Planet Business

This week: Super-yachts, screen addicts and ‘Palcohol’, aka powdered alcohol

Image of the week: And so it begins
The dates you need if you want to either book time off to watch a few pitch meltdowns or bury your head underwater to avoid it all are June 12th to July 13th.

That's when the football World Cup takes place in Brazil, though the merchandising frenzy has already kicked off judging from this view of stadium-appropriate headgear on sale in Saara, a popular market in Rio de Janeiro.

The good news is that vuvuzelas, the plastic horns that made watching the South African World Cup such a chore on the ears, are unlikely to feature much in this year's tournament. A much quieter percussion instrument called a caxirola is tipped to be the supporters' musical weapon of choice.
Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

In numbers: screen burn

Average number of minutes that Irish people spend watching video content per day, according to a study by Ipsos MRBI commissioned by television ratings body TAM Ireland. The time spent glued to screens was up 14 minutes on the previous study.
Average number of those minutes that were spent viewing on a television set, up one minute on the previous study.
Average number of minutes spent viewing video content on a device other than a television set, up 13 minutes on the previous study. Laptops/desktops were the most popular "non-TV device" for viewing, ahead of smartphones and tablets.

The lexicon: Palcohol
The Palcohol party has been short-lived. The US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau earlier this month approved seven alcoholic powders produced by a company from Arizona marketing them under the brand name Palcohol.

The producers described the powder as “very light” (in weight), indeed “you can take it just about anywhere to enjoy a cocktail”, using it to turn water into vodka or rum. Palcohol buyers can also use a sprinkle of it “on almost any dish” to give it “an extra kick” or even, er, snort this magic sherbet, though such activity will “mess you up”.


Sadly, not long after a flurry of excitement from a suspiciously interested media, the regulatory bureau double-checked the labels and temporarily rescinded its approval, admitting it was done in "error".

Getting to know: John Wren
It hasn't been the easiest of weeks for John Wren, chief executive of advertising giant Omnicom, which is trying to merge with another advertising giant, Publicis, to create the biggest advertising giant of all.

The deal was structured so that neither the companies nor their shareholders would pay any tax related to the merger, but tax authorities have yet to sign off on it. “There is no plan B,” said Wren, adding it was “not practical to say exactly when the transaction will close”.

It's all a lot more complex than the New Yorker's first business venture – his own tie-dye T-shirt company. In 2007, Wren suggested he was intending to have retired by now. "There'll be a moment, and I don't know when that will be, when I – or someone else on the board – will say the same old juice ain't flowing." That's when he'll need a plan C.

The list: Yacht? What yacht?
News of developer Johnny Ronan's talks with State assets agency Nama about the future of luxury yacht The Ulysses – owned by a trust set up by Ronan and therefore legally not under either his or Nama's control – seems as good an opportunity as ever to compare and contrast the seafaring status symbols of the business elite.

1 'Eclipse': Roman Abramovich's super-yacht has its own advanced missile detection system in case of any Chelsea FC penalty kicks that go badly wrong.

2 'Octopus': Owned by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, the Octopus apparently has hatches at the water line that form a dock for jet skis. What a life.

3 'Necker Belle': Owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Limited Edition, the catamaran yacht is perfect for trips around Branson's Necker Island in the Caribbean Sea.

4 'Seven Seas':Steven Spielberg definitely does not need a bigger boat. For close encounters of the luxury kind, he has the Seven Seas, which boasts an indoor cinema – and perhaps a first aid kit, in case Jaws does show up.

5 'Rising Sun': Built for Oracle boss Larry Ellison, this yacht is now owned by music and film producer/executive David Geffen. Its features include an "extensive" wine cellar.