The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese wants to destroy about 7 billion prize tickets that have piled up in its supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, CEC Entertainment, asked a Texas bankruptcy court to approve settlements allowing three of its vendors to shred the excess tickets at a cost of about $2.3 million, roughly $1 million less than the cost of circulating them.
The massive ticket stockpile could be traded in for about $9 million worth of prize merchandise — or $0.0013 per ticket — at Chuck E. Cheese arcades if they were abandoned and ended up getting into the general public, CEC said in a Monday court filing.
The company argued that destroying the paper tickets, which bear the Chuck E. Cheese trademark, is in its best interest because “Prize Tickets are redeemable by guests at significantly higher value than the cost of Prize Tickets.”
CEC said its need for tickets — which players win from arcade games and exchange for prizes — diminished as COVID-19 tanked its sales and forced it to close arcades, though many locations have since reopened.
The industry’s “rapid move toward contactless service” amid the pandemic also accelerated efforts to phase out the paper tickets, along with the “muncher” machines that count them, in favor of electronic tickets, the company said.
But CEC had placed orders for tickets based on how many it had needed before the virus hit, causing “enough tickets to fill approximately 65 40-foot cargo shipping containers” to build up in the supply chain, according to the filing.
CEC Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in June, saying it planned to restructure its debt-heavy balance sheet through talks with financial stakeholders and landlords as it plotted a recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
The Texas-based company has more than 600 Chuck E. Cheese locations and more than 120 Peter Piper Pizza restaurants, including franchises, across 47 states and 16 foreign countries and territories.
Facebook bans political profile pictures on internal network
Facebook has reportedly banned its employees from using political images as their profile pictures on its internal social network.
The policy is one of several new rules Facebook instituted this week governing how staffers communicate on its Workplace platform amid concerns that discussions there were getting too political, according to reports.
Facebook workers will now be required to use a photo of themselves or their initials as their Workplace profile picture, CNBC reported Thursday. That reportedly means they can no longer display images to express support for political candidates or causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Staffers will still be able to modify their profile pictures with pre-approved frames, including a Black Lives Matter-themed one, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook will also require employees to moderate Workplace discussion groups dedicated to politics, social issues and other topics unrelated to their jobs, the paper reported. And the Silicon Valley giant has expanded its definition of harassment to ban “insensitive, degrading or derogatory” communications that could create a hostile work environment for protected groups, according to CNBC.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. But company spokesman Joe Osborne told outlets the changes are meant to “make sure our people have both voice, and choice.”
“We deeply value expression, open discussion, and a company culture built on respect and inclusivity,” Osborne told CNBC in a statement. “What we have heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed.”
Facebook’s move to control contentious discussions followed a series of leaks from within the social-media titan. Reports in BuzzFeed News and The Verge have detailed Facebook staffers’ criticisms of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s handling of President Trump’s inflammatory posts, among other issues.
Facebook is also under pressure to crack down on disinformation on its public platform ahead of the November presidential election. The company announced a slate of new initiatives earlier this month aimed at doing that, including a ban on new political ads in the week before Election Day.
Feds fine BMW $18 million for allegedly inflating sales numbers
The feds slapped German automaker BMW with an $18 million fine for allegedly inflating its sales figures while raising billions of dollars from investors.
The Munich-based company’s North American unit juiced US sales numbers from 2015 to 2019 to close the gap between its actual performance and internal targets, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.
The scheme involved a “bank” of unreported vehicle sales that BMW of North America used to meet its monthly goals regardless of when the sales actually occurred, officials alleged. The luxury automaker also paid dealers to inaccurately label cars “loaners” or “demonstrators” so it could falsely claim they had been sold to customers, authorities said.
BMW used these practices while raising about $18 billion through several corporate bond offerings, officials said. The information BMW gave investors for those offerings contained “material misstatements and omissions” about its US retail vehicle sales, according to the SEC.
“Companies accessing US markets to raise capital have an obligation to provide accurate information to investors,” Stephanie Avakian, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.
BMW and its American subsidiaries involved in the case, BMW of North America and BMW US Capital, agreed to the $18 million penalty without admitting or denying any of the SEC’s findings, the agency said.
The fine was less than 1 percent of the amount of money BMW allegedly raised from the bond offerings. But the SEC said it accounted for BMW’s cooperation with its probe even as the coronavirus pandemic forced companies around the world to close their offices.
BMW said most of the sales inflation happened more than three years ago and claimed it was the result of negligence rather than “intentional misconduct.”
“The BMW Group attaches great importance to the correctness of its sales figures and will continue to focus on thorough and consistent sales reporting,” the company said in a statement.
With Post wires
London gaining on New York in financial centers ranking
Wall Street is barely hanging onto its title as the global financial capital.
A new ranking of the world’s top finance centers placed New York City only slightly ahead of London, suggesting the British hub could soon retake the crown.
The cities’ rankings on the latest Global Financial Centers Index, released Friday, were unchanged from the March edition of the twice-a-year survey. But London’s score — based on a wide range of financial, social and economic metrics — jumped 24 points to 766, while New York’s only rose a single point to 770.
The gap has narrowed significantly since the last ranking, which had the Big Apple 27 points ahead of the UK capital. The list is compiled by Z/Yen Group, a London-based commercial think tank, in partnership with the China Development Institute.
Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong rounded out the top five on Friday’s ranking, followed by Singapore, Beijing, San Francisco, Shenzhen and Zurich.
The top 10 cities all saw their scores increase from the March survey even though the average rating of the 111 ranked cities fell by more than 41 points. That could be a sign of “increased confidence in leading centers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” researchers said.
“Uncertainty about trade, political stability, and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has injected more volatility into the index results,” Michael Mainelli, Z/Yen Group’s executive chairman, said in a statement. “New ways of working are challenging the concept of a traditional financial center.”
The ranking suggests London has made something of a comeback since New York booted it from the top spot in September 2018 amid uncertainty about the UK’s impending exit from the European Union. That was the first time since 2015 that New York had topped the list, according to the Financial Times.
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