Japanese Stockmarket Enjoys a Suga Rush As PM Steps Down

The Japanese stock market has hit a 30-year high following the resignation of prime minister Yoshihide Suga.

Japanese stocks have hit a 30-year high following the resignation of prime minister Yoshihide Suga. Suga, who has only been in office for a year, had become widely unpopular as his government failed to get on top of a surge in Covid-19 infections. A slow vaccine rollout and the controversial decision to go ahead with hosting the Olympics despite the pandemic also sapped his support. He will step down before a general election scheduled for later this year. 

Japan’s Topix index reacted to the news by hitting its highest level since April 1991, says Bloomberg. Investors had once had high hopes for Suga, who vowed to accelerate Japan’s digital shift (see also page 28). In February this year the Nikkei 225 index hit the symbolic 30,000-level for the first time since 1990. Yet it fell back as Covid-19 came to dominate his premiership: “Suga had created an atmosphere of uncertainty… there was a perception that Japan was ‘in a mess’”, says Richard Kaye of Comgest Asset Management Japan.  The Topix has gained 6.5% during the past month alone.

In most countries investors dislike the uncertainty of an upcoming election, says Takeshi Kawasaki for Nikkei Asia. Not in Japan. “Looking at the ten early elections held since 1990, stocks rose nearly every time between the day of the lower house being dissolved and the election date”. 

What seems to happen is that headlines about Japanese politics grab the attention of foreign money managers. They decide they like what they see and buy. “Typically at the mercy of trends in US equities” thanks to Wall Street’s tendency to set the tone for world markets, Japanese stocks are likely to go their own way over the coming months.

By: Alex Rankine

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Critics:

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (東京証券取引所, とうきょうしょうけんとりひきじょ), abbreviated as Tosho (東証) or TSE/TYO, is a stock exchange located in Tokyo, Japan. It is the third largest stock exchange in the world by aggregate market capitalization of its listed companies, and the largest in Asia. It had 2,292 listed companies with a combined market capitalization of US$5.67 trillion as of February 2019.

The exchange is owned by the Japan Exchange Group (JPX), a holding company that it also lists (TYO: 8697). JPX was formed from its merger with the Osaka Exchange; the merger process begins in July 2012, when said merger was approved by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.[2] JPX itself was launched on January 1, 2013.

The TSE is incorporated as a kabushiki gaisha with nine directors, four auditors and eight executive officers. Its headquarters are located at 2-1 NihonbashiKabutochō, Chūō, Tokyo which is the largest financial district in Japan. Its operating hours are from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m., and from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. From April 24, 2006, the afternoon trading session started at its usual time of 12:30 p.m..

Stocks listed on the TSE are separated into the First Section for large companies, the Second Section for mid-sized companies, and the Mothers section for high-growth startup companies, and the TOKYO PRO Market section for more flexible alternative investment. As of October 31, 2010, there are 1,675 First Section companies, 437 Second Section companies and 182 Mothers companies.

The main indices tracking the TSE are the Nikkei 225 index of companies selected by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan’s largest business newspaper), the TOPIX index based on the share prices of First Section companies, and the J30 index of large industrial companies maintained by Japan’s major broadsheet newspapers.

Ninety-four domestic and 10 foreign securities companies participate in TSE trading. See: Members of the Tokyo Stock Exchange

Other TSE-related institutions include:

  • The exchange’s press club, called the Kabuto Club (兜倶楽部, Kabuto kurabu), which meets on the third floor of the TSE building. Most Kabuto Club members are affiliated with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Kyodo News, Jiji Press, or business television broadcasters such as Bloomberg LP and CNBC. The Kabuto Club is generally busiest during April and May, when public companies release their annual accounts.

Market Movers

Constituents of the Nikkei 225 with the highest percent gain over one day.

ListingLastChangeVolume
Shinsei Bank Ltd8303:TYO1,968.00
JPY
+228.00
+13.10%
9.68m
Toho Zinc Co Ltd5707:TYO2,841.00
JPY
+130.00
+4.80%
805.10k
Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd3099:TYO808.00
JPY
+35.00
+4.53%
2.68m
Hitachi Zosen Corp7004:TYO947.00
JPY
+32.00
+3.50%
3.45m
DeNA Co Ltd2432:TYO2,167.00
JPY
+72.00
+3.44%
709.60k
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd9107:TYO6,380.00
JPY
+190.00
+3.07%
5.45m
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp4188:TYO1,040.50
JPY
+26.50
+2.61%
5.67m
Meiji Holdings Co Ltd2269:TYO7,260.00
JPY
+170.00
+2.40%
537.60k
Pacific Metals Co Ltd5541:TYO2,094.00
JPY
+44.00
+2.15%
596.40k
Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd5706:TYO3,590.00
JPY
+75.00
+2.13%
587.70k

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Asian Stocks Mixed as Data Show Delta Sapped China: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday as weaker economic activity in China and the latest escalation in Beijing’s crackdown on private industries overshadowed another record close on Wall Street.

Equities slipped in China, where data signaled that an outbreak of the delta virus variant led to a service-sector contraction for the first time since February last year. Hong Kong slid as Beijing’s stepped-up curbs on video-gaming firms weighed on Chinese technology stocks.

U.S. futures edged up after the S&P 500 hit its 12th all-time high in August and the Nasdaq 100 rose. Treasuries held gains made following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s measured comments about a possible reduction in stimulus and any future interest-rate hikes. The dollar dipped.

Oil declined, with traders assessing the prospect of additional OPEC+ production. Aluminum and nickel advanced as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raise target prices. In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin fell to about $47,000.

Global stocks overall are set for a seventh monthly advance on strong company profits, expanding vaccinations to underpin economic reopening and supportive Fed policies. At the same time, the decline in Treasury yields from a March peak may partly reflect concerns of a slower recovery ahead on risks such as the impact of the delta strain.

“The bond market is getting a little nervous about the economic outlook,” Priya Misra, head of global interest rate strategy at TD Securities, said on Bloomberg Television. But she added the U.S. economy is “strong” and that “by year end, if the economy holds up, which we forecast it will, that’s when we expect rates — especially in the long end — to start to edge higher.”

In the latest U.S. data, pending home sales fell in July. Traders are awaiting key payrolls figures Friday for further guidance on the economy’s strength.

Here are some key events to watch this week:

OPEC+ meeting on output WednesdayEuro zone manufacturing PMI WednesdayU.S. jobs report Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

S&P 500 futures climbed 0.2% as of 1:42 p.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%Nasdaq 100 futures increased 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.1%Japan’s Topix index rose 0.7%Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6%South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8%Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.4%China’s Shanghai Composite index retreated 0.8%

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index shed 0.1%The euro was at $1.1818The Japanese yen was at 109.88 per dollarThe offshore yuan was at 6.4660 per dollar

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 1.28%

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude was at $68.90 a barrel, down 0.5%Gold was at $1,815.12 an ounce, up 0.3%

By:

Source: Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for Aug. 31, 2021 – Bloomberg

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Can You Beat Inflation With A Monthly Annuity?

A century ago, money from Andrew Carnegie created Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association to pay pensions to schoolteachers, professors and other people who work at nonprofit organizations. In the early days, these pensions were backed by bond portfolios and paid fixed monthly sums. Then, in 1952, TIAA invented the variable annuity.

Payouts from this novel product were tied to the return on a collection of stocks called the College Retirement Equities Fund. Don’t put all your money in this risky thing, a retiring prof would be told, but put in some in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. Your payouts from Cref will be unpredictable but still very likely, over time, to greatly outpace payouts from a fixed annuity. That’s because stocks, over time, outpace bonds.

With the variable annuity, TIAA married the high returns on equities with the classic annuity benefit of longevity pooling. Longevity pooling means that people who die young collect less over their lifetimes than their colleagues who live long. Pooling is a bet worth making because it allows you do live well off a pot of savings without taking a risk that you will exhaust those savings. Pooling is how all monthly pensions work. It’s how Social Security works.

Cref was a hit. It now has $279 billion under management.

Is it a good buy? It looks that way to me. The graph displays the monthly payouts for a 67-year-old female who invested $100,000 25 years ago in the main stock account, which is akin to a global index fund with a 30% foreign allocation. She rode a roller-coaster, with payments cut in half during the crash of 2007-2009, but if she’s still breathing at 92 she’s now getting $2,146 a month, better than triple her $610 starting pension.

For the index fund, the combined fee (for salesmen, annuity administrators and portfolio managers) comes to 0.24% a year. In the world of annuities that counts as a bargain. Variable annuities sold by stockbrokers can cost eight times as much.

It helps that TIAA is a nonprofit and its annuity pools are run on a mutual basis—meaning, pensioners share in the gains and losses that arise from unexpected mortality. Thus, if too few emeritus professors take up skydiving, there will be more than the expected number of mouths to feed and the growth in payouts will be less than hoped for. Conversely, a pandemic boosts payouts.

Now, a mutual form of organization is no guarantee of either efficiency or wisdom, but in this context it means that the insurance company does not have to pad its prices in order to cover the risk that retirees will live too long.

Nor does the nonprofit status mean an advisor won’t be tempted to steer a pensioner into products considerably more costly than an index fund (read this New York Times story). But if you stick to the cheap portfolio options you’ve got a good deal. Proviso: You should be in excellent health if you’re buying any kind of annuity.

Alas, not everyone can get in the door at Cref. You can acquire a TIAA annuity only if you or a fairly close relative works or worked in the nonprofit world—such as for a government agency, hospital, school or college.

What variable annuity is there for retirees in the corporate sector? Nothing that I would recommend. The insurance industry has responded to TIAA’s invention with a slew of convoluted and costly products that make price comparisons next to impossible.

You will probably see some kind of “mortality” charge in the prospectus (that padding I was talking about); you will probably not be able to discern what kind of worse damage is built into the formula that connects your payout to the return on the stock market; your salesman will probably be buying a new sports car right after you sign.

If you are not eligible for TIAA, and if an advisor mentions variable annuities, flee. Find a better solution at Do-It-Yourself Income For Life.

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Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy

“Empathy is one of the values we’ve had from our founding.” That’s what Chelsea MacDonald, SVP of people and operations at Ada, a tech startup that builds customer-service platforms, told me when we first got on the phone for this story in June. When the company was in its early stages, with about 50 people, empathy was “a bit more ad hoc,” because you could bump into colleagues at lunch. But that was pre-pandemic, and before a hiring surge.

Now, MacDonald says, empathy is built on communication (as many as five times a week, she communicates in some way to the entire company about empathy), through tools (specifically, one that tracks whom people communicate with most and who gets left out), through intimacy (cultivated through special-interest groups) and through transparency (senior leaders share notes after every meeting). At various points in our discussion, MacDonald describes empathy as “more than just, ‘Hey, care about other people’” and “making space for other people to make mistakes.”

She was one of a dozen executives whose communications directors reached out when I tweeted about the office trend of “empathy.” Adriana Bokel Herde, the chief people officer at the software company Pegasystems, told me about the three-hour virtual empathy-training session the company had created for managers—and how nearly 90% had joined voluntarily.

Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, a predictive-writing company, said the biggest surprise about empathy in the workplace is that it and accountability are “flip sides of the same coin.” “We had an engineer give some feedback that was really striking,” she told me. “She said that the most empathetic thing her manager could do for her was be really clear about expectations. Let me be an adult and handle my deliverables so that I know what to do.”

All of these leaders see empathy as a path forward after 17 months of societal and professional tumult. And employees do feel that it’s missing from the workplace: according to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study, administered by software company Businessolver, only 1 in 4 employees believed empathy in their organizations was “sufficient.”

Companies know they must start thinking seriously about addressing their empathy deficit or risk losing workers to companies that are. Still, I’ve also heard from workers who think it’s all nonsense: the latest in a long string of corporate attempts to distract from toxic or exploitative company culture, yet another scenario in which employers implore workers to be honest and vulnerable about their needs, then implicitly or explicitly punish them for it.

If you’ve read all this and are still confused about what workplace empathy actually is, you’re not alone. Outside the office, developing empathy means trying to understand and share the feelings or experiences of someone else. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is more one-directional: you feel sad for what someone else is going through, but you have little understanding of what it feels like. Because empathy is predicated on experience, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate. At best, it’s expanded sympathy; at worst, it’s trying to force connections between wildly different lived experiences (see especially: white people attempting to empathize with the experience of systemic racism).

Applied in a corporate setting, the very idea of empathy begins to fall apart. Is it bringing their whole selves, to use an HR buzzword, to work? Is it cultivating niceness? Is it making space for sympathy and allowing people to air grievances, or is it leadership modeling vulnerability? Over the course of reporting this story, I talked to more than a dozen people from the C-suites of midsize and large companies that had decided to make empathy central to their corporate messaging or strategy.

Some plans were more fleshed out and self-interrogating. Some thought an empathy training available to three time zones was enough. Others understood empathy as small gestures, like looking at a co-worker’s calendar, seeing they’ve been in meetings all day, and giving them a 10-minute pause to get water before you meet with them.

But where did this current push for workplace empathy begin? According to Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of the upcoming book Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval, it sort of started with, well, him. In the fall of 2020, he’d been hearing a similar refrain from businesses: everyone was tired. Tired of the pandemic; of stalled diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts; of their bosses and their employees.

When he looked at the 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study, then in its fourth year, the reasons for that exhaustion became clear. People were tired because they were working all the time, and trying to sort out caregiving responsibilities, and dealing with oscillating threat levels from COVID-19. But they were also tired, he believed, because there was a generalized empathy deficit.

Read More: Hourly Workers Are Demanding Better Pay and Benefits—and Getting Them

That “empathy deficit” became the cornerstone of Taylor’s State of Society address in November 2020. “Much of the resurgence of DE&I programming in the wake of the George Floyd killing was supposed to encourage open conversation and mutual understanding,” he said. “But it often bypassed empathy. Well-meaning programs devolve into grievance sessions … rather than listening and trying to relate.”

SHRM is an incredibly influential organization, with more than 300,000 members in 165 countries. So while it’s not as if empathy efforts were nonexistent before, Taylor’s speech encouraged them. Even if members weren’t there to listen to his words, his message—and the data from the study—began to filter into HR departments, leaving a trail of optional learning modules and Zoom trainings in its wake.

The backlash started shortly thereafter. Taylor acknowledges as much. “I see these companies jumping on it,” he told me. “But it’s not an initiative. It’s not a buzzword. It’s a cultural principle. If you make this promise, as a company, if you put this word out there, your employees are going to hold you to it.” He adds that empathy should go both ways: “There’s an expectation that employees can mess up; employers should be able to mess up too.”

In the case of employees, many are frustrated by perceived hypocrisy. (All employees who spoke critically about their employers for this story requested anonymity out of concern for their jobs.) One woman told me her company, Viacom, has been doing a lot of messaging about empathy, particularly when it comes to mental health. At the same time, it has switched to a health plan that’s more restrictive when it comes to accessing mental-health professionals and care.

(Viacom attributes the change to a shift in policy on the part of their insurance provider and says it has worked to remedy it.) Other employees report repeated invocations of empathy from upper management in staff meetings, but little training on how to implement it with those they supervise. As one female employee at a performing-arts nonprofit told me, “In a one-on-one meeting with my boss where I was openly struggling and tried to discuss it, I was told that mental health is important, but improving my job performance was more important.”

A customer-service representative for a fintech company said empathy had been centered as a “core value” of the organization: something they were meant to practice with one another but also with customers. To quantify worker empathy, the company sends out customer-satisfaction surveys (CSATs) after each interaction. It found that dips in CSAT scores, which were measured by an automated system, reliably happened when a customer had a long hold time, which had little to do with whether the representative modeled empathy. Yet employees were still promoted based on these scores.

The central tension emerges again and again: “There’s an irony, because there’s the equity that you want to present to employees—while also giving special consideration and solutions for specific situations,” Joyce Kim, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, which provides customer service and call-center tech for businesses, told me. “Those two are often incongruent.”

Put another way, it’s hard, at least from a leadership perspective, to cultivate equal treatment for everyone while also making exceptions for everyone. If you allow an employee to work different hours, have different expectations of accessibility or have more leeway because of an illness, how is that fair to those who don’t need those things? How, in other words, do you accommodate difference while still maximizing profits?

What companies are trying to do, at heart, is train employees to treat one another not like productivity robots, but like people: people with kids, people with responsibilities, people shouldering the weight of systemic discrimination. But that runs counter to the main goal of most companies, which is to create and distribute a product—whether that’s a service, an object or a design—as efficiently as possible. They might dress up that goal in less capitalistic language, but the end point remains the same: profits, the more the better, with as little friction as possible.

Within this framework, the frictionless employee is the ideal employee. But a lack of friction is a privilege. It means looking and acting and behaving like people in power, which, at least in American society, means being white, male and cisgender; with few or no caregiving responsibilities; no physical or mental disabilities; no strong accent or awkward social tics or physical reminders, like “bad teeth,” of growing up poor; and no needs for accommodations—religious, dietary or otherwise. For decades, offices were filled with people who fit this bill, or who were able to hide or groom away the parts of themselves that did not.

The women and people of color who were admitted into these spaces did so with an unspoken caveat that they would make themselves amenable to the status quo. They didn’t bring their “whole selves” to work. Not even close. They brought only the parts that would blend in with the rest of the workforce. If you were sexually harassed, you didn’t make a fuss about it. If someone used a racial slur, same deal. If there were Christmas celebrations that made the one Jewish employee feel weird, that person was expected not to make waves. Bad behavior wasn’t friction, per se. But a worker whose identity already created a form of friction complaining about it? That sure was.

Historians of labor have pointed out that this posture was particularly prevalent in office settings, where salaried workers were often saturated in narratives of a great, unified purpose. If employees took care of the company, and flattened themselves into as close to the image of the ideal worker as possible, the company would take care of them, in compensation and eventual pension. Which is one of many reasons that white collar office workers have been resistant to unionization efforts, which felt, as sociologist C. Wright Mills has noted, like a crass, almost hysterical form of office friction.

Machinists and longshoremen were laborers and had no recourse other than the big stick of the union to advocate for themselves. Office workers could solve conflict man to man, boss to employee, like, well, the white gentlemen that they were—or at the very least pretended to be.

This mindset began to erode over the course of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s—first, when massive waves of layoffs and benefit cuts destabilized the myth of the benevolent parent company. But the white maleness of the culture also began to (very gradually) shift in the wake of legal protections against discrimination related to gender, age, disability and, only recently, sexual orientation.

White male workers remained dominant in most industries, particularly in leadership roles. But they began to lose their unquestioned monopoly on the norms of the workplace. Some changes were embraced; others, especially around sexual harassment and racial discrimination, were changed via legal force.

Read More: The Pandemic Reset the Balance Between Workers and Employers. How Bosses Respond Will Shape the Future of Work

The overarching goal of HR departments in the past, going back to the field’s origins in “scientific management” of factory assembly lines, was keeping employees healthy enough to work efficiently. After 1964, their task expanded to include compliance with legal protections, in addition to the continued work of keeping employees healthy and “happy” enough to do their work well. “Unhappiness,” after all, is expensive—according to a Gallup estimate from 2013, dissatisfaction costs U.S. companies $450 million to $550 million a year in lost productivity. Unhappiness, in other words, is friction.

But as the workplace continues to diversify, how do you maintain the worker “happiness” of a bunch of different sorts of people, from different backgrounds, with different cultural contexts? There are some obvious fixes: continuing to erode the power of monoculture (in which one, limited way of being/working becomes the way of being/working to which all other employees must aspire); recruiting and retaining managers who actually know how to manage; creating a culture that encourages taking time off. But usually, the proposed solution takes the form of the HR initiative.

Take the 2010s push for “wellness,” which manifested in the form of mental-health seminars, gym memberships and free Fitbits. You can view these initiatives as part of a desire to reduce health-insurance premiums. But you can also see them as a means of confronting the reality of a workforce that, in the wake of the Great Recession, was anxious about their finances and careers, particularly as more and more workers were replaced by subcontractors, who enjoyed even fewer protections and privileges.

Or consider the push for DE&I programs in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2015. These initiatives aim to acknowledge a perceived source of friction—the fact that a company is very white, its leadership remains “snowcapped,” or the workplace is quietly or aggressively hostile to Black and brown employees—while also providing a proposed solution. The corporate DE&I initiative communicates that we see this problem, we’re working to solve it, so you can talk less about it.

Wellness and DE&I initiatives are frequently unsatisfying and demoralizing, particularly for those workers they are ostensibly designed to benefit. They often lean heavily on the labor of those with the least power within an organization. And they approach systemic problems with solutions designed to disrupt people’s lives as little as possible. (A three-hour webinar will not create a culture of inclusion.) But the superficiality is part of the point.

Contain the friction, but do so by creating as little additional friction as possible, because a series of eruptions is easier to contain than a truly paradigm-shifting one that threatens the status quo and, by extension, the company’s public profile and profitability. According to a 2021 SHRM report, in the five years since DE&I initiatives swept the corporate world, 42% of Black employees, 26% of Asian employees and 21% of Hispanic employees reported experiencing unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity.

The ramifications of racial inequity (lost productivity, turnover and absenteeism) over the past five years may have cost the U.S. up to $172 billion. But instead of acknowledging what it is about the company culture that makes it difficult to retain diverse hires, or what might have to change to recoup those losses, companies blame individual workers who were a “bad fit.” DE&I initiatives don’t fail because there’s a “diversity pipeline problem.” It’s because those in power aren’t willing to relinquish any of it.

A similar contradiction applies to the rise of “corporate empathy.” At its heart, it’s a set of policies, initiatives and messaging developed to respond to the “friction” of a workforce unsettled by the pandemic, a continuing racial reckoning and sustained political anxiety, capped off by an uprising, on a workday, days after most of the workforce had returned from winter breaks. Many empathy initiatives are well-intentioned. But coming from an employer, they still, ultimately, say: We see you are breaking in two, we are too, but how can we collectively still work as if we’re not?

Therein lies the empathy trap. So long as organizations view employees with different needs as sources of friction, and solutions to those needs as examples of unfairness, they will continue to promote and retain employees with the capacity to make their personalities, needs and identities as frictionless as possible. They will encourage “bringing the whole self to work,” but only on a good day. They will fetishize “sharing personal stories,” but only when the ramifications don’t interfere with the product or create interpersonal conflict. This is what happens when you conceive of empathy as allowances: Those who would benefit from it become less desirable workers. Their friction is centered, and their value decreases.

Our society is built around the goals of capitalism—and capitalism, and the ethos of individualism that thrives alongside it, is inherently in conflict with empathy. The qualities that make our bodies, selves and minds most amenable to those goals are prized above all else, and it is HR’s primary task to further cultivate those qualities, whether through “enrichment” or “wellness,” even when the most significant obstacle to either is the workplace itself.

Why do the declarations of empathy feel so hollow? Because growth and profit do not reward it. Companies, HR professionals, managers, even the best trained can do only so much. A large portion of the dissatisfaction that employees feel is the result of actively toxic company policy, thoughtless management and executives clinging to the status quo. But a lot of it, too, is anger at systems that extend beyond the office:

The fraying social safety nets, the decaying social bonds, the frameworks set up to devalue women’s work, the stubborn endurance of racism, the lack of protections or fair pay for the workers whose labor we ostensibly value most. We don’t know how to make people care about other people. No wonder workplace initiatives can feel so laughably incomplete. How do you cultivate a healthy workplace culture when it’s rooted in poisoned soil? “It’s not just a workplace empathy deficit,” Taylor told me. “It’s an American cultural deficit.”

By Anne Helen Petersen

Petersen is co-author of the upcoming book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home

Source: Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy | Time

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Contents:

Find out how emotionally intelligent you are by taking our emotional intelligence quiz.

And Mind Tools Premium club members and Corporate users can listen to our exclusive interview with Daniel Goleman

Cynthia D. Fisher; Neal M. Ashkanasy. “The Emerging Role of Emotions in Work Life: An Introduction

Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2016). “Emotions and Emotional Labor at Worker-Owned Businesses: Deep Acting, Surface Acting, and Genuine Emotions”. The Sociological Quarterly. 57: 152–173. doi:10.1111/tsq.12113. S2CID 145338476.

McQuerrey, Lisa. “Eight Steps to End Drama in The Workplace”. Retrieved 20 April 2014.

“Interview with Harry Prosen M.D. Psychiatric Consultant Bonobo Species Survival Plan”. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2005). “5: Connecting with others empathically”. Speak peace in a world of conflict: what you say next will change your world. Puddledancer Press. pp. 240. ISBN 978-1892005175.

Empathy Definitions by Edwin Rutsch from the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.

Mirrored emotion by Jean Decety from the University of Chicago.

Empathy and the brain by Gwen Dewar published in Parenting Science.

Empathic listening skills How to listen so others will feel heard, or listening first aid (University of California).

Study: People literally feel pain of others – mirror-touch synesthesia Live Science, 17 June 2007.

Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging

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In the first quarter of 2021, 189 new hedge funds were launched, the highest number since the end of 2017, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, 190 hedge funds were started. Since then, the number of launches has been consistently lower, hitting its lowest in the first quarter of 2020 with a total of 84 launches and 304 liquidations.

“The only ones that did get launched [that quarter] were before March,” Kenneth Heinz, president of HFR, told Institutional Investor.

Heinz attributed the newfound surge in launches to three factors: performance, inflation, and risk aversion. According to a statement, the top decile of hedge funds tracked by HFR gained 126.8 percent in the 12-month period ending in the first quarter of 2021. In this quarter alone, the top decile gained 29.7 percent.

Institutional investors are also looking to hedge against inflation, Heinz said. “As the world emerges from the lockdown, inflation is present, and it will continue to build,” he said. “The different strategies provide great protection from inflation.”

These strategies include equity hedge funds and event-driven funds. As of the first quarter of 2021, the greatest portion of industry assets — 30.42 percent — were invested in equity hedge funds. Event-driven funds came in second with 27.53 percent of total industry assets.

Heinz said these particular strategies are appealing to investors because they provide exposure to some hot “meme” stocks. Plus, as the world emerges from a global quarantine, he said there is a large appetite for strategic activity in mergers and acquisitions — a strong point for event-driven funds.

Since the first quarter of 2020 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Heinz said investors have left their risk complacency in 2019. Heinz said 2019 was a “super beta year,” prompting inventors to worry less about risk and more about returns.

“I liken 2019 to the easiest year in the world to make money because everything went up,” Heinz said. “But then March reminded investors they had become complacent about risk.”

As they move into the new year and recover from the pandemic, investors have taken more defensive positioning against risks that were overlooked in 2019. As for the future of the hedge fund industry, Heinz said he believes the market has entered a period of expansion.

“Even though the markets have recovered and they’ve gone back to record highs, I think institutions that are allocating are still very much more cognizant of risk than they were prior to the first quarter of 2020,” he said. “I think that’s the reason that you’re seeing more capital inflows and more funds launching.”

https://i0.wp.com/onlinemarketingscoops.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Hamlin.jpg?resize=79%2C79&ssl=1

By: Jessica Hamlin

Source: Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging | Institutional Investor

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Critics:

A hedge fund is a pooled investment fund that trades in relatively liquid assets and is able to make extensive use of more complex trading, portfolio-construction and risk management techniques in an attempt to improve performance, such as short selling, leverage, and derivatives. Financial regulators generally restrict hedge fund marketing except to institutional investors, high net worth individuals and others who are considered sufficiently sophisticated.

Hedge funds are regarded as alternative investments. Their ability to make more extensive use of leverage and more complex investment techniques distinguishes them from regulated investment funds available to the retail market, such as mutual funds and ETFs. They are also considered distinct from private-equity funds and other similar closed-end funds.

As hedge funds generally invest in relatively liquid assets and are generally open-ended, meaning that they allow investors to invest and withdraw capital periodically based on the fund’s net asset value, whereas private-equity funds generally invest in illiquid assets and only return capital after a number of years. However, other than a fund’s regulatory status there are no formal or fixed definitions of fund types, and so there are different views of what can constitute a “hedge fund”.

Tokenized Apple, Tesla And Coinbase? Why Binance Is Bowing Out.

Binance Chief Executive Officer Zhao Changpeng Interview

Tokenized stocks, or digital assets pegged to the price of company shares, are no longer available for purchase on Binance.com. Offerings had included Tesla, Apple, and Coinbase shares, which Binance claims were fully backed through shares held by its partner, German-based investment firm CM-Equity AG.

Support for stock tokens was first made available on Binance.com in April, 2021, which was enabled through a partnership with Digital Assets AG, a firm focused on issuing tokenized financial products.

“Today, we are announcing that we will be winding down support for stock tokens on Binance.com to shift our commercial focus to other product offerings,” the announcement reads.

Although the exact reason for the about-face is unclear, Binance’s reversal on tokenized stocks comes as financial regulators around the world are putting pressure on the firm. Officials in Germany, Thailand, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom have all issued warnings about the exchange over recent months, the firm has been dropped by the payments processor Clear Junction, and certain banking relationships in Europe and around the world are coming into question.

More broadly, it raises doubts about Binance’s hyper growth strategy of rapidly launching new products around the world such as debit cards and derivatives products.

Users currently holding stock tokens have 90 days to sell their shares. Clients in the European Economic Area and Switzerland have the option to transfer their holdings to a new digital asset platform from CM-Equity AG. After October 14, 2021 they will not be able to manually sell or close their positions on the Binance site.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Source: Tokenized Apple, Tesla And Coinbase? Why Binance Is Bowing Out.

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Critics:

Binance will list MicroStrategy, Microsoft and Apple, providing Binance users with exposure via the tokenization of equities. The tokens are expected to be denominated in the exchange’s stablecoin, BUSD.

The move means Binance users will be able to qualify for economic returns on the underlying shares, which will include potential dividends. The tokens also allow Binance customers to purchase as little as one-hundredth of a regular stock using BUSD.

Binance’s stock tokens are tokenized equities that can be traded on traditional stock exchanges. Each tokenized stock represents one ordinary share of the stock and is backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities held by CM-Equity AG, Germany, according to the post.

Two stock tokens have begun trading on Binance including electric vehicle maker Tesla and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Those listings are already ruffling the feathers of regulators who say the exchange has not acquired the necessary license to begin marketing equities to the public.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is allowing its users to buy fractions of companies’ shares with a new tokenized stock trading service, starting with Tesla.

  • The crypto exchange announced Monday the launch of Binance Stock Tokens, zero-commission digital tokens that qualify holders for returns including dividends.
  • As of 1:35 p.m. UTC (9:35 a.m. ET) April 12, users will be able to buy fractions of actual Tesla shares, which trade at $677 a share at the time of writing.
  • Users will be able to purchase as little as one-hundredth of a Tesla share, with prices settled in Binance USD (BUSD).
  • The exchange’s native crypto Binance Coin (BNB) has surged more than 25% in the last 24 hours, reaching an all-time high of $637.44. It is priced at $590.51 at press time. It’s not immediately clear what is driving the price of the coin.
  • It’s not the first tokenized stock play in crypto land: Terra Labs’ Mirror Protocol went live in December.
  • But where Mirror uses synthetic stocks (or tokenized representations of actual equities), the Binance product is “backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities” managed by an investment firm in Germany.

See also: Binance Faces CFTC Probe Over US Customers Trading Derivatives: Report

Related Stories

This Biotech Startup Just Raised $255 Million To Make Its AI-Designed Drug A Reality

Science technology concept. Research and Development. Drug discovery.

While many AI biotech companies are on journeys to discover new drug targets, Hong Kong-based Insilico Medicine is a step ahead. The startup not only scouts for new drug sites using its AI and deep learning platforms but also develops novel molecules to target them.

In February, the company announced the discovery of a new drug target for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which air sacs of the lungs get scarred, leading to breathing difficulties. Using information about the site, it developed potential drug targets. The startup recently raised $255 million in series C funding, taking its total to $310 million. The round was led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Insilico will use the funds to start human clinical trials, initiate multiple new programs for novel and difficult targets, and further develop its AI and drug discovery capabilities.

The company has stiff competition in the industry of using AI to discover new drugs. The global AI in Drug Discovery market was valued at $230 million in 2021 and is projected to reach a market value of over $4 billion  by 2031, according to a report from Vision Gain. The area has already minted at least one billionaire, Carl Hansen of AbCellera, and others have also gained attention from investors. Flagship Pioneering-backed Valo Health announced this month it’s going public via SPAC.

Investors said that Insilico’s AI technology and partnerships with leading pharmaceuticals attracted them to the startup, despite the crowded field. “Insilico fits strongly with our strategy of investing in the best-in-class innovators in the healthcare,” said Fred Hassan of Warburg Pincus, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is a powerful tool to revolutionize the drug discovery process and bring life-changing therapies to patients faster than ever before, he added.

CEO and founder Alex Zhavoronkov got his start in computer science, but his interest in research into slowing down aging drew him to the world of biotech. He received his Masters from Johns Hopkins and then got a PhD from Moscow State University, where his research focused on using machine learning to look at the physics of molecular interactions in biological systems.

The process for finding a preclinical target for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis highlights Insilico’s approach. The company had initially found 20 new target sites to treat fibrosis. Then it used its machine learning processes to narrow those down to a specific target which is implicated in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Then using its in-house tool, Chemistry42, it generated novel molecules to target the new site. The new preclinical drug candidate was found efficacious and safe in mice studies, the company said in a press release. 

“Now we have successfully linked both biology and chemistry and nominated the preclinical candidate for a novel target, with the intention of taking it into human clinical trials, which is orders of magnitude more complex and more risky problem to solve,” Zhavoronkov added in a statement.

Treatments for this condition are a dire need. Patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis develop respiratory failure as their blood doesn’t receive adequate oxygen. Most patients die within two to three years of developing the condition. If the company’s drug candidate proves out during clinical trials, it would be a major step forward both for these patients and the industry as a whole.

“To my knowledge this is the first case where AI identified a novel target and designed a preclinical candidate for a very broad disease indication,” Zhavoronkov said in a statement.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a New York based health and science reporter and a graduate from Columbia’s School of Journalism with a master’s in science and health reporting. I write on infectious diseases, global health, gene editing tools, intersection of public health and global warming. Previously, I worked as a health reporter in Mumbai, India, with the Hindustan Times, a daily newspaper where I extensively reported on drug resistant infections such as tuberculosis, leprosy and HIV. I also reported stories on medical malpractice, latest medical innovations and public health policies.

I have a master’s in biochemistry and a bachelor’s  degree in zoology. My experience of working in a molecular and a cell biology laboratory helped me see science from researcher’s eye. In 2018 I won the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters. My Twitter account @aayushipratap

Source: This Biotech Startup Just Raised $255 Million To Make Its AI-Designed Drug A Reality

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Critics:

CEO Alex Zhavoronkov founded Insilico Medicine in 2014, as an alternative to animal testing for research and development programs in the pharmaceutical industry. By using artificial intelligence and deep-learning techniques, Insilico is able to analyze how a compound will affect cells and what drugs can be used to treat the cells in addition to possible side effects. Through its Pharma.AI division, the company provides machine learning services to different pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and skin care companies. Insilico is known for hiring mainly through hackathons such as their own MolHack online hackathon.

The company has multiple collaborations in the applications of next-generation artificial intelligence technologies such as the generative adversarial networks (GANs) and reinforcement learning to the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. In conjunction with Alan Aspuru-Guzik‘s group at Harvard, they have published a journal article about an improved GAN architecture for molecular generation which combines GANs, reinforcement learning, and a differentiable neural computer.

In 2017, Insilico was named one of the Top 5 AI companies by NVIDIA for its potential for social impact. Insilico has R&D resources in Belgium, Russia, and the UK and hires talent through hackathons and other local competitions. In 2017, Insilico had raised $8.26 million in funding from investors including Deep Knowledge Ventures, JHU A-Level Capital, Jim Mellon, and Juvenescence. In 2019 it raised another $37 million from Fidelity Investments, Eight Roads Ventures, Qiming Venture Partners, WuXi AppTec, Baidu, Sinovation, Lilly Asia Ventures, Pavilion Capital, BOLD Capital, and other investors.

Morrisons Shares Surge As Investors Bet On Low U.K. Supermarket Valuations

Morrisons, CD&R. Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda

Shares in U.K. publicly-listed supermarket chain Morrisons surged by almost a third in morning trading today, after Britain’s fourth biggest grocer rebuffed a $7.6 billion takeover from U.S. private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

The huge spike in its valuation was prompted by emerging news over the weekend that Morrisons had become a takeover target for CD&R, potentially sparking a bidding war for the grocer.

The news prompted shares to rise across the grocery sector, as investors bet that other supermarket groups could become targets for private equity investors or that a bidding battle could erupt, with online giant Amazon AMZN -0.9% – which has an online delivery deal with Morrisons – one possible bidder for its partner.

American private equity firms Lone Star and Apollo Global Management APO +1.9% have also been mentioned as possible suitors for Morrisons, which has been battling with a declining market share, now down at 10%, from 10.6% five years ago. There is a sense that the U.K. supermarket sector could be ripe for more potential takeovers. The share price performance of the entire sector is seen as under-performing compared with U.S. grocers, for example, despite being profitable and achieving typical dividend yields of around 4%.

CD&R has history, having previously made investments in the discount U.K. store chain B&M, from which it made more than $1.4 billion.

Morrisons Rebuffs Bid But More Could Follow

Morrisons first announced on Saturday that it had turned down a preliminary bid by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which is believed to have been made on or around 14 June. The Bradford-based company said that its board had “unanimously concluded that the conditional proposal significantly undervalued Morrisons and its future prospects”.

CD&R had offered to pay nearly 320c a share in cash, while Morrisons’ share price closed at 247c on Friday, before its surge today as trading reopened for the first time since the announcement.

The New York-headquartered private equity firm has until 17 July to make a firm offer and to persuade a reluctant Morrisons management team to recommend that shareholders agree to the deal.

Sir Terry Leahy, a former Tesco chief executive, is a senior adviser for CD&R and, like its market-leading rival Tesco, Morrisons’ shares have been trading below their pre-pandemic levels as higher costs due to operating throughout the pandemic have taken their toll despite booming sales at essential stores across the U.K.

Morrisons currently employs 121,000 people and made a pre-pandemic profit of $565.5 million in 2019, which plunged to $278.6 million in 2020. It owns the freehold for 85% of its 497 stores. One-quarter of what it sells comes from its own supply chain of fresh food manufacturers, bakeries and farms.

CD&R has so far declined to comment on whether it will return with a higher bid, but analysts believe its approach is probably just the first salvo.

Previously, former Walmart WMT +0.9%-owned Asda was snapped up by the U.K.’s forecourt billionaire Issa brothers along with private equity firm TDR Capital in a debt-based $9.4 billion buyout. Likewise, CD&R could adopt a similar model and combine Morrisons, which has just a handful of convenience stores after a number of limited trials of smaller store formats, with its Motor Fuel Group of 900 gas stations.

There are also wider political concerns that it could emulate the Issas by saddling Morrisons with debt and selling off its real estate assets and CD&R is understood to be weighing political reaction before determining whether or not to come back with a higher bid.

Supermarket Takeovers More Likely Than Mergers

For tightly-regulated U.K. competition reasons, takeovers or mergers between supermarket groups appear increasingly complex. The competition watchdog blocked a proposed $9.7 billion takeover by Sainsbury’s for rival Asda two years ago, determining that the deal threatened to increase prices and reduce choice and quality.

However, comparatively relaxed rules on private equity bids mean few such restrictions apply to takeovers. Private equity firms have acquired more U.K. firms over the past 18 months than at any time since the financial crisis, according to data from Dealogic, and Czech business mogul Daniel Křetínský has established a 10% stake in Sainsbury’s, the U.K.’s second biggest supermarket chain. Having failed in an attempt to take over Germany’s Metro Group last year, he could yet make an offer for a British grocer.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould added in an investor note this morning that Morrisons’ balance sheet looks highly attractive, in particular to a private equity firm looking to sell business assets to release cash.

“Morrisons’ balance sheet has plenty of asset backing and the valuation was relatively depressed before news of private equity interest,” he said. “The market value of the business had weakened so much that it clearly triggered some alerts in the private equity space to say the value on offer was looking much more attractive.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events.  I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!

Source: Morrisons Shares Surge As Investors Bet On Low U.K. Supermarket Valuations

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Critics:

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (Morrisons) (LSEMRW) is the fourth biggest supermarket in the United Kingdom. Its main offices are in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.The company is usually called Morrisons. In 2008, Sir Ken Morrison left the company. Dalton Philips is the current head. The old CEO was Marc Bolland, who left to become CEO of Marks & Spencer.

As of September 2009, Morrisons has 455 shops in the United Kingdom. On 15 March 2007, Morrisons said that it would stop its old branding and go for a more modern brand image. Their lower price brand, Bettabuy, was also changed to a more modern brand called the Morrisons Value. This brand was then changed again in 2012 as Morrisons started their low price option brand called M Savers.

In 2005 Morrisons bought part of the old Rathbones Bakeries for £15.5 million which make Rathbones and Morrisons bread. In 2011, Morrisons opened a new 767,500 square/foot centre in Bridgwater for a £11 million redevelopment project. This project also made 200 new jobs.

References:

  1. “Morrisons Distribution Centre Preview”. Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 6 July 2012. This short article about the United Kingdom can be made longer. You can help Wikipedia by adding to it.

How Entrepreneurs Are Capitalizing on Digital Transformation in the Age of the ‘New Normal’

How Entrepreneurs Are Capitalising on Digital Transformation in the Age of the 'New Normal'

The Covid-19 pandemic has carried a significant impact on the rate in which businesses are embracing digital transformation. The health crisis has created an almost overnight need for traditional brick and mortar shopping experiences to regenerate into something altogether more adaptive and remote. While some businesses are finding this transition toward emerging technology a little tricky, it’s proving to be a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs in the age of the “new normal.”

Astoundingly, data suggests that digital transformation has been accelerated by as much as seven years due to the pandemic, with Asia/Pacific businesses driving forward up to a decade in the future when it comes to digital offerings.

With entrepreneurs and new startup founders finding themselves in a strong position to embrace modern digital practices ahead of more traditional companies, we’re likely to see a rise in innovation among post-pandemic businesses. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look into the ways in which digital transformation are benefiting businesses in the age of the new normal:

Fast, data-driven decisions.

Any digital transformation strategy needs to be driven by data. The emergence of big data as a key analytical tool may make all the difference in ensuring that startups take the right steps at the right time to ensure that they thrive without losing valuable resources chasing the wrong target audience, or promoting an underperforming product.

Enterprises today have the ability to tap into far greater volumes of data than ever before, thanks largely to both big data and Internet of Things technology. With the right set of analytical tools, this data can be transformed into essential insights that can leverage faster, more efficient and accurate decisions. Essentially, the deeper analytical tools are embedded in business operations, the greater the levels of integration and effect that may have.

By incorporating more AI-based technology into business models, it’s possible to gain access to huge volumes of big data that can drive key decisions. The pandemic has helped innovations in terms of data and analytics become more visible in the world of business, and many entrepreneurs are turning to advanced AI capabilities in order to modernise their existing applications while sifting through data at a faster and more efficient rate.

Leveraging multi-channel experiences.

Digital transformation is empowering customers to get what they want, when they want, and however they want it. Today, more than half of all consumers expect to receive a customer service response within 60 minutes. They also want equally swift response times on weekends as they’ve come to expect on weekdays. This emphasis on perpetual engagement has meant that businesses that aren’t switched on 24/7/365 are putting themselves at a disadvantage to rivals that may have more efficient operations in place.

The pandemic has led to business happening in real-time – even more so than in brick and mortar stores. Although customers in high street stores know they’re getting a face to face experience, this doesn’t mean that business representatives can offer a similar personalised and immediately knowledgeable service than that of a chatbot or a live chat operative with a sea of information at their disposal.

Modern consumers are never tied to a single channel. They visit stores, websites, leave feedback through mobile apps and ask questions for support teams on social networking sites. By combining these interactions, it’s possible to create full digital profiles for customers whenever they interact with your business – helping entrepreneurs to provide significantly more immersive experiences.

Fundraising via blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology is one of the most exciting emerging technologies today. Its applications are far-reaching in terms of leveraging new payment methods and brokering agreements via smart contracts, and while the use cases for these blockchain applications will certainly grow over the coming years, today the technology is already being widely utilised by entrepreneurs as a form of raising capital through Initial Token Offerings (ITOs), also known as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

As an alternative to the use of traditional banks, venture capital firms, angel investors or crowdfunders, ITO tokens can be made available for exchanges where they can trade freely. These tokens are comparable to equity in a company, or a share of revenue for token holders.

Interested investors can buy into the offering and receive tokens that are created on a blockchain from the company. The tokens could have some practical use within the company where they can be spent on goods or services, or they could purely represent an equity share in a startup or project.

There are currently numerous companies that use blockchain technology to simply and secure its operations. From large corporations like HSBC’s Digital Vault, which is blockchain-based custody platform that allows clients to access details of their private assets to small education startups like ODEM, which aim to democratize education.

Another company that’s pioneering blockchain technology within the world of business is OpenExO, which has developed its own community-driven utility token EXOS, to help build a new transformation economy that helps companies to accelerate, democratise and internationalise their innovation.

Salim Ismail, OpenExO founder, is the former Yahoo technology innovator who developed the industry of Exponential Organizations. He has become a household name in the entrepreneur and innovation landscape, and now he launches the blockchain ecosystem that includes Fortune 500 companies, cities and even countries.

Reaping widespread rewards.

Although digital transformation could begin with a focus on just one facet of a startup, its benefits can be far reaching for employees, consumers and stakeholders alike. It could limit the mundane tasks required of workers, offer greater levels of personalisation for consumers and free up new skills to be developed in other areas of a business.

This, in turn, helps to build more engaged and invested teams that know the value of fresh ideas and perspectives. Although the natural adaptability of entrepreneurs makes the adoption of digital transformation an easier one to make than for established business owners, the benefits can be significant for both new and old endeavours.

The pandemic has accelerated the potential of emerging technologies by over seven years in some cases, the adoption of these new approaches and tools can be an imperative step in ensuring that your business navigates the age of the new normal with the greatest of efficiency.

Dmytro Spilka

By: Dmytro Spilka / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP – CEO and Founder of Solvid and Pridicto

Source: How Entrepreneurs Are Capitalising on Digital Transformation in the Age of the ‘New Normal’

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Critics:

Digital Transformation (DT or DX) or Digitalization is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology. Digital solutions may enable – in addition to efficiency via automation – new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional methods.

One aspect of digital transformation is the concept of ‘going paperless‘ or reaching a ‘digital business maturity’affecting both individual businesses and whole segments of society, such as government,mass communications,art,health care, and science.

Digital transformation is not proceeding at the same pace everywhere. According to the McKinsey Global Institute‘s 2016 Industry Digitization Index,Europe is currently operating at 12% of its digital potential, while the United States is operating at 18%. Within Europe, Germany operates at 10% of its digital potential, while the United Kingdom is almost on par with the United States at 17%.

One example of digital transformation is the use of cloud computing. This reduces reliance on user-owned hardware and increases reliance on subscription-based cloud services. Some of these digital solutions enhance capabilities of traditional software products (e.g. Microsoft Office compared to Office 365) while others are entirely cloud based (e.g. Google Docs).

As the companies providing the services are guaranteed of regular (usually monthly) recurring revenue from subscriptions, they are able to finance ongoing development with reduced risk (historically most software companies derived the majority of their revenue from users upgrading, and had to invest upfront in developing sufficient new features and benefits to encourage users to upgrade), and delivering more frequent updates often using forms of agile software development internally.This subscription model also reduces software piracy, which is a major benefit to the vendor.

Digitalization (of industries and organizations)

Unlike digitization, digitalization is the ‘organizational process’ or ‘business process’ of the technologically-induced change within industries, organizations, markets and branches. Digitalization of manufacturing industries has enabled new production processes and much of the phenomena today known as the Internet of Things, Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0, machine to machine communication, artificial intelligence and machine vision.

Digitalization of business and organizations has induced new business models (such as freemium), new eGovernment services, electronic payment, office automation and paperless office processes, using technologies such as smart phones, web applications, cloud services, electronic identification, blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, and also business intelligence using Big Data. Digitalization of education has induced e-learning and Mooc courses.

See also

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