Fortress to Blackstone Say Now Is Time to Sell on Surge; “It’s almost biblical: there is a time to reap and there’s a time to sow,” Apollo’s Leon Black

Fortress to Blackstone Say Now Is Time to Sell on Surge

By Devin Banerjee  Aug 2, 2013

Private-equity managers from Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG) to Blackstone Group LP (BX), which made billions by buying low and selling high, say now is the time to exit investments as stocks rally and interest rates start to rise. Fortress, the first publicly traded buyout firm in the U.S., is preparing holdings for public offerings while struggling to find attractive new deals, Wesley Edens, who runs Fortress’s $14.3 billion private-equity business, said on a conference call with investors yesterday. That environment extends to credit and distressed investments, said Pete Briger, who oversees the New York-based firm’s $12.5 billion credit business. “This is a better time for selling our existing investments than making new investments,” Briger said on the call. “There’s been more uncertainty that’s been fed into the markets.” Read more of this post

Ecommerce Giant Alibaba Tackles Counterfeits in China as Fake Goods Proliferate; “Counterfeiting is a cancer we have to deal with,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma said

August 5, 2013, 5:23 a.m. ET

Alibaba Tackles Counterfeits in China

E-Commerce Giant Faces Big Challenge as Fake Goods Proliferate



HONG KONG—Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is stepping up its battle against rampant counterfeiting in China, as it gears up for one of the technology industry’s biggest initial public offerings. For the past several years, the Chinese e-commerce giant has been working to remove fake items from its Taobao shopping site. But counterfeiters are persistent, posing a challenge for Alibaba just as bankers and investors are raising their expectations for the company ahead of its initial public offering. The IPO is likely to raise about $70 billion based on analysts’ estimates and bankers said it could take place as soon as this year, but Alibaba hasn’t set a specific date. “Counterfeiting is a cancer we have to deal with,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma said at a news conference in April, when the company announced its partnership with government agencies to fight piracy online and offline. Later this month, a group of Alibaba officials will travel to the U.S. to meet with representatives from brands, industry associations and the government in Los Angeles, New York and Washington to discuss intellectual property issues, the company said. Read more of this post

With few big deals, private equity moves to be Asia’s new banker

With few big deals, private equity moves to be Asia’s new banker

5:58am EDT

By Stephen Aldred

HONG KONG (Reuters) – In three years, global private equity firm KKR & Co (KKR.N: QuoteProfileResearch,Stock Buzz) has provided over $1.5 billion in loans to companies in India, a business traditionally handled by state-owned and private sector banks. Encouraged by that success, KKR – which rose to prominence with its hostile $25 billion takeover of U.S. food and tobacco giant RJR Nabisco in 1989 – plans to expand the niche business in China and across Asia. The move by private equity into lending comes at a time when buyout deals in Asia are few and far between and as traditional banks retreat. Apollo Global Management (APO.N: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz), KKR and Olympus Capital are raising credit funds as they seek out alternative sources of income. At least $6.6 billion is being raised by 12 funds for investment in Asia, according to Private Equity International and Thomson Reuters data. At the same time, credit across Asia has grown tight, leaving small businesses and family-owned firms short of capital as the big banks focus their attention on top-tier clients. Read more of this post

61-year-old hidden billionaire Rick Cohen has transformed C&S into the world’s largest grocery wholesaler since taking the helm of the business in 1989, making money in an industry bedeviled by small profit margins and mismanagement

There’s a reason why Richard B. Cohen escapes attention.

C&S Lester1

Lester Cohen and his sons, including Rick Cohen (right), who joined C&S in 1974.

The chairman of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. works out of a nondescript office park once slated to house a county jail in Keene, New Hampshire, a leafy mountain hamlet 90 miles northwest of Boston. The truckers who deliver goods from the company’s 54 distribution centers drive unmarked tractor-trailers. Cohen’s last interview was published a decade ago. Even the Keene Chamber of Commerce overlooked C&S as one of the town’s largest employers. “We’re the biggest company no one has ever heard of,” Bryan T. Granger, a company spokesman, said by phone. The 61-year-old — who goes by “Rick” — has transformed C&S into the world’s largest grocery wholesaler since taking the helm of the business in 1989, making him one of the 100 richest people in the world and the wealthiest man in New England after Connecticut hedge-fund manager Raymond T. Dalio, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The company had sales of $21.7 billion in 2012, distributing more than 95,000 products to 4,000 supermarkets from Maine to Hawaii. Cohen is the business’ sole owner, Granger said. He has a net worth of $11.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg index, and has never appeared on an international wealth ranking — a status one associate said suits him just fine. “I tried to put our name on the trucks and he didn’t want any part of it,” said Edward Albertian, 58, a former C&S president and now chief executive officer of Citysports, a 22-store Boston-based retailer owned by Highland Capital Partners LP. “He wanted to continue to be stealth and operate in this little, dinky Keene, New Hampshire, marketplace.” Read more of this post

Dyson’s chief is not standing in the eponymous inventor’s shadow

August 4, 2013 2:53 pm

Enough limelight for both bosses

By Andy Sharman

images (28)article-2100152-11B3AD95000005DC-328_468x405Dyson070912_2331798bjames-dyson1

The ‘other’ of invention: Max Conze with a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner

Aplain white room in a warehouse in rural Wiltshire. Futuristic vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans are stood on plinths. Empty shelves line the wall. And a 6ft 2in former German army lieutenant is pirouetting around the room, vacuuming up detritus. It’s a fantastical scenario worthy of the mind of Sir James Dyson, the inspiredinventor, eponymous overlord and chief engineer of the UK manufacturing group behind bagless vacuum cleaners, towel-less hand dryers and bladeless fans. However, the star of today’s show is not Sir James, but Max Conze, the Dyson chief executive who is demonstrating the company’s latest innovation – the curiously named Dyson Hard, a cordless vacuum-mop hybrid. “If you work for Dyson,” he says, “you have to have fun with vacuum cleaners.” Read more of this post

Beyond Blame: Would we better off in a world without blame?

Beyond Blame: Would we better off in a world without blame?

Barbara H. Fried

Friday, June 28, 2013

In an article published shortly before his death, the political scientist James Q. Wilson took on the large question of free will and moral responsibility:  Does the fact that biology determines more of our thinking and conduct than we had previously imagined undermine the notion of free will? And does this possibility in turn undermine, if not entirely destroy, our ability to hold people accountable for their actions? Wilson’s answer was an unequivocal no. He has lots of company, which should come as a surprise given what scientific research into the determinants of human behavior has told us over the past four decades. Most of that research, as Wilson says, points to the same conclusion: our worldviews, aspirations, temperaments, conduct, and achievements—everything we conventionally think of as “us”—are in significant part determined by accidents of biology and circumstance. The study of the brain is in its infancy; as it advances, the evidence for determinism will surely grow. One might have expected those developments to temper enthusiasm for blame mongering. Instead, the same four decades have been boom years for blame.  Read more of this post

Life in a Toxic Country

August 3, 2013

Life in a Toxic Country



A baby being given nebulizer therapy at Beijing Children’s Hospital.

BEIJING — I RECENTLY found myself hauling a bag filled with 12 boxes of milk powder and a cardboard container with two sets of air filters through San Francisco International Airport. I was heading to my home in Beijing at the end of a work trip, bringing back what have become two of the most sought-after items among parents here, and which were desperately needed in my own household. China is the world’s second largest economy, but the enormous costs of its growth are becoming apparent. Residents of its boom cities and a growing number of rural regions question the safety of the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat. It is as if they were living in the Chinese equivalent of the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear disaster areas. Read more of this post

Inferior composite wood used for 188,000 sleepers of Singapore’s MRT train which can hardly withstand the crushing weight of trains and result in train derailment

Was inferior composite wood used for MRT sleepers?

August 5th, 2013 |  Author: Editorial


On 14 May 2013, ST reported that SMRT and LTA will accelerate a programme to replace timber sleepers on the ageing North-South and East-West lines to improve the resilience of the rail network in Singapore (‘LTA, SMRT to accelerate sleeper replacement on North-South and East-West lines‘). It said that SMRT aims to replace all 188,000 timber sleepers on the North-South Line by 2015, and on the East-West Line by 2016. On Saturday (3 Aug), SPH’s bilingual news and entertainment portal ( published an interesting article [Link] claiming the timber sleepers have been discovered to be made of sub-standard wood. The article claims to have heard from an insider in the wood industry. It seems that some company has bought or otherwise acquired the old MRT timber sleepers (i.e. the timber sleepers that are to be gradually replaced by 2015 in the case of the North-South Line and 2016 in the case of the East-West Line). The company wants to cut these timber sleepers into smaller pieces to manufacture other products. As the sleepers used for the Malaysian railway line can last for decades with no decay, the company quite fairly assumed the sleepers used for our MRT network to be of similar quality. However the company was shocked when it cut the sleepers. They found that they are not made of hard wood at all. They are in fact made of composite wood. Furthermore, the wood has decayed. Apparently the company is not so much concerned about the loss of their investment in the “timber” sleepers as they are that such inferior wood has been used as sleepers for Singapore’s rail network. The lousy sleepers made of composite wood can hardly withstand the crushing weight of trains. If enough sleepers disintegrated, the rail would sink. That would split the track and signals would be interrupted. Train derailment might result. Maintenance staff replacing the wooden sleepers on the train tracks near Clementi MRT station. Rail operator SMRT and rail authority LTA will accelerate a programme to replace so-called timber sleepers on the ageing North-South and East-West lines to improve the resilience of the rail network. (ST Photo)

The article posed a number of questions to LTA:

1. Does the Govt know about this? Is it the reason SMRT and LTA want to change the sleepers?

2. Who purchased the inferior sleepers?

3. Was this the cause of the intermittent signal interruption problems in the MRT network in the past?

4. Was the slowing of our trains due to the realisation that the tracks are lined with inferior sleepers?

5. Is it a misunderstanding? In other words, are there in fact no problems at all with the sleepers? Read more of this post

The Finances of Serious Illness; For people facing a grim diagnosis, finances are often the last thing they want to talk about. But they shouldn’t be

August 4, 2013, 4:55 p.m. ET


The Finances of Serious Illness

For people facing a grim diagnosis, finances are often the last thing they want to talk about. But they shouldn’t be.


It’s the news no one wants to hear: a diagnosis of a dire, possibly fatal, disease. As questions about life and death naturally overshadow everything else, financial planners and advisers say, it’s common for people in this situation to let their finances fall to the wayside. Nevertheless, they say, coming up with a financial plan, which may involve making changes to your investment portfolio, is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome for patients and their families. Here are some pointers from advisers on how to handle the financial impact of a serious illness. Read more of this post

Monogamy’s Boost to Human Evolution; Fossil records suggest that by sticking around and protecting and feeding their offspring, early men paved the way for the growth of the human brain

August 2, 2013

Monogamy’s Boost to Human Evolution


“Monogamy is a problem,” said Dieter Lukas of the University of Cambridge in a telephone news conference this week. As Dr. Lukas explained to reporters, he and other biologists consider monogamy an evolutionary puzzle. In 9 percent of all mammal species, males and females will share a common territory for more than one breeding season, and in some cases bond for life. This is a problem — a scientific one — because male mammals could theoretically have more offspring by giving up on monogamy and mating with lots of females. In a new study, Dr. Lukas and his colleague Tim Clutton-Brock suggest that monogamy evolves when females spread out, making it hard for a male to travel around and fend off competing males. Read more of this post

How to Teach Your Children About Investing; Have them invest in companies they understand

August 1, 2013, 10:42 a.m. ET

How to Teach Your Children About Investing

Money pros tell how they introduced financial concepts to their own kids


Financial advisers spend lots of time explaining investing principles like diversification, compounding and dollar-cost averaging to clients. But how do they explain these investing fundamentals to a more personal audience—their kids, and at what ages? When money matters become part of the dinner-table conversation, raising investment-savvy kids can be as simple and painless as filing a 1040EZ. Here are some tips from financial professionals to parents on how to teach their children about investing. Read more of this post

Stop ‘Branding’ and Improve English’s Reputation

Stop ‘Branding’ and Improve English’s Reputation

By Alex Marshall  Aug 2, 2013

In 16th-century England, Thomas Gresham formulated what is now known as Gresham’s law, which stipulates that bad money drives out good. Paper money tends to circulate more freely than silver, and silver more freely than gold, because people hoard whatever type of money is seen as best. It’s why we spend those torn dollar bills first. I have no problem with this. It might even be a good thing, because it expands the money supply and credit. But I do have a problem when a similar dynamic takes over language, as bad, bureaucratic, bulky and bothersome words drive out simple, short, clear and good ones. Read more of this post

A bond-fund manager who retired last year wanted to leave before the difficult bear market for bonds that she sees ahead

August 4, 2013, 4:55 p.m. ET

Bond Manager Wanted Out Before the Bear Arrives



Margaret Weinblatt and her husband traveled to China last year.

For successful financial professionals, the toughest decision sometimes is when to quit. The bond-market outlook made the choice easier for Margaret “Didi” Weinblatt, who retired in 2012 after a dozen years as a bond-fund manager at San Antonio-based USAA Investments. Ms. Weinblatt fears that fixed-income investors generally now face a very difficult bear market in bonds as the Federal Reserve eventually pares back its economic stimulus. “Your fund might do well relative to other funds, but when the bond market goes down, all funds could go down,” she says. “That can be very stressful for a fund manager.” Ms. Weinblatt, who is 69, worked in funds management for nearly three decades. At USAA, she managed the $4 billion-plus USAA Income fund and the $500 million USAA Government Securities fund. The funds rank, respectively, in the top quarter and top third of their Morningstar Inc. MORN +0.60% categories for the past decade—performances that she says resulted from “being careful to not take on too much risk.” The Income fund’s only stumble during her tenure was a negative 5% return in 2008. Read more of this post

Dying out? China’s young shun family firms, giving first-generation owners fewer exit options

Dying out? China’s young shun family firms

Wed, Jul 31 2013

By Lavinia Mo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Dai Yintao, 21, is the only son of the millionaire owner of Chinese real estate, pharmaceutical and mining companies. He has no interest in taking over his father’s business, opting instead to work on a building site in Guiyang in Guizhou province, arriving each day in a Porsche. “I work here because I don’t want to take money from my father,” Dai says. “Freedom means everything.” As China’s first-generation entrepreneurs hit retirement age, more than 3 million private businesses will have to deal with succession issues in the next 3-8 years, according to data from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This is not unique to China, of course, but it poses particular risks in a country where there are few professional managers, and families are reluctant to hire outsiders anyway for fear they will take control of the business. Domestic acquisitions and private equity involvement are also rare, giving first-generation owners fewer exit options. Read more of this post

Murky Data Muddy Debate on Chinese Consumers’ Strength

August 4, 2013, 2:56 p.m. ET

Murky Data Muddy Debate on Chinese Consumers’ Strength

Issue Is Key to Determining Need for Policy Reform



As China’s growth slows toward a 20-year low, economists are calling for consumers to shoulder more of the burden of supporting the world’s No. 2 economy. But the country’s leaders are increasingly saying Chinese consumers aren’t shirking their responsibility—they’re just undercounted. “The official data severely understates household consumption,” argued People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang, speaking at a meeting of top government and private economists from China and the U.S. in April. Mr. Yi also played down the role of China’s low interest rates—long seen as depressing consumption—in contributing to the imbalances, according to those present at the meeting. Read more of this post

Demands for new Indian states revive after Telangana created; India could have 50 States if all demands are met

August 4, 2013 1:03 pm

Demands for new Indian states revive after Telangana created

By Amy Kazmin in New Delhi

Globally renowned for tea estates that produce some of the most delicate, and highly-prized teas, India’s mountainous Darjeeling region was rocked for most of the 1980s by strikes and protests by the indigenous Gorkha community, who were demanding the area be turned into a separate state within the Indian union. The movement ebbed in the late 1980s, when Darjeeling was granted some autonomy within its present state of West Bengal. But this weekend the Himalayan region has been shut down once again. Businesses and elite boarding schools are closed, transport suspended, and tourists have been sent away as Gorkha political leaders enforce an indefinite strike in a ‘do or die’ push for statehood. Read more of this post

Sanofi Dengue Bid Seen as $2.6 Billion Hit or Major Flop

Sanofi Dengue Bid Seen as $2.6 Billion Hit or Major Flop

Drug ineffective in tests against most common strain in Thailand

By Simeon Bennett on 9:33 am August 5, 2013.

Sanofi, whose vaccines have all but eradicated polio, recently flew journalists from around the globe to a sparkling new factory in France to tout its next big project — the world’s first vaccine for dengue. That takes confidence, considering mid-stage studies for the shot last year yielded results that ranged from perplexing to disappointing. Sanofi is forging ahead. It’s readying commercial production of a vaccine to prevent the debilitating and sometimes fatal mosquito-borne malady that’s had outbreaks in the US and Europe and threatens half the global population. The drug maker is making the first batches of the shot at its new 300 million-euro ($398 million) plant, even as it waits for results next year of make-or-break trials to determine whether the product will be a $2.6 billion-a-year success or an $800 million flop. Read more of this post

Regulatory risk on the rise in India

Regulatory risk on the rise in India

Fri, Aug 2 2013

* Constant rule changes spook investors

* Lack of clarity mars even positive changes

* Courts often overturn new regulation

By Manju Dalal

SINGAPORE, Aug 2 (IFR) – When Palaniappan Chidambaram took over as Finance Minister of India exactly a year ago, he would not have expected that his efforts to open doors for foreign investors would end up highlighting one of their biggest concerns: regulatory risk. The recent attempts to stem the rupee’s depreciation have reminded global investors that the rules of engagement in India can change with alarming regularity. “We make investment decisions on factors like forex risk, regulatory risks and target company fundamentals. Of these three pillars, two are already on very shaky ground in India,” said a Singapore-based investor. “If I was 100% bullish on India two years back, I am only 25% bullish now. I cannot ignore India, but I know for sure I cannot expect the kind of stability in regulation that we see in China or even in Thailand.” Read more of this post

For most of the past decade Yes Bank has been the fastest-growing and highest-profile upstart in India; Yes Bank loses shine as India liquidity ebbs and rupee slumps

August 4, 2013 8:14 am

Yes Bank loses shine as India liquidity ebbs

By James Crabtree in Mumbai

For most of the past decade Yes Bank has been the fastest-growing and highest-profile upstart in a new generation of Indian private banks. But in the aftermath of government moves to prop up the nation’s currency, it is gaining a fresh reputation as the biggest loser from India’s new moment of tighter liquidity. Founded in 2004, Yes Bank has expanded rapidly to become the country’s fourth-largest private bank by loans, with after-tax profits growing at an eye-catching compound annual rate of 44 per cent over the past five years – creating an unorthodox image bolstered by the group’s charismatic and publicity loving founder Rana Kapoor. Read more of this post

To begin to comprehend China’s vast underground economy, one need only visit this city’s major transportation depots and watch as peddlers openly hawk fake receipts

August 3, 2013

Coin of Realm in China Graft: Phony Receipts



Officers from the Ministry of Public Security looked over bundles of fake receipts seized during raids in Beijing and Hebei.

SHANGHAI — To begin to comprehend China’s vast underground economy, one need only visit this city’s major transportation depots and watch as peddlers openly hawk fake receipts. “Receipts! Receipts!” calls out a woman in her 30s to passers-by as her two children play near the city’s south train station. “We sell all types of receipts.” Buyers use them to evade taxes and defraud employers. And in a country rife with corruption, they are the grease for schemes to bribe officials and business partners. Making them and using them is illegal in China. Some people have been executed for the crime. But demand is so strong that a surprising amount of deal-making takes place out in public. It is so pervasive that auditors at multinational corporations are also being duped. The British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is still trying to figure out how four senior executives at its China operation were able to submit fake receipts to embezzle millions of dollars over the last six years. Police officials say that some of the cash was used to create a slush fund to bribe doctors, hospitals and government officials. Read more of this post

SEC Door, Spinning Mightily, Smacks Investors

SEC Door, Spinning Mightily, Smacks Investors

The appalling — yet hardly surprising — news that Robert Khuzami, the former enforcement director at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has cashed in his four-year stint for a $5 million-plus salary at Kirkland & Ellis, a prominent Wall Street law firm, is the latest example of the corrupt relationship between money and power in the U.S.

Courtesy of a mostly fawning July 22 New York Times story, we learn that Khuzami orchestrated a frothy auction for himself. Who better than me, Khuzami’s logic must have gone, to provide clients with the government access, connections and insights needed to bill them $1,000 an hour? Read more of this post

Why foreign cars are expensive in China; A BMW 650i sedan can sell for 2 million yuan (US$326,000) in China compared to the original price of US$91,000 in Germany

Why foreign cars are expensive in China

Staff Reporter


A BMW 650i sedan can sell for 2 million yuan (US$326,000) in China compared to the original price of US$91,000 in Germany.

“Gross margins of imported luxury cars with large engine sizes in China are conspicuously higher than corresponding levels in foreign countries,” an auto importer told the Chinese-language National Business Daily. The hefty profit margin has combined with high taxes leading to the exorbitant retail prices of imported cars. At present, imported vehicles are subject to a 25% tax on the basis of CIF (cost, insurance and freight) prices, 17% value-added tax and a consumption tax ranging from 1%-40% according to the engine size, with models with a engine being subject to the highest 40% rate. As a result, an imported vehicle with a 4.0l engine or larger and CIF price of 1 million yuan (US$163,000) would be subject to taxes totaling 1.43 million yuan (US$233,000). Read more of this post

Whistleblowers pay price even as China vows to fight corruption

Whistleblowers pay price even as China vows to fight corruption

Sun, Aug 4 2013

By Sui-Lee Wee

HUIZHOU, China (Reuters) – Chinese bloggers trying to expose corruption say they are coming under increasing physical and verbal attack over their reports, in what anti-graft activists describe as another blow to efforts to make Chinese officials more accountable. At least six self-styled whistleblowers have been assaulted or harassed in recent months, according to media reports, Internet postings and several of the bloggers who spoke to Reuters. Two unidentified men stabbed blogger Li Jianxin in the face and splashed acid on his back on July 8. Li, now blind in his right eye, remains in hospital in the southern city of Huizhou. The attacks coincide with a government crackdown on activists demanding officials disclose their wealth, underscoring the limits of an anti-corruption push by President Xi Jinping. Read more of this post

Wall St falls out of love with commodities trading; JPMorgan’s exit signals that the boom is over

August 4, 2013 5:56 pm

Wall St falls out of love with commodities trading

By Gregory Meyer in New York and Jack Farchy in London

Blythe Masters was triumphant. TheJPMorgan Chase executive had just sealed a deal that would propel her bank to the top of Wall Street’s commodities league table. JPMorgan paid $1.7bn and assumed $3.3bn in debt to buy the global oil, gas, coal, power and metals businesses of RBS Sempra Commodities, a trading venture. While JPMorgan was strong in commodity derivatives, Sempra was at root a physical house moving molecules through a storage and warehousing network stretching from Baltimore to Singapore. For Ms Masters, head of global commodities, this exposure was critical. Read more of this post

Banks Replacing Enron in Energy Incite Congress as Abuses Abound

Banks Replacing Enron in Energy Incite Congress as Abuses Abound

The U.S. government permitted Wall Street firms to expand in the energy industry a decade ago, when the collapse of Enron Corp. and its army of traders left a void in the market. The results aren’t pretty.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) settled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission claims this week that employees engaged in 12 bidding schemes to wrest tens of millions of dollars from power-grid operators. A Barclays Plc (BARC) trader stands accused of bragging he “totally fukked” with a Southwest energy market. Deutsche Bank AG workers, faced with losses on a contract, allegedly altered electricity flows to make it profitable instead. Read more of this post

Oil markets: The danger of distortion

August 4, 2013 4:17 pm

Oil markets: The danger of distortion

By Ajay Makan

Governments are deliberating whether to impose more supervision, writes Ajay Makan

Warped system: oil prices are notoriously hard to track and some companies do not co-operate with the price reporters

As Opec ministers gathered in Vienna in May to discuss the oil market, one man stood out. On the terraces and in the lobbies of the grand hotels favoured by members of the oil producers’ cartel, Jorge Montepeque was holding court. A Guatemalan-born US citizen with a fiery temper and sharp tongue, Mr Montepeque is the architect of the system that now underpins global trade in oil. In Vienna he was his ebullient self, stopping at tables to swap gossip between meetings. But for Mr Montepeque this was no normal Opecgathering. Two weeks earlier the European Commission had swooped on offices across Europe in pursuit of any evidence of price fixing in oil markets. Along with the oil majors BPRoyal Dutch Shell and Statoil, and the Dutch trader Argos Energies, officials raided theCanary Wharf headquarters of Platts – the price reporting agency where Mr Montepeque has worked for decades. The raids earned the oil market comparisons with Libor, the discredited interest rate rigged by some of the world’s biggest banks for years. They came as governments were already weighing direct supervision of the unregulated trade in physical oil. And they have added to fears among some participants that the market is only likely to become more opaque, if traders stop co-operating with price reporting agencies. Read more of this post

KuaPay is banking on China to fatten its share of the mobile wallet market

KuaPay is banking on China to fatten its share of the mobile wallet market

By Tim Fernholz @timfernholz August 4, 2013

The mobile wallet business is crowded and tough to navigate, but Kuapay has a solution: find a monopolist and partner up. In 2014, the company will begin working with China UnionPay, the country’s sole payment processor, to tap into the sought-after Chinese market, which has more mobile users than any in the world. The big problem with using your cell phone to pay for physical purchases is that it’s hard to beat cash and credit cards for convenience. That means most mobile wallet businesses live and die with their partners—financial institutions, telecoms or merchants—which can put mobile wallet products in front of consumers, and give them a reason to use them with discounts and incentives. For an example, look no further than Square’s mobile wallet, which partnered with Starbucks to score a $25 million investment and placement in 7,000 locations in the US. Kuapay, which allows you to use your credit cards through a single, secure mobile app, lags behind its competitors, at least in the United States, where only 600 merchants are equipped to take its payments. But the company also has a presence in Spain, and in Chile, where CEO Joaquin Ayuso de Paul says it is the “official” mobile payments provider. What does that mean? It means that unlike in the US, where payment processors proliferate, in Chile the country’s payment processor has a monopoly, and Kuapay is its mobile wallet solution. Read more of this post

T.J. Maxx, others look past chaos to e-commerce bonanza

T.J. Maxx, others look past chaos to e-commerce bonanza

Sun, Aug 4 2013

By Phil Wahba

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Low-price retailer T.J. Maxx plans to open an online store this year, as does rival Saks Inc’s Off Fifth outlets, making 2013 the year technology may have caught up with the speed of fashion. For such chains, which feature clearance items, last-year’s fashions and overruns, their fast-moving and often unpredictable inventory has made selling goods over the web complex. “Retail is chaotic. Off-price retail is even more chaotic,” said Fiona Dias, a leading e-commerce expert and chief strategy officer at ShopRunner. Read more of this post

Korea’s major accounting firms are engaged in a cutthroat battle to attract more corporate clients given that most of their current contracts with some of the leading Korean conglomerates are scheduled to expire next year

2013-08-04 18:20

Accounting firms vying for survival

By Na Jeong-ju
The nation’s major accounting firms are engaged in a cutthroat battle to attract more corporate clients given that most of their current contracts with some of the leading Korean conglomerates are scheduled to expire next year. Industry sources say that more than 500 companies, including Samsung, POSCO, Doosan, CJ and KB, will decide on whether to renew their current accounting contracts with the same firms or find different accounting firms for fresh contracts. The planned implementation of new accounting standards is making the competition even fiercer. Read more of this post

Shiny Chromecast Could Dim Cable TV; Chromecast offers a window into Google’s vision of making the Internet a platform for TV

August 4, 2013, 4:59 p.m. ET

Shiny Chromecast Could Dim Cable TV

Chromecast offers a window into Google’s vision of making the Internet a platform for TV.



Even a simple innovation can sometimes help tip the scales toward revolution. GoogleGOOG +0.26% along with technology peers like Intel, Apple and Microsoft, is vying to shape the future of TV. Its latest gambit: the introduction of Chromecast, a $35 device that plugs into a TV and allows users to view content from mobile devices or computers on the big screen. On its own, Chromecast won’t suddenly upend the bundled-TV business model. For now, only Internet content and video from YouTube, Netflix NFLX -1.18% and the Google Play store can be watched via the device. And it doesn’t include sports or live programming. Read more of this post

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