Italian Confectioner Ferrero Buys Nestle USA

Photo courtesy of Avelinak

After considering several buyers for its US chocolate business, food giant Nestle picked the Italian luxury chocolate brand, Ferrero in a deal worth about $2.5 billion. Last week it was reported that Ferrero had outbid its rival Hershey for the prize.

The deal makes Ferrero the third largest chocolate company in the US, after Mars, Inc. and Hershey. Before the buyout, Ferrero was the fifth largest confectioner, but only controlled 3% of the market. The Hershey group had 31.5% of the industry and Mars with 27.1%.

Ferrero also makes Ferrero Rocher pralines and Kinder chocolate eggs. It was founded in 1946, in the small Italian town of Alba, in Piedmont, by the grandfather of the present CEO, Giovanni Ferrero.

In 2011, after the death of his brother, Giovanni became the sole CEO of the company. Until that point the business grew solely through internal growth. After that the company started growing through acquisitions of other companies.

Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst in 2018

Courtesy of Iecs.

The world economy has been booming.  Bloomberg says the world economy is approaching its best year since 2011.

On the other hand, there are always things that can go wrong. Here are a few possible events that could put the brakes on continued, unencumbered growth.

Korea

Though all-out war seems unlikely, other tension can exert serious negative pressure on world economy, mostly because South Korea makes up 2% of the entire world’s gross domestic product.

China

Rapidly rising debt and slow economic growth forced credit rating agencies to downgrade China as an investment opportunity, for the first time in 30 years. The country did announce economic reforms for the coming year, but analysts feel that if the reforms come too late, there could be serious de-stabilization in the Chinese economy.

US Protectionism

Donald Trump’s “America First” policies could backfire and cause our biggest trade partners, especially China to retaliate with some “protectionism” of their own. This could then lead to an unpredictable global business climate and unstable operating costs.

NAFTA

The uncertainty caused by President Trump’s threat to pull out of the North American Trade Agreement, which has been operational since 1994, could disrupt markets, reduce credit growth, and have many other dire consequences to our best trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

European Union

The EU had more economic growth in 2017 than the US, but that is not a guarantee that such a state of affairs will continue. The rise of the far-right in the East, Brexit, immigrants and more can all lead to destabilization and uncertainty in the Eurozone marketplace.

The Year’s Best Gadgets for Under $50

Here’s a list of some of the funnest toys/gadgets that can be had for a mere $50 or less.

  • Have you been pining to fly one of those amazing drones we are seeing more and more of? You need not pine anymore. Fifty dollars will get you a fast and furious little drone that is easy to fly, the JJRC Mini Drone. Not only is it quick and stable, it is among the least expensive drones on the market. A perfect gift for experienced dronists as well as neophytes, endless hours of imaginative fun are yours to enjoy.
  • Yes, your cellphones camera is already amazing, but here is a little tool to make it even more amazing. With this small device that instantly clips on to your phone, photographers will get 8x magnification of their subject matter. Wherever you are- a concert, sports event, family get together, you can bring your subject much closer for a great shot. The regular price is about $45, but it often sells for a mere $25. For that money everyone should have one of these babies.
  • Senbono makes a smart watch that is chock-full of apps and other functions, for a super reasonable price. This watch comes with a camera, Bluetooth, a calendar, and WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter-abled. It also has a long-lasting battery, and a reasonable price-tag of $49.
  • Do you ever get up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself, or do you have a loved one who does? Isn’t it a shame to have to turn on the light just to do your/his/her business, spoiling the chances of a quick return to your dreams? Here is a clever solution, a motion-activated night-light that hides inside your toilet bowl, shining softly from within when activated. All it needs is three triple-A batteries and for you to clip on to the side of your toilet. This clever solution for nighttime relief is only $20.

Trump Org Disengaging from Trump SoHo

 

The Trump SoHo, located at the corner of Varick Street and Spring Street in the Hudson Square neighborhood of Manhattan. Photo courtesy of Beyond My Ken.

Trump SoHo will be losing its designation as a Trump hotel as the Trump Organization withdraws its name-licensing deal from the former Trump signature destination in lower Manhattan.

Donald Trump announced his plan to build Trump SoHo from his position as host of The Apprentice reality television show, to much excited anticipation. But even back in 2007 the project suffered. Wall Street lenders would not fund Trump projects anymore, due to his history of bankruptcies, so the money for the hotel came from a controversial source.

Bayrock Capital was a major sponsor, led by Felix Sater, who had been convicted of overseeing a “pump and dump” stock fraud scam which was connected to Russian criminals. Additional money for the hotel came from foreign sources, mostly from the former Soviet Union who were suspected of money laundering. No charges ever stuck.

After it opened in 2010, the hotel never did well. Managed by the Trump organization from the very beginning, the hotel never recovered from the economic crisis that began in 2008, which left the target population’s discretionary spending in tatters.

In 2014 the hotel was sold in a foreclosure auction to the CIM Group, which was one of its biggest lenders. After Trump’s election business was still stuck. Liberals have been boycotting everything and anything “Trump,” including the noted refusal of basketball legend LeBron James to stay at the hotel last year. This past summer the Koi Restaurant closed its doors at the bottom of the hotel noting that business plummeted after Trump’s election. “Before Trump won,” the restaurant told Money magazine, “we were doing great.”

EY Appoints first Woman to Lead US Division

Kelly Grier, 48, was appointed to be chairman and managing partner of Ernst & Young LLP, an appointment which distinguishes her as the  firm’s first woman to lead the company in the United States.

Until her promotion Ms. Grier served as the central US regional managing partner for EY. She will replace Steve Howe, the current chairman, on July 1, 2018. When Grier takes over it will make her the third female head at the Big Four accounting firms. Deloitte and KPMG have both had women at the helm since 2015, Cathy Engelbert and Lynne Doughtie, respectively. Only PwC is led by a man, Tim Ryan.

“Kelly was the best choice to lead us forward,” Mr. Howe said in an interview. “We’re very proud of our focus on diversity and inclusion.”

Ms. Grier has been at EY since 1990, and was promoted to US regional managing partner in 2015. She was the company’s vice chair of talent for the Americas and was also a managing partner at EY’s office in Chicago. She has also worked in Switzerland and Germany.

EY, and other major accounting firms, are international umbrella organizations. They have separate member companies in each different country where they have operations. Ms. Grier will lead the US firm, plus serve as the managing partner of EY’s Americas region. EY’s global chairman and CEO is and will remain Mark Weinberger.

“Kelly has demonstrated uncompromised integrity and an ability to manage high-performing teams, while delivering exceptional results for EY clients,” Mr. Weinberger stated.