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Citi Scales Back Global Banking Footprint

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 15, 2014 11:22 AM

Citigroup Inc. is the US bank with the most international business, but that claim to fame isn’t enough to keep the company from announcing that it is exiting its consumer banking business in 11 countries, including Japan, Egypt, and Peru, which leaves Citi in 24 countries.

Citi, just named #48 on Interbrand's Best Global Brands report, has been studying its ledgers since 2012 to discover where it was weakest globally. The glacial pace of the proceedings is partially due to the bank not having “standardized accounting systems across all countries to compare the units' profitability,” sources told Reuters.

Announced with its latest quarterly earning report, it's all part of a bigger long-term plan by Citi to get smaller, better allocate "our finite resources" and increase profits. The effort kicked off after the financial crisis hit and has since meant the jettisoning of “hundreds of billions of dollars of bad assets,” Reuters notes.Continue reading...

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T-Mobile's Next Frontier? Your Bank Account

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 29, 2014 04:46 PM

The mobile market is an industry full of intense competition and some larger than life personalities (we're talking to you, John Legere). And so while Verizon and AT&T jockey over who has the fastest speeds and lowest prices, T-Mobile and Sprint are taking the battle in a whole different direction. In fact, they're taking it to a whole different industry: banking. 

Falling under its "Un-Carrier" campaign, T-Mobile recently launched "Mobile Money," a full-fledged banking service that allows consumers to “do their banking via mobile app and also in the company's 3,000 storefronts” while not charging monthly maintenance or purchase fees and requiring no minimum balance. 

"Millions of Americans pay outrageous fees to check cashers, payday lenders and other predatory businesses–just for the right to use their own money,” John Legere, chief executive officer of T-Mobile, said in a statement, according to The Street. “Mobile Money shifts the balance of power for T-Mobile customers and keeps more money in their pockets."Continue reading...

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Startup Fantex Lets Fans Make Real-Life Investments in Athlete's Brands

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 18, 2013 11:51 AM

Fantasy football players can now take the 'fantasy' out of the equation. Fantex, a new US-based venture that encourages fans to invest in sports stars' brands in a virtual stock exchange of sorts, launched this week.

The first player to accept investments is Houston Texans running back and self-described philsopher and entrepreneur Arian Foster, known for his touchdown 'bow' and who has been to the Pro Bowl three out of the four years that the 27-year-old has played in the NFL. Potential investors are betting on Foster’s value climbing through the years due to a higher salary, more accolades, and more appearances and endorsement deals. 

Ahead of its IPO, the startup will offer 10.6 million worth of stocks to potential investors at $10 per share, the New York Times reports. Foster will take home $10 million upon consummation of the offering, promising 20 percent of his future earnings to the company. While it's no guarantee, especially if there isn't a ton of interest in the stocks, it is a much easier pay-day for Foster, who collects a $5.25 million base salary from the Texans and is quite the businessman himself, recently making an undisclosed investment in Health Warrior, a maker of chia bars.Continue reading...

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Stanford University and Hospital Grant $3.6 Million to Accelerator to Support Stanford-Born Startups

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 6, 2013 05:12 PM

It’s only fitting that Stanford, the school that helped build Silicon Valley, has its own venture-capital fund to support Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs.

The University and Stanford Hospital & Clinics has formed a three-year, $3.6 million partnership with StartX, a student-initiated accelerator founded in 2009, to form the Stanford-StartX Fund, which is the first Stanford-affiliated fund that will directly invest in Stanford-born startups. In addition to Stanford, the organization is supported by the Kauffman Foundation, Microsoft, Intuit, Cisco, AOL, Greylock Partners, the Founders Fund and others. 

"StartX has evolved from a Stanford student-run initiative into a robust, proven learning system for hundreds of startup founders from throughout the university,” said Stanford President John Hennessy in a press release. “We train and house these creative minds, and it is only fitting that we invest in their future success."Continue reading...

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With Big Heads and Bigger Wallets, Activist Investors Are Out to Shake Up Major Brands

Posted by Dale Buss on August 16, 2013 02:33 PM

More CEOs than ever have to worry about "activist investors" sniffing around their companies—or taking a big bite out of them. These aggressive financiers who used to be known as "corporate raiders" seem to be taking on a new cache.

The announcement this week by the dean of these investors, Carl Icahn, that he'd taken a major stake in Apple has raised the profile of this gaggle of discontented financial dynamos to new levels. He pressed CEO Tim Cook to use Apple's cash hoard to buy back more of what Icahn called Apple's "extremely undervalued" shares.

And these days, the ilk of Icahn—on whom the Gordon Gekko character in Wall Street was partially based—individually and collectively have a larger voice than ever before. Their ranks also include Bill Ackman, currently tilting with JCPenney and Herbalife management; George Soros, who's involved with Apple and JCPenney as well; Dan Loeb, who has taken aim at Sony's Hollywood operations for unlocked value; Nelson Peltz; and David Einhorn. Now Jos. A. Bank has one nipping at its heels.Continue reading...

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Employees May Be Grumbling, but Now McDonald's Faces Restive Franchisees

Posted by Dale Buss on August 7, 2013 05:51 PM

If success has many fathers, flat sales can turn people into real—well, anyway, struggling fast-food chains now are getting pressure from their franchisees as well as their employees. McDonald's and Steak 'n Shake are two venerable burger brands that increasingly have their hands full with restive restaurant owners on whom they depend to reach the end consumer.

In fact, while McDonald's CEO Don Thompson has been rather casually parrying attacks on his company from living-wage supporters, it may be a much bigger problem for the chain that a franchisee revolt seems to be brewing among store operators who are complaining that McDonald's increasingly is charging them too much to operate their restaurants. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, they've got complaints about what McDonald's now is charging for rent, remodeling and fees for training and software. As a result, franchisees aren't interested in investing in existing or new McDonald's, the news service said.Continue reading...

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PayPal Gaffe Makes Pennsylvania Man World's Richest—for a Brief Moment

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 18, 2013 06:10 PM

Bill Gates may be the world’s wealthiest person (at least today) with a net worth of $73.7 billion, but Pennsylvania resident Chris Reynolds briefly topped the Microsoft founder—thanks to an unusually large deposit from PayPal.  

The 56-year-old opened up his monthly PayPal account notice last week and discovered that he had been credited with $92 quadrillion ($92,233,720,368,547,800), making him the world’s first quadrilionaire and one thousand times richer than the entire planet's combined GDP.

The wealth was brief, however. By the time he logged in, the account balance was back down to a more paltry sum: zero. "I was skeptical,” Reynolds told the LA Times. "And my skepticism was validated within two minutes."Continue reading...

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ING Launches Orange Money Approach to Retirement Savings

Posted by Dale Buss on March 18, 2013 06:12 PM

ING U.S. came up with "the number" as a way for Americans to think about how much of a nest egg they would need to retire comfortably, and it turned out to be a very effective advertising icon for getting across the point: You need to have a tangible retirement goal to plan, save and invest effectively.

Now, ING U.S. is back with a new visual aid in a new TV advertising campaign, and it could turn out to be just as or even more effective: "orange" money. The orange color represents the well-known hue of the ING brand, but more important is that orange money stands for the stuff in your wallet, or savings, that you shouldn't spend because it's designated to put away for retirement. Only the "green" money is safe to spend.Continue reading...

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