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BlackBerry Launching New Tablet

If you’re a BlackBerry Ltd fan, you’ll be happy to hear that they have launched their high-security tablet, developed with International Business Machines Corp and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Called the SecuTABLET, the tablet will be presented by BlackBerry at the tech fair CeBIT 2015 in Germany. It reflects the company’s emphasis on secure connections for the government and for businesses that want to preserve a niche market.

As Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle, chief executive officer of Secusmart GmbH, said “Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry’s portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions. Working alongside IBM and Samsung, we have added the last link in the chain of the Federal Security Network. Subject to certification of the SecuTABLET, German government agencies will have a new way to access BlackBerry’s most secure and complete communications network in the world.”


Primary Fundraising Efforts

fundraising-effortsThere are currently some quite significant fundraising events taking place for the upcoming primaries. So much so that it has almost become a competition between corporate organizations, rather than the Democrats and the Republicans. There is a lot of money being but out by corporations supporting one or the other of the parties.

What is interesting also is that in some cases – like that of Goldman Sachs – money is being given to BOTH parties. For example, Jim Donovan, Goldman Sachs senior executive has organized an incredibly upmarket affair for the Republicans, charging $50,000 per head to support Bush. He did something similar last year for Romney. Donovan is not the only Goldman Sachs executive involved in an advisory role for the Republicans. He is working with others including: John Thain (former president of the corporation), Scott Kapnick (former co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs), and Muneer Satter (former Goldman executive who worked on Romney’s 2012 finance committee 3 years ago).

The Republicans are the recipient of substantial fundraising efforts in other parts of the country too. For example, in Charleston West Virginia, there is a breakfast organized by Go West Virginia Inc. to support a group that boosts Republicans. For those who wish to attend, tickets are $100,000 a head, making it “one of the highest priced – if not the highest-priced – political fundraising events ever in West Virginia.”

Mondelez International Gets New Executive VP & President of North America

The Illinois-based snack maker Mondelez International has recently announced that Roberto Marques will join the company as their executive vice president and president of North America. He will be based in East Hanover and will report to Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld. He is succeeding Mark Clouse.

Starting in mid-March, he will lead the company’s $7 billion business in the US and Canada. The business include large name brands such as Oreo, belVita, Wheat Thins and Trident gum.

As Rosenfeld said, “I’m delighted to welcome Roberto to the Mondelez International family. His knowledge of consumer brands, strong leadership capabilities and extensive global experience make him a terrific addition to our North America region and my leadership team. He will play a critical role in driving our growth and margin-expansion agendas.”


Weatherford International PIc Plans Job Cuts

Weatherford International PIc is planning to cut 5000 jobs, which is equivalent to 9% of its workforce. They plan to do so by the end of the first quarter to save costs amid sinking oil prices and budget cuts.

These job cuts will include operating and support positions and most of the job reductions will be in the Western Hemisphere. They believe that these cuts will create an annual savings of over $350 million. As the company said, “Due to the quickly changing market conditions, we are aligning and reducing our cost as well as organizational structures to match the new environment.”

Last month they already announced that they would eliminate the position of COO.

Other oil companies are acting in a similar way. Schlumberger NV (SLB.N) is letting 9,000 employees go, while Baker Hughes Inc (BHI.N) is letting 7,000 go.



Beyler Eyyubov, Shakarbura & Charm

Business meetings often call for lunches to be brought in, but sometimes an extra touch would help break the ice during the meeting. In these situations, it’s always recommended to have some sweets around to please the client and to distract them, at times, from the intense dialogue taking place. This is particularly true if the meeting isn’t taking place during the lunch hour, but in the morning or late afternoon.

Creating a multi-cultural atmosphere during a business meeting, the company should consider having various sweet shops make delicacies from their home countries. One great example of this is Beyler’s Sweet Shop located in London. Beyler Eyyubov prepares typical British sweets, but he also has classic Middle Eastern favorites on hand. These include Gavurga which is a delicacy of wheat fried with raisins and nuts. He can prepare Paklava, a diamond-shaped thinly layered pastry that has nuts and sugar in it. And he loves to make Shakarbura which is a pie made of thin dough that is filled with nuts and sugar.

The delicacies from Beyler Eyyubov are one example of the many delicacies that businesses should consider adding to their next business meeting. Certainly, the sky is the limit with the types of sweets a business can introduce to the office.

Finding the Right Place to Retire

As you reach retirement age, it’s not always easy to know where to retire. Now, designed by the real estate information company for Reuters, there is a map that helps people to answer the retirement question. It includes over 15,000 locations across the US.

You get to make decisions along the way about the weather, healthcare access, the percentage of the population over 65, entertainment, crime rate, population density and median home values. You can also look within a specific state or within a group of states.

The program can certainly help retirees to figure out what’s best for them as they move into their Golden years.

Go to the map to get started and to find your retirement dream today.


Wage Hikes Impacting Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Certainly, workers who are paid minimum wage will appreciate the wage increase that is taking place across the United States. Their employers, however, are feeling the impact of these changes. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest private employer in the US with 1.3 million workers, is adjusting its salary base at the 1434 stores.

An internal memo reviewed by Reuters explains to store managers how the hike will impact upon the 21 states that are due to follow through with the changes around January 1, 2015.

Wal-Mart, which prides itself on keeping costs down and has been struggling to grow sales, will be changing its pay structure. They will narrow the gap in the minimum premium paid to people in the higher skilled positions. Wal-Mart will also combine its lowest three pay grades. This includes cashiers, cart pushers and maintenance workers.

The state minimum wage changes range a great deal based on state. There will be a 17% increase in South Dakota, for instance, to $8.50. While in Arizona, there will be only a 2% change which will raise salaries to $8.05.

These changes will also impact other big retailers like Target Corp. and McDonald’s.

Consumer Spending Down Over Thanksgiving

Retailers certainly always hope that the Thanksgiving weekend will bring massive sales. This year, however, it was difficult for them to compete with online shopping and early holiday promotions. Shoppers, on average, were found to spend 6.4% less than they did last year at this time, according to data released by the National Retail Federation.

The NRF estimates that shoppers spend $380.95 at stores over the holiday weekend, compared with $407.02 last year. This was a total spending fall of about 11% over the weekend.

NRF President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay explained that there has been a “revolutionary change” in holiday shopping and that it’s likely to continue. With the growing ease and importance of online sales and the lessening excitement over Black Friday, retailers aren’t getting out to the stores over the holiday weekend as they used to.

The Thanksgiving weekend is also an early gauge of consumer mood and spending for the entire season. This weekend accounts for about 30% of the sales and almost 40$ of the profits for retailers during the holiday season.

BlackBerry Attempts Come Back

BlackBerry is attempting an earnest comeback, according to chief executive John Chen. Chen moved into the executive role in November of 2013 and he is trying to get the company on track. They have raised cash through their sale of real estate holdings in Waterloo, Ontario.

As Chen said while speaking to Reuters, “Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again. That is definitely something I am very focused on doing.”

Having made his name at Sybase, Chen said, “If you look at my track record at Sybase, I think we made money for some 60 quarters in a row, even when the dotcom bubble blew up we were profitable. I like that philosophy,” said Chen, who added he believes the worst is now behind BlackBerry. We will survive as a company and now I am rather confident. We’re managing the supply chain, we are managing inventories, we are managing cash, and we have expenses now at a number that is very manageable. BlackBerry has survived; now we have to start looking at growth.”

BlackBerry is hiring again although it has not yet turned steady profits.Time will tell if they get back on their feet.



Ebola & The Economy…a Direct Connection?

While Ebola is certainly scaring the nation, it does not appear to be hurting the economy at the moment. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose in early October to the highest level that it’s seen since July of 2007.

As David Berson, an economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, said, “The underlying strength of the U.S. economy remains intact. If it were not for Ebola and geopolitical concerns, these (sentiment) numbers would be higher.”

Measures of consumer confidence simply haven’t shown the worry or alarm that has been expected. Economists polled by Reuters who expected a drop found instead that the sentiment index ticked two tenths of a point higher to 86.4. Gallup’s daily poll of economic sentiment has also been stable in recent weeks.

As Kris Dawsey, a Goldman Sachs analyst said, “Despite rising media coverage, Ebola seems to have had little discernible effect on consumer sentiment to date.”

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