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Alibaba will buyback half of Yahoo stake for $7.1bn

The agreement paves the way for Alibaba to consider a share sale.


“US internet company Yahoo said it has reached a deal to sell part of its stake in China‘s biggest internet company Alibaba Group.

Alibaba will buy back half the 40% stake owned by Yahoo, following years of negotiations.

The deal will raise about $7.1bn (£4.5bn) for Yahoo, which has been losing ground to rival Google and Facebook in online advertising.

The agreement also allows Alibaba to consider an initial public offering.


Both companies revealed in a statement that Alibaba will pay Yahoo $6.3bn in cash and up to $800m in Alibaba preferred stock.

For Yahoo, the deal gives it the ability to pay dividends, make acquisitions, or buy back its own shares, something its stockholders have been asking for.


image of Juliana Liu Juliana Liu Hong Kong corespondent, BBC News

Alibaba gets a roadmap to independence. Yahoo gets to translate a fortuitously profitable investment into cash for its shareholders.

Importantly, Yahoo has the right to hold onto 10% of Alibaba shares until after a possible future listing.

The fine print seems to point to an initial public offering in 2015, although Alibaba is not committed to any specific time frame.

A listing would be one of the biggest technology offerings in the world.

That is because, among its many subsidiary units, it owns, where consumers sell to other consumers.

It has 370 million registered users, more than the entire population of the US.

Some reports say the value of goods sold on Taobao even exceeded eBay‘s back in 2010.

In addition to, Alibaba also owns, where 70,000 Chinese and international brands sell their products online.

“We look forward to delivering the proceeds of the near-term transaction to our shareholders,” said Timothy R Morse, chief financial officer at Yahoo.

Some analysts have said that most of Yahoo’s value is based on its Asian assets, and selling them will allow its core US operations to be valued by investors.

‘New chapter’

The agreement also allows the Chinese group to buy more of Yahoo’s remaining 20% stake, if Alibaba pushes ahead with a sale of its own shares on the stockmarkets, a move that many observers expect.

The deal is welcome news for Alibaba which has long been looking to buy back the part of its company owned by Yahoo. However, negotiations have suffered many setbacks.

“This transaction opens a new chapter in our relationship with Yahoo,” said Jack Ma, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, which runs the popular Chinese online market place Taobao.

He also said both companies would continue to work together, with Yahoo’s global audience being an attractive opportunity for Alibaba, as it seeks growth outside China.”

Source: BBC News

Malaysia seizes hundreds of cobras and turtles

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysian wildlife authorities have seized hundreds of cobras and turtles being smuggled out of the country in a shipment of papayas, headed for cooking pots in the region, an official said on Saturday.

Mr Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim, head of the wildlife and national parks department on Penang island told AFP authorities raided a container being driven into the state’s air cargo complex early on Thursday after hearing ‘hissing noises’.

‘The 4am raid at the cargo complex netted some 555 cobras and 171 turtles and according to the manifest, these animals, which were hidden among papayas from northern Kedah state, were being shipped to Hong Kong,’ he said.

‘If they had succeeded, the snakes and turtles would likely have gone to dining tables across the region,’ Jamalun added.

Source: The Straits Times

Businessman posts $1.5m bail but authorities hold onto $40m assets

A MILLIONAIRE businessman charged over a $63 million tax evasion and money laundering scheme has been allowed to return to his Gold Coast mansion after posting bail of $1.5 million. But more than $40 million in luxury assets, including houses, cars and yachts owned by Michael John Issakidis, 67, and an associate will remain in the hands of the authorities after being seized in raids last month. The Australian Federal Police and Australian Tax Office say the seven-month investigation into Mr Issakidis is the largest under Project Wickenby, the federal government’s pursuit of wealthy alleged tax evaders. Advertisement: Story continues below Prime real estate in Sydney and on the Gold Coast as well as several Rolls-Royces, a Lamborghini, an Aston Martin, a Mercedes-Benz and yachts have been seized under the new federal proceeds of crime laws, the AFP said. Mr Issakidis faced Central Local Court last week charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime of more than $1 million and conspiring to cause loss to the Tax Office. Magistrate Antony Townsden granted him bail on the condition he live at his Paradise Point home on a $1 million bail. Rhonda Laraine Issakidis and Nance Beverley Toope also agreed to each post $250,000 with the court. Earlier this year, Mr Issakidis sued ”Baby” John Burgess for $30,000 in unpaid rent the former TV host owed on his sub-penthouse in the Gold Coast’s Q1 building. Greek-born Mr Issakidis is the managing director of NeuMedix Health Group, a group of investment and health technology companies. His bail conditions prevent him from contacting NeuMedix’s co-founder and director Anthony James Dickson. NeuMedix is involved in a program at Griffith University‘s botanical medicine for population health, which is developing herbal medicine to treat dengue fever. Wickenby investigators allege from 2006 Mr Issakidis, through a complex unit trust structure, over-inflated the prices of Australian patents once they were transferred offshore and claimed corresponding depreciation expenses of $63 million. They further allege these funds were laundered through an account in Britain and accounts in Hong Kong before being transferred back into Australia. Mr Issakidis will reappear in the Downing Centre Local Court on August 7.

Courtesy: Sydney Morning Herald

Frequent-flying females

Hotels need to do much more than put skirt-hangers in closets to woo the female traveller. 

Hotels need to do much more than put skirt-hangers in closets to woo the female traveller.

On your next business trip, take a good look around the airport lounge and in the aircraft’s business class cabin. Chances are you’ll find around one passenger in three is a woman.

Take the same snap poll at your hotel of choice and the numbers should take similar shape.

So why does it sometimes seem that airlines and hotels are ignoring a third of their market?

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According to Roy Morgan Research, 35 per cent of Australia’s estimated 2.1 million domestic business travellers – people who’ve made at least one business trip by air within Australia in the last 12 months – are women.

Women also represent 31 percent of Australia’s half-million international business travellers.

A Cornell University report claims that while female businesspeople expect to be treated equally to men, their travel needs are not the same.

“Given the dramatic increase in women business travelers, addressing the needs of this market segment has become increasingly critical for hotels” says Judi Brownell, from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.

“Women are developing a clear and consistent message about the need to feel safe, comfortable, empowered, and pampered.”

Brownell says hotels need to do much more than put skirt-hangers in closets to woo the female traveller.

Up in the air

There are some interesting trends in gearing travel towards the female flyer.

Virgin Australia was one of the first airlines in the world to install a ‘Ladies Only’ bathroom in the business class cabin of on its Boeing 777s.

“The Ladies Only bathroom provides additional space and lighting and is valuable when wanting to present a fresh face on arrival after a long haul flight” explains Alison Chalmer, Virgin Australia’s General Manager of Product.

And while a handful of airlines are moving towards unisex inflight amenity kits, Virgin’s female amenity kits for international business class include make-up wipes and a hairbrush.

Another smart touch is the inclusion of a mirror for each seat in Cathay Pacific‘s new business class.

“The mirror is a little touch we added during passenger testing” says Alex McGowan, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Product.

“Ladies said that it would be nice if they could do a little touch-up, and men said that it would be nice if the ladies weren’t doing their makeup in the bathrooms!”

Hotels are also starting to think about female business travellers as more than a person who ticks the ‘Ms’ box on the checkin form.

The Pan Pacific at San Francisco offers female guests a discreet security escort from the lobby to their room.

Wyndham and Loews hotels have set aside ‘networking tables’ in hotel restaurants for solo women who prefer to dine with others rather than sit alone.

And in typically glam style, W Hotels’ ‘Wonder Woman’ packages include three lip glosses, a signature fragrance, black mascara, a silk eye mask and free cocktail.

The bloke-free hotel floor

Some hotels are even opening women-only floors from which all men – not just guests but male porters and room service staff – are barred.

“Women-only floors can be a good idea in cities where women may feel vulnerable when travelling alone” suggests Suzi Dafnis, Community Director of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network.

“If that choice was available to me, I’d probably take it” Dafnis says. “I don’t know any woman that would say no to a room with high-powered hair dryers, a good quality cosmetic mirror and lighting, beautiful bath salts or healthier options on the menu.

“London, Vancouver, Singapore and New York – four cities that where hotels have this feature – don’t strike me as cities where it’d be out of a sense of safety that women would choose to stay in a women-only floor.”

Dafnis also suggests that “Australian standards are also such that safety wouldn’t be the main motivator.”

A business travel survey by the UK’s Barclaycard indicated that only 24 per cent of female business travellers wanted women-only floors, with improved gyms being a higher priority.

That can also include in-room fitness gear for women who’d rather not visit the hotel gym.

Some Hilton and Marriott hotels let you borrow low-tech workout equipment such as mats and weights, while Westin’s dedicated Workout Rooms come with your choice of a treadmill or stationary bike plus extras such as dumb-bells, a yoga mat, Swiss ball, jump rope and even fitness DVDs.

Hong Kong’s Metropark hotel in Wanchai boasts a women-only ‘She’ floor where the rooms are decorated along female lines with ‘themes’ of flowers and ballet and Thann cosmetics.

But women-only floors have met with mixed results as well as mixed response.

In early 2011 Brisbane’s Portal Hotel decreed its fifth floor would be a ‘man-free zone’.

Each of the 11 rooms was stocked with fresh flowers and candles, female toiletries like a cleanser and face mask, hair straighteners and magazines such as Madison, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

There was even a ”Pamper Bar’: think of a mini bar stocked with organic beauty products instead of booze!

While the concept appears to have been well received by guests, the doors to the female-only floor were thrown open to men (and the raft of women’s touches scrapped) when the Portal was rebranded as part of the boutique Diamant chain.

Copenhagen’s Bella Sky Hotel, a conference hotel in the city’s Orestad district, faced legal action last year when a court ruling by the Danish Gender Equality Board decreed that its women-only floor was discriminatory and therefore illegal.

“We have 814 other rooms, and there are 20 reserved for women. That means there are 794 rooms for everyone” said hotel chief Anders Dueland, who has flouted the ruling and continues to keep the ‘Bella Dona’ floor as a haven solely for female guests who value the scented rooms with flowers, and bathrooms fitted with “spacious showers, lots of mirrors and large hair-dryers”.

“In Denmark, there are running races reserved for women, there are bicycle races reserved for women, there are pools where the changing rooms are just for women or just for men” Dueland argues. “There are toilets just for women. Is that discrimination?”

How good are airlines and hotels at catering for women business travellers? And are women-only floors really discrimination or a better way to cater specifically for their needs?

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

Twitter: @AusBT

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