Hirst named legal chief at Delta Air Lines

Atlanta, USA-based carrier Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) said it has promoted Richard Hirst to the position of executive vice president and chief legal officer.

In his new role, Hirst will continue reporting to Delta CEO Richard Anderson.

Reporting to Hirst will be Andrea Newman, senior vice president government affairs, Robert Rivkin, senior vice president and deputy general counsel international and regulatory affairs and Peter Kenney, vice president deputy general counsel.

In his most recent position as senior vice president and general counsel, Hirst oversaw Delta´s legal and government affairs strategy in advocating for US policy changes to allow the nation´s airlines to compete effectively in a global marketplace.

He also was a member of the team responsible for the slot swap transaction which enabled Delta´s 2012 expansion at New York´s LaGuardia Airport.

Delta Air Lines and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 313 destinations in 57 countries on six continents.

Find out more at www.delta.com.

Travelling Like a Boss

For the frequent business traveller, it is common practice that to travel business class. Due to the recent economic crisis, there have been strong signs of first class travel disappearing, with business class being the more reasonable luxury choice of preference. As a result of this trend, business travellers have frequently seen, depending on the carrier and route, drastic reductions in business class fares. As many companies have been more conservative with their budgets since the breakout of the economic crisis in 2008, airlines often offer considerable discounts in order to fill business class cabins. A further recent development in travel has been the rise of a new intermediate class filling the gap between economy and business classes, also known as ‘premium economy’.

Travel alternatives

As the majority of industries, including airlines, have been hit by the recession, business travellers now actively seek discounted alternatives. Often a business class train fare is cheaper than the same business class airfare, so often business travellers will opt for rail travel despite rail travel taking longer. Of course, not all routes are covered by rail, for instance transatlantic routes. Here, many former business class travellers are now downgrading to premium economy or economy classes on long-haul flights so as to save money. For many top business executives, however, downgrading and abandoning the perks of business class just isn’t an option.

Business class for a reason

For those who can afford business class travel, there are of course huge benefits travelling to doing as so. Business class passengers benefit from the personal flight attendants, greater legroom and excellent food, not to mention the added privacy and equipment necessary for conducting business on the flight.  Dedicated business class travellers can even extend this quality service to the ground, so to speak. Limousine services such as Blacklane.com provide high quality, private business class travel services, be it airport transfers or for limousine services for the duration of a day.  Luxurious vehicles, personal chauffeurs and efficient service are only a few of their guarantees, making it the premium transportation option within a large number of cities.

Syracuse Community Health Center picks NetGen information solutions

Quality Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: QSII) subsidieary NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, LLC reported it has entered into an agreement with Syracuse Community Health Center Inc. to deploy NextGen Ambulatory EHR, NextGen Practice Management and NextGen Electronic Dental Record (EDR) across its 16 locations within Syracuse and Central New York.

With more than 450 employees, SCHC, Inc. serves approximately 45,000 individuals in the city of Syracuse and surrounding counties, addressing various social determinants of health by providing access to comprehensive, culturally sensitive, cost-effective primary healthcare. This spans approximately 70 percent of Syracuse´s at-risk population. Primary and preventive care services, inclusive of medical, dental, and behavioral health services, are provided to individuals of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay.

NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, LLC provides integrated clinical, financial and connectivity solutions for ambulatory, inpatient and dental provider organizations. For more information, visit www.nextgen.com and www.qsii.com.

Lloyds agrees sale of Spanish retail banking operations to Sabadell

UK’s Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY) on Monday said it would sell its retail banking activities in Spain to local lender Banco de Sabadell SA (MCE:SAB) in a cash and stock transaction, as part of plans to rationalise international presence.

Under the agreement, Lloyds will sell to Sabadell its Spanish retail and private banking business and the local investment management business, including Lloyds Bank International SAU and Lloyds Investment Espana SGIIC SAU, in exchange for 53.7m Sabadell shares, or 1.8%, valued at €84m ($110m) and a further up to €20m in cash, the vendor said.

The assets involved in the divestment were worth some £1.52bn ($2.4bn/€1.8bn) as of 31 March 2013, comprising customer lending, while customer deposits were around £670m.

Lloyds said it would use any cash from the sale for general corporate purposes.

Bauer Media Group UK launches 2-year mobile interactivity partnership with Velti

Velti (NASDAQ: VELT) and Bauer Media Group UK said they have signed an exclusive two-year mobile marketing partnership.

Velti will manage and maintain all mobile interactivity, marketing and promotions for Bauer´s 43 radio stations, including powering all mobile messaging for brands such as Magic 105.4, KISS, Clyde 1, Key103, Radio City, Wave105 and Kerrang!

This new partnership will help continue the strong and on-going relationships between Bauer Media and their audiences. Velti is running all of Bauer´s mobile messaging and interactivity, focusing on compliance and operational excellence. In addition, development of new concepts driving engagement and loyalty using data and customer relationship management (CRM) mechanics will be part of the services.

Velti is the leading global provider of mobile marketing and advertising technology and solutions that enable brands, advertising agencies, mobile operators and media to implement highly targeted, interactive and measurable campaigns by communicating with and engaging consumers via their mobile devices. For more information, visit www.velti.com.

The Bauer Media Group is a media company with more than 570 magazines, over 300 digital products, and 50 radio and TV stations. For more information visit www.bauermedia.co.uk.

Harris wins USD19m contract with Virginia county

Spotsylvania County, Virginia, has awarded Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS) a USD19m contract to replace its existing public safety radio system with one that improves its coverage area and is based on the latest technology standards.

The new system will improve communications for law enforcement, fire service and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel who serve one of Virginia´s fastest-growing counties.

The new Harris system includes seven new transmission sites and increases the communications capacity and extends coverage to more than 95 percent of the county — a dramatic increase compared with the existing solution.

The new digital radio system is based upon Project 25 technology standards and features Harris´ VIDA network, which delivers powerful tools to manage the network and is a platform for easy future growth.

Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 125 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the company has approximately USD5.5bn of annual revenue and about 15,000 employees including 6,000 engineers and scientists. Additional information about Harris Corp. is available at harris.com.

Facebook agrees to take over Parse

US tech giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has agreed to acquire domestic mobile start-up Parse Inc, the companies said in separate blog posts.

The deal, whose terms were not provided, is seen to complete soon, co-founder Ilya Sukhar said in the Parse blog post.

The acquisition follows collaboration between the companies. Facebook will continue offering the solutions of Parse, a cloud-based platform that provides scalable cross-platform services and tools for developers, the pair said.

The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting unnamed insiders, that Facebook was acquiring Parse in a cash-and-stock deal worth some $85m (€65.2m). According to the report, Parse had been raising a funding round which would have given it value of over $50m but Facebook put in an acquisition offer, trumping a lower one, by Dropbox Inc. The start-up was also said to have garnered attention from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO).

Accenture named CA Technologies North American Partner of the Year

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) said it has received the North America Partner of the Year and CA LISA Partner of the Year awards by CA Technologies at their annual CA World event.

The North America Partner of the Year award recognizes that Accenture´s alliance with CA Technologies has resulted in more revenue for CA Technologies than any other partner in North America, and the CA LISA partner award is a result of Accenture´s joint initiatives and commitment to CA Service Virtualization excellence.

Accenture and CA Technologies help joint clients manage and secure complex IT environments to support agile business services. Accenture and CA Technologies team to deliver greater client value with less delivery risk by combining leading IT management solutions and effective integration with people and processes. As part of Accenture´s alliance with CA Technologies, the two companies worked together to accelerate the implementation of CA LISA software by improving collaboration, communications and integration between developers and operators.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

UK’s 0.3% GDP growth in Q1 welcomed by business groups

Business groups have given a cautious welcome to the announcement this morning that the UK has avoided a triple-dip recession, with the economy growing by an estimated 0.3% in the first quarter of 2013.

The increase was higher than expected and John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said it confirms the organisation’s view that 2013 will see real growth. After the pick-up in the services sector, the economy now needs a recovery in manufacturing output in the coming months, he added.

Cridland concluded by saying that the government must build on the emerging signs of confidence by getting behind Britain’s entrepreneurs and exporters.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, pointed out that, although services output is now above its pre-recession levels from 2008, both construction and manufacturing are still lower.

“The main priority remains combining a realistic deficit cutting programme with policies that make it possible for the economy to achieve sustainable growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, highlighted the fact that the economic challenges faced by the UK are shared by much of the rest of the world, particularly Europe, and are “hampering manufacturing’s efforts to export our way to growth.”

Chancellor George Osborne responded to the GDP announcement by saying that the figures are an “encouraging sign” although Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, argued that the economy is only “back to where it was six months ago.”

In its preliminary estimate for the quarter the Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted that GDP was 0.4% higher in the first three months of 2013 than in the third quarter of 2011, which means that it has been broadly flat over the last 18 months.

The most significant contribution to GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013 came from services, and there was a smaller contribution from production. These upward contributions were partly offset by a decline in construction output.

Overall, the bad weather in this year’s first quarter is thought to have had a limited impact on GDP growth. Evidence suggests that the snow and low temperatures reduced retail output in January and March but boosted demand for electricity and gas in February and March, which resulted in higher output in the energy supply industries.

Five years ago, before the global financial crisis led to a sharp fall in output, the UK economy peaked in the first quarter of 2008. The lowest level was registered in the second quarter of 2009. GDP fell 6.3% from peak to trough, the ONS said. In the first quarter of 2013 the UK’s GDP was estimated to be 2.6% below the 2008 peak.

Greece offers sole bidder Emma Delta to increase bid for football bet firm OPAP

greece’s privatisation agency HRADF has invited Greek-Czech investment fund Emma Delta to increase its bid for a controlling interest in gambling specialist Hellenic Football Prognostics Organisation SA (OPAP), the body said in a statement.

Reuters reported earlier, quoting unnamed officials in the know of the process, that Emma Delta, which remained sole bidder after rival Third Point LLC was disqualified on Monday, was asked to sweeten its offer of EUR622m (USD811.1m) for the 33% OPAP stake plus management rights on sale to some EUR650m by Thursday morning.

National Bank of Greece (NYSE:NBG) and Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK), which are advising Greece on the deal, have valued the interest, plus management rights, at EUR610m, while the valuation of an independent advisor is a minimum EUR650m, one official told the agency, adding a sale below EUR650m would not happen.

Another official told Reuters that HRADF was seeking a bid of over EUR650m from Emma Delta, which is controlled by Greek shipowner George Melisanidis and Czech investor Jiri Smecj.

Greek entrepreneur Dimitris Copelouzos’ Helvason is also participating in the joint bid.

Third Point was disqualified from the tender, which Greece launched in September, as it wanted to be entitled to resell shares at any time, one of the insiders told the news agency.