francisco Chronicle

Post to Twitter

BMO Ads to Air During Super Bowl

Category : Stocks

TORONTO, ONTARIO and CHICAGO, ILLINOIS–(Marketwire – Feb. 2, 2013) - Football fans across North America will have the opportunity to see BMO’s latest television advertisements during the broadcast of the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Excerpt from: BMO Ads to Air During Super Bowl

Post to Twitter

VIDEO: Will 8K be the ultimate TV screen?

Category : Business, World News

Dan Simmons reports from Tokyo where several of Japan’s leading tech brands are working together on an 8,000 pixel wide display which is being called Super Hi-vision.

Excerpt from: VIDEO: Will 8K be the ultimate TV screen?

Post to Twitter

The rise and fall of Vijay Mallya: are India’s boom times ending?

Category : Business

Over the past 10 years the Indian economy has soared, and with it enterprises such as Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines. But now the super-rich tycoon’s fleet is grounded and debt-ridden, does it mean the boom-time is over for India?

Drive out of Delhi, across the heavily polluted Yamuna river, turn right and head towards the new $400m Formula One track – India’s first – at Buddh. Take the Noida expressway, a six-lane speedway through what was farmland only a few years ago. Either side, skeletal concrete monoliths rise among the remaining fields. They are apartment blocks, homes for India’s new middle classes. Many projects have names that mix supposed European sophistication with a sense of bucolic rural idyll: Lotus Boulevard, Gardenia Glory, Blossom County. Then there is the “Brys Buzz”, an immense 81-storey glass and steel skyscraper, which is apparently “a dream born out of a vision to give the super-rich the home they deserve”.

In fact the Indian “super-rich” can afford something a little more exclusive. Vijay Mallya, India’s most flamboyant businessman and the chairman of the vast beer and spirits conglomerate United Breweries, has a sprawling coastal villa in Goa and a dozen or so other properties. Other tycoons live behind high walls and broad green lawns in mansions in the centre of Delhi. Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries and India’s richest man, has built himself a home towering above the slums of the commercial capital of Mumbai. With a reported price tag of $1bn (£625,000), it is the world’s most expensive private residence.

It is Mallya who is in the news in India these days. Watching Sahara Force India, the F1 team he leads and co-owns, compete in the country’s second ever grand prix last month, the 56-year-old multimillionaire bullishly rejected any suggestion from reporters that he might have avoided the fixture. After flying in from overseas he asked: “Was there any doubt about my presence here?”

Well, yes, is the answer. There was plenty of doubt. For Mallya, the self-crowned “king of good times”, has fallen on hard times. His seven-year-old airline has been grounded after authorities suspended its licence to fly on safety concerns. Crippled by debts which may exceed $2bn, Kingfisher had difficulty paying employees’ salaries. When engineers downed tools, its planes stopped flying. There were even reports, denied by Mallya, that the tycoon’s own private jet might be impounded by Indian airport authorities, which say Kingfisher owes them huge sums. Some suggested that the man described as India’s Richard Branson might choose not to come back at all.

But the Kingfisher saga is about more than just 4,000 jobs, an airline, large amounts of public money and the career of a maverick tycoon. It is about India. Economic growth is slowing – falling below the level seen by economists as necessary to keep up with the fast-growing population – and confidence is faltering. There are huge problems with key parts of the infrastructure – as shown by the three-day power cut that hit hundreds of millions in the summer. Graft is rampant, the currency weaker than it has been for years and public finances fragile. Cut-price tickets failed to boost tepid sales for the F1, with a third less seats sold than in 2011. The pundits say that is usual for a new grand prix, but like Mallya with his parties, his $95m yacht and his calendar girls, like the $200 caviar pizza at the new luxury hotel in Delhi, the event already seems part of an earlier time when nothing seemed capable of slowing, let alone halting the inexorable rise of India. And when everything was possible – even a high-end luxury domestic airline in a country where almost one toddler in two is malnourished.

When it was launched in 2005, Kingfisher Airlines was intended to break the mould of Indian air travel. For decades, Indian travellers had put up with a single national carrier. The economic reforms of the early 1990s that partially dismantled a socialist-style command economy that had limited economic growth to negligible levels in previous decades led to a boom in private air operators. Mallya, who inherited the chairmanship of United Breweries when he was 28, spent the early years of the post-reforms era consolidating its dominance in the beer and spirits market. As well as a talent for self-promotion and a taste for high living, Mallya showed acumen, determination, drive and considerable appetite for risk. Kingfisher beer became a household name and the business of making it hugely profitable.

But Kingfisher Airlines was a late addition to a crowded and tough market. Its USP was “glamour”. Flying Kingfisher meant being part of the Kingfisher world, a world of parties, fun and good-looking, wealthy people. It meant being part of the new, booming India. The first wave of private airlines had simply tried to provide a better option to the slow, dirty, run-down train network. Kingfisher went much further. It was aspirational.

Mallya put his own persona at the heart of the brand. The traditional Indian businessman had been reclusive, hardworking, traditional and often pious. Mallya’s own father was low-key, gritty and obsessed with accountancy. Many of the country’s richest men – Ambani or NR Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of IT giant Infosys – are still in that mould. Mallya was very different, and represented a very different India. The influence of decades of socialist ideology, of Gandhi and his asceticism, of a generalised distaste for conspicuous consumption have waned rapidly. Other hierarchies beyond those dependent simply on money, such as caste differences, inherited prestige, title or office, have become less sure too.

“India had never had a leader, especially in business, who had been unapologetic about his wealth and enjoying his wealth,” said Saritha Rai, a columnist for the Indian Express who has written extensively on Mallya. “New younger Indians see wealth as a gauge of status. They are more westernised and more materialistic.”

They are also wealthier. In 1992, according to the World Bank, India’s gross national income per head of population (GNI) was around $350 (£220). By 2005, when Kingfisher was launched, it had reached $700. Much of this new money was concentrated in the “super rich” – one recent study found that billionaires’ wealth comprised less than 1% of national income in India in 1996 and more than 20% in 2008 – but even in a country where “middle class” really means “not desperately poor” there was much more cash being spent. “India is the youngest nation in the world,” Mallya told an interviewer in 2007. “We have 500m people under 25, and 400m under 20. India has 1 million university graduates each year. Today, these people are getting jobs in industries that didn’t exist in my time, in software and biotech. They want to live like kids in Europe with satellite TV, cars, bars and restaurants.” They also wanted to fly.

But did they want to fly Kingfisher, with its owner who welcomed passengers in pre-takeoff videos, boasting in a plummy drawl of “personally picking” cabin staff and instructing them to treat customers “as if you were a guest in my own home”? At first it seemed so.

For several years everything went as planned – even if Kingfisher never actually made a profit. The airline expanded rapidly, with a new top-of-the-range aircraft joining the fleet every month. In May 2009, Kingfisher carried more than a million passengers, giving it the highest market share in India. An international service was launched. By 2011, India’s GNI per capita had doubled again to more than $1,400, and Mallya was being hailed as a standard bearer for the new wave of swashbuckling Indian entrepreneurs set to sweep the global board – all while having fun. “It was a time when he could not put a step wrong. The champagne was flowing and no one asked: who’s going to ride these planes?,” said Rohit Bansal, a former aviation journalist and business consultant.

Kingfisher shared its name with India’s most popular beer and the link with high-living was reinforced at every possible opportunity. Mallya bought a franchise to run a team in the brash new Indian Premier League, a TV-friendly rapid-fire cricket tournament which is another flashy, glamorous, lucrative recent Indian creation, guaranteeing further publicity in a sports-mad nation. The Mallya Collection, “comprised of hundreds of cars in over 10 countries owned by sports enthusiast Dr Vijay Mallya,” got its own slick website. Images of the tycoon, diamonds in his ears and his wrists, mane of greying blond hair swept back, posing with bikini-clad calendar models or Bollywood celebrities filled the society pages.

But there was trouble brewing. The first warning sign was a series of unexpected flight cancellations at the end of last year. The company blamed technical issues but the problems rapidly worsened. In a cut-throat business with wafer-thin profit margins, Kingfisher’s glamour simply did not make money. Indeed, the airline was losing huge amounts of money, even before it became clear that India’s economic growth had started to slow, and with it people’s willingness to pay over the odds for luxury. Kingfisher soon had difficulties paying for fuel, particularly as costs were inflated by surging oil prices and punitive government levies. Tax demands began mounting up. So, to, did claims for airport fees. Salaries went unpaid. Through this spring and summer, further flights were cut. Expensively leased planes stood idle. Key staff repeatedly walked out. A Kingfisher store manager’s wife killed herself, leaving a note blaming financial worries for her decision. Almost all employees stopped work. Shortly after the company’s licence was suspended by regulators on 20 October, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told a TV channel: “It is unrealistic to expect Kingfisher to fly again.”

The question immediately asked was: how did it come to this? Many blame the imprudence of Mallya himself, arguing that his emotional attachment to the airline blinded him to hard economic reality. Others point to a broader responsibility, asking why the banks and the regulators failed to act sooner. According to the campaigning magazine Tehelka, “the Kingfisher episode, with its high-octane mix of politics and business and smell of cronyism has raised questions about the independence … of India’s banking system”. In fact, although Mallya sits in parliament as an independent senator and is known to have had good relations with a string of civil aviation ministers and regulators, his networking is barely worthy of comment by current Indian standards. Recent years have seen corruption scandals involving collusion between officials, bureaucrats and businessmen costing the public exchequer tens of billions of dollars but even in a country where allegations of graft are common, no one is alleging any wrongdoing by Mallya.

Anyway, the money came easily, without any illegality. In the past five years, the debt of the 10 biggest corporate houses in the country to banks has risen fivefold. Now more than an eighth of all bank loans in the country are to these family firms. Mallya’s companies are not among them, but the tendency of Indian public lending institutions to lend vast sums on comfortable terms to people who are already extremely wealthy, rather than to small businessmen and entrepreneurs, is well established. “The banks’ mantra is to recapitalise those who already have massive net worth, often without real collateral,” said Bansal the consultant. This cosy relationship is a key reason for the extraordinary wealth of many of India’s super-rich, recent studies have concluded. It is at the heart of the nation’s distinctive economic system, dubbed “curry capitalism” by some commentators.

The considerable leeway offered to Mallya, particularly by public banks that may now lose very large amounts of taxpayers’ money, may also simply have been due to an almost irrational collective desire to see Mallya succeed, at all costs. Mallya’s victories were, and still are, to a certain degree, those of his country. “We thought that India was impregnable and Vijay Mallya was the embodiment of that India,” said Bansal, speaking of the boom times at the end of the last decade. Well before launching Kingfisher, Mallya had established his credentials as a patriot by spending millions of his own money to bring the sword of 18th-century warrior king Tipu Sultan, seized by the British after a bloody war, back to India from the UK. Though the champagne has long stopped flowing, Anjun Kumar Deveshwar, a 33-year-old Kingfisher maintenance engineer who had not received his £2,000 monthly wage since March, recently described Mallya to the Guardian as “an Indian hero”.

It is perhaps only when living in India, and exposed every day to the white heat generated by the desire of so many people for a better life, that such adulation becomes comprehensible. “There are tens of millions of people who are living vicariously through Mallya,” Saritha Rai, the columnist, said. “They know they could never reach his level of wealth but still think, maybe one day, it’s possible they might just have a little bit of his lifestyle.” Add the gratification that comes with flexing new emerging power muscles, particularly when the west is in such economic trouble, and the Mallya phenomenon makes more sense. The tycoon has 1.46m followers on Twitter, 50,000-odd more than Oprah Winfrey.

Opprobrium has instead been directed on Mallya’s 25-year-old son Siddhartha, known as Sid, who has been groomed as the tycoon’s successor at the head of the family business. Sid’s onerous task in recent weeks has been to scour the world for models for the next Kingfisher calendar. Like his father, he is a fan of social networking. Recent tweets have given some clue to how he has been spending his time: “Nothing beats the post 5oclock pub rush in London … best atmosphere ever!!”, one read; “Just spent the morning playing volleyball with 12 bikini-clad models on the beach … now I understand why people hate me. HA!”, ran another

There is a chance that Mallya senior may just yet bring things round. He has just sold a huge chunk of his beer and spirits empire and could potentially use some of the $1bn the deal generated to get Kingfisher Airlines flying again. The Indian government recently eased restrictions on foreign investment in domestic air businesses, which could, perhaps, see a new infusion of capital from a big international carrier. As Kingfisher’s licence was suspended, not cancelled, its planes can fly as soon as financing and safety issues have been resolved. A deal with the unpaid staff by which some of the arrears in salaries will be paid in coming weeks has, at least for now, ended the walkouts.

One recent Mallya tweet spoke of relief at being relegated from the Forbes list of Indian billionaires – he is now worth a mere $800m (£500m) – as his new status will mean less “jealousy” and “wrongful attacks”. Another tweet pointed to a degree, if not of contrition, then of somewhat embittered regret. “I have learnt the hard way that in India wealth should not be displayed. Better to be a multibillionaire politician dressed in Khadi [homespun cotton],” it read.

On the Sunday of the Indian Grand Prix, the tycoon was at the F1 track, cigar in hand, watching the race. Vast advertising hoardings on circuit approach roads, urging “C’mon India, raise the flag!”, declared Mallya’s drivers to be the only ones “powered by the hopes of a billion people”. The claim was hyperbole, of course. Most people in India have never heard of motorsports and would have little interest in them even if they had. But it was not entirely unjustified. The hopes are certainly there. And it would take more than the failure of a single airline, “glamorous” or otherwise, to dampen them.

Oil prices fall on strong dollar

Category : Business, World News

Oil prices fall after the dollar strengthens and the US government allows foreign tankers to deliver supplies in the wake of super storm Sandy.

See the rest here: Oil prices fall on strong dollar

Post to Twitter

VIDEO: Japan tech firms unveil new wares

Category : Business, World News

Super-high definition televisions are among the new gadgets on show at Japan’s technology exhibition Ceatec

Read more: VIDEO: Japan tech firms unveil new wares

Post to Twitter

Ipswich tries to curb street drinkers by banning super-strength cider and beer

Category : Business

Street drinkers as young as 35 are dying from extra-strong booze so Ipswich is hoping retailers will observe a voluntary ban

From afar it is a pretty wooded area, dappled in the autumn sunshine, which breaks up the urban concrete landscape next to Ipswich’s renowned New Wolsey theatre.

But closer inspection reveals this to be the regular haunt of the town’s notorious community of hardened street drinkers.

Large, empty plastic bottles of Frosty Jack’s cider – emblazoned with “50% free!” – and abandoned cans of 9% Skol Super lager are strewn by the dozen in the soggy bushes along with cigarette stubs, tobacco pouches and empty condom packets.

But on some days the volume and content of rubbish is even worse. Luke Collins, who works for Ipswich borough council’s litter-clearance squad, said the regular cleanups here can take two or three men at least 45 minutes: “It’s not pleasant. Last time we removed 100 or so used needles and there’s always human excrement too.

“Lots of families come through this car park and as well as the rubbish left by the drinkers we worry about their violent behaviour and foul language.”

Collins has welcomed the town’s new campaign to stop the sale of “super-strength” drinks in a co-ordinated local approach that is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain.

In a ground-breaking move, off-licence owners and other retailers in Ipswich are being asked to remove strong beers and ciders from their shelves in an effort to tackle alcohol abuse and stamp out anti-social behaviour. Four street drinkers have been murdered in the past three years and police say the scheme would not only help those who depend on alcohol but also the wider community and those in charge of clean-up operations.

Big chains including Tesco, the East of England Co-op and McColls newsagents have signed up along with smaller independent retailers to voluntarily remove products such as White Ace, Carbon White and White Star ciders, which have a 7.5% alcohol content and sell for as little as 59p for a 500ml can.

The Reducing the Strength campaign, backed by Suffolk police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich borough council and Suffolk county council, is targeted at beers and ciders with an alcohol volume of 6.5% and over, which are often sold cheaply. There are 130 off-licences in Ipswich; 53 will be super-strength free following the launch and more are likely to follow.

PC John Alcock, the town’s street-drinking liaison officer, said: “A single can [of super-strength alcohol] contains more than the recommended daily allowance for a male. The street drinkers are drinking copious amounts of this. Some are drinking 10 to 12 cans a day.

“Cheap super-strength alcohol is also attractive to underage drinkers as the cost means it is affordable and achieves the desired effect without them knowing, or even caring, how strong the cider or lager is.”

The long-term health risks – brain damage (Korsakoff’s syndrome), liver damage and death – have been highlighted by the homelessness charity Thames Reach in a long-running campaign. The charity, which first called for such a ban seven years ago, has found people as young as 35 dying from problems related to drinking super-strength lagers.

Collins added: “My only concern is whether relying on a voluntary approach from retailers is really going to be effective. There are plenty of local off-licences which rely on the street drinkers for business. And I know of one that would not hesitate to sell alcohol to a 10-year-old.”

His colleague Paula Edwards, standing near the town’s Little Waitrose – which does not stock any of the offending brands – said: “Most of them are not homeless people. They are people out of work who drink all day, even though there is an exclusion zone, and the worst behaviour tends to be at night.

“As well as the local drinkers, Ipswich attracts lots of young people for stag nights etc, so there is plenty of binge drinking with cheap booze. It’s a great shame – Ipswich is a great town and this gives it a very negative image.”

The campaign is also supported by the local newspaper, the Ipswich Star. From her stall by the busy market square, Ivy Brame, a 78-year-old newspaper seller, said she had been attacked by a street drinker a year ago, when he tried to punch her in the face. “I wouldn’t let him have a free paper and that’s the thanks I got,” she said. “I support this campaign. It really is about time something was done.”

Speaking for the campaign partners, Inspector Andrew Mason, of Ipswich police, said: “This campaign aims to take the problem away at the source.

“We are the first county in the country to launch a campaign of this kind, and we hope that with support from our off-licences, we can roll this out across Suffolk, and eventually offer the campaign as a model for public services across the UK.”

But in a McColls newsagent at the town’s Tower Ramparts bus station, which had advertising hoardings outside trumpeting cut-price beers and wines in its “discount depot”, super-strength products were still for sale.

Despite the new campaign, it was stocking litre bottles of Amber Jack, described as a “crisp premium cider”, with 7.5% alcohol, for just £1.69. Sean Adams, the supervisor, said he had not been told by head office not to stock it.

VIDEO: HTC ‘super confident’ of new phones

Category : Business

HTC’s chief executive Peter Chou says he is “super confident” of the firm’s new phones that run on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.

Read this article: VIDEO: HTC ‘super confident’ of new phones

Post to Twitter