TikTok strikes global licensing deal with Universal Music Group

Chinese video-sharing social networking service- TikTok has reportedly inked a global licensing deal with leading American music corporation- Universal Music Group. Apparently, the ByteDance- owned video app struck a similar agreement with Sony Music in November and Warner Music Group in December.

For the record, the announcement was made few days after Universal pulled its catalog from TikTok’s competitor, Triller, with the company accusing the platform of withholding the payments to its artists.

As per a statement by the company, this new global agreement between TikTok and Universal Music Group offers equitable compensation to recording artists and songwriters and considerably expands and improves the firm’s prevailing relationships.

Notably, the deal covers recorded music by UMG’s artists and songwriters working with the Universal Music Publishing Group. Both TikTok and UMG have pledged to experiment with the new features available on the platform. Following which, TikTok users will be able to download clips for Universal’s wide music catalog.

According to Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, through the agreement, the companies will work towards reaching out to the music fans on the video-sharing social networking platform. Through the partnership with UMG and UMPG, TikTok will help source new talents.

It is worth mentioning that, in the year 2020, TikTok signed deals with Paris-based Believe and Merlin along with Dutch Collecting Society Buma or Stemra and Pan-European licensing hub ICE.

Citing reports, the China-based company published its first US Music report in December, in which it mentioned that more than 70 artists that broke on the platform in the past one year later signed major label deals.

In addition to the above, TikTok also reported that nearly 176 songs crossed 1 billion video views as TikTok sounds in the year 2020.

In July 2020, the ByteDance-owned service inked a deal with many music publishers through an agreement with the National Music Publishers Association in the U.S.

Source Credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/tiktok-and-universal-music-group-sign-global-licensing-deal/


Rolls Royce considering shutdown of jet engine plants to curb losses

Rolls Royce, the renowned British engineering firm, is reportedly contemplating plans to close down its civil aircraft jet engine factories for a duration of approximately two weeks in a bid to curb losses.

As per reliable reports, Rolls Royce has suffered a drastic fall in sales during the pandemic with lesser jets in the air that need servicing.

The plans are unconfirmed because the firm aims to discuss an agreement with the unions first. Additionally, it has been clarified that this plan would not affect its energy or defense divisions.

Rolls Royce stated that under the agreement it reached last summer with the union, in principle it agreed to enter negotiations with regards to deliver nearly 10 per cent productivity as well as efficiency improvement in its Civil Aerospace operations across the UK.

The engineering giant added further that it has now started complex and useful discussions with the union on how this could be attained. As of now, no date for the shutdown has been set and Rolls Royce intends to spread the wage hit through 2021.

This would be the very first temporary shutdown for the engineering firm since the 1980s, when the company was re-privatized. Rolls Royce is shying away from complete use of the furlough scheme.

The firm added that it is continuing to utilize the UK Government CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) as well as other such schemes elsewhere across the globe, in Civil Aerospace areas where the workload has substantially decreased mainly because of coronavirus pandemic.

But, claiming temporary furlough unilaterally for all the employees in the UK Civil Aerospace business in a pre-planned way is not in line with the intent, nor is it within the true spirit of the scheme, as the workload is not affected in all parts.

The firm, already dropping billions of pounds in costs, predicts £2 billion of cash to leave the business in the current year, nearly more than double estimates. Furthermore, the new coronavirus strains are also making estimates much harder.

Source credit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55974073

Mondelez to return more of Cadbury Dairy Milk production to Bournville

Cadbury-owner, Mondelez International, has reportedly decided to bring back more of its Cadbury Dairy Milk production to its infamous factory situated in Bournville. According to a Mondelez statement, some part of the production in continental Europe would be returning to the United Kingdom.

The company has announced an investment of £15m at the Birmingham site and has also stated that 125 million additional Dairy Milk bars would be produced there from 2022.

According to the Manufacturing Director of Bournville, Roberto Gambaccini, Bournville is presently much more competitive across the manufacturing network of the company, especially when it comes to the production of high volume products like Cadbury Dairy Milk tablets.

Gambaccini has also stated that it is important that the company continues this journey, adding that this investment will help the company take complete advantage of the efficiencies that upskilling and modernization can create for the purpose of continuing the success and growth of the Bournville site.

Till date, nearly two thirds of Cadbury’s chocolate has been manufactured in Birmingham. However, the new investment would witness the manufacturing of almost all of its products at Bournville. While almost £11m of the new financing will be moved towards a new production line, the rest of the £4m will be spent in the scaling up of the company’s chocolate-making capacity.

As per Louise Stigant, the Managing Director of Mondelez’ UK, Bournville is still looked upon as the ‘heart of Cadbury’ and bringing more of the production back to this place has created a viable opportunity of investing in the plant. While a part of the manufacturing will stay overseas, the investment would not result in the creation of any new jobs, confirmed the company.

In 2020, Bournville produced 35,000 tonnes of Cadbury Dairy Milk tablets, which amounts to nearly 234 million bars. The recent investment will enable the company to make an additional 12,000 tonnes of chocolate, add sources.

Source credit: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-55938419

Ford Motor calls off plans for EV joint venture with China’s Zotye

Global auto manufacturer Ford Motor Company has recently announced its decision to terminate plans for an EV joint venture launch with China-based Zotye Automobile.

The auto giant revealed that its decision was prompted by significant changes in government policies and the electric vehicle industry since the agreements were initially signed with Zotye in 2017 and 2018 for battery-electric vehicle development and smart mobility, respectively. However, Ford declined to specify the exact changes that triggered this move.

Ford had recently stated that its joint venture in China with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co would initiate the production of the Mustang Mach-E all-electric vehicles.

Ford also claimed in a statement that it is planning to pursue a more flexible business model, that would facilitate the utilization of its existing operations in China and other regions, and help construct associated business centers.

Zotye declined to respond to requests for comment.

During a visit by former President of the United States, Donald Trump to China in 2017, Zotye and Ford came to a decision to invest a combined amount of $756 million, aiming for the establishment of a 50-50 JV in China to develop small electric passenger cars.

In 2018, the firms announced the signing of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) for another JV, to manufacture electric vehicles for ride-hailing fleets.

Various EV manufacturers, from home-grown firms like Nio Inc to industry-leading entities like Tesla Inc. have been making tremendous efforts to expand their production capacity in the largest auto industry in the world, where the government is encouraging the use of more sustainable vehicles as a solution for reduction of the chronic air pollution.

According to spokesperson T.R. Reid, the recent development will not affect the commitment of Ford towards producing vehicles for the largest EV market worldwide. Reid commented that if anything, the company’s intentions have become significantly more ambitious and greater than they were before, with efforts being made to find different ways to fulfill them.

Source Credit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fordmotor-china-zotye/ford-motor-terminates-electric-vehicle-plans-with-chinas-zotye-idUSKBN2A409A

ASUS unveils ROG Academy to virtually train gamers in India

As per a report by FICCI-EY on the media and entertainment industry, in the year 2019, total number of online gamers in India rose by 31% to reach nearly 365 million. These figures are projected to reach 440 million by 2022.

Noticing the growing popularity of gaming in India, ASUS Republic of Gamers, a sub-brand of Taiwanese electronics company- ASUS, has recently introduced ROG Academy- a virtual training platform for gamers across the nation.

According to a statement by the company, the program will help in identifying PC gamers by screening them and extend a platform to improve their gaming skills and train them for competitive eSports tournaments that are held at the national and worldwide level.

In addition to the above, through this initiative, the electronics giant will be offering tournament-ready gaming equipment along with high-standard technology to gamers with a professional mentorship.

Arnold Su, Business Head, Consumer and Gaming PC, System Business Group, ASUS India, was reportedly quoted stating that, due to the prevailing coronavirus outbreak, the company has witnessed a permanent shift in the content consumption pattern of the people globally.

Su added that the increase in adoption of e-sports among the people in India, especially during the pandemic, has strengthened ASUS’s efforts towards investing in the future of the gaming industry in the country.

It is worth noting that, the latest ROG Academy offering by ASUS is a year-long program which is segmented into four sessions as per the quarter. The shortlisted teams along with players will undergo a selection process which is classified into different phases. Additionally, this will lead to six players becoming a part of a three-month session during the first quarter.

Apparently, ASUS ROG will also provide an ex-gratia of INR 1 lakh to all the final six players after the successful completion of their three-month training period.

Seemingly, gamers will receive monetary compensation of INR 15,000 as a stipend along with a monthly bonus during the training.

Source Credit: https://www.zeebiz.com/india/news-asus-rog-launches-virtual-academy-programme-for-gamers-in-india-147708

Robert Downey Jr. announces the launch of FootPrint Coalition Ventures

Taking on the next phase of his efforts towards saving the planet, actor, producer and investor, Robert Downey Jr. has reportedly declared the establishment of FootPrint Coalition Ventures. Accessible to the public, the initiative represents a string of VC funds that are intended at making investments in organizations which are developing solutions for the purpose of addressing environmental problems.

The announcement was reportedly made by Downey Jr. at the digital Davos Agenda event of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, 27th January 2021.

According to reliable sources, the rolling fund of FootPrint Coalition Ventures is accessible to ‘accredited and qualified’ investors via a partnership with the AngelList startup-investment platform. While almost 2,000 investors are fit for participation in each of the two initial funds, every backer must proceed with a minimum investment of $5,000 in every quarter, so that the opening FootPrint Coalition Ventures funds could secure a sum of over $80 million every year.

Furthermore, for promoting its endeavors, the VC organization will tap into the creative team of Downey Jr., and his massive footprint on social media, which comprises a follower count of over 100 million.

The objective is to utilize storytelling towards the translation of scientific concepts into accessible information for the purpose of attracting talent and awareness to the cause, added the actor, further stating that he is personally making investment in the VC funds, furnishing at least 10% of each of the initial two funds of the firm.

Designating the environmental threats an existential crisis at the global level, Downey Jr. has also stated that he believes in creative problem-solving. The producer has also highlighted that such daunting problems are bound to require an extensive set of new organizations that are focused on working on solutions in spite of a few upper class mega corporations.

Source Credit: https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/robert-downey-jr-fooprint-colaition-ventures-vc-fund-1234893394/


Chinese automaker Geely to back Faraday Future PSAC merger deal

Faraday will unite with PSAC (Property Solutions Acquisition Corp), while Geely will help bankroll a $775Mn funding in the form of PIPE

Geely, one of China’s leading automaker, will reportedly be an anchor investor in the merger deal between U.S. electric vehicle (EV) firm, Faraday Future and PSAC, a blank-check acquisition company.  The deal, soon to be announced in the U.S., will value Faraday at about $2.7 billion.

As per reliable sources, Faraday will merge with PSAC (Property Solutions Acquisition Corp), while Geely will help bankroll a $775 million financing package in the form of PIPE (private investment in public equity).

PSAC is a special purpose acquisition company, a category of firms that raise funds in an IPO (initial public offering) with an aim of buying a private company. This concept emerged last year as a popular investment vehicle on Wall Street. While for businesses that are being acquired by such firms, the merger acts as an alternative way for them to go public over a traditional IPO.

Founded in 2014, Faraday Future was the brainchild of Jia Yueting, a Chinese businessman who was once slated to be China’s answer to Tesla’s Elon Musk. Based in Los Angeles-based, Faraday first announced its plans to build the FF 91, an all-electric vehicle.

The company had touted plans for a 2019 launch but faced a delay in production plans multiple times given to a series of financing issues.

As of now, Faraday Future aims at setting up a new base in China and opt Geely for contract manufacturing services. Prior to this, the company had already established a plant in Hanford, California. Speculations are made that other Chinese state-owned companies such as Zhuhai Huafa Group and Zhuhai Gree Group are also looking to pump in funds in the SPAC deal.

Source Credit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-faradayfuture-m-a-property-solutions/chinas-geely-to-help-bankroll-faraday-future-spac-deal-sources-idUSKBN29X0DY

ByteDance starts employee layoffs after India announces permanent ban

ByteDance Co. Ltd., parent company of the popular video-sharing social networking platform TikTok, has reportedly started cutting down its workforce in India, after the country decided to extend a ban on the Chinese app.

For those unaware, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had initially imposed a ban on TikTok as well as other 58 additional Chinese apps in June 2020 over high concerns regarding national security. India has now announced its decision to extend the ban, after the companies reportedly failed to convince the authorities of their compliance with essential privacy and security requirements.

According to TikTok, the company has always complied with the local laws and is in process of reviewing the current notice sent by the Indian government. TikTok added that despite its several efforts, the company has not received any clear direction on when and how its platforms can be reinstated, and hence is compelled to lay off around 2000+ employees.

Reportedly, TikTok’s VP Blake Chandlee and Interim CEO Vanessa Pappas have informed their employees through a letter that they will soon start cutting jobs and are unsure whether the company will be resuming operations in India. However, the letter did not mention how many jobs the company is planning to let go.

Several TikTok employees have been seeking jobs for a while now, with Indian rival apps looking to hire from the renowned Chinese platform. Sources confirmed that some staff have reportedly claimed to have received a pay hike despite the ban.

TikTok’s parent ByteDance has doubled its revenue in the year 2020, regardless of the troubles in the U.S. and Indian markets, sources claimed. The company amassed revenues worth USD 35 billion in 2020, with the operating profit reaching USD 7 billion as compared to USD 4 billion it generated in the year 2019.

Source Credits –


Sky UK to boost original content catalogue to take on streaming rivals

Renowned British telecommunications company and broadcaster, Sky UK, is reportedly squaring up to Amazon, Disney+, and Netflix, in the battle to gain higher viewership by expanding its original British shows catalogue by over 50% and also releasing new, exclusive films every fortnight, which also includes a biopic backed by Danny Boyle about Creation Records, a Britpop record label.

Driven by Britain’s growing appetite for binging on new series during the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of subscribers to the aforementioned three main streaming services has hit approximately 32 million, which is double that of the conventional pay-TV firms like BT, Virgin Media, and Sky.

With lockdowns across UK pushing up the digital content viewing numbers by over 38% in 2020, the hunger for newer content is booming and so is competition among big streaming enterprises. Recently, Netflix announced that it would start releasing one new movie a week.

Managing Director, Content, Sky UK, Zai Bennett, stated that the company would be doing the same starting 2022 and has increased the number of its original movies from two back in 2020 to over 30 this year.

Bennett stated that the main aim of this effort is to add more value to subscriptions of Sky Cinema. Adding that the movie investment was an addition to the approximately £1 billion Sky has allocated to spend on new and original series by 2024.

Apparently, Sky had already expedited its investment in films before the start of the pandemic and has tried as best it can to accelerate content creation even faster and make as many deals as possible.

The new movies include Alan McGee, starring newcomers James McClelland and Leo Harvey-Elledge as Noel and Liam Gallagher and Ewen Bremner, an adaptation of A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig featuring Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant, and Kristen Wiig, and Creation Stories, which is cowritten by Irvine Welsh and revolves around the boss of Oasis’s record label.

Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jan/24/sky-uk-boosts-original-content-as-it-takes-on-streaming-rivals

CapBay bags $20Mn in Series A funding, to expand P2P financing platform

Malaysia-based P2P supply chain financing medium- CapBay has reportedly secured USD 20 million in Series A funding round. As per sources, the funding round was led by existing investor – KK Fund- a Singaporean venture capital company that actively invests in new ventures across South East Asia and has a strong base in Malaysia since the year 2015.

It is worth noting that, in 2017, CapBay had raised nearly USD 500,000 during a funding round led by KK Fund. Other notable Malaysian investors include various angel investors holding expertise in technology, finance, and developing startup companies.

In a statement by the company, the raised funds will help with efficient financing and facilitate market expansion to reach a wider panel of investors and underserved small and medium- enterprises.

As per reliable sources, in December 2020, CapBay announced that it had injected RM 100 million or USD 24.71 million as funds across 500 investment notes on its P2P platform ever since its introduction in March 2020.

To date, the Malaysian startup has facilitated approximately USD 198 million across 10,000 transactions that cover SMEs.

Speaking along similar lines, CapBay has also widened its investment offerings for P2P investors through a strategic partnership with leading institutions. The company has emerged as one of the first fintech companies and became a part of the Vendor Financing Programme known as PERINTIS offered by the national telecommunications giant- Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s in September 2020.

Seemingly, the partnership between CapBay and leading institutions has allowed investors to pour funds alongside institutional investors in a safe asset class that is supported by corporate and government receivables.

Notably, the company has recently inked a strategic alliance with Kenanga to develop the country’s first Islamic Supply Chain Finance fintech company. Additionally, CapBay has also invested in building the Shariah-compliant supply chain finance system through the acquisition of Kenanga Capital Islamic Sdn Bhd.

Source Credit: https://fintechnews.my/25989/funding/capbay-raises-us-20-million-series-a-with-kk-fund-as-returning-invest/