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4 Ways to Modernize Your Business

In the digital age, operating a successful business increasingly requires a touch of modernity. The traditional business tactics and operational standards of the 20th century are rapidly being overshadowed by new technology and new methods of communications. In order to keep your business on top of its game, and keep up with the times, here are some essential goals for upgrading your business in the modern age.

  1. Cloud-Based Solutions

Everything business-related is transitioning to cloud computing. Whether you are operating multiple business locations or just working from home, keeping all of your business-related computing relegated to online servers gives you a leg up in both security and convenience. Working explicitly from local files makes your work far less portable, increasing the difficulty of long-distance collaboration and restricting your access to business-related data while on the road. Turning to cloud-based solutions provides you the ability to connect your business materials and all of your business associates at the push of a button. Plus, aside from the convenience of access, cloud services are increasingly incorporating built-in analytics services and machine learning capabilities to open the door to more capabilities for business owners to enhance and expand upon their current marketing strategies.

  1. Software Automation

In line with the ever-evolving capabilities of most modern cloud-based services, you should take advantage of MLOps strategies for implementing AI-based software automation to improve your overall productivity. Invest in programs that streamline your day-to-day tasks like automated scheduling assistants, time management analytics tools, and data management programs to track expenses, organize accounts payable, and automate invoicing.

The human element is essential to creativity and ingenuity; however, automation allows you to delegate repetitive data-oriented tasks to programs that can manage them with far more efficiency. This boosts your business’s overall flexibility by giving you and your employees more freedom to tackle any tasks that require a direct, human touch, like customer relations and marketing content.

  1. Messaging Apps and Social Media

Once upon a time, the postal service was the go-to means of communicating important information between multiple parties; then, email took its place as the king of communication. Now, social media and interoffice messaging systems give you the best advantage in establishing reliable lines of communication both within and without your business. Whether you need to notify your staff with important information, contact specific employees directly, or interact with the general public, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as messaging apps like Slack and Discord simplify and streamline communication. Where letters and emails created downtime and posed the risk of “lost” messages, these modern communications platforms reduce clutter and ensure instantaneous, direct interaction, improving both interoffice and remote interactions.

  1. Digital Marketing

Print marketing is rapidly becoming an outdated method of sharing product information with potential clients. In the digital age, your best option for marketing your goods and services is digital content. With online marketing tools, you are no longer limited to a specific quantity of marketing materials, so you can reach out to an unlimited number of existing and potential clients with the push of a button. Amidst digital graphics, video content, blogs, and direct contact via social media, the digital age offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities. More important, perhaps, than the specific digital “medium” used, is to take advantage of real-time marketing strategies. Marketers can now interact with customers immediately, rather than waiting for weeks or even months to compile useful feedback. Social media, for example, allows you to gather real-time data from customers to quickly make adjustments that will improve their experience on the go.

While the core principles of operating a successful business never change, the tools available do. Whenever you are modernizing your business, just keep in mind that as technology evolves so too should your business strategies to take full advantage of the tools currently available. Keep testing the waters with new techniques and technologies, and learn to incorporate the parts that are successful.

 

BY CHANTAL BECHERVAISE

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/daily-psychological-contract-diversity-2021-07-01/?open-article-id=16442745&article-title=4-ways-to-modernize-your-business&blog-domain=takeitpersonelly.com&blog-title=take-it-personel-ly

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Training and Onboarding for the New Remote Work Landscape

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has officially become the new normal. More and more people are working from home, making virtual training and onboarding a growing priority for human resource professionals.

Prior to COVID, HR mainly utilized in-person methods to guide new employees through orientation, company goal sets and team expectations. However, Forbes reported that up to 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard after the pandemic. Employees hope to keep the flexibility of remote and hybrid work, so it’s important that employers learn how to meet the digital expectations of the future work landscape.

In fact, as most organizations transitioned to remote work this past year, employees also reported considering or planning a move farther away from their current jobs, according to a separate Forbes article. Employees who were laid off were more likely to report planning a move, as well, which would influence how they applied to future job opportunities.

Returning to fully onsite work will prove difficult for most new employees, so HR must build creative and efficient ways to replicate the training and onboarding process for the remote work landscape. Here are some best practices your company can follow to improve your new employee’s virtual experience:

Provide timely technology and support

To ensure that new hires start off with their best foot forward, organizations must consider what technological requirements need to be addressed for each position. If the employee needs a corporate laptop or cellphone to do their job, reach out and schedule shipping so that they arrive before the employee’s start date.

Once your employee has the proper technology to start their role, HR should coordinate with IT to verify that setup and configuring the new tech is digitally streamlined. Check in with your IT department beforehand to guarantee they don’t become overwhelmed as remote work continues. Ask how the company can automate additional processes to ease the extra workload. Some examples of computer setup automation are interactive platforms that guide new users through setup or step-by-step instructions (written or video) that can be generally distributed online.

Clear communication between HR, new hires and IT is essential to digital onboarding. Don’t be afraid to ask new hires what tools they require to be successful in their new positions and how previously in-person IT tasks can be digitally streamlined. New employees will still need personalized assistance, but automating certain steps in the process is a necessary first step for remote onboarding.

Replicate the remote training process virtually

A great way to build your new HR guidelines for remote work is to use the foundation of previously tried and true methods. If you have set practices for training new hires onsite, go through them and determine how your company can transition each of these steps to online.

Schedule the first day of virtual orientation as similarly to pre-pandemic guidelines as possible, advised the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This means creating a full-day, interactive schedule for new hires that include team and colleague introductions via video conferencing. By now, employees have become all-too-familiar with the importance of video meetings, so just be sure to include what platform expectations (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) are during onboarding.

Once the first day is scheduled, consider how best to guide new hires through their first week, as well. For example, are there any larger company meetings that could demonstrate how your employer operates overall? New questions may arise as employees find their footing in the new digital landscape, so advise managers to schedule daily and/or weekly check-ins in advance. This way remote workers can be certain that they have opportunities to touch base with you.

As your digital onboarding and training schedule is determined, don’t forget to include breaks for your new hires. Employees should feel guided throughout their first day and week at your company, but it’s also important to give them time to go over new materials and properly retain each piece of new information.

Digitize important onboarding materials

Manual paperwork is a time-consuming and stressful part of human resource management. However, a newfound benefit to remote work during the pandemic has been the implementation of virtual onboarding and training materials that can be accessed at any time by new hires and managers from home alike.

By transitioning document signing, company policies, rule books and training materials to digital copies, employers can streamline the onboarding process for both HR and new hires. For example, sharing and filing tax documents, contracts and payroll information can be as easy as sending a link or signing into your company’s preferred platform. Within your company’s online platform or website, HR should also include an FAQ page for more information and a contact page for additional questions.

This cuts back on labor costs as HR and new hires can spend more time engaging with each other and their teams. For some roles, you can also implement onboarding tools that include training videos and/or learning modules that cover specific role needs.

Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to onboard and train new hires in the virtual workplace is a high priority for all companies moving forward. HR teams that successfully transition to online onboarding and training will be able to not only improve efficiency, but also overall job satisfaction and employee engagement.

According to SHRM, overall HR recruiting budgets have decreased this past year due to the pandemic. Employee retention is crucial for companies to be successful in the current remote work landscape. By investing in new hire digital onboarding and training, your team will vastly improve the remote experience for all of your employees — not just new hires.

The best course of action for HR professionals is to mirror the in-person onboarding experience for remote workers as best as possible. The more interactive the schedule is for your employees, the more likely they will have a positive and lasting experience with your company.

 

By PeopleStrategy Staff

Source: https://www.peoplestrategy.com/training-onboarding-new-remote-work/

 

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TIPS FOR A COST EFFECTIVE LIFE ABROAD

If you’re looking to move abroad, but you don’t have the budget, don’t panic. Some countries do offer the possibility of enjoying an excellent quality of life along with a low cost of living. So here are some tips for living overseas for cheap from Jerry Nelson, a US expat blogger living in Argentina.

My housekeeper has her own chauffeur. Really. He brings her by the condo once a week and lingers in the automobile while she spends several hours tidying up the mayhem, which has taken me a week to create.

I’ve offered and encouraged her driver to come inside and join me on the mezzanine for matè (a traditional South American infusion), but he chooses to wait in the car.

Regardless of his reason for ‘social distancing’, when was the last time you heard, in America, of a maid having her own driver? My hunch is you never have.

Having a housekeeper who has her own chauffeur isn’t a sign of my being rich. It’s a gauge of life which is available once the twisted chains to America are separated.

The prices are decent. More than reasonable, really.

A gallon of milk? $1. A litre of soda? Eighty-cents. How about a breakfast of four empanadas, coffee and a medialuna (croissant)? $2.58.

A nice steak dinner is lomo — the Argentine version of ribeye — baked potato, salad and dessert—$ 7.75.

What about travel costs? A person can fly from Buenos Aires to Washington DC for less time and money than it takes someone to journey from Washington DC to Los Angeles to see their parents and crazy Uncle Henry.

Travel overseas enough, and you’ll see something in the Americans you meet. Most of the people I know in the states are handcuffed to repetitive tasks, uncertain relationships or uneducated about the world beyond the horizon.

The expats I’ve met have visited almost 150 nations and rarely show evidence of boredom, worry, or regret. Almost all seem to be the personification of what an Australian man told to be on a dirt road in the Outback. “Don’t spend time, enjoy it!”

Americans’ poverty line stands just a tad over $12,000 a year — for a single adult with no kids. $12K won’t get you far in Oakland, but it will get you a full year of awe in one of these three nations. In each of these $1,000 a month covers housing, food, and access to exploits which Americans can hardly imagine.

Bolivia
Everything is super-cheap in South America’s least-visited country. A room in a five-star hotel runs $5 a night, and they will let you take a (leashed) alpaca for a ramble at no cost.

Landlocked behind Peru and Chile, Bolivia is an even greater bargain than backpacking sanctuaries like Cambodia.

Bolivia has the largest Native American culture in South America, and they practically created the frugal experience such as Cholita. In Cholita wrestling, the Bolivian counterpart to America’s WWE, women battle it out for your entertainment. The cost to watch a match is about five-cents.

Bolivian natives never look to be in a rush. They manage to maintain links to their 3,000-year-old ancestors. In the past 185 years, they’ve had almost 200 heads of state. They’re not in a big hurry to put the past behind them.

Mountain biking on the treacherous road leading from Coroico to La Paz is a blur of microclimates which tosses mud in your face. Given the nickname, “death road,” the highway was dug into the side of a mountain in the 1930s and connects the Amazonian rainforest to La Paz.

Georgia
No. Not Atlanta. The former Soviet republic which gives ‘cheap’ a new meaning. Tbilisi, the capital, overflows with cafes and wine bars. A nice bottle goes for $5 and a hotel room for $8 at Fabrika, a former Soviet-era garment factory since converted into a dazzling hotel and community centre.

Most expats shell out $150 a month for a nice apartment. But don’t talk politics. It’s better to debate white versus red in the wine-crazed nation.

Grenada
This West Indies paradise has plenty of exotic beaches to nice places to relax. Welcome to the Caribbean. Going local means navigating retirement in style and luxury. Get into the national dish made with coconut milk oil residue and enjoy the one-pot stew of breadfruit, callaloo, okra, cabbage, fish, dumplings, turmeric — and anything else on hand.

A traffic circle near Grand Anse Beach bounds an outdoor marketplace named “Wall Street” with banks on opposite ends. The circle attracts locals busy buying open-air-grilled meat and fish for beverages sold directly from blue and red ice chests in pickup beds.

Late at night, cars blare music and parties. The distant calypso music fills the barbecued night air and therein lies your cue to follow the music of steel drums. To see it all and do everything, plan on spending about $20.

The takeaway
From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, each James Bond has lived, worked and played in the world’s top-shelf vacation spots. Part of the reason is no one wants to believe that a world-class spy would work anywhere other than world-class regions. James Bond in Cheboygan doesn’t have the same flair.

But I believe that Bond couldn’t afford to live his lifestyle in America, so he goes overseas where life is cheaper and living well is less expensive.

source:Expat.com

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5 TIPS TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE A REMOTE WORKFORCE


5 tips to effectively manage a remote workforce
People around the world are getting a crash course in managing a remote workforce due to the novel coronavirus and you can expect some growing pains ahead.

But like any crisis there are opportunities and new ways of doing things that will emerge. If anything the novel coronavirus may have simply accelerated trends in the workplace that were already happening.

Here are 5 tips to manage a remote workforce effectively

FLEXIBILITY IS YOUR NEW COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
A remote workforce buys you a lot of flexibility. The downside for remote workers is that the day may never seem to end if they don’t follow healthy work habits. The upside is your teams can scale up based on workflow not a schedule that’s dictated by commutes and operating hours. You can use this flexibility to win in the field vs. less nimble competitors.

COMMUNICATE WELL AND OFTEN
The knock on remote work is that you don’t get those chats over coffee and cohesive culture. To replicate that you need to make sure you’re visible on Slack, have an open door (messaging) strategy and make use of video conferencing. This communication theme is easier said than done but it needs to be emphasized. Open office hours via video conferencing may be worth a try so your remote team can get adjusted. Also keep in mind that you’re never going to be able to communicate enough so aim for continuous improvement.

USE VOICE, VIDEO AND THEN WRITTEN FOLLOW-UPS
Face-to-face meetings should usually have a written follow-up so there’s a record and less confusion. With a remote team, this best practice is even more important. You have to work harder to make sure people are on the same page.

USE ALL THE TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL BUT REMEMBER QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
Most enterprises have a handful of video conferencing tools, team management platforms and chat apps. Pick the ones that work and go with them. YAT (yet another tool) is a curse for remote workforces. It is best to use the collaboration tools that folks are using already. Collaboration doesn’t have to be fancy.

THINK AHEAD – HOW THIS EXPERIENCE WILL CHANGE YOUR WORK PRACTICES IN THE FUTURE
After some growing pains, it’s likely that you’ll find your team happier and more productive. Pay attention and think through how the future of work for your team needs to evolve. Enterprises are likely to use this novel coronavirus crisis as a big A/B test for expenses ranging from sales and marketing to travel to commercial real estate holdings. The old way of doing things may not make sense in the future.

Source:expat.com

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The Key To A Stress Free Life As An Expat

Jerry Nelson is an American expat writing his way through life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This week, he tells us a little about the challenges he has faced as an expat and how he has dealt with them. Transport, shopping, language… Argentinian punctuality (or lack thereof!). Here are his keys to living a stress-free expat life!

My editor gave me a challenge. Write a piece about the 5 greatest challenges I’ve faced as an Expat in Argentina.

Simple enough assignment, right? Then why did it take me 4 days, 3 rewrites, and multiple cups of coffee to come up with a post with which I was happy?

Easy. There is a key to leading a stress-free life as an Expat — anywhere. A person doesn’t even need to be an Expat. The solution works even on the Crosstown Express when it’s crowded and running late.

The rebuttal to stress, anxiety and frayed nerves works in every aspect of life, but in keeping with the assignment, let’s look at 3 areas:

Transportation,
Shopping, and
Language
Transportation
Just how do you get from here to there? A bicycle is always an option, but only for relatively short distances. In Buenos Aires, where traffic lights and white lines are only a suggestion, bike riding can be a contact sport making it hazardous.

Not speaking the language makes taking public transportation challenging. If you can’t read the signs, it’s hard to tell exactly where to get off. Maps are available and the ones here are written well and in such a way that figuring out what bus line to take is made easier.

For me, taxis are the easiest solution anytime I leave the barrio. I just have to make sure to write the address down before I leave home. The cab drivers can read my writing, but they can’t understand my ‘foreign’ dialect.

There are shortcuts though, it just took a while to figure them all out.

The subway is my favorite though. The ‘subte’ can only go two directions — back and forth. The choices are easy and with a light-encoded map which displays the next stop, everything is a piece of cake.

But when you get off the subway at the destination, it’s back to trying to figure out which way to turn next.

Shopping
Life in Buenos Aires in 2020 is kind of like living in the 1960s Brooklyn. Everything is a specialty store and there isn’t a ‘big box’ store near.

If you want meat, go to the butcher. Looking for fresh bread? The baker is just around the corner. Looking for men’s shoes? The men’s shoe store has a wonderful selection, but if you want a pair of women’s shoes as a gift, the lady’s shoe store is around the corner. No challenge here.

Language
I still don’t speak Spanish. I know enough words to be able to ask where the bathroom is, but not enough to find the ketchup in the “mercado”.. Yes, there are limits to this manner, but between polishing my pantomime skills and blending them with the few words I know, I can get by.

But even pantomime only goes so far and it can get embarrassing to pantomime “where’s the bathroom”, especially if it’s an emergency.

But still, Argentines are friendly and understand and appreciate even the smallest, weakest attempt to learn the language.

Homesick
When it’s time to start missing the home country, 2020 is the best year to do it. Between relatively inexpensive long distance, Skype, Zoom and tk, it’s easy to stay in touch with the folks ‘back home’.

Weekly phone calls to talk with parents or children are cheap and most kioskas, or small convenience store type outlets sell compatible SIM cards.

Don’t expect magazine subscriptions from home to make it through customs on a regular basis. The men and women in the dark blue sports jackets grab those as soon as the periodicals hit the city.

Give up the need to control
Stress and anxiety in addition to frustration and anger tend to stem from unresolved control issues. Someone, or something, doesn’t behave the way you want. The result is more frustration, stress and anxiety.

As a 30+ year member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a line from the Serenity Prayer sums it up for me. “Accept the things I cannot change…”.

The short version? Screw it.

If you can’t change it, screw it. The world doesn’t march to the beat of my drum. No amount of foot-stomping will change that.

Need to… ? Mañana
Okay. Maybe there is this one thing that it is difficult to deal with!

“mañana”. It seems to be Argentina’s answer to everything.

Need the WIFI connection fixed? mañana.

Need tickets to America? mañana.

The laid back atmosphere of Latin America helps to make sure that nothing gets done on time. But that may be a good thing.

Unlike America, where everything is ‘rush and do it now,’ Latin America has not angered every single decent country on the planet.

Close kin
A close cousin of “Mañana”, is punctuality. There is none. Anywhere.

Invited to a party at a friend’s house to begin at 8pm? Don’t even bother showing up before 9:15. If you do, you’ll be the only guest there and will need entertain yourself, in the living room, looking for something to do.

Either that or ask your host if you can help. And then ask every ten minutes because it’s better to be a nuisance than a lump sitting on the love seat, taking up space, until the party starts — maybe mañana.

Shopping? Ignore the hours posted on the door. If the sign says the store will open at 9am, that’s not for you. That’s for the employees. The workers are expected to be there at nine and begin preparing for that day’s work. Basically, you won’t get in until 9:45. Deal with it and welcome to Argentina Time.

Source : expat.com

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Inflation dog may finally bark, investors bet

LONDON (Reuters) – Gold, forests, property stocks, inflation-linked bonds – these are just some of the assets investors are pouring money into on the view that the recent explosion of government spending and central bank stimulus may finally rouse inflation from its decade-long slumber.

With the world economy forecast to shrink 6% this year, it may seem like a strange time to fret about inflation.

And sure enough, market-based gauges suggest an uptrend in prices may not trouble investors for years. U.S. and euro zone inflation gauges indicate that annual price growth will be running at barely over 1% even a decade from now.

So if inflation really is, as the IMF put it in 2013, “the dog that didn’t bark”, failing to respond to all the central bank money-printing unleashed in the wake of the 2008-9 crisis, why should investors prepare for it now, especially as demographics and technology are also conspiring to tamp down inflation across the developed world?

The answer is that some think the dog really will bark this time, partly because – unlike in the post-2008 years – governments around the world have also been rolling out massive spending packages, in a bid to limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will be pushing, pushing, pushing on the string and dropping our guard, then 3-5 years from now…that’s when the (inflation) dog will start barking,” said PineBridge Investments’ head of multi-asset Mike Kelly, who has been buying gold on that view.

“Gold worries about such things long in advance. It has risen through this coronavirus with that down-the-road-risk top of mind,” he added.

Even typically frugal governments such as Germany have joined central banks with trillions of dollars in stimulus programmes. Investors say even the long taboo topic of debt monetisation, where central banks directly fund government spending, may be on the cards.

“What worries me is that at the moment it seems that there is no limit to fiscal stimulus,” said Klaus Kaldemorgen, a portfolio manager at asset manager DWS, who said he was investing in inflation hedges far more now than he was after 2008.

Inflation hawks also cite a trend of de-globalisation, where shrinking international trade and Western companies bringing production back to their own countries leads to higher prices.

This view that inflation could pick up ahead is reflected in forward swaps and in Citi’s inflation surprise indexes, which show that the extent that U.S. inflation readings

WHAT TO BUY?
Investors have an interest in pricing future inflation correctly to safeguard their returns, hence the need for hedges, assets that increase in value or at least hold it when price growth accelerates.

They appear primarily to favor U.S. inflation-linked bonds and gold. Wealth managers canvassed by Reuters have been channelling up to 10% of clients’ portfolios into the yellow metal via index funds, gold shares and even bullion.

But if gold prices have risen 18% since the end of March XAU=, some other hedges remain cheap.

U.S. 10-year inflation-linked bonds – known as TIPS – show “break-evens”, or the anticipated rate of inflation in a decade, around just 1.2%.

Also known as linkers, the face value and interest payments on these securities rise with inflation.

But despite the stimulus boom, “the inflation levels that are priced in are much lower than what was priced in at the end of last year,” said Teun Draaisma, a portfolio manager at Man Group, who has invested in inflation-linked assets.

So inflation might be some years away, but banks are advising clients to pick up cheap hedges. Morgan Stanley suggests U.S. 30-year linkers, while Natwest advises buying 30-year UK linkers and 10-year euro zone inflation swaps.

“These hedges in many cases look extraordinarily cheap, so why not buy them now? We could wait, then things could start to move away from us,” said Colin Harte, multi-asset portfolio manager at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

Indeed, the S&P 10-year U.S. TIPS Index is already up 12% from March levels .SPBDU1ST.

“It won’t be a couple of years from now until (inflationary factors) start to come through, so that’s why we keep (long-dated U.S. linkers),” said Chris Jeffery at Legal & General’s asset allocation team.

Harte at BNP said his main hedge is gold but he has also invested in a broader commodity basket which includes natural gas, copper and oil.

WOOD AND FORESTS
And it’s not just about gold or linkers: another choice is real estate. Kaldemorgen of DWS is buying German residential property stocks, betting that the supply of new property will rise slower than the money supply.

Global house prices, adjusted for inflation, rose 14% in 2009-2019, according to the IMF.

Legal & General’s Jeffery accelerated investments in agricultural land and forestry earlier this year in expectation they will retain their real value over the five- to 10-year horizon. His holdings are via publicly listed shares of companies heavily exposed to such land.

Timber prices rose over 130% in real terms in Great Britain over the past decade, Forest Research data shows, while the value of U.S. farmland rose 28% in the decade to 2019, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Kelly of PineBridge also favours timberland, purchased through private funds. While predicting that linkers will remain cheap for the next few years, he expects timber to benefit sooner if rock-bottom mortgages entice more first-time home buyers and fuel a construction boom.

Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli, additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; editing by Sujata Rao and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Exclusive: Chesapeake Energy to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week

Exclusive: Chesapeake Energy to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week – sources
David French, Mike Spector

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.N) is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, said three people familiar with the matter, becoming the largest oil and gas producer to unravel after an energy market rout caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation’s 50 acre campus is seen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, April 17, 2012. From a single 6,000-square-foot building in 1989, the multi-building complex today contains almost one million square feet of office space and includes employee perks like on-site Botox treatments at the headquarters. Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon is one of the most successful energy entrepreneurs of recent decades. But he hasn’t always proved popular with shareholders of the company he co-founded, the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States. Now, a series of previously undisclosed loans to McClendon could once again put Chesapeake’s CEO and shareholders at odds.

The Oklahoma City-based company, co-founded by the late wildcatter Aubrey McClendon, is in the final stages of negotiating a roughly $900 million debtor-in-possession loan to support its operations while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection, two of the sources said.

The company is also in talks with creditors to “roll up” some of its existing debt and make it part of the bankruptcy loan, bringing the total debtor-in-possession financing closer to $2 billion, the sources added. The company is reeling under a mountain of debt totaling more than $9 billion.

Chesapeake is also attempting to negotiate an equity infusion from creditors to help it emerge from bankruptcy proceedings, one of the sources said.

Chesapeake plans to complete its negotiations with its creditors and file for bankruptcy as soon as Thursday, the three sources said. The timing could slip to next week depending on the progress the company makes in these discussions, the sources added.

If the company manages to emerge from bankruptcy, creditors that include Franklin Resources Inc (BEN.N), will take over Chesapeake in exchange for eliminating more than $7 billion of its debt under the outlines of a plan being negotiated, one of the sources said. Franklin is among Chesapeake’s most significant creditors, holding large portions of its debt.

The sources requested anonymity because the bankruptcy preparations are confidential. Chesapeake and Franklin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chesapeake, which employed about 2,300 people as of the end of last year, skipped an interest payment on debt due on Monday, two of the sources said. Another obligation looms on July 1.

In May, the company warned it might seek bankruptcy protection, and added that there was substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. Reuters in April reported Chesapeake was preparing a potential bankruptcy filing.

Chesapeake helped pioneer the extraction of oil and gas reserves from shale rock formations, an environmentally controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

McClendon and Oklahoma businessman Tom Ward founded Chesapeake with a small investment in 1989. McClendon became the company’s chairman and chief executive. The company was named for his love of the Chesapeake Bay region around Maryland and Virginia.

Over time, the company snapped up land across the United States and became a dominant player in fracking, with McClendon believing that natural gas could eventually supplant oil and coal for energy needs. By 2005, Chesapeake was the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer behind only Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N).

McClendon helped create tens of thousands of jobs for the Oklahoma City area and became a well-known community philanthropist while running Chesapeake. He was a part owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder professional basketball team, which he helped bring to town. The team still plays in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

A natural gas glut reversed Chesapeake’s fortunes, and prices fell over the past decade. McClendon relinquished his chairmanship and stepped down as chief executive in 2013, as investigations swirled into possible antitrust violations and whether he blurred lines between his personal dealings and those of the company.

A federal indictment in March 2016 charged McClendon with conspiring to suppress land prices by rigging bids for leases while he led Chesapeake. At the time, he disputed the charge and vowed to prove his innocence.

McClendon died in a single-car crash the following day, which a state medical examiner later determined to be an accident.

Chesapeake last year started reworking its balance sheet and pushed out some debt maturities while attempting to pivot away from gas toward a greater emphasis on oil production.

But the coronavirus outbreak, which resulted in a sharp travel downturn, and a Saudi-Russian oil price war upended the company’s plans.

Reporting by David French and Mike Spector; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Credit Suisse CEO sees business ‘going in right direction’

Credit Suisse CEO sees business ‘going in right direction’

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at a branch office in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
ZURICH (Reuters) – Business conditions are improving after a tough start to the year, Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein said in a presentation released on Wednesday.

“Those early indications that we have seen now in the last couple of weeks have been actually quite promising and going in the right direction. We clearly had a lot of stress in the system in the second half of March but things really calmed down in April and they continue to be quite robust in May and June,” he said in an audiocast for a Goldman Sachs conference.

“So far, so good. Clearly we expect very bad economic data for Europe and the U.S. for Q2 but overall actually if I speak to my colleagues on the corporate banking side in Switzerland, to my colleagues in investment banking, we actually see high engagement with our clients and that makes me actually feel quite optimistic in the circumstances.”

Increased activity within its private banking business was more than compensating for a reduction in recurring revenues caused by a drop in the level of managed assets, Gottstein said, adding asset levels were now also recovering.

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank was also seeing a “very high degree” of appetite from its corporate customers to refinance themselves either through equity or debt, Chief Financial Officer David Mathers said, adding capital markets activity was picking up across the market.

Gottstein reiterated the bank’s mid-term return on tangible equity target, repeating comments made in April that for 2020, the bank could not commit to its 10% target due to ongoing uncertainty.

The bank still expects to pay the second half of its 2019 dividend in the fourth quarter, and would consider resuming a share buyback suspended during the coronavirus pandemic after seeing the financial results of the second and third quarters, he said, noting decisions on both were still pending.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt, Editing by Michael Shields

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Absa Group concludes agreement with MIGA to bolster financing

Absa Group Ltd., one of the largest diversified financial service providers in Africa, has concluded an agreement with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) – a member of the World Bank Group, helping Absa expand financing across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of the agreement, MIGA will issue guarantees of US$497million to Absa. The guarantees are valid for as long as 15 years and apply to Absa’s subsidiaries in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia.

The guarantees will help to protect Absa against risks related to the mandatory capital reserves that Absa and other banks are required to hold with central banks. They will free-up financial capacity, enabling Absa’s subsidiaries to provide additional lending and generate more revenue. The subsidiaries will increase sustainable financing for corporates and small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as projects with co-climate benefits.

“We are pleased to work with MIGA. Their guarantees allow us to provide additional financing in our subsidiaries in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia,” said Jason Quinn, Absa Group Financial Director.

Absa is the first African banking group to enter into this type of guarantee transaction with MIGA.

SOURCE: thebftonline.com

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Ghana signs deals worth GH¢2.35 billion at ongoing UK-Africa Investment Summit

The government of Ghana has signed commercial deals with UK firms worth more than GH¢2.35 billion for some five projects including an upgrade of the Kumasi Teaching Hospital in the Ashanti Region.

The deals, which were signed on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, according to the UK’s Department for International Development and Department for International Trade, are estimated at £326.8 million, which translates to about GH¢2.35 billion using the prevailing BoG exchange rate.

The breakdown of the projects given by the UK’s Department for International Development and Department for International Trade is as follows:

Africa win £26m export contract to supply solar-powered water filtration systems
BHM £80.3m work on the Tema-Aflao Road Project
Contracta Construction UK wins £120.5m export contract to upgrade Kumasi teaching hospital
Contracta Construction UK wins £40m export contract to develop Kumasi Airport
Tyllium and Ellipse win an export contract worth £60m to provide 250 new beds for a general hospital in Koforidua
The five deals are part of some 27 commercial deals signed with African entities on the opening day of the UK-Africa Investment Summit taking place in London.

The UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted by the Prime Minister, brings together 21 African countries with UK and African companies.

This is the first time governments and businesses from the UK and Africa have come together for an event of this scale.

“The commercial deals are expected to drive jobs and growth in all parts of the UK and in Africa, benefiting a range of British companies from family firms to major multinationals. All new investments will reflect the Prime Minister’s commitment to building long-term, sustainable relationships in Africa underpinned by our values and high standards,” a press statement issued by the UK High Commission said.

Source: citinewsroom.com