More stories

  • in

    Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg calls for governments to 'up their game’ on climate change

    Nico Rosberg on the first day of the Greentech Festival at Kraftwerk Mitte in Berlin.

    Former Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg told CNBC that global governments need to “up their game” to tackle the “shocking” impact of climate change.
    Rosberg was speaking from Berlin at the second annual Greentech Festival, which he co-founded to showcase the “most innovative green technologies and ideas that facilitate a sustainable lifestyle.”

    He described as “shocking” the wildfires raging on the U.S. West Coast.
    “We’re experiencing more and more of these devastating fires around the world, and it’s most likely of course as a result of the climate change, so that’s terrible and yes, it does require governments to really up their game,” he said.
    Rosberg, who shook the Formula One world by retiring days after becoming world champion in 2016, said he was “not worried” about sustainability and green issues becoming less of a priority in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
    “I have evidence here in my event … we’re actually not only surviving, but we’re thriving …. we’re growing in the midst of corona,” he said, adding that he would not have expected this.
    “It’s a real testament to how corona … it’s going to raise more awareness I think for the environmental issues as well.”

    Last year’s inaugural Greentech Festival, which includes speakers, awards, exhibitions and concerts, attracted over 40,000 guests.
    This year, the event is a combination of virtual and in-person sessions taking place at the historic Kraftwerk Berlin building. It has to meet the social distancing requirements of the German government and has a “hygiene concept,” including extra air circulation, distribution of masks and “a lot of hand sanitizers.”
    “Corona was very well managed in Germany, so for now we are not in the second wave yet, and therefore at the moment, it is all more or less manageable for us here,” Rosberg told CNBC. Germany has reported close to 270,000 cases of the coronavirus to date, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, but has only had 9,384 deaths — a relatively low number as a percentage of total cases.

    ‘Powerful’ and ’emotional’ stories

    Proponents of the green agenda including Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sting, Jane Goodall, European Commission President Ursula von de Leyen and Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, are all contributing to the event in a new, online-only session called Switch Green, which aims to inspire others to take care of the planet.
    Rosberg described the global leaders’ personal stories and calls to action as “powerful” and “very emotional.”
    Pichai’s participation comes days after Google announced a significant green tech pledge to power its offices and data centers through only carbon-free electricity by 2030.
    “That’s a big, big ask, and it was the first talk from him after that, so it was amazing to hear first-hand how they’re implementing that,” Rosberg said.
    The German-Finnish racing star also praised von der Leyen’s “ambitious” plans for a European Green Deal, which aims to reduce Europe’s emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and for the EU to become net zero on carbon emissions.
    “I think she’s really trailblazing …. to aim for Europe to be the first carbon neutral, emission free continent by 2050 is very, very ambitious, and she’s setting the groundwork now,” he said.

    Germany’s Shark Tank

    Rosberg is also currently appearing as a “shark” on Germany’s version of the U.S. business reality show “Shark Tank,” which sees budding entrepreneurs pitch their products and ideas to a panel of successful investors.
    “It’s really, really competitive. … I thrive on competition, so that’s exactly what I love,” he said. “I enjoy being on the show and really supporting these founders that have great ideas in the world of sustainability.”
    The green tech advocate has invested in Formula E and several mobility start-ups including Lilium, Tier Mobility and Lyft, and is co-owner of mobility engineering company TRE.
    Asked about his move from Formula One world champion to championing green tech and mobility, Rosberg said that winning in racing was “absolutely awesome,” but he always felt it had been missing purpose and meaning. He added that he had found his direction in sustainability as an entrepreneur.
    “I’m loving it, I’m energized, motivated. … I hope to contribute to the lives of many, but also even in a small detail for me personally, to my kids … I have two young daughters of 3 and 5, and I wish to inspire them as well with my legacy, this is what I’m trying to do,” he said. More

  • in

    A brewing U.S.-China tech cold war rattles the semiconductor industry

    President Donald Trump meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.
    Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

    As trade tensions mount between the U.S. and China, the U.S. semiconductor industry fears a tech cold war could disrupt the global supply chain. Now companies on both sides of the Pacific are trying to develop strategies to mitigate risk — whether it’s hoarding supplies or looking at shifting the location of production facilities.
     Last week Trump administration announced that it is considering imposing export restrictions on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors. That’s the latest crackdown by Washington as it tightens restrictions against Chinese tech companies such as Huawei, preventing them from obtaining chips without a special license.

    The issue prompted SEMI, an industry group, to draft a letter for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross explaining how blacklisting SMIC could hurt the U.S. tech industry, Reuters has reported. “We urge the Department to carefully consider the immediate and long-term detrimental impacts to U.S. industry, economic and national security that may result from the addition of SMIC to the Entity List,” said the group, which has 2,400 members worldwide, including SMIC and U.S. chip equipment makers Lam Research Corp  and Applied Materials.
    While some U.S. firms such as Intel and Micron Technology still make chips in the United States, the industry’s center of gravity has shifted to Asia, where Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) has more than half of the overall market for contract manufacturing chips and an even stronger hold on the most advanced chips. Firms, including iPhone maker Apple, Qualcomm and Nvidia all rely on TSMC and other Asian foundries to manufacture their chips.

    Untangling the global supply chain in this interconnected industry is not feasible – at least in the foreseeable future, industry experts concur. Components for a chip could travel more than 25,000 miles before completion and can cross borders more than 70 times before a final product is delivered to the end customer, explains Syed Alam, Accenture’s global semiconductor practice lead.

    U.S. government pushes for onshoring 

    Industry sources believe the best way to address the issue is to bring back more domestic manufacturing, develop a robust industry ecosystem, invest more in R&D and maintain America’s lead in advanced product design. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act shows Washington recognizes that boosting domestic manufacturing and R&D is key for national security and global competitiveness. The U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has been cut in half to just 12% over the past 20 years and is forecast to fall to 10% by 2023. 
    The amendment was a compromised version of two bills that have bipartisan support. The CHIPS for America Act which stands for “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors,” creates a 40% investment tax credit for semiconductor equipment, a $10 billion fund to match any chip manufacturing incentive programs at the state level, and $12 billion in R&D funding to be allocated over the next five to 10 years.

    In addition, it provides support for semiconductor-based research grants to U.S. universities or private companies, either directly or through agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It also calls for the creation of a National Semiconductor Technology Center, which could serve as a clearinghouse and organizational control point for U.S.-based chip manufacturing, as well as a critical new research and development facility.
    The other bill was the American Foundries Act, which authorizes the Department of Commerce to offer $15 billion in grants to states to assist in  the construction, expansion, or modernization of microelectronics fabrication, assembly, test, advanced packaging, or advanced research and development facilities. It also would give $5 billion in federal investments to promote semiconductor research at the Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The bill also mandates that the White House Office of Science and Technology, in coordination with federal research agencies and the private sector, develop a plan to guide funding for advancing next-generation semiconductors.
    “We believe these grants and incentives are critical for the U.S. semiconductor industry especially for state-of-the-art advanced technology,” says Jeff Rittener, chief government affairs office at Intel. “We need help from the U.S. government to create a level playing field.” As he explains over time U.S. manufacturing stateside has been shrinking and that puts the country at risk since America will be reliant on foreign sources on the brains that run modern technology.

    High hurdles for the industry

    These incentives are key considering chip factories can cost up to $15 billion to build, with much of the expense in the form of pricey tools. China and many other countries have spent billions of dollars bolstering their domestic chip manufacturing industry and they offer tax and financial incentives to lure foreign manufacturers. In the Made in China 2025 Plan, the Chinese government has committed $120 billion to shore up domestic semiconductor manufacturing with the goal of producing 70% of all chips need for local consumption.
    According to a recent report from the Semiconductor Industry Association in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group,  robust federal incentives valued at $50 billion would create as many as 19 major semiconductor manufacturing facilities and 70,000 high-paying jobs in the U.S. over the next 10 years. Strengthening U.S. chip manufacturing will help ensure America out-innovates the world in the strategic technologies of the future — AI, 5G, quantum computing — that will determine global economic and military leadership for decades to come. 
    “The country that leads in advanced chip research, design, and manufacturing will have a big leg up in the global race to deploy new game-changing technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association. “Leaders in Washington should seize this opportunity, level the global playing field to attract chip production, and invest boldly in domestic manufacturing incentives and research initiatives that will strengthen U.S. tech leadership for decades to come.” 
    “The U.S. has always had a tremendous lead in thought leadership and intellectual property in the semiconductor industry but now China poses a real threat since they are subsidizing a tremendous amount in R&D,” says Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research. Chinese government is currently making aggressive subsidized investments in building over 60 semiconductor manufacturing plants (commonly called foundries or “fabs”, which is short for fabrication sites).
    Some companies are mulling over how to expand operations in the U.S. According to Rittener, Intel is investing in expanding at its locations in the U.S.  It has hired 3,000 new employees and is getting ready to open a new microprocessor plant in Chandler, Arizona.
    “Intel has also had conversations with the U.S. government about developing a foundry for advanced semiconductors,” Rittener says, “but there are no concrete plans yet.”
    Other industry titans have already taken action. In May, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. – a big supplier for Apple and Huawei — announced it was investing $12 billion to build  a second U.S. manufacturing plant in Arizona. The factory will be focused on producing so-called 5-nanometer chips, the latest in semiconductor technology being manufactured today. Construction will begin next year;  it’s expected to be operational in 2024.
    For Huawei, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, the trade war has taken a toll. The company, which bought $20.8 billion worth of chips last year, has been hoarding chip supplies because of U.S. sanctions and gradually shifting design and chip production to mainland China.
    The U.S. has accused Huawei of building backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid Chinese government spying efforts, which Huawei has denied. Despite those denials, the Trump administration placed Huawei and 114 of its affiliates on its Entity List in May 2019, which meant US firms were unable to sell technology to the company without explicit US government approval. Since then the entity list has grown to include 150 companies. in May, the US Commerce Department issued an amended export rule to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei to “strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology.”
    That rule prevented foreign manufacturers of semiconductors who use American software and technology in their operations from shipping their products to Huawei unless they first obtained a license from the US. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, reportedly halted orders for Huawei’s HiSilicon unit in May following the new U.S. rule.
    Now industry observers worry about any retailiation from China. “Given such sanctions significantly impact Huawei, there could be retaliation from China,” said Sebastian Hou at CLSA, according to Ars Technica. He named Apple, Huawei’s competitor in the smartphone market, and Qualcomm as potential targets.
    Others industry titans continue to diversify operations in other parts of the globe. Last week, Nvidia announced a $40 billion deal to buy Arm Holdings from SoftBank. Arm designs the architecture for mobile chips used in almost every mobile device in the world, from the Apple iPhone to just practically every Android device. For Nvidia, whose chips are widely used to support graphics and artificial intelligence applications, including for self-driving vehicles, the deal will help boost its data center business.

    Smaller players feel the pinch

    While large manufacturers have the financial wherewithal and industry connections to navigate through disruptions in the supply chain, many small and mid-size tech manufacturers in the U.S. do not.
    One is Social Mobile, a Miami-based consultancy and OEM that specializes in making customized Android Enterprise devices for Fortune 500 companies. The company, which also has operations in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, started seeing disruptions from suppliers in February and the situation is getting worse.
     “There has been a shakeup in the industry,”  says CEO Robert Morco. “There are longer lead times for procuring semiconductors and prices have also risen. In some cases it takes double the time to get supplies. Some suppliers are only making them available for key clients. That has forced many companies to go to the grey market for chips.”
    According to Morcos, “the big guns will get through this, but it’s harder for small and medium-sized businesses. We are feeling the impact of this trend the most. We are the ones that are being affected by a lack of transparency, price gauging and the lack of product availability.”
    To navigate the crisis, Morcos says Social Mobile is asking customers to place orders early due to delays. Looking ahead the company is looking at building a plant in the U.S. with some sort of government support. “There is a lot of local, state and federal interest in onshoring semiconductor manufacturing right now, so we feel we are in the right place at the right time,” says Morcos.
    O’Donnell notes that many of his clients are looking at U.S.-China trade and geopolitical tensions and its making semiconductor companies nervous. “There is a lot of saber-rattling going on right now between China and Taiwan,” he notes.
    “This has tech companies in many industries rethinking their semiconductor roadmap,” says Alam. As he explains, the U.S. just doesn’t need to build more chip plants, it needs to build an entire semiconductor ecosystem and attract the talent it needs to maintain the industry’s competitive edge.
    “It would be great to bring more manufacturing home,” says Gene Sheridan, CEO of Navitas Semiconductor, a start-up in El Segundo, California, that manufactures next-generation gallium nitride power chips in Taiwan and the Philippines for companies like Lenovo, AUKEY and Anker.
    “Trade tensions as well as the pandemic reminds us of the inherent risk of manufacturing mostly abroad.” More

  • in

    Coronavirus live updates: Israel locks down again ahead of High Holidays; EU strikes vaccine deal with Sanofi, GSK

    Global cases of the coronavirus have now crossed 30 million, as new infection rates remain stubbornly high in some countries and show early signs of resurgence in others. The U.S., India and Brazil hold the highest national case tallies — together the three countries account for over half of all reported global infections. The dramatic benchmark comes as experts warn of difficult fall and winter seasons ahead. 

    The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
    Global cases: More than 30.2 million
    Global deaths: At least 946,685
    U.S. cases: More than 6.67 million
    U.S. deaths: At least 197,655 More

  • in

    5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday

    1. Wall Street looks to pad gains this week

    Cloud data warehouse company Snowflake is promoted at the Nasdaq MarketSite, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in New York’s Times Square.
    Mark Lennihan | AP

    2. Unity wraps up one of the busiest IPO weeks of the year

    Unity CEO John Riccitiello speaks onstage during Day 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
    Steve Jennings | TechCrunch | Getty Images

    The big week for initial public offerings brings Unity to Wall Street on Friday. The video game software developer on Thursday evening priced shares at $52 after lifting the anticipated range Wednesday to $44 to $48 per share. Unity wraps up one of the busiest weeks for IPOs this year, highlighted by Wednesday’s debut of Snowflake, which more than doubled in value to close the day with a market cap over $70 billion. Snowflake, which gave back about 10% on Thursday, was under some pressure in Friday’s premarket.

    3. Commerce Department says it would block U.S. downloads of TikTok, WeChat

    Sheldon Cooper | LightRocket | Getty Images

    Shares of Oracle fell 1.5% in the premarket after the Commerce Department announced Friday morning that it would ban U.S. business transactions with China-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok, starting Sunday. President Donald Trump is expected to announce Friday whether or not the government will approve a deal for Oracle to take a minority stake in TikTok and become a “trusted technology partner” for the company in the U.S. Walmart was also aiming to take a stake. Last month, citing national security concerns, Trump signed an executive order that Beijing-based ByteDance sell or spin off TikTok’s U.S. operations or face a ban.

    4. Trump and Biden to travel to battleground state Minnesota

    Joe Biden and Donald Trump
    Ron Adar | Echoes Wire | Barcroft Media via Getty Images; Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

    Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are going to battleground state Minnesota on Friday. They’re expected to avoid Minneapolis, where the May killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a White police officer sparked a national reckoning on systemic racism. Trump will visit Bemidji, about 200 miles northwest of the city, while Biden swings through Duluth, 150 miles northeast of the city on the banks of Lake Superior near to the Wisconsin line.

    5. Two Goldman Sachs employees said to test positive for Covid-19

    A pedestrian passes in front of 200 West St., which houses the headquarters of Goldman Sachs Group, in New York.
    Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    Two employees at Goldman Sachs’ downtown New York headquarters have tested positive for Covid-19, a company official told The New York Times. The two work on different floors. The Times reported that Goldman officials believe the cases came from exposure to the coronavirus outside the office, where more workers have been returning in recent weeks. “Our people’s safety is our first priority, and we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure our workplaces remain safe for those who choose to return,” Leslie Shribman, a Goldman spokeswoman, told the Times. Earlier this week, J.P. Morgan Chase sent workers home after a company employee tested positive for the virus.
    — The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC’s live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog. More

  • in

    Op-ed: Markets are up and the economy is down. Here are some moves investors can make

    The New York Stock Exchange.
    Andrew Burton | Getty Images

    The financial markets are rising and the economy is falling. What is with this disconnect between the two? Many investors may be asking themselves if this is all a cause for concern.
    So, what’s an investor to do?

    To begin with, the financial markets were doing quite well before the pandemic. In fact, the S&P 500 Index closed at a record high (3,386) on Feb. 19. But once Covid-19 cases started spreading in the U.S., the markets plunged. By March 23, the S&P 500 had fallen about 34%.
    Fast forward a few months, however, and the numbers tell a different story. By the end of the first week in August, the S&P 500 had risen nearly 50% since March 23, regaining almost all the ground it had lost.
    Meanwhile, at the same time of this market rally, the overall economy took a hit.
    More from Personal Finance:Looking to reverse that withdrawal from your retirement account?Self-employed people may miss out on payroll tax breakWhy college students might get less financial aid next year
    In fact, gross domestic product fell 9.5% in the second quarter of the year – the largest quarterly drop since 1947. If businesses are producing and selling fewer goods and services, shouldn’t it follow that the accompanying damage, in the form of massive lost revenue, would also lead to a sharp decline in the stock prices of these businesses?

    There’s something of a time warp between what’s happening in the economy and the performance of the financial markets. Essentially, the economy is a reflection of what’s happening today, but the markets are always looking toward tomorrow.
    This pattern can be seen in recent market action. The 34% sell-off in February and March took place when unemployment was near 50-year lows, as the market declines reflected concerns over the growing pandemic and the anticipation of the resulting recession. But now, stocks have rallied in expectancy of a better economic environment in the second half of 2020 and into 2021 as economic activity recovers.

    Here are a few reasons for the market’s optimism:
    Gradual improvement in corporate profitability: Corporate profitability – always a key long-term driver of stock prices – will likely show gradual improvement, based on a sustained, but probably uneven, economic recovery, which may result from government stimulus efforts and a rebound in consumer activity, boosted by pent-up demand.
    The various lockdown efforts have resulted in consumers having fewer places to spend their money and, in combination with considerable government aid, have led to an extraordinarily high personal savings rate. And corporate earnings should further be bolstered by low interest rates and businesses’ cost-cutting efforts.
    Vaccine progress: The worldwide drive toward finding a vaccine to treat the coronavirus is truly unprecedented. Several companies, working in concert with the government or academic institutions, are reporting encouraging results in early stage trials, and top infectious disease experts now say an effective vaccine may be ready in early 2021. Such a development would boost consumer confidence and allow economic activity to return to pre-pandemic levels.
    Federal Reserve actions: The Fed has made clear it will do everything in its power to support an economic recovery. Chief among its actions are moves to keep interest rates near zero for an extended time period and to continue buying bonds.

    Keeping interest rates and credit costs low for the foreseeable future will help reduce some of the market’s “downside” risk that would have been more pronounced without the Fed’s backstop.
    Despite the possible causes for confidence described above, there are still no assurances that the financial markets will continue their upward trend. The biggest reason for uncertainty, of course, is Covid-19 itself. If more spikes lead to complete or even partial lockdowns, and schools go through chaotic re-openings, the resulting economic slowdown could cause investors to take a pause, leading to downward pressure on the markets.
    In fact, there’s fairly widespread agreement that, until we get control of the virus, either with a vaccine or through rigorous observance of social distancing, mask-wearing and other measures, the economy will not really be on firm ground.  It shouldn’t be surprising if economic and earnings data display a mixture of encouraging signs and periodic setbacks, possibly leading to market volatility.
    The financial markets, following an initial coronavirus-induced decline, have rallied strongly for several months, envisioning an improving economy, a government stimulus package and the ultimate arrival of a vaccine. Yet, great uncertainty remains over our near-term ability to contain the virus and the potential economic fallout from new lock-downs and school openings.
    So, what should investors do?

    Consider these suggestions:
    Maintain realistic expectations. We’ve seen some impressive gains in the market recently, but this almost continuous march upward was never going to last indefinitely. It’s far more likely that we’ll see considerable market volatility over the next several months, so be prepared.
    Rebalance when necessary. You may want to think about re-balancing your investment portfolio. For example, during the recent market run-up, your holdings might have become over-weighted in some categories, such as technology. The largest five stocks, by market capitalization, in the S&P 500 (Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google) have driven much of the gains in the index, and, in fact, now account for almost one-quarter of its value.
    Your individual circumstances – goals, risk tolerance and time horizon – should dictate your investment choices, but, as a general rule, you don’t want to be too heavily committed to any particular stock, sector or asset class.
    Diversify – and look for quality. For the equities portion of your portfolio, look for domestic and international companies with diverse, reliable business mixes and strong financial positions. These investments can help put your portfolio in better position to withstand increased market volatility in the short term, while giving you more opportunities to benefit from a longer-term recovery.

    Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

    These are challenging times. The key is to have some patience. As an investor with long-term goals, you might have experienced the initial market plunge, and then the subsequent rally, with various sentiments: shock, disbelief, elation and doubt.
    However, if you maintain a long-term perspective and have the patience and discipline to weather short-term disruptions, as painful as they may be, you can go a long way toward taking the emotions out of your investment decisions.
    Ultimately, what we’re going through now with the pandemic puts the economy and the investment environment in uncharted waters. And we may be in for a long climb back before things return to normal.
    But keep in mind that the U.S. economic engine remains powerful, flexible – and resilient. If you follow a strategy that’s appropriate for your needs and risk tolerance, and you adjust your portfolio as necessary, you can keep making progress toward all your important goals.    More

  • in

    UPS to offer buyouts to some employees

    A woman walks past the logo of United Parcel Service in Chicago, Illinois.
    Jim Young | Reuters

    United Parcel Service said on Thursday it was offering buyouts to some employees, as Chief Executive Carol Tomé aims to curb costs at the delivery firm.
    “Aligning our talent with the needs of our company and customers is critical to becoming a stronger, more agile UPS,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

    The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported workers would leave in two phases – by the end of 2020 and mid-2021.
    UPS said last week it would hire more than 100,000 workers for the winter holiday season, as delivery networks are taxed by pandemic-fueled online shopping. More

  • in

    Billionaires urged to combat world hunger by UN food chief: ‘Do the right thing’

    The head of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley attends a press conference about an updated aid appeal for South Sudan on May 15, 2017 at the United Nations Office in Geneva.
    FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

    The UN’s top food official has urged billionaires and businesses to help save 30 million people around the world who are at risk of dying from hunger this year without aid.
    UN World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley said on Thursday that the organization requires $4.9 billion to feed those at risk for one year.

    “Worldwide, there are over 2,000 billionaires with a net worth of $8 trillion. In my home country, the USA, there are 12 individuals alone worth $1 trillion,” Beasley told a UN Security Council panel on conflict-induced hunger.
    “In fact, reports state that three of them made billions upon billions during Covid. I am not opposed to people making money, but humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes.”
    As the world reeled from the coronavirus crisis, a number of CEOs saw their net worth rise amid a broad market rally, led by the tech sector. As of Friday, according to Forbes real-time data, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos remains the world’s richest person with a net worth of $177.9 billion. He was reported to have added $13 billion in a single day in July.

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
    Alex Wong | Getty Images

    In terms of net worth, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are worth $115.4 billion and $93.7 billion, respectively, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s net worth is estimated at $88.9 billion.
    Beasley highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic had compounded widespread food insecurity caused by years of conflict in Nigeria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen. This, combined with conflict and climate change, meant that “the 270 million people marching toward the brink of starvation need our help more than ever,” he said, dubbing 2021 a “make-or-break year.”

    The WFP is working with more than 50 governments to scale up their safety nets, in an attempt to help 138 million people and avert what Beasley termed a “hunger pandemic.”
    “We’re doing just about all we can do to stop the dam from bursting. But, without the resources we need, a wave of hunger and famine still threatens to sweep across the globe,” Beasley said. “And if it does, it will overwhelm nations and communities already weakened by years of conflict and instability.”

    Villagers collect food aid dropped from a plane in gunny bags from a plane onto a drop zone at a village in Ayod county, South Sudan, where World Food Programme (WFP) have just carried out an food drop of grain and supplementary aid on February 6, 2020.
    Tony Karumba | AFP | Getty Images

    He told the Security Council that the international community was “all out of excuses” for failing to act, but noted that “governments are strapped” and issued a plea for the private sector to up its efforts.
    “It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history. To show you truly love your neighbour,” Beasley said. “The world needs you right now and it’s time to do the right thing.”
    World leaders have committed to ending global hunger and malnutrition by 2030 as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Beasley commended the efforts of countries around the world to support their citizens during the pandemic, along with G-20 advanced economies and the IMF for suspending debt repayments for poorer countries. More

  • in

    World's largest medical glove maker sees strong growth ahead as pandemic sparks global surge in demand

    Staff work at the Top Glove factory research and development lab in Shah Alam on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on August 26, 2020.
    MOHD RASFAN | AFP via Getty Images

    SINGAPORE — Malaysia’s Top Glove, the world’s largest medical glove maker, sees “very strong” growth ahead, according to the company’s managing director, Lee Kim Meow.
    “We’re very optimistic of our future,” Lee told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.

    His comments came after Top Glove on Thursday reported that its fiscal 2020 post-tax profit spiked 417% from last year. The company said the “tremendous growth stemmed from a global surge in demand for gloves on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
    “2020 if you look at it, the effect only (kicked) in around the middle of this year,” said Lee.
    Looking ahead, he said the company expects at least 20% to 30% additional growth for next year and at least 15% to 20% for 2022.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed gloves and face masks to the forefront.

    Lee Kim Meow
    Managing Director, Top Glove

    Lee said the coronavirus pandemic has had a “rather profound” impact on glove manufacturers.
    “The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed gloves and face masks to the forefront,” he said.

    When asked about demand and possible effects of stockpiling, Lee said goods are sold out for their distributors and customers “even before the container has arrived in their warehouse.”
    “It’s not a case like they’re buying the gloves to stockpile, to get ready, and to keep two or three months stock,” Lee said. “In our conversations with many of our customers, they have told us that they have no stock at all at their warehouse and they’re still trying very desperately to get their hands on as many gloves as possible.”

    Hong Kong listing?

    Shares of Top Glove listed in Singapore and Malaysia have seen multi-fold gains so far in 2020, boosted by the record demand for medical gloves.

    Top Glove is also planning a third listing in Hong Kong within six to nine months, according to Reuters. The company’s managing director told CNBC a third listing would be a “very natural progression.”
    “We want to create a bigger platform whereby our investors will have more opportunities to invest in the Top Glove group and at the same time also it has to do with corporate image,” Lee said.
    “Essentially, we look at it as the possibility to raise funds to look at the strategic M&As and even the purchase of companies that play a very synergistic part in our bigger picture to grow from a glove manufacturer and to move into other strategic business,” he said. More