Super! signs a multi-year deal with live-streaming platform DICE

Super! a Paris-based promoter, has reportedly signed a new multi-year deal with DICE, a London-based cellular ticketing and live-streaming platform.

The new partnership would see Super! events endorsed to audiences across the world through the live streaming DICE platform. The deal also covers both live as well as live streamed events all throughout the promoters list of artists, including Caribou, Bicep, Jungle, Bon Iver, Disclosure, and The xx.

The deal would also be including the ticketing for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris.

Super!, established 15 years ago, specializes in folk, electronic, alternative and rock artists. The platform also produces and promotes several French festivals such as French Riviera’s MIDI festival, Villette Sonique, and Pitchfork Music Festival Paris.

Apart from ticketing, both the firms would also be joining forces on several special events, including a project named THEOREM, a novel series of monthly performances from R&B and Hip-Hop artists at venues throughout Paris.

Additionally, a brand-new event from Super! named SPIRITUS SANCTI would also be launched later this year at the Saint-Eustache Church located in Paris and would be held twice a month. These shows would be filmed as well as streamed by Brut. Last April, Super! introduced top-quality live streaming to its platform.

Julien Catala, founder, Super! stated that the firm is thrilled to start this new partnership with live streaming platform DICE. Catala is also equally thrilled by the notion of developing new types of events with DICE over the coming years.

Country Manager for DICE, France, Alba Gautier, stated that the platform is excited to onboard the impressive portfolio of Super! onto the DICE app.

Gautier added that both firms are working together to bring top-quality, memorable music moments to followers, offering one of the best buying experiences, from discovering the show to seeing their beloved artist on stage.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Metal molds demand for plastic injection molding garners momentum

With robust developments in manufacturing technologies, the global metal molds industry for plastic injection molding continues to gain prominence. Currently, numerous technologies exist for manufacturing plastic parts. However, plastic injection molding, which involves injection of liquid plastics into metal molds typically made of aluminum or steel, is fast emerging as the preferred method.

Over the years, the automotive sector has been one of the major adopters of injection molded plastic components. This global shift in the auto industry has been brought about by tightening environmental regulations and the need for more lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicle designs.

Plastic injection molding is being widely used for manufacturing auto parts and components due to its ability to produce high-quality, precise, and consistent products. In addition to the automotive sector, the technology is quickly gaining recognition in numerous other industries including construction, packaging, and electronics.

Reports claim that the metal mold market size for plastic injection molding was valued at US$4.16 billion in 2020 and is projected to record a robust expansion through 2027.

With the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak during the first half of 2020, the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, and other supplies had increased significantly. In order to address this demand, numerous manufacturers ramped up the production of metal molds for manufacturing PPE and medical equipment.

In April 2020, for instance, a group of engineers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) had started manufacturing metal molds that could be used by medical equipment makers to produce plastic tubes for COVID-19 test kits. This effort by ORNL could help deliver over 40 million collection tubes per month. To manufacture the metal molds for COVID-19 test kits, the team had used additive manufacturing.

The initiative by ORNL was undertaken in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and was backed by the U.S. Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program.

In June 2020, SLM Solutions, as part of its Additive Alliance Against Corona initiative, had begun the production of metal molds for plastic injection molding for manufacturing face shield headbands for the Manufacturing & Advocacy Growth Network (MAGNET), an Ohio-based manufacturing consulting firm. MAGNET is part of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance formed by the Governor of Ohio to fight the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major players producing metal molds for plastic injection molding are adopting numerous growth strategies to expand their geographical presence. These include development of new technologies and collaborating with other players to bring innovative products to the market and gain a competitive edge.

In June 2019, for instance, Germany based Toolcraft had collaborated with Siemens PLM software to make metal molds using additive manufacturing for injection molded plastic products for the optical industry.

Online custom manufacturing firm Xometry Inc. had closed a US$55 million funding round in July 2019 to advance its global expansion plans. The company had also received a US$5 million investment from Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The funding also enabled the company to strengthen its CNC machining and injection molding capabilities.

In February last year, Xometry partnered with Dassault Systems to provide customers with a seamless, integrated way to manufacture parts using CNC machining and additive manufacturing.

With constant technological innovations in the manufacturing sector and the need for advanced high-performance materials across numerous end-use verticals, the global metal molds industry for plastic injection molding is likely to witness some remarkable developments over the next few years.


Wells Fargo in talks with buyout firms for asset management business.

Wells Fargo & Co is reportedly about to sell its asset management business, that manages funds of over $607 billion to a general private equity consortium led by Reverence Capital Partners LP and GTCR LLC .

This would be the biggest shake-up for the firm to date since Charles Scharf, former Chief Executive of the Bank of New York Mellon, joined as CEO in 2019. The exact deal price being negotiated has not been disclosed, but previous data says that the company was expecting a deal of more than $3 billion for the business.

There are chances that even after long talks the acquisition may end without a deal, sources have revealed, requesting anonymity as the matter is highly confidential.

On this matter, Wells Fargo has declined to comment, while GTCR and New York-based company Reverence also did not react to requests for comment.

The asset management business divestment is one of the important steps taken by Scharf to turn things around for Wells Fargo, following an old sales practices scandal. He has also been shedding non-core businesses along with cutting costs. Wells Fargo has earlier declared a deal to sell its direct equipment finance business to Toronto-Dominion Bank as well.

Speaking on which, Wells Fargo said last month that it would sell its student loan portfolio to a well-known group of investors.

The financial services giant is scheduled to report last quarter earnings on Friday, and Scharf is about to unveil a new plan for the bank.

Interestingly, GTCR and Milton Berlinski, alum of Goldman Sachs and co-founder of Reverence Capital  have been active in acquisitions in the asset management sector.

Data of 2019 reportedly reveals that Reverence bought a 75% stake in advisory firm Advisor Group Inc. On the other hand, last year GTCR reportedly took a small stake in CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Raleigh North Carolina.

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Cognizant acquires Servian to expand operations in Australia & New Zealand

American IT giant- Cognizant has reportedly inked an agreement to acquire a Sydney-based enterprise transformation consultancy- Servian, which lays its expertise in AI, data analytics, experience design, digital services, and cloud services.

Notably, through the transaction, Cognizant aims at extending its end-to-end digital transformation expertise to New Zealand and Australia to help customers make a shift to the cloud, develop digital products and services, modernize enterprise applications, unlock value from data, along with achieving operational excellence.

According to Jane Livesey, CEO, Cognizant Australia and New Zealand, Cognizant’s vast digital expertise coupled with Servian’s strength as a leading technology partner will work towards digitally transforming both the nations.

Speaking along similar lines, Tony Nicol, Founder and CEO, Servian, stated that the company aims at allowing its clients to leverage their data assets to support business transformation and offer a competitive edge.

Through the acquisition, Australian tech firm is focusing on applying its strength in engineering delivery, strategic advisory, and managed services across the wide spectrum of opportunities and challenges offered by the digital economy.

Operating with over 1,200 professionals across Australia, Cognizant serves over 110 customers, comprising of leading Australian insurers, banks, communication, and retail companies. In the last couple of years, the IT giant has strengthened its product engineering, Salesforce, in-country cloud, and Workday offerings to expand its digital capabilities across Australia.

Servian, on the other hand, was established in 2008 and has worked with over 190 leading firms across telecommunications, insurance, banking, government, and retail sectors including top 15 Australia and New Zealand Banking Group companies.

It is worth mentioning that, after the acquisition, 500 technology and consulting professionals working in Servian that are based in Australia and New Zealand will join Cognizant, multiplying the size of the cloud and data team of Cognizant in ANZ.

In the past, Servian has partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry like Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, HashiCorp, Red Hat, Salesforce, and Informatica. For the record, the transaction is likely to close during the first quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory clearance.

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SLD Laser announces production launch of LaserLight™ products

SLD Laser, a global leader in the commercialization of visible laser sources, has reportedly announced the production launch of its LaserLight sources. These products will gain widespread adoption in specialty lighting and automotive applications.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Nevada, the company is planning to demonstrate the real-world applications for this high brightness light source technology, as well as its intelligent illumination vision.

LaserLight products are expected to help transform and modernize the automotive & lighting industry owing to their myriad usage advantages such as the delivery of above 10 times more brightness than the LEDs, highly directional output, long lifetime, minimal power consumption, and extended range illumination of over 1 km. SLD Laser’s technology has also been used in a wide range of products such as interior lights, automotive headlights, entertainment & architectural lighting, drone lights, and flashlights.

In addition, the LaserLight technology is anticipated to witness adoption in select premium car models that deploy LaserLight Fiber to ensure high beam boost functionality, which will also come along with a conventional low beam LED unit. The technology is also expected to allow new lighting functions in the next-gen autonomous driving applications in the future, by adopting a 1-mm mirror based on the MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology. For the connected cars, it will enable the LiFi data communications, which is high speed, wireless, networked communications made by using light. This form of communication has surpassed the capabilities of conventional Wi-Fi communications as it has a highly increased rate of data transmission, i.e. an excess of 5-GB per second, as well as extended range.

Apart from the automotive applications, the LaserLight sources provide high luminance for consumer products that are related to portable lighting, and professional products used in architecture, entertainment, search and rescue, security, and outdoor lighting. Other new products launched by SLD Laser include handheld, battery-powered flashlights, with a visibility range of 1 km, as well as lightweight, power-efficient modules that can be mounted on drones to deliver enhanced visibility.

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