Category Archives: Special Reports

Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State Governor

Uduaghan heads NDDC Governors’ Forum

Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State Governor

Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State Governor

Shortly after hosting a successful economic summit of the South-South states, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has emerged the new Chairman Forum of governors of member states of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The governor who spoke shortly after his emergence at Government House, Port Harcourt said he would direct his energy at making the commission to complete its ongoing projects in the region.

Earlier, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State who spoke to newsmen at the end of a meeting of governors of the nine-member states of the commission where his counterpart Governor Uduaghan emerged Chairman of Forum of governors of the NDDC said the commission would give priority attention to completion of ongoing projects. He said the Forum of Governors would play advisory role to the commission as directed by the President.

According to Amaechi, the commission would also focus on projects that would strengthen the unity of the member states. Governors at the meeting were: Theodore Orji of Abia; Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo; Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Imo state; Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State. Managing Director of the Commission, Dr Chris Oboh and Chairman of the Board, Dr. Tarilah Tebepah were also at the meeting.

The choice of Uduaghan is seen by many as strategic at this time of re-positioning the NDDC. Although the Forum’s role is advisory, analysts see Uduaghan as the perfect choice given his long history of holding political offices in the region. He was a commissioner in Delta State for about four years and Secretary to Government, SSG, for another four years before he was voted governor of the state. He is also widely regarded as the forerunner of the Amnesty programme for the youths of the region

Loblaw cuts 700 Toronto head office jobs

The decision by Loblaw Companies Limited to chop 700 jobs from the payroll in administration and at head office in Brampton on Tuesday was met with mixed reviews from analysts and investors.

After the announcement, shares rose 84 cents and closed at $34.72.

Loblaw has been upgrading its supply chain technology and infrastructure and while the job cuts may reflect greater efficiencies, Perry Caicco, managing director, CIBC World Markets, warned investors against applying the savings directly to the company’s bottom line.

“Notwithstanding that these job cuts probably reflect a demand from the parent company to generate some return on the outsized capital spending on

systems, it is highly unlikely that these actions will directly boost earnings,” wrote Caicco in a note to investors on Tuesday.

“The recent history of the company suggests that some of these job cuts will

be replaced by equally expensive outsourcing, and that the company will

struggle to re-assign eliminated roles in a productive fashion. In other words,

we believe the risk of poor head office execution and service to stores will be high for at least 12 months.”

Caicco said some portion of the cuts will likely reduce expenses, a necessity in light of the surge in growth in the grocery sector in Canada.

Walmart is in the midst of adding 4.6-million square feet of retail space to operations in Canada by the end of January 2013. More than half of the projects will involve supercentres providing a full range of groceries. Target will be selling groceries in stores opening in Canada next spring.

The family-owned Longo’s is also expanding in carefully selected prime locations in the GTA.

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada’s largest food retailer, with more than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores, including Loblaws, Zehrs, T&T, Fortinos, Provigo, No Frills and the Real Canadian Superstore. The company employs about 138,000 full- and part-time workers.

In the past 12 months, Loblaws has opened 14 new stores across Canada, creating 2,000 new jobs.

The investment in infrastructure at Loblaw – trimming 250 separate systems down to something manageable – began in 2009.

“It’s a huge job, particularly when you’ve got to keep the old systems running to keep doing business. It’s like changing the engine on a car while the engine is still running,” said retail analyst Ed Strapagiel.

“This year, 2012, is when most of their system conversion takes place. There will likely be teething pains, so add a few months to work the bugs out. I think most professional stock analysts understand this. I think they think Loblaw is doing the right thing, but they would prefer to see it go faster.”

Kenric Tyghe, an analyst with Raymond James Securities told Bloomberg news he viewed the move positively.

“With their new systems capabilities, certain HR requirements are now redundant and hence the job cuts,” he said.

Vicente Trius, president, Loblaw Companies Ltd., broke the news to employees this morning, according to Loblaw spokesperson Julija Hunter.

The changes will take effect starting Tuesday and should be complete within three weeks. The company expects to take a one-time estimated $60 million charge in the fourth quarter as a result.

“We feel really confident in our direction,” Hunter said, adding that the job reductions will make the company more competitive, eliminate duplications and allow the firm to focus more on the customer experience.

“We’re managing costs where it makes sense.”

The transition will not be fully in place until the end of 2014.

Loblaw is a subsidiary of George Weston Ltd., which is sitting on $3.6-billion in cash. A spokesman for George Weston Ltd. said in September that the cash will be used in part to refresh its North American bakeries and Canadian Loblaw stores.

It’s also looking to make acquisitions.

Loblaw saw its profit drop 22 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. Second quarter net earnings per common share were 57 cents, down almost 19 per cent compared to the same period in 2011.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart—the Best of Their Reunion Pics!

Did anyone really think Robsten wouldn’t survive a little cheating scandal?

Of course not. Since word of their much-anticipated reconciliation broke this week, the Twilight twosome seemed to go out of their way to publicly flaunt their reunion. Yep, Christmas came early for the Twi-hards.

Rob and Kristen back together—on Breaking Dawn Part 2 poster!

So, in celebration of their momentous recoupling, we’ve rounded up the best pics of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart getting back together.

The first sighting, of course, came Saturday night, when R.Pattz and K.Stew hit up a friend’s birthday party together at Chateau Marmont. On Sunday, they were back together at Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz.

Rob and Kristen move past cheating scandal—but not quite ready for PDA

And by Monday, wearing similar baseball caps, Robsten headed to lunch together with some pals in Hollywood.

The Rob and Kristen road to reconciliation has been a process over these past few months.

Check out Robsten’s road to reconciliation timeline

A source told E! News, however, that Rob “decided to forgive her. He’s justifying it by believing her story that it was a one off mistake and will never happen again.”

On behalf of Twi-hards everywhere, we certainly hope he’s right.

Lance Armstrong steps down as head of foundation, gets dropped by Nike

In his first acknowledgment that his personal brand has been damaged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s voluminous account of what it characterized as “serial cheating” throughout his cycling career, Lance Armstrong resigned as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation he created to help cancer patients, he announced Wednesday.

And in a further blow to Armstrong’s reputation, longtime corporate sponsor Nike announced it was terminating its contract with Armstrongbut would continue supporting the Livestrong initiatives.Nike is the foundation’s most substantial corporate partner, marketing a line of athletic apparel and equipment that bears the Livestrong brand. Nike was also the creative mind behind the wildly popular Livestrong wristbands that since 2004 have generated roughly $80 million in proceeds.

Those associations will continue, as least for now. But Armstrong himself will no longer be compensated as a Nike athlete in the wake of USADA’s scathing report, his public personae deemed too tainted even for a company that has remained loyal to, and in some cases cultivated associations with, athletes with controversial images.

USADA’s 202-page report, which was backed by more than 1,000 pages of supporting documents and testimony and made public Oct. 10, asserted that Armstrong achieved all of his record seven Tour de France championships “start to finish” through doping. It relied on the testimony of 26 witness, including 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates. And it included detailed, first-hand accounts of Armstrong not only taking banned substances such as EPO and undergoing blood transfusion but also pressuring teammates on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team to dope, as well, and threatening those in position to testify against him.

After initially reiterating its support of Armstrong, Nike reversed course and severed ties with the athlete Wednesday — one week after the report’s public airing.

“Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him,” Nike’s statement read.

In announcing he was stepping down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, which last week claimed that donations increased after USADA on Aug. 24 stripped Armstrong of his Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport, Armstrong noted the organization’s global reach and effectiveness in helping roughly 2.5 million people affected by cancer.

But, he noted, he had decided “to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career” by stepping down as the foundation’s chairman, ceding the role to vice chairman Jeff Garvey.

Armstrong, 41, won all seven of his Tour de France titles after surviving his own battle against testicular cancer.

According to crisis management specialist Ashley McCown, the USADA report was simply too damning for Armstrong’s association with either Nike or his foundation to continue.