Chefs showcase art of fine dining

Food & Drinks

Chefs showcase art of fine dining

Fairmont Norfolk hotel chef AnnRose Mureithi during the recent Chaine des Rotisseurs Competition in May, 2023. PHOTO | POOL

It was an invitation I nearly refused. I’m glad I didn’t.

It was for an internal contest of the Chaine des Rotissuers at the Fairmont The Norfolk in Nairobi hosted by Nils Rothbarth the new Fairmont Hotel & Resorts cluster general manager.

I almost declined because the invitation fell on a Saturday, my rest day but also the fact that for the longest time, Chaine des Rotissuers has never been a big thing in Kenya as it should, or has it? Well to the best of my knowledge, no, so I had my doubts.

The idea of having to taste 10-plus meals of the competing chefs, also made me wary. I am not a foodie, especially when it’s of five-star meals.

The standards of gastronomy at these institutions are always on another level, and that goes without saying.

Lots of spices, different cooking techniques and styles and hundreds of ingredients, among others.

The food here is always about experience, the art, the craft, something I am never so keen on when it comes to personal preference.

If you know me, I am a gym rat and so I prefer my meals simple. The less spicy the better, the less oily even much better.

Well, when I write about food at a given restaurant then it’s always about the ambience rather than the menu that I mainly dedicate most of the time to.

But hey, don’t get it twisted, I love binging cooking shows or watching chefs do their thing, they fascinate me every time.

Anyway, for starters, let me explain Chain des Rotisseurs.

It is a society devoted to promoting fine dining, preserving the camaraderie and pleasures of the table.

The International Gastronomic Society was founded in 1950 in Paris but traces its origins back to 1248.

After the fall of the Roman empire, gastronomy in Europe took sanctuary in the monasteries.

The monastic orders lived off the land, produced wines and spirits and made their own bread, cheese or honey.


Commis Chef Bernard Wachiuri presents an American medium cooked lamb during the recent Chaine des Rotisseurs Competition in May, 2023. PHOTO | POOL

Bread accompanied by roasted meat and wine was the centrepiece of the diet of the nobility, the elite.

The cooking of the monasteries helped to shape regional gastronomy and with the noble households developing the culinary art.

Therefore, the rotisseurs, (the roasters) apart from the cuisiniers were a crucial part of the noble household.

The rotisseurs took the sole responsibility for roasting, which was a highly sophisticated art. They had to choose the meat, lard it and then supervise the roasting process.

They were also in charge of basting the meat and poultry during cooking to reduce the loss of moisture by evaporation.

Roasted meat had to have a uniformly crisped and deeply caramelised surface to enhance both the flavour and appearance.

Years to pass, at the time, the French King Louis IX then ordered the establishment of several professional guilds one of which was the roasters (rotisseurs).


Norfolk Senior Sous Chef Eunice Kathambi who supervised the chefs during the recent Chaine des Rotissuers competition at The Fairmont in May, 2023. PHOTO | POOL

The vocation of this guild was to perpetuate the standards of quality befitting the royal table but also to learn from one another, improve skills, provide mutual assistance and make sure that their trade secrets were strictly controlled.

More than 200 years have passed and the guild morphed into a global society now with over 25,000 members in over 80 countries, with the sole aim of uniting professional and amateur gastronomes to promote the culinary and hospitality arts.

And to mark this year’s World Chaine Day, celebrations, The Norfolk hosted a competition of its apprentice chefs.

“The idea of this competition to mark this day was to have our chefs who are normally at the back house come out in the front and shine. And we thought the best way to do that was to have an internal competition and a judging panel and provide them with a platform to showcase their skill,” Rothbarth said to me at the table.

To Rothbarth, who now intends to make the competition an annual affair at The Norfolk, this is an important step.

“It’s just not about the cooking, but actually also how I present the food, how to I plate it, how do I present myself because very often we forget about them.”

When I arrived, albeit late as I debated whether to show up or not, the judging had begun with three apprentices showcasing their best dishes to the panel of five judges.


Norfolk Chef De Partie Pastry Wallace Mbugua presents mint chocolate dessert during the recent Chaine des Rotisseurs Competition in May 2023. PHOTO | POOL

The session was long, starting at noon and dragging to dusk, but was worth the wait. It was beautiful to see the panel unable to pick the winner at the end of it all with two cuisines dividing the judges.

The chicken ballotine and an American medium well-cooked lamb served with Moroccan couscous, had the five judges stutter on which was the winning meal.

“I roasted the lamb, basted it then marinated it with legano and should melt in your mouth with the first bite followed by a mint finish. The lambs go well with a Moroccan couscous. On the sides is dried red cabbage with a potato cracker laced with saffron” Chef Bernard explained.


Chicken Ballotine during the recent Chaine des Rotisseurs Competition in May, 2023. PHOTO | POOL

Chef Sam’s (an intern) chicken ballotine presentation had one of the judges describing it as ‘cute’.

“For the outside part of the chicken krest I treated it with paprika few ingredients then blended it, pan-fried it then wrapped it in a cling film for the shape the stashed it in the oven to give it the golden colour.

“Its accompaniment is butternut fried on a pan to get the golden colour and crispy texture. The sauce on the sides is sweet barbecued chilli.”

For the desserts, there was no tussle with all the judges picking the Kenyan mint mousse cake.


Kenyan Mint Mousse Dessert during the recent Chaine des Rotisseurs Competition in May, 2023. PHOTO | POOL

After all the wine that came with the meals, I am glad I hailed an Uber home. Now I’m pondering on how to inveigle an invitation to join the Chaine des Rotissuers growing community.

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Mystery client who hired detective to spy on Reno’s mayor asks Nevada high court to keep name secret

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RENO, Nev. (AP) — The mystery client who hired a detective to secretly track Reno’s mayor with a GPS device is trying to persuade Nevada’s Supreme Court he has a First Amendment right to remain anonymous, a protected privilege he says is a cornerstone of democracy and part of “the business of politics.”

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The high court allowed lawyers representing “John Doe” to file the latest brief in the case — with his true name under seal — last week so as to keep his identity secret, at least for now.

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Chief Justice Lidia Stiglich set additional filing deadlines into July as the justices consider an appeal the detective filed last month seeking to overturn a Washoe County judge’s order that he name the person who hired him to keep tabs on Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and a county commissioner before the November election.

John Doe’s lawyers said the U.S. Supreme Court “has repeatedly affirmed that the First Amendment protects anonymous political activity.”

“For better or worse … the use of private investigators to conduct investigations of elected officials and/or candidates is just politics as usual,” they wrote in the June 1 filing.

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Schieve filed a civil suit in December seeking damages from private detective David McNeely for a violation of her privacy after a mechanic alerted her to the clandestine GPS tracking device, which was attached to her vehicle.

Sparks police determined it was purchased by McNeely. Ex-Washoe County Commissioner Vaugn Hartung joined the suit in February, alleging a GP monitor also was secretly attached to his vehicle to track his movements.

The placing of the devices on the cars wasn’t illegal because no Nevada law specifically outlawed the practice at the time. But the Legislature approved and Gov. Joe Lombardo signed into law last week a prohibition on placing GPS trackers on vehicles with the exceptions of law enforcement officers with warrants and in some cases certain creditors.

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Lawyers for McNeely said in last month’s appeal to the state’s high court that divulging the name of a client would violate the long-accepted and expected confidentiality of a “private investigator-client relationship.”

Lawyers for John Doe joined the appeal last week, arguing that the First Amendment protects John Doe’s right to anonymously investigate elected officials to help uncover misconduct or malfeasance.

“Anonymous pamphlets leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all,” said the brief filed by Las Vegas lawyers Alina Shell and Jeffrey Barr.

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“Even the Federalist Papers, written in favor of the adoption of our Constitution, were published under fictitious names,” they said.

They said that without the assurance of confidentiality, Doe wouldn’t have hired the detective to investigate any alleged misconduct by the politicians. They said earlier he’d received information that suggested the officials may have been involved in some sort of wrongdoing but haven’t provided any further details.

The filing says private investigation of elected officials and candidates “has and likely will always be part of American politics.”

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy hired a private investigator while seeking re-election in 1994 to dig up damaging information about challenger Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, it said. American journalist James Callendar remained anonymous while revealing President Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves, it added.

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In Nevada, the Culinary Union and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association hired a detective to surveil the movements of Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs-McDonald in 2006 to show she lived outside her commission district, the lawyers said.

They said in earlier filings in Washoe District Court that Doe had not broken any laws or disseminated any of the information gathered on his behalf and never instructed McNeely to place GPS trackers on vehicles.

The tracking device was on Schieve’s vehicle for several weeks and Hartung’s vehicle for several months, their lawsuit says.

Schieve said McNeely trespassed onto her property to install the device, which a mechanic noticed while working on her vehicle last year about two weeks before she won re-election in November.

Hartung also won re-election but later resigned to become chairman of the Nevada Transportation Commission.

Judge David Hardy said in his May 4 ruling that the use of a GPS tracking device to monitor the movements of a person could be “a tortious invasion of privacy.”

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Chris Christie to launch second US presidential run

Eight years after he first announced he was running for president, Chris Christie is readying for a return to the national stage.

The brash former governor of New Jersey is expected to launch his second presidential run on Tuesday with a town hall-style event in Manchester, New Hampshire, some 300 miles north of his home state.

New Hampshire is a key early voting state, a fact Christie knows first-hand — in 2016, he suspended his presidential campaign after finishing sixth in the primary there.

But people close to Christie — who in the intervening years has gone from close adviser to Donald Trump to one of the former president’s sharpest critics — insist the New England state with a reputation for independent-minded voters is the right place for the tough-talking former governor to launch his long-shot bid for the presidency.

“There is a reason these candidates get better the second time they do it,” said one senior adviser to “Tell It Like It Is”, Christie’s affiliated super Pac fundraising vehicle. “You learn, you get better, you refine your skills. It’s a craft.”

Christie will be the latest in a growing list of candidates vying to challenge Trump for the Republican party’s nomination in 2024, including Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who ended months of speculation when he entered the race last month.

Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission forming his official campaign on Monday and will kick off his effort with an event in Iowa, another crucial early voting state, on Wednesday.

At the same time, others have abandoned plans to run, arguing anti-Trump Republicans need to coalesce around one candidate rather than risk a repeat of 2016, when a fractured field allowed Trump to shore up his own base of support and secure the delegates needed to win the party’s nomination.

“We must not be complacent, and candidates should not get into this race to further a vanity campaign, to sell books or to audition to serve as Donald Trump’s vice-president,” Chris Sununu, the Republican governor of New Hampshire who for months has toyed with his own run, wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Monday.

Critics question whether Christie, Pence and other challengers — including Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the UN, and Tim Scott, the Republican senator from South Carolina — have a plan for winning the party’s nomination.

The latest average of national opinion polls from RealClearPolitics shows Trump enjoys the support of more than half of Republican voters, followed by DeSantis with just over 22 per cent. The rest of the candidates languish in the single digits.

“Any time a candidate gets into a race, they should have a very clear sense of who their constituency is and how they win,” said Kevin Madden, a senior partner at Washington consultancy Penta who was a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “I don’t get any of that from any of them right now.”

Non-partisan analysts say Christie, who is no stranger to controversy, may have a tougher task than most. When he was governor in 2013, his aides were accused of orchestrating a scheme to create a traffic jam to punish a political opponent, in a scandal known as “Bridgegate”.

A University of New Hampshire poll this year found just 10 per cent of Republican primary voters in the state had a favourable opinion of Christie. By comparison, 63 per cent had a favourable view of DeSantis, and 59 per cent had a favourable view of Trump.

“The numbers speak for themselves: a lot more Republicans dislike him than like him,” said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Christie’s divisiveness with the Republican grassroots is in part down to his thorny relationship with Trump. He was among the first national Republicans to endorse Trump after dropping out of the primary field in 2016 and was later vetted as a possible running mate.

He was tapped to head Trump’s transition team, only to be fired from that role before inauguration day amid conflict with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. He continued to advise Trump throughout his presidency but fell out with him over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“Is there a Chris Christie electorate still left in this Republican party, the kind of people that want to vote for a moderate, centrist, north-eastern Republican governor?” asked one longtime Republican strategist who knows Christie well. “Do they participate in Republican primaries any more? Or are they now either independents or Democrats? Is he still in the party but his voters aren’t?”

Some anti-Trump Republicans have been buoyed by the prospect of a Christie candidacy, hopeful that the combative former governor will be willing to attack Trump directly in a way that the other candidates will not.

Christie, who helped Trump prepare for debates in 2016 and 2020, is widely seen as having destroyed the 2016 campaign of Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, with a devastating primary debate performance.

The first televised debates for 2024, organised by the Republican National Committee, are scheduled for late August. Trump has not committed to participating.

Christie insists he is not a “paid assassin” with a candidacy designed to take out Trump. He told Politico in an interview this year: “When you’re waking up for your 45th morning at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester, you better think you can win, because that walk from the bed to the shower, if you don’t think you can win, it’s hard.”

Mike DuHaime, a veteran Republican strategist and longtime Christie ally, said the former governor is not on a “kamikaze mission”, adding that “more than half” of Republican voters were “looking for an alternative, someone who can take it to Trump with a better vision for the future of the country”.

“It doesn’t seem any of the other candidates have the courage to really take on Trump directly the way Christie does,” DuHaime said.

Still, others remain sceptical.

“The idea of watching Christie on the stage with Donald Trump is appealing to lots of folks, and it would be appealing cable television,” said Scala of the University of New Hampshire. “But I struggle to see, beyond that, what his path is. It is a path to a niche audience, not the nomination.”

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Navigating the Landscape of Personal Injury Claims: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses

Every organization, regardless of size and sector, holds the health and well-being of its employees as a fundamental priority.

The need to support employees in times of difficulty, such as during a personal injury claim, is not just a legal obligation; it is a moral responsibility. The process is laden with complexities and stresses for all parties involved. Hence, it is essential for businesses to handle such situations with the utmost care, sensitivity, and professionalism.

Understanding Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims are legal disputes that arise when an individual suffers harm due to an accident or injury for which someone else might be legally responsible. When considering this within a workplace context, an employee might make a personal injury claim if they have suffered an injury at work due to the employer’s negligence. Therefore, it is vital for businesses to fully comprehend the scope and implications of such claims. Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding personal injury claims can help in ensuring fair treatment of the employee and swift resolution of the claim.

Compassion and Communication: Setting the Tone Right

The initial response when an employee is injured can critically shape the entire claims process. Displaying genuine concern for the well-being of the employee and facilitating open, empathetic communication from the beginning is paramount. The injured employee should feel that their voice is heard, their experience is acknowledged, and they have the organization’s support throughout this challenging time. The message should be clear: the organization cares and is ready to help in every possible way.

Promoting a Culture of Safety and Well-being

Another essential aspect of dealing with personal injury claims is to foster a company culture that emphasizes safety and well-being. While managing the claim at hand is important, it is equally vital to work towards preventing future incidents. Regular safety trainings, comprehensive health programs, and clear communication about safety protocols can reduce the risk of workplace accidents. Moreover, such proactive measures can reassure employees that the organization is committed to their safety and well-being. This, in turn, can foster a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce, strengthening the company in the long run. In essence, handling personal injury claims is not just about reacting to an unfortunate event, but also about learning from it and implementing improvements to prevent future occurrences.

Reporting and Documentation: The Backbone of the Claim

Following an injury, an immediate and accurate report is a vital first step. The incident must be reported to the appropriate authority within your organization and any relevant external bodies such as health and safety regulators or insurance companies. A comprehensive document outlining the incident, including photographs, witness statements, and minute details of the event, becomes an invaluable piece of evidence in the claim process. This documentation helps establish a clear and unbiased account of what transpired.

Legal Support: A Right, Not a Privilege

Businesses should provide employees with access to pertinent legal information and guidance, whether through an in-house legal team or external legal services. This ensures that employees understand their rights, the nuances of the claims process, and what to expect at each stage. Although it might seem counterproductive initially, providing employees with legal support displays your organization’s commitment to transparency, justice, and fair play.

The Importance of Ensuring Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a vital consideration during the personal injury claims process. Employers must ensure that any information exchanged during the claims process is handled with respect and discretion. Moreover, it’s vital to safeguard the employee from potential discrimination or retaliation due to their claim, fostering an environment of trust and respect.

Medical Support and Rehabilitation: Aiding Recovery

Following an injury, an employee may require extensive medical treatment or rehabilitation. Offering support in this area is both a compassionate and strategic step for a business. Besides helping the employee recover more quickly, effective medical support can help to minimize the long-term impacts of the injury, possibly reducing the duration of absence and expediting the employee’s return to work.

Maintaining Regular Contact: A Lifeline to the Workplace

While the employee is away from work recovering, it’s vital to maintain regular contact, updating them on workplace happenings and changes. This can help the employee feel valued and included, reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection. However, it’s important to strike a careful balance – never pressuring them about their return or making them feel like a burden.

Ensuring a Smooth Return-to-Work Transition

When the time comes for the employee to return to work, a smooth transition should be a top priority. This could involve offering flexible hours, proposing a phased return to work, or making adjustments to the workplace or the employee’s role to accommodate any lingering effects of the injury. Open, regular, and empathetic communication is key during this period, helping to make the employee feel comfortable and supported.

Collaboration with Insurers and Legal Professionals

Often, the handling of a personal injury claim involves liaising with insurers and legal professionals. Businesses should actively engage in this collaborative process to ensure that the employee’s needs are met and the claim is processed efficiently and fairly. Insurance adjusters, legal advisors, and medical professionals all play crucial roles in this process, and their expertise can help guide the business and the employee through the often complex landscape of a personal injury claim. This cooperation can aid in reducing misunderstandings, expediting the claims process, and ensuring that the employee receives the compensation they are due.

Steps to Support an Employee Through Personal Injury Claims

The table below nicely highlights the steps you take in an easily readable way:

StepsDescriptionResponsible Parties
Understanding Personal Injury ClaimsFamiliarize with the nature and legal implications of personal injury claims.HR, Management
Compassion and CommunicationShow empathy, maintain open lines of communication.Management, Immediate Supervisor
Reporting and DocumentationEnsure immediate and accurate reporting and documentation of the incident.HR, Witnessing Employees
Legal SupportProvide access to legal information and assistance.HR, Legal Team
Ensuring ConfidentialityRespect and maintain the confidentiality of shared information.All Employees
Medical Support and RehabilitationFacilitate and fund necessary medical treatment or rehabilitation.Management, HR
Maintaining Regular ContactKeep the injured employee updated on workplace happenings.Immediate Supervisor, Co-workers
Smooth Return-to-Work TransitionPlan and execute a smooth transition back to work.HR, Management
Collaboration with Insurers and Legal ProfessionalsEngage with insurance and legal professionals to ensure a fair claim process.Management, HR, Legal Team
Promoting a Culture of Safety and Well-beingFoster a safe work environment, provide regular safety training.Management, HR, All Employees

Final Thought

Supporting an employee through a personal injury claim is a delicate and intricate process that necessitates compassion, transparency, and strict adherence to legal obligations. Furthermore, it offers a significant opportunity for an organization to demonstrate its core values and build a stronger, more resilient, and more loyal workforce. By adopting a comprehensive, empathetic, and supportive approach to personal injury claims, businesses can pave the way for a healthier, more inclusive, and more nurturing work environment.

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The Top Reasons All Investors May Want to Invest in the AI Boom Now

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing everything about everything, creating a potential $1.81 trillion opportunity by 2030, according to Grand View Research. Even better, “Artificial intelligence will, on average, boost rates of profitability by 38% and provide an economic boost of $14 trillion in additional gross value by 2035, according to research by Accenture. And any company involved with the AI boom could see higher highs, including VERSES AI Inc. (CBOE: VERS) (OTCQX: VRSSF), C3.AI Inc. (NYSE: AI), Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), SoundHound AI. (NASDAQ: SOUN), and BigBear.AI (NYSE: BBAI). Even more impressive, according to Bloomberg, “Broken down by business areas, Bloomberg’s report suggests that AI software like AI assistants, infrastructure products, and programs that speed up coding could generate $280 billion by 2032, an annual growth rate of 69%. Hardware, however, will make up the bulk of the $1.3 trillion of revenue, accounting for $641 billion by 2032, per Bloomberg’s estimates. Of that $641 billion, $168 billion come from devices, and $473 will come from infrastructure.”

Look at VERSES Technologies Inc. (CBOE: VERS) (OTCQX: VRSSF), For Example

VERSES AI Inc., a cognitive computing company specializing in the next generation of artificial intelligence, announces the release on June 8, 2023 of an AI industry report titled “THE ROAD TO AUTONOMY: A Path To Global AI Governance”.

The report combines the legislative expertise from Dentons, the world’s largest multinational law firm, and the AI acumen of VERSES with the guidance on technical standards from the Spatial Web Foundation to provide an in-depth analysis of the legal and key legislative trends from across the world on the state of AI regulation and recommendations for a path forward for government regulation of AI.

The report aspires to pioneer a fresh approach for legal practitioners, government regulators, and lawmakers, to keep pace with the rapid technological advancements and to guide their adaptation. The critical aspect of the report is to promote the adoption of standards for what VERSES considers “law as code.” The objective is to encode laws and legal principles into an understandable, machine-readable language that will facilitate the comprehension and autonomous compliance of AI systems with legal frameworks and social norms.

The report analyzes the unprecedented challenges presented by the emergence of AI and autonomous software, devices, and vehicles addressing fundamental questions like, “How can governments regulate AI systems that are on a path to regulating themselves? How can humans stay in the loop to ensure AI alignment with human values, principles, and laws, while guaranteeing fair and equitable services for all individuals and communities? And, how do we encode and enforce AI laws directly in AI systems themselves?

The report critically examines the transformative power of rapidly evolving technologies such as AI systems and their impending impact on legal, regulatory, and government sectors and accentuates the crucial need for developing and adopting standards that foster the understanding, governance, and interoperability of AI and autonomous systems. The report underscores the role of these technical standards in shaping dynamic and effective laws to regulate, oversee, and contemporize AI activities.

The goal of the report is to provide governments, regulators, and legislators with a pragmatic framework that not only informs but also provides a roadmap for policymaking, legislation, and compliance efforts in the field of AI. This is relevant to the flourishing autonomous vehicle industry, while also serving as a fundamental guide for all future AI-driven systems. Emphasizing the urgency of a globally unified, forward-thinking approach to AI governance, the report signals the vital need for standards development and deployment as the world navigates the pathway to Autonomous Intelligent Systems.

Significantly, the report points to the instrumental role of sociotechnical standards, as demonstrated by the work of the Institute of Electrical And Electronics Engineers IEEE P2874 Working Group. This initiative from the world’s largest association of technical professionals, underscores the importance of aligning AIS with human values and reducing the risk of harmful behavior.

The report also highlights the European Commission’s Flying Forward 2020 (“FF2020”) project for successfully implementing these standards. Led by VERSES and running on its KOSM platform, the FF2020 project featured autonomous AI-powered drones executing various tasks, such as medical supply delivery, building security inspection, and large crowd monitoring, all while adhering to local laws. The project exemplifies how the seamless integration of standards for AI with Urban Air Mobility and current legal and regulatory frameworks could improve the implementation of AI-powered services at city scale and beyond.

The report envisions the application of these standards to a host of sectors, including healthcare, education, finance, supply chain and more, paving the way for a smarter world with AI seamlessly operating behind the scenes.

AI is advancing at an unprecedented pace, raising concerns about the direction of its future trajectory. As AI evolves towards autonomous systems, the need for regulation becomes critical. We must address the challenge of regulating self-regulating AI to ensure alignment with human values and prevent potential risks. By implementing global technical standards and establishing an international AI regulatory framework, we can harness the immense benefits of AI while safeguarding against its potential perils.,” stated VERSES CEO, Gabriel René.

We are thrilled to collaborate with VERSES, as the challenge of regulating machines raises the question of how to strike a balance between control and freedom for entities incapable of comprehending laws or guiding principles. The current pace of the legal system hinders effective regulation and allows unchecked development of rapidly evolving technologies like AI. A new socio-technological standards-based approach seems to be a very pragmatic and appealing way forward.,” said Peter Stockberger, Partner at Dentons US.

In summary, the report calls for a safe, effective, and inclusive journey down the “Road to Autonomy,” ensuring that future AI systems are not just technically advanced but also aligned with the best interests of humanity, both now and in the future. With AI influencing every sector, this insightful report offers pragmatic recommendations for a more secure, innovative, and integrated AI-driven future. The full report will be available on the VERSES, DENTONS, and websites on or around June 8, 2023, with the executive summary already available for preview.

Other related developments from around the markets include:

C3.AI Inc. announced preliminary results for its fourth fiscal quarter and fiscal year ended April 30, 2023. All numbers reported are unaudited preliminary estimates. Completed financial results, fiscal 2024 guidance, KPIs, and additional details will be provided on May 31, 2023. “As we began the fiscal year on May 1, the company has never been better positioned,” said Thomas M. Siebel, C3 AI CEO. “I believe we now have broad consensus that the addressable market for Enterprise AI is extraordinarily large; we have nearly 1,000 talented, dedicated employees; the C3 AI Platform is increasingly recognized as the gold-standard in enterprise AI; we have over 40 production enterprise AI applications that offer the market rapid time to value; our C3 Generative AI offerings are being enthusiastically received; our growing market-partner ecosystem enables us to punch above our weight; and with our tried, tested, and proven management team, our august and distinguished board of directors, our strong work ethic, and armed with over $800 million in cash – we are well positioned to accelerate growth, gain market share, attain sustainable non-GAAP profitability, and establish a market-leading position globally in enterprise AI. FY 2024 will be exciting.”

Nvidia reported revenue for the first quarter ended April 30, 2023, of $7.19 billion, down 13% from a year ago and up 19% from the previous quarter. GAAP earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $0.82, up 28% from a year ago and up 44% from the previous quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.09, down 20% from a year ago and up 24% from the previous quarter. “The computer industry is going through two simultaneous transitions — accelerated computing and generative AI,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “A trillion dollars of installed global data center infrastructure will transition from general purpose to accelerated computing as companies race to apply generative AI into every product, service and business process. “Our entire data center family of products — H100, Grace CPU, Grace Hopper Superchip, NVLink, Quantum 400 InfiniBand and BlueField-3 DPU — is in production. We are significantly increasing our supply to meet surging demand for them,” he said. During the first quarter of fiscal 2024, NVIDIA returned to shareholders $99 million in cash dividends. NVIDIA will pay its next quarterly cash dividend of $0.04 per share on June 30, 2023, to all shareholders of record on June 8, 2023.

SoundHound AI, a global leader in voice artificial intelligence, reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2023. “The incredible surge in demand for conversational AI is giving SoundHound a unique advantage. As an established innovator with years of experience providing AI solutions to world class brands, we’re fast becoming an obvious partner for businesses looking to harness emerging capabilities,” said Keyvan Mohajer, CEO and Co-Founder of SoundHound. “Our SoundHound Chat AI platform now offers the most powerful voice assistant available today, and it’s one of many ways we’re helping new and existing customers build game-changing consumer experiences.”

BigBear.AI Holdings announced financial results for the first quarter of 2023. CFO Julie Peffer said, “In the first quarter, we achieved approximately 16% year-over-year revenue growth driven by key programs with the U.S. Army including GFIM Phase 2. Our disciplined approach to reducing operating costs helped support lowered overall expenses for the quarter. Additionally, we filed a universal shelf registration statement to offer up to $500 million of securities, which will allow us to more easily access capital markets moving forward to support organic and inorganic growth. We expect these key factors will help position us to deliver sustainable revenue growth in the future.”

Legal Disclaimer / Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this article contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Winning Media is not registered with any financial or securities regulatory authority and does not provide nor claims to provide investment advice or recommendations to readers of this release. For making specific investment decisions, readers should seek their own advice. Winning Media is only compensated for its services in the form of cash-based compensation. Pursuant to an agreement Winning Media has been paid three thousand five hundred dollars for advertising and marketing services for VERSES AI Inc. by VERSES AI Inc. We own ZERO shares of VERSES AI Inc. Please click here for disclaimer.


Ty Hoffer
Winning Media
[email protected]

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Inflation seen easing to 6.1% in May

By Keisha B. Ta-asan, Reporter

INFLATION likely slowed for a fourth straight month in May due to favorable base effects and a decline in prices of energy and some food items, analysts said.

A BusinessWorld poll of 15 analysts last week yielded a median estimate of 6.1% for May inflation, settling near the lower end of the 5.8-6.6% forecast range by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

If realized, the May inflation rate would be slower than 6.6% in April but quicker than the 5.4% print in the same month a year earlier. Inflation has been on a downtrend since the 8.7% print seen in January.

The consumer price index (CPI) in May would also exceed the BSP’s annual 2-4% target range for the 14th consecutive month. The BSP sees inflation averaging 5.5% for the full year.

The Philippine Statistics Authority will release inflation data on June 6.

“Favorable base effects coupled with moderating prices for select food and energy items should push headline inflation closer towards target,” ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said in an e-mail.

Philippine National Bank economist Alvin Joseph A. Arogo said in an e-mail that the lower Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) electricity rates would also be a dominant factor in the slower inflation in May.

Meralco raised the overall rate for a typical household by P0.1761 to P11.4929 per kilowatt-hour in May.

Lower prices of some food items like fish and poultry may have contributed to the decelerating inflation in May, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) economist for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Aris Dacanay said.

“(This,) as the government’s efforts to augment the food supply through imports continued to work their way through the economy, and ultimately, to prices,” Mr. Dacanay said.

The average price of bangus fell to P120-P240 per kilogram by end-May from P150-P240 by end-April, while the price of tilapia ranged at P100-P200 per kilogram during the month, data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed.

However, China Banking Corp. Chief Economist Domini S. Velasquez noted that rice, meat, and vegetable prices in May were higher compared with the previous month.

“This was somewhat offset by lower prices of fish, chicken, and eggs. Additionally, it looks like price increases in regions increased much more than in Metro Manila,” she said.

Based on data from the DA, the price of a whole chicken fell to as low as P150 per kilo as of end-May, while prices of medium eggs were also around P6 to P8.8 per piece. 

“Diesel prices, too, saw a gradual decline, which likely helped to keep transport CPI negative on an annual basis,” Mr. Dacanay said.

In May, pump price adjustments stood at a net decrease of P1.45 a liter for gasoline, P2 a liter for diesel, and P3.2 a liter for kerosene.   

“The fall in food and energy CPI then likely dragged core CPI, and as a result, we expect year-on-year core inflation to begin showing signs of easing,” Mr. Dacanay said.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile prices of food and fuel, slowed to 7.9% in April from 8% in March. March saw the highest core inflation print since December 2000.

However, Mr. Dacanay noted upside risks remain as imports likely became more expensive as the peso weakened against the US dollar.

In May, the peso depreciated by 77 centavos or 1.37% to P56.15 on May 31 from its April 28 close of P55.38.

Inflation may continue to tread lower for the rest of the year until it reaches the BSP’S 2-4% target range by the fourth quarter, analysts said.

“We expect inflation to sustain its downward trend as favorable base effects and improved supply chains take hold,” ING’s Mr. Mapa said. 

However, food inflation faces upside risks due to the El Niño weather event and shortages in food items, Ms. Velasquez said.

According to the state weather agency, El Niño has an 80% chance to emerge in June, July and August, and would likely persist until first quarter next year.

“We also expect minimum wage hikes this year due to elevated inflation in the past two years,” Ms. Velasquez added.

The Senate Committee on Labor and Employment last month approved “in principle” Senate Bill No. 2002 which proposes an across-the-board daily minimum wage hike of P150.

Analysts expect the BSP to maintain its current monetary stance as inflation continues to slow.

“I don’t think the coming inflation report will have any bearing on the BSP’s meeting next month, assuming it shows a continued slowdown. The prints will only really start to matter for monetary policy once they return to the 2-4% target range,” Pantheon Chief Emerging Asia Economist Miguel Chanco said.

The BSP paused its aggressive monetary policy tightening campaign last month. Since May 2022, the Monetary Board has raised key rates by 425 basis points (bps) to 6.25%.

BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla earlier said the central bank is prepared to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged for two to three meetings if inflation continues to ease.

“Inflation trends will figure into the BSP decision on (June) 22nd, which could be the final meeting for Governor Medalla’s stellar tenure. One additional input would be the Fed’s decision a week earlier with some investors pricing in a policy rate hike by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC),” Mr. Mapa said.

The US central bank, which has raised borrowing costs by a total of 500 bps since March last year, is set to meet next on June 13-14. 

“With latest data on first-quarter GDP growth at 6.4% (higher than expected) and May PMI (Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index) rising to 52.2 (previous period at 51.4), we are inclined to expect the BSP to pause until may be the next two meetings,” Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said.

He noted the BSP may also cut the big banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) and release more liquidity as the aggressive rate hikes stifle bank loan growth.

The RRR for big banks is currently at 12%, one of the highest in the region. Reserve requirements for thrift and rural lenders are at 3% and 2%, respectively.

The central bank targets to cut the RRR to single-digit levels by the end of the year.

“Nevertheless, we may see a rate cut toward the end of 2023 as more disinflation happens in the next months,” Mr. Asuncion added. 

The BSP’s next three policy meetings are scheduled on June 22, Aug. 17, and Sept. 21.

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Callisthenics: Bodyweight resistance training for ultimate strength

Wellness & Fitness

Callisthenics: Bodyweight resistance training for ultimate strength

Trainer and founder of the Calisthenics Fitness Gym Joseph Oloo performs the Human Flag exercise during his fitness session on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

To sit through a 40-minute talk on bodyweight resistance training, delivered to you by 34-year-old Joseph Oloo, a certified callisthenics trainer, is no mean feat.

It’s even more flummoxing when he grabs a bowl of beans and chapati in the chilling morning at his Calisthen Fitness Centre in Kileleshwa on Othaya Road, Haven Cottage in Nairobi.

“Is chapati even healthy?” I find my mouth going before my brain.

Haha! Not at all, it’s definitely not one of the choices of meals I would recommend, but at my fitness level, I know how to manipulate my body. This is more of a snack to me, not a meal,” Oloo clarifies.

With his tracksuit on, soft-spoken Oloo passes for a lanky figure. When he decides to go topless, he is shredded to the core, and every muscle pops out for the world to see.

Even with the chapati as a snack, his body fat stands at seven percent, which many fitness gurus consider moving a mountain.

For this sit-down, Oloo is joined by a longtime friend Young Obara, 31, and fellow callisthenics trainer, who provides contrast to his demeanour.


Calisthenics Fitness Gym founder Joseph Oloo (right) poses with fellow trainer Obara Young at the gym in Kileleshwa, Nairobi on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

Loquacious Obara isn’t shredded as much. He is bulky and lean at the same time. His six-pack is visible even from a stone-throw away. Just like Oloo, Obara is in the shape of his life.

I tease them to show us (accompanied by colleagues) what they are made of. Grabbing wooden parallel bars, they execute handstand poses with ease and hang on for about 30 seconds.

The handstand involves supporting body weight in a stable inverted vertical position by balancing on the hands. In a basic handstand, the body is held straight with arms and legs fully extended, with hands spaced approximately shoulder-width apart and legs together.

“This form of movement strengthens shoulders, arms and wrists as it also stretches the navel. Basically, unlike weight training, which in most cases targets a specific set of muscles, calisthenics are compound exercises, which target a group of different muscles,” Obara offers.


Trainers Joseph Oloo (left) and Obara Young perform the Hand Stands exercise during a fitness session on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

Oloo and Obara then execute front and back lever movements again with ease. They are exercises that look very easy, but once you try them (I did), you’ll realise you’re no way near executing them, even in a decent form.

But professional gymnasts and advanced callisthenics athletes, like these duo, execute them effortlessly.

The levers provide immense upper body strength, especially the lats, the largest muscle in the upper body, while also strengthening the core.

They would then pull the human flag, considered one of the ultimate body strength movements defying the law of gravity for about 30 seconds.

The human flag movement is a feat of strength where the body is parallel to the ground, supported by a vertical bar. A straight line is formed using arms and body, giving the impression of a flag.

The trick here requires the performer to have extensive upper body strength. The pose works the delts and lats muscles, with secondary muscles being the glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads. Obara would then opt to sit out in the execution of the planche movement. In his defence, he said, “sijafika hapo bado” (I’m not yet at the level just).

Planche is a complex movement where the body is held parallel to the ground while being supported above the floor by straight arms. It’s a movement that requires significant sheer strength, focus and balance.

These movements work the biceps, triceps, delts, lats and glutes group of muscles. To finish the show, Oloo executed an intermediate-level exercise that requires core strength to execute properly. The V-sit targets the abdomen, obliques and hip flexors group of muscles.


Trainer and founder of the Calisthenics Fitness Gym Joseph Oloo performs performs the Straddle Planche exercise on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

“Getting to the level of executing these movements is the ultimate prize for anyone into callisthenics. They are the summary of human sheer body strength and mobility,” Oloo affirms.

But to get here, it has taken them years of perfection.

Both Oloo and Obara have never lifted weights in their fitness journey. They both lost their jobs and turned to fitness. A mutual friend brought the duo together in 2018.

“Back in 2017 I used to work for an NGO that closed shop and I became redundant. At the time, I had started being involved with callisthenics because since I was young I loved gymnastics. The executions of the complex movements of the gymnast had me glued, there is this photo I saw of a guy balancing on empty bottles stacked on each other and I was hooked,” says Obara.

With no job, he trained at a local gym but didn’t fancy the weights, spending most of his time focusing on his body weight from watching the gymnastic athletes.

Obara would then start training his family and neighbours, who would pay him and it was at that point that he decided he wanted to be a trainer.

Later on, he enrolled for a course as a certified personal trainer at the American Council of Exercise.

Until 2016, Oloo worked at a real estate agency that paid him a monthly salary of Sh30,000.

Other than his morning runs, he had never indulged in any other form of exercise. “One day I saw a video on YouTube that read ‘100 pushups daily changed my body,’. The guy was chiselled and had the body of his life, then I thought to myself why can’t I try as well and look the part too,”

Every evening after work he would try out the 100 pushups.

“I would do bits by bits until I hit the 100 mark I also continued watching more videos on YouTube and as you know with YouTube the more you watch the more related content is suggested to you and that’s how calisthenics and gymnastics started to come out. I had never had of the two,” he says.

It wasn’t long before he had a chin up and dip bars set and started doing the exercise from YouTube.

“It wasn’t long before people started noticing the transformation in my body but I wasn’t as good. Then something funny happened. One day I watched a video of a guy who had a body frame similar to mine, he was a callisthenics expert doing a handstand move. I took a screenshot because he was doing it from the back and shared it online and for some reason, everybody thought that was me and enquiry started coming.”

That’s when he knew it was time to earn a certification as a personal trainer as well and enrolled for a fitness course that took him a year.

“While schooling I continued with my fitness routine, I used to live along Thika Road then and would go for my runs on the fly over do my push-ups there and little did I know people started joining and it wasn’t long before a few suggested that I should start training them,” he says.

Oloo would get two clients who paid him Sh20,000 monthly. At work, the pressure was mounting because he had now formed a tendency of showing up late and leaving early.

“With the pressure, I thought to myself if with two clients I easily make much more than I earn what was the point, that’s how I quit,” he says.

Once he attained his certification he secured a job as a trainer at Alpha Fit and when Covid-19 hit, his life changed for the better.

“I had struggled to find jobs at gyms because calisthenics is something not so popular with many but when Covid-19 hit people were now out seeking personal home trainers. The few videos of me doing calisthenics that I had shared on Facebook became my Damascus moment as many people reached out,”


Trainers Joseph Oloo (left) and Obara Young perform the Front Lever exercise during a fitness session on May 31, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

Last October, Oloo found this space in Kileleshwa and set up a gym — Calisthens Fitness. Looking around all you see are various forms of hanging bars, parallel bars, gymnastics ropes but no sight of weights.

“So far, we have 30 clients and offer various packages. The monthly package is Sh15,000 and for those who require personal training the package price depends on the number of classes,” says the entrepreneur.

For 20 classes one pays Sh20,000 and Sh16,000 for 12 classes, Sh12,000 for eight classes and so on.

According to the gyms website, they focus on strength training, mobility, flexibility, balance, callisthenics skills and nutrition.

Obara adds: “For a beginner, we start with the basic moves which are always the push-up variations, squats, leg raises, upper body strength and so on.

“For any human, there are certain movement patterns that one should be able to execute with ease. That is squat patterns, which in our case we focus on using one leg, because, the whole idea in callisthenics is mastering your own body weight, this also helps to build on balance. Then there is the pushing and pulling movement patterns.”

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Prelude to Fed Features Two Global Rate Cliffhangers: Eco Week

With the Federal Reserve approaching a possible pause in interest rate-hiking, two close-call decisions elsewhere in the world offer a foretaste of the quandary US officials have in store.

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(Bloomberg) — With the Federal Reserve approaching a possible pause in interest rate-hiking, two close-call decisions elsewhere in the world offer a foretaste of the quandary US officials have in store.

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The Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Canada weren’t expected to raise borrowing costs at meetings in the coming week, until recent data suddenly put financial markets on edge for further action.

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Those decisions will arrive just days before the Fed’s June 14 announcement. Recently, some Fed officials have signaled they’re leaning toward a pause while others have indicated a preference to keep going in the fight against inflation.

First up will be the RBA on Tuesday. Unexpectedly hot consumer-price data, a large rise in Australia’s minimum wage, and mounting concern that inflation expectations will de-anchor have made the decision a line-ball call.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expects a hike, having changed its view following the inflation numbers, while Royal Bank of Canada revised its forecast after the pay decision. They predict a quarter-point increase in the cash rate, to 4.1%. Money markets see a bit over a 50% chance of a hike, while a majority of economists anticipate a pause.

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Governor Philip Lowe has dialed up his rhetoric, worried that a tight labor market and increases in property prices will make households feel wealthier and fuel further inflation. Against that, the RBA has delivered its most aggressive tightening cycle in a generation — hiking 11 times in 12 months — and economic activity is cooling.

Canada’s central bank is also in a bind ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. Continuous upside surprises — including gross domestic product and employment — are challenging the long-held belief that the nation’s economy is more rate-sensitive than peers.

While some deeply indebted households are starting to feel the pinch of higher borrowing costs, many consumers are resilient. Price pressures are also proving stickier than expected.

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Traders in overnight swap markets see around a one-third chance that Governor Tiff Macklem will hike rates, with economists split on the likely outcome.

Whichever way they decide, Canadian policymakers will at least position themselves for additional increases to borrowing costs in the summer, so they can jump back into tightening when they have a more complete set of forecasts in July.

What Bloomberg Economics Says:

“Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s risk-management approach is to move gradually. That’s why we still expect the Fed to skip a rate hike at the June 13-14 FOMC meeting – though the risk has risen that Powell won’t be able to forge a consensus.”

—Anna Wong, Stuart Paul and Eliza Winger, economists. For full analysis, click here

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Elsewhere, multiple rate decisions from India to Russia, Chinese trade and inflation numbers, other consumer-price reports from Turkey to Brazil, and testimony by the European Central Bank president will be among the highlights. The World Bank will release new economic forecasts on Tuesday and the OECD follows with its own estimates a day later.

Click here for what happened last week and below is our wrap of what’s coming up in the global economy.

US Economy

The US economic data calendar is light this coming week and policymakers are sidelined ahead of the Fed’s June 13-14 policy meeting.

On Monday, the Institute for Supply Management will issue its May services activity gauge. The measure is forecast to show a faster pace of expansion, unlike the ISM manufacturing index which indicated a seventh month of contraction.

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A government report on Wednesday will probably show the US trade deficit in April widened by the most in six months. Already-issued merchandise trade data showed a bigger shortfall during the month as US exports declined and imports increased.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for the US


China will report its latest trade figures in the middle of the week, data that will be closely watched after the latest PMI readings showed further weakness in the world’s second largest economy’s recovery. Inflation data on Friday are likely to show subdued price pressures.

Aside from the central bank announcement in Australia, the other major decision in the region will be from the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday. Economists predict rates there to stay on hold.

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Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines will all report inflation figures toward the start of the week.

Japan will report revised growth figures for the first quarter as well as its latest wages figures as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida likely continues to mull an early election.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for Asia

Europe, Middle East, Africa

The euro zone’s first-quarter performance will be revisited this week with fuller data that could show stagnation or even a recession after Germany suffered such a downturn.

How Europe’s biggest economy fared at the start of the second quarter will be a focus as well, in three reports starting on Monday with exports, followed by factory orders and industrial production. Italian and Spanish factory data will also be released.

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Less backward-looking and more relevant for the ECB will be its own survey of consumers to be published on Tuesday, which will show whether expectations of faster inflation are becoming entrenched, even as data suggest price growth may be slowing.

Policymakers will make final comments before a pre-meeting blackout period kicks in on Thursday in advance of the June 15 rate decision. ECB President Christine Lagarde’s appearance in the European Parliament on Monday may draw attention.

Elsewhere in Europe, inflation data on Monday may provide comfort to the Swiss National Bank, with an underlying gauge of price growth predicted to slow to its 2% ceiling.

Norway’s equivalent report on Friday may be less encouraging: Inflation there is still likely to exceed 6%. The same day, in neighboring Sweden, the monthly GDP indicator for April will be released, the latest health check on an economy predicted by the European Commission to suffer the region’s worst contraction this year.

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Elsewhere, three central bank decisions are scheduled:

  • On Wednesday, Polish officials will probably keep rates unchanged after slowing inflation boosted speculation a cut may be just around the corner.
  • Serbia’s central bank on Thursday will consider whether to pause tightening for a second time or to resume rate hikes.
  • On Friday, the Bank of Russia may hold its key rate at 7.5%, extending the longest pause since late-2015 through mid-2016. Officials are increasingly on alert for inflationary risks, though.

Looking south, Turkey on Monday may post its first negative month-on-month inflation reading in more than four years after TurkStat’s decision to record household gas prices as zero for May.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged during his reelection campaign to give free gas to households for the month. Annual inflation is expected to slow to just under 40%.

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Data on Tuesday will likely show South Africa averted a recession in the first quarter, despite more intense power outages. The central bank forecasts the economy grew 0.4% in the three months through March after a 1.3% contraction in the prior period.

And on Thursday, data will probably show South Africa had a current-account deficit in the first quarter.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for EMEA

Latin America

Brazil has seen almost 800 basis points of disinflation since last April, with May data out this week expected to show another move down, close to 4%.

Analysts surveyed by the central bank see the June print falling further toward the target followed by a jump back up the following month as last July’s negative print falls out of the 12-month series.

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In Colombia, inflation has hit a “turning point” after a near unbroken two-year surge, according to central bank chief Leonardo Villar. The consensus call for May is slightly below 12.7%.

Rounding out the week’s inflation results from the region’s big five economies, data from Mexico and Chile should clearly show all now firmly in the grip of disinflation.

As to monetary policy, look for Peru’s central bank to keep its benchmark rate unchanged, though most analysts expect the board to maintain some room for maneuver by not calling the peak at 7.75%.

Closely watched surveys of economists in Brazil and Mexico may see consensus year-end inflation forecasts trimmed slightly.

Argentina is headed in the opposite direction. The country’s deepening financial crisis suggests that the steady deterioration of output and inflation forecasts in the central bank’s survey of economists posted Friday will continue.

  • For more, read Bloomberg Economics’ full Week Ahead for Latin America

—With assistance from Vince Golle, Sylvia Westall, Robert Jameson and Andrea Dudik.


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Activist investor Elliott is back at NRG Energy. Here’s how the firm plans to build value

Company: NRG Energy (NRG)

Activist: Elliott Management

Percentage Ownership:  > 13.0%

Average Cost: n/a

Activist Commentary: Elliott is a very successful and astute activist investor, particularly in the technology sector. Its team includes analysts from leading tech private equity firms, engineers and operating partners – former technology CEO and COOs. When evaluating an investment, the firm also hires specialty and general management consultants, expert cost analysts and industry specialists. The firm often watches companies for many years before investing and has an extensive stable of impressive board candidates.

May 15, Elliott sent a letter to NRG. The firm called on the company to implement a plan that includes appointing five new independent board members it has identified and making operational and strategic improvements, including a review of Vivint Smart Home.

This is not Elliott’s first foray with NRG. In January 2017, the firm filed a 13D on NRG with a plan centered around operational improvements and portfolio actions. Elliott saw a company with an attractive collection of generation and retail assets that had lost its focus as it expanded beyond its core merchant power and retail electricity businesses, which led to an uncompetitive cost structure, an overleveraged balance sheet and a complex asset portfolio. As part of its plan, Elliott suggested that NRG focus on its core businesses by reducing costs, monetizing non-core assets to simplify its portfolio and paying down debt. NRG conducted a four-month business review that targeted initiatives, including $1.065 billion of total cost and margin improvement, $2.5 billion to $4.0 billion of asset divestitures and $13 billion of debt reduction. In February 2017, Elliott settled with the company for the replacement of two directors, including the chairman, with a longtime director (since 2003) taking over the chairman role. Elliott exited their 13D six months later with a 103.5% return versus 7.5% for the S&P 500. One year later, one of their directors resigned from the board. Two years after Elliott wrapped up the engagement, the other director resigned.

Since the end of the firm’s engagement, NRG has reversed much of its progress and has underperformed the S&P Utilities Index by 44% and integrated power peers by 53%, which can largely be attributed to various operational failures and a loss of strategic direction. NRG missed two years of financial guidance in 2021 and 2022 after struggling with repeated plant outages and demonstrating an inability to manage through extreme weather events. Perhaps more impactive to its dismal performance was the company’s acquisition of Vivint (a home security business), completed on March 10. This acquisition prompted a 20% decline in NRG’s market cap over the first week and begs the question of why the company would make such a large bet on a strategy that many other firms have already failed to execute successfully.

Missteps aside, Elliott thinks that the company’s retail franchise is a crown jewel that has been a market leader in Texas for over 20 years and there remain several opportunities to get back on track. Now Elliott is back with a plan that is remarkably similar to its 2017 plan: improve operations, refresh the board, and fix strategy and capital allocation. Elliott calls on the company to adopt an operationally focused strategy of improving reliability, reducing costs and meeting financial commitments. The firm thinks that this could lead to at least $500 million of recurring, EBITDA-accretive cost reductions by 2025. Additionally, Elliott believes that NRG should conduct a strategic review of its home services strategy, including Vivint, and focus on the core integrated power business. The company should also establish a new capital allocation framework to return at least 80% of free cash flow to shareholders, with any growth investments focused on the generation and retail businesses. Elliott states that this plan would allow the company to return $6.5 billion of excess capital (~85% of the current market cap) to shareholders over the next three years. Elliott believes that this plan could create over $5 billion of value, driving the stock price to upward of $55 per share.

To effectively oversee this plan, Elliott believes that the board needs new independent directors with expertise in the power and energy industry. Elliott has identified five candidates that it believes will help implement the foregoing operational and strategic changes. The board and management currently consist of the same chairman Elliott agreed to in 2017, five (out of 10) of the same directors from before Elliott’s 2017 engagement and the same CEO as from before the firm’s engagement. Elliott does not come out and say that the company needs a new CEO, but the firm certainly dances around it in the May 15 letter: It notes that the company “must restore the credibility of the management team.” “The Board should also evaluate the management team’s ability to drive high-performance operations on a sustained basis.” “Strong management will be key to the success of the Repower NRG Plan,” and “significant changes are needed.”

One of the biggest, but under-recognized benefits of shareholder activism is that activists often not only create value during their engagement, but they also put the company on the right trajectory to sustain shareholder value over the long term. The latter did not happen here, and now Elliott is realizing the difference between giving someone a fish and teaching them to fish. Or, to use a more business-like analogy, the difference between “clock building” and “time telling” as explained by author Jim Collins in the book “Built to Last.” “Searching for a single great idea on which to build success is time telling; building an organization that can generate many great ideas over a long period of time is clock building. Enduring greatness requires clock building,” Collins wrote. In 2017, Elliott’s campaign was about time telling. To achieve the kind of long-term value the firm appears to be aiming for this time around, it is going to have to build a clock.

They will have time to make this happen. Elliott has only recommended directors instead of nominating them, which signals amicable engagement, but it cannot formally nominate directors until Dec. 29 and has until Jan. 28, 2024 to make nominations. The amount of change that is needed to sustain long-term value as Elliott alludes to in its letter will take more than just replacing two directors this time, so an early settlement might not be in the cards.

It should be noted that activists have historically not been that successful the second time around when they go back to the well. A 2019 study conducted by 13D Monitor concluded that when activists file a second campaign at the same company, they have an average return of 16.78% versus 28.56% for the S&P 500 the second time around. That’s compared to an average return of 46.54% versus 6.25% the first time they engaged.

Ken Squire is the founder and president of 13D Monitor, an institutional research service on shareholder activism, and the founder and portfolio manager of the 13D Activist Fund, a mutual fund that invests in a portfolio of activist 13D investments.

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