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Friday, December 4, 2020
The world’s major oil producers have agreed to boost their output by 500,000 barrels a day in January even as the coronavirus pandemic crimps demand, according to reports. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Russia-led allies — known collectively as OPEC+ — reached the deal Thursday after a disagreement over whether to walk back more of the production cuts imposed earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bloc had been expected to keep its current cuts of 7.7 million barrels a day in place for another three months. But Russia and some other countries expressed interest in hiking production again now that hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine have helped push up oil prices, according to Reuters. OPEC+ now plans to hold monthly meetings to decide on its output policies beyond January as the group did not find a compromise on longer-term goals for the rest of next year, sources told the news agency. The oil market has remained under significant pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic despite OPEC+ agreeing to a historic production cut of 9.7 million barrels a day in April. That was reportedly reduced to 7.7 million barrels a day over the summer as prices
SoulCycle has named veteran media executive Evelyn Webster its new CEO as it wades through the coronavirus crisis. The trendy spin-studio chain announced Webster’s appointment on Tuesday — more than a year after former head honcho Melanie Whelan abruptly stepped down. In a news release, SoulCycle said Webster will focus on “building a team and company culture” that supports its mission. Webster’s appointment came two weeks after a Business Insider report described how some of SoulCycle’s “master instructors” allegedly made racist and homophobic comments at work, fat-shamed colleagues and had sex with clients. In response to the report, SoulCycle said it takes such allegations seriously and is “committed to continuing to make improvements and ensuring that we live up to the values that our teams and riders expect of us.” Webster will join SoulCycle after nearly four years as chief executive of Guardian News and Media’s international operations, overseeing the British newspaper’s growth in the US and Australia. She’ll take the reins from SoulCycle chief financial officer Sunder Reddy, who has served as acting CEO for the last 12 months. The cycling-focused chain recently launched some updated offerings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including outdoor spin classes and an
Airbnb, the home rental company that will make its market debut next week, is making it harder to book apartments on New Year’s Eve in Paris, New York, London and other top destinations to limit the risks of illegal parties in the time of COVID-19. As of Thursday, travelers who don’t have positive reviews on their Airbnb profile won’t be able to rent a place for a single night on Dec. 31 in the United States, France, Britain, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Spain, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. People planning to spend the last day of the year in properties let through Airbnb will also have to pledge they won’t organize any parties on New Year’s Eve and they are aware of the legal charges they might face if they fail to abide by the rule, the company said. All bookings made under previous conditions will be maintained, Airbnb said. But it added that most single-day reservations aimed at organizing large year-end gatherings were usually made in December. Last-minute bookings by people seeking to rent a place close to their own home and who haven’t received positive reviews will also be restricted, Airbnb said. The new temporary
Shares of mall-based clothing chain Express plunged more than 20 percent after it admitted to liquidity concerns as the pandemic had tanked demand for work attire. The 40-year-old retailer reported a net loss of $90.3 million and a comparable-sales decline of 30 percent in the quarter ended Oct. 31. Express said it is “aggressively” pursuing new measures to raise more cash and expects to realize about $550 million in liquidity benefits including $440 million in 2020. Columbus, Ohio-based Express said it just slashed 10 percent of its workforce, which should save the company $13 million next year. “We have effectively managed that which was within our control,” chief executive Tim Baxter said in a statement. “And as I look ahead, I am optimistic about our ability to deliver improved results and cautious about the continued uncertainty brought about by the current environment.” Express, which was originally part of Limited Brands, operates more than 600 stores in the US. In January, it announced that it would close 100 stores over the next two years as part of a restructuring plan. In September it received notice from the New York Stock Exchange that it was not in compliance with its listing criteria to
Facebook says it will remove bogus claims about coronavirus vaccines from its platforms in its latest effort to clamp down on misinformation during the pandemic. The social network’s Thursday announcement came as officials around the world make plans to distribute the shots with regulators expected to approve them for emergency use in the coming weeks. The Silicon Valley titan said it will target false statements about the vaccines that have been “debunked by public health experts” on Facebook and Instagram. Those include baseless claims that the shots contain microchips along with bogus conspiracy theories, such as the idea that certain groups of people are being used to test the vaccine’s safety without their consent, Facebook said. “We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight,” Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health, said in a blog post. “Since it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve, we will regularly update the claims we remove based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more.” Facebook cast the move as an extension of its efforts to wrangle misinformation about the coronavirus in general. The company first pledged in January to crack down on COVID-19 conspiracy theories
CORPORATE CHIEFTAINS can barely keep tabs on what their own staff are up to, let alone suppliers and subsidiaries in far-flung places. A referendum in Switzerland on November 29th proposed to change that, making Swiss multinationals liable in domestic courts for lapses in human rights or environmental stewardship along their global supply chains. The proposal failed by the narrowest of margins—a watered-down version will come into force instead. The changes were championed by the usual foes of big business—NGOs, pressure groups and the like—with their long-standing gripes over cacao that Nestlé uses in KitKats or cobalt traded by Glencore. This political push to make companies more accountable chimes with boardroom proclamations about purpose-driven business, shareholders be damned. Corporate bosses nonetheless fiercely opposed the measures. Vague threats were made about footloose multinationals moving to laxer jurisdictions. That won’t be necessary. Though the Responsible Business Initiative gained 50.7% of votes, it failed to carry enough cantons under the arcane Swiss system. (Another proposal, to ban the central bank from investing in defence companies, was roundly defeated.) The Swiss government, which opposed the measures, will still bring in some less stringent norms. Reporting standards will be tightened,
The posh Christie’s auction house is selling a collection of T-shirts manufactured by the Supreme streetwear brand — and it wants $2 million. The assortment of 253 T-shirts spanning the lifetime of the wildly popular skateboarding brand from 1994 to 2020 is “the only known comprehensive archive of Supreme box logo T-shirts ever curated,” Christies said in a press release.  The collection of tees — each of which features the brand’s signature “box logo” in various forms, including an American flag, Arabic writing and one that says F— Bush — belongs to James Bogart, a 21-year-old Canadian fashion student who started assembling it when he was 14, according to a CNBC report.   Valuing the collection at $2 million means an average price of $7,900 per shirt — a “ridiculous” price, Bogart told CNBC in an interview. Bogart isn’t saying how much he spent to amass the collection, but Supreme’s merch has never been simple to get. The brand is famous for its limited-edition “drops” that draw customers lining up for blocks outside stores. The early shirts were the most difficult to get, Bogart said, because Supreme only released 50 to 150 shirts of some limited editions. Bogart said he’s
More than 40 US states are planning to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook next week, a new report says. The coalition of states — led by New York — is preparing the suit as the social media giant faces a similar probe by the Federal Trade Commission, Reuters reported Wednesday. It’s not yet clear what the states’ complaint will include, according to the news agency. But Facebook has faced recent scrutiny for snapping up smaller rivals such as Instagram and WhatsApp to bolster its own business. That’s reportedly a focus of the investigation by the FTC, which could file a related lawsuit against Facebook in a federal court or with an administrative law judge, Reuters says. New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed in September 2019 that she was spearheading a bipartisan group of states investigating Facebook for antitrust issues. The Democratic AG said at the time that officials would work to determine whether Facebook “endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.” A spokesman for James declined to comment Thursday. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The states’ reported suit would come on the heels of the US
Remote work brings benefits to employees and employers alike—but requires more effort on the part of executives
SWITZERLAND IS KNOWN for its timepieces. But it is also home to another business that for most of its history has operated with metronomic regularity. That is Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company. Established in the 1860s in Vevey, a small town on the shores of Lake Geneva that remains its home to this day, it has long been seen as an opaque behemoth with an insular culture and the occasional brush with scandal. Yet a billion of its products are consumed every day. Its sales last year surpassed $93bn. When it talks coffee, it talks in 100bn cupfulls. Data may be the new oil in America and Asia, but in Europe hot beverages are hotter than either crude or computing. With a market value of $320bn, Nestlé is worth more than Royal Dutch Shell, the continent’s biggest energy firm, and SAP, its software giant. Many global food firms have been models of reliability. Other venerable names, such as Campbell’s, Danone, Kraft Heinz and Unilever (which sells more non-food items than food), also have roots stretching back over a century. Yet five years ago, amid a sharp slowdown in growth, the industry suddenly found itself under siege. 3G, a
MARC BENIOFF got the idea for the “ohana” corporate culture on a sabbatical in Hawaii. The term refers to a network of families bound together. He likes to think of Salesforce, the world’s third-biggest software firm, which he founded and runs, as just such a network. On December 1st Mr Benioff welcomed Slack, an instant-messaging tool, to his ohana. The $27.7bn deal is one of the biggest ever in the software industry. Like many family alliances the tie-up is partly about power and feuds. Slack’s product has a cultlike following, which Salesforce wants to harness to build a tech platform that sells digital tools that no firm can do without. Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s co-founder, hailed it (hyperbolically) as “the most strategic combination in the history of software”. The feud is with Microsoft, whose advances Slack spurned four years ago. The deal makes Salesforce a far more formidable challenger to the giant. Mr Benioff may be best known to the public for championing corporate “purpose” (and owning Time magazine). But in his own industry he wins kudos for disruptive innovation. In the 2000s the young Salesforce basically invented software-as-a-service (SaaS)—accessing programs remotely rather than installing
COVID-19 HAS, received wisdom has it, been terrible for hotels. The share prices of the eight biggest listed Western groups by room count have slipped by 14%, on average, this year. The glum consensus is, though, being challenged by two big Chinese chains. Both are enjoying resurgent demand for domestic travel as China has tamed its epidemic. And strength at home is fuelling ambitions abroad. Jin Jiang, the world’s second-biggest hotel firm by capacity, boasted an occupancy rate of 74% in the third quarter, in line with last year and more than double that of its bigger rival, Marriott International. Its market value has soared by three-quarters this year, to $6.4bn, above better-known Asian brands such as Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental. Huazhu, which like Jin Jiang is based in Shanghai, saw revenue per available room recover by 40% from the second quarter, to 179 yuan ($27). The group is now worth $16bn, behind only Marriott and Hilton Worldwide among the world’s listed hoteliers. Similarly to their big Western rivals, Jin Jiang and Huazhu each owns a portfolio of brands that cater to different customers. Jin Jiang, which is controlled by Shanghai’s local government, operates