QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend.” 
-Jim Harrison

Mercedes-Benz eyes Atlanta for U.S. headquarters, could bring 800+ jobs

German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz is considering relocating its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta from New Jersey, Atlanta Business Chronicle has learned.

MBUSA is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States. The company is likely to have considered Texas and Virginia for the relocation.

In Montvale, N.J., Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) occupies about 141,000 square feet of office space on about 37 acres, where it employs about 800.

Mercedes-Benz has not made any announcement on this subject, spokesman Rob Moran said. “As a matter of policy, the company does not comment on rumor or speculation,” Moran said.

While all indications point to Atlanta, site consultant John Boyd warned against ruling out New Jersey.

“Don’t discount New Jersey’s ability to offer a last second Hail Mary pass with an incentive package,” Boyd said, pointing to the Grow N.J. Assistance Program.

The New Jersey fund is one of the most compelling incentive programs in the country, the site consultant said. “It’s dying for deals like Mercedes,” Boyd said.

Mercedes’ possible relocation underscores the continued southward migration of the auto industry. The Southeast has become an emerging threat to the Midwest’s domination as an auto industry hub, as NissanToyota, Kia and Volkswagen put plants in low cost, union-free Southern states.

Metro Atlanta is also an attractive site for corporate headquarters, with a globally connected airport, a deep pool of knowledge workers and a low cost of doing business. Those were some reasons Porsche Cars North America headquartered in the city, said Thomas Wuelfing, German Consul General in Atlanta.

The automotive industry’s sourthward migration is extending beyond manufacturing.

“Now we’re seeing the office projects migrate to lower-cost markets for many of the same reasons,” Boyd said. “At the end of the day, companies want to be as fiscally responsive as possible.”

The Mercedes headquarters relocation could include consolidation of back-office operations from around the country, Boyd said.

“That’s likely to happen in a market like Atlanta because of the low-cost of doing business and the region’s abundant high skilled workers,” he said. “Expect Mercedes to put some IT operation in the Alpharetta area.”

Indeed, Last year, General Motors opened a 1,000 employee IT center in Roswell. The automaker is said to be expanding there again with plans to add 400 more jobs.

Atlanta is a top East Coast sales market for Mercedes. The automaker also uses the Port of Brunswick near Savannah to ship its vehicles from. Mercedes builds C-class and SUVs in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Next year, Porsche will open a $100 million headquarters at Aerotropolis, a 130-acre mixed-use development near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Porsche will move from its Sandy Springs, Ga., headquarters to a 26-acre campus that will include a 150,000-square-foot office tower and a test track.

Porsche’s presence in Atlanta likely drove Mercedes’ decision. The Porsche headquarters suggests the area has a pool of auto industry corporate workers and business friendly government officials.

“Companies don’t want to be pioneers,” Boyd said. “They want to know that elected officials in Atlanta and Georgia have been through the incentive process before and know the dance to get this type of deal done.”

Google’s Most Popular Searches of 2014

Rihanna Named PUMA’s Creative Director

Continuing a recent trend of pop stars and musicians being given lucrative positions of athletic and streetwear brands, PUMA joins the ranks by naming Rihanna as their Creative Director. While rumors have been circulating for nearly a month, the dubious title was confirmed this morning by the brand itself. The starlet touched down in PUMA’s hometown of Herzogenaurach, Germany yesterday for her first creative session with the design team, picking out colors, styles and discussing the line’s direction. Tapping Rihanna for the position doesn’t come as such a surprise, since PUMA has recently worked with Solange and competing brands continue to reach out to pop culture icons for their magic touch.

 

According to PUMA, the singer “will work with PUMA to design and customize classic PUMA styles as well as create new styles to add to the PUMA product portfolio.” She will also act as the company’s global brand ambassador, alongside Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and football star Mario Balotelli, among others, while also being the face of PUMA’s ad campaign for Fall 2015.

Air Jordan 4LAB1 “Black/Reflect Silver”

FRESH!!

While the Nike swoosh, along with the rest of the upper, is obscured by the netting to create an ethereal fade-in effect, the Air Jordan I Wings logo features prominently. Altogether the artificial look of the upper combines with the translucent blue outsole for a futuristic effect.

The sneaker will be available on December 19 from the Nike Store.

Hakkasan To Close Deal For Morgans Hotel-Owned Light Group In Las Vegas Shakeup

When the Hakkasan Group launched its flagship Las Vegas club and restaurant at the MGM Grand in 2013, its executives hinted at something more to come. The company had just opened the doors at a $100 million dollar, 80,000 square-foot facility–the largest of its kind in North America—but CEO Neil Moffitt cautioned that it was just the beginning for the hospitality brand.

Since then, Hakkasan Group has negotiated a series of global partnerships and acquisitions, the largest of which may be a deal for a Las Vegas competitor that would alter the nightlife landscape of Sin City. According to multiple sources, Hakkasan is set to acquire Morgans Hotel Group’s stake in Light Group, the operator of Vegas nightclubs including Light and 1 Oak.

While the final purchase price is unclear, those familiar with the negotiations suggested that the deal could be valued at more than $40 million in cash and debt, with Hakkasan taking control of about 20 restaurants and clubs in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami. Hakkasan would be buying Morgans’ 90% stake in Light Group, which the New York-based hospitality company bought in late 2011 for $46.5 million in cash and debt.

Light Group CEO Andy Masi declined to comment on the deal. Representatives at Hakkasan Group also declined to comment.

Those familiar with the deal said that negotiations between the two companies have gone on for months as Hakkasan continues its aggressive expansion strategy.  Earlier this year, the company bought San Diego-based Enlightened Hospitality Group, which operates Southern California fine dining restaurants, and partnered with MGM Resorts MGM -1.78% to build non-gaming hotels in a joint venture known as MGM Hakkasan Hospitality.

Multiple sources also confirmed that Hakkasan had made inquiries to buy out nightlife operator Tao Group, whose venues include Vegas’ Marquee Nightclub and New York’s Marquee. Those inquiries were made earlier this year, but never led to substantial negotiations, said those close to the companies.

By purchasing Light Group, Hakkasan will consolidate the crowded nightlife industry and absorb one of the newer venues to open on the Las Vegas strip. Located inside the MGM-owned Mandalay Bay, Light Nightclub opened in May 2013 and was set up to compete with Hakkasan’s behemoth venue, which launched in April of that year.

Since debuting its Vegas venue, Hakkasan Group, whose ownership can be traced back to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has continued to establish itself as a major player in Sin City entertainment. The company will also add to its Vegas portfolio with the opening of the 75,000-square foot Omnia at Caesars Palace in the spring of 2015.

If Hakkasan is able to complete its deal for Light, the hospitality firm may own three of the largest nightclubs by the time of Omnia’s opening next year. It would also presumably take over Light’s smaller properties and restaurants, including Japanese eatery Yellowtail and Bellagio-based club, The Bank. One person close to the negotiations noted that, as part of the deal, Hakkasan would be committing money toward the future improvement of current venues and the development of new properties.

“We had a broad vision to build a super high-end lifestyle company,” Moffitt told FORBES in April. “From an Abu Dhabi standpoint, we’re going exactly where we want to go.”

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