Tabuchi Electric Opens North American HQ

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Solar-plus-storage manufacturer unveils office, training and testing hub; plans to triple employees in next three months.

 

Tabuchi Electric, a solar-plus-storage manufacturer, has announced the opening of its expanded office, training and testing facility in San Jose. Tabuchi Electric’s 41,493 sq. ft. space will be the hub for development and sales of the company’s solar-plus-storage and inverter technologies designed to help U.S. homeowners cut electricity costs and efficiently manage their energy use. Tabuchi’s grid-friendly technologies are also intelligently designed to make it easier for utilities to directly manage distributed solar and optimize energy use across the grid.

 

Tabuchi Electric has committed to hiring 35 employees by the end of Q2, tripling the size of the U.S.-based team. Located in one of the greenest cities in the U.S., Tabuchi Electric will help the city of San Jose reach its goal of creating 25,000 clean technology jobs by 2022.

 

“I thank Tabuchi Electric for expanding its North American headquarters in San Jose,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “I appreciate the company’s contributions to San Jose’s thriving clean tech economy and look forward to facilitating Tabuchi’s continued growth in the years ahead.”

 

The new space includes a warehouse, R&D room, repair facility and office. The multi-use facility is also being designed for use as a central gathering and meeting hub for South Bay solar partners and other industry members.

 

“Demand for solar-plus-storage technology is growing because Americans want to make the most out of clean, low-cost solar energy,” said Tabuchi CEO, Toshihiro Kaihoshi. “Tabuchi has more than 90 years of experience building power electronics, and we’ve applied that expertise to build reliable products to meet the demand across North America. We’re proud to have a new home in San Jose and help cement the region’s reputation as a world center of clean technology innovation.”

 

An office opening ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m. on March 21 in the new office space located at 5225 Hellyer Ave. in Hellyer Oaks Technology Park in San Jose. Several members of the City of San Jose government will be in attendance, including members from the Mayor’s Office, Department of Economic Development and City Council. Tabuchi Electric CEO Toshihiro Kaihoshi and Tabuchi Electric Company of America Managing Director and General Manager, Harumi Fuji McClure will speak at the ceremony.

 

The office opening comes on the heels of Tabuchi’s North American launch of the EIBS Intelligent Battery System last year. The system combines an all-in-one inverter with a lithium-ion battery that is optimized for reliability, fast payback and simple home installation. Tabuchi’s solution delivers compelling cost performance by reliably reducing peak loads for ten years.

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Bedford Launches Online Payment Services

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The city of Bedford, Iowa, recently launched five new online services to help citizens interact with their local government enabling them to make online payments anytime, anywhere. Users can make payments for multiple services including garbage account deposits, renewing or purchasing pet tags, posting fees, paying water deposits, and making utility payments. These new online payment services allow real-time, over-the-counter transactions via credit card, debit card or electronic check. The services are available online at www.bedfordia.org.

 

“We are excited to be able to provide the convenience of online payments to our citizens,” said Tammy Thompson, Bedford City Clerk. “These services allow efficient interactions with the city at no additional cost to taxpayers. With online payments, we are able to ensure that accounts have sufficient funds at the time of transaction, so we don’t have to worry about checks bouncing or tracking down customers with insufficient funds.”

 

Bedford, Iowa, partnered with Iowa Interactive, LLC of Des Moines, to provide payment processing solutions online and over-the-counter. The online system, its payment module, reporting tools and maintenance are provided at no cost to the city and operate under a self-funded model where online services are developed, deployed and maintained at no cost to the government.

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Helen of Troy Acquires Hydro Flask

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Helen of Troy Limited, designer, developer and worldwide marketer of consumer brand-name housewares, health and home, nutritional supplement and beauty products, has announced that it has closed its previously-announced acquisition of Steel Technology, LLC., which does business under the brand name Hydro Flask, for approximately $210 million in cash, subject to certain customary closing adjustments.

The purchase price implies a pre-synergy multiple of less than 12 times projected calendar year 2016 adjusted EBITDA. Hydro Flask is a leading designer, distributor and marketer of high performance insulated hydration vessels for active lifestyles.

Julien Mininberg, Helen of Troy CEO, commented: “We are very pleased to complete the acquisition of Hydro Flask. It aligns very well with our stated goals of deploying capital behind strategic, disciplined M&A for the benefit of our shareholders. Hydro Flask brings to Helen of Troy a great brand we believe is attractively positioned to continue delivering strong sales growth and profitability. Hydro Flask is immediately accretive to Helen of Troy and we believe we can add further value to it. With our strong cash flow, balance sheet and access to capital markets, we continue to evaluate opportunities to deploy capital, including assessment of additional strategic acquisitions or opportunistic share buyback.”

Mininberg continued “We are delighted to welcome the Hydro Flask team to our family. Hydro Flask is a compelling strategic fit and the first acquired brand in our Housewares segment since purchasing OXO in 2004. The Hydro Flask team will continue to be based in Bend, Oregon where we can preserve the qualities we admire. Hydro Flask will report into our Housewares business, where they can leverage their proven expertise in product design and category development, as well as our own. We expect to add further value through Helen of Troy’s shared services, larger infrastructure, and international footprint. We believe we can capitalize on the compelling trends in Hydro Flask’s product category and adjacencies and create value for consumers, customers and our shareholders.”

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Crackdown on Illegal Student Debt Relief Scheme

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has requested that a federal district court enter a final judgment and order that would shut down a student debt relief scheme that charged borrowers millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees for federal student loan services.

If approved by the court, the proposed judgment would ban the company, Student Loan Processing.US, and its sole owner, James Krause, from any future involvement in debt relief and student loan services. The order would also require the company to pay refunds to thousands of harmed consumers and a civil money penalty.

“Student Loan Processing.US and its owner, James Krause, preyed upon students looking for loan repayment help and fleeced them out of millions,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau is taking action to shut down the unlawful operation permanently and to prevent the company and its owner from participating in the student lending and debt relief industries ever again.”

Student Loan Processing.US is headquartered in Laguna Nigel, Calif., with an office in Dallas, Texas. The company also operates under the name IrvineWebWorks, Inc. and runs websites a number of websites. The student debt relief company has been in operation since at least May 2011 and its customers are located throughout the United States. James Krause is the company’s founder, president, and sole owner.

In December 2014, the CFPB filed a lawsuit against Student Loan Processing.US and Krause in federal district court in California alleging that the defendants charged consumers illegal upfront enrollment fees before providing any services, deceived customers about the costs of their services, and falsely represented an affiliation with the Department of Education.

The Department of Education offers numerous plans to borrowers with federal student loans to make payments more affordable. These include options that let borrowers set their monthly payment based on their income. The Department of Education does not charge any fees to apply for or enroll in these plans, for which millions of student loan borrowers qualify.

According to the CFPB lawsuit, Student Loan Processing.US illegally marketed and sold services promising to advise and assist borrowers applying for Department of Education student loan repayment programs. The company charged consumers an initial enrollment fee for its services of 1 percent of the borrower’s federal student loan balance plus a monthly maintenance fee of at least $39 per month for the entire repayment term of the borrower’s federal student loan. During initial enrollment calls with customers, the company’s representatives failed to disclose the recurring monthly fee before collecting payment information from the customer. The complaint alleges that the defendants also misrepresented the amount and duration of that fee.

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U.S. Investment Portfolios Struggled in 2015

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Natixis analysis shows U.S. portfolios had the lowest returns, with an average loss of 0.9%, as markets in the region offered few options for investors, and the strong dollar hampered international returns.

A high concentration of domestic stocks and bonds and exposure to underperforming emerging market equities drove U.S. investment portfolios to the bottom of a comparison of investment portfolios from around the world, according to a pair of reports published today by Natixis Global Asset Management. The analyses show that U.S. portfolios generated an average loss of 0.9% in 2015, while portfolios from France, which topped the comparison, had an average gain of 7.6%. The substantial variation between global portfolios was due to both regional differences in portfolio construction and the associated disparities in performance across international financial markets.

The reports are based on an analysis of investment portfolios from around the world in the moderate risk category performed by Natixis Portfolio Clarity, the company’s portfolio consulting service, which has studied more than 2,600 model portfolios from financial advisors and other investment professionals over the past three years. The findings were released in the U.S. for the first time and will be published quarterly.

“Now more than ever, investors need to understand and manage risk and have clear goals,” said John Hailer, CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia. “The reports highlight that in today’s markets, investors are moving beyond only using traditional 60/40 portfolios and embracing alternative investments.”

Among the key findings:

• Though U.S. portfolios in the analysis finished the year down 0.9%, they outperformed the Dow Jones Moderate Index (-1.21%) and the average retail investor portfolio (-3.10%).

• The leading performance by French investors was bolstered by higher allocations to outperforming European equities and a preference for risk-managed investments.

• Portfolios in the U.K. and Italy rose 5.3% and 5.2%, respectively, while in Singapore and Spain, investors saw more modest gains of 3.5% and 2.0%.

• The performance differential between eight major asset classes in the U.S. was at a 10-year low, and the top-performing asset class, municipal bonds, gained just 3.3%, leaving few opportunities for investors.

• The top 10% of portfolios in the U.S. outperformed the bottom 10% by six percentage points.

• The best-performing U.S. portfolios had four things in common: higher large-cap stock exposure, higher growth stock exposure, lower emerging market exposure, and better manager selection.

• U.S. investors continued to invest more in a wider range of alternative assets, raising overall allocations to 6.6% in 2015 from 3.5% in 2013, spread across an average of 2.3 funds in 2015 compared to 1.7 in early 2013.

Key differences in U.S. portfolio performance

The difference in total returns between the top-performing portfolios in the U.S. (those in the top decile) and those in the lowest ranks (the bottom decile) was 6%. The strongest U.S. performers were overweight U.S. large-cap stocks relative to international and emerging market equities, but also tended to hold more growth stocks and funds than value stocks and funds. Growth outperformed value by 9.5 percentage points in 2015.

The Natixis analysis found that a key differentiator between the best- and worst-performing portfolios was not only asset allocation but also selection at the sub-allocation level. Among U.S. large-cap equities, the variability in returns was as great as 31%, with almost all of the markets’ returns driven by only a handful of companies.

Overall, U.S. portfolios held 54% of assets in stocks, 28% in bonds, 7% in asset allocation funds (a mix of asset categories) and 7% in alternative strategies, such as managed futures, global macro, and long-short funds. The remaining assets were in money market funds, REITs and commodities.

“U.S. investors had few places to turn in 2015,” said Marina Gross, Executive Vice President of Natixis’ Portfolio Research and Consulting Group. “Tepid U.S. markets offered scarce opportunities at home, and adverse currency conditions meant there was little relief overseas, which made it a significant challenge to generate solid returns in 2015. The best performers in our U.S. study benefited from strong manager selection, particularly in areas some consider to be undifferentiated, such as large-cap U.S. equity.”

Home-market bias

Worldwide, investment portfolios tend to favor securities from domestic markets or those from nearby regions. That was true in the U.S., where investors’ holdings of home-based stocks and bonds were more than three times their holdings of international securities. Domestic equities alone are now responsible for nearly 70% of the risk in investor portfolios. Last year, that penchant hurt performance as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.4%, including reinvested dividends, lagging key benchmarks in Italy, France and Spain, among other nations. However, U.S. investors in those markets did not enjoy the same results, as the strong dollar neutralized their investment gains.

Methodology

The 2015 Natixis Global Portfolio Barometer measures the composition and performance of 855 model portfolios in the moderate risk category from financial advisors and other professional investors in seven locations worldwide: France, Italy, Latin America, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The data cover the 12 months from January through December 2015.

The Natixis Portfolio Clarity Trends Report analyzed 287 U.S. portfolios submitted between July 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015, and 1,833 portfolios submitted from 2013 through 2015. Both reports are designed to track trends in professional investor behavior in an effort to encourage financial portfolios tailored to investors’ long-term financial goals and risk tolerance.

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Ardian Raises US$14bn in Funds of Funds

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Largest ever fundraise confirms Ardian’s leading global position and coming of age for the secondary market.

Ardian, the independent private investment company, has reinforced its global market-leading position in Funds of Funds by announcing its latest cycle of fundraising has attracted investment of US$14bn. The US$14bn is comprised of US$10.8bn from Ardian’s seventh generation secondary platform and US$3.2bn of primary investments.

This comes less than two years after Ardian raised US$10bn through its previous round of fundraising. Ardian has now raised US$27.4bn for secondary investment in under five years.

This latest round of fundraising confirms Ardian as a global leader in Funds of Funds, attracting major institutional investors from North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. In total, this amounts to 180 investors from 26 different countries. Around 25% of the fund has already been invested through six transactions.

Ardian has been a leading player in the evolving secondary market, and secondary funds now offer similar liquidity levels to that provided by other asset classes. As a result, the secondary market is attracting different types of sellers, and banks and insurance companies no longer dominate. They are now being joined by new types of sellers, who include sovereign wealth funds and pension trustees. Many sellers use the secondaries market as a tool to manage their private equity portfolios in a more proactive way.

Vincent Gombault, Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Funds of Funds at Ardian, said: “To raise this amount of money in so short a time since our last fund clearly demonstrates not only the strength of our fundraising capability, but also the trust and quality returns we offer our investors around the world.”

Benoît Verbrugghe, Member of the Executive Committee Head of Ardian US, added: “We have enjoyed considerable success in our fundraising efforts over the past five years. Our scale means that we are able to partner with a broad spectrum of institutions and investors on secondary deals – from banks seeking liquidity in response to increased capital requirements to pension funds looking to rebalance private equity holdings.”

Olivier Decannière, Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Ardian UK, added: “We can now say that the secondary market has come of age. Private equity has historically been a non-liquid asset class. Our latest fundraise confirms the emergence of a liquid secondary market which has the potential to transform the character of this asset class. Ardian Funds of Funds is at the forefront of that.”

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Cowen to Acquire Businesses from CRT Capital

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Businesses to be Acquired Represent a Leading Agency Franchise in Distressed Debt, Special Situation Equities and Emerging Markets.

 

Cowen Group, Inc. and CRT Capital Group LLC have announced the signing of a definitive agreement pursuant to which Cowen and Company will acquire CRT’s credit products, credit research, special situations and emerging markets units. This transaction positions the acquired business, which will be named Cowen Credit Research and Trading, as a leader in distressed debt, special situations and emerging markets. CRT will use the proceeds from the transaction to invest further in its Equities, Banking and Rates businesses.

 

CRT’s Credit Products unit encompasses the sales and trading of distressed convertibles, high yield securities, distressed debt, private placements and trade claims. The Credit Research unit is focused on distressed and special situations coverage and cross-capital structure. The Special Situations group includes the sales and trading of event driven, post-reorganization equities, spins and other special situations. The Emerging Markets unit includes the sales and trading of emerging market credit, non-US corporate debt and local currency debt.

 

“CRT, formerly Credit Research and Trading, has a long and illustrious reputation for building a market leading agency franchise in distressed debt and special situations over the last 20 years in a way that is not capital intensive,” said Peter A. Cohen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cowen. “Delivering value added capabilities to clients who seek to outperform is at the core of what we do. The businesses that we are acquiring from CRT have a longstanding reputation for doing the same thing by providing clients with idea-driven advice, differentiated research and outstanding execution.”

 

Jeffrey M. Solomon, President of Cowen, said, “We believe this is an opportune time to scale our existing capabilities into fixed income sales and trading given current market conditions. Cowen already has a solid footprint in debt capital markets and investment banking, and the addition of a fixed income agency distribution platform will enable us to provide real value for clients in the crossover, high yield and private debt finance markets. Moreover, the addition of CRT’s special situations group dovetails extremely well with our existing equities franchise and enables us to provide expanded product capabilities to clients in research, sales and trading.”

 

“This transaction is beneficial to both firms,” stated Ted Janulis, CRT’s Chief Executive Officer. “CRT will move forward with a focus on growing its Equities, Banking and Rates businesses while our Credit, Emerging Markets and Special Situations businesses will be a valuable addition to Cowen.”

 

With this transaction, CRT solidifies its strategic focus on its Equities, Investment Banking, and Rates businesses. In April 2015, CRT completed the acquisition of the institutional equities business of Sterne Agee, more than doubling the size of CRT’s equities business. “We are excited about the future of our Equities and Investment Banking franchise,” stated Bill Jump, CRT’s President and Head of Equities. “Over the past year we have hired a combined sixteen widely respected research analysts and senior bankers in our efforts to expand upon our core strength – providing differentiated value to institutional and corporate clients. Our market share growth has continued into 2016 and we expect to build off this success as we continue to invest in these businesses.”

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The Best of the Bests Expert Witness: Texas

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The Boyce Consultancy Group is an international provider of a full spectrum of consultancy services specializing in all types of turbomachinery. Dr. Meherwan P. Boyce explains the firm’s role as expert witness.

 

The Boyce Consultancy Group provides consultancy services across the full spectrum of turbomachinery, including compressors, pumps, gas and steam turbines, used in electrical energy plants, offshore platforms, refineries, chemical plants, combined cycle power plants as well as the related power and petroleum industries.

 

Drawing on over 50 years industry experience, we are able to provide the highest level of expertise and have done so domestically and internationally for clients that range from Fortune 500 Companies through to all levels of supporting resource providers to the power supply industry.

 

Our consultancy services can consist of educating, mentoring, analysis, planning, risk management and prevention, plant reorganization and set-up, turbine package purchasing and start-up, performance analysis, catastrophic failure analysis, negotiations and arbitration assistance, expert witness in trial and litigation.

 

In order to ensure clients receive the best possible support and advice, especially when they are relying on our expert testimony, we work closely with the client to support them through face-to-face meetings, phone consultations, email correspondence and any other means of communication. Through this we endeavour to assist with fulfilling the client’s expectations and establishing a level of confidence that the services provided will satisfy the necessary determinants in the case to display accuracy in the data analysis of cause and effect.

 

We also have a diverse staff of experts and support that allow us to capture all our client’s needs.  In addition, we have an attitude of lifelong learning due to the type of industry we are in that demands that type of foresight.  Continuing education and hands-on experience keep us leading the industry in the most recent and relevant discoveries and information that we can then pass on to our valued clients.

 

Internally we operate collaboratively so we can provide our clients multiple areas of ideas, experience, and intellect cultivated by a dedicated staff of professionals. We feel that all our staff bring something positive to the table that accumulatively can be synchronized to form a successful outcome and experience with us to our clients.

 

We also educate our clients with our close relationship while working together.  We feel the more the clients understand, the more we can work together as a team in alignment with mutual goals and objectives.

 

We take advantage of industry tools and resources such as on-line classes, webinars, symposiums, conferences, hard copy and virtual books, periodicals and magazines from industry supporting expert’s resources. These tools are particularly important as it is vital that we remain on top of any legislative changes in our sector, so that we can offer the most up to date advice and support to our clients.

 

Being an active author of engineering text books on the subject matter gives us an extra advantage in the ability to demonstrate the extensive understanding and expertise in the field and industry, and also helps to ensure that we stay current in our knowledge.

 

Moving forward we are excited about our future. We are confident that can continue to grow and expand our business with the solid foundation of our staff of experts and wide-ranging expertise into the future and continue being a respected organization of consultancy services to clients all over the globe.

 

We are sensitive to and focused on preparedness of integrating renewable energies and utilization in combined cycle power plants.  We understand the future needs to minimize drops in load and efficiencies for combined fossil and renewable energy plants so we have researched extensively how to assist our clients in these plants of the future.

 

Additionally we are developing on-line classes that are sure to transfer the needed education and experience to engineers all over the world in a convenient efficient learning format. This is how we can contribute to our industry in a constructive manner in which all can take advantage and be exposed to the past and future of our industry’s direction.

 

Contact Details

 

Company: The Boyce Consultancy Group, LLC

 

Name: Dr. Meherwan P. Boyce

 

Email: [email protected]

 

Web Address: www.boyceconsultancy.com

 

Address: 2121 Kirby Drive, 28 North, Houston, Texas 77019-6035

 

Telephone: 713-807-0888

 

Fax: 713-807-0088

 

E-Mail : [email protected]

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Whole Foods and Instacart Plan Growth

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Companies extend partnership for online ordering and delivery to more shoppers; look toward continued innovation.

Whole Foods Market and Instacart have deepened their partnership and are launching in several new markets in the coming year, building on the 17 existing metros where consumers use Instacart’s delivery service to order from Whole Foods Market stores. The companies are also looking ahead to create new e-commerce and delivery solutions, as well as increase the number of Whole Foods Market stores with Instacart shoppers for the fastest and most high quality service.

Since first partnering in September 2014, Instacart has helped Whole Foods Market customers conveniently purchase fresh groceries online and have them delivered to their doors in as little as one hour. The new partnership means Instacart will be Whole Foods Market’s largest partner for online ordering and delivery. Collectively, the two companies will deliver more fresh groceries to households in the U.S. than anyone else.

In addition to serving new cities, the companies will grow the number of Whole Foods Market stores with embedded Instacart shoppers by up to 50 percent nationwide by the end of 2016. This will create a more robust delivery network in both new and existing cities.

“We’ve seen how much our customers love this fast and convenient way to receive Whole Foods Market groceries right to their door, so we are excited to extend our relationship with Instacart,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “Working together, we will continue to find even more ways to create outstanding shopping experiences – whether they’re happening in the digital space or within the four walls of our stores.”

“Instacart has always prided itself on being a retailer’s best friend, and our extended partnership with Whole Foods Market is a testament to how brick and mortar retailers can successfully adapt to the growing demand for ecommerce and on-demand delivery services,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Instacart. “Instacart and Whole Foods Market share a mutual commitment to providing our customers with the easiest and most seamless grocery shopping experience possible. We look forward to continuing to innovate with Whole Foods Market in the services that we can bring to users.”

In the coming year, the two companies will expand into several new markets where Instacart will be delivering from Whole Foods Market stores. The first two markets coming this year are Orange County, California and Baltimore, Maryland. The organizations are also exploring new technology solutions and services that will be piloted in 2016.

By ordering at Instacart.com or via the Instacart mobile app, Whole Foods Market customers add items to a virtual cart, choose a delivery window (within one hour, within two hours, or at a scheduled time), check out, and receive their orders from Instacart personal shoppers. Additionally, with the Instacart Deals platform, Whole Foods Market shoppers can take advantage of special deals and discounts on their favorite products. Virtual coupons from Instacart Deals are immediately applied, and customers see their savings at checkout.

Customers with the Whole Foods Market iOS app can browse thousands of recipes, create shopping lists, and then conveniently order the ingredients from the Instacart app. The seamless integration offers recipe inspiration, preparation and purchase in one simple, user-friendly experience.

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Atlantic Broadband Renews Univision Contract

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Local Internet, Phone and TV Provider Continues 12-Year Partnership in Miami with Number One Spanish-language Broadcast Network.

 

Atlantic Broadband, the nation’s 12th largest cable operator and Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, which includes one of the top five networks and the no. 1 Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S., has announced the recent renewal of their multi-year, multi-platform contract. Atlantic Broadband has offered Univision programming to its Miami customers for the past 12 years.

 

With this contract renewal, Atlantic Broadband customers will continue to have access to the programmer’s broadcast and cable networks, Univision, UniMás and Galavisión, and Atlantic Broadband will be adding El Rey Network in select markets by the end of the year. The new agreement also brings with it rights for enhanced On Demand content and new TV Online capabilities that will allow customers to watch their favorite Univision programming on devices and computers whenever and wherever they want. These new capabilities are expected to roll out later in 2016.

 

“For twelve years Atlantic Broadband has proudly carried Univision, uninterrupted. And, with this latest contract renewal, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Univision for years to come to ensure our customers have access to the best Spanish-language content available,” said Atlantic Broadband’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Dave Keefe. “We know how much Univision means to our customers here in Miami, and we are committed to providing new and existing customers with Univision’s terrific programming.”

 

“Atlantic Broadband has been a true partner for over a decade, working hand in hand with Univision to ensure that one of the largest Hispanic communities in America has access to world class content on multiple platforms. As a business that puts our core customers first, Univision appreciates Atlantic Broadband’s commitment to this relationship. We look forward to working together for years to come,” said Friday Abernethy, SVP, Content Distribution at Univision Communications Inc.

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