All posts by James Cannon

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com

Largest Four-Day Workweek Trial Underway

Recently, there has been a demand by employees to cut back on days in the office. After two years of the pandemic, people want to work from home, spend more time with loved ones, and just have more flexibility in general. While many companies have adopted the hybrid model to accommodate these sentiments, some have taken a more extreme stance.

For the past 8 weeks, the world’s largest four-day workweek trial has been running in England. About 3,300 employees from 73 different companies have taken on the task of producing 100% while working only 80%, still earning their regular salary. And while this endeavor does come with some inherent challenges, an overwhelming majority of participants are absolutely loving it.

The program is being spearheaded by the nonprofit “4 Day Week Global.” Andrew Barnes, the organization’s founder, has been advocating for a four-day workweek since 2017. In his own organization’s trial, he found that when working four days instead of the traditional five-day model, his employees demonstrated a productivity rate 25% higher than before.

During the initial stages, many companies struggled to set themselves up for the experiment. Samantha Losey, managing director at Unity public relations firm, called the first week “chaotic.” However, she explained, she and her team quickly instituted some systems that enabled continued productivity throughout the four-day workweek. All internal meetings are limited to 5 minutes, while client meetings end after 30 minutes. A “traffic light” system ensures workers are not interrupted unnecessarily – if a colleague’s desk light is set to green, they’re available for a chat; if the light is orange, they’re busy but available if needed; and if the light is red, they cannot be disturbed.

In addition to positive reports from employers, participating employees have given very favorable feedback. Many are appreciative of the extra time they can devote to other important things in their lives besides for work, such as family, mental health, exercise, and extracurricular activities.

It will be interesting to see continued outcomes from the big four-day workweek trial as time goes on. The results may have life-changing outcomes on work-life balance, company culture, employers, and employees.

“What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?”

After 40 years on the market, the Klondike Choco Taco ice cream bar is being discontinued.

The company, which is owned by Unilever, explained that consumers have shown increased interest in many of its other products. In order to ensure enough supply of those items, Klondike has had to make significant decisions.

While the reasoning behind the decision is a positive one, nostalgic customers are disappointed. In addition to leaving a mix of disgruntled, funny, and emotional comments on Klondike’s Twitter account, fans have rushed to stores before it’s too late. Many shops have been bought out of Choco Taco.

If it is any consolation, Klondike has alluded that there is hope that the beloved ice cream bar will make its way back to ice cream trucks in the future. In the meantime, people can continue to enjoy the summer with the signature Klondike bar, as well as cones and shakes.

PepsiCo Will Open Its Largest US Facility

In a time where unemployment is on the rise, news about companies expanding or opening new facilities is exciting. Last week, PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA) announced it will be opening a massive manufacturing facility in the Denver High Point development zone. The 152-acre area will house a 1.2 million-square-foot factory, creating an estimated 250 jobs.

The company has set high standards for the new facility. The plant is slated to reach 100% renewable energy, achieve top quality water efficiency, and minimize use of plastic. It is expected to be the largest and most sustainable PepsiCo plant in the US.

In a statement put out by the president of PBNA’s West Division, Johannes Evenblij expressed his excitement over the plans and appreciation for its location. He stated, “We’re thrilled to call Denver, a city that shares so many of our values, home to PepsiCo’s most sustainable US plant location. With the High Point facility serving (as) a model for the future of PBNA’s supply chain, we’re eager to continue deepening our dedication to Colorado through positive impacts such as new job opportunities and more sustainable business solutions.”

The combination of new employment prospects with efficient and healthy business practices yields positive opportunities for growth. It will be exciting to follow the progress of PepsiCo’s newest endeavor.

What Mohamed Amersi is saying about the Telia deal

Mohamed Amersi
Mohamed Amersi

Mohamed Amersi is generally unknown in Sweden, but in the 2010s he was a legendary dealmaker in the emerging markets of Eurasia. For several years, Telia hired Amersi and his company to facilitate the company’s investments in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, and Uzbekistan. 

As background, Amersi says “I have a long experience of doing M&A business in emerging markets. In Latin America for Telefonica, in the Middle East for Etisalat, Oredoo and Zain, in Africa for Etisalat, MTN and Zain, in Russia for Veon to name a few clients. In total, I have participated in transactions corresponding to approximately 1,000 billion Swedish Kronas.” Within these deals, Amersi provided both legal expertise and input from his corporate, finance, private equity, and venture capital experience.

“At the time of Telia’s business in Eurasia, the company had ambitions to become a global player in telecoms, primarily through acquisitions in emerging markets. To succeed in this,” Amersi explains,  “a successful acquisition strategy was required. At that time, the two merging companies – Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera – already had a presence in Eurasia through the operators Megafon, Turkcell, and Fintur. But the competence of the merged company needed to be strengthened to be able to continue to acquire and manage operators in Eurasia.” As Amersi attests, he is arguably the only person who could both handle the M&A directly, “and had insight into the local culture and could work both sustainably and profitably.”

Amersi reiterates that Telia Sonera was also interested in finding and acquiring operators in other emerging markets. That is why his company was hired for an ongoing role in advisement to merge Swedish-Finnish company. Ultimately, the merger was meant to bring Telia new operators outside of Eurasia, with expansions in emerging countries such as Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, and Ethiopia.

It was precisely Amersi’s cultural litheness and familiarity that allowed him to make valuable contributions to the Telia merger process. To Amersi, his role was “about general advice, resolving ownership disputes, understanding local regulatory issues and not least evaluating and concluding agreements with local partners.” These local partners, says Amersi, are often quite powerful and wealthy; their support is key to making any deal.

“But unlike what has been described in the press, it is not about bribes at all. It is crucial that the deal is started in the right way. It must be made clear to the responsible authorities, regulatory units and other authorities and parties that there will be no bribes.” 

Mohamed Amersi

Toward that end, Amersi adds that the collaboration with prominent local partners must be fully established and clarified from the very beginning. This allows for clearly described roles and responsibilities,” as well as clear payment flows. Amersi also says that local partners must be required to co-own the merged entity, giving them a financial stake (and risk) that come with the co-ownership. Amersi’s insistence on the local partners is in fact built on the principle that “value creation in the merged business that profits and dividends can be made. Not through bribes. It is in collaboration with a weak partner that corruption most often occurs.”

Furthermore, Amersi insists that a culture of giving back must be inherent in any merger process. “It is about creating local jobs, education and skills development locally, and not trying to minimize taxes, but paying full local tax.”

Mohamed Amersi

As for his involvement with Telia, Amersi clarifies “My role in this transaction was of a technical nature…I was asked as an advisor to make a check of the valuation made of Telia’s finance function and to be helpful in developing an optimal structure for the transaction. In addition to my assignment, Telia had hired world-leading lawyers with recognized good competence and experience in negotiating and drafting agreements, as well as conducting audits and due diligence.  I, therefore, did not participate in the negotiations themselves or directly in the implementation of the deal or in any part of the review and due diligence.”

Ultimately, it is clear from the investigations and a conversation with Amersi that not a single error was found, or any remark made.  Telia’s auditors also reviewed the relationship between the companies.  Amersi is a man of truth, integrity, and respect; these are his keywords for trust and transactions of all kinds.

Neil Cole Iconix Founder Introduced A New Online Shopping Experience

Neil Cole, the award-winning branding pioneer, founder of the Iconix Brand Group changed the way people shop online when he founded Next Retail Concepts – shoppers experienced an immersive experience online – and could actually feel like they are in the store. We’ve all shopped online, virtually the entire world understands how online shopping works and probably experienced doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic. But not everyone has been able to have an immersive experience of feeling like you’re in the store and actively shopping while online. As Neil Cole Iconix founder explains, “Our proprietary technology transforms the traditional eCommerce landscape within our innovative platform to create exciting and engaging immersive shoppable experiences that tell a brand story. This is a dynamic new way to shop.” Neil Cole launched the platform originally with Fred Segal and Mastercard, the shopping experience premiered at 29Rooms in Los Angeles and enabled shoppers to browse the physical store at Fred Segal with features that are similar to Google’s Street View. A shopper virtually enters a store and to navigates throughout the physical space to products of interest and clicks on products for details. Explaining how unique Next Retail Concepts is, Neil Cole said, “This experience engages the user on a deeper level and tells a better brand story. It’s like a virtual pop-up that you get to navigate yourself through to create a unique, personalized journey.” The future of shopping has arrived – and it’s certainly looking exciting!