Business

McKinsey manages to get itself sued for racketeering

MOBSTERS, gangsters and bent cops have all been tried under America’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act. Might consultants be next? McKinsey, a management consultancy, is being sued under the law by Jay Alix, the founder of AlixPartners, a competitor in the field of bankruptcy advice. Mr Alix alleges that McKinsey knowingly misled courts in order to land clients. The firm denies any wrongdoing. Bankruptcy is lucrative, for those doling out the advice. According to Debtwire, a data provider, corporate bankruptcies generated $1.3bn in fees in 2016, with lawyers taking home over half, and the rest going to consultants, accountants and financiers. McKinsey is a relative newcomer: it set up its restructuring arm, which turns around companies in financial distress, in 201...

Toyota takes a winding road to autonomous vehicles

UBER’s fleet of autonomous vehicles has been parked up since one of its self-driving cars struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona in March. That death highlighted once again the industry’s rush to develop self-driving cars. Waymo, a sister company of Google, plans to launch a robotaxi service in Arizona this year. General Motors says it will launch a fully autonomous taxi service, using cars with no steering wheel or pedals, in an American city in 2019. Volkswagen will make autonomous vehicles available through its new ride-hailing service, Moia, in 2021. Ford says it will be mass-producing fully autonomous cars by then, too. But not every carmaker is going at the same speed. Toyota, one of only three car companies that sells over 10m vehicles a year, has made no equivalent commitments...

How a few companies are bitcoining it

IN A recent video Jeremy Sciarappa, a YouTuber, flips the lid off a red box in his living room to reveal a silver machine the size of a shoebox, whining noisily. The contraption is an Antminer S9, sold by Bitmain, a Chinese firm. Its job is to help validate transactions conducted in bitcoin, the world’s best-known crypto-currency. Because bitcoin has no central authority, it relies on its users to keep things humming along. Those who help out are granted bitcoins, in a process called mining. The Antminer s9 is beloved of hobbyist miners worldwide. Nestled inside are 189 application-specific integrated-circuit (ASIC) chips, designed by Bitmain to solve bitcoin’s cryptographic puzzles as quickly as possible. They were made by TSMC, a giant Taiwanese semiconductor firm. Mr Sciarappa and his f...

Portugal’s energy giant may sell to a Chinese state-owned utility

SHOULD Europeans worry that China Three Gorges (CTG), a state-owned firm, wants to buy EDP, a utility that is Portugal’s biggest company? It is three years since one local banker, Fernando Ulrich, called Portugal “a Chinese aircraft-carrier in Europe”—back then, Chinese buyers were already snapping up stakes in “strategic” local companies as quickly as the government could privatise them. CTG’s offer of €9.1bn ($10.8bn) for EDP, which was made on May 11th, will further unsettle those suspicious of China’s desire to snap up European assets. The country is unusually welcoming to investors from the east. Its national airline, TAP Air Portugal, and Redes Energéticas Nacionais, the monopoly power transmitter, both have Chinese investors. CTG is already EDP’s largest owner, with a stake of 23%, ...

A Samsung executive is accused of union-busting

ON THE face of it Samsung, South Korea’s biggest chaebol, as the country’s family-controlled groups are known, has had a good couple of months. In April it was name-checked in a report by the country’s antitrust body for good progress on corporate reform. It also posted record profits for the fourth quarter in a row, thanks mainly to its booming memory-chip business as well as its Galaxy range of smartphones. But on May 15th prosecutors spoiled the mood. They raided Samsung’s offices outside Seoul and arrested Choi Pyeong-seok, head of human resources at the after-sales subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, the group’s main earner, on allegations that he had been involved in sabotaging labour-union activities and might destroy evidence unless he was jailed (he has not responded to the allegat...

For European firms, resisting American sanctions may be futile

“DONALD TRUMP is the sort of guy who punches you in the face and if you punch him back, he says ‘Let’s be friends’. China punched back and he retreated. The Europeans told him how beautiful he was, but they got nothing.” This is how an American official-turned-executive describes the latest twists in the Trump administration’s sanctions policy, which this year has roiled business from America to Europe, Russia, China and Iran. What business leaders see, analysts say, is a punitive approach that is capricious, aggressive and at times ill-prepared. But unless companies or their governments take the fight all the way to the White House, they have little choice but to abide by the long—and sometimes wrong—arm of American law. The capriciousness was evident on May 13th when President Trump exec...

Concord Execs Detail Maintaining ‘One-Company Mentality’ Through Label, Publishing Acquisitions at Canadian Music Week

“I think that we have a bit of a competitive advantage over some of the other players in the market,” said CEO Scott Pascucci. Billboard‘s West Coast editor Melinda Newman, led a discussion with Concord Music CEO Scott Pascucci and chief publishing executive Jake Wisely at Canadian Music Week on Saturday discussing the company’s acquisition strategy and approach to reinventing the company in the 21st century.  The conversation confirmed a record celebrating the 75th anniversary of Oklahoma! is still in the works and that Wisely — a self-declared metalhead — would rally love to acquire the Ronnie James Dio catalog. As well, they touched on what sets their company apart in the music marketplace.  “I think that we have a bit of a competitive advantage...

A storm breaks around AirAsia’s boss

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Wale Signs With Warner Bros. Records

Wale has signed with Warner Bros. Records. Maybach Music Group’s Grammy-nominated rapper is releasing new track “Black Bonnie” featuring Jacquees and will unveil his sixth studio album later this year. Wale and Warner Bros. Records celebrated their new alliance at the Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. last evening (May 15). Joining Wale and Warner Bros. co-chairman/COO Tom Corson were Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper, MMG founder Rick Ross, Spotify’s head of urban Carl Chery and several other Warner Bros. executives including Chris Atlas, senior VP/head of urban marketing, and PJ Bloom, senior VP of film & television music and soundtracks. In a statement announcing the signing, Corson said, “I am delighted that Wale has joined Warner Bros. Records. He is a pilla...

Merlin Divests Fully From Spotify, Shares Proceeds With Members

Merlin, the global digital rights agency for indie labels, announced this week that it has sold its entire equity stake in Spotify and has already shared the proceeds with its members. Speaking with Music Week, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said Spotify’s switch to a public company compelled the rights body to move quickly on the divestiture of its stake. “Merlin is an organisation that exists solely to maximise the value of our members’ rights and keeps only the monies that it needs to operate,” Caldas said. “It is outside of Merlin’s remit to hold a long-term equity position in a publicly-listed company where there is a liquid and transparent market for that equity. We therefore worked quickly to liquidate our interest in Spotify and have passed the proceeds to ...

Miguel, Axwell & Ingrosso and Jamiroquai to Headline 2018 North Coast Music Festival: Full Lineup

North Coast Music Festival has announced the full lineup for 2018, returning to Union Park in Chicago with headliners Jamiroquai, Grammy-winning R&B sensation Miguel and dance music duo Axwell ^ Ingrosso, plus DJ Snake, The Revivalists and Yellow Claw. North Coast Music Festival takes place Aug. 31-Sept. 2, offering a fully immersive three-day festival for long-time “Coasties” to experience and discover dance music, hip-hop and rock-bands across four curated stages. Additional artists performing at “Summer’s Last Stand” include Vulfpeck, Snails, RL Grime, Gramatik, DVSN and more. This year North Coast will also debut all-new daily showcases curated by industry collectives, showing off the best sounds in hip-hop, house, and beyond with DJ sets from The Cool...

Prince Estate Partners With Tidal & Jay-Z for Vault-Driven Album Planned for 2019

Jay-Z is helping to pick out the songs for the album partnership, which ends the legal dispute between the two parties. It’s happening: new Prince is on its way. Tidal and Prince’s estate announced on Friday that a batch of previously unreleased music from the late icon’s vaults will make up a new album, expected to be released in 2019, with Tidal owner Jay-Z working directly with the estate on song selection. Upon its eventual release, the as-yet-untitled album will stream exclusively on Tidal for two weeks before it is released in physical formats. It will also be available to download seven days after its debut, though it’s unclear if or when the album will be shared with non-Tidal streaming services. The agreement between Prince’s estate and Tidal, which w...