Israel and EU Countries Bonding Through Natural Gas Concerns

With both European businesses and citizens having often been at the mercy of Russia when it comes to supplies of natural gas, a number of European Union (EU) nations have decided to come together with Israel to attack the problem. Their pledged move is to create the world’s largest undersea pipeline.


The country of Greece connected with Israeli and Cyprian interests to create a gas pipeline in the Mediterranean Sea that will stretch approximately 1,248 miles. Energy ministers from those countries and Italy, another potential partner, met on April 3 in Tel Aviv to discuss the framework for a plan that’s expected to cost in the neighborhood of $6.4 billion. Should only Greece be involved, the price is expected to drop to $5.3 billion.


The pipeline will start near oil fields in both Cyprus and Israel, with both countries seen by both Greece and Italy as more politically stable than Russia. In the latter case, the Russian government of Vladimir Putin has often used their vast supplies of gas deposits as a weapon against countries that need the commodity. At present, that reliance mostly is connected to the Nord Stream pipeline.


The Israeli connection became a reality after they discovered what became known as the Leviathan field in August 2015, which was considered the gas discovery of the decade at the time. The estimated minimum potential for this discovery from the Mediterranean is 900 billion cubic meters, though an additional 2,200 billion cubic meters could be available.


The pipeline would be built by IGI Poseidon, which is a joint venture between a pair of energy companies from Greece and Italy, DEPA and Edison, respectively. The pledge won’t fully begin to take shape until 2020, when the decision to invest will be made, and expected completion would be in 2025.


Some construction challenges could end up boosting the amount of money needed to complete the project, with infrastructure costs potentially compromising the supposed value of reduced gas costs. In addition, the current depressed market for gas would have to improve in order for the investment to pay off.



The Industrial Activity Of The Eurozone Marks A High Of 71 Months

Eurozone factories have generated the largest volume of employment in almost six years, according to the PMI index, which stood at 56.2 points in March from 55.4 in February.


The acceleration of manufacturing activity in the euro zone was led in March by the core of Germany with 58.3 points, its maximum of 71 months, the Netherlands with 57.8 points, its maximum in 2 months , and Austria, with 56.8 points, its best reading in three months, while in Italy the figure rose to 55.7 points, its maximum in 72 months.

In Spain, the PMI manufacturing index slowed in March to 53.9 points, its weakest reading in the last five months.


New orders for exports increased in almost all the countries covered by the study except for Greece, while employment in the euro area manufacturing sector grew for the thirty-first consecutive month. In fact, the rate of job creation accelerated in March to its record of almost six years.


On the other hand, inflationary pressures remained high at the end of the first quarter, when the purchase prices borne by the manufacturers increased at a rate close to the maximum of 69 months of February, which resulted in the largest increase in sale prices since June 2011.


In addition, the authors of the study found evidence of an improvement in vendors pricing power, including an increase in suppliers’ average delivery time, an indicator that measures supply chain pressures, Measured since May 2011, allowing sellers to raise their prices even more.


Chris Williamson, chief economist at IHS Markit, says that all key indicators of business activity – activity, new orders, exports, backlog and employment – are close to their six-year highs. That vendor delays send a warning signal about rising inflationary pressures.


As a result, the expert stresses that prices charged for ex-factory products have risen to the fastest rate since mid-2011, despite a drop in oil prices in March and a stronger euro dollar.


JeanMarie Guenot’s Accomplishments In The Pharmaceutical And Biotechnology Industry


JeanMarie Guenot is the CEO of Amphivena Therapeutics, a company that focuses on the development of therapies for hematologic malignancies. For over two decades, she has worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. Over the years, Guenot has gained broad experience that has helped her to succeed in all her endeavors. She has worked for different companies, including private and public, pharmaceutical R&D, business development, corporate and commercial development, venture capital, and project & alliance management. JeanMarie is passionate about building or rebuilding companies. She has always been interested in therapeutic areas. Her most recent involvement was in ophthalmology where she assumed the role of key business and operating officer of SKS Ocular.

JeanMarie built and managed SKS Ocular, a startup ophthalmic company incubator. Its first portfolio of five companies, SKS Ocular 1, specialized in dry AMD and sustained release of delivery technologies for ocular drug and therapeutics for glaucoma, ocular inflammation and macular degeneration. Previously, JeanMarie Guenot worked for Hoffman-La Roche as a business advisor. She was stationed in Shanghai and Basel for two years. Formerly, she worked for PDL BioPharma as the vice president in charge of Corporate & Business Development. She was in charge of licensing, alliance management as well as mergers and acquisitions for the company’s R&D and commercial product portfolios. While here, she spearheaded the negotiation of the Biogen Idec-PDL 50:50. The deal involved three candidates of Phase 2 cancer and autoimmune disease drug. In 2005, she received the Innovative Bio-Partnering Award for her success in the Biogen Idec partnership. BioBusiness Network presented her with the award.

At PDL, Guenot made several accomplishments, including spinning of product rights from the PDL-Biogen Idec collaboration for Ophthotec, and playing a central role in the sale of the company’s commercial and manufacturing businesses. She was a member of PDL’s executive team and portfolio management committee. JeanMarie Guenot sat on the Joint Steering Committee for Biogen Idec-PDL Alliance. Her business career started at Atlas Venture where she gained immense knowledge on venture capital investments. In addition, she established life science companies. JeanMarie enrolled in the University of California and Wharton University of Pennsylvania where she earned her PhD and MBA respectively.

Jeanmarie Guenot and Maverick Therapeutics Announce Five-year Collaboration with Takeda

Snapchat Planning On Acquiring Vurb For $100 Million

Major social media companies are continuing to buy hot new startups to add new features to their brands, and the latest such buyout has been a the mobile social media giant Snapchat’s acquisition of Vurb. According to Business Insider, the deal is set to be a $200 million purchase of Vurb through stocks and cash, with about 25% as stock funds and 25% purchase funds. Perhaps one striking aspect of this deal is that Snapchat plans on keeping most of Vurb’s current employees, including their CEO Bobby Lo who is said to be getting a $75 million contract to stay aboard. It’s unclear exactly what made Snapchat decide to purchase Vurb, as they have not given any interviews on the matter, but it’s been speculated that they are interested in what Bobby Lo’s team can bring to their company, perhaps even more so than simply adding Vurb’s platform to theirs.


Vurb is a search platform that is geared towards online shoppers or DIY people who want community reviews handy or other guides on finding what they’re looking for. Vurb has integrated various review sites like Yelp and Fandango on its interface, and also has an instant messaging program built in so users can contact their friends. The company was launched in 2011 and funded chiefly by Redpoint Ventures, with some additional funding from Atlas Ventures and CrunchFund.


According to MW Partners, Snapchat is currently the third most popular social media app, behind only of course Facebook and their chief competitor Instagram, but could this acquisition of Vurb expand its social media borders? With how established Facebook and Instagram are, Snapchat still has a lot of work ahead of it to catch them. But Snapchat has surpassed Twitter already and seems to be indicating they will be around for quite a while.

Irn Bru Speeds Up Sugar Cuts

“Scotland’s other national drink”, soft drink Irn Bru, will see a significant drop in its sugar content in the coming year.

AG Barr, maker of Irn Bru, along with Rubicon and Tizer, announced that it will be “accelerating its long-standing sugar reduction programme” to bring its product lines into line with a new levy on sugary beverages coming in 2018.

AG Barr was already making moves towards sugar reduction as part of a broad market-based strategy, soft drinks being one of the main antagonists in the war against obesity. These plans already existed, but with the new levy coming it seems the company will be bringing itself into line with the looming regulation by the autumn. Chief executive Roger White stated, “Today’s announcement builds on this progress and we are now expanding our successful sugar reduction plans to include our iconic Irn Bru brand.” He further assured loyal customers that, “We will continue to respond to our consumers and adapt to their changing preferences, offering great tasting products that are right for this generation of consumers and the next.”

The levy in question was recently passed in the UK as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, and is scheduled to take effect in April 2018. It specifically targets soft drinks with a sugar content higher than 5g per 100ml, with separate regulations targeting other drinks in excess of 8g per 100ml.

How much of the sugar reduction plan needed to be changed to conform to the levy was unclear.

Europe Rubbing the Silicon Valley the Wrong Way

If the phrase ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ could be any more relevant, it definitely describes the situation between Europe and Silicon Valley tech companies. News companies in Europe may start charging search engines for their content snippets, and this has a future consequence.

The EU commission opts to empower European media companies with the right to charge for their republished content. It means they can bill companies like Google or Facebook whenever they republish news content from Europe on their feeds. According to the EU, this levels competition ensures that everyone is getting their fair share of the advertising limelight.

Here is an interesting twist: anyone familiar with how search engines and social sites work knows they are a vital source of viewer traffic. Republishing snippets, by Google or Yahoo, means more traffic to one’s website. The very media companies in Europe rely on features like Google News to gain readership and clicks. So to start charging for such a huge favor is blatantly biting the hand that feeds you.

Nonetheless, the EU commission feels justified about passing the new regulation as it safeguards the sustainability of media companies in Europe. With the advent of digital online platforms, brick and mortar media houses are facing publishing hurdles, and rely on both search engines and social media to pull most of their traffic. This is no regard for the EU, not when tech companies are controlling the advertising platform and leaving only morsels to their in-house media companies.

Though both parties feel confident with the argument they are bringing to the table, the outcome is certain for one side. Europe doesn’t have to look further than Spain if they need a glimpse of what is to come. Spain passed the same law a while back to remove the presence of tech companies in their companies. Immediately traffic to the publishing house dropped by 14% and things never went back to how they were before.

A smart decision that EU media companies should make is introducing robot.txt files to their content. This way, they will prevent search engines and social sites from republishing their content at the same time leaving this option open. There is no use in burning the entire bridge.

UK Trade Set to Continue After Brexit

In 2016, the United Kingdom famously voted to exit the European Union. While the Brexit event garnered headlines around the world, the controversy is now over and officials in Britain and the European Unit are working to address important trade details that remain unresolved.

According to the BBC, the City of London Corporation’s policy chair, Mark Boleat, has assured observers that London will remain the leading financial center in the world. For nervous UK residents, the sentiment is undoubtedly comforting, but concerns remain.

It is important to businesses in both Britain and the European Union that trade continues in as free a manner as possible. While Britain might not continue to enjoy the frictionless trade that the European Union was designed to foster, it will still be a major trade partner for almost every European country.

Some observers have noted that European countries carry on a tremendous amount of trade with the United States and other non-EU countries, so there is no reason that they cannot continue to trade heavily with the UK. Obviously, certain policy issues will need to be resolved and new bilateral treaties might be necessary between the UK and its European partners.

Ultimately, however, economic participants should take some comfort in the fact that, where economic incentives exist, people have a way of making business work. When the furor surrounding Brexit fades away, many UK companies might find themselves engaging in business in much the say way that they did before the exit from the European Union.


European Business News: PETA Works to Improve Living Conditions For an Unpopular Species

Unlike elephants and giraffes, two endangered wild animal species today, crocodiles do not usually inspire great public affection. While many consumers become outraged about any mistreatment by agribusinesses of popular pets, such as rabbits, dogs, or horses, reptiles often receive comparatively little consideration. Yet some commercial interests “farm” crocodiles, using their skins to produce a variety of popular designer fashion accessories.


People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”), an animal rights group, recently reportedly purchased stock in the acclaimed fashion design firm, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (“LVMH”). Why? The animal interest group indicated it hopes to monitor the activities of the large French company. PETA hopes the manufacturer adheres to its promises not to purchase products from agricultural producers who attempt to skin crocodiles alive, a painful death for the huge reptiles. As a shareholder, PETA will enjoy the ability to question company officials at shareholder meetings. With sufficient support from other shareholders, the animal rights group could potentially appoint members to the fashion designer’s Board of Directors.


While crocodiles do display powerful jaws and sharp teeth, physical features which enable them to capture and devour prey in the wild, these creatures also possess a nervous system capable of feeling pain. PETA has endeavored to persuade a number of fashion accessory producers to reject inhumane crocodile farming practices, including Hermes, a firm which promised to monitor the living conditions of its suppliers’ farmed crocodiles on at least a monthly basis. The LVMH company has also promised to work to improve the treatment of animals raised by agribusiness interests and used in its high fashion product lines. A representative of the company indicated the European firm had severed ties with suppliers in Vietnam in 2014 who mistreated crocodiles in their care prior to harvesting them for their skins.


European Markets Follow America

After Trump’s election, the American stock market has risen rather substantially despite some critics predicting demise. Dow Jones Industrial Average is approaching 20,000, while NASDAQ and S&P 500 are near new highs. European markets are also doing well. They’re making 11-month highs driven by rises in bank shares.


One reason is the rate hike in the United States. Lately, banks have suffered from abnormally low interest rates. With higher yields banks increase their profits. “We think that the Fed will continue to be very gradual in its rate hikes and we look for maybe two to three rate hikes in 2017,” claimed Bob Baur of Principal Global Investors.


Yet another reason for bank share rises is optimism related to increasing corporate deals.


Italian banks were additionally boosted, as Reuters reports, by appointment of Paolo Gentiloni as the new Prime Minister. Stable political environment should help Italian banks to recapitalize. What’s more, country’s government is looking to help struggling banks, including Monte dei Paschi di Siena, with $16 billion.


On the other hand, mining stocks in Europe and elsewhere have fallen. Shares of gold miners were among those hit the hardest as gold’s spot price has declined to the lowest level in almost a year. Strengthening dollar typically leads to a fall in commodity prices. With more rate hikes on the horizon, dollar will possibly rise further, thus depressing commodity prices.



Swiss Buyers to Acquire Capsugel for $5.5 Billion

A Swiss pharmaceutical supplier, Lonza Group AG, is to buy Capsugel, a New Jersey-based company for $5.5 billion in cash. Capsugel specializes in making empty two-piece capsules as well as dosage forms for inhalable drugs. It employs around 3,600 people and has multiple facilities on three continents.


In the past, Lonza was looking to acquire Catelent for access to a bigger range of pharmaceutical ingredients, but that transaction didn’t go through due to a lack of agreement over price.


Richard Ridinger, Lonza’s CEO, believes that the current acquisition is a good complement for his company’s experience in contract manufacturing and ingredients for drugs. However, investors are less excited. Lonza’s stock price has fallen 5% over concerns about the price paid, according to a Reuters report.


Presently, there’s a trend where patients are switching away from injections to oral deliveries of drugs. Now, Lonza will be able to deliver a whole range of medicines. As Mr. Ridinger put it, “There’s nobody on this planet who can offer that.”


The acquisition will account for 60% of Lonza’s market value and will lead to capital increase of over $3 billion to finance it. “We like the logic of the deal, but think it is not a bargain,” claimed analysts at Baader Helvea.


What’s more, some analysts think that Lonza isn’t paying enough attention to biotech companies which focus on large-molecule proteins that are only available with injections. Carla Baenziger, an analyst at Vontobel, is surprised that Lonza is seeking synergies in chemical rather than biological drug manufacturing.