Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 8 January 2010

JAL has lost 2/3ds of its value in the past year while spread on its five-year CDS are above 2,700 basis points -

Reading - JAL has lost 2/3ds of its value in the past year while spread on its five-year CDS are above 2,700 basis points -

American and Delta both want to be Japan Airlines’s partner. JAL lost $1.5 billion over the six months through SeptemberAmerican and Delta both want to be Japan Airlines’s partner. JAL lost $1.5 billion over the six months through September (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Growing concerns that Japan Airlines Corp <9205.t> will file for bankruptcy as part of a state bailout sent shares in the ailing carrier tumbling a further 10 percent on Friday amid uncertain signals from the government.

A state-backed turnaround fund is in negotiations with the government and creditors on a plan to support the carrier with an injection of fresh capital if it files for bankruptcy and can get debt forgiveness from its banks, sources have told Reuters.

The case for a court-led restructuring, which would dent the value of JAL's shares if not render them worthless, appeared to gather momentum on Thursday when Japan's new finance minister said he expected the fund to support JAL.

However, Transport Minister Seiji Maehara told reporters on Friday that he had not heard from a state-backed turnaround fund that a court-led bankruptcy is premise of JAL restructuring.

Shares of JAL, Asia's biggest airline by revenues, extended their slide for a third straight day, losing another 10.5 percent to 68 yen by the midday break, nearing to their record low of 60 yen marked on December 30.

"Investors are worried that the value of JAL's stock would be diluted," said Takahiko Kishi, senior analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities.

JAL has lost more than two thirds of its value in the past year while the spread on its five-year credit default swaps, used to insure against default, have been quoted at distresses levels above 2,700 basis points.

The state-backed turnaround body, Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan, is expected to make a final decision on whether to support JAL in the week starting January 18, with a filing for bankruptcy likely on the same day, sources have said.

Even as JAL flirts with bankruptcy, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have been stepping up their efforts to court the carrier, eyeing its network to fast-growing Asian markets and a stronger foothold in Japan.

American Airlines met with JAL executives on Thursday and raised its offer of investment, to be made with private equity firm TPG, by $300 million to $1.4 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site.

A spokesman for American Airlines declined to confirm or deny the figure.

Meanwhile, transport minister said it would be difficult to choose Delta or American as partner for JAL by the end of this month. (Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Lincoln Feast)

'Grey goo' food laced with nanoparticles could swamp Britain - microscopic compounds that can worm into your brain -

Reading - 'Grey goo' food laced with nanoparticles could swamp Britain - microscopic compounds that can worm into your brain -

Prince Charles

Prince Charles derided nanoparticles as 'grey goo' food

Britain is on the brink of a massive expansion in foods containing controversial 'grey goo' nanoparticles, according to the former head of the Food Standards Agency.

Low-calorie chocolate and beer that doesn't go flat could be on sale within just five years, Lord Krebs said last night.

However, he and other peers believe there will be no requirement for the hi-tech products to be labelled as containing nanoparticles - microscopic compounds that can worm their way into the brain, liver and kidneys with unknown consequences.

But critics said the public have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies, and point out that new legislation will mean that cosmetics that contain nanoparticles will have to be clearly labelled.

Once derided by Prince Charles as 'grey goo', nanoparticles are tiny particles - 300 million would fit in a pinhead - with powerful properties that make them of interest to food companies.

Although they are small, they have a large surface area at which key chemical reactions can take place. This means that relatively low numbers of sugar nanoparticles can have the same effect as a large amount of normal sugar, creating tasty chocolate or cakes with a fraction of the calories.

The same principle could be applied to fat, allowing the creation of low-fat icecreams and mayonnaise that taste like the real thing.

Nanotechnology-inspired packaging promises to improve food shelf-life, and in the U.S. plastic beer bottles have been lined with 'nanoclay' to stop the brew from going flat.

Lord Krebs chaired an inquiry by the House of Lords science and technology committee into the safety of nanotechnology in food, which found that although there is no evidence that the tiny particles are harmful, there are 'large gaps' on our knowledge.

The committee called for the Food Standards-Agency to compile a database of nanoproducts that can be accessed by the public. The FSA is not in favour of nanoparticles being declared on food labels, saying they are cluttered enough already.

The inquiry also criticised the food industry for being unnecessarily ' secretive' about the products it has in the pipeline. It said this seemed mainly to be because it was concerned about the public's reaction.

Julian Hunt of the Food and Drink Federation said: 'Given that nanotechnology is in its infancy in the food and drink sector, and that bringing innovations to market is a long and complex process, we are surprised that the report seems to criticise the food industry for an apparent reluctance to communicate extensively on this subject.

'There are many questions and unknowns about the potential future uses of nanotechnologies in our sector, and there is much work still to be done by scientists, governments and regulators, as well as the food and drink industry.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1241506/Britain-maybe-swamped-nanoparticle-grey-food.html#ixzz0c4XyGyMA

Ford unveils Tweeting car - Ford, the US car giant, has unveiled the world’s first tweeting car -

Reading - Ford unveils Tweeting car - Ford, the US car giant, has unveiled the world’s first tweeting car -

Alan Mulally: CES 2010: Ford unveils Tweeting car
Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally gives the keynote address at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show Photo: EPA

Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive, said the company will produce a range of vehicles which can read motorist's twitter messages to them as they drive down the street.

Drivers may even be able to Tweet replies as the cars will feature voice recognition technology. But composing Tweets will not be possible on the first models, due out in the US later this year, because of safety fears.

US Road safety group the AAA warned that the new technology could put lives at risk. "The more things that are going on in a vehicle, the more things can distract a driver," a spokeswoman said. "You only have so much attention to give, and we really want everyone to keep their attention on the roadway for safety reasons."

However, Doug VanDagens, Ford's global director of connected services, said people currently read Twitter feeds while they are driving anyway, and the new system would increase road safety by enabling motorists to keep both hands on the wheel.

"We take what people do – they talk on the phone, they fumble with mp3 players, they look at maps. We take these activities and make them safer," he said.

The tweeter function is part of Ford’s plan to connect cars to the internet. Ford said drivers will also be able to stream music live from Panadora, a website similar to Last.fm.

The technology, developed in partnership with Microsoft, works by connecting an on-board computer to a mobile phone with 3G internet browsing capabilities.

In a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas said the technology, called Sync, is designed to allow drivers to attend to their social lives, "all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

'Aliens will eat the fatties first': Gym sparks outrage with new advertising campaign

Reading - 'Aliens will eat the fatties first': Gym sparks outrage with new advertising campaign -

An advert for one of Britain’s biggest gyms has sparked outrage by declaring: ‘When the aliens come, they will eat the fatties first.’

The campaign, featuring a little green man, was meant to encourage people to join up and shed pounds put on over Christmas.

But instead slimmers have branded the ad in offensive and weight loss experts said the ‘negative message’ is more likely to drive people away.

'Offensive': The ad for Cadbury Gym in Bristol was designed to encourage slimmers

'Offensive': The ad for Cadbury Gym, Bristol, was intended to encourage slimmers

Signs put up near the health club and spa at Cadbury House Hotel in Congresbury, Bristol, read: ‘Advance health warning! When the aliens come, they will eat the fatties first.’

However, mother-of-two Vicky Palmer, who suffered from an eating disorder as a teenager, believes the sign should be removed immediately.

Mrs Palmer, 45, of Churchill, Somerset, said: ‘I would like to think that their hotline is very “hot” with people phoning to complain about this degrading and offensive advertising.

‘I am not overweight yet I still find this extremely offensive and patronising but how much more so to someone genuinely overweight?

‘People who have a weight problem may also suffer with low self esteem and this advert is not going to help them in any way.

‘The people who came up with this idea and sanctioned the advert need a good, stiff kick up the backside, and if that backside is a rather bony one, then they will feel this all the more.’

The health club and spa is attached to the 72-bedroom Cadbury House Hotel, which is part of the prestigious Hilton Doubletree chain.

However, the centre, which boasts two gym studios, a spa, salon, bistro and won European Club of the Year in 2007, is managed separately to the hotel.

Jason Eaton

Gym manager Jason Eaton stands beside one of the roadside signs

The club, which is one of the largest independent health clubs in the UK, has two purpose-built studios along with a spa, salon and bistro.

It employs a team of personal trainers and offers more than 100 fitness classes each week.

Health club bosses claim they launched their advertising campaign last week in an attempt to persuade people to shape up after Christmas.

But a spokesman for the Beat Eating Disorders association believes the ‘negative message’ will not work on potential customers.

He said: ‘This is a very unfortunate choice of words. People get fit and healthy when they are positively motivated and are unlikely to respond to such a negative message.

‘Perhaps the gym should reconsider their approach.’

Local resident Alison Winter added: ‘I am shocked and disgusted that they feel they have the right to blatantly discriminate like this.’

But club manager Jason Eaton defended his campaign as a ‘fun’ way to approach the subject of obesity.

He said: ‘The alien campaign has been developed as a tongue in cheek look at the fact that people generally, over the Christmas period, do put on a little weight.

‘Our view is that people should not feel stigmatised by the use of the word “fatties” as it encompasses everyone who might have over-indulged during the holidays and now wants to do something about it.

‘At the club we are doing all we can to combat the problems of obesity and our advertising has to get the message over in a forthright but fun way.

‘We do not intend to cause any offence to anyone.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1240978/Aliens-eat-fatties-Gym-sparks-outrage-new-advertising-campaign.html#ixzz0c4P8dmjL