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Colorado to consider Hyperloop One link with Wyoming

LOS ANGELES, September 21, 2017. Hyperloop One is partnering with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDoT) to determine the feasibility of building a Hyperloop link from Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming to Pueblo, Colorado via Denver, a distance of 360 miles.

The public/private partnership will also include Fortune 500 company AECOM, a designer and builder of infrastructure for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.

Hyperloop One on crane"We are excited to partner with Hyperloop One in exploring the next step of feasibility of this innovative technology, potentially transforming how Colorado moves," said Shailen Bhatt, CDoT executive director. "The Hyperloop technology could directly align with our goals of improving mobility and safety in Colorado, and we have been encouraged by the continued progress the technology is taking."

The Colorado study is one of 10 initiatives announced by Hyperloop One following a competition to determine the best routes for the technology.

Winning teams from Canada, India, Mexico, the UK and U.S. have proposed the following links in addition to Cheyenne/ Pueblo: Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh; Miami-Orlando; Dallas-Houston; Edinburgh-London; Glasgow-Liverpool; Mexico City-Guadalajara; Bengaluru-Chennai; Mumbai-Chennai and Toronto-Montreal.

The routes would connect 53 urban centers and 150 million people over a total distance of more than 4,100 miles.

Hyperloop said it would now commit "meaningful business and engineering resources" to validate and analyze the proposals and provide initial ridership forecasts, a business case and preliminary technical analysis of each route.

In a separate announcement, the company has closed another round of financing, bringing the total to US$245 million since its founding in 2014.

"We are so fortunate that our new and existing investors share our vision of making Hyperloop the world's first new mode of transportation in over a century. We initially targeted US$50 million and ended up raising US$85 million instead," said Shervin Pishevar, executive chairman and co-founder.

"As we move towards the commercialization of our technology, we'll continue to work with governments and embrace public- private partnerships to reimagine transportation as we know it," he added.

Walmart launches a ‘Googlemart’ to compete with Amazon

BENTONVILLE, AK: August 23, 2017. Walmart is partnering with Google to launch voice shopping for its U.S. customers via Google Assistant starting in late September.

Marc Lore president and CEO Walmart U.S. eCommerce, said one of the primary benefits would be the ability to build a basket of previously purchased everyday items – which is why the company is integrating its 'Easy Reorder' feature into Google Express.

Next year, the company plans to leverage its 4,700 U.S. stores and fulfillment network to enable voice-shopping customers pick up an order in a store or purchase fresh groceries across the country.

Googlemart 1"Our new voice shopping capability, coupled with our core value proposition, including free two-day shipping and the 'Pickup Discount', will give our customers a compelling new way to get what they need at low prices," claimed Lore.

"That's why it makes sense for us to team up with Google," he added. "They've made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that's the way it should be. An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers."

Walmart U.S. operates over 150 distribution centers, 6,100 tractors and 61,000 trailers nationwide. Each center is more than one million square feet, employs 600 people and handles 200 trailers a day in support of 90 to 100 stores in a 150-mile radius.

By comparison, as of August 2017 Amazon operated 99 fulfillment facilities across the U.S. with 34 more planned for a total square footage of 76.2 million and 30.2 million square feet respectively.

Amazon uses the U.S. Postal Service and third-party contractors for last mile deliveries and has announced it will close on the purchase of its first bricks-and-mortar investment – Whole Foods Market – on August 28.

The company said it would eventually integrate Amazon Prime into the Whole Foods Market point-of-sale system for Prime members to receive "special savings and in-store benefits". Meanwhile from next Monday these will include lower prices on bananas and other fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken, apples and butter.

"The two companies will invent in additional areas over time, including in merchandising and logistics, to enable lower prices for Whole Foods Market customers," according to a statement.

Amazon North America reported net sales of US$23.37 billion for Q2 2017 ending June 30 and net income of US$702 million. Walmart U.S. second quarter revenue was US$78.7 billion and operating income was US$4.6 billion.

Mexico boosts Miami air cargo volume

MIAMI: August 17, 2017. Miami International Airport has reported a 4.8 percent growth in cargo traffic for the first half of 2017 with domestic traffic rising 8.3 percent and international airfreight growing 3.7 percent year-on-year.

Mexican air carriers produced a 308 percent rise in volume during the first six months helped by the introduction last December of a twice-weekly freighter service between Miami, Mexico City and Mérida by B767/A300 operator AeroUnion.

AERUNION767MIAAccording to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Mexico is America's third largest goods market with two-way trade valued at US$531 billion in 2015 that supports at least 1.1 million U.S. jobs.

"Miami has long been known as the Gateway to Latin America, but we are undoubtedly evolving from a regional hub to a truly global trade and logistics gateway," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. "MIA's growth in business, reach and prominence is just another example of that."

Following a year focusing on developing itself as a global pharma hub that resulted in a 48 percent jump in airfreight value to US$4.4 billion by the end of 2016, MIA is now planning to roll out some additional initiatives: An FTZ magnet site designation to allow manufacturers to lease vacant property at MIA and have their tariffs deferred, reduced or eliminated; and the first phase of a Cargo Optimization, Redevelopment and Expansion (CORE) program to renovate MIA's cargo infrastructure and double its capacity.

"To grow our cargo tonnage by nearly five percent overall is significant, especially when you consider that some South American economies are still rebounding from a difficult year in 2016," said Miami-Dade Aviation director Emilio González. "We're confident in the work and attention we've invested into – and continue to devote to – enhancing our cargo operations at MIA and look forward to closing 2017 with even stronger numbers," he added.

The Trump Administration began talks to renegotiate NAFTA on August 16 with USTR head Robert Lighthizer claiming that the 1994 trade agreement with Mexico and Canada "has fundamentally failed many, many Americans".

First flight out for Hungarian horses

BUDAPEST: August 15, 2017. Cargolux and Hellmann Worldwide Logistics have flown 14 Hungarian-bred racehorses from Budapest via Luxembourg and Beijing to Wuhan, China. This was the first such flight since Hungary obtained a license last year to export horses by air.

Budapest Cargolux horses 2Handlers and vets accompanied the Friesian and Shagya Arabian bloodstock, trained for the equestrian sport of combined driving, on one of Cargolux's three flights a week linking Budapest with Luxembourg where the horses rested prior to their 12-hour onward flight to Beijing.

"These were unforgettable moments in our company's life and we are really proud of this success story," said Dénes Szigeti, airfreight manager for Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in Hungary. "We were making history, No forwarder has ever transported horses from Budapest Airport to China directly by regular flight.

"Our whole special live animal team was working on this transportation project side by side which was a great success. Special thanks to the Hungarian live animal team for their dedication and hard work and also special thanks to all of the involved parties who helped us. Our dream has come true," he added.

Since the 2008 Olympics equestrian sports and events have become increasingly popular in China with more than half a million Chinese riding on a regular basis every year. As a result, there is a growing market demand for importing sport and breeding horses.

Budapest Airport, which handled more than 72,000 tons of air cargo during the first seven months of 2017 - an increase of nearly 20 percent year-on-year – is planning to build its own live animal facilities to cater for the growth in exports.

Hyperloop One lifts off

NEW YORK: August 02, 2017. Following a successful first test last month, the vacuum transport system built by Hyperloop One has now reached a speed of 192 miles per hour at its DevLoop track in the Nevada desert.

XP-1, the company's first-generation transport pod, accelerated for 300 meters above a track using magnetic levitation in a tube depressurized to equal air at 200,000 feet above sea level.

HYPERLOOP "This is the beginning, and the dawn of a new era of transportation," said company executive chairman and co-founder Shervin Pishevar. "We've reached historic speeds of 310 kilometers an hour, and we're excited to finally show the world the XP-1 going into the Hyperloop One tube."

Using electromagnetic propulsion and magnetic levitation, Hyperloop One plans to transport passengers and cargo inside a 28-feet pod made of structural aluminum and lightweight carbon fiber.

"We've proven that our technology works, and we're now ready to enter into discussions with partners, customers and governments around the world about the full commercialization of our Hyperloop technology," said company CEO Rob Lloyd. "We're excited about the prospects and the reception we've received from governments around the world to help solve their mass transportation and infrastructure challenges."

In October last year DP World became a "significant investor" in the company with a reported US$50 million for continued research and development.

The move followed a Hyperloop feasibility study published in September to link the city of Hunchun in northeast China with the Russian port of Zarubino.

Commissioned by Caspian Venture Capital, a US$300 million fund set up by Summa Group chairman Ziya Magomedov, the report said it would take four years and an estimated US$1.5-2.1 billion to build a 65 kilometer-long hyperloop line between the two cities.

In the same month, DP World and Summa signed an MoU to explore investment opportunities in ports, special economic zones and inland logistics facilities in the Russian Federation – including Vladivostok and Zarubino.

Summa chairman Magomedov and DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem have since joined the Hyperloop One board.

European Commission supports HNA purchase of Frankfurt-Hahn airport

FRANKFURT HAHN: August 10, 2017. The HNA Group has completed its acquisition of Frankfurt-Hahn airport from the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The purchase price was €15.1 million for an 82.5 percent stake.

The move follows a decision by the European Commission on July 31 to allow state aid for the loss-making airport to continue until "private investment enables its return to viability".

Frankfurt Hahn airportAccording to the Commission's 2014 Aviation Guidelines, public funding is allowed to cover the operating losses of smaller regional airports in the EU if a credible business plan demonstrates a return to viability by April 2024.

The Commission said public funding would continue to cover the airport's operating losses while the HNA Group enables a return to profitability by 2023. According to the Rhineland-Palatinate government, Frankfurt-Hahn is responsible for 11,000 jobs in the region.

In the first half of 2017 air cargo volume increased 52 percent year-on-year to reach 49.000 tonnes. In June the airport handled 8,670 tonnes of airfreight, a 101 percent increase over the same month in 2016.

In May 2017 HNA Group became the largest shareholder in Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest financial services provider. China became Germany's largest trading partner for the first time last year, with bilateral trade volume exceeding US$151 billion.

The HNA Group was formed in 1993 to encourage tourism on Chna's tropical island of Hainan. A US$25 million investment in the company's start-up airline by George Soros provided timely credibility. Since then the group has expanded its global interests to cover banking, real estate, hotels, retail, aircraft leasing, shipbuilding and 'eco-tech'. In 2016 it reported revenue of US$29.56 billion.

As of December 2016 HNA operated 1,250 airplanes flying to over 260 cities worldwide via Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Capital Airlines, Deer Jet, Lucky Air, West Air, Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, Beibu Gulf Airlines, Yangtze River Airlines, Guilin Airlines, Chang'an Airlines, Africa World Airlines, and Aigle Azur.

HNA says by "incorporating traditional Chinese culture and integrating Chinese socialist values with a world-class management system", its business fosters a corporate culture befitting both Chinese and western society.

Turkey logistics investment continues

ISTANBUL: July 27, 2017. Private equity manager Abraaj Group has acquired an unspecified "significant minority" stake in Netlog Lojistik Hizmetleri, one of Turkey's largest integrated logistics companies.

Sahap and Gokalp Cak, who founded Netlog in 2003, will retain a majority share and continue to manage the company that operates 3,200 trucks in support of a range of industrial sectors including FMCG, food and beverage, retail and fashion.

NETLOGCommenting on the investment Netlog chairman Sahap Çak said: "Having grown Netlog to become one of Turkey's top 100 companies, we are excited to embark on this new journey with Abraaj. They recognize the value the Netlog leadership and senior management team have brought to the business and are fully aligned with our growth plans."

Netlog offers a range of supply chain solutions including warehousing, domestic and international trucking and freight forwarding via a network of over 65 warehouses, with a combined area of more than 1.1 million square meters.

The company's PolarXP subsidiary operates a warehouse and distribution network for temperature-controlled logistics and another subsidiary, Bleckmann, provides e-commerce services for the fashion industry in Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and U.S.

Vice chairman Gökalp Çak noted: "With Abraaj we have found a partner that shares our commitment to accelerate [the company's] growth and widen our value-added services, such as temperature-controlled logistics and e-commerce logistics, across Europe and the Asia region."

Abraaj says logistics in Turkey is a compelling sector in which to invest because of the country's strategic location, favorable consumer and regulatory trends, and government infrastructure plans to upgrade high-speed rail, motorways and container port facilities by 2023.

Selçuk Yorgancıoğlu, Abraaj Group partner and regional head of Turkey and Central Asia added: "Our partnership with Netlog marks Abraaj's tenth investment in Turkey. This is testament to our conviction about the attractive long-term fundamentals of the economy. Turkey's geostrategic location creates a huge number of opportunities for the country's most dynamic businesses to grow beyond their borders."

In February this year Samskip Multimodal and Intercombi Transport (ICL), a subsidiary of Netlog, introduced a fourth regular train service between Duisburg and the port of Trieste to link with the U.N. Ro-Ro service to Turkey.

"The frequency increase vindicates the principles behind GreenBridge, which combines the benefits of Samskip's European multimodal network and Intercombi's in-depth industry expertise in the Turkish market," said Marcel Delmee, Greenbridge manager for Multimodal Services, Turkey Trades.

In May 2014 TNT Express sold its specialist fashion supply chain business in the Netherlands to a consortium of Belspeed and Netlog. The enterprise had annual revenue of €120 million at the time.

Fortune 50 companies back no-fee recruitment in supply chains

NEW YORK, NY: AUGUST 07, 2017. Ford, General Motors, Hormel Foods, Marriott Hotels and Michael Kors have agreed to promote ethical labor policies in their global supply chains including no-fee recruitment.

The International Labor Organization estimates at least 21 million people are trapped in conditions of modern slavery that generates over US$150 billion in annual profits for direct and third party employers in agriculture, apparel, construction, electronics and manufacturing.

Forced laborAccording to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), whose 300 members have US$200 billion under management, migrant job seekers are charged high fees and forced to surrender their passports by labor brokers who then entrap them in bonded labor, a form of modern-day slavery.

An ICCR 'No Fees' initiative aims to drive the adoption of company policies that ensure employees never pay recruitment fees for jobs, have a clear written contract, and do not lose access to their identity documents.

Mary Beth Gallagher, from the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment who led the discussions with Ford and GM commented: "Multinational corporations can have tremendous influence on the issue by setting expectations through their vast supply chains, which is why these policies are so important. We applaud Ford, General Motors, Hormel, and others for their leadership in adopting the 'no fees' policy and strongly urge all companies to make similar pledges to make the recruitment process more just."

Head of the ICCR initiative Valentina Gurney added: "Brands are waking up to the fact that controlling labor recruitment at all levels of the supply chain is a corporate responsibility. With these new commitments, we see real momentum building and we congratulate these five companies for stepping out on this important issue."

Now in its 46th year, ICCR is a coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions and NGOs.

Post-Brexit Britain to rely on emerging markets?

BAAR, Switzerland: July 19, 2017. As Britain's Conservative government acknowledges the one-time cost of leaving the EU could be £66 billion, Agility Logistics expects the country "will try to spark its economy through trade with emerging markets" after March 2019.

In a report produced in conjunction with analyst Transport Intelligence, Agility says the more difficult the divorce, the more likely Britain will seek quick trade deals with Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Brazil.

China and India, it notes, "have the muscle to press the UK for significant concessions and [deals] are unlikely to be hashed out rapidly."

Agility emerging marketsHowever with the EU accounting for 47 percent of UK goods exports in 2016, new trade deals with emerging markets may be constrained by the EU, as the report asks: "Would the UK sweep away barriers to permit cheap North African citrus to the UK if the EU, which heavily protects its Mediterranean producers, retaliates with duties on UK manufactured goods?"

Essa Al-Saleh, CEO of Agility Global Integrated Logistics commented: "Apart from the political hurdles, the UK's desire for 'frictionless' trade with the EU faces complex technical obstacles – what to do about tariff-rate quotas, rules of origin, product standards and import duties. Anything that alters existing UK-EU arrangements probably means delays and added cost to the movement of goods."

The report also notes an already-weakened Sterling will make imports from both the EU and emerging markets more expensive; lead to potential trade disputes over tariffs on agricultural goods and quota arrangements; damage the UK's role as a gateway to the EU for emerging markets; and make exports more costly due to Rules of Origin checks.

Even a Customs union between the UK and the EU would not guarantee the government's hoped-for frictionless trade in goods, according to Agility. "Turkey - which has a Customs union with the EU but is not in the Single Market - faces documentation checks and product sample tests where it does not follow EU rules for the production, labeling, movement and storage of certain goods.

"So the UK needs to establish an appropriate regulatory agreement with the EU or face border checks," the report points out.

In addition to the Brexit impact, Agility notes India's decision to replace more than a dozen state and federal levies with a single Goods and Services Tax from July 01 has led the country's "notoriously inefficient logistics sector" to consolidate warehousing, revamp road freight strategies, and invest in system upgrades to improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

The result could cut logistics costs in India's formal logistics sector by 20 percent, encourage infrastructure investment and further boost the country's surging economy, the report concludes.

XPO on the M&A road again

GREENWICH, CT: August 04, 2017. XPO Logistics has reported a net income of US$73.2 million on revenue of US$7.3 billion for the first six months of 2017. Figures for the same period last year were US$24.1 million and US$7.23 billion respectively.

For the second quarter ending June 30, net income was US$51.9 million on revenue of US$3.76 billion.

XPO MAChairman and CEO Bradley Jacobs said the company planned to expand its last mile network with 10 new hubs by the end of the year and have 55 across the U.S. at the beginning of 2018.

"Our plan is to grow that [number] to 85 hubs by the end of 2018. We're doing that so that we'll get close to the customer and reduce transit times. And with this network, we'll be within 100-some-odd miles of 90 percent of the entire U.S. population."

Asked about future M&A activity with the "winding down" of the Norbert Dentressangle and Conway integrations, Jacobs said XPO was going to pursue the M&A market and could pay "up to US$7 billion or US$8 billion for an acquisition without raising more equity and without going over five times EBITDA on the leverage."

Jacobs acknowledged he didn't expect "bigger deals soon because we're just starting conversations and these things take time", but admitted the company is discussing smaller acquisitions with a purchase price "in the hundreds and millions of dollars, not in the billions of dollars" with a primary focus on Western Europe and North America.

"M&A takes a lot of effort, there's a lot of time that goes into it. It puts stress on the organization. There is risk involved in it, that's all fine as long as there is a big return from that," he continued. "So we are not interested in doing a deal or deals that are dilutive to earnings or free cash flow. That's not going to get us a gold star."

Politics not economics key to inequality says research

BOSTON: July 17, 2017. Research by Oxfam suggests the poorest half of the world's population has received one percent of the total increase in global wealth since 2000, while the top one percent has received 50 percent.

According to a new "work in progress" index published by Oxfam and Development Finance International, no country is doing enough to reduce the gap between rich and poor, including social spending, taxation policies, and labor rights.

"While many leaders pay lip-service to the dangers of extreme inequality and the urgency to tackle it, this index shows that not one government is doing enough," said Paul O'Brien, vice president of Policy and Advocacy at Oxfam America. "This is most certainly true here in the United States, where president Trump campaigned against what he called a 'rigged system' that favors the rich, but is now delivering the opposite."

OxfamDFI indexDFI and Oxfam say governments are not powerless to reverse a trend that the World Bank forecasts will see half a billion people still living in extreme poverty by 2030: "Our findings show that a number of governments including Sweden, Chile, Uruguay and Namibia have shown they can buck the trend of growing inequality by taking clear steps to reduce it."

Of the 152 countries surveyed, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark top the index (right) because of high levels of social spending and good protections for workers; while Nigeria, Bahrain and Myanmar come bottom due to "exceptionally low levels of government spending on health, education and social protection; an extremely bad record on labor and women's rights; and, particularly in the case of Bahrain and Nigeria, a tax system that overburdens the poorest in society and fails to tax its wealthiest citizens," according to the Oxfam/DFI report.

"Tackling inequality is about political will. Across the globe ordinary people are suffering the consequences of political failure in the form of underfunded schools, inadequate tax collection, and low paid insecure jobs," added DFI director Matthew Martin.

The U.S. ranks No. 23 behind France (No.8), Australia (No.14), Canada (No.15), the UK (No.17) and South Africa (No.21). One in four of the top 50 countries on the index are low or middle-income - suggesting tackling inequality is as much about politics as it is economics.

Oxfam and DFI estimate Trump's proposed policies on tax reform, social spending and labor rights could see the U.S. fall below Greece and Spain on future editions of the index.

"Our hope with this index is to build a public conversation about how to tackle this crisis. Governments need to build fairer tax systems, uphold the rights of workers, and invest more money in our public services, here at home and around the world," continued O'Brien. "It's time to make our economies work for all of us, not just a few."

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