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Mark Bellissimo Announces $80 Million Dollar Expansion Plans for Wellington Equestrian Industry

WELLINGTON, Fla. – Thursday, March 24th 2011 []

(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire)–Mark Bellissimo, Managing Partner and largest shareholder of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), unveiled an $80 million dollar expansion plan for Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and surrounding areas. WEP has invested over $225 million building the 140 acre PBIEC facility and securing 370 acres surrounding the facility. WEP was founded by Bellissimo, Roger Smith, and Dennis Dammerman in 2006 and is dedicated to creating excellence in horse sports. The Partnership includes some of America’s most prominent equestrian families, all of whom are committed to providing a home for the equestrian community and assuring harmony between equestrian and non-equestrian interests in Wellington.

WEP, through its operating subsidiary, Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC (ESP) owns and operates 42 weeks of United States Equestrian Federation shows in Wellington. According to industry analyses, the equestrian industry estimates a $700 million economic impact on Palm Beach County.

The Vision

The Wellington Equestrian Partners’ goal is to make Wellington the premier equestrian lifestyle destination in the world. To support vision and expansion plans, Bellissimo outlined key elements of the WEP strategy:

  • Create a world-class facility that supports entry-level riders to Olympic athletes.
  • Provide and support programs to increase access to the sport and the facility.
  • Connect to the community through entertainment, job education, and philanthropy.
  • Lead the transition to a true commercial sport through increased sponsorship and media exposure.
  • Enhance the lifestyle for all participants, including spectators, riders, residents, trainers, and horse owners.

About Wellington

Wellington lies 20 miles west of Palm Beach Island and 15 miles west of Palm Beach International Airport. The Village of Wellington is synonymous with World Class Horse Country. In the late ‘90s, Wellington created an 8,000 acre equestrian district which protects the equestrian industry and is home to hundreds of horse farms that surround PBIEC. WEP owns over 500 acres within the district including the majority of the commercial entitlement.

Each year over 10,000 people come from 30 countries and 49 states to participate in a series of shows called the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). They are produced and managed by ESP and WEF is the largest, longest-running competition in horse sports. The WEF, which awards over 6 million dollars in prize money, runs each year from early January to early April. While they showcase the top American and International riders and horses, including Olympic Gold Medalists, they also host beginner riders to juniors to amateurs.

The PBIEC is considered one of the most recognizable equestrian sporting venues in the world today. PBIEC has 13 competition arenas that host over 70 divisions of competition and has become a first-class spectator sporting event and unique entertainment destination for everyone.

The Expansion

Since WEP took over ownership of PBIEC in 2007, they have invested over $25 million in improvements ranging from new footing in 12 arenas to a significant increase in hospitality options throughout the facility.

Bellissimo was joined by six-time dressage Olympian Robert Dover, Wellington Equestrian Partner and avid dressage enthusiast, Kim Boyer, and WEP founding partner Roger Smith in a presentation on new expansion plans. While WEP is eager to proceed to phase two of the expansion, Bellissimo noted that the following initiatives will be completed before the 2012 WEF circuit: improved communications with constituents; strategy to enhance current footing; addition of special classes for hunters and jumpers; improved stabling options; increased parking options; improved traffic flow for safety; enhanced work areas for schooling; and enhanced hospitality options.

The main strategy for phase two is centered around the conversion of the old polo stadium into the gateway to the equestrian community. This facility is at South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road and located only hundreds of yards from PBIEC. The major elements of Phase 2 are:

  • An improved derby field with permanent seating and lights to support high-end equestrian events.
  • A new equestrian facility with a covered arena, four competition rings, and permanent stabling to support a wide range of equestrian events (e.g. Dressage, Young Horse Shows, Breed Shows, etc.).
  • A proposed 2012 ESP Dressage series.
  • The new home of the Palm Beach Riding Academy.
  • A new “Equestrian Village” including a luxury condominium/hotel complex with commercial office and retail components.

The creation of a world-class dressage circuit is a significant component. Dover and Boyer expressed the need for a new top-notch dressage facility in Wellington and supported Bellissimo’s plans to elevate dressage at PBIEC. Dover announced his goal to raise $1 million in sponsorship for the new ESP Dressage series before the 2012 season. This would enable dressage competitors to have the premier quality of competition, prize money, and venue in Wellington.

Finally, Bellissimo announced that WEP is evaluating the development of an indoor stadium in order to expand the season and increase the opportunities for horse sports in Wellington. This initiative would better position WEP to bid for prestigious competitions such as the FEI World Cup Finals and the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.

For more information visit www.equestriansport.com.

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Hilton Worldwide Turns Out the Lights for Earth Hour 2011

MCLEAN, Va. – Thursday, March 24th 2011

(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire)– Hilton Worldwide and its portfolio of 10 distinct hotel brands announced today its participation to celebrate Earth Hour 2011 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 26, 2011. As more than a billion people and organizations around the world turn off their lights in support of energy conservation, Earth Hour will be recognized at thousands of hotels in Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio of brands including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

“As a global company with more than 3,600 hotels in 82 countries, Hilton Worldwide is always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption,” said Paul Brown, President of Global Brands & Commercial Services, Hilton Worldwide. “We intend to make a big difference through our sustainable actions, and Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands to show its continued commitment to this important effort.”

Earth Hour will be celebrated across the company’s brands and regions through a variety of activities including:

  • Switching off main building exterior lighting and rooftop neon signage
  • Shutting down business center equipment
  • Dimming interior lights in lobby and reception area
  • Encouraging guests to switch off their room lights
  • Staging special candle-lit dinners and events to raise awareness

Hilton Worldwide has also encouraged properties within its portfolio to get creative with their Earth Hour celebrations. The Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu will encourage guests to turn off their lights and televisions and join in its second annual hour of storytelling titled “Ghost Stories, Myths & Legends of Hawaii” with one of Hawaii’s master storytellers, while the Mersin Hilton in Sokak, Turkey, is organizing a show for local students to increase their knowledge about the environment. Additional properties including the Hilton London Kensington, the Hilton Cartagena in Colombia and others around the world will recognize the initiative by creating special drinks and menus with a “green” theme, as well as preparing only cold menu items.

A number of DoubleTree by Hilton properties from Malaysia to Michigan will also participate in Earth Hour by collectively flicking off hundreds of power switches around the globe. The DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Magnificent Mile will offer guests a chance to enjoy an eco-friendly dinner menu that uses no power to produce, and the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Orlando at Sea World encourages guests to enjoy a complimentary organic wine tasting, as well as family-friendly nature movies at its torch-lit pool.

Commitment to Sustainability

Participation in Earth Hour is another step in Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to sustainability. In 2010, Hilton Worldwide became the first major multi-brand company in the hospitality industry to make sustainability measurement a brand standard with the implementation of LightStay, a sustainability tracking system developed to improve hotel performance and drive economic returns while decreasing the company’s overall impact on the environment.

LightStay analyzes performance across 200 operational practices, such as housekeeping, paper-product usage, food waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation. The system also measures energy, water use, waste and carbon output at hotels globally. In addition to its function as a measurement system, LightStay provides a “meeting impact calculator” feature that calculates the environmental impact of any meeting or conference held at a property.

By December 31, 2011, all 3,600 properties within Hilton Worldwide’s global portfolio of brands will use LightStay, making the company the first major multi-brand company in the hospitality industry to require property-level measurement of sustainability.

About Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF. Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 through a partnership between WWF Australia, Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, when two million people in one city switched off their lights. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. By 2010, Earth Hour had created history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed with participation across 128 countries and every continent.

Illycaffe Earns the First DNV Responsible Supply Chain Process Certification

March 22, 2011 1 comment

SAO PAOLO – Tuesday, March 22nd 2011

(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire)– illycaffè on Friday became the world’s first company to receive a Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Responsible Supply Chain Process certification, attesting to the company’s long-running sustainable approach to production and its relations with stakeholders throughout the production chain, particularly with green coffee suppliers. The illycaffè model is innovative in assigning criticalroles to quality and value creation. The certification was officially conferred at illycaffè’s twentieth annual meeting in Brazil, recognizing suppliers for coffee production meeting the company’s industry-leading quality standards.

DNV, an international, independent leader in product and process certification, in part modeled its new certification standard on the illycaffè supply chain model, buttressing it with current and emerging stringent guidelines for sustainability and corporate responsibility, and with standards of reference for certification and accreditation activities. The certification incorporates both pan-industry standards and industry specific standards. Officially, illycaffè received the DNV Green Coffee Responsible Supply Chain Process certification.

The standard developed by DNV is innovative because it marks the passage from the certification of an organization’s supply chain to the certification of an organization’s ability to create value that benefits everyone involved.

“We are proud to have obtained this certification, which recognizes and validates how we have operated over the past 20 years, through protocols and procedures that guarantee the excellence of our final product,” said Andrea Illy, President and Managing Director of illycaffè. “illycaffè has always been a stakeholder company, based on ethics and with the objective of improving quality of life. Quality is a key concept in our company philosophy. Our continuous search for quality creates a virtuous cycle that creates value for everyone involved, from coffee growers to coffee drinkers, in growing magnitude over time.”

Quality and sustainability are for illycaffè inseparable: a truly excellent product cannot be anything but sustainable in three critical aspects: economic, social and environmental. Economic sustainability is achieved through the creation of value for all those involved, from the grower to the final consumer. Social sustainability rests on the concepts of individual growth and self-realization. Environmental sustainability means respect for the ecosystem, through, for example, the use of recyclable shipping and packaging materials and the application of non-polluting practices.

“This supply chain certification standard is particularly innovative in demonstrating a company’s ability to create value over the long term,” said Thomas Vogth-Eriksen, Chief Executive Officer DNV Business Assurance. “The schema focuses on the building of shared value in a context where social development stimulates economic development, recognizing that a business grows in large part through its ability to help its partners and suppliers grow.”

Over the past two decades illycaffè has perfected a system of direct relationships with its suppliers, based on three main pillars: selecting the best growers in coffee producing countries; transferring to these growers, through the company’s Università del Caffè and the daily field work of specialized agronomists, comprehensive knowledge accumulated over 80 years of practical experience and research to produce coffee meeting illy’s high quality standards; and purchasing the best production directly from growers, paying them a premium over the going market price to reward quality achieved, and incentivize ongoing improvement.

Disney Publishing Worldwide Grows U.S. Magazine Publishing Business

NEW YORK – Tuesday, March 22nd 2011

(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire)– Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) will extend its U.S. magazine business – currently targeted to moms with the monthly Disney FamilyFun – with new magazines aimed at kids. The first magazine in the program, Phineas and Ferb, will be a bi-monthly magazine available at retail outlets and by subscription. DPW will follow the launch of Phineas and Ferb with three special interest publications, all featuring content inspired by Marvel and Disney-Pixar feature film releases.

This April will see the release of Thor, followed later in 2011 with the launch of Cars 2 and Captain America. Each will be stand-alone publications available at retail for $9.99. Carsmagazine, a subscription-based monthly, will launch this fall and will feature favorite characters including Lightning McQueen and Mater as well as new characters from the upcoming Cars 2 feature film.

“We saw with last year’s publication of our Toy Story 3 and Phineas and Ferb special interest publications that there is certainly a demand in the market for high quality kids’ magazines,” says Aparna Pande, vice president & general manager, U.S. Magazines, DPW. “It’s a natural extension of our existing business—we have the content along with the consumer marketing and distribution expertise, and it allows Disney Publishing to continue delivering great publications that get kids reading wherever and whenever they want.” Phineas and Ferb is currently ranked as the #1 animated television show among tweens ages 9 – 14 nationwide.

Each 52-page issue of Phineas and Ferb magazine offers fans activities including comics, games, cutouts, quizzes, and posters—starring Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, Perry the Platypus, and other famous characters from the hit Disney XD series. Fans can subscribe online by visiting http://www.disneymagazines.com/phineasandferb. The magazine is available on newsstands for $4.99 and for an annual subscription rate of $23.95.

About U.S. Magazines, DPW Disney Publishing’s U.S.-based magazine group is a leader in delivering fun and engaging content to children and their families through subscription magazines and special interest publications. The vertical business publishes content inspired by Disney-Pixar and Marvel franchises, including Toy Story 3 and Phineas and Ferb. Their leading parenting magazine, Disney FamilyFun , targets families with children under 12, has a rate base of 2.1 million and a total audience of 5.5 million (Source: 2010 Fall MRI).

Delivering real ideas for – and from – real families, it included lively and informative content focusing on making the most of family time together through cooking, crafts, celebrations, volunteering, travel, and other family activities. The Disney FamilyFun extensions include FamilyFun.com, special interest publications, digital magazines, and mobile apps. About Disney Publishing Worldwide Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) is the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines, with over 250 million children’s books and over 400 million children’s magazines sold each year. Disney Publishing Worldwide consists of vertically integrated publishing imprints including Disney Book Group in the U.S., Disney Libri in Italy and Disney Libros in Spain as well as an extensive worldwide licensing structure. DPW also publishes a range of children’s magazines globally including Topolino, Le Journal de Mickey and Donald Duck as well as family titles in the U.S. which include Disney FamilyFun.

Disney English is DPW’s English language learning business, including Disney English schools in China and a worldwide retail licensing program. Headquartered in White Plains, NY, Disney Publishing Worldwide publishes books and magazines in 85 languages in 75 countries.

Bloomberg L.P. Opens Its 10th Global Hub in Dubai

March 17, 2011 1 comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – [ME NewsWire]

(BUSINESS WIRE)– Bloomberg L.P. officially opened its 10th global hub in Dubai today, tripling the size of its office to accommodate the company’s expanding news operations and customer support for its growing client base in the region.

Located in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), this global hub will support regional customers of the growing Bloomberg Professional® service, which is used by more than 300,000 of the world’s leading business and financial professionals. The Dubai hub will house Bloomberg’s expanding news operations and will provide support and development resources for Bloomberg’s recently launched Islamic Finance platform (ISLM), a comprehensive solution that increases transparency and provides analytical tools to maximize investment performance in the growing Shariah finance market.

“The Middle East and the UAE have long demonstrated an impressive rate of growth and a significant market opportunity for Bloomberg, and we have continued to invest in the region,” said Peter Grauer, Chairman of Bloomberg L.P.

The announcement was made at Bloomberg client event in Dubai, where local Government and financial dignitaries, Bloomberg executives and clients attended an office opening with keynote address from His Excellency Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

H.E. Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, Governor of DIFC, said, “The launch of Bloomberg’s new global hub is a testament to the business and economic fundamentals of Dubai, the Middle East and DIFC. DIFC is fully committed to facilitating the growth of our clients by providing them with the support and infrastructure needed to grow their respective businesses and we are delighted to see Bloomberg being such a prime example of this.”

“Our expanded reporting team in the Gulf region is providing the market-moving news that our customers now expect from Bloomberg,” said Tim Quinson, Bloomberg News Executive Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Bloomberg News first began covering the region with a single desk in Dubai in the 1990s. Today, Bloomberg has bureaus in eight cities across the region, delivering breaking news on companies, markets, economies and politics to its growing audience worldwide.

“We look forward to working closely with local clients to develop our regional capabilities, delivering enhanced and responsive analytics, news and data like the recently launched Bloomberg Islamic Finance platform,” said Max Linnington, Bloomberg’s regional head.

Bloomberg’s ISLM platform has extensive resources for investing in fixed income, equities and money markets that comply with Shariah including more than 1,500 Islamic bond issues, over 35,000 Shariah-compliant stocks and details on more than 250 Shariah scholars. For more information on Bloomberg’s product offering go to ISLM on the Bloomberg Professional® service, visit www.bloomberg.com, call customer service at +971-4-364-1000, or email Stefanos Thomatos at sthomatos@bloomberg.net.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg is the world’s most trusted source of information for financial professionals and businesses. Bloomberg combines innovative technology with unmatched analytics, data, news, and display and distribution capabilities, to deliver critical information via the Bloomberg Professional® service and multimedia platforms, including Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Markets magazines. Bloomberg’s media properties span television, radio, digital and print, making up one of the world’s largest news organizations. Headquartered in New York, the company employs more than 12,900 people in 166 locations around the world.

A Major Milestone in the Region’s Telco Space: Gulf Bridge International Successfully Completes its First Cable Landing in the UAE

March 15, 2011 1 comment

(ME NewsWire) — Doha,Qatar — In a milestone achievement, Gulf Bridge International (GBI), the Middle East’s first privately owned submarine cable operator, has announced the landing of its cable at Fujairah in the UAE. The cable will connect to du’s landing station.

To be launched later this year, the GBI Cable System is a high capacity, fiber-optic communications cable which will connect all the countries of the Gulf region to each other and provide onward connectivity to Europe, Africa and Asia. The cable landing in Fujairah is the first of ten planned cable landings around the Gulf region.  This connectivity will ensure that the GBI Cable System will offer the most comprehensive geographic reach of any subsea network in the region.

Board Member and CEO of Gulf Bridge International, Mr. Ahmed Mekky commenting on the achievement said “Today’s landing is another significant step towards the launch of the GBI Cable System, which was designed and built to position the Middle East as strategic communications hub between the mature markets of Europe and North America and the rapidly growing markets of Asia and Africa.”

“We are committed to our vision of Connecting the World to the Gulf. GBI will offer our customers greater choice, value, diversity and resilience. We are also glad to work hand in hand with a number of outstanding companies such as ‘Du’, who are going to help us realize this vision.” Mr. Mekky added.

Farid Faraidooni, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said: “We welcome the landing of GBI’s state-of-the-art submarine cable on our shores. This is momentous both from a commercial and a customer point of view. Once operational, it will not only expand choice of connectivity but more importantly will significantly enhance redundancy in operations. We congratulate GBI on this achievement and look forward to the day when the cable system is launched.”

Over the next few months, the cable ship, “Responder”, will be working in the Gulf waters with a fleet of other specialized ships, to continue the installation process of the GBI Cable System, which is configured as a self-healing ring within the Gulf. The GBI Cable System deploys several state-of-the-art technologies, such as the new dual-stage repeaters and wavelength monitoring units that guarantee flawless and error-free operations throughout the entire system.

About Gulf Bridge International

GulfBridgeInternational (GBI) is a private company dedicated to connecting all the nations of the Gulf region to one another and to the rest of the world, using the latest fiber optic technologies. The GBI cable will be developed and owned by GCC investors who are building this strategic infrastructure to serve the entire region. GBI intends to be the carrier’s carrier of choice for traffic to and from the Gulf, facilitating social and economic growth in the region.

For more information, please visit www.GBIinc.com

About du

du, the integrated telecom service provider in the UAE, launched mobile telecommunication services in February 2007 across the UAE, in addition to internet and pay TV services that du provides in some of the free zones of Dubai. Call Select, du’s nationwide fixed line services for voice telephony, was launched in July 2007. By the end of 3rd quarter of 2010, over 4 million people in the UAE had chosen to become du mobile customers.

Among du’s many firsts is its historic Number Booking Campaign for both individuals and business, Pay by the Second billing system, Mobile TV, Mobile Payments, first of its kind ‘WoW’ recharge card (which offers customers the choice between ‘more credit’, ‘more time’ and now the ‘more international’ recharge option with additional credit on international calls) and Self Care.

For business customers, du business offers include Closed Business User Group and preferred International Destinations. du Broadcast Services division brings scalable media technology platforms and telecommunication solutions to the broadcast community through its world-class teleport (Samacom) and Master Control Room (MCR) facilities.

du products and services for consumers and business are available through du’s retail network, currently numbering 37 du shops located in strategic locations across the UAE, including the recently opened flagship store located in the heart of Abu Dhabi. In addition, customers can access du products and services at more than 3000 authorised dealers or through the du e-shop, accessible at http://shop.du.aedu shops are a one-stop-shop for mobile service, carrier select and the payment of service bills.

du is 39.5 per cent owned by the UAE Federal Government, 19.75 per cent by Mubadala Development Company, 19.5 per cent by Emirates Communications & Technology Company LLC and the remaining stake by public shareholders. It is listed on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and trades under the name du.

Apple and Microsoft Take Different Approaches to Japan Relief

If you were trying to solicit donations for earthquake victims in Japan, what approach would you take? Take a look at how technology rivals Microsoft and Apple decided to handle this delicate situation.

First up, Microsoft. The company tweeted a plea on its Bing search engine Twitter account, offering to donate up to $100,000 for earthquake victims, but under one condition: that users would retweet the message, which would result in Microsoft increasing its donations by one dollar per retweet:

It’s straightforward enough, and sounds a lot like an offer we told you about yesterday from the nonprofit Explore.org, offering to contribute $1 for each Facebook “Like” of its “Dog Bless You” Facebook fundraising page received. That seemed to go smoothly yesterday, where we heard a few complaints but overall the reaction was positive.

Microsoft’s idea was not so well-received. Shortly after the company initiated its fundraiser, a backlash began, where some called the scheme a crass marketing attempt, and comedian Michael Ian Black told his 1.6 million Twitter followers in no uncertain terms that Microsoft should “stop using tragedy as a f***ing marketing opportunity.” The company soon withdrew the deal, offering instead to simply donate the $100K:

Next up, Apple. Instead of offering to contribute anything to the earthquake victims, Apple set up a special place(iTunes link) in its iTunes store, promising to deliver 100% of any donations to the Red Cross to benefit Japan. Apple’s iTunes donation page makes it as easy to help earthquake victims as it is to buy iTunes music, where as you can see, the suggested donations are in amounts of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200:

So that’s Apple’s technique — not to actually donate money, but to encourage everyone else to stop by the iTunes Store (and perhaps buy something else while they’re there), and help the poor souls laid low by the tragic quake and its ominous nuclear aftermath. Of course, Apple is donating something with this deal, because it’s not free to move boatloads of cash from one place to another.

What do you think of this, commenters? Should multibillion dollar corporations simply donate to these causes, should they try to get us involved, or should they just facilitate our donations? Are these crass attempts at capitalizing on horrific tragedy? Do nonprofits get a pass, as long as it doesn’t look like they’re self-promoting too much? Where do you draw the line?

*Source: Mashabe