Business

The global property business tries to adapt to e-commerce

FIFTH AVENUE in New York is the most expensive stretch of retail property in the world, now festooned with lights in the approach to Christmas. The pavements heave with crowds eager to see the diamonds sparkling at Tiffany & Co, a jeweller, and festive displays at Saks Fifth Avenue, a department store. But storefronts further downtown in once-thriving shopping districts remain vacant. The global retail property business is having to adapt as consumers spend more online. Consolidation is in vogue. On December 12th two retail property companies, France’s Unibail-Rodamco and Australia’s Westfield, agreed to merge in a deal worth $24.7bn to form the world’s second-biggest owner of shopping malls by market value. Westfield earns about 70% of its revenues from property holdings in America. U...

American business has concerns on tax reform

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S effort to change America’s tax code is approaching the finishing line. Republican negotiators from the Senate and the House of Representatives this week hashed out a consensus bill behind closed doors. On December 13th, Mr Trump expressed confidence that he would be able to sign the reform into law before Christmas. The key provision is the slashing of the corporate tax rate, from 35% to 21%. Big business in America uniformly cheers this reduction. The US Chamber of Commerce calls it a measure to “grow the economy, create jobs, and increase paychecks”. The Tax Foundation, a right-leaning think-tank, claims that reducing the corporate rate to 20%, just one percentage point lower, would increase the size of the economy by 2.7% over the long run. Yet big firms are les...

An accounting scandal sends Steinhoff plummeting

THE scale is staggering, even by the standards of scandal-worn South Africa. Steinhoff, a retailer that is one of the country’s best-known companies, admitted to “accounting irregularities” on December 6th when it was due to publish year-end financial statements. Its chief executive, Markus Jooste, resigned, and the firm announced an internal investigation by PwC. Within days Steinhoff had lost €10.7bn ($12.7bn) in market value as its share price fell by more than 80% (see chart). Much is unclear, but it is shaping up to be the biggest corporate scandal that South Africa has ever seen. The company has said it is reviewing the “validity and recoverability” of €6bn in non-South African assets. Steinhoff traces its roots to West Germany, where it found a niche sourcing cheap furniture from th...

Searching for Unclaimed Royalties Is About to Get Easier for Music Publishers With New SXWorks Database

There is no question that the rise of streaming services and other digital music companies have revitalized a flagging music industry, providing a new and growing revenue stream for musicians around the globe. But what happens when a service like Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon can’t identify the copyright owner of a song that’s played on its service — even if that song has been legally licensed? For several years, digital music services have been allowed to host and stream copyrighted music even if the metadata attached to a particular song is missing or incomplete, through filings with the U.S. Copyright Office. This has been a major thorn in the transition to a digital music economy; if metadata is not there, services and companies, even with the best intentions, cannot...

Pandora Extends On-Demand Listening to ‘Freemium’ Listeners With Video Ads

When ad-supported users search for music, they will now have an option to view a commercial to unlock a premium listening session. Pandora announced Thursday (Dec. 14) it now offers an on-demand listening option to its ad-supported listeners, if they opt in to watch a 15-second video ad first.  When “freemium” users search for a song, album or playlist now, or have one recommended to them by Pandora, they will now have an option to view a commercial to unlock the Pandora Premium listening session.  The Pandora Premium subscription service was launched late last year, combining the app’s personalized radio function with the ability to search and play for songs and albums with additional customized playlists. Now it is giving its ad-supported users access to those offerings...

Disney to Buy 21st Century Fox Assets, Including Film Studio; Bob Iger Extends Through 2021

Now it’s official. The Walt Disney Co. has agreed to acquire big parts of 21st Century Fox in an all-stock deal worth $52.4 billion, or approximately $66.1 billion when including debt, valuing shares of Fox at around $40 apiece while they had traded Wednesday at $32.75. In another key news update, Disney said that longtime boss Bob Iger has extended his contract as chairman and CEO through the end of 2021. The acquisition is expected to yield “at least” $2 billion in cost savings “from efficiencies realized through the combination of businesses, and to be accretive to earnings before the impact of purchase accounting for the second fiscal year after the close of the transaction,” Disney said. Asked about opportunities to boost revenue with the deal, Iger said ...

Ministry of Sound’s Justin Berkmann on the Vegas-ification of EDM and How Sony Gave His Club a ‘New Lease on Life’

Justin Berkmann was in his early 20s when he moved from the U.K. to New York and first discovered the nightclub that was to irrevocably change his life, Paradise Garage. “To this day, it’s still probably the greatest club I’ve ever seen,” says the British DJ and entrepreneur, who cut his teeth DJing in underground venues in New York in the Mid-1980s before returning back to London to open his own version of Paradise Garage. That dream became a reality on Sept. 21st, 1991 when Ministry of Sound — the U.K.’s first nightclub dedicated to house music, built on the site of a derelict bus garage/office car park — opened its doors. “It was a really special time because it was all so new and innocent,” says Berkmann, who co-founded Ministry alo...

Michael Jackson Estate, Sony Music Extend Partnership for Recordings

Sony will partner with the Jackson estate to “find new innovative ways to make Michael’s music available to future generations of fans.” The Michael Jackson estate has signed a contract extending its relationship with Sony Music as the Jackson economic juggernaut continues to generate tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.  Even in a time of declining sales, the songs of Jackson, who died June 25, 2009, still generates over a million track downloads a year for the last three years running, while his album catalog still moves over 500,000 units annually. Moving over to streaming, so far this year’s Jackson music has been played 1.05 billion times, of which 443 million were audio streams and 608 million were video streams. Since Nielsen Music began...

Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox, after business spinoff, for $52.4B

The Walt Disney Co. is acquiring 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock, Disney announced on Thursday morning. Fox will spin off and retain some of its properties, including Fox News, but Disney would own Fox’s massive film and TV empires. “The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co., said in a statement announcing the acquisition. Disney, which owns ABC News, taking ownership of one the country’s largest movie studios from the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company is one of the biggest media deals in recent years. “W...

Spotify Announces Exit of Kevin Brown, Head Of Label Relations for U.K. and International

Kevin Brown, Spotify’s head of U.K. and international artist and label services, is to leave the company after five years. Brown’s exit was confirmed in a statement by Spotify’s global head of artist and label services Rob Harvey, who said that the executive “has decided to leave Spotify after having supported [the platform’s] growth over the last five years.” “We thank him for his contributions and wish him the very best in his future endeavours,” said Harvey. Spotify would not comment on when Brown’s role at the streaming service ends, although Billboard understands that it will be before the year ends.  Brown is yet to publicly comment on the reasons for his exit or what his future plans are. The London-based executive joined Spotify...

Kobalt Music Signs Global Deal With Eric Church’s Little Louder Publishing Company

Kobalt Music announced on Wednesday (Dec. 13) it has signed a worldwide creative and publishing deal with Little Louder, covering all future works and back catalog.  Little Louder is the publishing company formed by Eric Church and Arturo Buenahora in 2013. Its roster includes Casey Beathard, Luke Dick, Oscar Charles, Jeff Hyde, Haley Georgia and Ryan Tyndell.  “We are excited about what the future holds with Kobalt,” said Church in a statement.  Effective immediately, Kobalt will be pitching Little Louder’s writers’ songs for placement on records and sync projects, as well as offering co-writing and collaboration opportunities.  “Eric Church is more than a singer-songwriter, he is force to be reckoned with in the music business,” said Kobalt’s chief cre...

Wizeline expands its outsourced IT services business into southeast Asia

Wizeline, a provider of outsourced programming services, is expanding its global footprint with agreements to partner with a slew of development shops across Southeast Asia. Founded in 2014, the company has a similar vision as Andela — providing programming jobs for developers in emerging markets to unlock the local talent pool and expose a new generation and geographies to the startup world. While Andela has focused on opportunities to employ developers in Africa, Bismarck Lepe, Wizeline’s founder and chief executive, initially focused on Latin America. The company currently employs 300 people in Guadalajara, Mexico and opened its second office a year ago in Ho Chi Minh City. Now, the company is expanding its footprint by leveraging third-party developer shops to add additional programmer...