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Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019 – report – MINING.com

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Despite the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic in forecasting silver market conditions over the rest of the year, extended physical demand could drive the metal’s price higher in 2020, the Silver Institute suggested in their annual World Silver Survey.

Last year, global silver demand edged 0.4% higher despite an ongoing global trade war affecting many industries, while silver mine supply declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling by 1.3%.

Money-managers’ net positions in Comex futures went from being short over much of 2018 to consistently positive in the second half of 2019

Favorable structural changes such as vehicle electrification and a rebound in the key field of photovoltaics fueled solid industrial demand, the Institute wrote.

Silver investment demand jumped 12% — the highest annual growth since 2015 — as retail and institutional investors focused their attention on the long-term investment appeal of the metal. Exchange-traded product (ETP) holdings stood at 728.9 Moz at year-end, up by 13%, achieving the largest annual rise since 2010.

Money-managers’ net positions in Comex futures went from being short over much of 2018 to consistently positive in the second half of 2019. Coins and medals saw a 13% increase in demand over 2018, rising to 97.9 Moz, while bar demand remained solid at 88.2 Moz, the report showed.

The Institute said these were key drivers for the 15% intra-year rise in silver price to a three-year high of $19.65 last September. The 2019 yearly average silver price was $16.21, about 3% higher than the 2018 average price.

Although many key areas of silver demand — including industrial fabrication and jewelry and silverware offtake — are anticipated to fall solely as a result of the global pandemic, the Institute still expects silver physical investment to extend its gains this year, with a projected 16% rise to a five-year high as investors rotate out of equities in search of safe haven vehicles.

Mine supply is also expected to continue its decline, given the temporary shutdown of mining operations in several significant silver mining countries in early 2020.

As a result, silver price will likely rise this year and test the $19/oz threshold again before year-end, said Metals Focus, the research firm behind the Silver Institute report.

The firm also expects silver to benefit from bargain hunting and outperform gold later this year on the back of its historically low relative value.

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Jeff Bezos' investment into Beacon is 'personal' and not tied to Amazon, UK firm's CEO says – CNBC

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Jeff Bezos’ investment in digital freight forwarding and supply chain finance firm Beacon is a personal one, the U.K. start-up’s CEO told CNBC Wednesday after the closing of its $15 million Series A funding round. 

“I should be really clear that this investment is from Mr. Bezos directly. It’s a personal investment, not one made by Amazon. Amazon is aware and had to approve of it, but there is no commercial relationship and this has no direct tie with Amazon itself and it’s important to make that distinction,” Beacon CEO Fraser Robinson said. 

The backing from Amazon CEO Bezos, who has invested in numerous start-ups, is set to be a major boost for the company in its stated mission to be a global leader in logistics and trade finance. Its investors also include former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. Its current executives were previously in senior roles at Uber and Amazon.

Beacon, based in London and founded in 2018, wants to disrupt the global shipping industry by using A.I. to find the cheapest shipping routes while offering customers supply chain financing to help cashflow. 

The freight forwarding industry, or how goods move from the manufacturer to market, is worth $1 trillion. Robinson sees Beacon’s role as meeting the need for the industry to become more digitized. 

“We were surprised by how analogue the existing logistics industry is,” he said. “By automating and streaming and creating huge efficiencies within our own operating platform, that means we can provide a vastly superior service to our customers — with automated updates, superior route optimization, and the working capital to fulfil what we see as one of the greatest problems created by logistics, which is cashflow.”

Asked about the potential for established shipping giants like DHL and Maersk to use the same technology and sharpen the competition, Robinson said he expects the industry to digitize itself.

“It’s a trend that is already happening and has been going on for a couple years,” he said, but noted that “it’s much more difficult than people realize for large companies to retrofit technology and make themselves more efficient overnight. Typically they’re either buying technology or buying businesses to help them get there.” 

“By starting with a technology focus first and foremost and being data centric, I think you have a better shot at a more holistic solution that’s more scalable and more effective,” Robinson said.

He also sees Uber Freight, Uber’s trucking arm for the shipping industry, as potentially a useful complement to Beacon’s wider business, rather than competition. That’s because the trucking operation is just one piece of the longer and more complex process of getting goods across land, sea and air to their final destinations. Uber last year announced it would invest $200 million and hire thousands of engineers to boost its freight platform. 

“The truckload piece, the Uber Freight piece, is a component of what we do, and they can and will be a great partner for us as part of the solution we provide, but it’s fundamentally a very different business,” Robinson said.

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SoftBank launches $100 million fund investing in 'people of color' – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T> is launching a $100 million fund to invest in “companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color”, in the latest corporate action as protests roil the United States.

Described as SoftBank’s bid to improve diversity, “we have to put money behind it, set plans, and hold ourselves accountable,” SoftBank’s Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure, who will head the fund, wrote in a letter to employees on Wednesday.

Named the “Opportunity Growth Fund”, its total initial size is less than a typical single investment by the $100 billion Vision Fund, which is headed by Claure’s rival Rajeev Misra, and will focus on African Americans and Latinos in the U.S.. 

In addition to leading restructuring at floundering office space startup WeWork, Claure runs a fund investing in Latin America. He and Misra are seen as potential successors to Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

Claure wrote that Tokyo-headquartered SoftBank was also establishing a “dedicated diversity and inclusion program”.

SoftBank’s management is overwhelmingly male, with the company planning to nominate its first female board director at a shareholder meeting later this month.

While spanning a wide range of nationalities, only four of 30 investors listed on Vision Fund’s website are female.

Companies including foreign firms like SoftBank have made public statements following the worst U.S. civil unrest in decades as the death of an unarmed black man reignites the issue of police brutality against African Americans.

Sony Corp 6758.T> this week pushed back an event for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, saying “we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.”

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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WhatsApp, PayPal invest in Indonesian super app Gojek – Reuters Canada

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) messaging platform WhatsApp and Paypal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) on Wednesday said they have invested in payment and ride-hailing firm Gojek as part of the Indonesian firm’s ongoing fundraising round.

WhatsApp and Paypal did not disclose the size of the investment or the stakes they would receive.

WhatsApp Chief Operations Officer Matt Idema in a blog post said the messaging platform would work with Gojek “to support the growth of millions of small businesses”.

Paypal said in a statement that its payment capabilities would be integrated into Gojek’s services.

Reuters reported in April that Facebook was in talks with Gojek about an investment and was working with three e-wallet operators in Indonesia, including Gojek’s GoPay, to launch mobile payment services in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

The same month, WhatsApp invested $5.7 billion in the digital arm of India’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS).

Gojek was founded in 2010 as a ride-hailing firm and has since evolved into a one-stop app through which users can make online payments and order food and services. It is active in four markets and owns an e-wallet startup in the Philippines.

The firm is valued at $10 billion, sources have said. It closed a $1.2 billion funding round in March, showed to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters.

“With Facebook and WhatsApp being the dominant social and messaging platforms in Indonesia, this investment cements Gojek’s position as the leading super app for more than 300 million people,” said Hian Goh, partner at Openspace Ventures, which lead Gojek’s series A funding round in 2014.

Indonesia is one of WhatsApp’s five biggest markets, with over 100 million users.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing

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