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JPMorgan Chase has agreed to acquire the owner of the restaurant review guide Zagat, as America’s largest bank looks to win a greater share of the payments consumers make while dining out.
The US bank said it acquired The Infatuation, which in just over a decade has grown from a New York-focused “where to eat” blog into a restaurant and bar review media and event empire, for an undisclosed sum.
Hospitality focused businesses have struggled during the pandemic, with many consumers still avoiding restaurants and large gatherings due to fears over the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.
Once the deal is completed, JPMorgan is likely to integrate the media content generated by The Infatuation’s multiple platforms into its existing consumer products, which already link up with restaurants and other venues.
The Chase brand last year launched a dining hub with access to more than 4,000 restaurants in partnership with reservation platform Tock. The bank’s Sapphire Reserve and Preferred credit card holders also receive access to deals with restaurants and bars.
“The deal aims to accelerate the firm’s investment in dining, and further demonstrates JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to meeting customers where they are with exceptional benefits, useful content and one-of-a-kind experiences, at scale,” JPMorgan said in a statement.
Banks are jockeying for a chunk of credit card spending that as rebounded as consumers loosen their purse strings following months of Covid restrictions. The move could also build customer allegiance as traditional perks such as cashback, airline miles and loyalty points become increasingly expensive for banks.
Rewards rates reached new heights last year as lenders tried to lure consumers into charging more on their credit cards after pandemic stimulus programmes depressed loan demand. But, the cost of rewards had become so high that they threatened to exceed how much lenders earn on interchange fees for basic cards, analysts said.
JPMorgan’s deal is comparable to American Express’s decision in 2019 to acquire Resy, the digital restaurant booking platform. Amex, which is known for its high-end credit cards with exclusive perks, has recently launched an exclusive dining programme for cardholders through Resy.
The Infatuation, which was launched in 2009 by Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal, has millions of monthly users across its platforms and is particularly popular among millennials. About three years ago it acquired Zagat from Google, which acquired the burgundy-coloured guides for $151m in 2011 from founders Tim and Nina Zagat.
In addition to its restaurant reviews, which cover over 50 US cities and foreign locations, The Infatuation holds live dining events including a bicoastal food festival.
The Infatuation will continue to be operated as a separate business with its distinct management team. Stang will remain its chief executive.
“This partnership with JPMorgan Chase provides an incredible opportunity for us to engage with more people around the world and continue on The Infatuation’s mission of delivering the most useful and trustworthy recommendations in dining and travel,” said Stang.
GM has extended a shutdown at its Orion Assembly Plant another two weeks due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV safety recall.
GM said the extended downtime at the Orion plant will last through September 20. Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan has been shut down since August 23.
The recall, which now includes all Chevy Bolt EV and EUV models made since 2017, was issued after the automaker discovered two manufacturing defects in the battery cell that could increase the risk of fire. The possible fire risk prompted GM to recommend Bolt owners set the vehicle to a 90% state of charge limitation and avoid depleting the battery below 70 miles of range. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends Bolt drivers park their vehicles away from their homes to reduce fire risk.
The automaker said it is working with its supplier LG Chem to “update manufacturing processes.”
Orion was initially shuttered in August because of a shortage of semiconductor chips. GM later notified employees that the plant would continue to be down because of a shortage of batteries related to the recall.
The recall is expected to cost GM $1.8 billion. A GM spokesperson did not provide an update on whether this extended downtime would push that number higher. The automaker has said it will seek reimbursement from LG Chem.
While the global shortage of semiconductor chips has persisted, GM said it will be able to resume production at several of its plants over the next two weeks.
Full production will begin at its Fort Wayne Assembly and Silao Assembly plants, which produces the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 models, beginning September 13 after being briefly impacted by the global semiconductor shortage, GM said.
All of GM’s full-size truck and full-size SUV plants in North American will be running full production next week.
GM’s Spring Hill Assembly plant in Tennessee will resume production of the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 and XT6 on September 20, after being shuttered since mid-July. That plant will be shut down again as part of a previously scheduled extended downtime beginning the week of September 27 through the week of November 22 for new-model tooling installation.
Cadillac XT4 production, which has been down since February 8, will resume at the Fairfax Assembly in Kansas. GM said production of the Chevrolet Malibu, which is also at Fairfax, will remain down.
The company extended downtimes by one week at Lansing Delta Township and Wentzville, along with an additional week of Chevrolet Blazer production downtime at its Ramos facility.
“I’ve been a professional player for 10 years,” Press said on Instagram. “And I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been available for nearly every professional match for both club and country. And yet, that has come with a focus, intensity, and prioritization that has left little room for much else.
“I’ve made the difficult decision to take some time away from the game to focus on my mental health, spiritual growth, and processing grief. I’m sad to miss the upcoming games and seeing all of our wonderful fans. I believe I will come back stronger than ever. Thanks for all your support on my journey.”
Press made her debut for the USWNT in 2013 and has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup on two occasions, in 2015 and 2019. She has made 155 appearances for the team, scoring 64 goals.
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Mastercard has agreed to buy blockchain analytics company CipherTrace, which sells cryptocurrency anti-money laundering services, as the payments company deepens its bet on digital assets.
The deal will allow Mastercard to “differentiate its card and real-time payments infrastructure” by helping its customers to comply with regulations as they increasingly “build their own virtual asset offerings”, the company said on Thursday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The ability to hold most cryptocurrencies anonymously has made them attractive to criminals that are looking to launder dirty funds. However, every transaction is typically recorded on an immutable blockchain, leaving a visible trail for researchers.
CipherTrace is one of an increasing number of crypto forensics start-ups that use sophisticated technology coupled with human intelligence to analyse blockchain transactions, helping companies and law enforcement monitor suspicious activity and map out the crypto-criminal ecosystem.
“Digital assets have the potential to reimagine commerce, from everyday acts like paying and getting paid to transforming economies, making them more inclusive and efficient,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence at Mastercard.
“With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe. Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this.”
Founded in 2015, CipherTrace was initially funded by the US government’s Department of Homeland Security and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and is backed by Silicon Valley investors, including WestWave Capital and Third Point Ventures.
According to its website, it has 150 customers, including banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, agencies and regulators. Rivals include New York’s Chainalysis, which raised $100m at a more than $4bn valuation earlier this year, and London-based Elliptic, whose investors include Wells Fargo.
“This is a real coup for the legitimisation of the industry in financial services,” Dave Jevans, CipherTrace’s chief executive, told the Financial Times.
Mastercard said that the acquisition was part of a wider strategy “in the digital assets space to help provide customers, merchants and businesses with more choice in how they move digital value” and follows a number of similar investments.
Earlier this year, Mastercard announced that it was partnering with US crypto exchange Gemini, founded by the Winklevoss twins, to launch a crypto rewards card. It has similar initiatives with Uphold and BitPay. It also said that it had invested in ways to support the growing market for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and was developing platforms to test central bank digital currencies.
Officials at the Baton Rouge Zoo said in a release Thursday that the 20-month-old giraffe named Burreaux had died after developing a sudden onset of symptoms Tuesday, including a severe cough and overall agitation.
“The Zoo’s veterinary staff took immediate measures to help, including swiftly administering medications to stabilize,” the statement said. “As well, he underwent constant staff evaluation to optimize his chances of recovery. The Zoo’s team reached out to numerous zoological veterinarians throughout the nation — none of which had experienced a giraffe with comparable symptoms.”
It is with the heaviest hearts that we let our Zoo family know that our beloved Burreaux, 20-month old male reticulated giraffe, has passed away. We are beyond saddened by this sudden loss and are grieving immensely. Rest in peace big guy. More info: https://t.co/u4W6hnbePQ. pic.twitter.com/oNMgsDcCUR
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Microsoft has indefinitely postponed plans to bring workers back to its US offices, making it one of the first high-profile companies to scrap a definitive return date due to uncertainties created by the continued spread of Covid-19.
The tech group had earmarked October 4 as the first possible day to fully reopen its headquarters in the Seattle metropolitan area and other offices around the country.
It told workers in a blog post on Thursday it was giving up for now on setting a specific return date. “Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favour of opening US work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance.”
Microsoft had already said it would require workers and visitors coming to its offices in the US to be vaccinated against Covid-19 starting in September, as have many other large employers.
Other big companies have responded to the latest surge of Covid-19 in the US by pushing back return-to-office dates. Google last month said it would extend its voluntary work from home policy through to early January, while Amazon, Facebook, Ford and Uber have also pushed their return plans into 2022.
The financial services industry has been more aggressive in trying to bring employees back, but rising coronavirus infection rates have forced several companies to revise their return-to-office plans.
Wells Fargo scrapped its plan to have its workers back in the office after September 6 and pushed the return date to October 4. Asset manager BlackRock and insurer Prudential also pushed their return-to-office dates to October. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, however, started mandating bankers return to the office in the US in June.
Propelled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant and low levels of vaccination coverage in some states, the US was averaging rates of new infections and levels of hospitalisations by the end of the summer that were at the highest since the winter surge in January.
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The US has reported about 140,000 new cases a day over the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the number of patients being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals remains above 100,000, according to federal figures. Deaths, which lag both those indicators, now average more than 1,000 a day for the first time since early March.
Despite having one of the highest levels of vaccination coverage in the US, Microsoft’s home state of Washington has been hit hard by the latest wave of infections. It was one of 10 states, alongside neighbouring Oregon and Idaho, to report the highest level of hospitalisations of the pandemic during August.
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, officials in Washington have implemented some of the most stringent restrictions and mandates in place in the country at present. The governor has reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate, while the Seattle area requires face coverings to be worn at large outdoor events such as concerts and sporting matches.
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A trove of works by Alberto Giacometti, Mark Rothko and Cy Twombly collected over decades by real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his former wife Linda is finally headed to auction.
Sotheby’s said on Thursday it had secured the collection for sale at auctions in November and May. It estimated the 65 works could sell for more than $600m, including a sculpture of a figure suspended in a cage by Giacometti it said could fetch $70m or more.
The sale, initially postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will cap the Macklowes’ acrimonious divorce, which made tabloid headlines. The Macklowes, who married in their 20s and each grew up in middle-class homes, were a staple of high society in New York and became prized clients in the art market.
Soured real estate bets in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis hit the family’s finances particularly hard. Macklowe sold the General Motors Building in midtown-Manhattan in 2008 after defaulting on loans he used to fund the $7bn buyout of properties from Blackstone.
The end of their marriage was bitter. The property tycoon at one point plastered photos of himself and his new wife, Patricia Landeau, on a building on Park Avenue in Manhattan to proclaim his love for her.
After Harry and Linda Macklowe could not agree how to value the masterpieces they had collected during their marriage, a judge in New York ordered the sale of the art collection, which was among the couple’s most valuable possessions. It will rank among the largest collections to go under the hammer at auction, not far from the $835m pulled in from that of David and Peggy Rockefeller in 2018.
Among the works is a Rothko painting, “No. 7”, which was created in 1951 and features the blocks of colour that are among the artist’s best-known motifs. It towers nearly eight feet, with bold blocks of green, lavender and burnt orange. It is expected to bring in more than $70m.
The collection also includes Andy Warhol’s black-and-white silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe titled “Nine Marilyns”. The work, created in 1962, is among 20 that are based on a 1953 photograph of Monroe, and one of only six where the photo is repeated nine times or more. Sotheby’s estimated it could sell for between $40m and $60m.
Charles Stewart, chief executive of Sotheby’s, said the collection was among “the greatest . . . ever to come to the market. It will undoubtedly captivate top collectors from around the world, and the sale will make history as one of the landmark events defining the art market and the history of Sotheby’s.”
Sotheby’s competed fiercely for the collection and ultimately won out over other auction houses, including Christie’s. It agreed to guarantee the collection, meaning it will step in to buy any works for which there is no outside bidder. Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sotheby’s chair, declined to say how its guarantee compared to other packages proposed by competing auction houses.
The Macklowe sale may prove to be a pivotal one as gallerists and auction houses look for signs of a recovery in the art market.
Public auction sales declined 30 per cent in 2020 from a year earlier to $17.6bn, according to UBS and Art Basel, while sales through art dealers fell 20 per cent to $29.3bn. The latest report from UBS and Art Basel noted that while sales were improving from the pandemic lows, they remained mixed in several markets as new variants of the coronavirus have emerged.
RB Leipzig are familiar with Bayern Munich, their opponents on Saturday (12:20 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+), and not just in the sense of competing in the same league. Defender Dayot Upamecano and playmaker Marcel Sabitzer both left Leipzig for Bayern in the offseason, as did their old manager, Julian Nagelsmann. He’ll be there on the sidelines of his old stomping ground — the Red Bull Arena — looking to break his ex’s heart.
The summer migration of the Bundesliga‘s greatest talent to the best team is nothing new. Robert Lewandowski joined Bayern on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund, Leon Goretzka arrived from Schalke, and Niklas Sule was picked up from TSG Hoffenheim. But for those Leipzig players who’ve started their annual Sisyphean task of toppling Bayern — a team chasing their 10th successive Bundesliga title — his past summer has been especially grating.
“Nothing — nothing — gets me angrier than the fact that all the German clubs just sell to them,” United States captain Tyler Adams and Leipzig midfielder told the Athletic earlier this month. “It boggles my mind, man. It really does suck.”
Adams’ club manager Jesse Marsch — who replaced Nagelsmann in Leipzig — told ESPN that he admired “incredible” Bayern Munich for their relentlessness in the Bundesliga and their ability to “strategically cannibalise the league and find a way to take from the strong.”
This isn’t criticism; it’s respect for how they’ve managed to stay ahead, even though this story is now nearly a decade old. And more to the point: when will someone else get to write a chapter?
Challengers have come and gone. The past three seasons saw Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig cemented as the sternest dangers to Bayern’s hegemony. But there’s a growing feeling within German football after a summer transfer window in which they lost some key personnel like central defenders David Alaba and Jerome Boateng, this could be the ideal season to loosen Bayern’s grip.
Although we’re only entering matchday four in the 38-game season, this weekend’s contest in Leipzig gives us a valuable sign of how the rest of the campaign could pan out. While the main plot come Saturday will be around whether Leipzig can land an early blow in the title race, there are neat subplots — in particular, the juxtaposition of the two managers Marsch and Nagelsmann seeking to escape the hefty shadows of their predecessors and start moulding their own teams.
Bayern Munich’s Julian Nagelsmann says he cannot make Robert Lewandowski a better forward than he already is.
It was July 7 and Nagelsmann was nervous. It was his first day at Bayern Munich. He faced his squad for the first time at training ground Sabener Strasse, and saw a group who had multiple Bundesliga titles between them. While he talked through his expectations and plans, he’d asked his staff to watch their body language and pick up on how they reacted to Nagelsmann’s first speech.
“I talked about the things we want to see on the pitch in the future and about their aims,” Nagelsmann told ESPN. “I asked [my staff] for feedback, and they said they thought it went well. I hope they were serious and that they do not lie! But at the end, I think our performance on the pitch … when you see the last games were good. I think to be nervous is normal, but you have to talk about your topics and try to stay focused.”
When Nagelsmann took over struggling Hoffenheim in 2016, he had a system in mind to get them out of trouble and shoehorned the available players into his tactics. At Bayern, it’s different.
“I think fast, attacking soccer would be a good way to describe my philosophy,” said Nagelsmann. “The individual player is more important than the system. If you train a world-class team, it’s always about that.”
Nagelsmann feels he has the right balance of experience in his squad: he has youngsters like Jamal Musiala, players reaching their peak like Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane, and older heads in Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski. Sane has struggled this season, and was even booed by some of the home support against FC Cologne, but Nagelsmann feels the key to unlocking his potential is “to work with him and not to talk about him.”
Nagelsmann adds: “I think the perfect plan is to not have 100 face-to-face meetings. I think the most important topic is to show him things where he’s very good and to show and discuss things he should avoid in the future.”
While Sane will be used more in his preferred spot on the left wing against Leipzig, Nagelsmann’s challenge with Lewandowski is to maintain his incredible goal-scoring run. “You always want to [push them to be] a better player, but I think if he could hold his level, I’m really, really happy,” Nagelsmann said.
Lewandowski’s already started the season with five goals in three games, helping Bayern get their campaign off on a promising note after a shaky run of friendlies in which they lost to Borussia Monchengladbach and Napoli, and drew with Ajax Amsterdam. But this is a team still in transition.
First-choice centre-backs Alaba and Boateng both left on free transfers, as did experienced midfielder Javi Martinez, and after a disjointed preseason in which several of their international stars arrived late to training after Euro 2020, Bayern and Nagelsmann are still fine-tuning their identity. Having recruited Upamecano and Sabitzer over the summer — players who know Nagelsmann’s philosophy well — and added further youth in Omar Richards from Reading, Nagelsmann’s squad is still gelling.
“We know that we could not spend the same money like PSG or like Manchester or the other clubs, so we try to be very creative,” Nagelsmann said. “And I think there’s also a big chance to be creative and to work with young players, try to develop them. It’s very interesting. It’s an interesting job. It’s also interesting to work with world-class players who won every title, but I love to play with young players who are hungry and try to win every title in the future.”
Kansas City’s Andy Reid meets his Bayern Munich counterpart Julian Nagelsmann to talk playbooks and more.
Leipzig head into Saturday’s game mired in midtable, with Marsch’s team still adjusting too. The offseason departures of their instrumental midfield Sabitzer and both first-choice central defenders Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate (to Liverpool for £36 million) is the equivalent of starting a game of chess without your queen and both knights. He had to navigate this at his old job at FC Salzburg, too, where the bigger fish swooped for players like Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.
The Wisconsin-born Marsch is from the Red Bull school (having managed New York Red Bulls, Salzburg and previously served as an assistant at Leipzig under Ralf Rangnick), and knows a huge part of his brief is to develop young players, but he is putting his own mark on the Bundesliga side: marrying relentless pressing with attack.
“I think I’m aggressive by nature, right, sometimes recklessly,” Marsch told ESPN. “And I think it kind of fits the way we think about football. I like to be around young players, I find that they’re naturally aggressive. I feel like they are ambitious.”
They’ve made a mixed start to the 2021-22 campaign with a 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart on matchday two sandwiched between 1-0 defeats to Mainz and VfL Wolfsburg. “We’ve had a little bit of a tough start here, but I can actually say from what I was hoping we would achieve on a daily basis, we’re actually ahead of schedule from where I hoped we would be,” Marsch said.
Just don’t expect them to cower when the champions come to town.
“We will go after them,” Marsch said. “That’s one of the big challenges here in Leipzig is finding ways to beat the biggest opponents, right?”
Leipzig’s record makes for grim reading with just one win in 10 in the Bundesliga against Bayern and two in 10 against Dortmund.
“We need to continue building a fearless mentality in the club, while also, knowing what it takes on the pitch tactically to still find ways to find advantages against the best team,” Marsch said. “[Nagelsmann] knows our team very well, we know them very well. It will be a big challenge, a result that we could really use to gain momentum. Our guys know what Bayern are about, they understand what we’re about. And it’ll be about who’s ready on the day to do whatever it takes to find a way to get the result.”
Nagelsmann will also want to land a statement win early in his tenure. He will park any sentimentality and throw all his inside information in a bid to scupper his former side’s hopes. He has that Bundesliga title in his sights and knows full well the expectation surrounding Bayern Munich.
“We want to be champions again; I think that’s important,” Nagelsmann said. “Ten titles in a row: I think it’s a big aim for the club. It would be my first title in the Bundesliga, so it’s a big aim for me as a manager as well. But I know there will be a lot of competitors, and every team in the Bundesliga will try to beat us.”
Marvel is rolling out a brand new version of its Marvel Unlimited comics subscription app. Among the updates are exclusive Infinity Comics, which are high-res vertical comics designed for phones and tablets. At the outset, 27 Infinity Comics are available, and you should have access to more than 100 by the end of the year. The comics include series such as X-Men Unlimited, Captain America, Black Widow, Deadpool, Shang-Chi and Venom/Carnage.
The app, which was redesigned from the ground up with the help of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, now offers unlimited downloads for offline reading and a way to share content elsewhere. Marvel’s promising a streamlined design, more stability, “best-in-class speed and search tools” and personalized reading guides based on your preferences. Marvel Insider members will receive rewards for using the app too.
The monthly plan costs $10/month, while the standard annual option is $69/year. The $99/year annual plus subscription includes all the perks of a monthly or regular annual plan, as well as a membership kit, invites to in-person events and a discount at Disney’s digital store.
Marvel Unlimited hosts more than 29,000 comic issues, with more added each week. However, there’s at least a three-month gap between titles hitting shelves and Marvel bringing them to the app.
This is a welcome update for an app that was perhaps overdue for a refresh. So, you’ve been watching Marvel’s What If…?series on Disney+ (or anything else from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and are curious about checking out the comics as well, it seems as good a time as any to try Marvel Unlimited.
Editor’s note:This article originally appeared on Engadget.