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In the news / Press review

Thursday, 2 July 03:14 pm

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us elections

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Thursday, 2 April 01:12 pm

One third of UK companies say Brexit is negatively affecting their business, survey shows

Firms in the wholesale, hospitality and leisure, and public sectors were most concerned about leaving the EU, according to the findings

The Independent Aug 30th 2018

[…] Business confidence fell this month by six points to 23 per cent, which Lloyds said was due to declines in trading prospects for the year ahead.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank commercial banking, said: “[…] This reflects changes in perceptions of Brexit risks, which underscores the importance of current EU-UK negotiations.”

28 per cent of firms are saying they thought that leaving the EU is having a positive impact on their business activity, down 3 points from 31 per cent in July, while 32 per cent said that it was having a negative effect (up 4 points from 28 per cent).

Brexit concerns were highest in the wholesale, hospitality & leisure and public sectors, Lloyds said. […] Meanwhile, manufacturing firms remained most confident, with a score of 38 per cent, but the construction industry fell sharply by 12 points to 36 per cent.

Lloyds also found that companies are holding back on hiring new staff, while the proportion of firms anticipating pay rises also declined.

Sharon Geoghegan, managing director for SME banking at Lloyds, said: “Economic uncertainty is definitely driving firms to think twice before investing in their businesses.The services sector seems to be less confident.”

Brexit uncertainty has seen the pound rally and then fall back again this week. Sterling was up against the dollar on Wednesday, after comments from EU and UK officials suggested that a deal was looking more likely.

However, the currency pared those gains on Thursday after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the EU was still preparing for a cliff edge Brexit.

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Thursday, 26 March 04:11 pm

Foreign investment in China : it’s even harder than it looks

AT FIRST glance, Vodafone has nothing to complain about. On September 8th it sold for $6.6 billion the 3.2% stake in China Mobile that it had bought for $3.3 billion between 2000 and 2002. Such a handsome profit ought to be a cue to crack open the champagne and roast some Beijing duck. Yet the British mobile-phone giant did not get what it really wanted: a way into China. In other countries, Vodafone has had a knack of turning a small investment into a controlling stake, but not in the Middle Kingdom. And it is not alone.

Since the late 1990s, several large state-owned Chinese companies have listed their shares. These initial public offerings typically included “cornerstone” investments by big Western firms. For example, BP, Exxon and Shell (three oil firms) and ABB (a Swiss-Swedish conglomerate) took strategic stakes in PetroChina and Sinopec (two big Chinese oil companies). Alcoa, an American aluminium company, invested in Chalco, a Chinese one. And Western banks bought chunks of the leading Chinese state banks when they were listed.

Foreign firms brought several things to the table: capital, technology, management skills and the prospect of better corporate governance. The Chinese press often referred to them as “elder brothers”. In return, these Western firms wanted access to China’s huge domestic market.

It did not work out that way. The Chinese state-owned firms did not need capital so badly that they were prepared to cede control to foreigners. Some also found that the Westerners had less to teach them than they had hoped. “Fly-in” expat managers were often unfamiliar with China, says David Michael, a partner at the Boston Consulting Group. Chinese firms tended to learn more from multinationals that had taken the trouble to build their own large sales forces in China, he says.

Chinese firms no longer feel like little brothers. China Mobile now has a market value half as large again as Vodafone’s. PetroChina is much bigger than BP. Both Chinese firms are now rich enough to buy whatever expertise they want.

Western energy companies were quick to notice this shift. BP, Shell, ABB and Exxon all sold their holdings in state-owned Chinese firms by 2005. Alcoa got out in 2007. Financial firms followed, in whole or part, during the financial crisis. When China’s state-owned Agricultural Bank was recently listed, no big Western bank bought a significant stake.

Western firms grumble about their failure to turn their stakes in China Inc into a foothold in the Chinese market, but not too loudly, so that they do not annoy the government. Besides, thanks to a rising stockmarket, most made sacks of money from their investments.

A few have not yet cashed out. Telefónica, a Spanish telecoms firm, owns 8.8% of China Unicom and politely rebuffs bankers who advise it to sell. AT&T has 25% of a telecoms business in the Pudong district of Shanghai. Despite regulatory problems, it provides a nationwide service from Pudong, largely to multinational clients. It is a nice business, but a far cry from the dreams some Westerners once had about China.

The Economist Sep 16th 2010


Questions (answer briefly and quote from the text if necessary)

  1. What did Vodaphone expect after its profits in China ?
  2. What did foreign companies have to offer to China ? (quote from the text and explain)
  3. What did they expect in return ?
  4. What were the results of this strategy ? Was it a failure or a success ?
  5. In what sectors did foreign companies invest ? Explain why

Writing : Choose between subject 1 and subject 2

– Subject 1 : why is strategic for companies to expand abroad ?

– Subject 2 : would you be ready to become an expat ? Why or why not ?

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Wednesday, 18 March 09:36 am

Marketing in the digital age /

A brand new game : As people spend more time on social media, advertisers are following them

Aug 29th 2015 | SAN FRANCISCO | The Economist


EARLIER this year BMW advertised on WeChat, a popular messaging app in China with around 550m monthly users. But its ads were shown only to those whose profiles suggested they were potential buyers of expensive cars. Others were shown ads for more affordable stuff, such as smartphones. […] The carmaker’s experience shows the complexities of advertising today, when it is so easy for dissatisfied customers to make their voices heard. But it was also an example of how marketing chiefs are struggling to find the right way to reach consumers on new digital platforms, where they are spending ever more of their time.

Not long ago social-media marketing was something that brand managers might ask their summer interns to deal with. Today it has become a pillar of the advertising industry. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have cultivated vast audiences: 2 billion people worldwide use them, says eMarketer, a research firm. Online advertising of all sorts continues to grow, and within that category, spending on social-media ads has gone from virtually nothing a few years ago to perhaps $20 billion this year (see charts).

Advertisers like social-media platforms because they gather all sorts of data on each user’s age, consumption patterns, interests and so on. This means ads can be aimed at them with an accuracy that is unthinkable with analogue media. […] Such fine-tuned targeting means that the distinction between advertising and e-commerce is becoming blurred. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms are selling ads containing “buy now” buttons, which let users complete a sale on the spot.

But the digital-media business is still young and volatile, and it is hard to predict which social networks are destined to become the new-media equivalents of America’s big four broadcast-TV networks. ? ??????? ???? ??????????? ???????? ???????? ?????? ?????????????

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Wednesday, 18 March 09:26 am

Lego’s turnaround : Picking up the pieces : The venerable toymaker has recovered after a mistaken over-diversification

Oct 26th 2006 |
From The Economist print edition

[…] For seven decades Europe’s biggest toymaker […]  prospered with openly professed disregard for maximising profits. Lego became one of the strongest brands in the toy industry. […] Yet a couple of years ago the company’s very survival was at risk. After six years of slowing sales and falling profits, […]  rumours abounded that America’s Mattel, the biggest toymaker, would take over its long-coveted European rival. […]  They considered it as a perfect prey : a mismanaged, medium-sized firm in the hands of a single owner, the family of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter who founded the company in 1932. Mr Christiansen’s heirs decided to stand by the family business. They injected some of their own money […].

The logic of diversification was compelling[1], says Mr Knudstorp, but Lego went about it the wrong way. […] .As it tried to attract more girls, it started to neglect its main customers, boys aged five to nine. […] Lego was also hit by the general malaise in the traditional toy industry, which has been shrinking as a result of competition from high-tech gadgets and falling birth rates in many developed countries. Lego’s turnaround plan, launched in March 2004, was painful. […]  Factories in Switzerland and America are being closed down and production moved to Eastern Europe and Mexico. […].

[…] As Lego gets ready for the busiest shopping time of the year, the mood at the firm is festive. The toy industry has been stagnant for five years […] but things are looking up. Toymakers have reported strong results in the past couple of weeks. And with Lego preparing to celebrate its 75th birthday next year, Mr Knudstorp sounds confident when he says the firm can remain independent for another 75 years.

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Wednesday, 18 March 09:19 am

Texts can be great for business but don’t overdo it

Feargal Quinn

Published 28/08/2014 | 02:30 THE IRISH INDEPENDENT

Text messaging is a great marketing tool when properly used

Text marketing is a bit like all other forms of marketing in that if it is not used correctly, or is overly used, it can have a negative effect with consumers and end up with these very same consumers requesting that they be taken off your database.

The idea behind text marketing is excellent. It is instant, timely and allows you to personalise to some degree the message you are giving.

I met a business owner recently who had spent some time testing different types of wording and found that when he included his name on the text, the response rate jumped by 20pc. His conclusion was consumers were far more likely to read a text if it was worded in the same way as one would send any other texts and includes your name at the end of it.

The most powerful example I can give you of a successful text initiative was a florist who decided to send a text to all customers on the database on the Monday of the week preceding Mother’s Day. The text was simple and read: “Kim here, from Liberty Flowers. Just to remind you that next Sunday is Mother’s Day.” The result was phenomenal. They doubled their business compared to the same week last year and lots of customers actually thanked them for reminding them well in advance and providing them with a solution.

Of course there are rules and regulations that are associated with maintaining any database and, first and foremost, you need to have the customer’s permission to use their mobile number.

Secondly, do not over use the database and, as a rule of thumb, I would advise not to send a text to customers more than once a month. ??????? ???? ??? ????? ????????????? ???? ????????????? ???? ?? ???????? ??????

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Saturday, 14 March 08:29 am

Driveless cars

Driverless cars

Aug 30th 2013 / The Economist

Earlier this week, Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, became the first manufacturer to announce plans to put a driverless car into production. Andy Palmer, the firm’s executive vice president, expects it will roll down an assembly plant by 2020. Just as significantly, it hopes to offer autonomous driving capabilities on all of its models within the following decade.

Autonomous driving will reduce accidents and improve safety, reckons Mr Palmer, perhaps even ending road-traffic fatalities altogether. The technology should also allow more efficient use of public roads, especially in traffic-snarled cities, reducing energy consumption as vehicles have to stop-and-go less frequently. Mr Palmer estimates the technology could cut CO2 emissions from cars by as much as 300m tonnes a year worldwide.

Nissan is by no means the only firm interested in autonomous driving. Virtually every carmaker is now experimenting with the concept, as is Google which has logged many thousands of miles with its own prototypes. Indeed, Google has been perhaps the most ambitious proponent. It thinks it could be ready to partner with an established automaker by 2017, although industry-watchers think the middle of the next decade is more realistic.

Many of the underlying technologies, including cameras, laser, radar and sonar sensors and heavy-duty microprocessing power are already found on production models. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class features what the German maker describes as a “sensor fusion”, bringing together various systems designed to detect obstacles, traffic and even read road signs. It can, for example, automatically stop if a pedestrian walks out in front of it. […]

Human drivers must constantly adapt to obstacles and unexpected conditions.


This means Nissan’s target date might be ambitious. And there are other obstacles beyond construction sites and speed bumps to overcome. America may be tech-friendly but it is also highly litigious. Attorneys, one suspects, are eagerly awaiting the first crash involving an autonomous vehicle to create a new line of legal work that could keep them as busy as the engineers developing the technology. […] sms ?????? ???????? ??? ????? ??? ????????????? ???? 24

food for thought

Sunday, 28 April 12:34 pm

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sujets de bac 2018

Saturday, 9 June 06:02 pm



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