Category Archives: News

Private Equity Company KKR & Co to Buy Major Stake in China Lighting Company

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, a New York-based private equity firm, says it will purchase a majority of shares of China-based NVC China for US$794 from parent company NVC Lighting Holding Ltd.


The companies announced that they will be creating a strategic partnership in which, when done, KKR will hold 70% of shares and NVC Lighting will own the remainder of the stocks.


NVC Lighting is planning on paying shareholders a special dividend after the deal is sealed, of HK$0.9 (US$0.01) a share. The deal is expected to be finalized during the fourth quarter of 2019.


The investment came from KKR’s flagship Asian Fund III. Since 2007 the fund has invested over US$4.5 billion in Chinese companies.

California Rice Grower Signs Deal to Sell Rice to China

After trying for 15 years to break into the Chinese rice market, a 100-year old family business based in Sacramento has cut a deal to sell its rice in China. In July, Sun Valley Rice became the first US company to sell its rice in China.


“China has been tough to get into because for many years it was illegal to sell our rice there,” said Betsy Ward, president of USA Rice, a national trade association.


Until a 2018 agreement was forged between the US and China, it was illegal for the US to sell rice to China. When that law was lifted over 25 US companies were approved to sell their rice to China. Sun Valley became the first to make a deal.


“We would travel regularly to China to research [the market], attend trade shows and meet the industry players,” said Ken LaGrande, who founded Sun Valley Rice with his father Michael in 2000. “It was a commitment we made as a family to persist. So when the opportunity opened up, we were ready.”


The LeGrande Family has been producing rice in the Sacramento Valley since the 1920s LaGrande’s great-grandfather saw that the area’s climate, water supply, and soil was correctly proportioned to perfectly grow rice. Over the years the family incorporated other parts of rice production into their business, including drying and milling. This business became the LaGrande Family Foods Group. Now the Group is composed of many different operations, including farming, sprouting rice and milling sake.

Rice fields north of the City of Sacramento. Photo Courtesy of Mark Miller.


Almost 20 years ago, in 2000, LaGrand and his father Michael saw an increased market demand for high quality, specialized rice. That is when Sun Valley Rice was born.


“Sun Valley Rice now is a fully integrated arm of the family business, ‘from farm to fork’ if you will,” said LaGrande. “We source rice from 200 farms, or about 10% of the rice crop gown in California. And we handle drying, milling, packaging and marketing of the rice.”


It is likely other rice growers will also land deals to sell their rice in China.


“We have the first sale. But we really hope there will be strong continuing demand for American rice in China, and that allows, in turn, more opportunity for farmers back in California,” LeGrande said.

Best Destinations for Business Travelers in the US

Business travelers spend lots of money during their peregrinations for their companies. Global business travelers spent more than US$1.3 trillion in 2017, with China and US businesses the top two spenders. Expedia, the on-line travel agency looked its annual data and discovered that out of a total of 405 million trips made for business by Americans, about 60% extended their stays for fun.


The following three cities were found be the best US cities in which adding a few days to your business stay is the most fun according to small business solutions marketplace Fundera.


In first place was Los Angeles. Strategically situated in one of the sunniest US cities, a visitor can count on great weather, but there is a lot more to LA than sunshine. Gorgeous beaches, fantastic restaurants, non-stop entertainment opportunities and world-class museums are just the beginning of what makes LA such a great place to chill.


What must have been a close second is of course New York City. One of the great cities of the world, despite cold winters and hot/humid summers, the Big Apple is unquestionably the go-to place for an exciting vacation chock-full of an almost endless variety of activities suitable to every taste. From Broadway shows to lovely parks, the city that never sleeps is good choice for an after-work break.


In third place comes Dallas; but it ranks first in US cities not along any coast. This city is a wonderful compromise in its size, convenience and culture. Since it is not a mega metropolis like LA or NY, it might have less by way of choices for restaurants and hotels, but it makes up for that in the calm, cool atmosphere created by a smaller, friendlier and easier to get-around in environment. Not to mention the Dallas airport is a hub for just about anywhere else you might want to travel to in the US.


Fundera says that an average stay in a Dallas hotel is just under $190 per night, lower than in less-populated cities such as San Francisco or Miami. The Dallas Fort-Worth Airport is 20 miles from downtown, but even during rush hour it will only take 40 minutes to arrive.

Ericsson’s First Smart Factory is Coming to Somewhere in the USA


Although its exact location has not yet been announced, Ericsson confirmed that it is going to build its first smart factory in the USA soon. The factory will be fully automated and will build advanced antenna system radios as well as 5G radios. The products are both essential components for the insertion of 5G networks into North America.


The new factory is an additional component of the company’s global supply chain. Already working closely with its customers in Europe, Asia and America, Ericsson is continuing to insure they meet their customers’ needs.


Vice President and Head of Networks for Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling, said;


“We continue to focus on working closely with our customers and supporting them in the buildout of 5G globally and in North America. In addition, we are digitalizing our entire global production landscape, including establishing this factory in the US. With 5G connectivity we’re accelerating Industry 4.0, enabling automated factories for the future.”


The company says that they want to open the new factory by the beginning of 2020. Their vision is that the new smart factory will be powered by Ericsson 5G solutions which are built specifically for industry. The operation will help to promote sustainability, including the goal of receiving LEED Gold Certification.


In the early stages the new factory will employ about 100 human workers working in tandem with the automation. The company already has a new R&D facility and software development center in Austin, Texas, which is already near the Austin ASIC Design Center. The Center opened at the end of 2017 and builds core microelectronics for 5G radio base stations.

Trump Meeting with British Business Leaders in London

Marillyn Hewson, President/CEO of Lockheed Martin. Photo courtesy of NASA


President Donald Trump is meeting with 10 English business leaders for breakfast this week to discuss issues relevant but not exclusive to, defense, banking and pharmaceuticals. Among the key execs invited are Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems; John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid; and Emma Walmsley of GSK and Barclay’s Jes Staley.


The working breakfast will last about one hour and will take place at St. James’s Palace in Central London. British Prime Minister Theresa May is co-hosting the event with Trump.


The focus of the meeting will be the crucial nature of cooperation and collaboration between English and American companies. In attendance will also be important members of the US business community, including head of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson; Estée Lauder UK and Ireland chief executive, Philippe Warnery. Fidelity Investments CEO, Abigail Johnson, is also on the list of invitees.