Handicaps of sector and name fail to check Lanxess; The once-spurned chemicals group has been transformed; judicious CEO Axel Heitmann eliminated several layers of executives and business segments are free to conduct its operations without interference from headquarters to a degree uncommon at large German companies

August 1, 2013 4:04 pm

Inside Business: Handicaps of sector and name fail to check Lanxess

By Tony Barber

Lanxess

The once-spurned chemicals group has been transformed

The ugly duckling of Leverkusen turned this week into the swan of Cologne. Lanxess, a German speciality chemicals company spun off in 2004 from Bayer, had few admirers at its birth. Conventional opinion derided it as a ragtag collection of low-margin chemicals and polymers businesses. It existed, so it was said, for no better reason than that Bayer, like some cold-blooded, profit-hungry giant, had decided to dump old-fashioned chemicals and place its bets on healthcare, nutrition and high-tech materials. Yet the last laugh is with Axel Heitmann, chief executive of Lanxess from day one. He swiftly reorganised the newborn company, selling off a quarter of its portfolio and making astute acquisitions such asthe 2008 purchase of Petroflex of Brazil, Latin America’s largest synthetic rubber producer. After years of steady growth and improved margins, Lanxesswas promoted last September to Germany’s blue-chip Dax-30 index. Read more of this post

Bacteria ‘Invest’ Their Resources To Seek Evolutionary Success

Bacteria ‘Invest’ Their Resources To Seek Evolutionary Success

August 2, 2013

Researchers have recreated and analyzed the complex interplay between bacterial investment strategies and their outcomes for the first time. Asian Scientist (Aug. 2, 2013) – The complex interplay between bacterial investment strategies and their outcomes has been recreated and analyzed for the first time by researchers in Australia and the UK. Since the 1960s, theories have been floated on how decision-making by organisms is related to their survival on one hand or to rapid growth on the other. It is not possible to do both simultaneously because of insufficient resources. Bacteria, like humans, have limited resources and are constantly faced with decisions on how to invest in their future. In their study, published in Ecology Letters, the researchers developed a mathematical model to predict the best way for bacteria to invest resources in a trade-off between growth and stress resistance. The researchers modeled how, like humans investing in cash, bacteria trade in costly proteins to reduce their stress levels or to increase consumption and so grow faster. Evolution can be seen as a decision making process where different choices are encoded in the genes. Each bacterium makes an investment decision; the bad investors fall by the wayside, the good ones survive. Read more of this post

Our Hotter, Wetter, More Violent Future

Our Hotter, Wetter, More Violent Future

Earth’s atmosphere seems to have found a way to get back at the human race. For almost three centuries, we humans have been filling the air with carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Now, it turns out, the climate change these emissions have wrought is turning people against one another. So says a review, published today, of 60 studies on how climate change helps spark conflict throughout the world. The researchers found a surprisingly close link between climate change and civil wars, riots, invasions and even personal violence such as murder, assault and rape. Rising temperatures are especially provocative. A shift toward greater warmth of one standard deviation caused personal violence to increase by 2.5 percent and intergroup conflict by 24 percent. (One standard deviation varies from place to place; in an African country, for example, it could amount to a warming of 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit for a year.) Read more of this post

N.Y. Resort Owners Charged With $96 Million Ponzi Fraud

N.Y. Resort Owners Charged With $96 Million Ponzi Fraud

A money manager and a real estate developer already facing a regulator’s fraud lawsuit were charged with running a $96 million Ponzi scheme and diverting the proceeds to their New York beachfront resort. Brian R. Callahan, 43, and his brother-in-law Adam J. Manson, 41, were charged in a 24-count indictment unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip, New York. They pleaded not guilty and were released on bond. The men are accused of telling investors that their money was going into hedge funds and other investment vehicles while actually much of it was going to the unprofitable 117-unit Panoramic View Resort & Residences in Montauk. Read more of this post

Nicotine-addicted turtle smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day

Nicotine-addicted turtle smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day

Thursday, August 1, 2013 – 16:39

AsiaOne

smoking_turtle

Several Chinese news programmes ran reports of a turtle in Changchun who smokes ten cigarettes a day. The reptile picked up the dirty habit when its owner flipped the animal to remove a thorn from the animal’s underbelly. To prevent the turtle from snapping his jaws, the man – who is a chef – put his cigarette in the turtle’s mouth. From then on it was hooked. The turtle makes chirping noises when it wants smokes or walks over to its owner when he’s puffing away. The owner said he’s trying to get his pet to quit, not due to concern for the turtle’s health but because he’s shelling out too much on tobacco.

Education: You can’t improve by sticking with what works

Education: You can’t improve by sticking with what works

In a book, What’s the Use of Lectures?, Mr Donald Bligh notes that lectures have been compared to reading and independent study, projects, discussion and audio and video learning. None of the comparators have been shown to be more effective in transmitting information.

5 HOURS 34 MIN AGO

In a book, What’s the Use of Lectures?, Mr Donald Bligh notes that lectures have been compared to reading and independent study, projects, discussion and audio and video learning. None of the comparators have been shown to be more effective in transmitting information. In other words, reading and independent study are just as good as listening to a lecture. Video delivery of content is just as good as a live lecture. Numerous studies have not shown that lectures are better than any of the other forms of education, but the converse is also the case. Read more of this post

Japan Regulator Says Singapore-Based Hedge Fund Juggernaut Manipulated Share Prices

Japan Regulator Says Singapore-Based Hedge Fund Manipulated Share Prices

By Reuters on 5:56 pm August 1, 2013.
Tokyo. A Singapore-based hedge fund manipulated prices in the Japanese equity market and should pay a 431 million yen ($4.38 million) fine, Japan’s securities regulator said, which would be biggest ever imposed against a non-Japanese firm for market manipulation. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) said on Wednesday that Juggernaut Capital Management inflated the share price of real estate developer Rise Inc for 26 business days during March and April last year. Read more of this post

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