William von Eggers Doering

first_imgWhen William von Eggers Doering, a 26-year-old postdoctoral fellow under the direction of Robert Burns Woodward, completed the first formal synthesis of quinine at Harvard in the spring of 1944, the news made headlines in Time and Newsweek, and the New York Times called this work “one of the greatest scientific achievements in a century.” The success in making quinine not only promised access to the substance necessary for the cure of malaria, then a threat to U.S. soldiers fighting in southeast Asia, but also signaled the emergence of the United States as a world leader in chemical synthesis. For Doering, prowess in making chemical compounds may have made him an overnight sensation, but what fascinated him far more, and distinguished him in his later career, was the how and why of organic chemical reactions and the communication of his insights and technique to generations of students.Doering’s parents, both musicians, met at the conservatory in Leipzig, Germany. The couple moved to the United States in 1915 and secured positions on the music faculty at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where William was born and spent his early childhood. Doering was raised in a Germanic environment, and he retained an affinity for things German most of his life. He kept a flat in the Black Forest where he hiked yearly, welcomed German postdoctoral fellows into his group and collaborated with many of them for the rest of his career, and occasionally even came to his Harvard laboratory clad in knickers and cape.Doering’s father quickly found medicine more to his liking, and joined the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health. William spent his school years at the Shady Hill School and Belmont Hill, becoming fascinated with science, Latin, the crafting of model airplanes, and explosions. As a Harvard undergraduate, he was attracted to the study of organic chemistry after taking courses with Louis Fieser, Elmer Kohler, and Paul Bartlett. Doering excelled in organic synthesis and considered pursuing graduate work in the subject, but mechanistic organic chemistry had greater appeal. He completed doctoral work in 1943 with Reginald Linstead on the stereochemistry of catalytic hydrogenation, then worked on the synthesis of anti-mustard gas compounds in Fieser’s laboratory until concerns were raised about a second cousin who had served as President of the Reichsbank under Hitler. Doering was recruited by Woodward to apply his expertise to a less sensitive project funded by the Polaroid Corporation, which became the synthesis of quinine. Towards the end of that project in 1943, Doering took up his first independent post at Columbia, returning to Harvard at intervals to complete the final, crucial steps.Having almost been ejected from Harvard because of his family connections, Doering often described himself as an outsider and tended to avoid any research area that he perceived as crowded. Beginning with his Columbia appointment, Doering’s group deduced novel mechanistic insights, systematically exploring and relinquishing topics when others entered the field. His early work included the pioneering synthesis of the unusually stable tropylium ion, which opened the field of nonbenzenoid aromatic compounds, fundamental studies of carbenes, and the elucidation of the mechanism of insertion of singlet methylene into the carbon-hydrogen bond. Doering moved his graduate research group to Yale in 1952 and again to Harvard in 1967 when he became Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry. By the time he arrived at Harvard, his work had been recognized by election to the National Academy of Sciences, an honor achieved subsequently by five of his former graduate students. Doering eventually received many of the American Chemical Society’s top prizes, and he remains the only person ever to receive the ACS’s highest awards for both organic synthesis and mechanistic organic chemistry, an achievement that underscores the richness of Doering’s work, which extended over eight decades.One of Doering’s signature achievements was his work on the mechanism of the Cope rearrangement, a tranformation considered so difficult to study that it was termed a “no- mechanism” reaction. Doering’s explorations led to elucidation of the transition state structure of the Cope rearrangement using a brilliantly simple stereochemical labeling experiment that has ever since been a mainstay of all advanced textbooks. Further efforts led to the prediction in 1963 and subsequent synthesis of a small hydrocarbon called bullvalene in honor of Bill “Bull” Doering. This extraordinary molecule rapidly undergoes over 1,000,000 different Cope rearrangements, resulting in each of its ten carbons becoming equivalent to one another.Reform of Harvard’s undergraduate organic chemistry curriculum was another priority for Doering, with overhauls of Chemistry 20, for which he received standing ovations from his undergraduates at the end of every term, and the introduction of a laboratory course, Chemistry 135, that taught proficiency in synthetic technique and the planning of reactions. Both courses remain popular to this day. Doering took emeritus status in 1986 but continued to supervise postdoctoral fellows and publish for another 22 years. One of his greatest achievements in later years was opening the door to Chinese scholars. Realizing the dearth of knowledge of professors during a 1980 visit to China, he proposed a graduate program to bring promising students to universities in North America. The Chemistry Graduate Program, directed by Doering with support from the Chinese Ministry of Education, brought over 250 students universities in North America. The effects were enormous: the thousands of young Chinese who studied chemistry in North  American Ph.D. programs as a direct result of Doering’s program established a new generation of chemical leaders in China. The CGP-Doering Foundation, named in his honor, continues to promote scientific exchange.Doering’s many interests outside the lab included international politics. During the 1960s and 70s, he served as Chairman of the Board and President of the Council for a Livable World (CLW), which supported nuclear non-proliferation and arms control by lobbying and contributing to U.S. Senate campaigns.William Doering is survived by two sons, Christian and Peter, and a daughter, Margaretta Doering Volk.Respectfully submitted,Richard HolmEric Jacobsen, Chairlast_img read more

Industry 4.0 Meets AI

first_imgToday, we’re at a fascinating inflection point. Industry 4.0—a long-used term in manufacturing—is now more mainstream, due to the availability of affordable IoT infrastructure, the desire to gain new business insights from data, plus the arrival of 5G (read more on our 5G perspective).Next technology waveWhile it’s still early days, we see artificial intelligence (AI) as the next big technology wave, delivering new insights for the physical world. While the internet of things (IoT) is providing us deeper insights into individual processes, AI looks at the aggregate, delivering a holistic 360 view of the business. Together, you get the total picture.Investing in AIAt Dell Technologies, we’re continuously blown away by the advancements in AI from innovative companies like Noodle.ai, Edico Genome, FogHorn Systems, Graphcore, Moogsoft, Zingbox, and Immuta (start-ups that we’re proud to support through our financial capital division).And we’re also leveraging AI in our own business functions. For example, to combat unconscious bias in our recruitment process, we work with companies like Textio, who use an intelligent text editor to avoid gendered phrasing in job descriptions, while Mya Systems has developed an intelligent chatbot to “interview” and evaluate job candidates, using objective, performance-based questions.Powering AI applicationsSo, how do our OEM & IoT Solutions advance AI? Simple. All these intelligent applications—designed largely by OEM-type companies—are generating new requirements to manage scale and latency, for example, compute power, storage, software-defined networking and virtualization. As a result, the industry will need to completely redesign the entire end-to-end infrastructure.As the essential infrastructure company, we’re already providing the IT infrastructure to power AI workloads–the rocket fuel you might say. Last year, we expanded our server and workstation portfolio to accelerate AI-driven workloads as well as deepening our relationship with Intel to advance AI community innovation. Meanwhile, we offer our Ready Solutions for AI including two design options: Deep Learning with NVIDIA and Machine Learning with Hadoop. Both include pre-validated hardware/software stacks that can be rapidly implemented to accelerate AI.Computer vision and machine intelligence working togetherI see AI enhancing existing best practices in industrial automation. Of course, vision-based quality control systems have been used in manufacturing for some time but AI advancements and falling costs of acceleration hardware—like GPUs and FPGAs—are making computer-vision-based insights more accessible.Take the existing inspection cameras on a manufacturing conveyor belt. The output of those vision-based analytics becomes even richer when combined with additional data. For example, consider the telemetry generated by PLCs and sensors located on the machines that manufacture the inspected parts. By combining and analyzing this rich mix of data, the production, quality and maintenance teams gain fresh and more detailed insights about their overall operations. Now, that’s Industrial Intelligence!From car manufacturing to mining operationsA picture paints a thousand words so let’s look at some customer examples. We’re proud to work with Hadoop, an Italian industrial automation company, specializing in automated manufacturing systems. Comau has digitized the door assembly line for Maserati Levante. A digital dashboard identifies potential bottlenecks or breakdowns. If issues arise, the customer can print the necessary spare part – directly onsite – using a 3D printer mounted on a Comau robot NJ 60. The solution, developed in partnership with Autodesk and Continuous Composites, and powered by our technology shows how companies can produce strong, lightweight factory-ready parts on demand. For Maserati, this level of predictive intelligence delivers higher productivity and lower costs.In the engineering world, we’re working with The Weir Group to help transform its global business model and roll out predictive maintenance as a service. More on that partnership shortly from my colleague Dermot O’Connell. And Noodle.ai is improving how the world makes and moves things—for factory floors, trucking fleets, distribution centers, and retail stores. The company helped Big River Steel, save energy, improve product quality, and identify new areas for revenue growth.From autonomous driving to deep-sea explorationZenuity is breaking new ground in world-class driver assistance and autonomous-driving technologies. When the company needed to analyze data from cars, tested in a wide variety of environments across the globe, we provided an HPC and storage environment to handle large-scale data loads, reduce technology troubleshooting time, and accelerate time-to-market.In the marine world, the Arggonauts from the Fraunhofer IOSB in Karlsruhe are using mobile robotics to revolutionize deep-sea exploration. Using our customized workstation technology, the team controls remote-operated vehicles and captures subsea data camera images. An HPC Datacenter compute renders the images and translates data into maps while AI is used to quickly classify images from the unstructured data (read the full story here).Protecting endangered speciesOn the opposite end of the scale, one of our analytics partners, SAS®, is collaborating with the non‐profit Wild Track to monitor and protect endangered species like cheetahs and leopards. With the help of SAS® technology—powered by Dell PowerEdge server infrastructure—WildTrack is collecting footprint images and analyzing them with a customized statistical model to gain new insights and help protect these animals from extinction.Just think of the huge range of societal and business challenges these AI solutions are addressing: better manufacturing quality, increased uptime, improved knowledge of our world, reduced energy consumption and the conservation of endangered species.Looking aheadA massive load of sensors is coming online. And, thanks to 4K video cameras, we’re already seeing the enormous amount of high-resolution data from the physical world yield new analytics-driven outcomes. As we couple this with 5G technology, we’ll have access to an entirely new range of real-time services and enhanced experiences.However, even with 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency capabilities, the connectivity, cost, security and uptime requirements will drive an increasing amount of edge computing. This is especially true for critical operations that must avoid exposing their processes directly to the cloud. Today, training AI models for edge analytics typically happens in centralized data centers before these models are pushed to the edge for real-time inferencing on data streams. Over time, I expect to see more of this model training happening closer to the edge.Adapt as your business needs evolveToday, we’re merely scratching the surface of the potential for AI and IoT. So, it’s critical to have consistent, flexible infrastructure that enables you to adapt as your business needs evolve. Dell Technologies offers a differentiated portfolio that is delivering hardware and software solutions that play at every level of AI and IoT implementation, from the edge, to the core, to the cloud. We can deliver all the necessary assets, including scalable, secure, manageable and open infrastructure architecture, IoT and big data expertise, the ability to customize through our OEM division, the right partners plus a sophisticated global support and supply chain.I’m excited about the potential for AI to help solve big societal and business challenges. I certainly believe that it will enhance and support our human efforts—not replace them.What are your thoughts on Industrial Intelligence? I’m curious to hear your comments and questions. If you’re attending Hannover Messe, please stop by to say hi to our team from Dell Technologies and VMware plus partners from IOTech, SAS, Bormann, Teamviewer, ActionPoint,Tridium and Alleantia. We’ll be at Hall 6, Booth C40, April 1-5.You can experience our amazing, interactive demo to learn how Dell Technologies infrastructure can help you harness the power of IoT and AI in your operations at scale.Learn more about Next Generation OEM & IoT Solutions from Dell Technologies Join our LinkedIn OEM & IoT Solutions Showcase pageFollow us on Twitter @dellemcoem and follow Bryan @BryanEJoneslast_img read more

Jenkins explains Diversity Committee’s role

first_imgThe new President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion aims to ensure campus leaders are striving to create a welcoming atmosphere for students, faculty and staff, University President Fr. John Jenkins told The Observer last month. “It’s important to realize that there are many good things that have happened [in the realm of diversity and inclusion],” Jenkins said. “We can talk ourselves into being discouraged, and I think we have to avoid that, on one hand. “On the other hand, I think there are things we need to work on at various parts of the University. I think in a lot of ways, I want to hold those things in balance. We made progress, but we have more to do.” On Sept. 10, Jenkins sent the Notre Dame community a letter announcing the committee’s formation. The letter, sent via email, stated Jenkins will chair the group. The committee also includes eight other members of the University’s administration. Members of the committee work in teams, each of which addresses the concerns of students, of faculty or of staff, Jenkins told The Observer. He said the committee considers diversity of race, ethnicity, nation of origin, socioeconomic class, gender and sexual orientation. “I think that we have made progress. The creation of the GLBTQ group [Prism-ND] is a big step forward, and I hope that’s successful,” Jenkins said. “But there are other areas of the University where maybe we need to think about, for instance, how to incorporate international students. … They bring great gifts, but perhaps we need to make sure that they’re fully included. … Sometimes individuals from underrepresented minorities … feel that Notre Dame could be more welcoming.” Jenkins said diversity accords with a sense of fairness – that everyone should have access to a Notre Dame education, regardless of his or her background. He said the University’s Catholic mission and its intention to create a positive atmosphere on campus also inform its commitment to promoting diversity. “A more diverse and inclusive campus is a better educational environment,” Jenkins said. “I think we learn, students and faculty and everyone on campus learns, not only in formal classes from teachers, but from one another. And insofar as we can have a broader array of perspectives on matters, I think it’s a better education.” Jenkins said he charged committee members with identifying areas in which the University could be more diverse or inclusive. “I’ve asked them to just look at the landscape, analyze where we are, what’s going on, what can we improve on and then to formulate various plans,” he said. “How can we get better? What can we do to continue to make progress, to address the issues that need to be addressed?” During the group’s first meeting in October, members shared the initiatives each team is working on and the challenges they face, Jenkins said. “Then on a second meeting, we sort of got into a level of somewhat greater detail,” he said. The committee is meant to hold administrators accountable for working on issues of diversity and inclusion, Jenkins said. “One of the challenges of this is that everyone has so much on their plate. … But diversity and inclusion goes across all areas,” Jenkins said. “People can fail to keep focus on that. … If you have to go to a meeting, and the president’s there, you’ve got to be able to say something [about your progress in these areas]. “I think my role, our role in this committee, one of its roles, is to just make sure that we’re not losing focus, that we’re keeping our eye on the ball.” The teams will work together to address issues that bridge students, faculty and staff, Jenkins said. He said at one of the committee’s previous meetings, Matt Storin, senior project specialist for Student Affairs, mentioned students told him some classmates make comments that are unintentionally hurtful or marginalizing. “That was very helpful, for Matt to say that, because the people who work with the faculty can begin to think about, How can we make the classroom environment less marginalizing, more inclusive for people?” Jenkins said. The committee will meet at least quarterly, Ann Firth, the group’s vice chair and chief of staff in the Office of the President, said. She said the next meeting is scheduled for January. Jenkins said the group does not meet more frequently because the committee “sees that things are done, rather than does them.” “That’s the point of oversight,” he said. “What we have to do is meet and say, ‘Okay, here’s our plan, here’s our challenges.’ And then everybody goes and works on them and then comes back and says, ‘Here’s the progress we’ve made.’” The oversight group plans to communicate its progress in various ways, including town hall meetings with staff, similar meetings with students and the president’s annual address to the faculty, Jenkins said. Jenkins said the committee seeks to implement concrete changes on campus, but noticeable progress will not occur overnight. “If we don’t change anything, we wasted our time. But … it’s probably hard, steady work,” Jenkins said. “I think there’s sometimes a feeling that if you can do one thing, one dramatic thing, you can fix the problem. I don’t expect that to happen. I think it’s a hundred, maybe a thousand, small things that we just have to keep doing. And if one thing doesn’t work, we try another thing, and that’s how we’ll make progress. “We will not solve all the problems in the next few weeks, but it needs to be a campuswide effort to make the whole campus community more diverse and inclusive.” Associate News Editor Tori Roeck contributed to this report. Contact Marisa Iati at miati@nd.edulast_img read more

Speaker encourages students to ‘Beat the Blame Game’

first_imgCourtney Abbott, a speaker for Catharsis Productions, presented a powerful refutation of the victim shaming culture that often surrounds sexual violence accusations on Tuesday evening at Geddes Hall.In her presentation, which was sponsored by the Gender Relations Center (GRC) and titled “Beat the Blame Game,” Abbott said victim blaming is harmful because it moves the fault away from those who deserve it.“It removes responsibility from the perpetrator and the system,” she said.The worst part of this culture, Abbott said, is that it enables the offenders.“If the victims of any crime are not reporting that crime, the perpetrators are getting away with it,” she said. “We know for a fact this happens with sexual violence. When people are not called out for their actions, they will repeat and repeat and repeat their actions.”Abbott said this victim blaming leads people to frequently doubt those who have suffered from sexual violence.“Even with all of the awareness and the campaigns, we still live in a world that often looks at people who come forward saying they’ve been victimized with a lot of doubt,” she said.Abbott said victims, instead of being treated with sympathy, are treated as cautionary tales many times.“We want to see where they went wrong so we can make a moral fable out of it,” she said.This criticizing of the victim takes two major forms, Abbott said, and she strongly disagrees with these tactics, especially when they attempt to discredit the victim for their lack of sobriety.“We either attack someone’s character, or we attack someone’s choices,” she said.The way in which sexual violence prevention is taught fails to prepare people for the reality of the situation, she said. Most common sexual assault avoidance strategies, like walking in groups and carrying pepper spray, are aimed at fending off assaults by strangers.“Stranger attacks make up the minority of sexual assaults,” she said.Abbott said people let their guard down when they’re around those they know.“When we trust people and let them into our spaces, we think that these rules don’t apply,” Abbott said. “Unfortunately, the majority of sexual assaults are between people who do know each other.”Abbott said sexual assaults could be prevented if everyone was mindful of consent and their partner’s limits.“Looking for active, verbal, sober, ongoing consent throughout the experience is a great way to encourage yourself and your partner to have a better time,” she said. “It lets that person know that you respect his or her boundaries.”Those close to victims must be willing to listen to and believe the victim, Abbott said. This is the only way more victims will start coming forward.“If they trust you, you have to respect and live up to that trust,” Abbott said. “Help make a safe space for them.”Abbott said everyone must make an effort to stop sexual violence through his or her actions and choices.“If you make a choice to do nothing, you still picked a side,” Abbot said. “In this case, you’re enabling the predators.”Tags: sexual assault, sexual violencelast_img read more

Big Love’s Douglas Smith & More Will Lead Cast of Punk Rock Off-Broadway

first_img Related Shows Inspired by Stephens’ own experiences as a teacher, Punk Rock explores contemporary adolescence at the breaking point as a group of seventeen-year-olds in Manchester, England flirt and posture their way through the day while preparing for exams. With hormones raging and minimal adult supervision, nothing can mask the underlying tension that becomes increasingly pronounced as the clock ticks towards the ultimate dismissal. Screen star Douglas Smith is among the performers to join the cast of the previously announced New York premiere of Simon Stephens’ Punk Rock. The MCC Theater production will begin performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on October 29 and run through December 7. Opening night is set for November 17. Additional cast members of the Trip Cullman-helmed production include Pico Alexander, Lilly Englert, Annie Funke, David Greenspan, Colby Minifie, Will Pullen and Noah Robbins. Smith, who stars as Ben Henrickson on the HBO series Big Love has appeared on screen in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Stage Fright. Alexander’s stage credits include Our Town and Much Ado About Nothing. Englert has appeared on stage in King Lear and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Funke appeared on Broadway in Hairspray and off-Broadway in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. Greenspan returns to MCC after presenting the musical Coraline alongside collaborator Stephin Merritt. Minifie appeared on Broadway in The Pillowman; her off-Broadway credits include Close Up Space, Landscape of the Body and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. Pullen can currently be seen in The Wayside Motor Inn off-Broadway. Robbins made his Broadway debut in Brighton Beach Memoirs and also appeared in Arcadia. Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 7, 2014 View Comments Punk Rocklast_img read more

Three things you need to build member-centric credit unions

first_imgIn recent years, organizations have begun to realize that success is predicated on serving members well, not pushing products.In fact, Deloitte reports that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that weren’t. It’s no wonder, then, that nine in 10 U.S. CEOs say they’re actively working to strengthen their customer and client engagement programs, according to PwC.Refocusing an organization from sales to customers isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Elevations Credit Union, for example, recently received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s only presidential award for business excellence.In our pursuit of the award, we spent several years re-focusing on our members—transforming our business in the process.In 2006, before we decided to work toward Baldrige, we added fewer than 100 net new members. In 2014, we added more than 5,000.How did we do it? We’ve found that focusing on three pillars—member loyalty, financial sustainability and a high-performance culture—is key to building a member-centric organization. continue reading » 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

The value of positive disruptive leadership

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr “Increasing globalization, widespread technological innovation and pressure on business to customize products and services have created an international business environment that would be unrecognizable to the manager of fifteen years ago.”While the above comment could very easily apply to the current corporate world reality, this is in fact a 1995 description of the challenges facing leadership outlined in a government-funded special report titled Enterprising Nation: Renewing Australia’s Managers to Meet the Challenges of the Asia–Pacific Century. This report was a landmark management and leadership development blueprint that became widely known as The Karpin Report.While my international readers might be quick to dismiss this as simply an Australian issue, let’s fast forward 21 years from that 1995 report to the current challenges of global leadership and the question has to be asked… what’s changed?Certainly there is still increasing globalization, there’s still widespread technological innovation and disruption, and there’s still the pressure on business to customize products and services in a competitive local and global economy. continue reading »last_img read more

Bill would simplify forgiveness for PPP loans under $150K

first_imgA bill from Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) would simplify loan forgiveness from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and has CUNA’s full support. Cramer introduced the Paycheck Protection Program Small Business Forgiveness Act Tuesday, with Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).“America’s credit unions wholeheartedly support Sen. Cramer’s Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “This bill will allow America’s small business owners and Main Street financial institutions to remain focused on serving their communities rather than on jumping through burdensome regulatory hurdles.”Specifically, the bill would:Forgiveness for covered PPP loans of less than $150,000, if the borrower submits a simple, one-page attestation form to the lender.The borrower shall be held harmless from any enforcement action if the borrower’s attestation contained any falsehoods. 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Make teachers take basic English test

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion I have just read your biased editorial regarding the lower standards at charter schools. Have you forgotten an earlier article regarding New York State Regents eliminating the English test for teachers? What a high standard that teachers do not have to pass a basic test to teach because certain groups have only a 37 percent pass rate.How qualified are these teachers, thrust into our basic school system, when they themselves cannot pass a test that has been necessary for many years? Why do I feel that the hypocrisy of the teachers’ unions, who are themselves less than literate, are creating a false scenario?Also proven is how ineffectual schools are now, with terrible graduation results and an emphasize on not education but politics.Geraldine KrawitzSaratoga Springs More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more

Jeremy Woolfe: Brexit and the ‘cuppa’

first_imgIt is not for the Commission to set up a one-size-fits-all, he stated, as if apologetically. Then he referred to the Commission’s holdback on any rules to limit the wattage of the kettle, used to heat the water for the legendary cuppa. As the story of the ‘hot-button’ issue put out by the Brexit ‘Out’ movement goes, any limit on power and liberty will have to wait at least until after the UK chooses its fate, on 23 June. In other words, the Commission has put its foot on the brake-pedal, which would have prevented electric surges through under-sea cables from Continental Europe into the UK. This can be when the tea-drinkers dive to their kitchen kettles at, say, half-time during a TV broadcast of a football match.However good that story may be, the likely truth is that the Brussels’s environmental people had no firm plans but were only just thinking about some restraint on the kettle, some of which can be rated up to 2,900 watts. Nevertheless, the new Brussels ‘humble pie’ position certainly does ring true. One Commission source talks of better regulation principles, which “include not taking decisions at EU level that unnecessarily meddle in people’s daily lives”. The tone certainly colours official thinking on the Prospectus Regulation, published last 30 November (2015) and now passed on to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU “for discussion and adoption”. The Regulation is to replace the existing Prospectus Directive of 2003 (and with antecedents going back to 1980) to cover when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading. Describing the proposed reform, the Commission describes it as the “gateway” for issuers to gain access to the European capital markets.Still, logically, it says the rules will provide investors across the European Union with “the same level of information on companies that want to raise capital. Aligning disclosure standards aims to make it easier to invest cross border”. The Commission goes on to report that the Regulation will enable SMEs “in particular” to find it easier to raise funding when issuing shares or debt. Perhaps the new deference to Mr Average Citizen contributed to opportunist protests aired at the conference. Speakers were upset at EU plans for a threshold limit for a prospectus for capital needs below €500,000 (up from €100,000). The Commission says this relief gives “breathing space” for SMEs.However, an unsatisfied Chris Muyldermans, of bank KBC group, pooh-poohed the threshold. This “should be debated”, she told the conference, organised by QED. She’d like the sum to rise significantly. Rather than relying on the prospectus, when investing, she simply wants to know from an SME prospect what they need the money for, and other basics.On the same track, Dierdre Somers of the Federation of European Securities Exchanges suggested an SME exemption for any sum less than 10-20% of its capital. And Michael Collins, deputy chief executive and public affairs director at InvestEurope, formerly the EVCA, warned that, “If we want unicorns – i.e. emerging companies with $1bn valuation – in Europe, then we have to be able to fund them, including via equity markets.” On the other hand, Arjun Singh-Muchelle of the Investment Association stated: “If you want to play with the big boys, you’d better behave like a big boy.” By this, he meant companies applying for large-scale funding should accept appropriate rules.Modern man may look back in bewilderment at the Roman Empire’s seeking guidance from chicken entrails prior to battling with the barbarians. He could also marvel at the world’s largest economy being distracted by the humdrum cuppa when striving to put its economy to rights. Jeremy Woolfe laments the EU economy’s being distracted by a humdrum cup of teaA cup of tea – the Englishman’s beloved ‘cuppa’. Nothing to do with the EU’s cross-border investment prospects? But it has – and quite a lot.In fact, the EU hierarchy has to take into account anything – anything – that might have the slightest effect on the forthcoming Brexit vote. Sounds daft? But “anything” includes even the drink that cheers but does not inebriate. Behind this, it is clear Brussels is running scared of the UK’s in/out referendum. Hence, even the serious matter of the new Prospectus Regulation, an important component in the EU’s Capital Market Union programme, has to be tailored with the Brexit risk in mind. At a presentation of the regulation, self-deprecation by the rule-maker clearly reflected the tone. The Commission has “learned its lesson” (about accusations of over-regulation), senior official Tilman Lueder said at a conference entitled ‘EU Prospectus Regulation: Striking a Balance’.last_img read more