BP sells its 20% stake in Oman gas field to Thailand’s PTTEP

Leading British oil company- BP is reportedly selling 20% of its 60% share in a gas block in Oman to Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) for USD 2.6 billion in a bid to gain USD 25 billion as divestment proceeds by 2025.

In a statement by BP, post the completion of the sale in Oman’s Block 61 to Thailand’s national oil company, projected to be completed this year, BP will continue to remain the operator of the block with a stake of 40%. Notably, the sale has to be approved by the Sultanate of Oman and their other partners in the block.

Bernard Looney, Chief Executive Officer, BP was reportedly quoted stating that the company is committed to its business in Oman, where the agreement allows the British oil giant to facilitate world-class development along with making notable progress in the divestment program.

It is worth mentioning that, BP aims at boosting its investment in low-carbon energy by ten times to USD 5 billion annually and reduce the oil and gas production by 40% by 2030. The company is also targeting proceeds of a total of USD 25 billion from divestments in the next five years.

As per recent news, BP announced the completion of the sale of its petrochemicals arm for USD 5 billion to INEOS in 2020.

Seemingly, the company is working towards changing its business to an integrated energy giant from an international oil company as it continues to develop resilient and focused hydrocarbon as it claimed in October 2020 after commencing the production from the Ghazeer gas field in Oman.

Apparently, owing to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, the oil industry has been adversely affected, with BP recording losses of approximately USD 5.7 billion in 2020.

Citing sources, despite the weak business environment, the company is focusing on making a transition to a greener business model by ramping up the renewable power generation capacity to 50 GW by 2030 from the present 3.3 GW while reducing the output of the oil to reduce the GHG emissions.

Source Credit: https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/BP-Sells-Stake-In-Oman-Gas-Field-As-Part-Of-25B-Divestment-Plan.html

Sony Music acquires AWAL and Kobalt neighboring Rights in a $430M deal

Sony Music, a leading American global music firm under the Sony Corporation of America conglomerate, has reportedly inked a new definitive agreement to procure AWAL, the independent distribution as well as label division of Kobalt Music Group, and its neighboring rights unit, both companies announced the new deal on Monday, Feb 1, 2021.

According to reports, The proposed deal, which would still need to obtain regulatory approval to go through, would see Sony Music pay over $430 million to Kobalt Music Group. The deal would be subject to conventional working capital as well as other adjustments.

As per the announcement, AWAL as well as the neighboring rights unit would be working as an independent new division, which would be connected to Orchard, the indie distribution arm of Sony which has revenues of over $800 million.

In the financial year that ended March of 2019, AWAL clocked in revenues of over $106.2 million with its neighboring rights unit recording collections of approximately $65 million. If the proposed deal goes through, the indie operations of Sony could have revenues of over $1 billion.

However, because Sony counts these monies under the agency accounting, it only recognizes the distribution fees of Orchard it gathers as revenue under its own reporting. The company is highly likely do the exact same thing for the acquired Kobalt entities.

Rob Stringer, chairman, Sony Music Group stated that the company’s investment in the continued growth of AWAL gives it another service to make available to  the independent music community. Stringer further added that with AWAL’s flexible solutions, which help build the careers of artists, the two companies can together offer more thrilling choices to creators to connect with their respective global audience.

When this takeover deal closes, it would mean that Kobalt would still own its AMRA performing rights organization as well as its music publishing platform, while an independent entity, Kobalt Capital, would work as a Kobalt Music Copyrights Fund II investment adviser. Last November, Kobalt reportedly sold the company’s Music Copyrights Fund 1 for $323 million to Hipgnosis.

Source credit: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/9519146/sony-music-acquires-kobalt-awal-neighbouring-rights

FreeWire bags funds worth $50Mn to expand EV charging solutions

California-based electric vehicle charging and power solutions- FreeWire Technologies has reportedly raised USD 50 million in Series C funding round led by Riverstone Holdings and saw the participation from existing shareholders bp ventures, TRIREC, Alumni Ventures Group, and Energy Innovation Capital.

For the record, the latest investment by Riverstone- a leading energy private equity company, marks the first private equity investment made in FreeWire and also showcases the significance of battery-integrated charging technology to meet the rapidly increasing demand for electric vehicle charging stations, globally.

Notably, with the new investment, the company aims at expanding the market for its flagship offering- Boost Charger™ along with expanding its production capacity to meet escalating customer demands.

According to a statement by Robert Tichio, Partner and Managing Director, Riverstone, the investment underlines the energy private equity firm’s aim to support innovation that meets the growing demand for energy along with managing climate change risks.

It is worth mentioning that, rise in awareness among people regarding the need to adopt sustainable mobility alternatives has supported the adoption of electric vehicles, further anchoring the development of EV charging stations.

Boost Charger, a product offered by FreeWire, helps connect to the present low-voltage grid infrastructures that allow high power DC fast-charging from its 160 -kWh lithium-ion battery. The company’s technology allows ultrafast charging where high-power connections are either expensive or unavailable.

Kevin Skillern, Managing Partner of Energy Innovation Capital, was reportedly quoted stating that the Boost Charger represents an evolution in charging technology and is an integral step to deliver fast, cost-effective, scalable, and a wide EV charging solution to the public.

Through the investment made by Riverstone joined by EIC and other investors, the deployment of EV charging technology by FreeWire will be accelerated, he further added.

As per reliable sources, the investment comes after the agreement between FreeWire and BP pulse- UK’s largest charging network solutions provider, under which for it to become an exclusive operator of the former’s Boost Charger technology across the UK.

Additionally, FreeWire has deployed more than 200 battery- integrated chargers with the Fortune 100 companies, retail locations, commercial customers, and gas stations. In addition to the above, the company plans to deploy over 2,500 ultrafast charging stations by 2025.

Source Credit: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210125005937/en/FreeWire-Technologies-Secures-50-Million-in-Series-C-Funding-Round-to-Scale-Ultrafast-EV-Charging-Infrastructure

Interscope inks a new JV with Adam Mersel’s Immersive Records label

Interscope Geffen A&M has reportedly signed a joint venture deal with the Immersive Records, a label owned by renowned artist manager, Adam Mersel, who is presently guiding the career of Ben Platt, the Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winning superstar. Prior to that, Mersel has also helped guide singer Bebe Rexha to a diamond-validated status, and worked closely with artists such as Robin Thicke and Sara Bareilles.

Sources cite that before the launch of Immersive Management in 2020, Mersel was working at First Access Entertainment and Career Artist Management, where he has worked with Thicke, Rexha, Bareilles, and other successful artists.

That same year, Mersel also looked after the releases of “Sing to Me Instead”, which was Ben Platt’s debut, and has also served as the Executive Producer for the Broadway star’s NETFLIX special “Ben Platt: Live From Radio City Music Hall”.

Under the JV, the release of a debut single by Chase Hudson, also known as LILHUDDY, the star of the latest Downfalls High musical feature of Machine Gun Kelly, is set to take place. Given the title of the “21st Century Vampire”, the debut single has reportedly been co-written by LILHUDDY, in addition to Andy Seltzer, Nick Long, and Jake Torrey.

The track, which released recently, is further accompanied by a new music video that was shot by Director Joseph Kahn and is reportedly available across all digital retail providers through Geffen/Immersive Records.

Commenting on the JV, Adam Mersel stated that some of his earliest experiences associated with working in the music industry are related to Interscope, underscoring that Steve, John, and other Interscope executives have played a part in raising him in the business.

Mersel is also grateful to the complete team for their belief and support and believes that Interscope stands as the perfect home for Immersive Records, as time and time again, the team has demonstrated its success in the establishment of career artists.

Source credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/interscope-signs-joint-venture-with-artist-manager-adam-mersel-for-immersive-records-label/

Office Depot rebuffs third takeover attempt by rival firm Staples

  • ODP Corp. chairman turns down unsolicited $2.1 billion takeover bid from Staples
  • The company has expressed its interest in an alternative deal, however, such as a joint venture or retail operations merger
  • This marks the third attempt made by Staples to acquire Office Depot

U.S.-based office supply retailer Office Depot has recently rejected another takeover offer from its industry rival Staples. In a letter exchanged between the company’s executives, the chairman of the board of the ODP Corporation, the parent company of Office Depot, allegedly rejected Staples’ $2.1 billion offer to acquire the business.

However, the company expressed its interest in forging an alternative deal that would draw less regulatory scrutiny, including a joint venture, or a partial sale of its e-commerce and retail businesses to Staples.

Joseph Vassalluzzo, ODP Chairman, reportedly stated in the letter that a full takeover deal, as proposed by Staples, would bring far too much regulatory risk. He went on to say that an alternative deal, such as a JV or a partial sale, may be more efficiently executed and will present greater certainty and draw less attention from regulatory authorities. Vassalluzzo further added that this would help maintain optimum competitiveness against non-conventional retailers, and present more lucrative ongoing choices for customers.

The letter was delivered to the MD of Staples’ owner Sycamore Partners and USR Parent board member, Stefan Kaluzny. Staples has made at least two other attempts to acquire ODP in the past.

The last merger attempt, which was made five years ago, was blocked by antitrust officials on grounds of a potentially massive reduction in competition in the office supplies market. In the recent takeover bid, Staples proposed to buy the company for over $40 per share, claim sources with knowledge of the matter.

For the record, apart from Office Depot, ODP Corp. also owns another office supply retail chain OfficeMax, as well as IT company CompuCom.

Source Credit: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/19/office-depot-rejects-takeover-offer-from-rival-staples-wsj-reports.html

Coachella likely to be delayed again as COVID-19 continues to grip USA

Coachella music festival organizers have reportedly held discussions to contemplate delaying the annual three-day event yet again. According to sources familiar with the matter, the discussions mainly focused on possibly shifting the event date from the already planned April date to October, in fall.

Goldenvoice, the LA-based concert promoter, has already moved the event date for Coachella 2020 twice, moving it to October 2020 from April 2020 first and then again from October 2020 to April 2021. The organizers have also attempted to make sure to keep the artist lineup intact, specifically because it implies that the event has been ‘postponed’ and not entirely ‘canceled’.

This essentially saves the company from having to refund all the sold tickets. However, with all these delays, it is not yet clear how long the organizers can keep on postponing the event before having to refund customers.

For Goldenvoice, Coachella is one of its most prominent moneymakers. The event has also gained somewhat of a cultural significance as it marks that unofficial start of the year’s season of summer festivals. Postponing it for a third time defers several millions dollars’ worth of revenue for a firm whose owner has been on a firing spree already.

For the record, Goldenvoice is not the only enterprise that is trying to determine when their live music event would be back, and how different it would look like. Numerous agents, live music professionals, as well as promoters are looking for a solution that would allow them to conduct a large public event. However, given the immense surge of the pandemic in the country, none of them have any idea how such an event can be hosted.

In fact, Live Nation, one of the world’s biggest concert promoters, had introduced a summer timeline, assuming an efficient vaccine distribution effort. However, that was prior to the latest surge in global COVID-19 cases, and the logistical difficulties created by the large-scale vaccine distribution efforts. The firm would now be updating fans as well as the investors on its outlook after its next earnings report comes in.

Source credit: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-01-17/coachella-may-be-delayed-again-as-festivals-give-up-on-spring

Netflix allegedly testing spatial audio support for AirPods Max & Pro

Netflix, the leading content streaming platform, is reportedly testing support for the novel spatial audio functionality of iOS 14. As per reliable sources, a software developer at Netflix stated that the streaming giant has been testing spatial audio support on iPad and iPhone since December.

There is not much work that might be required on the streaming giant’s end to support spatial audio. In fact, the service already provides an assortment of surround sound content, which is what spatial audio transforms into virtual surround sound. Most of the streaming services, including Disney+, Hulu, and Apple TV+ already have support for spatial audio.

According to reports, specific information as to when Netflix would launch the spatial audio support has not been announced yet. Rather, it has only been ambiguously suggested that the feature would release in spring with a very limited content list.

The spatial audio feature is available to AirPods Max and AirPods Pro, and the toggle is accessible through Control Center during the time when AirPods are connected.

Apple stated that spatial audio is an enveloping experience utilizing directional audio filters mainly to play sounds nearly anywhere in a space, forming an immersive sound experience. This essentially puts surround channels just in the right spot, even when someone moves their device or turns their head.

Apple explains the spatial audio feature for users of AirPods Max and AirPods Pro as spatial audio with dynamic head tracking that brings theater like sound right to the users’ AirPods Pro. This is achieved by enabling directional audio filters and finely adjusting the frequencies that each ear receives.

Spatial audio utilizes the accelerometer and gyroscope in iPhone and AirPods Pro and also tracks down the motion of the user device and head, comparing the motion data and then remapping the sound field so that it stays attached to the device of the user even as the user’s head moves around.

One thing to note is that only Netflix’s top-end Premium package support Dolby Atmos surround sound. As such, it is highly likely that the company would limit the Spatial Audio support to its Premium subscribers.

Source credit: https://9to5mac.com/2021/01/14/netflix-spatial-audio-airpods/

Sony enters drone biz with ‘Airpeak’, unveils at digital CES 2021

Japanese multinational conglomerate company- Sony Corporation has recently launched its Airpeak drone at CES- the world’s largest consumer electronics and information technology exhibition, which was held online on January 11, 2021.

Reportedly, the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show, likely to be held till January 14, 2021, aims at building connections and displays the latest in robotics, digital health, smart devices, among various others.

For the record, nearly 1,800 exhibitors have taken part in the show, virtually owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Notably, with the launch of Airpeak, Sony has announced its official entry into the booming drone industry. It carries Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras and will enable the creators to shoot HD aerial videos.

In a statement, Kenichiro Yoshida, President, Sony Corporation, said that with the online rollout of Airpeak drones, the company is aiming at a commercial launch of the product across Japan and the United States in spring 2021.

Other Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers that introduced their new offerings at CES include, Panasonic Corp. which unveiled a superior sound system designed to be used in vehicles.

On the other hand, Canon Inc. displayed a software that facilitates the use of a digital camera as a videoconferencing camera when attached to a personal computer.

Additionally, Japan-based medical devices giant – Omron Healthcare Co. introduced a novel system that allows patients who suffers from hypertension to record their biological information at home and share it with a doctor, using telemedicine services.

Seemingly, the ongoing pandemic and the consequent travel restrictions have forced many tech shows like CES to go online this year. Last year, the exhibition was held in Las Vegas and saw nearly 4,000 exhibitors from startups to multinationals.

As per reliable sources, Digital CES relies on artificial intelligence to match the interests mentioned in attendee profiles with the exhibitors, to showcase innovative software and technology products.

The Consumer Electronics Show has over 300 speakers in line and lays its focus on issues like 5G internet and privacy. The online session will be available for replay on-demand and can be accessed until mid-February 2021.

Source Credit: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/12/business/tech/sony-unveils-airpeak-drone-ces/


Water and wastewater treatment applications to foster regenerative turbine pump deployment

The global regenerative turbine pump market size has been growing steadily over the years, primarily driven by extensive application across numerous key end-use sectors. Ongoing investments in the development of new wastewater treatment infrastructure in both developed and emerging countries will drive future developments in the sector.

Regenerative turbine pumps, also known as peripheral turbines, are preferred in applications where compact design and high pressure are desired. These pumps, on account of their low pulsation, can easily handle air or vapor within the fluid being pumped.

Peripheral turbines are suitable for a wide range of applications as they can move high-temperature fluids at high pressures. They are commonly used in compact boiler feed services in dry cleaners, breweries, bakeries, and other commercial plants to circulate cooling water through lasers and other machinery where high head is needed.

Building & construction, chemical, oil & gas, agriculture, and waste water treatment are among the other major applications of peripheral turbines. Ongoing developments in the water and wastewater treatment sector are fueling the global regenerative turbine pump market size, which is estimated to hit US$290 million in terms of annual revenue by the year 2027.

Water shortage issues in many parts of the world have created a significant need for clean and safe water for drinking and other purposes. The recent years have witness a number of large-scale waste water treatment projects, both in developing and developed regions.

In January 2021, the Sharjah Municipality (SM) had inaugurated a new 2,500 cubic meter sewage pumping station in the emirate’s Al Soor region. The new facility has been planned and designed in accordance with the modern requirements after renovation and replacement of the existing plant.

Considering the urban boom and population growth in the past few years, the latest revamp has expanded the capacity of the pumping station from 500 cubic meters before rehabilitation to 2,500 cubic meters. The project reflects the Middle East region’s keenness towards developing infrastructure and services to support the urban and civilizational renaissance.

Citing yet another recent instance, in December 2020, a new US$775 million sewage water treatment facility was established near Canada at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The project aims to deliver clean water in the northern Washington state and the south coast of British Columbia.

The new wastewater treatment plant exceeds regulatory requirements and has the capacity to treat nearly 108 million liters of waste water on average daily to a tertiary level, making it one of the largest water treatment facilities in the region.

The availability of alternative pumping technologies could be a major factor limiting the demand for regenerative turbine pumping systems in the near future. However, manufacturers are constantly working on designing new improved solutions at low costs to stay competitive in the market and address the increasing global demand.

In addition to water and wastewater treatment, emerging applications in myriad other industry verticals will strengthen the industry outlook. Roth Pump Co., MTH Pumps, DLT Electric, LLC., Pentair, WARRENDER, Nikuni Co., Ltd., Corken, Inc., Magnatex Pumps, Inc., Xylem, LTD., Speck, PSG, and TEIKOKU ELECTRIC MFG. CO., LTD. are among the leading regenerative turbine pump manufacturers worldwide.



Roblox secures USD 520 million in the private funding round

As per the latest news, Roblox Corporation, one of the leading online gaming companies for kids, has reportedly announced that it has raised $520 million in a private funding round. The company has also announced plans to go public by direct listing in the market.

Last year, Roblox applied to go public, but seeing shares of DoorDash and Airbnb soaring in the market caused the company to delay going public. Unlike Palantir, Slack, and Spotify, which all had direct listings, It will allow current shareholders and employees to sell shares to new investors on listing day.

This is one of the different ways companies are  trying to reach the public market as another option to the traditional initial public offering (IPO), which has been mocked earlier as a hand out to the latest investors at the cost of long term insiders and employees. The funding round, which was led by Altimeter Capital along with Dragoneer Investment Group, reportedly values Roblox at around $29.5 billion, an addition of much more than sevenfold from its last financial funding in Feb 2020.

In a filing, the company indicated that it still has some plans to raise funding of an additional $30 million. Roblox’s announcement comes immediately two weeks after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC ) approved a law allowing companies and institutions to raise primary funding at the exact time as their listing. Roblox, however, is raising the capital before its market listing.

Speaking on which, Brad Gerstner, CEO at Altimeter announced the next day after the rule change by SEC in Dec. that  2020 is going to be known as the year when traditional IPO got muddled. He further added that now companies have a platter of options, whether they want a traditional Initial public offering, a direct listing in the market, or a gateway of special-purpose SPAC (acquisition company).


Source credit: