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Regional Updates (06/30/20)



PAL’s Manila-bound international flights diverted to Cebu due to limited quarantine processing

SOME MANILA-bound international flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL) are being diverted to Cebu due to “quarantine processing limitations” at the country’s main gateway in the capital. In a phone message to BusinessWorld on Tuesday, PAL Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said several Manila-bound flights of the flag carrier have been landing in Cebu “since June 19.” In an advisory on June 29, PAL, operated by PAL Holdings, Inc., alerted its Manila-bound passengers from July 1 to July 5 that they will “undergo the required COVID testing in Cebu rather than in Manila, and quarantine at a Cebu hotel accredited by the Department of Health.” PAL said the rerouting was necessary to avoid a full cancellation of flights. “Once you receive a negative test result (usually within 24 to 48 hours of the test), PAL will fly you from Cebu to Manila at no extra charge. Please note that the cost for the COVID tests and the quarantine hotel will be borne by the traveler, whether the tests and quarantine take place in Cebu or Manila,” it added. The test and accommodation costs for returning overseas Filipino workers are covered by the government. The advisory was addressed to passengers departing from Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Singapore, Nagoya, Osaka Kansai, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong, Fukuoka, and Guam. Passengers were also advised to book their Cebu accommodation at an accredited hotel prior to their scheduled departure. “We suggest that you book your hotel for at least two (2) nights, in line with the expected 24 to 48 hours processing time to receive the COVID test results,” PAL said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Cebu Pacific appeals for increased frequency to Davao to meet demand

GMR MEGAWIDE CEBU AIRPORT Corp., operator of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, has set up a COVID-19 testing laboratory at Terminal 2, which has been accredited and is now operational for arriving passengers. — @MACTANCEBUAIRPORT FB PAGE

BUDGET AIRLINE Cebu Pacific is appealing to the city government here to allow more regular commercial flights to the Davao International Airport, citing high demand from stranded individuals in Manila. “We are really appealing for the city government of Davao to allow us and we are ready to mount additional flights that we can announce in regularity so that the people know when they have to be at the airport,” Cebu Pacific Corporate Communications Director Charo Logarta Lagamon said in a phone interview. The airport serves as the regional hub for Davao and several neighboring provinces. Cebu Pacific currently flies twice a week to Davao, one directly from Manila and another with a Cebu stop. Ms. Lagamon said these flights are already fully booked until July. “The only other way to solve this dilemma of stranded individuals who have nowhere else to go in Manila in particular is to really add frequency,” she said. “We can even do once daily for Davao City or more because in places like Cagayan de Oro for instance, we are allowed twice a day already. Note that the demand for CDO is not as much as Davao,” she added.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, said they have submitted a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for additional flights to and from Manila and other domestic airports. These are: Manila-Davao every Monday via Cebu Pacific; Manila-Davao every Wednesday via AirAsia; Manila-Davao every Thursday via Philippine Airlines (PAL); Davao-Iloilo every Friday via PAL; and Davao-Clark, also every Friday via PAL. “We submitted a proposal for additional flights to CAAP and the new schedules came up during the inter-agency meeting conducted together with Davao International Airport and CAAP,” Ms. Carpio said over the city-run radio station on Thursday. The current limited flights are part of the management measures to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases in the city, where there were 84 active patients out of the total 411 confirmed cases as of June 28. — Maya M. Padillo

Military asks NBI to probe police shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

THE MILITARY commander in western Mindanao has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to handle the probe of a shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu on June 29 where four soldiers were killed by police officers. “We also requested the NBI to investigate to ensure impartiality. We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and give justice,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement issued late Monday night. “We appeal to the public not to sensationalize the incident through the social media or any other means. We will wait for the investigation to be completed,” he added. The four casualties, all members of the Philippine Army, were “hot on the trail of Abu Sayyaf members, bomb makers, and suicide bombers in Sulu province” when the incident happened, according to Army Commanding General Gilbert I. Gapay. In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Gapay said the police officers at the checkpoint fired upon the military team “even after properly identifying themselves.” The fatalities were identified as Maj. Marvin Indamog, commanding officer of the 9th Intelligence Service Unit, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Eric Velasco, and Cpol Abdal Asula.

The nine cops involved in the shooting have been removed from their posts and placed under restrictive custody, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año. He has also asked the NBI to undertake an investigation. “I want to know what happened and not stone be left unturned,” Mr. Año said in a statement sent through Viber. Sulu police director Col. Michael Bawayan said the involved cops are non-commissioned officers. — with a report from Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

10 detained foreigners deported

TEN FOREIGNERS detained at the Bureau of Immigration facility in Taguig City have been deported as part of efforts to decongest the facility amid the coronavirus crisis. In a statement Tuesday, Commissioner Jaime H. Morente reiterated his directive to the immigration’s legal division to expedite the resolution of deportation cases to immediately send back the foreigners to their home countries. “We are doing this to safeguard the health not only of the foreign detainees but also that of our personnel assigned to our warden facility,” the immigration chief said. Of the 10, eight were Chinese and two were Mongolians. Five of the Chinese were wanted for economic crimes relating to illegal online gaming operations and telecom fraud while the three others were reported to be overstaying and committed fraud and misrepresentation. The Mongolians were alleged female sex workers caught in one of the raids in Metro Manila last year. The bureau reported earlier that it deported seven Chinese nationals, four of whom were fugitives while three were illegal black sand miners. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse



When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”

This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.

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Walgreens Reports $1.7B Quarterly Loss, Cuts 4,000 Jobs Due To Covid-19 Impact



Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) reported a $1.71 billion quarterly loss and announced 4,000 jobs cuts due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic sending shares down 8%.The stock dropped to $39.01 at the close on Thursday after the drugstore chain operator announced that it will also suspend its share repurchase program and will need to take a non-cash impairment charge of $2 billion mainly as result of the COVID-19 impact on its Boots UK business. As part of a restructuring plan to cut costs, Walgreens said it will close 48 of its Boots opticians stores and lay off 4,000 employees, or 7% of its workforce.Net loss was $1.71 billion, or $1.95 per share, in the three months ended May 31, versus a profit of $1.03 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the year-earlier period. Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share. Revenue rose 0.1% to $34.6 billion.“Prior to the pandemic our financial performance for fiscal 2020 was on track with our expectations. However, this unprecedented global crisis led to a loss in the quarter as stay-at-home orders affected all of our markets,” Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said. “Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighborhood health destinations.”Walgreens total digitally initiated sales rose 22.7% in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year. The drugstore chain recently formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) and Adobe to launch a marketing technology and customer data platform for personalized healthcare and shopping experiences.Earlier this week, Walgreens announced that it will be expanding the size of its care clinics by nearly 700 retail stores over the next few years as part of an overhaul of its business model from being primarily a drug pharmacy to a primary care clinic.With Walgreens’ stock down now 34% year-to-date, analysts are sidelined on the stock. The Hold analyst consensus shows an unanimous 4 Hold ratings. Looking ahead, the $47.75 average price target implies 22% upside potential from current levels. (See Walgreens stock analysis on TipRanks).Morgan Stanley analyst Ricky Goldwasser earlier this month cut the stock’s price target to $45 from $49 and reiterated a Hold rating, saying that investors are weighing whether, or not the challenges the company is exposed to are valued into the shares.Goldwasser remains cautious for now and lowered her full-year per share earnings forecast by 8 cents to $5.48. The analyst expects Walgreens to report EPS of $1.16 in the fourth quarter, which is slightly below consensus estimates.Related News: Costco June Sales Beat Estimates As Shoppers Go Online; Top Analyst Raises PT Lookout Walmart, Amazon Is Coming for Your Grocery Customers, Says Analyst Walmart To Launch Online Subscription Service For $98 Per Year- Report More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Moderna Inks Deal With Rovi To Supply Potential Covid-19 Vaccine Outside U.S. * Sony Invests $250M For Minority Stake In Fortnite Maker Epic Games * Amazon: Top Analyst Raises Estimates… Again * GenMark Diagnostics (GNMK) Stock Is a Winner, But How Much Higher Can It Go?

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Why Beijing is trying to tame China’s runaway stock markets



China’s stock markets marked their first decline in eight days on Friday, ending a more than weeklong run that saw some stocks reach multiyear highs and featured record-breaking initial public offerings.

Bullish encouragement from Chinese state media kicked off the mainland’s stock market rally. State media outlets then tempered their tone late this week in an attempt to rein in speculation, telling investors to think about the long term, days after predicting a “healthy” bull market.

China’s securities regulator also issued a note of caution on Wednesday when it warned investors of risks in margin financing, a practice where brokers lend money to investors to buy stocks.

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The regulator listed 258 margin lending groups that it said were illegal and told investors not to use such financing. Margin financing is rising at the fastest rate since 2015, according to Bloomberg data, and illegal margin lending is seen as a primary reason for China’s 2015 stock market crash.

Some analysts said the initial bullishness from state news outlets was to help boost consumer spending and China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus slowdown, the Financial Times reported.

But the frenzy of trading this week raised fears of a repeat of the stock market bubble that formed in late 2014 and burst in June 2015.

State media had also encouraged bullish investors in the run that preceded the 2015 crash, when the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges fell more than 40% in the following months. Altogether, the collapse wiped $5 trillion in market cap off China’s exchanges. Beijing ousted the head of the securities regulatory commission, on whose watch the crash occurred, in February 2016.

Stock markets in China are dominated by millions of individual investors. They account for 70% of stock transactions across China’s exchanges and are known for sometimes contributing to market volatility by trading on rumor and a “get rich quick” mentality. Since June 30, China’s stock market has added more than $1 trillion in value.

The Shanghai Composite rose 16.5% for eight days straight on Thursday. Even with Friday’s dip, it’s still up 17.8% since its June low. (The Nasdaq is up 8.4% for the same time period). Friday’s trading was likely also dampened by the U.S. government’s decision to sanction Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority group, a move that will ratchet up U.S.-China tensions. China has already said it would retaliate.

The week’s market frenzy led to some remarkable listings. One Chinese tech firm, QuantumCTek, surged 924% on its trading debut in Shanghai on Thursday, setting a record for the largest first-day jump of any Chinese IPO. The Star board, which QuantumCTek debuted on, has no trading limits on the first five days of a company’s IPO.

Hopeful economic recovery data coming out of China also buoyed investor confidence this week. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose for a fourth straight month in June, according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Manufacturing PMI, which represents factory activity, is taken as an important indicator of economic performance. The figure plunged 14.3 percentage points in February during nationwide coronavirus shutdowns.

More must-read international coverage from Fortune:

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