Nestlé Agrees to Sell U.S. Confectionery Business to Ferrero
Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be $350 bn over the next five years
Toyota, Mazda to build $1.6 bn plant & employ up to 4,000 in Alabama
THE DEFINITIVE SOURCE FOR INVESTMENT PROMOTION EXECUTIVES
Colgate Announces Acquisition of PCA Skin and EltaMD Skin Care Brands
15 - 20 JANUARY 2018
European Commission proposes to invest $1.2 bn in world-class European supercomputers
it & BPM i FOOD I HEALTHCARE i TEXTILES i INFRASTRUCTURE i ENGINEERING i tourism
15-20 January 2018
Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta's hotel franchise and hotel management for $1.95 bn
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Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be $350 billion over the next five years
Apple announced a new set of investments to build on its commitment to support the American economy and its workforce, concentrated in three areas where Apple has had the greatest impact on job creation: direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with Apple’s domestic suppliers and manufacturers, and fueling the fast-growing app economy which Apple created with iPhone and the App Store. Apple is already responsible for creating and supporting over 2 million jobs across the United States and expects to generate even more jobs as a result of the initiatives being announced today.
Combining new investments and Apple’s current pace of spending with domestic suppliers and manufacturers — an estimated $55 billion for 2018 — Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years, not including Apple’s ongoing tax payments, the tax revenues generated from employees’ wages and the sale of Apple products.
Planned capital expenditures in the US, investments in American manufacturing over five years and a record tax payment upon repatriation of overseas profits will account for approximately $75 billion of Apple’s direct contribution.
“Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the US economy,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”
Apple, already the largest US taxpayer, anticipates repatriation tax payments of approximately $38 billion as required by recent changes to the tax law. A payment of that size would likely be the largest of its kind ever made.
Growing Apple’s US Operations
Apple expects to invest over $30 billion in capital expenditures in the US over the next five years and create over 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and opening a new one. Apple already employs 84,000 people in all 50 states.
The company plans to establish an Apple campus in a new location, which will initially house technical support for customers. The location of this new facility will be announced later in the year.
Over $10 billion of Apple’s expanded capital expenditures will be investments in data centers across the US. Over the last decade, Apple has invested billions of dollars in data centers and co-located facilities in seven US states, including North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and a recently announced project in Iowa.
Apple is breaking ground on a new facility in downtown Reno, which will support its existing Nevada facilities.
Boeing, Adient Launch New Company to Design and Build Airplane Seats
Boeing and Adient announced the formation of Adient Aerospace, a joint venture that will develop, manufacture and sell a portfolio of seating products to airlines and aircraft leasing companies. The seats will be available for installation on new airplanes and as retrofit configurations for aircraft produced by Boeing and other commercial airplane manufacturers.
The joint venture between Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, and Adient, the global leader in automotive seating, addresses the aviation industry's needs for more capacity in the seating category, superior quality and reliable on-time performance. Adient Aerospace will benefit from the world-class engineering teams and innovative cultures at both companies, as well as shared expertise in managing complex, global supply chains.
"Seats have been a persistent challenge for our customers, the industry and Boeing, and we are taking action to help address constraints in the market. Adient Aerospace will leverage Boeing's industry leadership and deep understanding of customer needs and technical requirements, to provide a superior seating product for airlines and passengers around the world," said Kevin Schemm, senior vice president of Supply Chain Management, Finance & Business Operations and chief financial officer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This joint venture supports Boeing's vertical integration strategy to develop in-house capabilities and depth in key areas to offer better products, grow services and generate higher lifecycle value."
"Adient has a strong set of transferable competencies that will offer a unique opportunity to create value for our company and for Boeing, our shareholders and the broader commercial aircraft market," said Adient chairman and CEO Bruce McDonald. "To enhance the customer experience for passengers, airlines and commercial airplane manufacturers, we will apply our unmatched expertise for comfort and craftsmanship along with our reputation for operational excellence."
Adient Aerospace's operational headquarters, technology center and initial production plant will be located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, near Frankfurt. The joint venture's initial customer service center will be based in Seattle, Washington. Adient Aerospace aftermarket spare parts distribution will be performed exclusively through Aviall, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing.
Silicon Ranch Corporation, a leading U.S. developer, owner, and operator of solar energy plants, announced that it has signed an agreement to make Shell its largest shareholder. As part of the agreement, Shell will acquire a 43.83% interest in Silicon Ranch from Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, for up to $217 million in cash based on Silicon Ranch performance, with the possibility to increase its position after 2021.
Partners Group will continue to support Silicon Ranch through a newly issued junior debt financing simultaneous with the closing of the sale. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2018.
Nashville-based Silicon Ranch will continue to operate under its existing management and the Silicon Ranch brand. The fast-growing business has doubled its operating portfolio for three consecutive years, with approximately 880 megawatts of PV systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating in 14 states from New York to California, and close to 1 gigawatt more in its development pipeline. The innovative company has been a first-mover in a number of U.S. states and has deployed a differentiated, demand-driven approach to business development across a diverse customer set, with particular emphasis on building long-term relationships with electric cooperatives, military partners, and corporate customers across the country.
The transaction will enable Silicon Ranch to accelerate its growth strategy by developing new projects, entering new markets, and expanding product offerings across its portfolio. The strategic partnership provides Shell a platform to establish a successful global solar business by aligning with a proven team in the second largest solar market in the world.
"We were impressed by Silicon Ranch's proven track record, its market-led development strategy, and its long-term ownership model and commitment to the communities it serves," said Marc van Gerven, Shell Vice President of Solar. "Partnering with Silicon Ranch progresses our New Energies strategy and provides our U.S. customers with additional solar renewable options. With this entry into the fast-growing solar sector, Shell is able to leverage its expertise as one of the top three wholesale power sellers in the U.S., while expanding its global New Energies footprint."
Shell Acquires Interest in Silicon Ranch Corporation
Intracom Telecom, a global telecommunication systems and solutions vendor, announced the signing of a strategic partnership with Furukawa Electric LatAm S.A. (Brazil), a global corporation with diversified activities and member of the Japan-based Furukawa Electric Group.
Intracom Telecom's and Furukawa's common customer centric philosophy and successful long history in their fields, as well as their shared vision to build future-proof networks, reduce TCO and design dedicated revenue-generating solutions in the areas of IoT and 5G are some of the key principles that govern this partnership.
More specifically, this strategic partnership focuses on the development of Fiber-Wireless integrated solutions with Furukawa Electric providing the GPON, WDM, and cabling solutions, and Intracom Telecom deploying its Wireless Transport & Access solutions, offering to operators a larger tool-box of solutions to homogeneously address fixed and mobile transport network with multi-gigabit transport options. Intracom Telecom's unmatched R&D capabilities will support the need for any customization or even the design of new software solutions. Both Groups aim to create profitable synergies mainly in LATAM and Iberia regions by leveraging their strong international presence.
Mr. Foad Shaikhzadeh, President & CEO of Furukawa Electric LatAm S.A., commented: "Furukawa is very pleased to announce this partnership with Intracom Telecom. Our aim is to better attend our customers, who will have the best solution in One-Stop-Shop. Applications such as IOT, Smart Cities, Industry 4.0, fronthaul and backhaul for 5G, and video streaming, increasingly demand more complex hybrid fiber-radio networks. So we can offer the sum of the virtuosity of each network, either the ultra-broadband of the optical fiber, or the fast deployment and less invasive infrastructure provided by the radio solution."
Furukawa Electric LatAm and Intracom Telecom Sign Strategic Partnership to Address the International IoT and 5G Market
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the world’s leading automotive alliance, announced the launch of Alliance Ventures, a new corporate venture capital fund that plans to invest up to $1 billion to support open innovation over the next five years.
In its first year, the fund expects to invest up to $200 million in start-ups and open innovation partnerships with technology entrepreneurs focused on new mobility, including vehicle electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence.
With further annual investments, Alliance Ventures is set to become the largest corporate venture capital fund in the automotive industry over the period of Alliance 2022, the strategic midterm plan launched last year by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said: “Our open innovation approach will allow us to invest and collaborate with start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs, who will benefit from the global scale of the Alliance. This new fund reflects the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial mind-set at the heart of the Alliance.”
The new fund is unique because it offers potential partners access to the global scale and scope of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, which sold more than 10 million vehicles in 2017 through 10 separate brands with a presence in all major automotive markets.
Alliance Ventures will invest in start-ups to bring new technologies and businesses to the Alliance while ensuring a fair financial return. The fund will make strategic investments at all start-up stages and will incubate both new automotive entrepreneurs and forge new partnerships.
The first deal by Alliance Ventures will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a promising US-based company which is developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials. The equity acquisition coincides with the execution of a joint-development agreement with the Alliance for the purpose of R&D cooperation. Ionic, based in Massachusetts, is the developer of a pioneering solid polymer electrolyte that enables improved performance and cost effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and multiple other applications.
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Launches A Venture Capital Fund To Invest Up To $1 Billion Over Five Years
Toyota, Mazda to build $1.6 billion plant & employ up to 4,000 in Alabama
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle joined Mazda and Toyota leaders to announce the automakers have selected Huntsville, Alabama as the site of their new joint-venture manufacturing plant.
The new plant will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, with production split evenly between two lines for each company to produce Mazda’s crossover model that will be newly introduced to the North American market and the Toyota Corolla.
The joint venture represents a $1.6 billion investment that Mazda and Toyota plan to make with equal funding contributions. The site for the new plant is in Huntsville, located approximately 14 miles from Toyota’s Alabama plant (Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc.). The facility is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. Production is expected to begin by 2021.
“The partnership between Mazda and Toyota will expand innovative automotive manufacturing in Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. “Their decision to locate this new facility in Huntsville is a testament to the talented workforce in our state. We are proud that this partnership puts Alabama on the forefront of technology in this dynamic global industry."
“With this announcement, our world changes overnight,” said Tommy Battle, mayor of Huntsville. “Mazda and Toyota, two of the world’s most innovative automakers, have created a legacy project that will provide jobs for decades to come for Huntsville and Alabama. It vaults Alabama to the top as an industry leader in producing the next generation of cars that will power our nation.”
Mazda Motor Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Masamichi Kogai and Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda joined Gov. Ivey and Mayor Battle for the announcement.
For Mazda, the plant comes on line in a significant year that will mark the start of the company’s second century of operation and second half-century of sales in the U.S. The automaker is enhancing its commitment to the U.S. market and will focus efforts on manufacturing and increasing sales in the country.
“Mazda makes cars with a clear vision of how we want to inspire people, contribute to society and help preserve the beauty of the earth. By making such cars here in Alabama, we hope that over time our plant will come to occupy a special place in the hearts of our employees and the local community. By making this plant a vibrant part of that community, we hope to work, learn and grow together with the people of Alabama and Huntsville,” Kogai said.
WernerCo has signed an agreement to acquire ZARGES Group
WernerCo has signed an agreement to acquire ZARGES Group. Following the acquisition, WernerCo, with leading positions in various markets around the world, will become the manufacturer and distributor of access products, packaging and transportation and light duty construction equipment across Europe. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and the parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price or further details of the transaction.
The ZARGES Group, based in Weilheim (Germany), operates internationally with three production sites in Europe. Innovative technologies and strong expertise in high-quality materials make ZARGES a leader in major business sectors such as professional access, packaging/transportation/storage and special construction.
“We are very proud to welcome the ZARGES Group into WernerCo. Our two companies share the same philosophy on product quality, delivery and design, while operating in complementary markets. ZARGES Group is a strong leader in continental Europe and the ZARGES brand will join WernerCo’s portfolio of industry leading brands. This important transaction continues our strategic plan to deliver new and innovative products to our customers globally,” said William T. Allen, Chairman of WernerCo.
HPM to Set up a New Plant in Rajasthan, India
HPM Chemicals & Fertilizers Limited is a pioneer basic technical manufacturer and formulator in crop protection segment. While the existing plant is serving the pan India requirement of crop protection products, the company is motivated to invest for extending its production capacity of 6000 MTA to serve the global farmers for sustainable agriculture practices with advanced technology. The manufacturing conglomerate is now in process of extending its new plant in RIICO Industrial Area of Khushkhera,
Rajasthan, India that is expected to be operational from March 2018. The new plant will help in producing next generation insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and PGR (Plant Growth Regulators). HPM is also in a venture of another independent facility for Mancozeb and other dithiocarbamates to meet the domestic and global needs and in process to develop few new combinations based on these technologies.
While protecting plant, HPM is also conscious about plant nutritional products and hence they have come up with new generation slow release fertilizers as a specialty segment to its brand business. HPM Product basket includes bio-fertilizers; bio-enzymes based formulation, mixture of amino acids and cytokines formulated in advanced technology for efficacious result. This specialty array of products gives additional support to the farmers when used with other crop-protection chemicals. The Plant Growth Regulators (PGR) of HPM empowered with beneficial enzymes has made healthier crops possible irrespective of the weather and soil conditions.
Mr. Ashok Aggarwal, Chairman, HPM Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd. emphasized, "When a farmer yields excellent crop by using HPM products, we feel that we are fulfilling our motto of 'Yielding Prosperity'. Since our inception, four decades back, we have continuously strived to put the farmer first and have worked with them to know their needs and requirements. We have been able to bring out products by adhering to strict quality checks and have been delivering products to international markets with the vision of global integrated agricultural practices and innovations. With the setting up of a new additional plant in Rajasthan, we will be stepping into the next generation of farming and hope to excel in the agro-chemical industry, both in India as well as in the international market."
Colgate-Palmolive Company as part of its strategy to focus on its higher-margin oral care, personal care and pet nutrition businesses, announced that it has agreed to purchase PCA Skin and EltaMD, two of the fastest-growing brands in professional skin care, in two separate transactions. These acquisitions will enable Colgate to enter the highly attractive professional skin care category while complementing its existing global personal care businesses.
PCA Skin is a leader in medical-grade in-office and take-home skin care products, and has strong support from dermatologists, plastic surgeons and aestheticians. EltaMD is a leading physician-dispensed sun care brand with a unique positioning around broad-spectrum, everyday use, physician-dispensed sunscreen.
Estimated 2017 net sales for PCA Skin and EltaMD combined approximate $100 million. Both brands are similar in size and are primarily sold through professional skin care channels and online. They are distributed in the U.S., China and certain other international markets. Colgate plans to continue to operate the brands independently after closing.
Ian Cook, Colgate's Chairman, President and CEO commented, "PCA Skin and EltaMD form an exciting combination for Colgate's entry into the professional skin care category. We are delighted that these high-growth, high-margin brands will strengthen our global personal care business. Their complementary product portfolios and sales forces, strong professional support and similar distribution channels will advance Colgate's presence in the premium global skin care category. Furthermore, these businesses will benefit from Colgate's decades long legacy of working with professional experts to deliver recommendations that benefit their patients."
The terms of the deals have not been disclosed. Both transactions are currently expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. The acquisitions are subject to customary closing conditions, including U.S. antitrust clearance.
SQI Diagnostics Inc., announced it has signed a revenue-producing agreement with a global biotechnology company to provide assay development and future sample testing and analysis services.
This customer has contracted test development to SQI to create an immunogenicity assay utilizing SQI’s multiplexing technology. After completing test development, SQI anticipates it will be engaged to provide contract research services to provide analytical sample testing. This testing will be done at SQI’s state-of-the-art facility in Toronto. This contract research service augments SQI’s product offerings enabling pharma and biotech customers to outsource their multiplexed assay development, validation, and testing services to SQI.
“The new customer is a global US-based biotechnology company that develops new drug treatments for patients with serious rare diseases,” said Andrew Morris, CEO of SQI Diagnostics. “This is the latest in a growing list of customers to engage SQI’s newest and fastest-growing business: contract testing services. In the past 12 months alone, SQI has done 6 revenue-producing deals, with companies ranging from diagnostic companies, to global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.”
SQI Signs Agreement with a Global Biotechnology Co.
Change Healthcare announced the acquisition of National Decision Support Company (NDSC), a leader in cloud-based solutions that deliver medical guidelines to the point of care through leading electronic health record (EHR) systems. The addition of NDSC accelerates the efforts of Change Healthcare to leverage evidence-based clinical information and next-generation technologies to reduce cost and help ensure appropriate care.
“We are singularly focused on helping customers address the big challenges in healthcare—achieving better outcomes, reducing costs, and creating an interconnected healthcare ecosystem. With NDSC, we’ve added strategic capabilities to accelerate our product roadmap and increase the value we provide to healthcare stakeholders,” said Neil de Crescenzo, president and chief executive officer (CEO), Change Healthcare. “NDSC puts clinical intelligence in the hands of physicians and other clinicians as they are delivering care. With ready access to medical guidelines, clinicians can make decisions that lead to better patient outcomes, improve efficiency, and optimize care paths based on world-class clinical expertise.”
NDSC’s flagship offering, CareSelect™ Imaging, delivers evidence-based guidelines through an exclusive digital distribution license with the American College of Radiology, and is positioned to help customers meet the federal mandate requiring that clinicians consult Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) for imaging. NDSC’s current portfolio also includes CareSelect Choosing Wisely®, founded on the American Board of Internal Medicine’s highly-regarded Choosing Wisely Initiative, and CareSelect Lab, based on a partnership with the Mayo Clinic. With a rapidly growing customer base of over 500 provider organizations today, NDSC is a proven technology platform for the delivery of guidance at the point of order.
NDSC and the Change Healthcare InterQual® team have used the NDSC platform to deliver industry-leading clinical criteria to the point of care, leveraging real-time access to clinical data. The goal of this relationship is to streamline utilization management and authorization processes, which today are labor-intensive, redundant, and expensive.
Change Healthcare Acquires National Decision Support Company
InMobi Acquires Los Angeles Based AerServ for $90 Million
InMobi, the world’s largest independent mobile advertising platform, announced the acquisition of AerServ for $90 million in cash and stock to create the industry’s first mediation platform with a unified programmatic auction for mobile in-app publishers. This acquisition will enhance monetization for publishers globally and further enhance the InMobi Exchange, a premium mobile programmatic platform.
Globally, mobile premium publishers seek greater control over advertising revenue and deeper transparency into both the buyer landscape and pricing than what supply-side platforms offer today. These publishers are looking to further scale their advertising revenue using a best-in-class programmatic exchange, which will bring header bidding into mobile in-app for the first time.
Together, InMobi and AerServ’s technology will deliver a next-generation platform that goes beyond traditional ad mediation and provides high-quality brand demand, marking the industry’s first platform to deliver this combination to publishers worldwide.
On the demand side, brand advertisers are in need of transparent programmatic platforms of high-quality ad inventory that can be independently verified. It is expected that two-thirds of the world’s digital display advertising will be traded programmatically by 2019 and advertising sold programmatically will increase from US $57.5 billion to US $84.9 billion over the next two years, growing at an average rate of 21 percent a year.
Together, InMobi and AerServ boast over 90 percent viewability and over 70 percent video completion rate, more than double the industry benchmark for mobile - helping better meet the demands of today’s brand advertisers when it comes to programmatic spend. AerServ has integrations with over 75 DSP’s, exchanges and agencies around the world, enhancing InMobi’s global footprint and together cover a large majority of the Fortune 500 brand buyers.
With this investment, InMobi’s video and programmatic business will account for 35 percent of the overall company revenue and will solidify InMobi’s leadership position in the mobile video advertising industry in the U.S. InMobi Exchange scale will increase as AerServ runs more than 90 billion ad opportunities each month and provides access to brand programmatic demand to over 2,000 mobile apps.
“This acquisition fits in perfectly with our global strategy to bring best-in-class technology for premium publishers and driving mobile programmatic video revenues to them. Our combined entities will double our headcount in the U.S. while establishing a product and tech hub for InMobi in Los Angeles, a hotspot of innovation for media and video content,” said Abhay Singhal, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at InMobi. “We are two profitable companies combining forces in North America and this will further cement our leadership position in video advertising, enabling us to continue investing heavily.”
European Commission proposes to invest $1.2 billion in world-class European supercomputers
The European Commission unveiled its plans to invest jointly with the Member States in building a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure.
Supercomputers are needed to process ever larger amounts of data and bring benefits tothe society in many areas from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.
European scientists and industry increasingly process their data outside the EU because their needs are not matched by the computation time or computer performance available in the EU. This lack of independence threatens privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data in particular for sensitive applications.
A new legal and funding structure – the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – shall acquire, build and deploy across Europe a world-class High-Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure. It will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and machines (hardware) as well as the applications (software) that would run on these supercomputers.
The EU's contribution in EuroHPC will be around EUR 486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. Overall, around EUR 1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.
Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy. It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten. With the EuroHPC initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 – to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence and build the future's everyday applications in areas like health, security or engineering."
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society added: "Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens. They can help us to develop personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently. A better European supercomputing infrastructure holds great potential for job creation and is a key factor for the digitisation of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy."
SoftBank Vision Fund invests $562 million in AUTO1 Group
AUTO1 Group, Europe’s leading multi-sided platform for the used car sector, announced a €460 million investment by SoftBank Vision Fund. The investment, of which around half will be made through the issue of new shares, values AUTO1 at €2.9 billion and will support the Group’s continued growth and international expansion. AUTO1 Group’s technology enables dealers as well as private individuals to trade seamlessly throughout Europe via an analytics and logistics platform that most efficiently matches supply and demand for used cars. Since launching in 2012, AUTO1 Group has expanded into more than 30 countries, trading with over 35,000 professional partners and selling over 40,000 cars per month. SoftBank’s Akshay Naheta will join the AUTO1 Group board following the investment.
AUTO1 Group Co-CEO Hakan Koç said: “We are delighted to welcome SoftBank Vision Fund, one of the largest tech funds in the world, as an investor in AUTO1 Group. We believe that the Fund’s deep investment and technology expertise will help us to accelerate our growth as we continue to focus on making the used vehicle market more efficient and transparent.”
Akshay Naheta, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisors, said: “AUTO1 Group has built a fast growing, data-enabled platform introducing efficiency and transparency to the fragmented used car market, which is worth more than $300 billion annually. The SoftBank Vision Fund’s capital and our operational expertise with marketplace businesses will support continued global growth.”
Global PIM Provider Akeneo Acquires Top Israeli Machine Learning Company
French technology company Akeneo, a leading provider of open source product information management (PIM) solutions, announced that it has acquired Sigmento, an Israel-based technology company specializing in product data automation.
The acquisition bolsters Akeneo's market-leading position among PIM providers and reinforces the company's mission to help retailers turn product information into powerful brand assets. The combined entity, now equipped with state-of-the-art machine learning technologies, will allow large enterprise companies to deploy data intelligence and deliver integrated product attribute information across multiple channels far more quickly and at scale.
Sigmento, founded in 2015 by Izzy Cohen, Yoav Maor and Yonatan Maor, has emerged as a prominent provider of automated product listing solutions. The startup's machine learning algorithms allow ecommerce merchants to enrich structured product information with just a few clicks while improving SEO, conversions, and competitive advantages.
"The next frontier of innovation in ecommerce technology is happening at the intersection of data intelligence and automation, which is Sigmento's core strength," said Fred de Gombert, co-founder and CEO of Akeneo. "Having Yoav and his talented team join our #PIMforAll movement and offer best-in-class AI driven ecommerce solutions will significantly differentiate Akeneo and allow us to enable customers to further deliver compelling product experiences."
"Akeneo is an industry-acclaimed PIM leader with hundreds of enterprise clients around the world," said Yoav Maor, Sigmento's co-founder and CEO. "The company's expertise brings tremendous benefits to Sigmento's existing clients, and I'm excited about embarking on this new chapter as part of the Akeneo family."
JD.com Announces Investment in Tiki, Vietnam
JD.com,China’s largest retailer, has gained another foothold in Southeast Asia with its strategic investment in Tiki, Vietnam’s leading B2C e-commerce platform. JD has signed the share subscription agreement as co-lead investor in Tiki’s recent Series C round of financing. Closing of the Series C round is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Upon completion of this investment, JD.com will become one of Tiki’s largest shareholders.
JD will partner with Tiki in a range of areas including merchandising, cross-border trade, logistics and fulfillment, technology, financing, and operational capabilities. JD already has an established e-commerce platform in Indonesia, and recently partnered with Thai conglomerate Central Group to enter Thailand. With its investment in Tiki, JD adds Vietnam to its growing Southeast Asia presence.
“We are very excited to continue our Southeast Asia expansion with Tiki, a company that has a deep understanding of Vietnam and a reputation for outstanding customer service,” said Winston Cheng, President of International at JD.com. “With JD’s expertise in leveraging social media for e-commerce, Tiki’s partnership with VNG in social network and mobile payments is a natural fit as we aim to provide differentiated services to suppliers and consumers in Vietnam. We look forward to working with Tiki to deliver a truly world class e-commerce experience to Vietnamese consumers.”
"We are delighted to partner with JD.com, China's most trusted online retailer, as we enter a new phase of growth," said Son Tran, Tiki's Founder and CEO. "JD and Tiki share the same business philosophy: to win market share by winning consumers' heart. Since inception, Tiki has always focused on best-in-class, authentic shopping experience and amazingly fast delivery. We believe JD.com, with its proven track record in superior user experience, procurement, logistics, and technology will be an invaluable asset for Tiki as we work to become Vietnam's top e-commerce platform."
Bell Food Group acquires majority stake in Hügli Holding AG
Swiss company Bell Food Group, one of the leading meat processors and makers of convenience products in Europe, has acquired Dr. A. Stoffel Holding AG, the majority shareholder in internationally active food group Hügli. Stoffel Holding has a stake representing 50.2% and 65.0% of the voting shares in Hügli Holding AG, which is based in Steinach (SG). Bell Food Group is simultaneously making a public tender offer for the remaining publicly traded shares of Hügli Holding AG at a price of CHF 915 per share, which relative to the nominal value is the same price as applies to the majority stake bought from Stoffel Holding.
The price corresponds to a takeover premium of 14.4% over the volume-weighted average price for the last 60 trading days prior to the announcement of the tender offer. The Board of Directors of Hügli Holding AG unanimously supports the offer and recommends that shareholders accept it.
With this combination, Bell Food Group is significantly expanding its position in the convenience products market. Around CHF 1 billion in revenues – more than a quarter of Bell Food Group’s consolidated revenues – will in future be generated in the high-growth, high-margin convenience sector. Bell Food Group expects to realize substantial improvements in results in the medium term.
The takeover is being financed through a combination of equity and debt capital. To ensure an appropriate capital structure in the medium to long-term, Bell Food Group will propose to shareholders at the Annual General Meeting of 10 April 2018 that they approve a capital increase of around CHF 600 million. This will help finance the acquisition of Hügli, as well as the strategic investment programme in Swiss production facilities that has already been announced, and further growth investments in the convenience market. It is expected that placement of the new shares will be underwritten at the point in time when the definitive conditions are announced. Coop Group in Basel, which owns 66.3% of Bell Food Group, has already committed to exercise its subscription rights in full, and to subscribe for the corresponding number of new Bell Food Group AG shares.
Bell Food Group was the preferred future owner by the founding family of Hügli Group, which was established in 1935. Alexander Stoffel, the recently deceased grandson of the founder, was personally involved in the initial talks with Bell Food Group. Hügli Group, which develops, produces and markets soups, sauces and meat alternatives, generated revenues of CHF 385 million in 2016. The company employs approximately 1,500 people and operates 10 production plants in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The transaction is subject to approval from European competition authorities. The product portfolios and most important customer groups of Bell Food Group and Hügli are highly complementary, with virtually no overlaps, therefore no objections by the authorities are expected.
Nestlé announced that it agreed to sell its U.S. confectionery business to Ferrero for USD 2.8 billion in cash. Nestlé's 2016 U.S. confectionery sales reached about USD 900 million. The transaction is expected to close around the end of the first quarter of 2018 following the completion of customary approvals and closing conditions.
Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider commented: "With Ferrero we have found an exceptional home for our U.S. confectionery business where it will thrive. At the same time, this move allows Nestlé to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition."
Nestlé's U.S. confectionery business represents about three percent of U.S. Nestlé Group sales. It includes popular local chocolate brands such as Butterfinger, Crunch, BabyRuth, 100Grand,
Raisinets, Chunky, OhHenry! and SnoCaps, as well as local sugar brands such as SweeTarts, LaffyTaffy, Nerds, FunDip, PixyStix, Gobstopper, BottleCaps, Spree and Runts.
The transaction covers the U.S.-focused confectionery brands only and does not include Nestlé's iconic Toll House baking products, a strategic growth brand which the company will continue to develop. Nestlé remains fully committed to growing its leading international confectionery activities around the world, particularly its global brand KitKat.
With sales of around USD 27 billion in 2016, the U.S. is Nestlé's largest market. Nestlé products can be found in 97 percent of U.S. households under brands such as Purina, Nestlé Pure Life, Coffee-Mate, Gerber and Stouffer's. The company employs 50,000 people in more than 120 locations across the US, including 77 factories and 10 R&D centers.
Sysco Corporation, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kent Frozen Foods, a successful UK-based foodservice distributor with revenue in the year ended 31st December 2016 of £47 million.
The acquisition, which is conditional upon approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, will see Kent Frozen Foods join Sysco’s other UK businesses, including Brakes, Fresh Direct and M&J Seafood.
“Kent Frozen Foods will complement Sysco’s other UK businesses perfectly,” said Ajoy Karna, Sysco’s senior vice president, International Foodservice Operations – Europe. “Our businesses share many values, including a strong family heritage and customer-led culture and will benefit from complementary strengths in product offering and geography.”
Karna added, “The management team at Kent Frozen Foods has done a fantastic job building their business, which focuses heavily on independent customers, making it a perfect addition to our portfolio of businesses in the UK. We’re delighted that they and their loyal employees will be joining the Sysco family.”
Kent Frozen Foods will continue to operate as an independent entity, but will enjoy the support of the world’s largest foodservice company, Sysco, with the opportunity to capitalise on closer working relationships with Sysco’s other UK and European businesses where appropriate.
Chris Beckley, Kent Frozen Foods CEO, said, “We are thrilled to be joining the Sysco family. For our business, our colleagues and customers, having the added benefit of support from the world’s largest foodservice company presents an exciting and positive time ahead for all of us.”
Sysco Grows European Business With Kent Frozen Foods Acquisition
Pernod Ricard USA is pleased to announce that it has completed the acquisition of the remaining stake in Avión Spirits LLC, owner of the ultra-premium tequila brand Avión, from its joint-venture partner Tequila Avión. Founder Ken Austin and President Jenna Fagnan, along with Grammy Award winner Jeezy, will remain highly involved and financially incentivized at least until 2020 to help fuel its next wave of growth.
"Avión has become a leading aspirational lifestyle brand in the fast-growing ultra-premium tequila category. This acquisition is important for Pernod Ricard USA as we focus on premiumization and building brands that consumers are passionate about," said Paul Duffy, Chief Executive Officer of Pernod Ricard USA. "We look forward to continuing to develop and grow this exciting brand."
"This clearly displays Pernod Ricard's commitment to this high-potential brand which was voted World's Best Tasting Tequila at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition," said Ken Austin, Founder and Chairman of Tequila Avión. "The Pernod Ricard people, distributors and brokers have been and will continue to be key drivers in taking Avión to the next level."
Pernod Ricard Acquires Remaining Stake in Avión Tequila
Lendlease and CPPIB announce $2 billion Build-to-Rent partnership
Leading property and infrastructure group,Lendlease, and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) announced the launch of a major U.K. Build-to-Rent investment partnership, with an initial target to invest £1.5 billion in the sector.
The partnership will begin with an investment of c.£450 million in the next phase of new homes, which will be for private rent, at Lendlease’s £2.3 billion Elephant Park development in Elephant & Castle. CPPIB will invest c.£350 million for 80 per cent and Lendlease will invest the balance.
This announcement is in addition to the c.£800 million that Lendlease has already committed to housing and infrastructure in the development and will accelerate the delivery of private rental and affordable homes. Construction has already commenced, and the first homes in this phase are expected to be completed in 2020. Further to this initial investment, the partnership will also pursue opportunities within Lendlease’s wider residential urban regeneration activities in London and across the U.K. under a 50:50 joint venture. It aims to help address the U.K.’s housing shortage, over time, providing thousands of much-needed homes in London and across the U.K. via the development, and long-term ownership, of Build-to-Rent product.
Lendlease will develop, construct and manage the Build-to-Rent homes on behalf of the partnership, ensuring a high-quality rental product and service, as a part of its strategy to encourage diverse and vibrant communities with a mix of tenures.
Dan Labbad, CEO of International Operations at Lendlease, said: “In recent decades, structural shifts in the housing market have meant that demand has outstripped supply in the private rented sector, leading to a shortfall of homes in London and across the U.K.
Andrea Orlandi, Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Investments Europe at CPPIB, said: “This investment is a great opportunity for CPPIB to further diversify our European real estate portfolio, while at the same time addressing a need in the U.K. Through this partnership, we are able to access a sector we believe is poised for long-term growth, and we are pleased to be able to do so with Lendlease, one of our existing top global partners.”
A New Legend on the Lake: Hilton Arrives in Lake Como
Set amidst the rolling hills and crystalline waters of one of the world's most idyllic destinations, Hilton Lake Como opens its doors, marking Hilton's first property in the region. As the largest hotel in Lake Como, the newly opened property will deliver Hilton's signature hospitality to the renowned leisure destination with its upscale accommodations and awe-inspiring lake views.
Ideally located in the residential heart of the city, between central Como and the Swiss border, the hotel places guests steps away from a haven of romantic villas and luscious gardens including the promenade along Lake Como and the neoclassical Villa Olmo. As one of the most culturally rich and historically significant regions in the world, guests will be able to explore the city's many world-famous works of art, churches, museums, theatres, parks and palaces. If seeking an active holiday, the hotel provides easy access to a number golf courses, tennis courts and water activities including boat trips and sailing lessons. For those looking to explore the glamorous style of Italy, Milan is only 45 minutes away and there are several authentic shopping outlets nearby the hotel.
"The opening of Hilton's first property in Lake Como exemplifies the brand's commitment to expanding its presence in iconic and exciting destinations that matter most to travelers from all over the world," said Andreas Lackner, regional head, full service brand management, Hilton. "This new charming hotel, with its remarkable rooftop and impressive lake views, serves as the perfect addition to our expanding portfolio of hotels and resorts. We are excited to offer guests an unforgettable stay, as well as our trusted service and hospitality."
Additional hotel features and amenities include:
Contemporary Guest Rooms
As the largest hotel in Lake Como with 170 guest rooms, visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the lake from modern and elegantly designed rooms. All rooms have parquet floors, wood and glass furnishings and large windows that invite light to illuminate the guest room space. The hotel has 21 suites, three of which offer lake view private terraces complete with private whirlpools and sunbeds.
Guests can enjoy a variety of gourmet offerings from the hotel's various dining outlets. The hotel's signature restaurant, Satin, serves up inspired cuisines from the Southern Swiss, North Italian and Valtellina regions surrounding the lake and features a wine library and cheese room. Guests can share smaller bites at the hotel's Taffeta lounge and bar or soak in the lake views at the pool adjacent, rooftop dining venue, Terrazza 241.
A New Radisson Blu Signed For Timisoara, Romania
The Rezidor Hotel Group,one of the fastest-growing hotel companies in the world, is pleased to announce the signing of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Timisoara. This takes the group's portfolio in Romania to four hotels. Radisson Blu and Mulberry Development will create an international upper upscale hotel in Timisoara, the main social, economic and cultural hub in western Romania – and the European Capital of Culture for 2021.
Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, said: "We are pleased to continue boosting our presence in Romania, and strengthening our South-Eastern Europe development in secondary cities. We appreciate the local business fundamentals and thank our respected partner, Mulberry Development, for its commitment. Timisoara is a very attractive destination for us; it has significant development potential, and there are major investments with attractive new concepts."
To be built, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Timisoara is expected to be completed in 2020 – and will feature 160 rooms, a signature restaurant and bar concept, 1,000m2 of meeting space (including a ballroom), and a 24/7 fitness center. The property will be an integral part of the ambitious development of the most important combined real estate project in the ISHO neighborhood of Timisoara.
The hotel will be located within walking distance of the old town, which retains much of the ornate 19th Century architecture from when the city was a key part of the Hapsburg Empire.
“Timisoara is more and more visible across Europe, and our city becomes more attractive considering both business and tourism sectors. We are very glad that such important private investments will be made in our city, and that we will host such a distinguished hotel operated in the professional manner you would expect of a top international brand,” remarked Nicolae Robu, Mayor of Timisoara.
Radisson Blu Opens Second Hotel In Lagos, Nigeria
Radisson Blu, the iconic hotel brand driven by innovation and design, is proud to announce the opening of its third hotel in Nigeria, and its second hotel in the country’s largest city, Lagos. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group now has a portfolio of 85 hotels, and over 17,800 rooms in operation and under development in Africa.
Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, said: “We are thrilled to be expanding our presence in Nigeria, one of Africa’s economic powerhouses, with the opening of Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos Ikeja. We have identified Nigeria as a key country for scaled growth, and the addition of our second Radisson Blu in the megacity of Lagos perfectly complements our development strategy.
We are confident the appeal of the international upper upscale Radisson Blu brand and the excellent location of the hotel will attract strong business from both international and domestic travelers.”
The hotel is centrally located in Ikeja, the capital of the Lagos State – home to many corporate headquarters, government offices and large manufacturers. It is situated next to Mobolaji Bank Anthony Highway, a main highway linking Ikeja with the rest of Lagos. The location of Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos Ikeja is also just a few kilometers away from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and close to the suburb’s cultural and tourist attractions.
The 155-room Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos Ikeja offers a choice of contemporary standard and business-class rooms, as well as a range of ultra-stylish one, two and three-bedroom loft suites. All rooms carry a fresh and modern design, with free high-speed wireless Internet.
The hotel has an extensive food and drinks offering. Guests can enjoy the all-day dining restaurant, serving international and local cuisine, or dining at the steak house restaurant that will calm any carnivorous craving. For a relaxing drink, guests have a choice between the stylish lobby café, a bar, the business class lounge or the pool terrace.
The hotel has impressive meeting and events facilities encompassing an area of 2,047m2– including a ballroom, an expansive conference room capable of hosting over 400 guests, and six meeting rooms with an adjoining business center. All meeting rooms are equipped with modern meeting technology and break-out areas.
Leisure facilities include a fully equipped gym and swimming pool for travelers seeking to rejuvenate or maintain their fitness regime.
Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, and La Quinta Holdings Inc., announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta's hotel franchise and hotel management businesses for $1.95 billion in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.
Under the terms of the agreement, stockholders of La Quinta will receive $8.40 per share in cash (approximately $1.0 billion in aggregate), and Wyndham Worldwide will repay approximately $715 million of La Quinta debt net of cash and set aside a reserve of $240 million for estimated taxes expected to be incurred in connection with the taxable spin-off of La Quinta's owned real estate assets into CorePoint Lodging Inc. Immediately prior to the sale of La Quinta to Wyndham Worldwide, La Quinta will spin off its owned real estate assets into a publicly-traded real estate investment trust, CorePoint Lodging.
Wyndham's Hotel Group is the world's largest and most diverse hotel business based on number of properties. With the acquisition of La Quinta's asset-light, fee-for-service business consisting of nearly 900 managed and franchised hotels, Wyndham Hotel Group will span 21 brands and over 9,000 hotels across more than 75 countries.
The addition of La Quinta, one of the largest midscale brands in the industry, will build upon Wyndham Hotel Group's strong midscale presence, expand its reach further into the fast-growing upper-midscale segment, and position Wyndham Hotel Group to be the preferred partner and accommodations provider of developers and guests. The La Quinta Returns® loyalty program, with its 13 million enrolled members, will be combined with the award-winning Wyndham Rewards® program, with its 53 million enrolled members.
Stephen P. Holmes, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Worldwide, said, "This transaction builds on Wyndham Worldwide's proven track record of acquiring companies that are a strong strategic and cultural fit, add highly-regarded brands to our portfolio and offer clear opportunities to drive shareholder value through growth, shared best practices and sharp execution."
"La Quinta will immediately become one of our flagship brands," said Geoff Ballotti, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Hotel Group. "It is an exceptionally strong brand that is led by service-minded associates who deliver some of the highest customer engagement levels in our industry. We expect that La Quinta guests and franchisees will benefit from our intense focus on product quality and our best-in-class technology, digital, loyalty and distribution platforms. This acquisition also significantly expands our hotel management business and provides us with substantial new opportunities to drive increased growth in our business."
Keith Cline, President and Chief Executive Officer of La Quinta, added, "As we anticipated, the separation of our businesses is enabling greater strategic clarity and allowing our company to take advantage of growth opportunities that naturally flow from each business model. To that end, we are excited to announce the addition of the La Quinta franchise and management businesses to Wyndham Hotel Group's portfolio. We believe that, under the management of Wyndham's seasoned team of executives, the La Quinta portfolio will grow and thrive, yielding long-term benefits to the stakeholders of both companies."
Wyndham Worldwide will acquire La Quinta's hotel franchise and hotel management for $1.95 billion
ADB Provides Support for Three Infrastructure Projects in Cambodia
The Asian Development Bank(ADB) signed three project loan agreements with the Government of Cambodia to provide support for road network improvement, provincial water supply and sanitation, and smallholder farmers development in Tonle Sap.
The loan agreements were signed by Aun Pornmoniroth, Senior Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia, and Samiuela Tukuafu, ADB Country Director for Cambodia.
The $70 million Road Network Improvement Project will improve 147-kilometer of road for all-weather conditions within the provinces of Prey Veng, Siem Reap, and Svay Rieng. The project will support national efforts to make the transport sector more efficient, safe, and disaster-resilient and further enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to better manage road assets through improved planning of operations and maintenance. Peoples’ awareness and observation of road safety and regulations is expected to improve.
The Provincial Water Supply and Sanitation Project will help expand and improve urban water supply and sanitation services and will benefit more than 209,000 people in Battambang, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville.
It will include the construction of water and waste water treatment plants, piped water connections, and sewer pipelines. The $50 million loan from ADB will be complemented with a $10 million grant from the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism, funded by the Government of Japan, a €40 million ($43.5 million) loan cofinancing from Agence Française de Développement, and a €4.67 million ($5.09 million) grant from the European Union’s Asia Investment Facility. The Government of Cambodia will contribute $10.54 million.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, issued a $2 billion global bond, highlighting its international leadership role as the largest development institution focused exclusively on growing the private sector in emerging markets.
The heavily oversubscribed issuance – the three-year benchmark bond generated an order book of $2.98 billion, and was IFC’s biggest US dollar debt offering since 2016 – indicated strong investor demand.
“The enthusiastic response from investors at the outset of 2018 is a testament to IFC’s pivotal position as the premier institution creating markets and opportunities in developing countries,” said Jingdong Hua, IFC Vice President & Treasurer.
“Thanks to IFC’s international triple-A credit rating and our standing as a premier global issuer, this $2 billion global bond will unlock financing for business and help create jobs in some of the most challenging and poorest countries – including for climate-smart business and women entrepreneurs”.
The reoffer yield was 2.352 percent—the equivalent of 18.70 basis points over the corresponding U.S. Treasury note. Central banks and other official institutions accounted for 52 percent of the orders, followed by banks at 22 percent. More than 60 percent of orders came from investors in the Americas.
The proceeds of this issue will be swapped into floating-rate U.S. dollar funds that will be available for IFC investments in emerging markets.
IFC has issued US dollar-denominated global bonds each year since 2000, and as a US dollar-based institution, most borrowings are swapped into variable-rate US dollars.
IFC Launches its USD Global Benchmark Issue, Raising $2 Billion to Support Private Sector in Developing Countries
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