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Guitar company Gibson reportedly facing bankruptcy



Slash performs in concert with Slash and the Conspirators at the American Airlines Center on August 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

Gary Miller | Getty Images

Slash performs in concert with Slash and the Conspirators at the American Airlines Center on August 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

Iconic guitar brand Gibson could be on the brink of bankruptcy, according to a report.

The company, whose Les Paul and SG instruments have been played by generations of musicians, including stars such as Slash, Bob Marley and Carlos Santana, was founded more than 100 years ago in Michigan.

Gibson’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Lawrence recently left the firm just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes were due to mature, according to a report by the Nashville Post earlier this month. He had been working for the company for little over a year before departing.

Gibson, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, has another $145 million in bank loans that will be due immediately if those senior secured notes are not refinanced by mid-July, the report said.

CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is thought to be in a race against time to decide whether to exchange the company’s debt, look to try and pay it off using his equity or try to declare the company bankrupt.

The U.S.-based company has hired investment bank Jeffries to help with its current financial situation.

On Thursday, Gibson issued a statement that said an ongoing streamlining strategy would soon help it record the “best financial results the company has seen in its history within the next year.” It also said the firm would have the ability to pay back the company’s debt in whole within seven years.

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How to ace a job interview with a robot recruiter



The use of artificial intelligence in job interviews is on the rise, which may sound like a daunting prospect, but experts say there are some ways to ace your first encounter with a robot recruiter. 

Some 70% of the more than 1,500 human resource and recruitment professionals surveyed by LinkedIn in July believed virtual recruiting would become the new standard in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

And while for many firms this could simply mean employers continue conducting interviews via Zoom, the emergence of more AI tools offering to make the process more efficient suggests the demand for robot recruiters may be here to stay.  

So, if you are faced by a robot recruiter in your next interview, experts recommend keeping these tips in mind. 

Body language

For AI hiring tools that analyze body language, Andres Lares, managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, said that it can initially seem “scary” to interviewees as it’s hard to predict exactly what an algorithm picks up on. However, he added that there are common positive body language tips that candidates can use to make a good impression.

He recommended “simple things” like smiling, leaning forward slightly and “lots of eye contact,” as well as generally showing more “open mannerisms.” 

How interviewees phrase their answers is also key, Lares said, when language is being analyzed. “The ‘how you say it’ is particularly important, perhaps actually more important than when you’re with a real person,” he said.

For instance, Lares said AI could interpret the use of phrases like “I think” as more tentative.

“Generally what we have found is a lot of the algorithms are looking for confidence,” he explained.

Lares suggested candidates script out what they might want to say for certain answers and roleplay reading it out, so they feel more confident when saying it again in the actual interview, which can help get rid of that tentative phrasing. He recommended weaving in key phrases used in the job description, just as applicants would on their resume.

Taking notes

Kevin Parker, CEO of video interviewing software platform HireVue, told CNBC that job applicants would be well advised to consider taking notes in between answers if, like HireVue, the software allows interviewees to take pauses.

And just like in a face-to-face interview, Parker suggested interviewees use the “STAR” (situation, task, action and result) technique to structure answers for situational questions.

HireVue provides on-demand video interviewing, where an employer can pre-record questions and then send them to job applicants, who record their responses. It also has an algorithm that transcribes and analyzes the answers of candidates to help filter applicants prior to being seen by a recruiter, though Parker stressed that this is only used in one-fifth of its interviews, for those with high volumes of applications.

‘Honesty, values and personality’

Lares acknowledged that speaking to a screen in an interview, rather than a real person, could feel “awkward” as candidates can’t see how their interviewer is reacting to their answers and there’s no opportunity for small talk to get the conversation flowing.

To get rid of some of that initial discomfort, he suggested thinking of story from a past job and to practice re-telling it in front of a camera to get comfortable.

“Getting some of those kinks out early in an unrelated environment can be really helpful,” Lares said.

Aida Fazylova is CEO of HR tech startup XOR, which uses AI to automate the earliest stages of hiring like applying, screening and getting scheduled for in-person meetings. 

“If you want to ace your screening interview with AI, I’d recommend a heavy dose of … honesty, values and personality,” she said. 

If recording a video, she suggested adding a background that “gives a glimpse into who you are.”

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Singapore’s Temasek and BlackRock commit $600 million to reduce carbon



BlackRock Chair and CEO Laurence D. Fink attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 23, 2020.


Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and asset manager BlackRock will team up to invest in private companies that use technology to reduce carbon emissions, the companies said Tuesday.

The partnership, referred to as Decarbonization Partners, will launch a series of late-stage venture capital and early growth private equity investment funds, the two companies said in a statement.

Temasek and BlackRock plan to commit a combined $600 million in initial capital to invest across the funds, which would also raise money from third-party investors. The first fund has a target of $1 billion, and will include capital from both companies.

“The world cannot meet its net zero ambitions without transformational innovation,” Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said in a joint statement.

“For decarbonization solutions and technologies to transform our economy, they need to be scaled,” Fink said. “To do that, they need patient, well-managed capital to support their vital goals.”

He said the partnership will help define climate solutions as a standalone asset class that is essential to the two companies’ collective mission, as well as “a historic investment opportunity created by the net zero transition.”

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, is pushing companies to disclose how they will survive in a world of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

In his annual letter to CEOs this year, Fink said better disclosures about sustainability are in the best interest of companies as well as investors.

Temasek, a top global investor, has committed to halve emissions from its portfolio by 2030. It plans to eventually move to net zero emissions by 2050.

“Bold, aggressive actions are needed to make the global net zero ambition a reality,” said Dilhan Pillay, CEO of Temasek International. “Through collective efforts with like-minded partners, we will be able to create
sustainable value for all of our stakeholders over the long term, and investors will have the opportunity to help deliver innovative solutions at scale to address climate challenges.”

The Decarbonization Partners funds will invest in early stage growth companies in areas such as electric and autonomous vehicle technologies, battery storage, grid solutions and emerging fuel sources.

The funds will be staffed by employees from Temasek and BlackRock as well as a professional team recruited to source and undertake investments and manage the portfolio.

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Alibaba shares jump after China orders Ant Group to revamp business



A logo of Ant Group is pictured at the headquarters of the company, an affiliate of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 29, 2020.

Aly Song | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — Alibaba shares in Hong Kong jumped nearly 4% at the open on Tuesday after regulators ordered the e-commerce giant’s financial technology affiliate Ant Group to revamp its business.

That, along with a 18.23 billion yuan ($2.78 billion) fine Alibaba received as a result of an anti-monopoly investigation by regulators, removed a source of uncertainty for investors.

“Following the decision and penalties levied by SAMR’s (State Administration for Market Regulation) anti-monopoly investigation of BABA, we think the street has more color about the latest updates on Ant Group,” Jefferies said in a note published Monday.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba later pared their opening gains, but were last seen trading up nearly 2% during the Tuesday session. Alibaba’s U.S.-listed shares closed over 9% higher on Monday.

Alibaba, owns a roughly 33% stake in Ant Group, the company that runs the massively popular mobile payments app Alipay in China. In November, regulators forced Ant Group to suspend what would have been a record-setting $34.5 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

At the time, changes in the financial technology regulatory environment were blamed for the suspension of the listing.

That came just days after Jack Ma, the founder of Ant Group and Alibaba, made some comments that appeared critical of China’s financial regulator.

In December, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) ordered Ant Group to rectify its business. And on Monday, the Chinese central bank outlined concrete details on what the company needs to do.

The PBOC asked Ant Group to restructure into a financial holding company. Ant Group must also create more separation between its payment app Alipay and its credit products. Yu’e Bao, Ant Group’s money market fund, which was once the world’s largest, must also be reduced in size, the PBOC said.

Both Alibaba’s massive anti-trust fine and the Ant Group restructuring plan are part of a broader push by China to get a tighter grip on the country’s technology companies, which turned into giants largely unencumbered. Their activities often span across sectors from gaming to financial technology as well as cloud computing.

While so far Beijing’s eyes have been focused on Jack Ma’s empire, there are signs that the crackdown could broaden to more companies and other areas such as data protection.

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