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  • 14 Aug 2020 11:20 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Sky Television has offloaded its outside broadcasting subsidiary OSB which films its live sports broadcasts to US-owned company NEP.

    Chief executive Martin Stewart said the deal which had been tipped since November would ensure Sky continued to deliver high-quality sport productions.

    Sky bought OSB from Australia's Prime Media Group in 2010 for $35 million.

    It owns the specialist trucks and equipment that can frequently be seen outside sports venues when events are on.

    NEP entered New Zealand in 2018 by taking over Auckland company NZ Live.

    Sky's ability to produce its own sports programmes from events in New Zealand had been assumed to be one of its key competitive advantages as it faced growing competition for sports rights from rivals including Spark.

    But NEP's entry into the New Zealand market in 2018 eroded that advantage.

    Sky said NEP would acquire OSB’s assets including its six broadcasting trucks and two warehouses and the 38 OSB staff would move across to NEP New Zealand.

    Sky would retain its “world-class sports production team” who would work closely with NEP New Zealand, it said.

    Stewart said the sale would let Sky reduce future capital investment in “multi-million dollar” outside broadcasting equipment and instead leverage NEP’s “global network of technology developments”.

    About $50m of capital expenditure would be avoided over five years, Sky said.

    Sky said it had “robust plans in place” to continue to deliver services to customers during level 3.

    The majority of staff would be able to immediately work from home with “essential crew” operating from Sky’s offices, it said.

    Sky said in a separate statement to the NZX that its revenues and profit for the year to June would be in line with the guidance it gave investors on May 21, subject to the completion of its year-end audit and an assessment of the carrying value of goodwill.

    By Tom Pullar-Strecker,

  • 08 Aug 2020 1:19 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The University of Auckland has formalised a longstanding strategic partnership with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa to strengthen ties across the Pacific.

    This month, the University of Auckland formalised a strategic partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa centred on our close ties through the APRU network and APAIE, our long-standing student exchange and academic cooperation, and our strong research cooperation.

    The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is a research university of international standing with a heritage, people and location that create close links to the Asia Pacific region. Committed to being the leading indigenous serving university in the United States, UH Mānoa delivers a multicultural global experience, with a long history of adherence to the principles of sustainability and the essence of aloha.

    The University of Hawai’i partnership with the University of Auckland is being led by our Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries, and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences with an early focus on language study, indigenous studies, urban and regional planning, and indigenous health.

    Initial discussions have identified opportunities to leverage long-standing faculty and research connections and to expand our student mobility programmes. As a network partner through APRU our academic and professional staff members may apply to International Central Networks and Partnerships Grant (ICNPG) for mobility support.

    For more information on this strategic partnership please visit the University Strategic partnerships page or contact Gabrielle Edwards in the International Office.

  • 07 Aug 2020 10:32 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    An Auckland company which makes filters based on wool has been selected by US space agency Nasa to supply its next mission to the Moon and Mars.

    Lanaco makes respiratory filters and devices using wool from specially selected sheep flocks in Central Otago.

    The company’s Helix filters, which are used by a number of local washable mask manufacturers, are also used in industry, ventilation and appliances.

    And now the filters will be used to go into space, chief executive Marc Michel said.

    '’We’ve been working on it for a number of years but the first product went off to the contractor two weeks ago,’' he said.

    The filters will be used in the emergency fire protection equipment that crew will wear inside Nasa’s Orion capsule.

    Commercially, the deal was not very significant but it was ‘’massive validation’’ for Lanaco's science, Michel said.

    Lanaco was founded to help lift the value of wool, and over the last decade, it has been genetically breeding its wool for ‘’bulk filtration media’’ which it supplies to clients like 3M.

    It was also supplying material to Chinese mask makers but the Australian bushfires and Covid-19 related supply chain disruptions in March prompted the company to start making its own face masks.

    As the lockdown approached, there was also an upsurge in interest from Kiwi companies wanting to make washable masks, so Lanaco shared with them a mask design from Hong Kong and produced the filters for it.

    ‘’We probably supplied 400,000 filters since March, and it means we’ve preserved 400,000 medical masks for frontline health workers. And it created employment and some other positive spin-offs,’’ Michel said.

    The company is about to launch its own medical grade face masks, which passed international certification last month.

    Founder Nick Davenport said wool was excellent at capturing germs and had capabilities synthetics could not match.

    ‘’Wool is the world’s most positively-charged natural fibre, which translates to an electrostatic filter which acts as a magnet to capture a whole range of particles in the air.

    ‘’It’s naturally bacteria-static, so germs don’t remain on it and it naturally absorbs toxins.”

    The company had been ‘’beseiged’’ with orders and it was scaling up to supply the new mask to hospitals and hardware stores here and abroad, Michel said.

    Chairman Andy West said there was a lot of innovation and technology being developed in primary industry at present.

    “We are definitely going to contribute to the Government’s ambition to increase the value of primary sector exports by $10 billion per annum in the next 10 years through productivity growth.'’

    By Catherine Harris, Stuff

  • 06 Aug 2020 1:28 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    When Bradley, Carl and I founded TradeGecko in 2012 we had a vision to enable entrepreneurs to build the business of their dreams.

    We have built a profitable business serving thousands of omnichannel commerce customers in over 100 countries processing over 5 billion USD in GMV. In 2020, our customers around the globe have seen their businesses transform as the world moves online.

    Today I am excited to announce the next stage of our journey. TradeGecko is joining Intuit, a trusted partner to over 7 million small businesses around the globe.

    From our very first conversations with Intuit’s leadership it was clear that we not only had highly complementary values and culture, but that we shared a common purpose: To help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed.

    We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accelerate our long-term mission of building the commerce platform to power millions of SMBs globally. Integrating TradeGecko’s robust inventory and order management system with QuickBooks’ suite of financial, payment, reporting and accounting tools will help product sellers run and grow their business, all in one powerful platform.

    Bradley and I are excited about the future - all of this has been made possible with the support of our amazing customers and our incredible team of Geckos.

    Partnering with Quickbooks is going to be an amazing opportunity to build the platform to power millions of SMBs.

    Cameron Priest,
    co-founder and CEO

    The NZ Herald quotes the deal is worth more than $100m.
  • 04 Aug 2020 3:33 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    We do a lot of work in Silicon Valley,” Company-X co-founder and director David Hallett said. “What’s the difference between New Zealand and Silicon Valley? It’s just the scale. You add extra zeros to numbers.”

    One client asked Company-X to build a system that enabled billion-dollar decisions.

    “One of our Silicon Valley clients initiated a process where they evaluated all of the teams that do work within that organisation,” said Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes.

    “We had a couple of teams in there, and our team came out on top. We were kind of blown away that we were in that position, but we have got a lot of skill available and a pretty fantastic attitude.

    "This particular client has a metric around the best developers across their whole organisation and our guys have been up on that leader board a number of times."

    Hallett said New Zealand consistently punched above its weight in software development capability.

    This capability was recognised by a Silicon Valley-based consultant in the USA who joined a Company-X team for nearly two years.

    “She said she didn’t want to leave our team,” Hallett said. “She wanted to stick around because we were the highest performing team she had ever encountered globally, and that’s from us here in New Zealand working remotely.”

    “When she left,” Hughes added, “she said that our team was the most capable team she had ever worked with. So I really enjoy that quote. Rather than us claiming, someone else is telling us.”

    Such feedback is the result of Company-X culture and team capability.

    “Our client’s regularly praise us for the professionalism of our team, in terms of the interaction of our teams across all responsibilities and skills, in terms of the way we do the work, but quantitatively they are also praising us on the quality of the work,” Hallett said.

    “It’s great to hear our work being acknowledged as really good quality. The user experience is fantastic, the level of maintenance required is very low because it’s generating such high quality. It’s around methodologies as well, the way in which you do the work. We’re being praised for the Agile way we engage, they really love the communication and camaraderie and the professionalism that comes with those kinds of engagements.

    “It’s about both being professional and delivering a really good service and they praise us on those two aspects. It's neat. You feel like we do what we say we’re doing.”

  • 01 Aug 2020 12:04 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand businesses are not letting a global pandemic get in the way of opportunity.

    Wellington-based Antipodes Nature launched in the United States and Canada this month, despite ongoing concerns about Covid-19.

    In June, peanut butter company Fix & Fogg opened its first shop outside of New Zealand in Texas, United States.

    According to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand exporters sold $10.5 billion of goods and services to the North America last year.

    Antipodes founder Elizabeth Barbalich was in New York negotiating distribution for her skincare product range when the US began to lock down due to the spread of Covid-19 in February.

    While the global situation was uncertain, Barbalich decided to forge ahead with the US and Canadian launch.

    The US market had previous untapped potential for Antipodes, despite the uncertain economic environment, she said.

    During the lockdown, Antipodes’ 50 staff continued to work to prepare for the launch.

    Packaging had to be changed to meet US regulations, she said.

    Making the decision to push forward during the Covid-19 crisis was not straightforward. Stores that would otherwise stock Antipodes products and uncertain supply lines were closed.

    “It has been kind of exciting for us. I mean, we have been through the 2008 global financial crisis. We have seen the market go from hero to zero in a day. We have also seen the China market have massive swings. So, for us, this crisis is another market swing.”

    The company was working with a distributor in the US that had close ties to Amazon and was set up to ship directly to customers as well as get products on the shelves in stores, Barbalich said.

    Antipodes’ annual revenue target for this year was $100 million, with 85 per cent of sales coming from the company’s international markets, she said.

    Barbalich expected the North American market to grow to 10 per cent of the company’s annual turnover.

    Antipodes is now sold in New Zealand, Australia, in China through websites like Alibaba, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and in Sephora across the rest of Europe.

    Global expansion has not been all smooth sailing, says Barbalich.

    It took Antipodes Nature three attempts to find the right distributor in Australia, she said.

    “If we get a partner that has the same thinking, that’s 50 per cent of the problems solved. Otherwise, we have this push-pull situation where we are trying to push a distributor, and they are not moving at the same pace as us and it just makes it a lot harder.”

    Leigh Paulden, managing director at business advisory firm Scalable Sustainable Business Growth, said the US and Canada were still attractive markets for Kiwi businesses, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

    North America offered a huge pool of potential customers, he said.

    The US population was 331 million and the population of Canada 37 million.

    But on the flipside, the sheer volume of product required to meet demand dwarfed anything New Zealand companies could imagine, he said.

    Paulden encouraged his clients to limit what they offered when they launched.

    “Your volumes are so big compared to New Zealand’s market, which is tiny in comparison. So you have to really narrow down what you enter the market with,” he said.

    None of his clients had entered North America with their entire product range, and some focused on one state.

    One client recently launched just in California, he said.

    While they could technically try and launch in all 50 states, the company would struggle to manufacture enough product to keep up with demand, he said.

    Covid-19 had not changed the need to consider who a business’s ideal customer was and how it would distribute their product around the country, he said.

    By Debrin Foxcroft, Business Reporter, Stuff

  • 31 Jul 2020 1:20 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Flintfox International, a disruptive innovator, global leader and Gold Microsoft ISV, are honoured to receive the 2020 MSUS Partner Award for Retail.

    Flintfox are also proud to have achieved the prestigious 2020/2021 Inner Circle status. This is based on sales achievements that rank Flintfox in the top echelon of the Microsoft Business Applications global network of partners. Inner Circle members have performed to a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable solutions that help organisations achieve increased success. For the 4th time, Flintfox has been selected out of hundreds of partners for this elite membership.

    2020/2021 Inner Circle members are invited to the Inner Circle Summit, taking place August 26, 2020, where they will have a unique opportunity to share strategies, and network with Microsoft senior leaders and fellow partners.

    Flintfox, with their best of breed solutions for managing supply chain revenue, together with Microsoft, enable companies to achieve more in the US and beyond. With Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management and Flintfox’s pricing and rebate management solution, there has never been such a complete and powerful tool available for Supply Chain companies. Flintfox are proud to have had their achievements in the field of retail recognised by Microsoft.

    The Microsoft US (MSUS) Award program was developed to recognise outstanding achievement by their US partners. Flintfox was up against a very competitive nomination pool and rose to the top amongst hundreds of other partners and ISV’s.

    Many clients have trusted Flintfox to implement Dynamics 365 along with Flintfox TRM. Flintfox uses a raft of Microsoft technologies to deliver their best of breed Revenue Management solution (TRM and RMx) that are renowned in today's market, including; Azure SQL Database, Power BI, Dynamics 365 F&SC, Azure DevOps (Source Control, Work Item Tracking, Scrum Boards, CI/CD), Azure AD Azure VMs, Azure App Service ASP.NET Core and Azure Machine Learning Lifecycle Services.

    “Pricing is complex these days and managing pricing and incentives accurately for supply chain companies can be the difference between profit and loss. With Microsoft’s commitment to ERP innovation, breadth of functionality, and ease of use along with Flintfox’s competitive advantage in complex pricing and rebate management we are not just competing, we are winning.

    We are proud that our outstanding achievements globally have been recognised by Microsoft, this provides amazing testament to our company as we continue to grow in scale and influence. Looking forward to achieving even more wins with Flintfox and Microsoft - we make an incredible team.
    ” says Flintfox CEO and Chairman, Mike Ridgway.

    Flintfox has over 15 years of leading collaborations with Microsoft as an ISV, resulting in dozens of happy Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 ERP clients getting the solutions they need to succeed and grow. As well as bringing extended functionality to D365, Flintfox has recently developed the RMx hyper-speed pricing engine in the Azure cloud, that works with any ERP, to complement the Trade Revenue Management (TRM) Suite for Dynamics. RMx delivers 5,000 complex prices calculated per second in Azure. There is currently no other solution like it in the world.


  • 31 Jul 2020 12:37 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Forget In-N-Out Burger – US burger chain Five Guys is finally coming to New Zealand.

    The franchise, renowned for its made-to-order burgers with 15 toppings and American-style milkshakes, is expected to open next year.

    Seagrass Boutique Hospitality, the group behind restaurants The Meat & Wine Co, Ribs & Burgers, Italian Street Kitchen, and Hunter & Barrel, confirmed the chain would be coming New Zealand and Australia.

    Five Guys has more than 1500 outlets worldwide and counts the UK and Hong Kong as its major successes outside the US.

    Initial sites are now being scouted in Sydney, but it is not yet known where Five Guys plans to open stores in New Zealand.

    Melbourne and Brisbane will also be one of the first cities to open across Australia.

    Five Guys was founded in 1986 in Arlington County, Virginia, by Janie and Jerry Murrell and their sons Jim, Matt, Chad and Ben.

    Source: NZ Herald Business

  • 30 Jul 2020 1:18 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    NASDAQ: LAUR) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Strategic Education, Inc. (NASDAQ: STRA) for the sale of its Australian and New Zealand operations – Torrens University Australia and Think Education in Australia and Media Design School in New Zealand.

    The three operations have approximately 19,000 students enrolled in technical, undergraduate and postgraduate programs in a variety of academic disciplines, including Business, Education, Hospitality, Design and Creative Technology, and Health. Torrens University was founded by Laureate in 2014 and was the first new university to open in Australia in 20 years. Think Education joined Laureate in 2013, seven years after it was established. Media Design School, founded in New Zealand 22 years ago, became part of the Laureate network in 2011.

    Strategic Education, Inc. is an established operator of campus-based and online higher education institutions in the United States, including Capella and Strayer Universities.

    The purchase price is US$642.7 million and is subject to certain closing adjustments based on the aggregate working capital and indebtedness and on forecasted performance. Torrens University, Think Education and Media Design School will remain part of the Laureate International Universities network until the closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur by the first quarter of 2021. It is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by relevant Australian and New Zealand authorities and a mutual right of termination based on the occurrence of a material adverse change in certain forecasted performance.

    Commenting on the transaction, President and Chief Executive Officer of Laureate, Eilif Serck-Hanssen said, “This transaction is an outgrowth of the process Laureate initiated earlier this year to explore strategic alternatives for each of its business units. We’re incredibly proud of what our Australian and New Zealand teams have achieved – from establishing Australia’s first new university in two decades, to consistently delivering quality student learning experiences with high employability outcomes. We have built a highly efficient student centric culture focused on strong ties to employers and community partners – and we have been rewarded with robust growth and student loyalty. Under the stewardship of Strategic Education, Inc., I’m confident that our institutions will continue to be supported in delivering on their mission of providing highly innovative programs with high student satisfaction and strong outcomes.”

    Karl McDonnell, Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Education, Inc., said: “We’re excited to be expanding our business into the Australian and New Zealand markets. We have been impressed by the growth and impact the three Laureate institutions have made and look forward to welcoming Torrens University, Think Education and Media Design School into our network.”
  • 30 Jul 2020 1:05 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Performance Insights, the largest Pipedrive CRM reseller globally and a leading sales software and consultancy firm to the Financial Services sector, today joins the FileInvite partner network in North America.

    The partnership adds FileInvite’s cloud-based secure personal data sharing product to Performance Insights’ portfolio of CRM, client portals and marketing automation solutions for customers in banking, insurance, wealth management and credit. Secure personal data sharing through FileInvite means banks and credit providers can more efficiently complete their due diligence on consumer applications, improving both the customer experience and compliance.  

    Interest in secure document transfer has surged as a result of the CARES Act and during COVID-19 as consumers turn to online transactions rather than visiting bank or mortgage brokers in person. FileInvite makes it easier for bank employees to receive and safely store customers’ financial documents without meeting in person. 

    Performance insights, which counts Wells Fargo and Bank of America as clients, offers File Invite an extensive network of consultants and decades of industry expertise which will allow new customers to onboard faster.

    The new partnership with FileInvite significantly improves document collection, a critical part of the loan and mortgage origination process that, historically, has been inefficient, time consuming and resulted in a poor user experience.  FileInvite offers a very efficient process to collaborate with clients, collect important financial documents and deliver a wonderful user experience - especially important when everyone is working from home.  We are very excited to introduce our clients and the financial services market in North American to FileInvite.
    Ron Buck, Founder & CEO Performance Insights 
    “We're excited to partner with a well established and trusted name like Performance Insights to bring secure data sharing to more companies across North America. New regulations and the pandemic are forcing change upon the collection of personal information, and FileInvite is positioned to solve this for consumers and their financial providers,.
    James Sampson, FileInvite CEO