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STARWOOD CAPITAL ACQUIRES PORTFOLIO OF 10 HOTELS FROM EDWARDIAN GROUP

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Acquisition of landmark Central London hotel portfolio

LONDON, Jan. 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Starwood Capital Group (“Starwood Capital”), a global private investment firm with a primary focus on real estate, announced today that a controlled affiliate has acquired a portfolio of 10 hotels from Edwardian Group for an undisclosed sum via an off-market transaction.

The portfolio comprises 10 hotels with 2,053 rooms. Edwardian Group will continue to own and operate The Londoner and its two Radisson Collection hotels, The May Fair and The Edwardian Manchester, following closing of the transaction.

Alongside the acquisition, Starwood Capital and Edwardian Group intend to collaborate on future opportunities together. As part of this relationship, Edwardian Group will continue to operate the portfolio on a transitional basis while Starwood Capital plans its future investment into the hotels.

The acquisition adds to Starwood Capital’s existing portfolio of European hotel investments, which following the transaction will comprise 47 hotels / c.10,000 rooms across Europe.

Tim Abram, Managing Director at Starwood Capital, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to acquire this one-of-a-kind portfolio of Central London freehold hotels. London is one of the world’s most sought-after hotel markets, and this portfolio enables to us gain exposure on a unique scale to London. We plan to invest significant capex during our ownership into further enhancing the hotels.”

Inderneel Singh, CEO of Edwardian Group, said: “Following the successful development of The Londoner and a period of strong trading across the portfolio, the sale represents an opportunity to refocus the group and position it for the next chapter of growth.”

“Our three landmark properties – The Londoner, The May Fair Hotel, and The Edwardian Manchester – each mark our continued commitment to invest in and deliver distinctive experiences for guests in high-end, purpose-built, city-centre hotels.”

JLL provided real estate advisory services and Baker McKenzie provided legal services to Edwardian Group for the sale. Paul Hastings (Europe) LLP acted for Starwood Capital on the acquisition.

List of Hotels

  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Berkshire Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel & Conference Centre
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian Sussex Hotel

About Starwood Capital

Starwood Capital Group is a private investment firm with a core focus on global real estate. The Firm and its affiliates maintain 16 offices in seven countries around the world, and currently have over 5,000 employees. Since its inception in 1991, Starwood Capital Group has raised over $75 billion of capital, and currently has approximately $115 billion of assets under management. Through a series of comingled opportunity funds and Starwood Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. (SREIT), a non-listed REIT, the Firm has invested in virtually every category of real estate on a global basis, opportunistically shifting asset classes, geographies and positions in the capital stack as it perceives risk/reward dynamics to be evolving. Starwood Capital also manages Starwood Property Trust (NYSE: STWD), the largest commercial mortgage real estate investment trust in the United States, which has successfully deployed over $91 billion of capital since inception and manages a portfolio of $27 billion across debt and equity investments. Over the past 31 years, Starwood Capital Group and its affiliates have successfully executed an investment strategy that involves building enterprises in both the private and public markets. Additional information can be found at starwoodcapital.com.

About Edwardian Group

Edwardian Hotels London is one of the UK’s leading privately owned hotel groups, which has been operating and developing its hospitality portfolio since Jasminder Singh OBE began his career within the hospitality industry in 1977; forming the beginnings of what would become Edwardian Hotels London.

The Londoner, Edwardian Hotels London’s latest opening in London’s Leicester Square, is the world’s first super boutique hotel and incorporates 350 bedrooms and suites, six concept eateries and bars, The Residence, The Retreat, private screening rooms, seven inspiring meeting spaces and a stunning ballroom for 850 guests. The Londoner is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ prestigious Legend Collection.

Edwardian Hotels London also owns and operates The May Fair, and The Edwardian Manchester, both part of premium lifestyle brand Radisson Collection, and a range of luxury restaurant and bar brands, including the award-winning bars and restaurants;  May Fair Kitchen, Peter Street Kitchen and May Fair Bar.

Media Contact for Starwood Capital:
Emma Prenn-Vasilakis
H/Advisors Abernathy
(212) 371-5999
[email protected]

Media Contacts for Edwardian Group: 
Alex Simmons, [email protected] / +44 7970 174353
James Geddes, [email protected] / +44 7811 752279

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Validation Cloud Secures $5.8 Million in Inaugural Funding to Propel Web3 Infrastructure

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ZUG, Switzerland, Feb. 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In a significant stride towards revolutionizing Web3 infrastructure, Validation Cloud has proudly announced the successful closure of its first external investment round, amassing $5.8 million. Spearheaded by San Francisco-based Cadenza Ventures, this funding round exceeded expectations with contributions from an impressive roster of international investors, including Blockchain Founders Fund, Bloccelerate, Blockwall, Side Door Ventures, Metamatic, GS Futures, and AP Capital.

Alex Nwaka, Co-Founder of Validation Cloud, expressed enthusiasm about the funding, “This investment marks a pivotal moment for Validation Cloud as we aim to address the urgent demand for scalable and compliant Web3 infrastructure. We’re honored to collaborate with our investors who are instrumental in propelling the global adoption of our platform among cutting-edge networks, developers, and asset managers.”

Validation Cloud is at the forefront of Web3 technology, having developed an innovative system architecture that paves the way for significant advancements in the sector. Known as the “Cloudflare of Web3,” the company offers a robust, scalable, and intelligent platform providing Staking, Node API, and Data services, drawing inspiration from Cloudflare’s transformative impact on Web2 infrastructure.

Founded by veterans in the Proof-of-Stake domain, Validation Cloud boasts a team of highly experienced professionals from renowned organizations such as Uber, Workday, Deloitte, Citadel, Morgan Stanley, Binance, Crypto.com, Figure, R3, and more, emphasizing a talent-first approach with a worldwide workforce.

Kumar Dandapani, Managing Partner at Cadenza Ventures, highlighted the strategic vision behind their investment, “At Cadenza, we do not invest in just any company; we invest in the future of transformative technologies. Validation Cloud’s pioneering role in Proof-of-Stake and their relentless pursuit of next-generation Web3 infrastructure have set them apart as leaders in the Web3 space.”

Aly Madhavji, Managing Partner at Blockchain Founders Fund, shared his thoughts on the investment, “We believe in the transformative power of Web3 and its ability to redefine how businesses operate. Investing in Validation Cloud aligns perfectly with our vision of supporting innovative platforms that are ready to lead the next wave of digital transformation.”

Validation Cloud has earned a reputation for its close partnerships with networks from their nascent stages, supporting a wide array of ecosystems from established ones like Chainlink, Hedera, and Stellar to emerging networks such as Aptos, Eigenlayer, and Berachain. Their platform lays the groundwork for the enterprise adoption of networks, positioning Validation Cloud as a key player in the Web3 infrastructure landscape.

For further details on Validation Cloud and its offerings, please visit www.validationcloud.io.

Please contact: Kelly Clark, Director of Communications | [email protected] 

Funding Announcement for Validation Cloud by Alex Nwaka

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Klarna says its AI assistant does the work of 700 people after it laid off 700 people

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The Swedish fintech, which was criticized for its handling of a dramatic staff reduction in 2022, is touting new efficiencies powered by OpenAI.

Klarna is bullish on bots.

One month after taking its OpenAI-powered virtual assistant global, the Swedish buy-now, pay-later company has released new data touting its ability to handle customer communications, make shoppers happier, and even drive better financial results.

The app-based AI chatbot already handles two-thirds of all customer service chats, the company said Tuesday—some 2.3 million conversations so far—with the virtual assistant earning customer satisfaction ratings at the same level as human agents. Klarna, which is expected to go public this year and will need all the hype it can get at a time when investors have been generally frosty toward IPOs, estimates that the chatbot could help improve its profits by $40 million in 2024.

Announcing a partnership with OpenAI early last year, Klarna said it was one of the first companies to integrate the firm’s groundbreaking ChatGPT technology into a plug-in for shopping. The natural-language interface initially helped customers choose items and make other shopping-related decisions based on personalized queries, a feature Klarna described as “smooth shopping.”

The company has continued to build out its AI offerings since then. Its app-based assistants are now available to customers worldwide and handle a variety of tasks including refunds, cancellations, and even disputes.

Klarna boasted in its announcement on Tuesday that the AI assistant “is doing the equivalent work of 700 full-time agents.”

That statement may raise eyebrows for anyone who remembers the middle of 2022, when the company laid off roughly the same number of employees, then about 10% of its staff. At the time, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski cited economic uncertainty, inflation, and the likelihood of a recession as reasons for the cuts. He was criticized for his handling of the staff reduction after he shared a public spreadsheet on LinkedIn that contained the names of many of the laid-off workers.

Fast Company asked Klarna how the company arrived at its calculation for its AI assistant’s human-equivalent productivity. The company said the number of equivalent jobs the AI could perform wasn’t related to the layoffs. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company’s customer service is supported by four to five large third-parties that collectively have over 650,000 employees, and that it offers customers the option to speak with human agents if that’s what they prefer.

“This is in no way connected to the workforce reductions in May 2022, and making that conclusion would be incorrect,” the statement read. “We chose to share the figure of 700 to indicate the more long-term consequences of AI technology, where we believe it is important to be transparent in order to create an understanding in society. We think [it’s] important to proactively address these issues and encourage a thoughtful discussion around how society can meet and navigate this transformation.”

Companies have used chatbots for years to handle low-level customer queries and other interactions, although these tools are expected to become more versatile in the wake of advancements in artificial intellegence.

Source: Fast Company

The post Klarna says its AI assistant does the work of 700 people after it laid off 700 people appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.

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KAPSARC Launches Saudi Arabia’s First School of Public Policy

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  • Inspired by His Royal Highness, the Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud’s passion for education, human capital development and innovation, the KAPSARC School of Public Policy (KSPP) was founded as the first institution in Saudi Arabia dedicated to graduate studies and executive education in public policy.
  • Through its academic offerings, KSPP empowers individuals to tackle pressing public policy challenges and embrace the promising opportunities shaping the future.
  • KSPP’s facilities will run on 100% renewable energy, setting a precedent as one of the first net-zero facilities in the Saudi educational sector.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) has been granted an establishment license for its School of Public Policy (KSPP) after the recent approval by the Council of Ministers, and which was announced during the Human Capability Initiative (HCI) on February 28, 2024, conducted under the patronage of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the Human Capability Development Program Committee, one of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Realization Programs.

Aiming to set new standards in policy studies, the school offers a two-year master’s degree and executive education programs designed to enable and empower future policy leaders and professionals within Saudi Arabia and globally to address the most pressing domestic and international public policy challenges in the public, non-profit and private sectors.

This significant achievement was announced by His Royal Highness, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, the Minister of Energy, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of KAPSARC: “The vision for KAPSARC School of Public Policy is to develop the knowledge and skills that the new generation needs to shape public policy both locally and globally. Our mission is to empower and equip future policy leaders and professionals within Saudi Arabia and internationally to make informed socio-economic decisions.”

In a statement on the sidelines of the school’s launch, Fahad Alajlan, President of KAPSARC, stressed the Center’s mission to impact public policy on national, regional, and global levels. “Our new School of Public Policy will equip future leaders with the right skills to create data-driven and evidence-based public policy in line with Vision 2030 goals.”

Dr. Ghadah Alarifi, Founding Dean of KSPP, stated that, “Public policy serves as the foundation of societal progress. At KSPP, we aim to be a catalyst for collaboration, building a robust ecosystem that bridges academia, industry, and government in the public policy arena.”

By leveraging KAPSARC’s network, KSPP provides a platform for global engagement and career growth opportunities, offering practical application and flexible courses tailored to empower policymakers in different tracks including energy policy.

The school is committed to achieving high sustainability standards in the Saudi educational sector, including the goal of running on 100% renewable energy. This dedication ensures that KSPP meets its annual energy needs through on-site renewable resources, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

For more information about KSPP, visit https://www.kapsarc.org/about-the-school/.

Follow KSPP on social media:

  • X: @KAPSARC_SPP
  • LinkedIn: @ KAPSARC School of Public Policy

About KAPSARC:

KAPSARC is a leading think tank dedicated to advancing knowledge on energy, environment, and regional economic issues. Accredited observer of UNFCCC, KAPSARC actively contributes to global climate action. The mission of KAPSARC is to advance Saudi Arabia’s energy sector and inform global policies through evidence-based advice and applied research. For more information about the center please visit: https://www.kapsarc.org/

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