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Despite anti-western sentiments, McDonald’s plans on opening new locations
McDonald's already has 423 locations in Russia.
Recently, McDonald’s has closed all locations in Crimea due to the political turmoil in the region, but the international fast food chain is planning on opening new locations in neighboring Russia despite the political climate. The Moscow Times has reported that McDonald’s plans on opening 70 new locations in 30 Russian cities. These cities include the Central Federal District, which borders Ukraine.
McDonald’s has suffered some backlash recently from anti-western politicians. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russian deputy Parliamentary speaker, has called for bans on the fast food chain. He said at a hearing earlier this year, “It’s muck, why poison our citizens,” about McDonald’s presence in Russia.
In addition to the political resentment, McDonald’s now must fight against a new local Russian burger chain. RusBurger replaced the closed McDonald’s locations in Crimea.According to McDonald’s website, there are already 425 locations in Russia.
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(CNN) — McDonald’s plans to hire 260,000 people this summer in the United States as it begins to resume normal operations.
The beefed-up staffing comes as it prepares to reopen its dining rooms after a majority of them were temporarily closed because of coronavirus. The positions are a mix of full- and part-time roles.
In May, McDonald’s laid out the new safety precautions it will use as it reopens its dining rooms. Notably, customers will see stickers on floors encouraging social distancing, blocked-off tables and the closure of its self-serve beverage bar. Employees have to wash their hands every hour and wear personal protective equipment.
Roughly 95% of its restaurants around the world have reopened in some capacity, and around 99% of its US restaurants have continued operating some services throughout the pandemic.
McDonald's to simplify structure, focus on customers
NEW YORK - McDonald's (MCD) CEO Steve Easterbrook says he's stripping away layers of bureaucracy and increasing accountability so the company can move more nimbly to keep up with changing tastes.
During a 23-minute video message posted online Monday, Easterbrook said the company's structure is too "cumbersome" and that it can no longer afford its "legacy structure."
"The reality is our recent performance has been poor. The numbers don't lie," said Easterbrook, who took charge of the world's biggest hamburger chain on March 1.
To foster quicker movement, McDonald's is restructuring its units into four groups based on the maturity of its presence in the market: the flagship U.S. market, established international markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom, high-growth markets such as China and Russia, and the rest of the world.
Previously, the business was segmented by geography.
McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, also plans to have 90 percent of its restaurants around the world franchised over the next four years. That's up from 81 percent, and will mean the company will rely more heavily on franchising fees than sales from running restaurants.
The organizational changes will contribute to $300 million in cost-cutting targeted by McDonald's, most of which will be realized by 2017. The company said it's too early to say how slashed costs will affect jobs.
Its stock fell 1 percent to $96.65.
Easterbrook also repeatedly stressed during the video that the company will focus more on listening to customers, saying there will be "less sweeping talk of millennials" as though they're a homogenous group. The company is also working on improving perceptions about the quality of its food with items like a trio of new sirloin burgers. In New York City, Easterbrook said McDonald's is partnering with Postmates to offer delivery starting Monday.
The "turnaround blueprint" comes as McDonald's is fighting intensifying competition from a variety of players and has admitted that it failed to keep up with changing tastes. Sales in Asia took a big hit after a controversy over a major supplier this past summer, and business in Europe has been weak. Its profit dropped 15 percent last year.
In its flagship U.S. market, executives said the menu got too complicated and gummed up operations. Customer visits at established locations declined for two straight years.
Already, McDonald's has tried a number of moves to inject some life back into its brand.
Back in December, it said it would start trimming its menu to simplify operations and make room for new offerings. More recently, it began testing an all-day breakfast menu in San Diego, revamped its grilled chicken recipe and said it would curb the use of antibiotics.
The company also said last month that it would double its planned restaurant closures this year to roughly 700. It hasn't yet revealed its updated plans on overall restaurant count growth. At the end of last year, McDonald's Corp. had more than 36,200 locations around the world.
Easterbrook, who previously headed up the U.K. business, has described himself as an "internal activist" and says he wants to turn McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."
The turnaround plan comes ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting on May 21.
First published on May 4, 2015 / 8:12 AM
© 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
3 Problems McDonald’s Has That Raising Wages Won't Solve
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- McDonald&aposs (MCD) - Get Report made a big splash on Wednesday by announcing that it planned to raise worker pay at the outlets it operates by more than 10%, following similar moves by Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Report and Target (TGT) - Get Report to raise the wages of some of their lowest-paid workers.
According to The Wall Street Journal (paywall), starting on July 1, McDonald&aposs will pay at least $1 per hour more than the local legal minimum wage for employees at the approximately 1,500 restaurants it owns in the U.S. The Golden Arches also operates more than 13,000 restaurants in the U.S. viaਏranchise agreements under which these restaurants are free to set their own wages.
Earlier in the week, McDonald&aposs also grabbed headlines by announcing that it would test all-day breakfasts in the San Diego area. It marked one of the first significant changes under new CEO Steve Easterbrook, as breakfast has historically only been sold until 10:30 a.m.
But McDonald&aposs -- and Easterbrook -- are still in a land of trouble despite these recent high-profile maneuvers.
From the taste of its fattening hamburgers to the preparation methods of its foods, McDonald&aposs has plenty to do to engage in real battle with hot upstart better burger chains, including Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Report , or crafty regional players such as Sonic (SONC) .
California-based Fatburger, which has been around since 1952 and now has about 200 restaurants in 32 countries, is likewise going after some of the same customers.ਊpproximately 350 restaurants are planned for development by existing Fatburger franchisees over the next several years.
TheStreet takes a look at what&aposs ailing McDonalds beyond just what hiking wages and serving all-day breakfast can solve.
1. You generally can&apost see your food being made there.
More than ever, diners today want to know the origin of the ingredients in their food. Telling a story of only offering responsibly raised chicken, pork and beef has been a fundamental of burrito and salad bowl chain Chipotle (CMG) - Get Report since being founded by Steve Ells. But even if the items in a burger aren&apost from an organic farm or hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle ranch, consumers seem to think that&aposs acceptableਊs long as they can watch their food being prepared.
But seeing that process play out is not the norm at most McDonald&aposs restaurants, where ingredients and food preparation are often hidden behind mounds of kitchen equipment.
At Fatburger, by contrast, workers useਏresh, not frozen, beef patties for the chain&aposs burgers, and they&aposre made to order in front ofustomers. The opportunity to watch yourਏood being prepared is similar at Shake Shack, where its small, burger stand like restaurants tend to have prep stations and grills close to the cash registers.
At Sonic, meanwhile, consumers are not apt to watch their food being constructed as it&aposs usually delivered to their parked car via a carhop. On the other hand, Sonic&aposs recipe for success is more a result of order customization. "The customer, in our case, is not coincidental to the food preparation process, they drive the preparation process. For some of our competition that is not true, they are estimating what the needs are going to be and then make the food beforehand," pointed out Sonic Chairman and CEO J. Clifford Hudson in a Nov. 10 interview.
2. McDonald&aposs signature flavors may no longer be what consumers crave.
Who hasn&apost heard of McDonald&aposs "special sauce" for its signature Big Mac sandwich? The sauce, rumored to include mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, onions andਏrench dressing, has achieved such iconic status that a "limited edition" bottle of it recently sold for upwards of $18,000 on EBay.
But despite its place in folklore, weak sales at McDonald&aposs hint at consumers no longer thinking the sauce is really so special anymore. And they may be wondering why the Golden Arches has not created signature sauces for its other burgers, leaving run-of-the-mill condiments found in squeeze packets to punch up the flavor. As a result, customers are gravitating to more interesting flavors found on signature burgers at the better burger chains.
Shake Shack&aposs secret signature "Shack sauce," for example, is a slightly spicy, sweet and sour blend of mayo, ketchup, mustard and various spices, while Fatburger seasons its lean beef patties with a proprietary spice blend and puts mustard, instead of ketchup, on them.
"We sell a lot of burgers with an egg on them, back in the day they would call it the hangover burger," said Fatburger CEO Wiederhorn. Shack Shack&aposs River North, Chicago location sells a Publican Park Sausage, which is sausage topped with cheddar and American cheese sauce and crispy ale marinated shallots.
For its part, In & Out Burger, the popular West Coast fast food chain, is known for heaping thousand island dressing on its burgers.
3. McDonald&aposs is already a supersized operation.
McDonald&aposs is a humungous organization in the U.S., operating some 14,000 plus locations across 22 different regions. In 2014 alone, 222 new McDonald&aposs were opened in the U.S. This year, McDonald&aposs plans to open more than one thousand restaurants primarily in China, the U.S., Russia and France, compared to 1,300 a year earlier.
The Golden Arches has amassed such a large amount of valuable real estate over the years that activist investors are itching for the company to create a real estate investment trust (REIT). By forming a REIT, the view on Wall Street is that McDonald&aposs could unlock the value of its real estate empire, which is being held backy the lagging operating performance of its restaurants.
The "too big to grow" issue doesn&apost necessarily exist at the main rivals of McDonald&aposs.
Sonic currently does business at 3,500 locations inꁄ states, butꂫout 10 states account for 60% to 70% of its sales. Hudson pointed to Sonic&aposs potential to open new locations along the West Coast and Florida as part ofਊ drive to add 1,000 new locations in the next 10 years. In total, Sonic projects it will open 50 to 60 restaurants over the next 12 months after opening 40 in its just completed fiscal year.
Fatburger&aposs Wiederhorn noted that McDonald&aposs is not opening in new markets around the world because they are more focused on markets they already operate in. That leaves an opportunity for a Fatburger or a Sonic to venture into markets where McDonald&aposs may be under-penetrated or not even exist.
However, McDonald&aposs giant size also means it takes a while for new ideas to be implemented and have an impact on sales. Wiederhorn concluded, "For us, we have the ability to be flexible. We came out with a skinny burger -- basically two patties, no bun, 300 calories -- (but) for McDonald&aposs to do something like that, it&aposs like moving a tanker instead of a speedboat."
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.
- McDonald's will debut its plant-based meat alternative called 'McPlant' in 2021
- The burger is a joint venture with plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat
- Comes after P.L.T. burger was trialed at 100 locations in Canada earlier this year
- The chain's president said the line may expand to include 'chicken-substitutes' and 'breakfast sandwiches'
- Rival Burger King tested the Impossible Whopper in 2018 and had it in stores across the US in August 2019
Published: 20:16 BST, 9 November 2020 | Updated: 14:54 BST, 10 November 2020
McDonald's is finally testing its own plant-based burger: the McPlant.
The fast food chain today announced that it has developed its own plant-based meat substitute in partnership with popular food company Beyond Meat, and will begin testing the faux-meat burger it in select markets next year.
McDonald's decided to introduce the burger after trialing a version, known as the P.L.T., in Canada last year.
McDonald's will launch a meat-free burger in a joint venture with plant-based brand Beyond Meat, which partnered with the chain on the P.L.T. burger in Canada earlier this year (pictured)
Beyond Meat and McDonald's conducted tests of a so-called P.L.T. burger (pictured) at nearly 100 McDonald's locations in Ontario, Canada, earlier this year
In a blog post, the company said: 'Based on what we learned and an encouraging response, we're excited to give you a sneak preview of the McPlant — a delicious plant-based burger crafted for McDonald's, by McDonald's, and with the kind of craveable McDonald's flavor our customers love.'
The McPlant will be served on a 'warm, sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings'.
'There are other plant-based burgers out there, but the McPlant delivers our iconic taste in a sink-your-teeth-in (and wipe-your-mouth) kind of sandwich,' the blog post states.
Beyond Meat was chosen as the front runner for the McDonald's contract after the company conducted tests of a so-called P.L.T. burger at nearly 100 McDonald's locations in Ontario, Canada, earlier this year.
It is unclear if the new McPlant is a re-named P.L.T. or a new product entirely.
Interestingly, Beyond Meat's stock fell by six per cent on Monday morning after news of McDonald's upcoming launch was announced — before it was revealed that the plant-based company had partnered with the fast food chain on the meat-free patty.
International McDonald's President Ian Borden initially said the McPlant was created 'by McDonald's and for McDonald's,' leaving some questioning whether Beyond Meat had been dropped by the chain as a plant-based supplier.
However, after it was made clear that the McPlant was a joint venture between the two companies, Beyond Meat shares rose in value once again, with stock currently down by less than one per cent, according to CNBC, after the sharp fall earlier in the day.
While the chain is starting with a burger, more plant-based offerings may be to come.
'In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products including burgers, chicken-substitutes, and breakfast sandwiches,' Borden said.
McDonald’s plots turnaround as sales continue to slide
Cars drive past the McDonald's Golden Arches logo at a McDonald's restaurant in Robinson Township, Pa. AP
NEW YORK — McDonald’s plans to unwrap a plan next month that it says will help turn around ongoing sales declines around the world.
The world’s biggest hamburger chain said Wednesday global sales declined 2.3 percent at established locations during the first three months of the year. That included a 2.6 percent drop in the US, where it is facing changing tastes and tougher competition.
Already this year, McDonald’s has announced a number of changes in the US including a simplified grilled chicken recipe, curbing the use of antibiotics in chicken, and a pay bump and vacation time for workers at company-owned stores amid ongoing protests over its treatment of workers.
CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role just last month, has said in a statement the company is ‘‘keenly focused on acting more quickly to better address today’s consumer needs, expectations and the competitive marketplace.’’ But that push is happening at a time when McDonald’s is facing intensifying pressures.
A day earlier, Chipotle Mexican Grill said its sales rose 10.4 percent at established locations during the quarter, as a pork shortage and bad weather damped results. The chain has been enjoying strong sales growth, with executives saying the company is changing the way people think about fast food.
Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum Brands, said the chain’s sales rose 6 percent during the period. The increase was helped by the introduction of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu, which has repeatedly targeted McDonald’s in its advertising.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s said it plans to share the initial details of its turnaround plan on May 4. For April, the company said it expects sales will decline at stores operating at least 13 months.
The company is struggling in other regions of the world as well. During the first quarter, the unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa reported an 8.3 percent drop because of weakness in China and ongoing consumer perception issues in Japan.
Sales at established locations dipped 0.6 percent in Europe because of softness in France and Russia.
For the period ended March 31, McDonald’s earned $811.5 million, or 84 cents per share. That compares with $1.2 billion, or $1.21 per share, a year earlier.
Results were weighed down by 17 cents per share in charges. The stronger dollar hurt its results by 9 cents per share.
Stripping out these items, earnings were $1.10 per share. That was more than the $1.05 per share analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.
Shares of McDonald’s Corp. added $2.30, or 2.4 percent, to $97.17 before the market open.
Revenue for the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company declined to $5.96 billion from $6.7 billion. Analysts expected $6.02 billion in revenue.
McDonald's comes roaring back as restrictions ease
A thank you sign sits in front of a McDonald's restaurant, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Waukee, Iowa. The burger giant said Thursday, April 29 its first quarter sales surpassed even those in 2019, led by a big jump in U.S. demand. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
The bounce back for McDonald's as restrictions were lifted across the U.S. was so strong in the first quarter that the company surpassed sales during the same period even in 2019, long before the pandemic broadsided the country.
McDonald's revenue jumped 9% to $5.1 billion for the January-March period, better than most had expected.
Last year at this time stores were closing globally as the world sheltered from spiking COVID-19 infections, so an improvement in sales during the same stretch this year was expected. How easily it topped 2019's first-quarter sales of $4.95 billion, however, was not.
U.S. same-store sales, or sales at locations open at least a year, rose 13.6% in the January-March period. Fewer diners visited, and many dining rooms remain closed. But those who did visit ordered more, with many picking up food for the entire family rather than for one person.
A new round of federal stimulus checks likely boosted first quarter sales, said McDonald’s U.S. President Joe Erlinger said. New products, including a long-awaited crispy chicken sandwich and spicy nuggets, also outperformed, he said.
“The positivity we saw in the first quarter was way beyond just the stimulus checks,” Erlinger said during a conference call Thursday with investors.
Drive-thru windows __ available in nearly all U.S. stores __ remain a competitive advantage. McDonald's said around 90% of its U.S. sales came through drive-thru windows in the first quarter, up from around 70% before the pandemic. The company has made multiple changes to speed drive-thru times, including a more simple menu.
Demand for delivery has spiked for McDonald's as well and is now available at 75% of its stores worldwide. Delivery orders tend to be larger than in-store orders.
The trick for McDonald's will be to keep that sales momentum going even as more U.S. dining rooms reopen and customers return to pre-pandemic habits.
CEO Chris Kempczinksi said the company's experience in Australia and Japan indicates that even as dining rooms reopen, demand for drive-thru and delivery will remain elevated.
A new loyalty program __ currently being tested in the U.S. and Germany __ and celebrity meal deals could also boost sales as the year progresses, he said. McDonald's plans to launch a meal collaboration with the South Korean pop group BTS in 50 countries on May 26.
McDonald's expects its U.S. same-store sales to continue to outpace 2019 levels in the second quarter.
Worldwide, same-store sales rose 7.5%, well above the 5% gain analysts forecast. Strong sales in China and Japan helped offset softness in France and Germany, the company said.
About half of Europe's dining rooms remain closed, and drive-thru is less prevalent in that market. Sales are also suffering in tourist-dependent markets like Italy and Spain, Kempczinski said. He said McDonald's is hopeful that vaccine passports might help reopen travel in Europe this summer.
Net income rose 39% to $1.5 billion. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $1.92 per share, easily beating Wall Street's forecast of $1.81, according to analysts polled by FactSet.
McDonald's shares rose less than 1% to $234.38 Thursday.
Other major fast food chains are seeing a similar rebound as most of the world emerges from the pandemic. Revenue at Yum Brands __ which owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC __ jumped 18% in the first quarter. The company reported this week that same-store sales rose 9%, with an especially strong performance in the U.S.
Like McDonald's, sales at Yum restaurants outpaced sales two years ago before COVID-19 shook the world.
Starbucks also reported better-than-expected results for the quarter this week, with sales up 11%.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
McDonald's sets eyes on Korean pop market, plans a BTS-themed meal for May
McDonald's (MCD) is adding another collaboration to its star-studded Famous Orders campaign — global pop icons BTS.
The meal, which debuts in select countries including North America, Austria and Brazil on May 26th, includes a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries and soda and — in a first for U.S. consumers — a chili and cajun dipping sauce inspired by popular recipes from McDonald's South Korea.
The specialty menu takes clear aim at fans of "K-pop," which enjoys widespread viral social media appeal. McDonald's also shared the announcement on TikTok with the hashtag #TheBTSMeal, perhaps hoping for a similar stir as the wildly popular Travis Scott meal.
"BTS truly lights up the world stage, uniting people across the globe through their music," Morgan Flatley, McDonald's USA chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
"We're excited to bring customers even closer to their beloved band in a way only McDonald's can – through our delicious food – when we introduce the BTS signature order on our menu next month."
Back in September, McDonald's collaborated to launch the Travis Scott meal — a quarter pounder with bacon, fries with barbecue sauce and a medium Sprite. The meal quickly exploded on social media — but especially on TikTok as consumers ran to their local restaurants to order the meal.
In McDonald's Super Bowl LIV commercial, McDonald's shared the favorite orders of Millie Bobby Brown, Whoopie Goldberg, Joe Montana, Patrick Mahomes. However, this BTS meal will be first available to customers across the globe in nearly 50 countries.
Shares of McDonald's are down slightly in early trading on Monday. Meanwhile, the record label behind BTS, Big Hit Music, went public on the Korea Exchange back in October.
Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at [email protected]
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Exclusive-HSBC CEO says Bitcoin not for us
LONDON (Reuters) -HSBC has no plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk or offer the digital coins as an investment to customers, because they are too volatile and lack transparency, its Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters. Europe's largest bank's stance on cryptocurrencies comes as the world's biggest and best-known, Bitcoin, has tumbled nearly 50% from the year's high, after China cracked down on mining the currency and prominent advocate Elon Musk tempered his support. It marks it out against rivals such as Goldman Sachs, which Reuters in March reported had restarted its cryptocurrency trading desk, and UBS which other media said was exploring ways to offer the currencies as an investment product.
China crypto mining business hit by Beijing crackdown, bitcoin tumbles
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Cryptocurrency miners, including HashCow and BTC.TOP, have halted all or part of their China operations after Beijing intensified a crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, hammering digital currencies amid heightened global regulatory scrutiny. It was the first time China's cabinet has targeted virtual currency mining, a sizable business in the world's second-biggest economy that some estimates say accounts for as much as 70% of the global crypto supply. Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi on Monday suspended both crypto-mining and some trading services to new clients from mainland China, adding it will instead focus on overseas businesses.
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Ex-Trump Official at Binance.US Faces Uproar Over Firm’s Sibling
(Bloomberg) -- The first challenge for the new chief executive officer of Binance.US: combat the perception that his company is simply a stand-in for a sister crypto firm that’s under investigation by U.S. authorities.Brian Brooks, a controversial former banking regulator under President Donald Trump, is embarking on a campaign to reassure regulators and others that his company is focused on complying with regulations and is independent from its namesake, Binance Holdings Ltd. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance Holdings is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service, among other U.S. enforcers, Bloomberg News has reported.U.S. officials have long been concerned that criminals are using crypto exchanges to conceal illicit transactions, and that customers on those platforms are evading taxes on their trading profits.San Francisco-based Binance.US, which is small but one of the country’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchanges, is under attack by rivals who are all too eager to link the U.S. company to its embattled namesake. A study by blockchain analysis company Chainalysis Inc. concluded that Binance Holdings handled more transactions tied to illicit finance than any other exchange.“The challenge ahead of me is to get in front of the regulators and explain to them that we have an approach. It’s a heavily compliance-focused approach,” Brooks said in an interview. He’s planning in coming months to meet with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, among other regulators. “We are not an alter-ego of Binance,” said Brooks, who most recently served as acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury Department.He generated controversy during his tenure at the OCC over a rule that would have prohibited banks from withholding loans to industries like gun makers. He finalized the measure on his last day, a move that drew plaudits from Republicans and opposition from Democrats, consumer groups and banks. The Biden administration quickly stopped the new rule from taking effect.To continue its exponential growth, Binance.US will need to ensure that U.S. regulators don’t restrict it because of issues with Binance Holdings. A separate company, the U.S. firm is permitted to do business in 43 states, the largest exceptions being New York and Texas. In addition to securing those remaining licenses, Binance.US executives hope to one day persuade regulators to allow crypto-tied derivatives in the U.S., the business line that turned Binance Holdings into the behemoth it is today. All of those goals could become more difficult if regulators crack down.Though Brooks says Binance.US and Binance Holdings work at arm’s length, Binance.US’s majority shareholder is Changpeng Zhao, who founded Binance Holdings in China in 2017. The son of Chinese educators who emigrated to Canada, he got his start as an intern in Japan writing software for trading platforms.A spokeswoman for Binance Holdings said the company takes its legal obligations seriously but doesn’t comment on specific matters or inquiries.Zhao has said Binance Holdings is working with regulators around the world and continues to improve its compliance.Binance Holdings allows investors to trade cryptocurrencies that aren’t available on other exchanges. It also allows trading of derivatives, which investors can use to magnify their bets with leverage. Those features help explain why trading volume on Binance Holdings’ main exchange has quickly surpassed that of its rivals, like San Francisco-based Coinbase Global Inc.Binance Holdings processed more than $50 billion in crypto trading in the 24 hours ending at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, compared to more than $8.8 billion for Coinbase, according to Coinmarketcap.com, an industry website.Binance Holdings also processed more than $95 billion in derivatives, which investors outside the U.S. can use. Many exchanges, including Coinbase, don’t offer derivatives because they’re not approved to do so by U.S. regulators.By comparison, Binance.US handled about $1.9 billion in cryptocurrency transactions during that period, according to Coinmarketcap.com.Brooks said that Binance.US operates independently of Binance.com, which is Binance Holdings’ exchange, and that the U.S.-based exchange merely licenses the Binance name and some of its technology for a fee.Coinbase’s ProtestBinance.US’s attempts to keep its image intact in Washington, which precede Brooks, have already come under attack.Last year, its chief U.S. rival, Coinbase, quit industry trade group Blockchain Association in protest after Binance.US was allowed to join. A Coinbase executive wrote in a resignation letter that “recent weeks have demonstrated to us that the Blockchain Association is not interested in the membership criteria we had worked to establish to underpin the mission of this organization.”Before its $86 billion public stock listing, Coinbase said in a filing with the SEC that it competes with companies that “have varying degrees of regulatory adherence, such as Binance.”Brooks, who before becoming the acting head of the OCC was Coinbase’s chief legal officer, said he was concerned about rivals casting aspersions on Binance.US.“I wish that weren’t the way the world worked. It obviously is,” Brooks said. He said Binance.US plans to soon triple the number of employees in its regulatory, legal and compliance teams and that the company has joined several trade associations to help press the crypto industry’s interests with regulators.Other exchanges have faced their own regulatory issues. The CFTC fined Coinbase $6.5 million in March for giving investors misleading information about its exchange’s trading volume.Last month, Coinbase and three other companies started a new trade association, called the Crypto Council for Innovation. Many cryptocurrency executives see it as a rival to the Blockchain Association, which Coinbase viewed as being tainted by Binance’s membership. A CCI representative said the group’s formation was unrelated to the disagreement with the Blockchain Association.Questions about the relationship between Binance Holdings and Binance.US aren’t limited to lobbying circles. Lawmakers and some regulators ask about Binance in meetings and seem confused about Binance Holdings’ involvement in the U.S. business, which country’s regulators watch over it and even where Binance Holdings is headquartered, according to two lobbyists for cryptocurrency firms. A Binance.US spokeswoman said the company hasn’t run into such confusion itself.Nomadic ExistenceZhao has adopted a nomadic existence for himself and his company. When the Chinese government cracked down on cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance Holdings moved its operations and has claimed a presence in Japan, Malta and Singapore, among other locations.Last year, Zhao disavowed that the company had a home base at all, saying that the headquarters was wherever he happened to be. In legal filings, the company’s lawyers say that it’s incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which is well-known for being an offshore tax and regulatory haven.Initially, U.S.-based investors could have accounts on Binance.com even though some of the exchange’s practices were prohibited in the U.S. In 2019, Binance limited access for U.S. investors, and said it had entered into a partnership with BAM Trading Services Inc., a Delaware corporation, to launch Binance.US.BAM was incorporated in February 2019, according to public filings, and initially listed Zhao as its sole director. Now the filings show three directors: Zhao, Binance Holdings’ Chief Financial Officer Wei Zhou and former BAM CEO Catherine Coley. A spokeswoman for Binance.US said that’s no longer the current composition of the board but declined to say how it has changed.Brooks said Zhao recruited him to the job and gave him complete management control. He said he and Zhao have a good rapport and that BAM plans to bring in more investors and expand its board.“I wasn’t going to come here and lend a credential for a company that’s really managed somewhere else,” said Brooks.Zhao worked at Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, from 2002 to 2005 in a division that develops trading technology and analytics.Despite their fast growth, neither Binance.US nor Binance Holdings has built a large Washington presence, in contrast to some of their competitors.Binance Holdings recently tapped former Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, for policy advice and to connect the company with regulators and lawmakers. Neither Binance Holdings nor its U.S. counterpart have any registered lobbyists. Coinbase, by comparison, had two firms with nine lobbyists representing it as of last quarter.Brooks said he hasn’t decided whether Binance.US will hire its own lobbyists but will handle much of the outreach to lawmakers and regulators himself with other Binance.US executives.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
First Warning Sign in Global Commodity Boom Flashes in China
(Bloomberg) -- One pillar of this year’s blistering commodities rally -- Chinese demand -- may be teetering.Beijing aced its economic recovery from the pandemic largely via an expansion in credit and a state-aided construction boom that sucked in raw materials from across the planet. Already the world’s biggest consumer, China spent $150 billion on crude oil, iron ore and copper ore alone in the first four months of 2021. Resurgent demand and rising prices mean that’s $36 billion more than the same period last year.With global commodities rising to record highs, Chinese government officials are trying to temper prices and reduce some of the speculative froth that’s driven markets. Wary of inflating asset bubbles, the People’s Bank of China has also been restricting the flow of money to the economy since last year, albeit gradually to avoid derailing growth. At the same time, funding for infrastructure projects has shown signs of slowing.Economic data for April suggest that both China’s economic expansion and its credit impulse -- new credit as a percentage of GDP -- may already have crested, putting the rally on a precarious footing. The most obvious impact of China’s deleveraging would fall on those metals keyed to real estate and infrastructure spending, from copper and aluminum, to steel and its main ingredient, iron ore.“Credit is a major driver for commodity prices, and we reckon prices peak when credit peaks,” said Alison Li, co-head of base metals research at Mysteel in Shanghai. “That refers to global credit, but Chinese credit accounts for a big part of it, especially when it comes to infrastructure and property investment.”But the impact of China’s credit pullback could ripple far and wide, threatening the rally in global oil prices and even China’s crop markets. And while tighter money supply hasn’t stopped many metals hitting eye-popping levels in recent weeks, some, like copper, are already seeing consumers shying away from higher prices.“The slowdown in credit will have a negative impact on China’s demand for commodities,” said Hao Zhou, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank AG. “So far, property and infrastructure investments haven’t shown an obvious deceleration. But they are likely to trend lower in the second half of this year.”A lag between the withdrawal of credit and stimulus from the economy and its impact on China’s raw material purchases may mean that markets haven’t yet peaked. However, its companies may eventually soften imports due to tighter credit conditions, which means the direction of the global commodity market will hinge on how much the recovery in economies including the U.S. and Europe can continue to drive prices higher.Some sectors have seen policy push an expansion in capacity, such as Beijing’s move to grow the country’s crude oil refining and copper smelting industries. Purchases of the materials needed for production in those sectors may continue to see gains although at a slower pace.One example of slowing purchases is likely to be in refined copper, said Mysteel’s Li. The premium paid for the metal at the port of Yangshan has already hit a four-year low in a sign of waning demand, and imports are likely to fall this year, she said.At the same time, the rally in copper prices probably still has a few months to run, according to a recent note from Citigroup Inc., citing the lag between peak credit and peak demand. From around $9,850 a ton now, the bank expects copper to reach $12,200 by September.It’s a dynamic that’s also playing out in ferrous metals markets.“We’re still at an early phase of tightening in terms of money reaching projects,” said Tomas Gutierrez, an analyst at Kallanish Commodities Ltd. “Iron ore demand reacts with a lag of several months to tightening. Steel demand is still around record highs on the back of the economic recovery and ongoing investments, but is likely to pull back slightly by the end of the year.”For agriculture, credit tightening may only affect China’s soaring crop imports around the margins, said Ma Wenfeng, an analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Co. Less cash in the system could soften domestic prices by curbing speculation, which may in turn reduce the small proportion of imports handled by private firms, he said.The wider trend is for China’s state-owned giants to keep importing grains to cover the nation’s domestic shortfall, to replenish state reserves and to meet trade deal obligations with the U.S.No DisasterMore broadly, Beijing’s policy tightening doesn’t spell disaster for commodities bulls. For one, the authorities are unlikely to accelerate deleveraging from this point, according the latest comments from the State Council, China’s cabinet.“Internal guidance from our macro department is that the country won’t tighten credit too much -- they just won’t loosen further,” said Harry Jiang, head of trading and research at Yonggang Resouces, a commodity trader in Shanghai. “We don’t have many concerns over credit tightening.”And in any case, raw materials markets are no longer almost entirely in thrall to Chinese demand.“In the past, the inflection point of industrial metal prices often coincides with that of China’s credit cycle,” said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. “But that doesn’t mean it will be like that this time too, because the U.S. has unleashed much larger stimulus than China, and its demand is very strong.”Hu also pointed to caution among China’s leaders, who probably don’t want to risk choking off their much-admired recovery by sharp swings in policy.“I expect China’s property investment will slow down, but not by too much,” he said. “Infrastructure investment hasn’t changed too much in the past few years, and won’t this year either.”Additionally, China has been pumping up consumer spending as a lever for growth, and isn’t as reliant on infrastructure and property investment as it used to be, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong. The disruption to global commodities supply because of the pandemic is also a new factor that can support prices, he said.Other policy priorities, such as cutting steel production to make inroads on China’s climate pledges, or boosting the supply of energy products, whether domestically or via purchases from overseas, are other complicating factors when it comes to assessing import demand and prices for specific commodities, according to analysts.(Updates copper price in 11th paragraph.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Credit card debt has plunged — but what if you're still up to your neck?
If your finances are being hit hard by the pandemic, you may need to get creative.
Bitcoin, Ether Now Down 50% From Last Month’s ATHs as Rout Resumes
Even if Huobi is the specific catalyst for today's plunge, it's just the latest negative news in the sector that has been battered in the last few weeks.
China Braces for $1.3 Trillion Maturity Wall as Defaults Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Even by the standards of a record-breaking global credit binge, China’s corporate bond tab stands out: $1.3 trillion of domestic debt payable in the next 12 months.That’s 30% more than what U.S. companies owe, 63% more than in all of Europe and enough money to buy Tesla Inc. twice over. What’s more, it’s all coming due at a time when Chinese borrowers are defaulting on onshore debt at an unprecedented pace.The combination has investors bracing for another turbulent stretch for the world’s second-largest credit market. It’s also underscoring the challenge for Chinese authorities as they work toward two conflicting goals: reducing moral hazard by allowing more defaults, and turning the domestic bond market into a more reliable source of long-term funding.While average corporate bond maturities have increased in the U.S., Europe and Japan in recent years, they’re getting shorter in China as defaults prompt investors to reduce risk. Domestic Chinese bonds issued in the first quarter had an average tenor of 3.02 years, down from 3.22 years for all of last year and on course for the shortest annual average since Fitch Ratings began compiling the data in 2016.“As credit risk increases, everyone wants to limit their exposure by investing in shorter maturities only,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank NV. “Issuers also want to sell shorter-dated bonds because as defaults rise, longer-dated bonds have even higher borrowing costs.”The move toward shorter maturities has coincided with a Chinese government campaign to instill more discipline in local credit markets, which have long been underpinned by implicit state guarantees. Investors are increasingly rethinking the widely held assumption that authorities will backstop big borrowers amid a string of missed payments by state-owned companies and a selloff in bonds issued by China Huarong Asset Management Co.The country’s onshore defaults have swelled from negligible levels in 2016 to exceed 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) for four straight years. That milestone was reached again last month, putting defaults on track for another record annual high.The resulting preference for shorter-dated bonds has exacerbated one of China’s structural challenges: a dearth of long-term institutional money. Even before authorities began allowing more defaults, short-term investments including banks’ wealth management products played an outsized role.Social security funds and insurance firms are the main providers of long-term funding in China, but their presence in the bond market is limited, said Wu Zhaoyin, chief strategist at AVIC Trust Co., a financial firm. “It’s difficult to sell long-dated bonds in China because there is a lack of long-term capital,” Wu said.Chinese authorities have been taking steps to attract long-term investors, including foreign pension funds and university endowments. The government has in recent years scrapped some investment quotas and dismantled foreign ownership limits for life insurers, brokerages and fund managers.But even if those efforts gain traction, it’s not clear Chinese companies will embrace longer maturities. Many prefer selling short-dated bonds because they lack long-term capital management plans, according to Shen Meng, director at Chanson & Co., a Beijing-based boutique investment bank. That applies even for state-owned enterprises, whose senior managers typically get reshuffled by the government every three to five years, Shen said.The upshot is that China’s domestic credit market faces a near constant cycle of refinancing and repayment risk, which threatens to exacerbate volatility as defaults rise. A similar dynamic is also playing out in the offshore market, where maturities total $167 billion over the next 12 months.For ING’s Pang, the cycle is unlikely to change anytime soon. “It may last for another decade in China,” she said.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Zara owner Inditex to close all stores in Venezuela, local partner says
Inditex, owner of brands including Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear, will close all its stores in Venezuela in coming weeks as a deal between the retailer and its local partner Phoenix World Trade has come under review, a spokesperson for Phoenix World Trade said. Phoenix World Trade, a company based in Panama and controlled by Venezuelan businessman Camilo Ibrahim, took over operation of Inditex stores in the South American country in 2007. "Phoenix World Trade is re-evaluating the commercial presence of its franchised brands Zara, Bershka and Pull&Bear in Venezuela, to make it consistent with the new model of integration and digital transformation announced by Inditex," the company said in response to a Reuters request.
Commerce Secretary tells how to fix the crazy car shortage
So we have auto shortages and billions of dollars of car sales lost, prices gone bananas for used cars and thousands of jobs at risk. What the hell happened? Well COVID yes, but executives made some bad calls too. That plus over-dependence on a fragile and non-U.S.-based supply chain.
Hong Kong Exchange’s New CEO Is Put on Cleanup Duty
(Bloomberg) -- The veteran JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker who’s taking the helm at Hong Kong’s exchange has been put on cleanup duty.Chairman Laura Cha has handed Nicolas Aguzin, who takes charge Monday, the task of reviewing the exchange’s practices after a bribery scandal and censure from the regulator, according to people familiar with the matter. The 52-year-old former head of JPMorgan’s international private bank is seen by Cha as having the experience to force a cultural shake-up given his background at a heavily regulated bank, said the people, asking to remain anonymous discussing sensitive issues.Aguzin takes over as the bourse is delivering record earnings. His predecessor, Charles Li, oversaw a doubling of revenue during his decade in charge through acquisitions, loosened listing rules and, most importantly, trading links with mainland China. The easier oversight allowed the listing of Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and positioned it as the exchange-of-choice for mainland firms amid tensions with the U.S.But there has also been criticism that investor protections were sacrificed to win business. Over the past years, there has been a steady stream of flareups between the bourse and the regulator over IPO quality, the proliferation of shell companies and whether to allow dual class shares.“The HKEX has done a great job in market development, and has introduced measures to improve investor protection,” Sally Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, said in an email. “But it seems that issuers’ voices tend to prevail over that of the investors. We very much look forward to working with the new CEO to see how to strike a more appropriate balance to better safeguard investor interests.”Spokespeople for the exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission as well as Aguzin declined to comment.In a review released last year after the former IPO vetting co-head was arrested for bribery, the SFC discovered “numerous ambiguities” in the Chinese Wall between its listing and business divisions. Other issues highlighted last year include keeping track of share options and following up on complaints on withdrawn IPO applications.Cha had begun to tighten internal checks and balances for senior managers toward the end of Li’s tenure as well as assert more board control over hiring, people familiar have said. The exchange has halted the interactions between its listing and business units, according to the SFC review. Last week, in a joint statement with the SFC, the bourse vowed to better police its frothy IPO market, citing concerns about companies inflating their values, market manipulation and unusually high underwriting fees.Aguzin is expected by the board to prioritize the exchange’s role as a regulator alongside its growth ambitions, people familiar said.David Webb, a former HKEX director, investor and corporate governance activist, is skeptical the bourse will institute any meaningful reforms. “HKEX has, with government approval, lowered its standards to attract business, for example, by listing second-class shares with weak voting rights,” he said in an email. “It shows no sign of raising them again.”Investors have also urged the exchange to set rules requiring company boards to have a lead outside board member or an independent chair, according to Wong. “But it seems that the HKEX is not ready to even bring them up for market consultation.”The government is on board with Aguzin’s appointment, which comes at a fraught time after Beijing has tightened its grip on the city, raising questions about its continued status as an international financial hub.Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said the three-tiered regulatory system comprising his department, the SFC and HKEX has worked well. Aguzin’s appointment embodies the city’s openness and its role as a gateway between China and the world, he said. “This is exactly what we will pursue.”Further deepening connections to China is seen as key to growth for the bourse, which also faces stiffer competition from mainland exchanges as China opens its financial markets.While Aguzin has worked in Asia for the past decade -- also serving as JPMorgan’s CEO of Asia Pacific from 2013 to 2020 -- he will be the first non-Chinese CEO of a bourse that often needs to deal with Beijing.Cha is well connected in China, having served as vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission. She has signaled that she sees the bourse’s role as serving Beijing’s interests and avoiding competition with the mainland, a person said familiar with the matter said last year.The push toward the mainland is not all welcome in China. Expanding the link to include several benchmark stocks has proved difficult, with one sticking point being whether to include shares like Alibaba Group, which are dual listed and with weighted voting rights.Even so, Cha said at the time of the appointment that Aguzin’s remit will include further strengthening the link to the mainland.Another board member, Fred Hu, said in an interview that “Aguzin is well positioned to take HKEX into the future, to further deepen the connectivity with China but also connectivity with the rest of the world.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Is Buying Bitcoin Right Now a Smart Idea?
It’s no longer news that Bitcoin’s dramatic fall on Thursday weighed on market sentiments relatively but Willy Woo a top crypto analyst, still believes the curtain call for Bitcoin’s overall upward rally has not occurred yet.
Renault-Nissan fights court battle with Indian workers on operations during COVID-19 surge
Renault-Nissan has told an Indian court it needs to continue production at its car plant to meet orders, rejecting claims from an employee union that COVID-19 safety protocols were being ignored at the factory, legal filings show. Renault-Nissan India and workers at its plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have been locked in a legal tussle after workers petitioned a court to halt operations because social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives. In response, Renault-Nissan has argued in a court filing - which is not public - that there was a "compelling need" to continue operations to fulfil domestic and export orders.
Lim family's global assets on radar after Singapore court move
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -A Singapore court has approved a freeze on up to $3.5 billion of assets of the family behind collapsed Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, boosting the prospect of debt recovery from the former oil trading empire that counts some of the world's biggest banks among its creditors. Hin Leong was wound up in March after failing in a year-long effort to restructure more than $3 billion in debts after the COVID-19-led oil crash laid bare huge losses. Founder Lim Oon Kuin admitted in a court document last year to directing the company not to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over several years.
McDonald’s given go-ahead to reopen all drive thrus - plus full list of stores openingLink copied
McDonald’s to reopen 15 restaurants for delivery service
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With restaurants and cafes shut all around the country due to the coronavirus lockdown, takeaways have become the only way to enjoy food that&rsquos cooked by the professionals on the high street. However, fast food chains such as McDonald&rsquos have been slower to get back to business as they work out how to keep staff safe. The chain is set to finally reopen 15 locations this week - and the rest of its drive-thrus could be next to follow.
On Friday Environment Secretary George Eustice said that McDonald&rsquos drive-thrus were &ldquomade for the social distancing situation that we are in&rdquo.
He suggested that it was very possible that all of its drive-thru locations, where customers stay in their cars and simply order through an intercom and receive food from a kiosk, could reopen during lockdown.
When asked whether fast food outlets could have stayed open all along, Eustice said: &ldquoWhile clearly restaurants and pubs had to close, we were quite keen to keep that capacity to be able to do takeaway food for people."
Takeaway and food delivery services have been allowed to keep going, providing the companies can adhere to social distancing guidelines in their kitchens so that staff are safe.
A government minister has said the drive-thru could reopen (Image: Getty)
The chain is opening for delivery this week (Image: Getty)
Eustice continued: "We have learned a lot from supermarkets and other food outlets about how you can do social distancing and do it well.
"I think some of those food-to-go businesses will probably be seeking to learn lessons from what supermarkets have done as they consider tentatively reopening."
However, while some chains such as Pret and Burger King have been slowly opening up again, McDonald&rsquos has been cautious about getting its staff back to work.
The website still has a message to customers to say it is closed: &ldquoWe&rsquore using this time to make sure that when we do reopen, we can keep everyone safe. When that time comes, these extra steps might mean things are a bit different, temporarily.&rdquo
The chain recently announced that it will be opening 15 locations in the UK, starting from May 13.
The branches will be offering delivery only, and have been chosen for their proximity to the distribution centre as McDonald&rsquos works to get its supply chain back up and running.
The reopening will see the restaurants open with a reduced, limited menu, with no breakfasts being served initially for the McDelivery service, which opens at 11am on Wednesday.
In a statement on the website, McDonald&rsquos CEO Paul Pomroy wrote: &ldquoThe last few weeks have been difficult for all of us and I hope you, your friends and your families are staying safe. We are very grateful to those of you who have taken a moment to share messages and stay in touch.
&ldquoWhen we return it will be different as we all adjust to this new normal. I want to apologise in advance if our first wave of reopened restaurants does not serve your area. Rest assured, we are working hard to reopen more restaurants, but I am adamant this must be at the right pace with the wellbeing of our employees, suppliers and customers front of mind. Thank you for your patience.
&ldquoSlowly, but safely we will return to towns and cities across the UK and Ireland and thank you for your continued support as we work through this crisis.&rdquo
McDonald's has been slower to reopen its chain restaurant (Image: Getty)
The 15 McDonald's stores reopening first for delivery are:
Watford Hertfordshire Arms
Sittingbourne Retail Park
Breakfast won't be served in the new limited menu (Image: Getty)
The news comes as many other fast food chains and restaurants have started reopening for delivery and drive-thru services only.
Most recently, McDonald&rsquos rival Burger King revealed it planned to open in every city over the next few weeks, as well as opening its first drive-thru location since lockdown.
Pret has also reopened its locations that are nearest NHS hospitals, while burger chain Five Guys reopened restaurants for takeaway services, attracting huge queues of customers.
Just Eat and Deliveroo are offering the delivery service for many of the chains, bringing contactless deliveries to customers as they stay home.
McDonald’s serves about 70 million customers daily. That scale is one of the company’s key strengths. The company purchases raw materials in bulk, which helps achieve economies of scale and eventually benefits the customers through low-cost food options.
McDonald’s has pioneered restaurant chain expansion, and it enjoys this advantage around the world. Except in China, McDonald’s dominates the restaurant chain business in several major markets around the world. The first-mover advantage has equipped McDonald’s to reap the benefits because it’s the largest player in the fast-food/burger segment.