Storm Bella contributes 50.7% wind power in Great Britain on Boxing Day

Storm Bella, which recently hit the UK, has reportedly helped provide 50.7% of the electricity via wind in Great Britain on Boxing Day. The storm, that brought gusts of up to 100mph, has enabled the country to reach the ‘greenest year on record’.

More than half of the daily electricity in Great Britain has been generated for the 1st time from wind turbines due to the recent storm. In August 2020, wind briefly hit 60% in the region. However, it previously did not sustain such levels for 24 hours.

People with knowledge of the matter have reported that, over the last decade, Britain has experienced the renewable energy sector expansion, owing to the rising production of wind, biomass, and solar power.

The recent milestone came along the heels of a string of low-carbon records that were set in 2020, as the COVID-19 restrictions reduced the demand for electricity and provided solar & wind power developers an opportunity to hold a larger share. As per recent statistics, coal and gas power facilities generated 36% of the power in Wales, Scotland, and England, which is a decline from 46% in 2019. On the other hand, solar and wind farms provided 29% of the power, a hike from 23% generated in Great Britain in 2019.

Cornwall Insight’s analyst, Tom Edwards, has reportedly stated that the electricity system operator increased its dependence on the gas-fired power facilities by 20% in September 2020 as compared to a year earlier, amid the decreasing clean energy generation.

The fall in the cost of batteries and other energy storage systems is anticipated to boost the deployment of renewable energy in Great Britain. In addition, the ongoing pandemic has substantially impacted the overall power usage in 2020 as compared to other normal years, as various institutions and organizations have been forced to remain closed for extended periods. Electricity demand has also reduced from 32.58-GW in 2019 to 30.6-GW in 2020.

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K-pop bands BTS & Twice make history in Japan with RIAJ certification

Renowned K-pop band, BTS, has reportedly made history in Japan by getting a platinum certificate from the RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan), making it the first Korean music group to make this achievement.

Earlier in 2020, the Recording Industry Association of Japan implemented a novel certification system designed to measure online music streaming. The new system is an addition to the association’s pre-existing certification systems that measures digital download sales and physical album shipments. As per the novel system, songs are given a silver certification once they hit 30 million online streams, gold when they hit 50 million online streams, and platinum when they hit 100 million online streams.

Under the most recent batch of certifications, which are dated for November of 2020, the RIAJ awarded “Dynamite”, BTS’s smash hit, a platinum certification within the streaming category after it surpassed more than 100 million streams within a period of three months.

While BTS has received RIAJ platinum certifications previously for their physical album sales, this latest achievement signifies the first instance where one of their songs achieved a platinum certification for music streaming.

Moreover, BTS’s “Dynamite” has also become the first ever song by a foreign group to obtain a platinum certification for music streaming in RIAJ history. The song is also the second overall work put out by a foreign artist to make this achievement after “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran made platinum last month.

However, BTS is not the only K-pop group to make their mark on the RIAJ boards. Renowned Korean girl-group, Twice, has also earned numerous new certifications within the online streaming category, expanding their existing record as a foreign artist that has the most songs with official RIAJ streaming certifications.

Twice’s greatest hits; “YES or YES” and “What is Love?” have both officially obtained the gold certification, while one of their Japanese song , named “Candy Pop” made silver after crossing 30 million online streams.

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Vodafone Idea aims on cloud, SMEs to build new revenue streams

In a bid to enhance its revenue scale after being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the recently merged telecom giants- Vodafone and Idea, together known as Vi, are heavily investing in the internet of things (IoT), cloud, fixed-line broadband, and managed security solutions.

In a statement, Mr. Abhijit Kishore, Chief Enterprise Business Officer at Vodafone Idea Ltd., said that the company aims at strengthening its business by tapping on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which constitutes a major part of the enterprise’s market.

However, details regarding the plans to sign up new SMEs for products like IoT, software as a service, managed security solutions, and fixed-line data have not been disclosed by Vi.

For the record, the plan comprises of its recent alliance with education technology companies like Udemy, upGrad, and Pedagogy. Vodafone Idea has also partnered with health and wellness brands like, Mfine, and 1mg. For business-related assistance, Vi has joined hands with Hubbler, Eunimart, and Fiskl.

Speaking along similar lines, the telecom giant is planning to onboard more partners to extend exclusive services to its customers. Additionally, the enterprise business could help the cash-strapped company, which owes thousands of crores as fees to the government, increase additional revenues to meet the loss in its subscriber base.

As per reliable sources, in October 2020, Vodafone Idea lost nearly 2.7 million customers, while its contemporaries Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Bharti Airtel continued to gain market share.

According to statistics, Vodafone- Idea Ltd. could lose approximately 50 to 70 million subscribers across India in the next year. In the last nine quarters, the company lost close to 155 million users.

Reportedly, the company is slated to raise INR 25,000 crore, in equity and debt. However, this may not help the company regain its competitive position as the amount will be insufficient for their capital requirements.

Analysts claim that the above-mentioned amount will help the company sustain its operations for a maximum period of two years. Notably, Vodafone Idea has so far paid off INR 7,854 crores in adjusted gross revenue dues, although it still owes the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, a total sum of more than INR 50,000 crores.

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Hollywood studio MGM up for sale at a price of more than $5 billion

Renowned Hollywood studio, MGM, has reportedly put itself up for sale at a price of over $5 billion. Over the past few years, the studio has considered selling numerous times, most lately in January when a preliminary round of talks was held with Apple, Netflix, and a few others. However, the price stood as a major impediment in the transaction.

According to sources, the James Bond franchise, owned by MGM, ranks fifth as the most valuable film franchise of all times, with its 24 features films amounting to a gross valuation of more than $7 billion, behind only the Spider-Man, Star Wars, Marvel, and Harry Potter films. The franchise could be relied on to bringing in a revenue of $1 billion at the global box office, given the loyal fanbase across the world.

In the light of the pandemic, however, the upcoming Bond film, No Time To Die, which depicts Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, has moved the release date two times with its premiere now scheduled to be held in April in the hope that movie fans will be able to make a return to movie theatres en masse.

For the record, MGM studio has a library of 17,000 hours of TV programming and 4,000 film titles, ranging from “The Hobbit” and “Gone with the Wind” to TV hits comprising “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Over the previous year, the studio has recorded a revenue of $1.5 billion. A decade ago, it was forced into bankruptcy owing to a debt of $4 billion.

MGM has now developed new franchises comprising Rocky spin-off Creed, starring Michael B Jordan. However, the studio’s crown jewel persists to be the 58-year-old evergreen James Bond franchise.

Established in 1924, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has frequently changed hands over the years with a huge success with films comprising “Singin’ in the Rain”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Ben Hur”. The owners of the studio have comprised Ted Turner, the Founder of CNN, Edgar Bronfman, the drinks magnate, and Kirk Kerkorian, the Las Vegas casino billionaire.

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Caldwell signs definitive agreement to acquire IQTalent Partners

Caldwell, a retained executive search firm has recently announced its acquisition of recruitment and talent acquisition firm IQTalent Partners. The definitive agreement, which has an expected close date of 31st December 2020, will aid the companies in the joint creation of a technology-powered talent acquisition company, designed for specialized recruitment services at all levels. This alliance is anticipated to result in enhanced profitability and accelerated growth for both companies.

John Wallace, CEO of Caldwell was reportedly quoted as stating that the merger has allowed the company to focus on transforming talent acquisition. He added that the unique service model of IQTalent Partners and its innovative use of technology, when combined with the network, resources, and expertise of Caldwell, would allow both companies to provide more integrated services to clients, and in turn have a significant impact on long-term progress.

For the record, IQTalent Partners, founded in 2009, offers talent acquisition services in an adaptable and scalable on-demand format. Using a unique recruiting service model, the company has collaborated with over 300 organizations, ranging from startups to Fortune 500s, across myriad functions and industries in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe.

IQTalent Partners also launched a proprietary concept, dubbed IQTalent Xchange, which features a combination of human expertise and AI to develop a passive candidate marketplace. The platform reportedly includes over 300 million professionals worldwide, providing clients unprecedented access to the most eligible candidates.

IQTalent Partners CEO David Windley also commented on the acquisition, reiterating the company’s mission to help companies and candidates find their ideal matches. The merger with Caldwell, he claims, adds strength to the company’s offerings to its clients, by giving them a trustworthy partner for their recruiting needs at a professional level, through to Boardroom and C-suite.

The companies, while operating as separate brands with distinct pricing models and service offerings, will employ a collaborative approach, in order to deliver a seamless and unified client experience.

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TikTok launches ‘Year on TikTok’ to annually review the most-liked clips

TikTok- a Chinese video-sharing social networking app owned by ByteDance, has reportedly rolled out a new feature dubbed ‘Year on TikTok’ which allows users to view the top videos, tracks, and effects they engaged in within the app throughout the year.

In addition to the above, this ‘first-time-ever’ personalized feature will also help identify the user’s favorite “vibes”- which includes the most liked videos, like cooking, animals, DIYs, travel, fashion, or any of the numerous communities that are available on the platform.

Notably, the mobile application available on both iOS and Android operating systems, includes TikTok highlights to scroll through, comprising of top creators, viral videos, top memes, impactful creators, top songs, top celebs, and other year-end trends.

Seemingly, this app is an effective way to showcase one’s in-app experiences along with outlining the role TikTok has played in the user’s life throughout the year. However, TikTok will not be able to generate clips for those who haven’t been active, so not everyone will be able to take part. The company also released an overall ‘trends list for 2020’ earlier in December.

To access the ‘Year on TikTok’ feature, TikTok users can simply tap the icon on their ‘For You’ feed or scroll to the banner placed at the top of the application’s Discovery page. Additionally, when users share their Year on TikTok video on the platform, they can unlock a special “2020” badge that may be added to their profile photo.

A feature similar to that offered by Facebook’s regular ‘Memories’, that helps increase one’s connection with the social media platform. This option builds nostalgia and also reminds the user that Facebook was a part of their memory, which makes the person feel positive about the role the application plays in their day-to-day communications.

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UMG and Concord renew their current global distribution agreement

Concord, one the largest independent recording labels, has reportedly renewed its existing global distribution agreement with one of the world’s leading music firm, UMG (Universal Music Group), maintaining a Business-to-Business partnership which has lasted for more than 15 years.

Under the novel contract, UMG would continue to physically as well as digitally make releases from frontline labels of Concord, under the leadership of Tom Whalley, Chief Label Executive, along with catalog projects, led by Sig Sigworth, Chief Catalog Executive. This would include recordings from Concord Jazz, Rounder Records, Loma Vista Recordings, Fearless Records, Fantasy Records, Craft Recordings, as well as KIDZ BOP, the No.1 music brand for kids.

CEO, Concord, Scott Pascucci, stated as the firm has grown, UMG has provided the needed support to expand the global success of Concord’s frontline labels, Craft Recordings, KIDZ BOP franchise, as well as the remaining catalog. The firm is thrilled to be renewing this partnership with UMG.

Chairman and CEO, UMG, Sir Lucian Grainge, stated that its partnership with Concord is built on the principles of shared values, as both companies put creativity as well as artists at the center what they do.

The master recording catalog of Concord comprises of nearly 16,000 active albums. The catalog also includes nearly 284 Grammy winners, which, according to the firm, represents around 6.5% of total Grammys awarded till date.

The historic labels of Concord are managed by its Craft Recordings team, including storied imprints like Wind-up, Riverside, Varèse Sarabande, Savoy, Nitro, Vee-Jay, Telarc, Specialty, Prestige, Milestone, Stax, Pablo, Independiente, Musart and Fania.

The recording labels firm announced in August that it had closed a debt offering of approximately $600 million placed with about 90 investment companies by J.P. Morgan.

Together with its current revolving $450 million credit facility, term loan B debt offering has given Concord access to a debt financing of around $1 billion.

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Digital transformation to impact automotive aftermarket forecast

As the age of the average vehicle increases, owners are becoming more attuned to the importance of preventative maintenance and service in order to increase the life of their vehicles. This awareness is, in turn, presenting lucrative growth opportunities for the automotive aftermarket.

The automotive industry has long been considered an intrinsic part of the global economy. In recent times, however, particularly following the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, automotive sales have seen a considerable slowdown due to fluctuations in the economy. Given this scenario, an increasing number of consumers are making targeted efforts to maintain the operating condition of their existing vehicles for longer periods.

Furthermore, advancements like the emergence of sophisticated new technologies, digitalization, and new product innovations are also adding impetus to automotive aftermarket size, which is anticipated to reach $1.43 trillion by 2026.

Automotive aftermarket moves into the digital era

Technological advancements, particularly in e-commerce have created a significant change in the decision-making process of customers. Prominent platforms like Amazon and Walmart are driving the penetration of e-commerce, notably in the sale of automotive aftermarket products. In 2019, Amazon was set to register sales worth almost $6.3 billion from car care products, auto parts, and accessories, among others.

The integration of e-commerce in the automotive aftermarket industry has given consumers wider access to more in-depth knowledge about any products they wish to purchase. Leading manufacturers of aftermarket auto parts are now offering online catalogs, reviews, manuals, and videos related to their products, in order to help a consumer make more informed purchase decisions.

For instance, in 2020, Continental began bundling information pertaining to its automotive aftermarket products and services portfolio on a new online portal. This development was undertaken to ensure easier access for dealers and workshops to all Continental brands, products, and services that support independent aftermarket.

Rapid digitalization is also allowing for simpler and more comprehensive vehicle ownership. Many automotive aftermarket retailers are now offering manuals, catalogs, and other information through digital means which can be viewed on various devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc.

New product launches & partnerships in aftermarket industry

In recent years, several strategic growth strategies have been employed by major automotive aftermarket players to strengthen their position in the global industry space. These strategies include partnerships and new product launches, which are allowing automotive aftermarket retailers to address the growing need for robust aftermarket auto parts and services, as well as sustain a strong position in the global business landscape.

To illustrate, a part of Groupe PSA, Citroën launched a new automotive aftermarket product line in India in September 2020, under the brand Eurorepar. This initiative was undertaken in partnership with GoMechanic, in order to facilitate the distribution and sales of Eurorepar parts across over 15 cities nationwide.

The Eurorepar brand, which is the multi-brand range of accessories and parts of Groupe PSA for vehicle maintenance and repair, comprises of several accessories, spare parts, oil, tires and workshop consumables, among others, designed for use in the repair and maintenance of vehicles in use for three years or more.

Microsoft may develop its own ARM chips for Surface PCs and servers

American technology giant- Microsoft Corp. has reportedly announced plans to design ARM-based processors for serves and potential Surface devices. Reportedly, these processors are likely to be used in the Azure cloud servers by Microsoft and will be based on ARM designs.

The tech giant is also exploring the use of other chip technologies for a few of its Surface devices, however, it is unclear if this will be deployed in the final product. Currently, Microsoft uses Intel-based processors for most of its Azure cloud offerings, while most of the firm’s Surface lineup also runs on Intel chips.

It is worth mentioning that, in the past, the company had joined forces with Qualcomm and AMD to design custom chips for its Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X line devices, depicting a willingness to move away from Intel.

Similar to that adopted by Apple Inc., where the company has moved away from using chips manufactured by Intel, to designing its own processor designs that are used in the company’s most popular iPhones and iPads, along with the new Apple Silicon for Macs.

Speaking along similar lines, Apple signaled its move away from Intel chips for its Mac products, by developing M1 silicon which is based on ARM designs. However, Intel’s server chips technology led the server market, and AMD has been dominating the industry with its own EPYC processors.

In a statement by Mr. Frank Shaw, spokesperson of Microsoft, since silicon is an integral foundational building block for technology, the company is heavily investing in advancing its capabilities such as design, manufacturing, and tools, along with strengthening its partnership with various leading chip suppliers.

According to recent news, Amazon, Microsoft’s main cloud rival, poses a considerable threat to AMD and Intel, with its ARM-based Graviton2 processors that were launched a year ago on Amazon Web Services.

Supporting the effort is the Washington-based company’s increase in recruiting processor engines over the last few years, which includes a few from Qualcomm’s abandoned server chip efforts along with the similar hiring pool used by Nvidia, Intel and AMD.

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K-Pop band A.C.E. signs with Asian Agent for drawing global strategy

K-pop band A.C.E. has reportedly inked an agreement with Asian Agent for its management in the U.S. as well as for the formulation of a global strategy. The announcement comes as the band members Chan, Jun, Byeongkwan, Donghun, and Wow, get ready for a busy 2021, which they say will comprise a fashion endorsement deal and star-powered music collaborations.

Danny Lee, Asian Agent’s Chief Agent, Los Angeles, stated that the agency is glad to work on the expansion of A.C.E.’s international footprint. Lee was especially impressed by the live vocals of the group and the members’ street dancing background, complimenting that the band has made an impressive journey and it is great to witness their how far they have come. Adding that being with them feels like family.

A.C.E. debuted the music industry with its single ‘Cactus’ in 2017. The song stood at the 21st position on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart. Since then, the band has toured the world, releasing its album ‘A.C.E. Adventures in Wonderland’ in 2018, further launching three EPs comprising the 2019’s Under Cover, which premiered at the 9th position on World Albums, its follow-up Under Cover: The Mad Squad, as well as the band’s most recent HJZM: The Butterfly Phantasy, which was launched in September.

According to Kim Hye-im, the Founder and CEO of Beat Interactive, A.C.E.’s Korean label and management company, making investments in music is vital amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The outside roles and musical activities of K-pop artists are more significant than ever for the purpose of overcoming this difficult situation with a sense of mission. Fans must be persistently given hope and courage for overcoming this situation, added Hye-im.

A.C.E. and Beat Interactive first met the Asian Agent in Los Angeles in February, when the group had a performance at the 2020 Academy Awards afterparty congratulating the Director of Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho, for his historic best picture win.

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