$32.7bn energy projects in MidEast pipeline

The Middle East energy sector is witnessing a surge of fresh investment in 2012, with 97 new power and water projects worth $32.7bn having started construction since this year, or due to begin before the year-end.

A new study by Ventures Middle East reveals that the UAE has 10 power and water projects worth $1.5bn slated to begin construction in 2012, including the $740m Noor 1 solar power plant, and Phase 2 of the $580m Emal Power Plant.

It added that Kuwait has given the green light for 19 power and water projects worth $4.2bn, highlighted by the $2.7bn Al Zour North Independent Water and Power Plant.

According to Ventures, Saudi Arabia has 15 new projects worth $8.8bn kicking off in 2012, including the $2bn Al Qurayyah Independent Power Plant, and the $1.2bn Shuaiba 2 Power Plant.


The figures have been released by Ventures Middle East ahead of Power + Water Middle East, taking place in Abu Dhabi in October.

Other MENA countries surging ahead with new power and water projects in 2012 include Morocco, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain.

According to the World Energy Council, the Gulf region alone will require 100GW of additional power by 2020 to meet increased demand, growing at 7.7 percent annually.

Population in the Middle East is expected to grow by 31 percent by 2025, reaching 500 million, forcing regional governments to not only ramp up efforts to invest in more power capacity, but also putting significant strain on already scarce natural water resources.

The Middle East is one of the most water scarce regions in the world, resulting in significant investment in water infrastructure and non-traditional water technologies such as desalination and wastewater re-use.

Anita Mathews, exhibition director for Power + Water Middle East said: “Growing demand and rapid industrial developments has enabled Middle East countries to continue their run as the most dynamic power and water sectors in the world.

“Power consumption in the MENA region has been growing significantly and is poised to grow at a faster pace in the years to come.”

HealthPlus set to expand UAE IVF fertility services

HealthPlus has announced plans to expand its IVF fertility services in the UAE.

Construction has started to double the capacity of its Abu Dhabi clinic, with an additional operating theatre and six preparation and recovery rooms.

HealthPlus said it is also planning to open a new clinic for IVF treatment in Al-Ain.

HealthPlus is a network of outpatient centres owned and managed by United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), said HealthPlus in a statement.


The AED8.5m investment in IVF services comes in response to the growing demand for fertility diagnosis and treatments, the statement added.

“The company’s expansion plan aims to cope with the increasing demand for our services and to help reduce patient waiting time,” said Majd Abu Zant, CEO of HealthPlus.

“This will allow us to perform up to 800 IVF treatments each year. The completion date of the construction is expected to be by October,” he added.

He also said two more internationally renowned IVF Consultants will join the team to deliver the expanded services.

Best Buy to cut 2,400 jobs, including 600 at Geek Squad


Fri Jul 6, 2012 4:29pm EDT

(Reuters) – Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) plans to cut about 2,400 jobs, including 600 of its Geek Squad employees, as management tries to turn around the struggling electronics retailer, a spokesman for the company confirmed on Friday.

The cuts represent 1.4 percent of the company’s 167,000 workforce and come on top of jobs associated with 50 store closings the company announced in March, the spokesman, Bruce Hight, said.

The Geek Squad cuts comprise about 3 percent of the unit, whose technicians install and service electronics in electronics in customers’ homes.

The layoffs come as the world’s largest electronics chain is trying to figure out how to stem nearly two years of quarterly declines in sales at stores open at least a year — a key measure for retailers.

It has seen its stores used as a “showroom” for electronics where consumers come in to try them out and then by the products for less money elsewhere, often online from Amazon.com (AMZN.O) or other retailers.

Interim Chief Executive Mike Mikan told shareholders in June that he was working on a way to make the company “more relevant, more intelligent, more nimble” and said he would reveal the plan later this summer.

Mikan took over the CEO post after Brian Dunn exited during an internal probe that eventually found he had engaged in an improper relationship with a female employee.

Best Buy shares closed Friday down 15 cents at $21.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Brad Dorfman; editing by Gunna Dickson)

Samsung loses bid for stay in U.S. fight over tablet


WASHINGTON |
Fri Jul 6, 2012 4:12pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a brief order on Friday denying Samsung Electronics’ request to stay a ban on U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.

“Samsung’s request for an immediate stay is denied,” the court said.

Apple and Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest consumer electronics corporations, are waging legal battles in about 10 countries, accusing each other of patent infringement as they vie for supremacy in a fast-growing market for mobile devices.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz)

Facebook, Yahoo tie up, settle lawsuits: AllThingsD


SAN FRANCISCO |
Fri Jul 6, 2012 1:11pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Yahoo Inc have struck a broad advertising partnership as part of a final settlement of dueling patent lawsuits, technology blog AllThingsDigital cited sources close to the pact as saying on Friday.

Both boards approved a strategic deal that will encompass joint online advertising sales and cross-licensing of key patents. No money will change hands in the deal to be announced later on Friday, it added.

Yahoo sued Facebook in March, claiming the No. 1 social networking company infringed 10 patents including several that cover online advertising technology. In its lawsuit, the company said Facebook was considered “one of the worst performing sites for advertising” prior to adopting Yahoo’s ideas.

Facebook, which went public in May, filed a countersuit of its own a month later and called Yahoo short-sighted for its decision to prioritize “litigation over innovation.”

Yahoo brought its lawsuit while the company was under the leadership of then-Chief Executive Scott Thompson. Thompson was ousted from the company shortly after the case began, amid questions about his resume.

On Thursday, sources told Reuters that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and current interim CEO Ross Levinsohn are now in the final running for the top job.

Facebook has been beefing up its patents arsenal. In April, it announced to deal to pay Microsoft Corp $550 million for hundreds of patents that originated with AOL.

(This story is refiled to change company name to Inc, not Corp, in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

Dismal U.S. hiring shows economy stuck in low gear


WASHINGTON |
Fri Jul 6, 2012 1:09pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. employers hired at a dismal pace in June, raising pressure on the Federal Reserve to do more to boost the economy and dealing another setback to President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.

The Labor Department said on Friday non-farm payrolls expanded by just 80,000 jobs in June, marking the third straight month employment has grown by fewer than 100,000 positions.

Job creation was too weak to bring down the country’s lofty 8.2 percent unemployment rate, and the report fueled concerns that Europe’s debt crisis was shifting the U.S. economy into low gear.

“We’re just crawling forward here,” said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

While Obama holds a narrow lead in most national polls, voters are often critical of his handling of the economy. Speaking at a campaign rally in Ohio, Obama acknowledged that the pace of job creation needs to pick up.

“It’s still tough out there,” he said.

Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican challenger, assailed the president for not doing enough to get people back to work.

“This kick in the gut has got to end,” Romney told reporters in New Hampshire.

U.S. stocks were down more than 1 percent at midday, while yields on U.S. government debt fell as traders ramped up bets the Fed would launch a third round of bond purchases to push already low borrowing costs down further. The dollar fell against the yen, but rose against the euro as investors sought a safe haven.

HIRING STRIKE

The Fed last month extended a program aimed at keeping long-term interest rates pressed down, and said it was prepared to do more to spur the economic recovery if needed.

Economists said the somber jobs report would push the central bank closer to a third round of so-called quantitative easing, or QE3. Still, some Wall Street analysts said it was probably not enough to lead to action at the Fed’s next meeting, which ends August 1.

“The Fed will wait for further confirmation of the slowing trend,” said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America in New York.

Job creation averaged 75,000 per month during the second quarter, compared with an average increase of 226,000 in the first quarter. Economists estimate that roughly 125,000 jobs are needed each month just to hold the jobless rate steady.

Part of the recent slowdown could be because mild weather led companies to boost hiring in the winter at spring’s expense.

But weakness in everything from manufacturing to retail sales suggests something more fundamental is at play, and the jobs data buttressed that view.

“It’s very consistent with business leaders lacking conviction with what the future holds,” said Brian Levitt, an economist at OppenheimerFunds in New York.

The manufacturing sector added 11,000 workers and construction employment edged up 2,000, the first gain since January and further evidence the long-depressed housing market is steadying.

However, hiring slowed sharply in the services industry, with retailers cutting 5,400 workers from their payrolls.

Overall, private-sector hiring was the weakest since August.

UNCERTAINTY AND INSTABILITY

Debt woes have bogged down much of Europe, sending some countries into recession. The crisis in turn has dulled economic growth around the world, and central banks in China, the euro zone and Britain all eased monetary policy on Thursday.

Europe is not the only weight on the U.S. outlook. Washington plans enough belt-tightening at the start of 2013 to easily send the economy into recession if Congress and the White House can’t seal a deal to avoid this “fiscal cliff.”

Until recently, the United States had been a relative bright spot in the global economy, especially in manufacturing, and most economists still expect lackluster growth over the rest of 2012 rather than a slip toward recession.

Although jobs growth in June fell short of economists already subdued expectations for a 90,000 gain, the report did offer some hopeful signs.

Average hourly earnings rose 6 cents, the biggest gain in four months, and 156,000 workers entered the labor force.

In addition, a measure of total hours worked hit its highest level since November 2008. That means business is brisk enough for employers to demand more from their workers, even as they hold the line on hiring.

Temporary employment rose by the most in four months.

“I think a lot of that has to do with the uncertainty that everyone’s feeling,” said Joanie Ruge, an analyst at temporary staffing company Randstad Holdings US. “Employers are not feeling like things are stable.”

(Additional reporting by Herb Lash and Ernest Scheyder in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Tim Ahmann)

Jobs selloff erases Wall Street’s gains for week


NEW YORK |
Fri Jul 6, 2012 4:42pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks fell about 1 percent on Friday as another month of tepid jobs growth underlined fears the economy was stalling, though not to the point where more economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve was imminent.

Friday’s losses meant the SP 500 index ended the week 0.6 percent lower, with technology .GSPT and industrial shares .GSPI the day’s biggest losers. Tech was hit by weak outlooks in the software sector, which dragged lower Dow component Hewlett Packard (HPQ.N) 3.5 percent to $19.57.

The tech sector fell 1.8 percent while industrials were off 1.3 percent. Both groups often trade in line with expectations for the economy.

About 80,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added in June, the third straight month employment grew by less than 100,000 jobs.

But many investors said the weaker-than-expected figure was not enough to spur the Fed to undertake a third round of quantitative easing to stimulate growth.

“This isn’t disappointing enough for QE3, but it suggests an extended period of sluggish growth and limited improvement on the jobs front,” said Eric Teal, who helps oversee $4.5 billion as chief investment officer at First Citizens Bancshares Inc in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Teal added that he didn’t want to use the decline to add to positions, as “we’ll have more opportunities in July and August as international markets continue to be weak.”

A Reuters poll of Wall Street economists put the chances of QE3 at 65 percent, but just eight of 15 primary dealers in government securities see it happening in August or September.

Though Fed action might cheer some investors, many doubt the ability of central banks to lift the economic gloom. More than two-thirds of companies traded on both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq fell.

The payroll report followed other data this week that U.S. manufacturing shrank in June and service sector growth slowed to its lowest level since January 2010, which spurred speculation the Fed may take more action to stimulate the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 124.20 points, or 0.96 percent, at 12,772.47. The Standard Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was down 12.90 points, or 0.94 percent, at 1,354.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 38.79 points, or 1.30 percent, at 2,937.33.

All 10 SP sectors fell, but defensives areas like consumer staples .GSPS and utilities .GSPU were down the least.

The SP 500 fell 0.6 for the week while the Dow fell 0.8 percent. The Nasdaq rose for a fifth straight week, but this week’s gain was less than 0.1 percent.

German markets regulator BaFin is conducting a special probe of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) (DB.N) as part of a wider investigation into possible manipulation of the London Inter Bank Offered Rate (Libor), Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. The bank’s U.S.-traded shares lost 4.8 percent to $33.74.

Spanish government bonds rose to levels seen as unsustainable a day after the European Central Bank cut rates to a record low, and China and Britain also loosened monetary policy. GVD/EUR

Shares of Informatica Corp (INFA.O) plunged 28 percent to $31.39 after the data-integration software maker forecast a weak second quarter hurt by delayed contracts.

Networking shares took a hit after gear maker Acme Packet Inc (APKT.O) forecast second-quarter results below expectations on continued weakness in the North American telecom service provider market.

The Arca Networking index .NWX lost 3.5 percent, while Acme Packet tumbled 14.5 percent to $15.74.

The weak outlooks hit other tech shares. Teradata Corp (TDC.N) was the SP’s biggest percentage decliner, off 10.5 percent at $65.01, followed by Citrix Systems (CTXS.O), down 7.6 percent at $77.45.

Skyrocketing sales of the Galaxy smartphone drove a record quarterly profit of $5.9 billion at Samsung Electronics (005930.KS). This is likely to stretch the firm’s lead over rivals Apple (AAPL.O) and Nokia (NOK1V.HE).

Apple shares were off 0.7 percent at $605.88 while U.S.-listed shares of Nokia fell 5 percent to $1.92.

Volume was among the lightest of the year, with about 4.96 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year’s daily average of 7.84 billion.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Who Wins: The Opportunist or the Opportunistic?

They sound like the same thing, but these are two very different kinds of entrepreneurs. Here’s who wins in the end.

tortoise and hare

shutterstock images

We all love stories about people who start a business and become an overnight success: The initially rag-gier and eventually richer, the better.

Why? Those stories are fun to read even though in most cases “overnight” really means “after years and years of trying and failing and trying again.” Talent and skill is always earned.

That’s why trying to duplicate those overnight success stories is usually futile. Chasing quick bucks is certainly tempting, but gathering slow bucks is almost always better.

Take two friends of mine.

One is an opportunist to the nth-degree. He dives headfirst into whatever industry or business opportunity he thinks is hot. He calls them “the big thing,” as in, “Visual bookmarking is the next big thing.”

I always think it’s funny he places the word “the” before the words “big thing,” since he has considered hundreds and jumped on a number of “big things” in the twenty-five years I’ve known him.

Examples: He tried to ride the ’80s fitness wave after it crested, set up a Web design firm that was profitable until people realized they didn’t need to pay $5,000 for a simple website, worked in real estate and ran a mortgage brokerage (enough said about that), and most recently turned a small squadron of programmers loose churning out game apps.

Now he’s licking his app wounds while trying to figure out what the world beyond mobile will look like, since, as he says, “All the innovation has already been squeezed out of mobile… I’m thinking about what’s next–and I’ll be first.”

For his sake I hope he’s right. (Although I can’t really imagine what a post-mobile world will look like; maybe that says more about me than about him?)

Now my other friend. He makes boxes: Not fancy boxes, not little blue Tiffany boxes, but ordinary, everyday cardboard shipping cartons.

Where innovations are concerned he only cares about advances that helped his customers: Faster turnaround to support lean manufacturing, customized equipment to accommodate a dizzying combination of carton sizes, carton printing techniques that support customer branding, etc.

His company does the same thing, year after year after year.

About 10 years ago the three of us had dinner. My opportunist friend tried to convince my box friend it was time to get out of the packaging business. “Manufacturing is deserting the U.S.,” he said. “Every overseas container that arrives is like a nail in your business coffin.”

“I don’t think so,” my box friend said. “Every product in those containers eventually gets shipped somewhere in the U.S., and it gets shipped in my cartons. And every item a shopper buys online needs one of my boxes to get shipped.”

So what is the main difference between my two friends?

One is an opportunist: He boards possibility after possibility but jumps ship when the business gets tough or when another possibility appears to offer brighter prospects.

The other is opportunistic: He stays the basic course while capitalizing on ways to improve his products and service. He never looks for the quick buck.

Over time he’s accumulated an incredible number of slow bucks.

Quick bucks are rarely sustainable since excess profits breed ruinous competition. (Just ask my opportunist friend.) Plus quick bucks suffer from the ever-increasing speed of commoditization as new ideas and products are quickly copied and the hot and initially highly profitable turns into the commonplace. The next big thing becomes a commodity within months, not years.

But some things aren’t commodities: Reliable products. Great service. An obsessive focus on meeting customer needs.

Quick bucks may come, but they definitely go. Slow bucks can be, by comparison, forever–or at least as close to forever as is possible.

I know that, because there’s at least one other thing that’s different about my two friends:

One never offers to pay for dinner.

Guess which one.

Tech Start-up Steals Killer Retail Strategy

You’ve heard of the try-before-you-buy-model. Now one company has applied it to gadgets–and it’s working.

iHome iA100 Alarm Clock Speakerphone

Courtesy Company

iHome iA100 Alarm Clock Speakerphone

There are always new twists to doing business–ways to satisfy customer demands that no one has thought of doing before. In the process, there’s a chance to build a company and make a lot of money. The latest why-didn’t-someone-else-think-of-that one, now backed by Google chairman Eric Schmidt, is called YBUY. And it offers a hook into consumer electronics purchasing that is smart and has been missing in the market.

One of the problems with gadgets is that you don’t get to try them for longer than a few minutes in a store before you actually buy. Warranties cover the product working correctly, but not customer satisfaction. Although some retailers, both real-world and online, will offer a no-questions-asked return policy, most aren’t going to welcome returns because a customer decided that the product didn’t really wow them.

There’s where YBUY comes in. The company lets consumers sign up for accounts (although they are only letting some in at a time and claim to have a waiting list of 50,000 people). You pay $24.95 in a given month (you can skip months) to try something from a curated list of products that YBUY offers. At the end of 30 days, you can return the product if you don’t like it, or pay to keep it, with the $24.95 fee credited toward purchase. Products can be new or refurbished.

This is a very smart play toward gadget lovers:

  • The $24.95 gives customers something they can’t readily get in other ways: a chance to know whether they really want a product or not.
  • Because the fee is applied to the purchase price, shoppers won’t feel as though they’re paying a penalty.
  • If YBUY smartly picks its collection of items, it should see a relatively low return rate.
  • Smart negotiations should let them return the items to the vendor for refurbishment at a low cost.

For example, consider an iPhone for $600. Say that 3% of people return them. That’s an average $18 cost per iPhone, but they’re getting more than that amount with the $24.95 fee, and how many consumer items are going to cost significantly higher than that? It’s the sort of thing that should work out better as the numbers get larger, and, as Ingrid Lunden reported at TechCrunch, they apparently have been:

What’s perhaps most compelling is that as the service continues to grow, it’s actually making better and better margins on the service. In December, he says, they were losing $50 per customer. Now they are making around $35 per customer, with the value per customer at $450, with the profitability per customer ranging between 25% and 50%.

If YBUY gave accurate numbers, it suggests a business that will actually make more money over time, and all due to a real twist on how consumers, retailers, and vendors have assumed business had to be done. So what other opportunities have most of the world left for you to pick up and run with?

How to Inspire Your Workforce

You want to inspire your employees to greatness? Use these simple tips to increase performance and morale.

inspire run

Flickr/lululemon athletica

One of the reasons I founded The Trademark Company was to breath a Google-esq air of positivity and creativity into an industry long on tradition but notoriously bad on work-life balance. An industry renowned for its threat culture.

Recalling my experiences from the last big law firm for which I worked, I can still remember one head partner threatening to hang me by my tie until I was “[expletive omitted–it started with an F and ended with an “ing”] dead if I did not win the case.” Another partner would notoriously tear my trial strategy down for hours, insult me using derivations of colorful words that would make a gansta rapper blush, and then send me out the door with a “Don’t F this up!” And they wonder why they chewed threw lawyers like Dan Snyder chews through head coaches (it’s a Redskins reference).

But in my relatively brief time on this planet I am sure of this fact: negativity never inspires people to greatness. But through positive inspiration people can reach beyond what they thought possible and achieve the truly amazing.

Maybe in your business inspiration will not lead you to a world sports title. But it can increase your sales, better the attitude of your workforce, and reduce turnover among other benefits.

So how do you inspire those around you? Candidly, it is not that simple. You must look at it as a critical component of your job just like any other requirement. Here’s how:

1.  It’s Your Job…Do It

The first component to inspiring others is to realize that doing so is part of your job, it is your responsibility. Like any other employment responsibility, it does not matter if you are having a bad day, you still must get your job done. Troubles at home? So what? Doesn’t matter. Leave it at the door and inspire. Hard night out last night? Leave it at the door and inspire. Feeling a little under the weather? Bummed for you. Man up, leave it at the door and inspire.

The first step in inspiring your workforce is the most critical: recognizing that it is part of your job and performing that job irrespective of what else is going on in your life.

2.  Something to Aspire to

No one has ever been inspired to reach mediocrity. People are inspired to reach goals greater than they thought possible. In school we study to achieve the best grades. So in business we must remember this simple norm: people are inspired by a goal or a challenge, something they may not think possible but that you push them to reach.  Without a target, there is nothing to aspire to, nothing to inspire them towards.

So to truly inspire your workforce, you must set goals greater than your workforce thought possible. Setting goals bigger than them, more than they thought possible, establishes a critical component for inspiration: something to aspire to.

3.  Positive Enablement

The power of positivity cannot be understated. Negativity begets negativity. Positivity likewise breeds positivity.

You’ve heard about my experience with my last big firm. What you have not heard is my experience with my first. In 1996 I was fresh out of law school. I was hired by a small local Washington, D.C. firm to be a trial attorney in a busy mass torts and worker’s compensation practice. My bosses were former assistant U.S. Attorneys who, quite simply, knew how to try a case. They taught me everything I know about trial work. Within one year of going to work for them they had me trying my own cases (Thanks Pete and Ken).

But aside from the great training they consistently inspired their attorneys to achieve through positive enforcement. They impressed upon every one of their lawyers a belief that they could win every case and that justice would be done for their client. Before every trial they would always send you off saying something to the effect “You’re prepared, you’re ready, now go get it done.

For my first firm I tried about 150 solo cases. I can only remember losing about five. For my last firm-the cursing, tie-strangling bunch-I tried three cases, two with those head partners mentioned above, one alone for another partner. So how did we do? Well, in the two cases wherein I played the role of whipping dog we lost. In the one I was allowed to get away from all of the negativity and just do my own thing focusing on positivity and getting the job done-I won. Think positivity can have an impact?

So inspire your workforce every day. It’s your job, do it. Set lofty goals to allow them to reach higher than they thoughts possible. Then enable them to get their through positivity.