Category: Derivatives and Structured Products

Derivatives and Structured Products

How switching to online purchasing can save your business hundreds of pounds… per item!

Dave Brittain, Senior Manager from Amazon Business UK

A huge expense to all businesses that is often overlooked is the cost of those essential day to day items. While many purchasing departments simply contact suppliers in order to replenish items such as pens, paper or ink, they often use multiple providers for these types of basic products, making the process more disjointed and far less cost-effective than it ought to be.

So how can businesses streamline the process and save money at the same time?  The answer lies in digital procurement.

Online marketplaces help businesses to locate and purchase multiple items in one place and can tailor themselves based on previous purchasing behaviours in order to improve and simplify the process. Having access to hundreds of millions of products from various suppliers drives transparency and at Amazon Business we’ve noticed that this can lower the cost of procurement by up to 70%.

Product search and offer comparison

Business customers that use an online marketplace have access to an extensive range of products from office supplies, laptops and keyboards, to industrial goods and janitorial items. Having different variations of similar products allows consumers to compare and review options from different brands and suppliers to evaluate what products are the best value for money, all within one marketplace. Buyers can compare products from different sellers in seconds, and the website algorithms will recommend items with the best delivery times, features and price to make the selection process more streamlined.

Supplier selection and qualification

Most businesses build strong relationships with their suppliers which are based on knowlegde of the services they provide and trust that has been built over the years. For this reason, many companies stick with the same suppliers and do not explore alternative options, which could generate huge savings in the long run. For those looking into these types of savings, online marketplaces reduce the time spent on supplier selection by pooling multiple suppliers together and recommending them based on reputation, services offered and customer reviews. This reduces the costs of qualifying suppliers and creating individual supplier records. The service is also particularly beneficial for start-ups which may not have the budget to select suppliers through trial and error.

Approval workflows

Procurement time can also be significantly reduced, as employees can make product purchases themselves. Some online marketplaces offer approval workflows which allow employees to trigger an automatic approval process with a single click. This allows for a quicker turnaround for purchasing without losing control and visibility of outgoings. Detailed business analytics are also available post-purchase, allowing business owners to identify which departments are incurring the highest expenses.

Reconciliation and invoicing

A huge benefit of using an online marketplace for orders is that all purchases, and therefore invoices, are obtained from a single source. Business customers can easily access detailed delivery times, product and supplier information for each order, and reviewing previous purchases is made simpler. This means that there is a reduced number of invoices sent to finance teams making it easier for them to reconcile payments.

Overall, although there will always be a place for traditional procurement, making the switch to an online marketplace can significantly reduce business expenditure, while simultaneously reducing time spent on product acquisition and providing a more detailed review of the business’s outgoings.

Derivatives and Structured ProductsWealth Management

Ted Baker partners with Kickdynamic to drive customer engagement with live, automated and personalized email marketing content.

Global lifestyle brand, Ted Baker, has implemented Kickdynamic’s technology to transform its email marketing and achieve its goal to deliver true one-to-one personalization.

 

Ted Baker, the quintessentially British brand famed for its quirky yet commercial fashion offering and unique, playful storytelling, has partnered with Kickdynamic to offer live, automated and personalized email to their customers. Through this partnership, Ted Baker is reducing its internal manual email build processes, increasing customer engagement and enhancing the performance of its email marketing by delivering relevant content in real-time.

 

Ted Baker has grown steadily from its origins as a single shirt specialist store in Glasgow in 1988 to the global lifestyle brand it is today. It offers menswear, womenswear, accessories and more, and has a physical retail presence in 39 of the 50 countries in which it’s available.

 

The brand has embraced the power of digital marketing, putting the customer and brand experience first in everything it does and its creative freedom allows it to create content that sets it apart from its competitors.

 

 “Our partnership with Kickdynamic allows us to talk to our customers in a targeted, relevant and personal way, at scale and in real time. We have reduced the time it takes to design and build personalised email content, allowing my team to focus on delivering surprising and delightful customer experiences, instead of cumbersome, frustrating and restrictive processes.” Claire Holden, Head of Customer, Ted Baker.

 

“1-2-1 personalization in marketing and especially email has been talked about for a long time. It is not secret that it works, however the manual process of building email has been a long-standing barrier. We are excited that Ted Baker is embracing Kickdynamic technology to remove this manual barrier and move to automation to achieve their email personalization goals.” Matt Hayes, CEO, Kickdynamic.

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal

Why Bitcoin will not kill PayPal

To a casual observer, PayPal might seem like a dying payment program. It was once the main pioneer in online cash sharing, either for business or peer-to-peer transactions. But in a way, it’s been outstripped by some more modern competitors. In this sense, it seems like the AOL of the mobile payment industry. Services like Venmo and Square have become sexier, much like alternative email providers and browsers have largely eclipsed AOL.

But the tech that seems to pose the main threat is Bitcoin. The leading cryptocurrency is growing at an astonishing pace, and because it’s meant to facilitate easy digital payments, it can be viewed by some as a sort of death sentence not just for PayPal but for all of the payment services mentioned above. We recently learned that Bitcoin will soon beat PayPal’s market cap, which could only further the perception that it’s going to lay waste to conventional payment apps. But this outlook doesn’t really take all of the factors into consideration. A more thorough look at where things stand indicates that PayPal probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

For one thing, PayPal actually owns much of its competition—a lot of people just don’t realize it. The company acquired Venmo some time ago, and just recently bought Swift. It’s a massive company that has managed to foster a sense of competition between its own assets. Square is a legitimate alternative that seems to have gained some ground, largely by being more intuitive and more pleasant to handle than Venmo. But don’t let the advent of newer or easier payments systems fool you into thinking PayPal is a relic. It’s a big business that has mostly stayed ahead of the curve thanks to savvy management.

Another misconception is that Bitcoin is useful for secure transactions in ways that PayPal is not. While cryptocurrency does offer unparalleled anonymity, however, this is simply not the case. Online casinos offer perhaps the clearest picture as to why, given that Bitcoin has recently emerged as a payment method at some platforms. Players like the idea of security and anonymity when playing real money games. And yet, PayPal has long been favored on the same platforms precisely because bank account details and card information are not shared. There’s already a degree of security with these and other forms of payment that can be enjoyed without the need to buy and store Bitcoin.

Most of all, the reason for PayPal’s likely survival, even in the face of the growing influence of cryptocurrency, is that it’s still the most familiar service. This could change over time, but Bitcoin is still viewed as a complex and unnecessary option by many people. In today’s society, you more or less have to have a credit card, and thus you can easily open a PayPal account. You don’t need Bitcoin at all, you can have it if you want it. As long as this remains the status quo, PayPal is going to be doing just fine, and may still be our most reliable means of transferring funds electronically.

Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future
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Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future

Sustainability Gives UC David Strength for the Future

UC Davis is the top of the agricultural research charts yet again, so we looked into their beginnings and how they got to where they are today.

UC Davis is the home of the Aggies — go-getters, change makers and problem solvers who make their mark at one of the top public universities in the United States. 

Since they were founded in 1905, they have been recognized for standout academics, sustainability and pride, as well as valuing the Northern California lifestyle. These themes are woven into their 100-plus-year history and their reputation for solving problems related to food, health, the environment and society.

the 5,300-acre campus is in the city of Davis, a vibrant college town of about 68,000 located in Yolo County. The state capital is 20 minutes away, and world-class destinations such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley are within a two-hour drive.

29 percent of food bought for the dining commons is sustainably grown. The university’s own invention, the bio digester, has a daily capacity to turn 50 tons of waste into energy for the campus. The Tercero Phase 3 student housing project received the highest possible rating of platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council and the West Village community is designed to generate all the energy the community needs, mostly through solar power.

UC Davis is highly ranked in the nation and the world, by influential university ranking publications like U.S. News & World Report (national and global), QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and The Princeton Review. The Wall Street Journal has recognized UC Davis as the sixth-best public university in the United States in its 2016 inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking.

UC Davis opened in 1908 as the University Farm, the research and science-based instruction extension of UC Berkeley. As the century evolved, their mission expanded beyond agriculture to match a larger understanding of how research efforts could benefit the public. By 1959, UC Davis had grown into a general campus with its own personality and strengths.

Over the years, as the geographical footprint developed, each new UC Davis presence — in Tahoe, Sacramento, Bodega Bay, Tulare, San Diego, Madrid and China, among others — has strengthened their ability to serve the public through research, academics and public service. Even before the first buildings were finished — and more than a year before the first students would arrive — the University Farm began laying the groundwork for its first research projects.

UC scientists dug experimental irrigation ditches and planted varieties of wheat, oats, barley and tomatoes. Soon to follow would be test crops of sugar beets, legumes and an array of fruit and almond trees. It began with just a few shovels of dirt and ordinary seeds (though some new wheat varieties came from Russia). Yet, even with those uncere monious beginnings, the University Farm turned its attention — and scientific methods — to addressing a pressing agricultural problem with profound economic, environmental and social implications for the state.

A wheat boom of the late 1800s — “California’s second gold rush,” as David Vaught, Ph.D. ’97, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, calls it — had gone bust. California had been one of the nation’s leading wheat producers in the 1870s and 1880s, and dryland wheat farming made some growers wealthy. But by the turn of the century, prices had dropped so low that farmers lost money and began replanting their wheat fields with fruits, vegetables, nuts and other crops.
“Wheat is a crop that rapidly destroys the fertility of the soil, and much of the land in the Central Valley had produced so many crops of wheat by the 1890s that the soil was exhausted,” said Donald Pisani, Ph.D. ’75, Merrick Chair of Western American History at the University of Oklahoma.

“Virgin soil that produced as much as 50 bushels an acre in the 1870s produced 10 or 15 bushels after a decade or so.”

Once a major wheat exporter, California had become a net importer, and in 1905, the state Legislature passed a bill giving UC $10,000 over two years for research to improve production of wheat and other cereal crops.

At the University Farm, UC researchers worked in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in testing not only new varieties and best cultivation methods, but also ways to restore worn-out soil.

A 1911 report that grew out of the cereal research, “How to Increase the Yield of Wheat in California” by UC agronomist G.W. Shaw, documented the benefits of rotating crops and the use of “green manure” or cover crops, such as peas, rye and vetch, to restore humus, fix nitrogen and improve the moisture content of the soil.

Other research, also done in cooperation with the USDA, evaluated different lining materials for irrigation ditches to reduce seepage and conserve water.

The university continues to carry out important agricultural research and find new ways to make the U.S. food and living conditions more sustainable for future generations.


Company: UC Davis Medical Center
Name: Ramin Manshadi
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.ucdavis.edu
Address: 2633 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204, USA
Telephone: 209-944-5530

Digital Odyssey
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Digital Odyssey

Odyssey New Media is a digital marketing agency, based in Birmingham. Set up by Robert Stoubos in 2010, the firm has enjoyed success and has several high profile clients.

Established in Birmingham in 2010, Odyssey New Media is a leading digital marketing agency. With more than 10 years’ worth of experience, the firm knows how to tailor strategies which utilise the best digital marketing and media channels to help businesses develop, grow and succeed.

Odyssey New Media provides a full range of services to help businesses increase their revenue and achieve good return on their marketing spend, including:

• SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – gaining higher search natural search positions for keywords that convert into enquiries and sales. These positions are those below paid ads and therefore once achieved you don’t pay to continue to rank. Continued SEO maintenance is required to maintain positions.

• PPC, Paid Search and Placement Advertising – ensuring companies’ key messages are in front of the right audience at the right time.

• Social Media Management, Training & Optimisation – to integrate on and offline communications across different social networks to engage with all stakeholders.

• Conversion Enhancement Services

• Website Design & Website Development –helping businesses project manage and build websites with SEO and social features in mind.

• Mobile Website Design & Mobile Applications – Mobile search and usage is increasing. It’s therefore important to ensure websites have a mobile friendly version for mobile users as well as taking advantage of mobile applications which can help target and increase brand awareness in the ready-made market places for mobile apps.

Robert Stoubos is the owner and managing director of Odyssey New Media. Graduating from Aston University in June 2005 with a degree in Computer Science, he founded the company just five years later. He tells us more about his experience. “With more than 10 years’ experience in digital marketing I have become a results-driven marketer with the skills required to successfully implement cross-channel digital marketing campaigns that generate increased brand awareness, sales and ROI.”

Case Studies The firm has had great success so far to date, and we take a look at some of its most recent case studies.

Aura Natural Health Aura Natural Health specialises in health products that contain only natural ingredients.

The team at Odyssey New Media was tasked with conceptualising, designing and creating a logo that represented the use of ‘only natural products’ in the ingredients. The customer wanted elegant yet bold, decorative yet not too loud.

The designs were to be used on packaging products and around social media platforms.
“Neil designed my first product label so beautifully and it was exactly what I was looking for. He listened to what I wanted and replied to my requests quickly and accurately. I always come back to Neil at Odyssey now for all of my other product labels and I am hoping to use their web design services too in the very near future,” explained Aura Lakshmi of Aura Natural Health.

RPA UK Based in a railway arch in the West Midlands; RPA Ltd was formed by its director, Robert “Seth” Wilson, after he left the Royal Navy in 2011. Since formation the company has been involved in a multitude of projects, providing Radioactive Waste Management and Radiation Protection services to clients.

Odyssey New Media and the team were responsible for a complete website build, banners and creating a CMS system for the company.

“Tip-Top service guys, got a great website for the best price in town … can’t grumble at all!” states Robert Wilson, director of RPA UK.

Co-operative Online Doctor Co-operative Online Doctor is an online doctor service with a UK GMC qualified doctor for online medical consultation. It offers a professional, safe, discreet and fast way of seeking treatment for medical conditions, with services being particularly useful to patients who do not have time to visit a doctor or are seeking treatment for a condition they do not want to discuss face-to-face.

Odyssey New Media was commissioned by the company to build the website, design banners, create a CMS system and make a user-updateable blog site.

“Great work – the blog was built on budget, on time and to a very high standard. I always use Odyssey New Media now for any website jobs and image banners,” Chris Knight, Marketing Manager of Co-Operative Healthcare commented.

Likewise, Odyssey also worked on the Midcounties Co-operative travel website, the largest independent UK co-operative, with gross sales in excess of £738 million. They cover a wide range of areas including West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Odyssey New Media were asked to help Co-operative Travel to improve its SEO efforts in order to maximise the company’s organic search presence. A large part of these optimisation efforts involved completely re-writing and expanding Co-op’s existing content.
In addition, Odyssey has been involved in elements of social media, online PR, usability analysis and enhancement.

Company: Odyssey New Media
Name: Robert Stoubos
Email: [email protected]
Address: The Old Bus Garage, Harborne Lane Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6SN UK
Telephone: +44 (0)794 042 0201

The Winds of Change
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The Winds of Change

CHAVA Wind LLC is an innovator in the field of energy technologies and has developed a new business approach with a breakthrough product to succeed in the rapidly growing deployment of smaller-sized Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) around the world.

Chief Executive Officer, Hagen Ruff, tells us more about the firm and its business approach.
“As many regions in the world lack the grid capacity for large wind farms, special incentives are provided for small distributed wind. The highest incentive is provided in Japan, where the central government mandates a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) of ~50 US-cents/KWh.

“For this, and several other strategic reasons, we are starting the market roll-out in Japan, followed shortly thereafter by several other regions world-wide.”

The advantages of small-to-medium-sized wind turbines include not being in any competition with ‘big-wind’ high-voltage grid-tied wind farms. Large wind projects can only be fed in large-capacity transmission networks and are paid on the basis of wholesale prices.

Smaller wind farms can also focus on smaller and mid-scale applications between 20- 100KW/unit which allows direct use of power and therefore power is paid at retail pricing, (up to eight times higher in many parts of the world).

CHAVA Wind uses a different approach to other similar companies, in that its technology employs Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) as opposed to Horizontal Axis wind Turbines (HAWTs). Using (VAWTs) has clear advantages over HAWTs – they take wind from all directions without the need for a yaw system; VAWT wind-farms will require up to eight times less land compared to HAWTs; and they are more aesthetic.

CHAVA’s technology is the result of a multi-year research and development project, however it faced several challenges, including VAWTs not receiving the same attention and funding thus far compared to ‘bigwind’ HAWTs; and many small group designs showed initial flaws and failures, with efficiency being sub-par.

“It required a focused effort by experts in the field of aerodynamics, engineering, and composite manufacturing to develop a robust design for a 20-year life-span with superior efficiency,” comments Hagen.

The goal of this focused “century project” of Vertical Axis Wind Technology was to develop the next generation of the most advanced small VAWTs, including the highest ever VAWT peak efficiency (43%); the most durable design through extensive modeling and testing and low noise; hydraulic tilt -tower for easy installations and maintenance; the best long-term Leveled Cost of Electricity; and mass-producible design at low cost.

Chava Wind is currently seeking a third and final round of funding in the amount of $2.5M and is expecting to complete the International IEC 61400-2 certification in summer of this year.
Hagen Ruff is Chief Executive Officer of CHAVA Wind. He earned his MS in Mechanical Engineering (Dipl. Ing. FH) from Fachhochschule Wiesbaden in Germany and is responsible for the overall CHAVA Wind offering from mechanical engineering through end-user systems integration as well as sales and marketing.

Hagen started his career at Accenture (previously Anderson Consulting) working on business process work flow challenges and opportunities for improved R.O.I. through process improvement for companies like Sempra Energy, Polaroid, the German Railway, Philip Morris, the Hong Kong Railway KCRC and CPS Energy.

Mr. Ruff started his own Business Intelligence management consulting firm, Business Information Solutions LLC (BIS), with a focus on management consulting, IT consulting, Executive Leadership, and SAP and Enterprise Software integration solutions for large-scale Enterprise Applications for Fortune 100 clients.

His firm, BIS, was acquired by Sapient Inc. (now PublicisSapient and Mr. Ruff was responsible for leading Sapient’s global SAP practice, with a particular focus on the Energy Services marketplace, where companies like Canadian electric utility Enbridge relied upon Mr. Ruff’s process improvement focused methodology for solving the type of energy demand challenges that are creating new opportunities to improve the world’s current energy systems. In addition to his hands on experience, Mr. Ruff has also served as a Board Member and Executive of the Energy Industry focused joint venture Soliance.

In co-founding CHAVA Wind, Hagen Ruff brings his strong passion for solving energy demand challenges and the associated economic, geopolitical, and environmental problems to his background in mechanical engineering as well as information infrastructure integration with a goal of disrupting the strategic delivery market for both enterprise and single user green wind power energy solutions.

Contact: Hagen Ruff – CEO [email protected] 26100 SW 162nd. Ave., Homestead, FL 33031 USA Phone: +1-619-227-3176 www.chavawind.com

Enterprises in EMEA Prefer Integrated Conferencing Solutions
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Enterprises in EMEA Prefer Integrated Conferencing Solutions

The study covers audio, hosted web, hosted video and managed video conferencing services. The communications service providers that have a sizable presence across these segments in EMEA are Arkadin, BT Conferencing, Deutsche Telekom, InterCall, Interoute, Orange Business, PGi and Telefonica.

“Hosted/cloud video conferencing services that enable interoperability across endpoints appeal to a broader user base in EMEA owing to the rise in complexity and number of devices on networks,” said Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Practice Research Director Adrian Drozd. “Feature-rich solutions that support mobility and the bring-your-own-device trend are also popular among customers in these regions.”

Among the various market segments, audio conferencing services are experiencing low growth due to price compression and user migration to bundled packages. The gradual transition to Internet protocol (IP)-based conferencing, owing to the proliferation of IP private branch exchange (IP PBX), is also dampening the need for audio conferencing services in EMEA.

“As the lines between video-centric and content-centric Web conferencing solutions that include video continue to blur, the revenues of both segments will take a hit,” noted Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation Practice Senior Director Ashwin Iyer. “Higher sales volumes of IP-based audio conferencing solutions as well as hosted and managed video conferencing services will, nevertheless, promote revenue growth in the market.”
Market penetration is the highest in the United Kingdom, France, Benelux and the Nordic countries due to increasing business-to-business and business-to-customer collaboration. Over the forecast period, Northern Europe is likely to see more demand for hosted video conferencing services, while Southern Europe experiences greater interest in managed video conferencing services.

To find out more about this report, click HERE.

Buyer Demand Drives Double-Digit Growth in Home Sales
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Buyer Demand Drives Double-Digit Growth in Home Sales

Although more people are buying in 2015, increased supply has so far kept competition and prices in balance. The last time year-over-year growth in home sales eclipsed 10 percent was in September 2013.

Redfin analysis revealed continued stable price growth last month, at 5.7 percent year over year. While 18.5 percent of homes sold above the asking price, that share is down year over year for the 17th month in a row. It was 19.5 percent in March of last year.

March was also the first month since December 2013 when the overall number of homes for sale shrank year over year, by 0.7 percent, even though the number of newly listed homes increased. New listings will need to keep pace with the high demand we’re seeing so far this year in order to prevent another national shift in favor of sellers. In the West, market conditions have already tilted further in the favor of sellers, according to the most recent survey of Redfin agents. Denver had the highest price growth in the country while also being the fastest market in March, with the average home going under contract within six days.

Local Market Insights

Redfin also took an in-depth look at home prices, inventory and sales across neighborhoods for three cities: San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. A common theme across the three cities was rising prices and a tight supply of homes for sale. San Francisco’s median sale price was above $1 million for the second straight month, rising 15.4 percent from last March to $1.13 million. In the Pacific Heights neighborhood, the median sale price reached $2 million, a 38 percent increase from March 2014. Home values in D.C. rose 5.5 percent in March from a year ago, with the median sale price now at $500,000. Chevy Chase D.C. was the city’s most expensive neighborhood, with the median sale price reaching $1,089,000. Chicago home values rose 11.7 percent from a year ago in March, the third consecutive month of double-digit growth in a traditionally slower market.

As prices rose, inventory remained below a balanced market or grew tighter. There were only 409 properties on the market in San Francisco at the end of March, fewer than in February and a 3.5 percent drop from a year earlier. Locals saw only 1,109 units on the market in D.C., which is less than two months’ supply of homes for sale. In Chicago, the number of homes for sale rose 25.6 percent in March from a year ago, but higher buyer demand is keeping inventory at just 4.6 months of supply.

Mobile Learning Market Worth $37.60 Billion by 2020
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Mobile Learning Market Worth $37.60 Billion by 2020

Communication and learning have been an integral part of the education and training process. These, reinforced with technological advancements such as mobility, real time content delivery and others have resulted into the genesis of the mobile learning market. Mobile learning solutions enable educators and trainers to provide real-time interactive training and instructions to the end users through the medium of smartphones and mobile devices.

This not only helps to provide an interactive learning experience but also makes learning not restricted to a classroom or a training room. Furthermore, the applications such as video lectures, audio & video course material, eBooks and others allow the access to information on the go, which further bridges the time and distance gap between the educators and the students / employees.

Mobile Learning Market caters to users from both the academic as well as the corporate world. The market consists of various large and niche players who provide proficient software solutions such as mobile content authoring, e-books, portable learning management system, mobile and video based courseware, mobile content authoring, interactive assessments, content development and m-Enablement.

These solutions are gaining traction in various industry verticals along with education, such as BFSI, healthcare, government, professional services, telecom and IT to name a few. The Mobile Learning Market is consolidated with big players such as IBM, SAP, Net Dimensions, Citrix, Upside learning, among others.

The factors driving this market are growing mobile and smartphone penetration across the globe along with the rise in demand for advanced and digital education. However increasing cost associated with equipment, connectivity and maintenance for mobile learning solutions, is the major restraint for the growth of this market. A large number educational institutions and organizations lack the necessary funding to implement such solutions. Also there still exists a lack of digital clarity among end users thus further restraining the market growth.

MarketsandMarkets broadly segments the global Mobile Learning Market by regions as North America (NA), Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe, Middle East & Africa (MEA) and Latin America (LA); by solutions as mobile content authoring, e-books, portable learning management system, mobile and video based courseware, mobile content authoring, interactive assessments, content development, m-Enablement; by application as in-class learning, simulation-based learning, corporate learning, online-on-the job training; by user type as Academic (K-12, Higher education), Corporate (SMBs, Large Enterprise), Verticals (BFSI, Healthcare, Government, Professional Services, Telecom and IT and Others).

UK Businesses Not Sufficiently Prepared for Future Workforce Challenges
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UK Businesses Not Sufficiently Prepared for Future Workforce Challenges

The results of the research show that few businesses have comprehensive workforce strategies, with the majority taking a piecemeal approach to planning human capital. Only 15% of organisations polled said there is a clear link between their workforce planning and their overall strategic business plan, showing that where workforce plans exist, they often do so in isolation.

Organisations tend to react to workforce challenges, rather than plan for them. An alarming 47% of those surveyed said that recruitment forecasts for the next 12 months have not been undertaken in their organisations. This reluctance to identify workforce risks leads to poor succession planning, insufficient anticipation of recruitment needs and a lack of understanding of future skill requirements.

The research also reveals that HR departments aren’t segmenting workforces thoroughly enough. This leads to taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to assessment, management and appraisal, which can be detrimental to the long term performance of a business.

David Knight, Associate Partner at KPMG comments: “One of the biggest issues that business will face in the coming years is the management of human capital. Workforce planning is now seen as critical to sustaining performance and growth, and the responsibility for this lies not only with HR Directors, but with the wider executive team. Poor planning can make it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as retain talent in competitive industries. The ability to forecast skills requirements, pre-empt workforce risks and deploy resources efficiently will underpin financial success for organisations in future.”

Manufacturing Growth Going Steady
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Manufacturing Growth Going Steady

Output has been growing at a decent pace since last August, and despite easing slightly from the previous month, remained above average in March. Manufacturers expect to ramp up production even further in the next three months, just short of February’s robust prediction.

The survey of 468 manufacturers found that total order books climbed down a little from February’s six month high, but remained well above average, with fifteen of the survey’s eighteen sub-sectors reporting stronger than average orders.

Export orders weakened significantly from February’s half year high, falling below their long-run average.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said:

“Our manufacturers lost some of their steam from last month, but they continue to move steadily along a decent growth track.

“Sluggish export performance seems to be a headache that won’t go away, with a still subdued Eurozone and headwinds from a stronger pound. But measures in the Budget to support exporters should be a welcome boost for the sector’s longer-term prospects.

“With emerging markets facing a tough time and uncertainty continuing to hang over the Eurozone, firms are having to work even harder for opportunities to sell their products and services around the world.”

Sasol Announces Completion of US$4 Billion Credit Facility for its World-Scale Ethane Cracker and Derivatives Complex in Louisiana
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Sasol Announces Completion of US$4 Billion Credit Facility for its World-Scale Ethane Cracker and Derivatives Complex in Louisiana

“Securing this financing facility is another key milestone in advancing a defining project for the company,” said Paul Victor, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Sasol Limited. “The support from a large number of international financial institutions is a testament to Sasol’s strong standing within the global financial markets.”

A syndicate of 18 international banks and other financial institutions are lenders for the credit facility. The syndicate consists of:

-Book-runners and joint lead arrangers: The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.; BNP PARIBAS; HSBC Bank USA, National Association; Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A.; JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.; Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated; Mizuho Bank, Ltd.; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Citibank, N.A.

-Joint lead arrangers: Absa Bank Limited; KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH; Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited; ING Capital LLC; Korea Development Bank and SG Americas Securities LLC.

-Managers: Export Development Canada; Deutsche Bank AG and UniCredit Bank Austria AG.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.is the administrative agent, Bank of America, N.A. is the account bank, and HSBC Bank USA, National Association is the security trustee for the credit facility. The Royal Bank of Scotland plc acted as the project’s financial advisor, and Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal advisor for the project. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP advised the lenders.

In October, Sasol announced its final investment decision relating to a US$8.9 billion petrochemical complex, which consists of an ethane cracker that will produce 1.5 million tons of ethylene annually. The complex will also comprise six chemical manufacturing plants, enabling infrastructure and utility improvements.

The remainder of the funds required for construction will be raised in a phased manner from a variety of potential sources, including surplus cash available in the group. Additional funding will be announced as it is secured.

Forward-looking statements: Sasol may, in this document, make certain statements that are not historical facts and relate to analyses and other information which are based on forecasts of future results and estimates of amounts not yet determinable. These statements may also relate to our future prospects, developments and business strategies. Examples of such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding exchange rate fluctuations, volume growth, increases in market share, total shareholder return and cost reductions. Words such as “believe”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “intend”, “seek”, “will”, “plan”, “could”, “may”, “endeavour” and “project” and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements, but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements.

By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and there are risks that the predictions, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not be achieved. If one or more of these risks materialise, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. You should understand that a number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from the plans, objectives, expectations, estimates and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements.

These factors are discussed more fully in our most recent annual report under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on Form 20-F filed on 29 September 2014 and in other filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The list of factors discussed therein is not exhaustive; when relying on forward-looking statements to make investment decisions, you should carefully consider both these factors and other uncertainties and events. Forward-looking statements apply only as of the date on which they are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any of them, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

Barclays W&IM Triples Asian Structured Products Business
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

Barclays W&IM Triples Asian Structured Products Business

The wealth and investment management division of Barclays has seen tremendous traction in its Asian structured products business, with volumes tripling from 2010. Asia now accounts for 50% of structured products sales in the private bank globally.

It has also seen strong growth in its Structured Products business in the Middle East, with increasing interest from the region’s high net worth individuals in short-dated notes (from one to twelve months maturities) and focused underliers for wealth accumulation. This is a shift from longer-dated notes spanning three to five years with principal protection features and diversified underliers for wealth preservation.

“While there have been negative connotations around structured products post the financial crisis in the minds of investors, increasing the simplicity and transparency of our product offering have helped in making investors more comfortable with these investments. As investors look to increase returns in a low-yield environment, structured products offered value in helping generate targeted returns and reducing risk exposure as part of a diversified asset allocation portfolio strategy,” said Ms. Irene HY Chen, Head of Structured Products, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

The success in both Asia and the Middle East has been driven by a growing appetite for equity, commodity and currency-linked products, as investors searched for yield while seeking to manage downside risk. The common theme among popular structured products is that of simplicity and transparency, with short tenors, enhanced yield and early redemption options. The main trends in 2013 are expected to continue to drive demand in 2014. These include:
 
– The dominance of equities as an asset class in Asia: A couple of evergreen equity linked structures continue to be strongly favoured by investors, including Index Linked Rate Notes and Fixed Coupon Notes of blue-chip stocks and major indices in Asia, the US and Europe.

– Currency plays: The renminbi remains the darling in Asia in terms of currency-linked notes, with digital options or participation options forming the bulk of structured products with FX underliers.

– Commodity-linked structures: Amid the volatility in oil prices, oil-linked notes remain popular in the Middle East, with fixed coupon notes, step-down autocallable notes and twin-win notes in demand.

– Simple vanilla options: The OTC business across asset classes such as bonds and equities continues to be well received by investors for its efficiency, effectiveness and simple investment rationale.

“With the current market uncertainties, it is timely to look at vanilla options as basic building blocks to tailor the risk vs. return balance in one’s investment portfolio. For instance, investors with a bearish view on a specific market can buy a put option on the market index which can help with hedging. Investors who are bond advocates can sell a put option and gain access to the secondary market at an advantageous purchase price, while enjoying an upfront premium if they are committed to own the bond in their portfolios. These simple vanilla options help investors better manage their risks even as they remain invested in the market,” concluded Ms. Chen

CGE Warns About Dangers of Derivatives
Derivatives and Structured ProductsMarkets

CGE Warns About Dangers of Derivatives

Following the release of an International Business Times report detailing how the dramatic crash of the gold price in April of last year, the Certified Gold Exchange is warning investors about the correlation between computerised trading of gold derivatives investments and the value of physical gold.

The IBT article stated that over 1,000 unique entities sold gold within a 10-minute window last April and that the gold spot price dropped US$24 per ounce due to the exchange of 2.4m ounces of gold.

“A US$50 shift in the gold spot price in one day is huge, and last April we saw gold fall more than US$200 in less than two trading days,” said Certified Gold Exchange spokesperson Janet Jones. “Many investors who buy physical gold do so for the safety aspect, but this does not mean that they will accept technological manipulation of the gold spot price.”

Futures markets are not controlled in the same manner as are stocks, and Jones says the Dodd-Frank Act, meant to regulate leveraged and non-physical gold investments, is a good start but not enough to protect the physical gold market. “We understand that ETFs and other derivative investments played a large part in last year’s crash, but for millions of ounces of gold to exchange hands in less than 10 minutes is unacceptable for investors who purchased physical gold to avoid the manipulation that is often found in derivatives exchanges.”