Monday, 1 April 2013

Polaris Financial Technology approaches Wipro, L&T for services unit sale

Chennai-based Polaris Financial TechnologyBSE 3.82 % has approached engineering and construction group L&T and India's third-largest technology services exporter Wipro to gauge their interest in acquiring its services business, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Polaris, through investment bankers, has also sent feelers to at least one multinational information technology services firm. The discussions, while at a very early stage, assume significance for L&T Infotech, which nearly four years ago made an unsuccessful bid to acquire India's then fourth-largest, but fraud-hit IT company, Satyam Computer, which was eventually bought by the Mahindra Group.

WiproBSE -1.33 % declined to comment on what it termed market speculation while an L&T spokesperson said, "We neither confirm nor deny market speculation."

Polaris termed the news as having 'absolutely no substance'. In an emailed statement, Polaris said that as per its earlier disclosures to stock exchanges, the company's board had set up a task force with a mandate to explore various options to unlock shareholder value.

"To this end and purely confined to this mandate, the task force is meeting multiple strategic advisors, consultants and investment bankers and seeking to analyse various options for maximising customer and shareholder value, including possible acquisitions (by Polaris as well) if that would be deemed appropriate," a Polaris spokesperson said.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The fashion of 1980s are back, and this guy is gagged with a spoon

Fashion confuses me, so I choose to maintain the same look I’ve been rocking since roughly 1995. Basically, it consists of an untucked button down shirt, sleeves rolled up, top button undone, and paired with jeans or khaki shorts.

It works for me.

So last summer, I was properly offended when more than one person told me I dress like Bradley Cooper. I don’t dress like Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper dresses like me.

I hate you Bradley Cooper.

Point is, I’m not a fashionista. I don’t change with the times. But I do notice. And when I noticed a student of mine dressed in white Converse high-tops with a loud triangles printed all over them, and sporting a T-shirt with shoulderpads(!) I had to inquire just what, exactly, was going on here. I asked if the (cue A-ha) 80s were back.

What she told me has shaken me to my core.

“Shoulder pads are back,” said Shelby Cofrances, a Rider University student, self-described fashionista, and a student who plans to get in on the fashion game via the world of public relations upon graduation. “So are chunky sweaters with Bill Cosby-inspired patterns, baggy jeans, high-waisted jeans and pants, scrunched-up socks, pegged jeans, funky bold watches, and a lot of jewelry layering, chains and pearls, like Madonna.”

I swear I could feel my mullet growing back as she spoke.

We need to tackle these on a point-by-point basis before I short out like Max Headroom.

· Shoulder pads: Wonderful. A whole ‘nuther generation of girls looking like Lawrence Taylor. This can’t be good. Though reader Karen Hilton disagrees, saying she’s “sort of happy” they’re back and that she still has some from back in the wild 80s. “I was big into shoulder pads,” Hilton notes. I’m still worried.

Billy Cosby-inspired sweaters: I’m not even sure what to say about this. The notion of young, pretty girls wearing Cosby sweaters is turning my brain into pudding pops.

· Baggy jeans: You know what’s going on here? The economy stinks, and women’s fashion is retreating into itself like it did in the 80s during the AIDS scare. Basically, when the world is getting all creepy, out come the baggy jeans. I know I’m right.

· High-waisted pants: I just want to die now. I’m concerned this may bring upon a Brigitte Nielsen comeback for no good reason.

· Scrunched-up socks: You know what I wish would come back? Knee-high athletic socks for the ladies. Think 70s style, matched with red short shorts. I may be going off-topic here. Sorry.

· Pegged jeans: This is the worst. Shelby says this is done to show off boots, but I have horrible memories of this trend. Imagine me, 6’3”, about 150 pounds at the time, mulleted, pegging my jeans. Not “totally rad.” Not by a longshot.

· Funky, bold watches: I don’t count wristwear as fashion. Next!

· Layered jewelry: Well, honestly, I can get into that Madonna look. Reminds me of the “Like a Virgin” performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards, also known “as the night 12-year-old Jeff Edelstein’s eyes fell out of his head.”

Anyway, 80s fashion is not a simple fad, like I feared two years ago. It’s a full-fledged movement. It’s so back. Every woman has leggings, and I’ll bet you a Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-Shirt that leg warmers will be popping up this winter.

I wonder what Bradley Cooper thinks about all this. Actually, I don’t. But I’ve run plum out of 80s references.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A local impact, a global fingerprint

People routinely drop off bags of clothing on the loading dock at the Texas County Food Pantry, with the idea in mind that the items they leave behind can be sold in the Pantry thrift store.

And rightly so - many donated items are in fact sold in the non-profit, non-government organization's retail store. But little do they know that a t-shirt they donate might become a favorite of an underprivileged person in Africa, a pair of shoes they give away might become much-appreciated footwear of a disaster victim in Haiti, or a pair of blue jeans that no longer fit might end up as part of a dollar bill that eventually finds its way into their own wallet.

Such scenarios may sound far-fetched, but they're made possible through a connection with Remains, Inc., a St. Louis company that recycles tons of used clothing, shoes, belts, purses and even stuffed animals collected from charitable organizations.
Some of the items received at Remains are deemed worthy of being shipped overseas for use by disaster survivors or citizens of third-world countries. Others are broken down and used in the making of many different products, including insulation, industrial cleaning rags and sound-deadening material in car dashboards. Items made of 100-percent cotton are shredded for use in making paper, while blue jean denim is used in creating paper currency.

"The recycling program is our way of going green and helping the environment," Pantry thrift store manager Debbie Malchert said. "We're able to take things we can't use or have too much of and pass them along to people who have need of them. We have zero waste on the clothing and textile items that are donated to us."
Remains' existence solves the problem of what to do with the massive amount of extra clothing the Pantry takes in on a monthly basis. When the Pantry's John Randall takes the company truck on its periodical trip to St. Louis, it's not unusual for it to be loaded with more than three tons of clothing.

"Our main suppliers are institutions that get donations," Remains director of operations Paul Wight said. "We process around 40,000 pounds a day; reusable items are exported and go all over the world and recycled items are used by many different companies for many purposes. We probably landfill only about five-percent of what comes through here."
Shirts, sweaters, pants and other clothing items taken in by the Food Pantry that aren't chosen for sale in the thrift store are compacted by a baling machine into cube-shaped piles and then placed on pallets for shipment. Shoes, purses, belts and stuffed animals are packed separately.

Remains, which began operation in the early 1980s and has been involved in recycling since 1994, pays a per-pound fee for items taken in, which more than pays for the Pantry truck's trip to St. Louis and back. The Pantry's Remains receipt from March showed 5,788 pounds of clothing, 465 pounds of shoes and 107 pounds of stuffed animals.
"Most people think that when they donate a bag of clothing, that's the end of it," Wight said. "But people who work in a place that gets donations realize that there's only so much you can use. Then what do you do with the rest? You could donate to another charity, but most places get enough stuff and they don't want another place's leftovers.

"So you either pitch it, or you find a place like us where someone will find a new home for it. We go through everything we get and try to find a market for it all."

Items that Malchert and her team decide to keep are either displayed in the thrift store or systematically stored in the Pantry's warehouse. Freshly donated clothing is inspected by sorter Mary Katherine Collins, while stored clothes are displayed on a seasonal basis. Collins does her job at the Pantry via the Experience Works program, but said she would be there in any case.

"If I didn't qualify financially to be work under Experience Works, I would come here and work anyway," Collins said. "I love what they do here."
The thrift store is restocked with all types of items every Friday afternoon. Malchert points out that it's important for donors to be considerate when leaving items on the Pantry loading dock.

"We appreciate all donations, but we like things we get to be in sellable condition," she said. "I've come here in the morning in the summer and found the loading dock completely full of stuff. It takes an extreme amount of time to go through it all, and it's really a shame when a lot of it turns out to be broken or unusable.

"We can sort through it - and we will - but it sure helps when we get things that don't have to just be thrown out."

Not everything the thrift store sells is used, but Malchert tries to insure that even used items are of desirable quality.

"Sometimes businesses will shut down and donate new items, and we get new things from other sources, too," Malchert said. "But we have increased our focus on making sure that we only put good quality things out, used or new. With the limited space we have here, we simply can't use everything we take in, so we try to keep the best for our customers."
Malchert, a Cabool resident who has been with the Food Pantry about 3 ½ years, has helped see to it that the Pantry thrift store is a clean, organized place to shop, and recently added fixtures (including tall glass display cases) have improved its overall appearance. But she's also out to dispel misconceptions about the store and spread the news that it's open to everyone.

"I've heard people say they didn't even know the thrift store was there and others who think it's only for low income people," Malchert said. "But it's open to the general public. We have lots of good clothes, furniture, household items and other things to offer."
A large thrift store sign recently added to the front of the Pantry building is also helping more people realize the store exists.

The thrift store is annually involved in three community projects targeting residents in need: a toy giveaway at Christmas, a back-to-school clothing giveaway and a winter coat giveaway. Proceeds generated by thrift shop sales go toward daily Food Pantry operation costs, like utility bills and building repairs.
Malchert receives help from a crew of eight, including regular staff members and volunteers, and sometimes has additional workers on hand who are fulfilling community service obligations.

The Food Pantry thrift store takes cash only. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The store is closed on days when Houston schools are closed.