Categories
Business

AmEx Debuts $50 Perk in Bid to Help Small Businesses Survive

American Express Co. will offer U.S. cardmembers as much as $50 to encourage them to spend more at small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

All cardholders will receive a $5 credit when they spend $10 or more at a small U.S. business, with the option to receive the credit as many as 10 times. American Express has committed more than $200 million to the promotion, part of its largest-ever global campaign to “Shop Small.”

American Express crafted the offer after it conducted research that found that 62% of U.S. small businesses needed to see a return of consumer spending by the end of the year in order to stay afloat.

“We have the ability to drive that spend into local businesses—we feel this offer is truly going to do that,” Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Rutledge said in a phone interview.

Rutledge says American Express has been able to push consumers to spend at local shops in the past. The firm’s Small Business Saturday event—a promotion held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving—has helped drive $120 billion in spending to U.S. small businesses in the decade since its inception.

The pandemic has devastated mom and pop businesses as consumers were ordered to stay home to stem the spread of the deadly virus. The typical small business collected revenue that was 50% lower than a year earlier at the end of March, when the lockdown orders were in effect for much of the country, according to data from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Among the projected beneficiaries of the American Express program are hard-hit independently owned restaurants. The promotion corresponds to a new program from the dining reservation app Resy, which  was purchased by American Express in August 2019 for an undisclosed sum.

Resy At Home, which debuted last week, offers food and products from restaurants on the app’s platform across the U.S. In New York, that promotion includes “At Home Specials,” unconventional take-out packages from 16 New York restaurants and bars such as Pasquale Jones and Please Don’t Tell. The package from the popular Italian-American restaurant Don Angie in the West Village includes riffs on some of its bestsellers, such as pepperoni-stuffed garlic flatbread and eggplant Parmesan lasagna ($95 for two people). In Brooklyn, Red Hook Tavern’s 4th of July package will feature corn dogs and house-made cotton candy. 

All Resy orders are eligible for the $5 credit.

For its part, American Express has been retooling rewards on some of its most popular cards to appeal to the types of spending that consumers are doing at home. The firm recently introduced new credits for wireless and streaming services for its Platinum cards, for instance.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Actors Fund Expands Insurance Education Campaign As Theater Workers Face Loss Of Health Benefits

With thousands of out-of-work theater professionals likely to become ineligible for their union insurance over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown continues, The Actors Fund is launching a campaign to enhance its health insurance counseling and enrollment support services.

A lead gift of $1 million from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will launch The Actors Fund’s “Every Artist Insured” campaign. The Actors Fund will hire and train additional health insurance counselors, doubling the staff of their Artists Health Insurance Resource Center to provide individuals and families with education and assistance needed to select and secure affordable health insurance plans through the state health insurance exchanges. The enhanced program starts immediately.

The Actors Fund will continue to raise additional funds needed to fund the program over the next 12 months.

Earlier today, the Broadway League officially extended the Broadway shutdown period until Jan. 3, 2021, though many productions don’t expect to return until Spring 2021 at the earliest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted disproportionate economic damage on Equity members and the performing arts and entertainment community at large, and the suffering of those in live performance disciplines is especially deep and prolonged,” said Actors’ Equity Executive Director and Actors Fund Board member Mary McColl. “The Actors Fund knows who our members are, what they need and they are proving yet again that they can respond quickly to those needs. Now more than ever, we are learning just how important they are to the health of everyone who works in entertainment.”

Said AFM Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer, “The pandemic has devastated our members’ work opportunities and has had a profound impact on our musicians’ lives. Many of our members have experienced deep anxiety about maintaining much-needed health insurance. Our musicians have always counted on The Actors Fund for everything from counseling to housing to financial relief, and now their support for our members in remaining insured will be more important than ever.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

AmEx Debuts $50 Perk in Bid to Help Small Businesses Survive

American Express Co. will offer U.S. cardmembers as much as $50 to encourage them to spend more at small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

All cardholders will receive a $5 credit when they spend $10 or more at a small U.S. business, with the option to receive the credit as many as 10 times. American Express has committed more than $200 million to the promotion, part of its largest-ever global campaign to “Shop Small.”

American Express crafted the offer after it conducted research that found that 62% of U.S. small businesses needed to see a return of consumer spending by the end of the year in order to stay afloat.

“We have the ability to drive that spend into local businesses—we feel this offer is truly going to do that,” Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Rutledge said in a phone interview.

Rutledge says American Express has been able to push consumers to spend at local shops in the past. The firm’s Small Business Saturday event—a promotion held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving—has helped drive $120 billion in spending to U.S. small businesses in the decade since its inception.

The pandemic has devastated mom and pop businesses as consumers were ordered to stay home to stem the spread of the deadly virus. The typical small business collected revenue that was 50% lower than a year earlier at the end of March, when the lockdown orders were in effect for much of the country, according to data from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Among the projected beneficiaries of the American Express program are hard-hit independently owned restaurants. The promotion corresponds to a new program from the dining reservation app Resy, which  was purchased by American Express in August 2019 for an undisclosed sum.

Resy At Home, which debuted last week, offers food and products from restaurants on the app’s platform across the U.S. In New York, that promotion includes “At Home Specials,” unconventional take-out packages from 16 New York restaurants and bars such as Pasquale Jones and Please Don’t Tell. The package from the popular Italian-American restaurant Don Angie in the West Village includes riffs on some of its bestsellers, such as pepperoni-stuffed garlic flatbread and eggplant Parmesan lasagna ($95 for two people). In Brooklyn, Red Hook Tavern’s 4th of July package will feature corn dogs and house-made cotton candy. 

All Resy orders are eligible for the $5 credit.

For its part, American Express has been retooling rewards on some of its most popular cards to appeal to the types of spending that consumers are doing at home. The firm recently introduced new credits for wireless and streaming services for its Platinum cards, for instance.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Byron to go into administration in attempt to sell parts of burger chain

The private equity owners of the burger chain Byron are preparing to place the company into administration in the hope of attracting a bidder to buy parts of the business in a so-called pre-pack administration.

Byron, which is majority-owned by Three Hills Capital Partners, filed a notice of intention on Monday to formally appoint administrators, first reported by Sky News.

A source close to efforts to sell the company said this was done to protect the business from creditors and allow potential bidders to select the parts of Byron they may want to buy.

The accountancy firm KPMG has been trying to sell Byron since early May but has attracted no bids to buy the 51-restaurant chain as a going concern. However, the source said three parties had expressed interest in buying parts of the business – such as the brand name and a small number of restaurant sites.

Byron, Three Hills and KPMG declined to comment.

Byron, which was founded by Tom Byng in 2007, employs about 1,200 people, the majority of whom have been furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme. Many of those employed are unlikely to be kept on following the administration.

The chain and its owners are said to be confident a pre-pack sale can be arranged before mid-July, when it hopes to start reopening restaurants that have been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is unclear how many Byron restaurants were profitable before the virus struck, or how many would likely remain following administration. Last year the company recorded a turnover of £70.9m, with a gross profit of £31.6m.

Earlier this month the Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s, said it would close up to 120 restaurants, with almost 3,000 jobs losses.

The Casual Dining Group, which owns Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, warned last month it may have to call in administrators. The group is in talks with a number of potential buyers.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Now Starbucks To Suspend Ads On Social Media

Starbucks is the latest major advertiser to withdraw from advertising on social media platforms.

The coffee giant also said it will continue to have discussions internally and with its media partners as well as civil rights organizations to stop the spread of hate speech.

“We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech. We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change,” Starbucks said.

A campaign organized by the Anti-Defamation League or ADL is seeking advertisers to suspend their ad spending on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July 2020.

The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign has been organized to protest against Facebook’s handling of objectionable posts as well as its moderation approach.

On Friday, Verizon said it has joined the ongoing advertising boycott of Facebook and Instagram. Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s as well as various sports and outdoor lifestyle companies have already joined the Facebook boycott.

While the boycott initially began with Facebook, it has now spread to other social media platforms too.

Unilever said Friday it would not run brand advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the U.S. until at least the end of this year. The consumer goods giant noted that more needs to be done by its social media partners in the areas of “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”

Coca-Cola Co. said it will halt advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days, saying there was no place for racism on social media.

Facebook has come under intense pressure to improve how it moderates the content on its platform, including recent controversial posts by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In response to the boycott campaign, Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said late Friday that his company would change its policies to prohibit hate speech in its advertisements.

The social media giant added it will expand its policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads that suggest these groups are inferior or express contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Britain facing ‘interest rates of MINUS three percent’ – major finance warning issued

Speaking to Sky News, the Harvard Professor claimed the only way to get the UK economy back on track should Britain suffer a second wave hits, would be to slash interest rates. In a major finance warning. He said: “If a couple of years from now we’re still growing really slowly, unemployment is high and we’re still having problems and interest rates are zero, I would advocate having deeply negative interest rates to try to spur consumption.

“In theory, it works a lot the same as when you have high inflation and you cut interest rates from five percent to three percent.

“I’d say certainly minus three percent would be a thing you’d like to be able to do.

“They can’t right now, it would take a lot of preparation but it wouldn’t be that hard.”

He explained: “We have to have a way certainly in this particular crisis that we’re in.

“There’s going to be restructuring, there isn’t going to be the same economy when we get to the other end of this.

“Some kind of businesses just aren’t going to be viable, other new ones will appear.

“So the problem with the current strategy which particularly with the United States just involves guaranteeing everything is that’s not sustainable.

“If we come back really quickly it won’t be a problem, but if we don’t there’s a second wave and things will continue, you have to give flexibility for the system to sort itself out.

“Negative rates do that, it’s cheap to borrow but it’s not free.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

This Day That Year: Personalis (PSNL)

Shares of Personalis Inc. (PSNL) are down 61 percent from their 52-week high of $31.88, recorded last June, and trade around $12.

The Company made its debut on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 20, 2019, by setting a public offering at $17 per share.

Menlo Park, California-based Personalis is a cancer genomics company providing sequencing and data analysis services to support the development of cancer therapies.
The Company’s NeXT Platform, which provides information on all of the approximately 20,000 human genes, together with the immune system, helps its biopharmaceutical customers to obtain new insights into the mechanisms of response and resistance to therapy as well as new potential therapeutic targets.

Apart from biopharmaceutical companies, Personalis’ customers also include universities, non-profits, and government entities.

NeXT Platform is designed to offer two services for its customers – ImmunoID NeXT Tumor Biopsy and NeXT Liquid Biopsy (in development).

— ImmunoID NeXT helps oncology researchers to comprehensively analyze both a tumor and its microenvironment from a single tumor sample. A total of 26 customers have placed orders for NeXT as of March 31, 2020.

— NeXT Liquid Biopsy, which is currently in development, to sequence all of the approximately 20,000 genes in the human genome, is designed to help the Company’s biopharmaceutical customers identify biological changes across multiple time points for each patient in their trials that they would otherwise miss with the current, narrowly focused liquid biopsy panels. Personalis is aiming to launch the NeXT Liquid Biopsy this year.

As the Company’s genomic sequencing and analytics solutions continue to gain traction in the applications of oncology research and immuno-oncology, oncology diagnostics, and whole-genome sequencing, its revenue has been growing rapidly.

Early this month, Personalis inked a collaboration with Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT), which has expertise in precision genetic medicine, to better characterize certain types of immune response to benefit patients with rare diseases.

The Company’s annual revenue, which was $9.4 million in 2017, rose to $37.8 million in 2018, and further jumped to $65.2 million in 2019. Net loss was $23.6 million or $7.78 per share in 2017; $19.9 million or $6.49 per share in 2018 and $25.1 million or $1.39 per share in 2019.

The quarterly net loss in the first quarter ended March 31, 2020, was $9.1 million or $0.29 per share on revenue of $19.2 million. This compared with a quarterly net loss of $5.7 million or $1.84 per share and revenue of $14 million in the year-ago quarter.

Personalis ended March 31, 2020, with cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments of $120.0 million.

PSNL has traded in a range of $4.27 to $31.88 in the last 1 year. The stock closed Friday’s (June 19, 2020) trading at $12.45, up 2.72%.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

BP sells petrochemical business to Ineos for $5bn

The fossil fuel producer BP has sold its petrochemicals business to Ineos in a $5bn (£4.1bn) deal that will boost the oil company’s under-pressure balance sheet.

Ineos, a British petrochemicals company, will immediately pay BP a deposit of $400m, followed by $3.6bn when the deal completes and then another $1bn in three installments by June 2021.

The deal will result in Ineos taking on BP’s aromatics division, which produces chemicals for the polyester used in clothing, film and packaging, as well as BP’s acetyls business, whose products are used in food flavourings, paints and glues.

The decline in oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has damaged the finances of oil producers around the world, accelerating BP’s need to cut costs and restructure. BP said the crisis would take as much as £14bn from the value of its assets and it is cutting 10,000 jobs worldwide.

BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, said he recognised the sale would be a “surprise” for the petrochemicals business, adding the company would “do our best to minimise uncertainty” for workers.

The deal also represents a doubling down of Ineos on its bet on plastics, with the pandemic used by advocates for single-use packaging despite long-running and high-profile campaigns against the rising tide of plastic waste.

It is only the latest deal by the Ineos founder and chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose stake in the company has made him one of Britain’s richest people, with a fortune estimated at £12.2bn by the Sunday Times. Ineos, which started with a buyout of BP’s chemicals business in 1992, has grown into the UK’s largest private company, with an annual turnover of $60bn.

Ineos said the deal was “a good fit” with its existing businesses, including rejoining two parts of a site in Hull and expanding the company’s operations in Geel, Belgium. It will include the transfer of facilities in the US, UK, Belgium, China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia. In 2019 the businesses produced 9.7m tonnes of petrochemicals.

Ratcliffe said: “We are delighted to acquire these top-class businesses from BP, extending the Ineos position in global petrochemicals and providing great scope for expansion and integration with our existing business.”

Ratcliffe, a prominent backer of the Brexit campaign, has used his wealth to fund a number of surprising investments away from his core business in recent years, including buying the French football club Nice, the British cycling team previously known as Team Sky and an investment to build a successor to the rugged Land Rover Defender off-road vehicle.

The billionaire has also faced criticism for a reported decision to quit the UK for Monaco, which is known for its low personal tax rates, in 2018.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

Reviving Britain’s Economy Is Tough With an Aging Workforce

The coronavirus pandemic is transforming workplaces across the world, with offices and factory floors adjusting to social-distancing rules. For metal pressing company Bruderer U.K., it’s underscored a weakness in the British economy that management has been grappling with for years.

About 60% of employees at the firm’s plant in Luton, southern England, is aged over 60, putting them statistically at higher risk of complications from Covid-19 than younger workers. Managing Director Adrian Haller said he’s been trying to train apprentices and hire fresh blood for years, but to little avail.

“Our engineers couldn’t go out to site because of their age,” said Haller. “There’s a massive space between the ages of 25 and 40. I’ve been looking for service engineers for over four years. It’s horrendous.”

Already mired in the worst productivity slump since the Industrial Revolution, the U.K. is now headed for the deepest recession among developed nations after recording more Covid-19 deaths than anywhere else in Europe. The downturn will arrive just as the decision to leave the European Union’s seamless labor market reduces the supply of workers who previously helped plug skill shortages in some industries that are key cogs in the economy.

From producers of medical packing components to truck drivers and agriculture, the pandemic has made the need to address the rapidly aging workforce more urgent. 

With young workers bearing the brunt of job losses, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said on Friday that one of his priorities is to support people who have lost their job to find new work. He is due to unveil more details of recovery plans in the coming weeks.

“The combination of an aging workforce in some sectors and the potential changes to worker availability and migration rules, essentially is coming together with this huge increase in unemployment,” said Stephen Evans, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, which develops policies on employment and skills. “If we invest now, we can improve them together.”

One area where the challenge is particularly acute is among hauler companies. Truck drivers carry 98% of goods in Britain, making them the logistical backbone of the economy. Yet their average age is about 57, according to the Road Haulage Association.

Finding younger people able—or willing—to invest as much as 5,000 pounds ($6,190) in qualifying for a license to drive a truck isn’t easy. The job typically pays only marginally higher than the average wage and a life on the road doesn’t appeal to everyone.

To fill the resulting 60,000 shortfall in personnel, companies have for years looked elsewhere. Depending on the day, up to 60% of the truckers on U.K. roads are from continental Europe. A post-Brexit requirement that immigrants can only take jobs paying at least 25,600 pounds could halt that.

The pandemic has laid bare the risks of failing to bring more young people into the job. The government even had to change rules that require heavy goods vehicle drivers over the age of 65 to undergo an annual medical, after warnings that a lack of appointments in a stretched health service could force up to 30,000 truckers off the road.

“No lorries would have been disastrous for medicine, a disaster for supermarkets, and for all of us,” said Rod McKenzie, policy director at the haulers association, which is leading a government-backed initiative to recruit a more diverse driver pool. “We shouldn’t take things for granted. If things work well now, that doesn’t mean to say you can forget about it.”

Trucking is an extreme case, but across the economy a shift is happening as the birth rate drops to a record and better health care prolongs our active lives. Just over 11% of over 65s are still working, more than double the proportion 20 years ago. While a higher activity rate is a positive for the economy, relying on those older workers with no pipeline of new recruits to replace them is not.

Even now that lockdown restrictions are being lifted, sexagenarians and others with underlying health issues are warned to take special care to minimize contact with others. That’s easier for HGV drivers, but not simple in most workplaces.

Bruderer’s Haller has had to find a way to keep his business operating while protecting employees that may be at greatest risk. Most were unable to do their job while isolating at home.

The company is still operating at just half of its usual capacity as some workers—including one aged 75—continue to shield from the virus and sluggish demand has slashed revenue to a quarter of usual levels.

Coronavirus could help to solve some of the problems it has exposed. With the right, targeted support, people who have lost their job could be retrained to fill some of the gaps.

But younger workers’ attitudes and skill-sets have been shaped by successive governments encouraging higher education over vocational qualifications. A 2010 study found that just 32% of 16-18 year-olds in Britain were undertaking technical training, compared with almost half in the rest of the EU.

That was laid bare this year in farming. With about 12% of agricultural workers aged over 70 and little interest among younger people, the industry has long relied on a huge number of seasonal workers from Eastern Europe to get the harvest in.

Once it became apparent that those pickers would struggle to arrive this year, industry bodies and the government tried to encourage furloughed British workers into the fields with a high profile “Pick for Britain” campaign. But while data from jobs site Indeed showed an initial jump in interest, recruiters said that few actually accepted positions.

For Haller, making precision metal parts is hardly more popular. He’s relocating the firm to the Midlands, a region in the country’s industrial heartland with more training centers and potentially a larger pool of qualified workers.

The trick is to get the balance right. Finding trained, skilled workers in their 30s and 40s is where Bruderer struggles most, he said.

“You need to have a guy with a wide varied experience, so you do need age,” he said. “When I go out and try to get a new electro-mechanical engineer, the quality is not there at all.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Business

RBI readies plan to check health of banks

The central bank has not set a deadline for banks to conclude the stress-test exercise, but senior bankers opine that some were already looking at this, and will now fast-track it by September-end, when they will have a better picture of their books after the moratorium on the servicing of loans and a 180-day view on the performance of borrowers’ accounts.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to carry out detailed stress tests due to the impact of COVID-19 on their books and put capital-raising plans with board approvals in place, if needed.

This is the first major regulatory move by the central bank to ascertain the health of banks and take proactive measures to ring-fence them after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The central bank in its communiqué to chief executive officers of banks on June 19 said stress tests would take into account three scenarios – baseline, medium, and severe stress – which will cover all key financial parameters pertaining to the quality of the book.

If there is significant capital impairment, clear-cut-board approved capital-raising plans are to be in place.

While “precautionary provisioning for COVID-19 has not been explicitly stated in the letter, it cannot be ruled out”, said a source.

This may call for even more capital to be raised by banks, and the sums set aside for state-run banks for their recapitalisation in the Union Budget may need an immediate revisit.

The central bank has not set a deadline for banks to conclude the stress-test exercise, but senior bankers opine that some were already looking at this, and will now fast-track it by September-end, when they will have a better picture of their books after the moratorium on the servicing of loans and a 180-day view on the performance of borrowers’ accounts.

The latest RBI move should be read in the light of its pre-Covid Financial Stability Report (FSR-December 2019), which had observed that while the banking sector had shown signs of stabilisation, the performance of state-run banks needed to improve and efforts needed to be taken to build buffers against disproportionate operational risk losses.

After COVID-19, this is a given.

The stress tests had indicated that under the baseline scenario, the gross non-performing asset (GNPAs) ratios of all banks may move to 9.9 per cent by September 2020, from 9.3 per cent in September 2019 due to changes in the macroeconomic scenario, marginal increase in slippages, and the denominator effect of declining credit growth.

Under severe stress, the GNPA will rise to 10.5 per cent, and for 52 banks, it would move up to 15.6 per cent, from 9.4 per cent. This may require additional tier-1 capital.

Accordingly, the capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 53 select banks was projected to come down to 14.1 per cent by September 2020 under baseline expectations and 12.7 per cent under severe stress from 14.9 per cent in September 2019.

The RBI also noted that three banks had CAR below the minimum regulatory level of 9 per cent by September 2020, without considering any further planned recapitalisation.

However, if macroeconomic conditions deteriorate, five banks may record CAR below 9 per cent.

While the central bank had qualified that these scenarios should not be interpreted as forecasts or expected outcomes, it is clear with its latest missive asking banks to undertake post-COVID stress tests that it feels there could be sharp deterioration in key financial parameters, calling for the need to enhance capital buffers significantly.

Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Source: Read Full Article