Posts tagged with "Bloomberg"

Germany and Denmark plan to invest $9 billion in an island of wind parks to replace Russian gas

August 31, 2022

Germany and Denmark have agreed on a $9 billion deal to build an offshore wind power project in the Baltic Sea that authorities said would provide enough power for up to 4.5 million householdsout of a total of 40.1 million nationwide—by 2030, reports Business Insider.

Prior to the announcement, German residents had worried what would happen to them without Russian power for the grid during the coming winter. Both nations said the new project represents a step toward reducing the region’s reliance on Russian gas and oil.

Under the deal, announced on Monday, August 29,  Denmark will boost its planned wind power capacity on Bornholm Energy Island from 2 to 3 gigawatts, per State of Green, an energy and climate arm of the Danish government.

The deal also includes a 292-mile subsea cable that links Bornholm’s wind parks to the German grid.

Currently, Denmark and Germany have offshore wind power capabilities of 1.5 gigawatts and 1 gigawatts, respectively, in the Baltic Sea, accounting for more than 90% of the region’s wind energy, State of Green wrote in its statement.

The infrastructure to connect the wind parks will cost $3 billion, while $6 billion would be needed to bolster the wind parks, Bloomberg reportedciting the Danish government.

In State of Green’s Monday statement, Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s minister for climate, energy, and utilities, called the project a “landmark in energy history” at a time when “international cooperation is more urgent than ever before.”

Robert Habeck, Germany’s minister for economic affairs and climate action, said the “flagship project” would help Europe achieve “energy security and climate neutrality.”

On Friday, August 26, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbockv emphasized her nation’s desire to pursue the “enormous” potential of offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea, which she said could generate up to 90 gigawatts of power.

“Wind energy from the Baltic Sea will help us fight the climate crisis. And it is an investment in our security: it will help make us less dependent on gas from Russia,” she said.

The world’s total wind power capacity—both onshore and offshor3 is now up to around 837 gigawatts, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. China holds the largest share in the world’s offshore wind market, having raised its offshore wind capacity to 27.7 gigawatts in 2021, per the GWEC.

The European Commission has set a target for increasing its nations’ total wind power capacity to 300 gigawatts by 2050, up from the 16 total gigawatts installed as of May.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

Ciao to U.S. chow: Domino’s Pizza quits Italy after locals shun American pies

August 10, 2022

Domino’s Pizza’s footprint in the Home of Pizza has proven to be short-lived—with Italians favoring local pies over the American version, reports Bloomberg.

After starting operations in Italy seven years ago, Domino’s now has closed all 29 branches nationwide. The company borrowed heavily on its plans to open 880 stores; but faced tough competition from local restaurants that expanded their delivery services during the pandemic. It finally sought protection from creditors after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations.

The company already had reduced operations in the country from its peak in 2020 and stopped offering delivery from its website on July 29.

The U.S.-based chain entered Italy in 2015 through a franchising agreement with ePizza SpA and planned to distinguish itself by providing a structured national delivery service; along with American-style toppings, including pineapple.

“We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom & pop’ restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post-pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending,” ePizza said in a report to investors accompanying its fourth-quarter 2021 results.

Still, the closures came as a surprise to some of its customers, who turned to the chain’s Italian social-media channels—questioning why their calls and orders weren’t going through or why their local store had shut.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Obamas to end exclusive deal with Spotify

April 22, 2022

Higher Ground, the media company started by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, is ending its exclusive podcast deal with Spotify and is shopping for other partners in the podcasting space, reports Variety.

The Obamas are exiting their exclusive pact with Spotify, originally inked in 2019, after being frustrated with the company’s exclusive terms: They want to have their podcast programming distributed as widely as possible, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Higher Ground also has disagreed with Spotify over how many of its shows would feature the former POTUS and FLOTUS, as first reported by reported by Bloomberg.

Higher Ground’s current deal with Spotify runs through October. According to one source, Spotify declined to make an offer to renew the agreement.

Podcasts that Higher Ground has produced for Spotify will continue to launch on the streaming platform through the fall, according to the Bloomberg report. But the company is currently in talks with other audio distribution companies, including Amazon-owned Audible and iHeartMedia, in hopes of reaching a nonexclusive deal for its podcast content.

Higher Ground’s first podcast for Spotify was “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” released in mid-2020, which at one point had ranked as the most-listened-to Spotify original to date. The company also produced “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a series of conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, released on Spotify last year.

In January, Higher Ground’s “The Big Hit Show,” focused on transformational moments of pop culture, premiered on Spotify. The company also released “Tell Them, I Am,” a podcast collection of universal stories from Muslim voices on the platform.

Spotify will retain certain distribution rights to “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and other Higher Ground shows in perpetuity. In addition, wherever the Obamas take their next podcast deal, it is likely that those new projects would be distributed on Spotify on a nonexclusive basis.

Separately, Higher Ground has a pact to produce films and TV shows exclusively for Netflix. The company’s first film, “American Factory,” won the 2019 Oscar for best documentary feature.

Reps for both Spotify and Higher Ground declined to comment.

Research contact: @Variety

Biden orders lawmaker access to Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6

February 17, 2022

President Joe Biden has directed the National Archives to release to Congress former President Donald Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6—rejecting his predecessor’s claims that the logs are subject to executive privilege, reports Bloomberg. 

“The president has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,” White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote in a February 15 letter to David Ferriero, the national archivist of the United States.

Remus directed Ferriero to turn over the records within 15 days of providing notice to Trump, barring a court order. 

“The majority of the entries over which the former president has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” she said.

The panel probing the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested logs for White House visitors on that and other days, as well as other Trump-era records. 

A spokesperson for the committee had no immediate comment Wednesday. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court last month rejected Trump’s bid to block the release of records to the January 6 panel—a victory for the committee and its Democratic chairman, Bennie Thompson. In addition to the visitor logs, the investigative committee has requested all photographs, videos, and other media; including any digital time stamps, taken or recorded within the White House that day.

Trump sought to override Biden’s earlier decision to waive executive privilege and argued that a former president’s need for privacy can outweigh the views of the current chief executive.

The committee has been focusing on the false claims that Trump and his allies pushed about the election outcome and how that played roles in stoking the violence on January 6, 2021. Trump’s lawyers argued that the release “would be a substantial blow to the institution of the presidency.”

In an unsigned, one-paragraph order, the high court said the case didn’t offer the opportunity to decide that question because a lower court found that Trump’s claim would be rejected even if he were still in office. Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, was the only dissent.

The committee agreed to treat entries associated with sensitive appointments, including those related to national security, as confidential and to refrain from sharing or discussing them without prior consultation, Remus wrote. The committee also will receive the records without birth dates or social security numbers.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Yokesters: The Dutch vow to egg Jeff Bezos’ yacht if a bridge is dismantled to let it pass through

February 11, 2022

It’s not exactly smooth sailing these days in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, where locals are voicing their objection to a plan that would temporarily dismantle an historic bridge to enable the passage of a mega-yacht reportedly owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reports NPR.

In fact, some already are making plans—albeit, in jest—for what they will do if the project comes to fruition: Throw eggs at the yacht as it traverses the water under the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as “De Hef.”

Some 13,000 people are “interested” and nearly 4,000 have said they will attendFacebook event titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” which has been shared more than 1,000 times in the week since its creation.

“Calling all Rotterdammers, take a box of rotten eggs with you and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht when it sails through the Hef in Rotterdam,” wrote organizer Pablo Strörmann.

He told the NL Times that the protest started as a joke among friends and has quickly gotten “way out of hand.” (The English-language news site also notes that this isn’t Strörmann’s first campaign to go viral.)

The news of De Hef’s potential disassembly, however brief, has clearly struck a chord with both locals and international observers.

It all started last week when Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond reported that the city appeared willing to grant a request to dismantle the centuries-old steel bridge so that Bezos’ yacht could pass through.

De Hef was built in 1927 as a railway bridge, with a midsection that can be lifted to allow ship traffic to pass underneath, according to The Washington Post. It was replaced by a tunnel and decommissioned in 1994–but was saved from demolition by public protests and later declared a national monument.

The yacht’s three masts apparently would be too high for the bridge’s roughly 130-foot clearance. The yacht in question was reportedly commissioned by Bezos and currently is being built at the Oceanco shipyard in The Netherlands, according to Boat International. It will comprise three masts with aluminum and steel construction and will measure more than 415 feet in length.

Once delivered, not only will she become the world’s largest sailing yacht, but she also will hold the title for the largest superyacht ever built in the Netherlands.

The waterway where the bridge sits is the only way the ship can get from the shipyard in Alblasserdam to the open seas, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. So Oceanco asked Rotterdam officials to temporarily remove the middle section of the bridge.

City spokesperson Netty Kros told the CBC that “the applicant” would cover the costs of the project but did not clarify whether that refers to the yacht’s owner, the shipbuilder or both.

Bloomberg reports that Oceanco will foot the bill. NPR has reached out to Amazon and Oceanco to confirm these details.

The city appeared to agree to the arrangement last week, with municipal project leader Marcel Walravens telling Rijnmond that the project would proceed for logistical and economic reasons. He said an exact plan was being developed but estimated it would take about a week to prepare and another week to “put everything back in place.”

Research contact: @NPR

Commuting by bike is booming in five U.S. cities

January 28, 2022

In 2019, just 0.5% of U.S. commuters rode a bike to work—the smallest share of any mode. But tiny shifts can make a big difference. Data-driven bike plans, safety improvements, and supportive political leadership have helped boost bike commute rates in several cities nationwide in recent years, according to a new report from the League of American Bicyclists, reports Bloomberg.

In Benchmarking Bike Networks, the country’s largest bicycling advocacy organization takes stock of the best infrastructure and policy practices for getting more people pedaling.

The report spotlights Boston; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Oakland, California; and Missoula, Montana—cities of diverse size and geography where bike commute shares are more than twice the national average and have increased over the last decade.

Ken McLeod, the league’s policy director, hopes they can serve as models for other communities. “Benchmarking shows what really good communities are doing and what others can do so that we’re all pushing towards the same goal of safe bike networks that are accessible to everyone,” he said.

Consistent across the five cities was how long local officials have been planning for better cycling facilities—updating their proposals regularly. In Oakland, a suite of improvements focused on a “ladder” of two parallel streets and seven connecting streets on either side of the MacArthur BART station—especially after a 2007 bike plan showed how many more residents lived a short bike ride away from the station versus a short walk.

With a targeted approach, the number of bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes has soared across Oakland, often replacing shared lane marking —also known as sharrows—following best safety practices for high-traffic streets, McLeod said.

The report also identifies street repavement cycles as an efficient way to stripe lanes and add protections. Austin’s faster-than-average repaving schedule, where streets are resurfaced every 10 years rather than the usual 20, has helped to build bike lanes at breakneck speed; the city recently passed the halfway point on building a planned 400+ mile cycling network, marking a 34% increase in miles since 2014.

Political support also played a powerful role in that rollout, with Austin voters approving bond measures in 2016 and 2019 that supplied dedicated funds for biking and walking improvements.

Along the same lines, culture change led by top decision-makers laid important groundwork in nearly every city. In 2015, Missoula’s city council adopted a 30-year growth plan that highlighted needed infrastructure improvements to support its sustainability, affordability and safety objectives. That process led to a citywide goal of tripling the share of commuters who bike, walk, and take transit by 2045, which then guided the creation of a more ambitious bike plan.

“Knowing that policy makers had wanted the mode share to look different in 30 years, it enabled the staff and advocates to push harder,” McLeod said.

Helpful as these examples may be as cities adapt to pandemic-era commuting, they come with a significant caveat: Because the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t release biking and walking commute data from its tumultuous 2020 survey, the report doesn’t capture COVID-19’s effects on cycling—which were complicated, given that overall commuting plummeted at the same time as interest in recreational cycling surged.

While analytics companies have tracked both trends, the lack of standardization from year to year prevents a fair comparison.

This ties into a broader problem that disadvantages the cycling community, McLeod said: The federal government doesn’t routinely collect data on bike facilities the way it does for highways and bridges—making a national assessment of cycling conditions all but impossible. That’s also true for pedestrian networks. McLeod pointed to how data collection and mapping of deteriorating bridges informed President Joe Biden’s recent announcement of a $27.5 billion investment in those spans over the next five years.

“The lack of biking and walking network data means we can’t use similar messaging or provide accurate estimates of needs for bicycle and pedestrian networks,” McLeod said. “I hope this report helps us move towards

Research contact: @Bloomberg

The super-rich are forming an exclusive new club

October 25, 2021

Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

He wouldn’t have to worry about that problem at a new, invitation-only investment and networking group for people with a net worth of $100 million or more. The club, called R360, routinely turns away billionaires who aspire to a membership that includes rarified amenities.

Indeed, for $180,000, a three-year membership includes investments opportunities, access to West Point generals, confidential support groups, and private getaways, Bloomberg reports.

Recently, two billionaires were among those nominated to join R360. Neither of them made it past the membership committee, according to Charles Garcia, one of the group’s managing partners.

“I took some grief for that,” said the 60-year-old entrepreneur, a consummate networker who founded Sterling Financial Investment Group in the late 1990s and chaired South Florida chapters of wealth network Tiger 21– an exclusive peer membership organization of high-net-worth entrepreneurs, investors, and executives— for many years.

Garcia explains, “One person seemed to want to leverage the group to benefit their own business activities, and the other didn’t want to integrate his family.”

Neither of those are in line with the values considered core to the group. Members with those values — which include honor, entrepreneurial grit, and generosity of spirit — are invited to go on a “journey” to gain mastery across six kinds of capital: financial, intellectual, spiritual, human, emotional and social.

There are countless formal and informal networks for wealthy individuals and families, and R360 aims to find a place among them. Tiger 21, perhaps the most widely known group, has nearly 1,000 members paying dues of $30,000 a year.

For the ultra-wealthy, these groups provide a sort of confidential, supercharged coaching network on everything from figuring out one’s purpose in life to learning more about philanthropy to understanding the blockchain.

Then there are philanthropic networks, such as the invite-only Synergos Global Philanthropy Circle, founded by Peggy Dulany and her late father, David Rockefeller, with more than 100 member families around the world. Like R360, GPC describes membership as a journey—a year-long cycle of “inspiring, engaging and connecting philanthropists and social investors to create a better world.” Dues are $25,000 a year.

R360 is set up as a limited partnership, with 48 founding partner, who contribute  $350,000 each, which equates to about a 60% ownership. The group wants to add about 50 members a year until reaching 500 in the United States and 500 abroad.

 Garcia stresses that R360 will never be sold, and that “the idea is to have this around 100, 200 years from now.”

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Zillow pauses homebuying as tech-powered flipping hits snag

October 19, 2021

Zillow Group is taking a break from buying U.S. homes after the online real estate giant’s pivot into tech-powered house-flipping hit a snag. According to a report by Bloomberg, Seattle-based Zillow—which acquired more than 3,800 homes in the second quarter—will stop pursuing new purchases for the remainder of the year as it works through a backlog of properties already in its pipeline.

“We’re operating within a labor- and supply-constrained economy inside a competitive real estate market—especially in the construction, renovation and closing spaces,” Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We have not been exempt from these market and capacity issues and we now have an operational backlog for renovations and closings.”

Zillow shares dropped as much as 11.4%,to $83.54, in New York—the biggest intraday slide in more than seven months. The stock had slipped 31% this year through Friday’s close after nearly tripling in 2020.

Shares of Opendoor, one of Zillow’s competitors, jumped as much as 7.9% to $25.27 after the company said it was “open for business.”

Zillow is best known for publishing real estate listings online and calculating estimated home values—called Zestimates —that let users keep track of how much their home is worth. The popularity of the company’s apps and websites fuels profits in Zillow’s online marketing business.

But more recently, Zillow has been buying and selling thousands of U.S. homes. In 2018, the company launched Zillow Offers, joining a small group of tech-enabled home-flippers known as iBuyers. In the new business, Zillow invites homeowners to request an offer on their house and uses algorithms to generate a price. If an owner accepts, Zillow buys the property, makes light repairs and puts it back on the market.

Zillow said it will continue to market and sell homes during the break from new acquisitions and will close deals on houses that are under contract.

“Pausing new contracts will enable us to focus on sellers already under contract with us and our current home inventory,” Wacksman said.

The iBuying process is powered by algorithms and large pools of capital, but it’s also reliant on humans. Before Zillow signs a contract to buy a house, it sends an inspector to make sure the property doesn’t need costly repairs. After it buys a home, contractors replace carpets and repaint interiors.

Finding workers for those tasks has been challenging during a pandemic that has stretched labor across industries. Staffing shortages have been exacerbated by Zillow’s willingness to let customers set a closing date months into the future, meaning it could agree to buy a house in August and begin renovating it in November.

“Given unexpected high demand, Zillow Offers has hit its capacity for buying homes for the remainder of the year,” an employee who works in the company’s home-buying operation in two states wrote in an email to a business partner that was viewed by Bloomberg.

It’s not the first time that the company has halted purchases. Zillow stopped buying homes in the early days of the pandemic, as did its main competitor, Opendoor.  While the companies ultimately benefited from the housing boom that started when early economic lockdowns lifted, it took Zillow several months to resume purchasing homes at its pre-pandemic pace.

For now, the company plans to refer potential customers to traditional real estate agents.

Research contact: @futurism

Men need not apply to world’s largest e-scooter factory

September 15, 2021

Ola Electric Mobility’s new electric-scooter factory in India aims to build 10 million two-wheelers annually—or 15% of the world’s e-scooters by 2022—in an operation run and managed entirely by women, Bloomberg reports.

Led by Bhavish Aggarwal, the e-mobility business is a follow-up to ride-hailing startup Ola. It is expected to make its debut on public markets next year. The vision for his newest venture is to provide the world “clean mobility, a carbon-negative footprint, and an inclusive workforce,” the founder said.

The first group of workers started this week at the factory in Krishnagiri, about 2.5 hours southeast of Bangalore, which will cost $330 million to complete. “At full capacity, Futurefactory will employ over 10,000 women, making it the world’s largest women-only factory and the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility globally,” he wrote in a blog on Monday, September 13.

Backed by SoftBank Group and Tiger Global Management, Ola Electric looks to roll out a scooter every two seconds after completing a planned expansion next year.

According to Bloomberg, the factory will be substantially automated and include 3,000 robots working alongside the all-female workforce.

Aggarwal’s goal is to eventually assemble a full lineup of electric vehicles including three-wheelers and cars. Ola’s inaugural S1 e-scooter will be priced at 99,999 rupees ($1,360) to compete with traditional two-wheelers in India. Exports are to begin later this year.

“Enabling women with economic opportunities improves not just their lives, but that of their families and indeed the whole community,” Aggarwal said. Women’s participation in the local manufacturing industry stands at just 12% and, “for India to be the world’s manufacturing hub, we must prioritize upskilling and generating employment for our women workforce,” the founder said in the company’s blog.

Research contact: @business

Belgian study: Moderna creates more than twice as many COVID antibodies as Pfizer vaccine

September 2, 2021

Moderna’s COVID vaccine generated more than double the antibodies of a similar shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE in research that compared immune responses evoked by the two inoculations, Bloomberg reports.

The study is one of the first to compare levels of antibodies produced by the two vaccines, which are thought to be one of the important components of the immune response. It didn’t examine whether the antibody differences led to a difference in efficacy over time between the two shots—which both were more than 90% effective in final-stage clinical trials.

The research looked at antibody levels against the coronavirus spike protein in about 1,600 workers at a major Belgium hospital system whose blood samples were analyzed 6 weeks to 10 weeks after vaccination.

The participants hadn’t been infected with the coronavirus before getting vaccinated. Levels among those who got two doses of the Moderna vaccine averaged 2,881 units per milliliter, compared with 1,108 units per milliliter among those who received two Pfizer doses. 

The results—published on September 30 in a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA—suggested that the differences might be explained by the higher amount of active ingredient in the Moderna vaccine — 100 micrograms,versus 30 micrograms in Pfizer-BioNTech—or the slightly longer interval between doses of the Moderna vaccine —four weeks, versus three weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech.

Outside researchers said it was premature to conclude that the difference in antibody levels was medically important. Bloomberg notes.

“I would urge caution in making the conclusion that because Moderna demonstrated a slightly higher peak on average that its efficacy will be slower to wane,” said David Benkeser, a biostatistician at Emory University, in an email. “Such a conclusion requires a host of assumptions that have not yet been evaluated.”

Both vaccines produce high levels of antibodies, he noted, and other studies have shown even relatively low levels of antibodies are protective.

Still, it’s possible that higher initial antibody levels might correlate with longer duration of protection against mild breakthrough infections, said Deborah Steensels, a microbiologist at Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg, a large hospital in Belgium, who was lead author on the study.  Also, if higher antibody levels are confirmed to be important, then the Moderna vaccine might be better for immunocompromised people who don’t respond well to vaccines, she said.

Pfizer said in a statement that its vaccine “continues to be highly efficacious” in preventing Covid-19, including against severe cases and hospitalization. A continuing analysis of its final-stage study has shown a decline of efficacy against symptomatic infection over time, the drugmaker said, but initial trial data also show that a third dose of the existing vaccine at least six months after the first two significantly raises neutralizing antibody levels.

Moderna’s vaccine was associated with a two-fold risk reduction against breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections compared to Pfizer’s in a review of people in the Mayo Clinic Health System in the United States from January to July. The results were reported in a separate study released ahead of publication and peer review on August 9.

Research contact: @business