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28 March 2017 | Issue 9
Market corner

by Ghillie Little, Head of Corporate Consulting
ghillie@sbc.london
Outperformer
Hurricane hits oil
The ‘largest undeveloped oil discovery’ in UK waters is a monster find for Hurricane Energy and for the UK, which is counting on further exploration to breathe new life into the oil and gas industry. Testing still needs to take place, but it is anticipated that this discovery on the UK continental shelf will aid efforts to attract major international investment. 

Neutral
Grab backed by Softbank

Grab, the Singapore-based ride-hailing service popular in Southeast Asia, plans to raise more than $1.5 billion in a new round backed by SoftBank who is pledging about $1 billion, according to unnamed sources. Grab closed on $750 million last year in another Softbank-led round.

It’s unclear whether the money is coming from the Japanese company itself or from its London-based SoftBank Vision Fund. With everything going on at Uber this is an opportune time for someone else to step into the ride-hailing mix, and the Asian market is a good place to start.


Underperformer
Trump optimism on the wane
Following the healthcare bill fail, optimism over the Trump administration’s effectiveness is waning ahead of proposed tax cuts. Trump thrilled many with his tax plan, but now investors are wondering whether the administration will ever be able to get anything done. To put further salt on the Trump wound, the Dow is suffering from a nine-day decline and is at risk of its longest losing streak since 1978. Trump rally - officially in retreat.

FinTerest
Will Snap get invited to the Index party?

Index providers are weighing the merit of including Snap in indices after several investors raised concerns over the lack of shareholder rights. Snap has put a spotlight on the issues surrounding limited voting rights and shows that passive fund managers have their limits too.

This comes in addition to another Facebook copycat. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”…or at least that’s what our mothers told us.

SPIT poll -  vote now!

Regarding the triggering of Article 50 and the next two years, which best describes how you feel?
 Professionally positive, personally happy
 Professionally negative, personally sad
 Professionally negative, personally happy
 Professionally positive, personally sad

Sh*t headline


"Coca-Cola calls in police after human waste is found in cans"

...bottoms up!

Reputation

Ablaze with energy
The UK-based company Lightsource Renewable Energy has commissioned the largest solar energy development ever to take place in Northern Ireland. The solar energy company is looking to generate enough clean energy for the Northern Irish grid to power over 11,000 homes. Energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming increasingly critical worldwide issues, with unprecedented urban growth on the horizon threatening to make everyday life a bit close for comfort.
 
As we know, over the next 15 years, and in coordination with other countries, the UK government is working towards moving energy sources away from fossil fuels to low carbon solutions; tidal, hydro, electric and wind, in addition to nuclear. In a post-Brexit environment, Lightsource’s commission is big a step towards more secure and sustainable energy supplies in the UK. This is definitely something we can get onboard with and, for the reputation of UK PLC, can only be a positive.

London trumps New York

According to the latest bi-annual index by respected “think-do” tank Z/Yen, whether or not plagued with the cloud of Brexit-uncertainty, London once again beats NYC to hold the title of the world's top financial centre – followed by the usual suspects, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo who have narrowed the gap this year.

This reaffirms that London is like no other city. In the words of its Deputy Mayor, London provides a "unique environment for business success".

The index announcement was opportunely timed with the vote of confidence received from Qatar on Monday, who pledged £5 billion of investment into several UK sectors over the next three to five years. And just today, a new business and tourism partnership between London and Paris. All signs point to one simple fact: London is indeed still open for business!

A leggy drama

Wearing leggings on a plane in and of itself is not a big deal. Frankly, it’s probably the attire of choice for most who like to travel in comfort. That said, if you are using the free passes for employees or family members, it isn’t asking a lot for those individuals to abide by the given dress code.

The policy is not sexist in the slightest. Just because a higher number of women happen to wear leggings and are therefore the most affected does not denote a sexist policy. United’s only mistake was its inability to react quickly and effectively to the tweets to explain its policy. As we have seen countless times, social media is a powerful thing - timely and to the point responses are vital to contain a potential PR nightmare.

Heroes of the week


No one individual this week. Our heroes are all those who, when tragedy struck in Westminster, ran towards the danger to help others. Who put their own safety at risk in the service of others. From the doctors on the bridge, Tobias Elwood MP to many others - we salute you.

Corridors of power


by Louis Rynsard
Director, Reputation & Strategy, SBC London
louis@sbc.london
A word on a good man
So much has been already said on last week’s Westminster attack. But, I would just like to say a few personal lines about the man who paid the ultimate price to defend our democracy: PC Keith Palmer.
 
The untold story of Westminster is how it really is a community, it is a place where the PM holds doors open for a new intern, where cleaners joke with MPs, where political staff, service staff, police and many others share drinks, friendships and the highs and lows of life. Keith Palmer gave his life defending that community (which away from the cameras is close-knit across all divides).
 
Keith was a Westminster institution in his own right, the star of many a tourist photo and a constant smiling welcome at the gate. When I worked in Parliament, I knew him as the one that was there when the day began and was still there often late at night, always seeing us off with a cheery “goodnight.” While many knew him better - his family, close friends, old army comrades like James Cleverly MP - to me, Keith was a good man, a kind man, the really nice bloke who let me order a pizza and bring it through Parliament’s Carriage Gates. People always say nice things in scenarios like this, but in Keith’s case he really did stand out as a good’un. He will be sorely missed by so many, and should never be forgotten.
 
After last week’s horrors, Westminster and London are back to the day-to-day and, as the PM said, “We will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror.”

And we all owe one man a debt, which can never be repaid. RIP Keith.
 
"People don't know a darn thing" - Nick Thompson, Wired Editor
Another day, another politician getting technology wrong, shock horror! On Sunday it was Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaking about the “necessary hashtags”, yesterday and today it is the turn of the US Congress to “debate”, in a somewhat cursory fashion, internet privacy, and break along party lines, not, as they should be, along the complex differing views on privacy.
 
What both these stories illustrate is the simple fact that politicians, in the main, do not understand technology and, honestly, are we surprised? And should we really expect them to? Technology and the issues around it are increasingly complex and affecting every area of people’s lives. More and more politicians will need to get involved, but we really can’t expect them to be experts in fast-moving tech.
 
It really is time for the tech industry globally to speak to the politicians and start shaping their thinking. They really need the help, guys!
 
EUere today, UK gone tomorrow...oh my!
Well the day is nearly upon us. Tomorrow Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (though who knows how much longer that title will exist), will formally kick off the two-year process of Brexit, by initiating Article 50. Whatever you think about Brexit, tomorrow will be one of the most momentous days in modern British history, on par with 1st January 1973 when the UK joined the EEC.
 
The question now for the next two years is what kind of deal will the UK get? These details will begin to become apparent in the next few weeks when Donald Tusk replies on behalf of the EU. However, with elections in France and Germany this year, and any deal needing approval of the European Parliament and EU Council the details of the EU negotiating position and of the final deal are anything but clear at this stage.
 
For business leaders, this necessitates a strategic plan that is capable of taking into account every known variable, with enough flexibility built in for the unknown unknowns. Sounds like a job that a business-minded, reputation and strategy consultancy, which also has best day-to-day media management in the game can help with…

Who's having a rough week?


'Burglar' caught after getting trousers stuck on school fence 'while trying to escape'.

...another reason why baggy trousers are ill-advised. 
Silicon passage

by Nicholas Brown
Head of Client Media Relations, SBC London
nicholas@sbc.london
Amazon GO is getting kinky
Delays Opening of ‘Cashierless’ Store
Technical difficulties are marring the public fanfare behind Amazon’s latest venture – Amazon GO - the grocery store of the future. Powered by machine learning and cameras that will follow your every in-store move, Amazon GO’s USP is the ability to detect the contents in your cart and then charge you via your Amazon account.
 
The efficiency savings for customers and business alike might be a good shot in the arm for the high street and wider economy, but don’t hold your breath. Amazon’s propriety technology is having trouble keeping track of more than 20 people at any given time, which is fine, unless Amazon wants their stores to be busy.
 
The latest from the Space Crusader
Will Musk save us from the A.I. apocalypse?
Fans of James Cameron’s Terminator series will know where we’re going with this one. Musk has joined that on-going debate - what if AI turns on us? Already planning Mars colonisation as a backup for Earth, Musk now has a plan closer to home.
 
Along with Sam Altman (President of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s top start-up accelerator) Elon, our self proclaimed Lord and Saviour, has founded OpenAI, a billion-dollar non-profit company, to work for safer artificial intelligence. Although what exactly is going on in the messianic mind of Musk is anyone’s guess, it is understood that OpenAI’s principal mission is to ensure that AI technology is distributed to the world, instead of its algos concealed by tech deities such as Alphabet, Amazon or (perish the thought) certain politicians with odd hair.
 
Amazon Alexa
Going out of home?
Fans of talking to connected speakers in their own home are probably already familiar with using Amazon Echo. But, how about managing business meetings? Enter Teem, a company that is hedging on Echo being ready for the workplace. The firm has recently built an Echo application or “skill” to allow Amazon’s device to work with its scheduling software.
 

As anyone who has worked in a large office before can probably attest, booking a conference room can be a bit of a bête noire. But fear not, conference room congestion will soon be a thing of the past as Teem’s software hooks Echo up with Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook, allowing participants to plead their way to a meeting extension via the medium of voice. First come, first served may indeed become loudest speaker, first served and wouldn’t that just be great…

Forgivable f*ck up

 


Well that launch went well...


...but all will be alright in the end.

C-suite steer

 
by Lief Anya Schneider
CEO, SBC London
lief@sbc.london
Is it a blip or a pathological condition? How to reassure your stakeholders (and it's not by keeping shtum)
 
An interesting article in Wall Street Journal this week. Headline: Warren Buffett’s Brief Career as an Ad Man. Apparently, the great man once had positions in McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy & Mather. Then he got out. You don’t get involved in either of the two very different (and rarely communicating) cousins - public relations or advertising businesses for the money – the draw is something very different.
 
This notwithstanding, Warrant Buffett has had a long-standing obsession with reputation. He famously said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

Why is it that some CEOs see reputation management as something you do very occasionally, when your organisation starts to bleed? The Wise Ones know the simple sum: Invest in reputation while the going is good. Build reputation and communicate while the going is good. Then, if you get a knock, you have stock to fall back on.

Choppy times lie ahead. Start communicating to your stakeholders now. Then, when you get any knocks, they’ll see the whole you and the whole of your firm – they’ll have a sense of proportion – they’ll be able to distinguish between a blip and a pathological problem.  

Imagine being married to someone you never, ever spoke with. Then, one day, someone told them a lie about you. How would you defend the lie? Why should your spouse believe you? By contrast, if you spoke to them every day, and had gained their trust, you could probably fairly easily dismiss the lie, or your spouse themself would dismiss it.

So why are your employees, customers, shareholders, business peers and the wider public any different? Why, if you never ever communicate with them, or keep them half in the dark, would you expect them to believe the best of you in a crisis?

Poem of the week


Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802


Picked by Louis Rynsard
SBC London requests the pleasure of your company at the SPIT soirée
 
We’re having a small intimate, informal supper with an excellent speaker (not one of us) who won’t speak for long – always the best type. 
 
It will be an opportunity to join with other Spitters (you’re all very important people – if you haven’t met – you’ll like each other, we promise) as we look forward to interesting times in the City. 

This will take place at 6.30 pm on Thursday, 27 April in the City of London. Places are limited, so please do let us know as soon as possible if you would like to attend.

RSVP to ghillie@sbc.london.

The SPIT is produced weekly by SBC London.
SBC London is a corporate reputation and communications advisory firm based in the City of London. 
Call us today. We look forward to meeting you.

SBC London
80 Coleman Street London EC2R 5BJ
+44 (0)207 104 2214 | www.sbc.london

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