Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Velocity Interactive Group - New Investment Company

Two high-profile media and Internet executives will join with venture fund ComVentures to form a new investment company with $1.5 billion in assets. The two high-profile executives will be, former AOL Chief Executive Jonathan F. Miller and former Fox Interactive Media President Ross Levinsohn. The partnership with ComVentures will form a new group focused on investing in Internet and media companies, and will be announced today. The firm will be named Velocity Interactive Group.

ComVentures, Palo Alto, California, has focused on early-stage investments in communications equipment and services and the current fund of ComVentures's will move to the new company. It is providing the $1.5 billion (£750 million) in funding. Partners at the new firm said they will try to raise more money next year.

The firm is looking for investments in both early-stage companies and larger growth companies. Investments will be as small as $500 000 (£250 000), though Velocity expects investments in a company could grow to between $5 million (£2.5 million) and $30 million (£15 million). Velocity also plans today to announce its first investments. They include NDTV Networks, an Internet video and television producer in India. In the U.S. the firm has funded three companies that include Fabrik, a Web site consumers can use to store and manage their videos, photos and other digital creations.

Mr. Miller was chief executive of Time Warner Inc.'s AOL division from 2002 to 2006. Mr. Levinsohn formed News Corp.'s Internet division in 2005 and spearheaded the purchase of the social networking Web site Mr. Levinsohn left News Corporation. in late 2006. (source: The Wall Street Journal)

Nintendo, makers of the sought after Wii video games console, will miss out on an estimated $1.3 billion (£639 million) in sales this Christmas by failing to meet soaring global demand for its Wii video games console.

Production has been hit by shortages of components and it insists it is doing all it can to meet demand. Some analysts believe, however, that the company privately welcomes tight supplies because it wants to delay market saturation to prolong interest in the console.

Nintendo has raised production targets several times in recent months and now plans to ship 17.5 million units globally this year, up from 14 million. It said that demand “has been higher than we could ever have anticipated and the company is withdrawing planned television advertising for the Wii because of severe shortages of the games console in the run-up to Christmas.”

Stock market investors appear to believe that Nintendo can maintain its success. Over the past two years the group’s shares have risen fivefold to make the company Japan’s third most valuable quoted business. However, last month Sony’s PlayStation 3 beat the monthly sales of the Wii in Japan for the first time, signalling that the battle between the two next-generation consoles may yet have further to run. Sony sold 183,217 PS3s in Japan in the four weeks to November 25, against sales of 159,193 for the Wii. (source: Timesonline)

Air France-KLM sought to deal a death blow to the rival airline bidding for Alitalia, Italy's loss-making national carrier, by unveiling a £530 million plan to refurbish the carrier's fleet. Yesterday, analyst saw the Franco-Dutch giant as the heavy favourite to win the 49.9% stake that is being auctioned by the Italian government. Air France is bidding against Air One, a domestic Italian carrier. Under Air France's plan, it would raise the £530 million through the issuance of new shares, which it would use to update the interior of Alitalia's planes and to launch a marketing plan to attract international clients back to the carrier. It would also replace the company's old Boeing 767s and McDonnell Douglas MD80s with new aircraft.

The Italian government is expected to make its decision today. If a definitive winner is chosen, it would bring to an end a long and sorry chapter for the Italian government, which first signalled its intention to sell its stake in the carrier a year ago. The process has run into problems repeatedly, most recently in October when the last of the previous bidders dropped out of the auction over objections to onerous terms that were being imposed by the government. (source: The Independent) - ArcelorMittal to by China Oriental Group Co., Alitalia SpA in sight for Air France-KLM

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