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Merck to Present Data at ASCO That Illustrate How the Company is Tackling Difficult-to-Treat Cancers

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DARMSTADT, Germany/PRNewswire/ —


ASCO Abstract # Avelumab*: 3023, 3044, 3055, TPS9086, TPS3101, 4042, 4047, 5509, 8034; evofosfamide: TPS9089, 8579; tepotinib: 2591; tecemotide[†]: 3036.

  • New data on priority candidates from Merck’s oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline are being presented, including avelumab, evofosfamide and tepotinib

Merck will be presenting data at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., from May 29 to June 2, 2015. The data embody the company’s focus on cancers that are particularly difficult to treat and the ultimate goal to provide treatments that help to prolong patients’ lives.

“We are focused on shedding light on difficult-to-treat cancers, such as soft tissue sarcomas and Merkel cell carcinoma, in order to make a meaningful difference for patients,” said Luciano Rossetti, Head of Global Research and Development, Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck. “Our data at ASCO 2015 demonstrate our commitment to deliver innovation, through our internal expertise and capabilities, and through strategic collaborations to advance differentiated new therapies for these cancers.”

Illumination and Innovation in Difficult-to-Treat Cancers

Through a bold, science-focused and patient-driven approach, Merck aims to discover and develop new therapies in cancers such as ovarian cancer, metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma and advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Highlights from this year’s ASCO include data from the investigational fully human anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody avelumab (also known as MSB0010718C), the investigational c-Met inhibitor tepotinib (also known as MSC2156119J), and evofosfamide (previously known as TH-302), an investigational hypoxia-activated prodrug.

Abstracts are currently available on the ASCO website.

Collaborating to Tackle Cancer’s Most Challenging Issues

Merck and Pfizer are collaborating on up to 20 high priority immuno-oncology clinical development programs focused on the therapeutic potential of avelumab which was initially discovered and developed by Merck. This is the first time data will be presented jointly on behalf of the alliance, including an oral presentation on ovarian cancer and posters on gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and several other studies in a range of patient populations.

In addition, posters from two Phase II studies will be presented for evofosfamide in multiple myeloma and melanoma. Evofosfamide is being co-developed with Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and is currently in Phase III studies for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma and for pancreatic cancer, as well as in a Phase II trial for the treatment of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Precision Medicine to Improve Patient Care

Merck continues to place a strong emphasis on biomarker-driven research with the goal of delivering personalized treatments and improving patient outcomes. The company will be presenting data on tepotinib, from a study evaluating the activity of tepotinib in patients with solid tumors that overexpress c-Met. In addition, new analyses from several independent studies will be presented that will offer further insight into the value of Erbitux®(cetuximab) in the treatment of 1st line RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer.

*Avelumab is the proposed International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for the anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody (MSB0010718C).

[†] In September 2014, Merck discontinued all company-sponsored clinical trials with tecemotide in non-small cell lung cancer worldwide.

Notes to Editors

Accepted abstracts submitted by Merck related to our oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline are listed below. In addition, a number of investigator-sponsored studies have been accepted, including several related to Erbitux and one to avelumab (not listed).

Title: Phase I, open-label, multi-ascending dose trial of avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, in Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors
Lead Author: K Shitara
Abstract #: 3023
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Immunotherapy
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 349)

Title: Avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 antibody, in patients with metastatic or locally advanced solid tumors: assessment of safety and tolerability in a Phase I, open-label expansion study
Lead Author: K Kelly
Abstract #: 3044
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Immunotherapy
Room/Details:  S Hall A (Poster Board: 370)

Title: Pharmacokinetic profile and receptor occupancy of avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, in a Phase I, open-label, dose escalation trial in patients with advanced solid tumors
Lead Author: C Heery
Abstract #: 3055
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Immunotherapy
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 381)

Title: A Phase II, open-label, multicenter trial to investigate the clinical activity and safety of avelumab (MSB0010718C) in patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma
Lead Author: H Kaufman
Abstract #: TPS9086
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Melanoma/Skin Cancers
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 417a)

Title: Phase I expansion cohort trial to investigate the safety and clinical activity of avelumab (MSB0010718C) in patients with metastatic or locally advanced solid tumors
Lead Author: C Heery
Abstract #: TPS3101
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Immunotherapy
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 420a)

Title: Prognostic significance of tumor infiltrating immune cells and PD-L1 expression in gastric carcinoma in Chinese patients
Lead Author: R Geng
Abstract #: 4042
Presentation date/time (CDT): June 1, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Gastrointestinal (Noncolorectal) Cancer
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 151)

Title: A Phase I dose expansion trial of avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 antibody, in Japanese patients with advanced gastric cancer
Lead Author: Y Yamada
Abstract #: 4047
Presentation date/time (CDT): June 1, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Gastrointestinal (Noncolorectal) Cancer
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 156)

Title: Avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 antibody, in patients with previously treated, recurrent or refractory ovarian cancer: a Phase Ib, open-label expansion trial
Lead Author: M Disis
Abstract #:5509
Presentation date/time (CDT): June 1, 15:00-15:12
Session: Oral Presentation: Clinical Science Symposium
Room/Details: E354b

Title: Avelumab (MSB0010718C), an anti-PD-L1 antibody, in advanced NSCLC patients: a Phase Ib, open-label expansion trial in patients progressing after platinum-based chemotherapy
Lead Author: J Gulley
Abstract #: 8034
Presentation date/time (CDT): June 1, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Lung Cancer- Non-Small Cell Metastatic
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 356)


Title: A Phase II biomarker-enriched study of evofosfamide (EVO, TH-302) in patients with advanced melanoma
Lead Author: E McWhirter
Abstract #: TPS9089
Presentation date/time (CDT): June 1, 13:15-16:45
Session: Poster Session: Melanoma/Skin Cancers
Room/Details: S Hall A  (Poster Board: 327a)

Title: Preliminary safety and efficacy of evofosfamide (TH-302), an investigational hypoxia-activated prodrug combined with bortezomib and dexamethasone in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM)
Lead Author: JP Laubach
Abstract #: 8579
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 31, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Lymphoma and Plasma Cell Disorders
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 397)


Title: Efficacy, safety, biomarkers and Phase II dose modeling in a Phase I trial of the oral selective c-Met inhibitor tepotinib (MSC2156119J)
Lead Author: GS Falchook
Abstract #: 2591
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 307)

Other Pipeline

Title: Phase I/II study of tecemotide cancer immunotherapy for Japanese patients with unresectable Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Lead Author: H Nokihara
Abstract #: 3036
Presentation date/time (CDT): May 30, 08:00-11:30
Session: Poster Session: Developmental Therapeutics-Immunotherapy
Room/Details: S Hall A (Poster Board: 362)

Avelumab, evofosfamide, tecemotide, tepotinib and all early-stage products are currently under clinical investigation and have not been approved for use in the U.S., E.U., Canada, or elsewhere. All investigational products have not yet been proven to be either safe or effective and any claims of safety and effectiveness can be made only after regulatory review of the data and approval of the labeled claims.

The full Erbitux patient information is available online at

For more information on Merck in oncology and immuno-oncology, please visit:

About Erbitux

Erbitux® is a highly active IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). As a monoclonal antibody, the mode of action of Erbitux is distinct from standard non-selective chemotherapy treatments in that it specifically targets and binds to the EGFR. This binding inhibits the activation of the receptor and the subsequent signal-transduction pathway, which results in reducing both the invasion of normal tissues by tumor cells and the spread of tumors to new sites. It is also believed to inhibit the ability of tumor cells to repair the damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels inside tumors, which appears to lead to an overall suppression of tumor growth.

The most commonly reported side effect with Erbitux is an acne-like skin rash that seems to be correlated with a good response to therapy. In approximately 5% of patients, hypersensitivity reactions may occur during treatment with Erbitux; about half of these reactions are severe.

Erbitux has already obtained market authorization in over 90 countries world-wide for the treatment of colorectal cancer and for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).

Merck licensed the right to market Erbitux outside the U.S. and Canada from ImClone LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, in 1998. Merck has an ongoing commitment to the advancement of oncology treatment and is currently investigating novel therapies in highly targeted areas.

About Evofosfamide

Evofosfamide (previously known as TH-302) is an investigational hypoxia-activated prodrug that is thought to be activated under severe tumor hypoxic conditions, a feature of many solid tumors. Areas of low oxygen levels (hypoxia) in solid tumors are due to insufficient blood vessel supply. Similarly, the bone marrow of patients with hematological malignancies has also been shown, in some cases, to be severely hypoxic.

Evofosfamide is currently under evaluation in two Phase III trials: one in combination with doxorubicin versus doxorubicin alone in patients with locally advanced unresectable or metastatic soft tissue sarcoma (the TH-CR-406 trial), and the other in combination with gemcitabine versus gemcitabine and placebo in patients with locally advanced unresectable or metastatic pancreatic cancer (the MAESTRO trial). Both Phase III trials are being conducted under Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) agreements with the FDA. The FDA and the European Commission have granted evofosfamide Orphan Drug designation for the treatment of STS and pancreatic cancer. Evofosfamide is also being investigated in a Phase II trial for the treatment of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, and in earlier-stage clinical trials of other solid tumors and hematological malignancies.

Merck signed a global license and co-development agreement for evofosfamide with Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in February 2012, with an option for Threshold to co-commercialize in the U.S.

About Tepotinib

Tepotinib (also known as MSC2156119J) is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase that has been shown to cause growth inhibition and regression of hepatocyte growth factor-dependent and -independent tumors in preclinical models. Alterations of the c-Met signaling pathway are found in various cancer types and correlate with aggressive tumor behavior and poor clinical prognosis. Tepotinib is currently under evaluation in Phase I/II trials.

About Avelumab

Avelumab (also known as MSB0010718C) is an investigational fully human anti-PD-L1 IgG1 monoclonal antibody. By inhibiting PD-L1 interactions, avelumab is thought to enable the activation of T-cells and the adaptive immune system. By retaining a native Fc-region, avelumab is thought to engage the innate immune system and induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). In November 2014, Merck and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize avelumab.

About Merck-Pfizer Alliance

Immuno-oncology is a top priority for Merck and Pfizer. The global strategic alliance between Merck and Pfizer enables the companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and capabilities and further explore the therapeutic potential of avelumab, an investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody initially discovered and developed by Merck. The immuno-oncology alliance will jointly develop and commercialize avelumab and advance Pfizer’s PD-1 antibody. The alliance will collaborate on up to 20 high priority immuno-oncology clinical development programs, including combination trials, many of which are expected to commence in 2015.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical business of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.

For more information, please visit

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials. The company has six businesses – Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Allergopharma, Biosimilars, Merck Millipore and Performance Materials – and generated total revenues of € 11.3 billion in 2014. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to foster the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.

Source: Merck Serono

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Global Smartphone Sales of $96bn Set a New Q1 Record as 4G Ramps Up

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NUREMBERG, Germany /PRNewswire/ —

  • In Q1 2015 global smartphone sales value was up +8 percent year-on-year. Sales of larger screen devices (5″+) continue to drive growth
  • Smartphone unit demand increased +7 percent year-on-year to 310m units, but a slowdown in demand in China and Developed Asia dragged down growth, from +19 percent year-on-year Q4 2014
  • 4G is rapidly gaining share – surpassing 50 percent of the global handset market for the first time. GfK predicts a 4G ramp-up in China in the second half of 2015 to drive incremental demand

In the first quarter of 2015, global smartphone unit demand increased +7 percent, compared to the same period last year. Sales reached 310m units, with growth down from +19 percent year-on-year in Q4 2014. This slowdown was caused by a year-on-year decline in demand for smartphones in China and Developed Asia, down -14 percent and -5 percent, respectively.

Smartphone sales value in Western Europe declined on a year-on-year basis for the first time in Q1 2015, dragged down by Spain and France. As smartphone penetration nears saturation point, both countries are expected to see a slowdown in smartphone unit growth this year compared to 2014.

In Central Europe, the macroeconomic situation in Russia has significantly impacted sales. As a result, GfK forecasts that 2015 smartphone demand in the region will grow more slowly than Western Europe for the first time since 2010.

Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK comments, “The weakness in China was caused by a significant slowdown in 3G demand, which was not offset by 4G growth. We forecast China to return to growth in the second half of the year, driven by a continued 4G ramp-up. In Developed Asia, the year-on-year decline was caused by tough comparisons with Q1 2014, when demand was pulled forward in Japan due to an upcoming VAT increase in April. We forecast unit demand in Developed Asia to grow by +3 percent year-on-year in 2015, driven by Japan and South Korea, which are expected to return to growth in 2Q15.”

The 4G ramp-up

In Q1 2015, 4G unit share surpassed 50 percent of global smartphone demand for the first time. China saw the greatest 4G share increase in the quarter – up 16 percentage points to 73 percent, from 57 percent last quarter. Growth has been buoyed by the continued price erosion of 4G smartphones. GfK forecasts global 4G share to increase further in 2015, reaching 59 percent in Q4 2015.

Smartphone growth in India and Indonesia is also expected to be helped by an expanding 4G network. In Q1 2015, 4G share in both countries was well below the global average, at 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. GfK forecasts 4G unit share within smartphones to reach 7 percent in India and 10 percent in Indonesia in 2015.

Supersize smartphone screens

Q1 2015 saw a continued shift towards larger screen sizes (5″+), where sales of 166m units equated to 47 percent of the global smartphone market, up from 32 percent in Q1 2014. Share of large screen devices in N. America hit 70 percent in the quarter, up from 59 percent in the same period last year, driven by strong demand for high-end models. By comparison, in China, where the trend is particularly pronounced, the growth in share to 57 percent – from 32 percent in Q1 2014 – was driven by cheaper large screen models flooding into the market. GfK forecasts this screen size migration to continue in 2015, with global demand for large screen devices increasing by +30 percent year-on-year to account for 69 percent of total smartphone unit demand this year.

Price Band dynamics in Q1 2015

Low-end smartphones – those priced in the region of $0-250 – increased share to 56 percent, up from 52 percent in Q4 2014, at the expense of the high-end models ($500+), whilst mid-range ($250-500) share remained stable. GfK forecasts low-end smartphones to gain further share in 2015, helped by continued price erosion in emerging markets.

The outlook for 2015

Walsh continues: “GfK forecasts global smartphone unit demand to grow +10 percent year-on-year in 2015, a slowdown from the +23 percent growth experienced last year. Emerging Asia is forecast to be the fastest growing region, driven by India and Indonesia, where low smartphone penetration leaves plenty of room for growth.”

Read the full release with tables:

Press contact
Wes Rogers
Telephone: +44-203-287-3262 / +1-912-506-0869

Source: GfK
Related Links:

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Sun Life Financial adopts Aon PathWise™ variable annuity platform

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— PathWise boosts operational performance for a leading global financial services firm

CHICAGO /PRNewswire/ — Aon Benfield Securities, the investment banking division of global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor Aon Benfield, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), today announces that its PathWise variable annuity risk management platform has been adopted by Sun Life Financial Inc., a leading provider of long-term savings, investment and insurance solutions.

Logo –

The platform is enabling Sun Life Financial to achieve significant gains in the speed and efficiency of its financial reporting, risk management processes, and new product development activities.

Peter Phillips, President of Aon Benfield Securities’ PathWise Solutions Group, said: “Sun Life Financial recognized the importance of properly managing variable annuity or segregated fund risk and required a quickly deployable, customizable and comprehensive integrated business platform with very strong audit controls. PathWise provides a single, cost-effective solution that meets all their risk management standards, satisfies their financial and regulatory reporting needs, and enhances their product development capabilities. It has been our pleasure to partner with Sun Life Financial to deliver a platform that is based on industry best practice.”

Mike Schofield, VP, Actuarial and Risk Management at Sun Life Financial, said: “Prior to implementing the PathWise platform for variable annuities, we relied on multiple systems to support our financial reporting processes. Using PathWise, we have been able to consolidate these components into a single controlled system, resulting in huge gains in speed and efficiency. Processes that used to take many hours can now be completed in a matter of minutes, which has helped increased the depth and breadth of analysis used within our financial reporting, risk management processes, and new product development.”

Developed by the PathWise Solutions Group (PSG) of Aon Benfield Securities, Inc. in Toronto, the PathWise platform is an integrated business solution for financial guarantees embedded in life insurance products, and supports new product development, financial and regulatory reporting, enterprise risk management activities, and hedge program management and reporting activities.

Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more than 69,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via innovative risk and people solutions.

For additional PathWise information

Media Contact:
Andrew Wragg (tel: +44-(0)207-522-8183 /

Source: Aon plc

Related stocks: NYSE:AON

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Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Wedding Above the Clouds on Turkish Airlines Flight

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ISTANBUL /PRNewswire/ — On 6th May 2015, a delightfully different wedding took place. Two people who’d fallen in love after meeting on a Turkish Airlines flight returned, exactly one year later, to take their romance to another level.

To view the Multimedia News Release, please click:

When a beautiful Serbian actress, Vjera Mujovic and Stefan Preis, an esteemed doctor from Germany boarded the same Turkish Airlines flight in May 2014, little did they know they’d be returning to the same spot for their wedding.

Having been seated next to each other on the TK 342 flight from Istanbul to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, the couple began chatting. It was kismet. They discovered shared values, thoughts and opinions, despite not only their different backgrounds but also their separate reasons for taking this trip. Before long, they were struck by Cupid’s arrow, and a year later, on 6th May 2015, they became husband and wife aboard the Turkish Airlines Belgrade-Istanbul flight on the same seats 5B and 5C, to be exact.

Surrounded by their friends and family, the couple tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony overseen by Turkish Airlines, who supplied food, candlelight, rose petals, and a delicious wedding cake.

If ever there was proof that Turkish Airlines exceeds expectations, this is surely it! Being the first airline in the world in terms of the number of countries reached, it is committed to bridging nations, cultures, businesses and, most importantly, people.

See the spectacular wedding ceremony below:

Turkish Airlines Inc.
Belgrade Office
Knez Mihailova 30/IV 11000 Belgrade / SERBIA
T +381-11-303-61-95



Source: Turkish Airlines, Inc.

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Anti-poverty strategy offers sustained benefit for world’s ultra-poor, says new study in Science

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WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ — A new six-country study shows a comprehensive approach for the ultra-poor, the approximately one billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day, boosted livelihoods, income, and health. Published in Science, the research tested the effectiveness of an approach known as the “Graduation model” in six countries by following 21,000 of the world’s poorest people for three years. The data show this approach led to large and lasting impacts on their standard of living.

Experience the interactive Multimedia News Release here:

Previous efforts by governments and aid groups to reduce poverty among the ultra-poor have not been proven to work. Addressing this gap, the new study reports on a six-country evaluation of a comprehensive approach that addresses the many challenges of poverty simultaneously. According to study co-author Dean Karlan of Yale University and the research and policy non-profit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA): “Being ultra-poor usually means more than just not having an income – like not enough food to eat, no way to save, no information, and low perception of their opportunities to escape their situation,” Karlan said. “We tested an approach that addressed several factors at once, and found significant improvements, even three years after the program did the bulk of the work.”

In Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru, researchers tracked over 21,000 people to test how much the Graduation approach improved their lives and their families’ welfare. The program included six components over a two-year period:

  • An asset to use to make a living, such as livestock or goods to start an informal store.
  • Training on how to manage the asset.
  • Basic food or cash support to reduce the need to sell their new asset in an emergency.
  • Frequent (usually weekly) coaching visits to reinforce skills, build confidence, and help participants handle any challenges.
  • Health education or access to healthcare to stay healthy and able to work.
  • A savings account to help put away money to invest or use in a future emergency.

Borrowing from healthcare research methodology, the researchers used a randomized controlled trial, tracking both people invited to participate in the two-year program and a similar group who was not, to compare how their lives changed up to a year after the program ended. Those in the program group had significantly more assets and savings, spent more time working, went hungry on fewer days, and experienced lower levels of stress and improved physical health.

“Not only is it effective, but it represents a significant return on investment,” according to Kate McKee of theConsultative Group to Assist the Poor in Washington, DC, which helped implement the project. “The hope is that we can next learn how NGOs or governments can better integrate this approach into their programs effectively.”

The program is cost effective, with positive returns in five of six countries, ranging from 133 percent in Ghana to 433 percent in India. In other words, for every dollar spent on the program in India, ultra-poor households saw$4.33 in long-term benefits. “The Graduation approach has led to broad improvements in key dimensions of economic and non-economic well-being in most countries where it was tested. Policymakers seeking a program to sustainably improve the lives of the very poor should consider investing in this approach,” according to study co-author Esther Duflo of MIT’s economics department and Director at the Adbul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

A key factor for decision-makers using the model is how comprehensive the evaluation was: “The positive results across such a range of different settings is highly encouraging, and gives us substantial confidence that this approach works for individuals, can be an effective strategy for governments, and can be a tremendous guide to improve the livelihoods of poor families,” said Frank DeGiovanni, a director at the Ford Foundation, which helped build and fund the effort.

Source: CGAP
Related Links:

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hong Kong’s Top 10 Employers For LGBT Inclusion Announced

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— Community Business announces results of Asia’s First LGBT Index at Awards Ceremony

HONG KONG /PRNewswire/ — Community Business, a not-for-profit organisation focusing on corporate responsibility and a thought leader on Diversity & Inclusion, today revealed the results of its inaugural Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index. The Top 10 Employers in Hong Kong for LGBT Inclusion 2015and winners of various LGBT Awards were announced at an Awards Ceremony which took place at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel, in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

The Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index 2015 is the first and only benchmark on workplace inclusion practices and initiatives for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees in Asia.  Launched by Community Business, it is a pioneering initiative that provides companies in Hong Kong with a credible and robust tool to assess, progress and promote their efforts towards LGBT inclusion.

“Congratulations to Community Business on the first Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is delighted to support this initiative to advance equal opportunities for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in our city,” said Dr York Chow, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission. “Indeed, LGBT workplace inclusion should be a key business concern for all companies aspiring to be employers of choice, and this index provides an important tool for benchmarking and measuring progress. Such innovative actions can play a key role towards fostering a truly inclusive society.”

Top 10 Employers in Hong Kong for LGBT Inclusion 2015
Goldman Sachs received the Top Employer for LGBT Inclusion Award, ranking number one in terms of its performance in the Index. The organisations ranked as the Top 10 Employers in Hong Kong for LGBT Inclusion 2015 were:


Goldman Sachs


The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation


J.P. Morgan


Morgan Stanley


Bank of America Merrill Lynch


Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited


Barclays Capital Asia Limited


Nomura International (Hong Kong) Limited


Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited


British Consulate-General Hong Kong


British Council Hong Kong

Award Winners
To recognise the significant contribution made by community organisations, companies and individuals in promoting LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong, Community Business also announced the winners of various LGBT awards, including:



LGBT Community Impact Award sponsored by Goldman Sachs

Project Touch

by Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong

LGBT Network Award

J.P. Morgan PRIDE Hong Kong Chapter

LGBT Inclusion Champion Award

Steven Chan

Vice President, Head of Regulatory, Industry and Government Affairs, Asia Pacific, State Street Corporation

LGBT Executive Sponsor Award

Laurence Bailey

Managing Director, Asia Pacific, J.P. Morgan

LGBT Trailblazer Award

Stephen Golden

Head – Global Leadership & Diversity, Asia Ex-Japan, Goldman Sachs

“We extend our congratulations to the organisations that have made it on to our Top 10 Employers in Hong Kongfor LGBT Inclusion 2015 as well as the winners of our various LGBT awards. In particular, we applaud Goldman Sachs for its outstanding performance and position as the number one ranking company,” said CEO of Community Business, Mrs Fern Ngai. “However, we also want to congratulate and acknowledge all the companies that took part in this Index — their decision to participate is a significant and critical first step. Regardless of performance, all these companies have shown they are committed to creating inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees in Hong Kong and we urge them to use the learning and insights gained through this process to focus their efforts and drive continued progress.”

The LGBT Trailblazer Award is a one-off award to recognise an individual who has pioneered the way for LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong, and inspired and supported others to follow.  Mrs Ngai said, “Community Business is delighted to present this special award to Stephen Golden of Goldman Sachs who has shown personal passion and commitment to LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong from the beginning. Stephen has not only played a key role in driving our work on LGBT inclusion, but has advised and mentored many companies, NGOs and individuals.”

Bronze, Silver and Gold Standards
In addition to the ranking of the Top 10 Employers, Community Business assigned Bronze, Silver and Gold Standards. These standards acknowledge the level of performance in the overall Index whilst protecting the anonymity of individual company scores. The following organisations, listed in alphabetical order, achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Standard in Community Business’ inaugural Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index. Please note, not all companies were willing to be publically acknowledged, so this may not represent the complete list.

Bronze Standard:

  • BNY Mellon
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • Telstra
  • UBS
  • Wells Fargo Bank  

Silver Standard:

  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Credit Suisse
  • Latham & Watkins
  • MakerBay
  • State Street  

Gold Standard:

  • Top 10 Employers in Hong Kong for LGBT Inclusion 2015

Ms Dawn Hough, Director of Pride in Diversity, said, “We are delighted to be announcing the results of our Australian Workplace Equality index on the same day as Community Business announces theirs. We would like to congratulate all organisations that placed in either of these indices in addition to those who participated. The index is a valuable mechanism for organisations to gauge, monitor and drive internal inclusion initiatives. Leadership shown by those organisations participating is a testament to their commitment to Diversity and Inclusion.”

“We would particularly like to congratulate those organisations who ranked within both indices or who received their recognition: Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. We commend and congratulate Community Business for introducing this important measure of LGBTI inclusivity. We very much look forward to strengthening our relationship with Community Business moving forward,” continued Ms Hough.

Key Findings
Analysis of the data of all the 35 Participating Companies revealed the following:




Index Average /
Maximum Points

1. Equal Opportunity Policy




2. Diversity Training




3. Diversity Structure




4. Benefits




5. Corporate Culture




6. Market Positioning




7. Monitoring




8. Community & Advocacy







The average total score is 42.8 points and the median score is 40.0 points out of 100. Companies have made a good start in terms of creating inclusive workplaces for LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong. However, there is clearly room for improvement.

Best Performance

  • Overall, companies perform best in Category 1: Equal Opportunity Policy, achieving an average of 9.4 points out of a possible 15 points (62.7%). This is particularly encouraging in light of the fact that Hong Kongcurrently has no anti-discrimination laws relating to sexual orientation and gender identity — demonstrating that companies are taking the lead and generally going beyond what is legally required.
  • Companies generally demonstrate robust performance in Category 3: Diversity Structure and Category 8: Community & Advocacy, showing that for the most part they have a structure in place to support their LGBT inclusion strategy in Hong Kong and that they are taking proactive steps to promote LGBT inclusion in the broader community.

Worst Performance

  • Companies perform worst in Category 7: Monitoring, achieving an average of 1.4 points out of a possible 6 points (23.3%). This is not surprising, given that the majority of companies in Hong Kong are just starting out on LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong and taking steps to monitor LGBT employees reflects a more mature approach.
  • However, the average scores for Category 2: Diversity Training and Category 6: Market Positioning are also low. The former is disappointing and points to a priority focus area for companies in Hong Kong, for providing LGBT-specific training to employees is critical to raising awareness and creating the supportive culture that is so critical for an LGBT-inclusive workplace.  The latter reflects that it is early days for companies in Hong Kong when it comes to proactively marketing their brand to the LGBT market from a client or business perspective.

Index Report
Community Business has published a Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index 2015 Report which presents the consolidated findings of all the participating companies in the Index. It looks at average performance in each category of the Index and highlights where companies are performing well and where there is room for improvement as well as references examples of best practice. As such, it provides a valuable benchmarking tool for companies looking to make progress on LGBT workplace inclusion. The report is available for purchase and download on the Community Business website from Friday 29 May 2015. For details about the Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index, please visit:


Participating Companies (listed in alphabetical order)
(* 8 companies participating in the Index chose to remain anonymous.)

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Infinity Financial Solutions

The Bank of New York Mellon

J.P. Morgan

Barclays Capital Asia Limited

Latham & Watkins

British Consulate-General Hong Kong

MakerBay Ltd

British Council Hong Kong

Morgan Stanley

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd

Credit Suisse

Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd

EXS Capital Asia Ltd

Royal Bank of Scotland


Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

State Street Corporation

Goldman Sachs

Telstra Corporation Ltd

Hasbro Inc

UBS AG (Hong Kong Branch)

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Hong Kong Branch

Media Contact:
Head of Marketing & Communications
+852-2201-1818; +852-9486-4364;

About Community Business
Community Business is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to lead, inspire and support businesses to have a positive impact on people and communities. Recognised as a thought leader in corporate responsibility inAsia, Community Business conducts research, facilitates networks and events, leads campaigns and provides consultancy and training. With a focus on Responsible Business, its key areas of expertise include: Community Investment, Diversity & Inclusion and Work-Life Balance. Founded in 2003 and based in Hong Kong, Community Business works with companies of all sizes and from diverse industries across Asia, harnessing the power of business to drive social change. For more information, visit

Source: Community Business

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Blurred Lines – Finding Clarity with Your Audience in the Fight for Time & Attention

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-PR Newswire’s Media Coffee Events Returns with Esteemed Speakers from the Media to Engage with Business Communicators.

HONG KONG,  /PRNewswire/ — Did you know the average human adult has an eight-second attention span, compared to a goldfish that actually has a longer attention span of nine seconds? What does this mean for PR & Marketing communications professionals? With technology advancing and social media evolving, isn’t it of paramount importance that companies strategically plan and create compelling content to stand out from all the noise with their content marketing efforts?

With the success of last year events, Media Coffee is returning to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong with the topic “Blurred Lines – Finding Clarity with Your Audience in the Fight for Time & Attention Series”. Our esteemed speakers will discuss the challenges faced by today’s communicators as a result of the blurred lines in media and how marketers, who are part of the audience themselves, can strive to create content that is both engaging and valuable to target audiences by building distribution tactics and developing content strategies to drive audience discovery of key messages, and with one ultimate goal: To gain maximum visibility for their brands.

Registration to attend the Media Coffee events is now open via the following links at no cost:

Malaysia (May 19, Tuesday)
Singapore (May 22, Friday)
Hong Kong (May 28, Thursday)

It is also a pleasure for PR Newswire to announce the renowned speakers and media personalities who will be joining us at the events to share their insights and expertise:

Speakers for the media coffee events
Speakers for the media coffee events

For those who cannot join us in-person, the event in Hong Kong on May 28 will include a live webcast and the events at all locations will be recorded and archived videos will be available shortly after the events.

About Media Coffee:

The goal of the Media Coffee event is to enable communications professionals to hear from leading media organisations on how their respective companies work, providing insight into their specialist areas, giving advice on achieving coverage and informing them on effective targeting of journalists within their sector and how to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

About PR Newswire

PR Newswire is the premier global provider of news release distribution and multimedia platforms that enable marketers, corporate communicators, public relations officers and investor relations professionals to leverage content to engage with all their key audiences. Having pioneered the commercial news distribution industry in 1954, PR Newswire today provides end-to-end solutions to produce, distribute, target and measure text and multimedia content across traditional, digital, mobile and social channels. Combining the world’s largest multi-channel content distribution and optimization network with comprehensive workflow tools and platforms, we enable the world’s enterprises to tell their stories to the world. PR Newswire serves tens of thousands of clients from offices in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, and is a UBM plc company.

Media Contacts:

Fern Cheng
Senior Marketing Manager, Asia-Pacific, ex-China

Joanna Yip
Marketing Communications Manager

Photo –
Logo –

Source: PR Newswire

Written by asiafreshnews

May 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Discover Asia with Hilton Worldwide For Up to 30% Less on Hotel Stays

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-At Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn properties across Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE /PRNewswire/ — Hilton Worldwide today announced “Discover Asia with Up To 30% Less” mid-year promotion that will give holidaymakers more reasons to explore gems of Southeast Asia for relaxation, shopping and dining experience. Starting May 11 through June 30, 2015, guests can book and save up to 30% on room rates at participating Hilton Worldwide properties in popular city and beach destinations inSingapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Through Discover Asia, Hilton Worldwide wants to inspire holidaymakers to visit the exciting destinations withinSoutheast Asia and come away with the happiest memories. Guests may become city explorers in Thailand andSingapore, and uncover hidden treasures at vintage markets in Bangkok, or shop at world-class malls at Orchard Road and the Marina Bay area. Similarly, they may become local culture explorers and set sail on river boats inHanoi, or enjoy mouth-watering local cuisines of Malaysia. From romantic getaways to family vacation, guests are encouraged take advantage of the mid-year offer to share a special moment with loved ones on the beautiful beaches in Phuket, Hua Hin or Maldives.

Guests must make their reservations between May 11 and June 30, 2015, and complete their stays between May 14 and October 31, 2015 at any participating property within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio in Southeast Asia. The special offer requires a minimum three days advance booking with full non-refundable prepayment, and are subject to availability.

For more information on this promotion or to make reservations, visit

About Hilton Worldwide

Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxury and full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and focused-service hotels. For 95 years, Hilton Worldwide has been dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences. The company’s portfolio of twelve world-class global brands is comprised of more than 4,350 managed, franchised, owned and leased hotels and timeshare properties, with more than 720,000 rooms in 94 countries and territories, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton HHonors®. Visit for more information and connect with Hilton Worldwide at,,,, and


Joyce Moo
Hilton Worldwide  — Asia Pacific

Source: Hilton Worldwide

Related stocks: NYSE:HLT

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May 18, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

GigaMedia’s Social Casino Platform ClubOne to Premiere at G2E Asia in Macau

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TAIPEI /PRNewswire/ — GigaMedia Limited (NASDAQ: GIGM) today announced attendance of its subsidiary PerfectPairs to G2E ASIA, Asia’s largest gaming entertainment conference and exhibition held at the Venetian Macau, from May 19th to May 21st. The company aims for its premiere promotion of ClubOne platform to the public, and at the same time, searching for more overseas partnership opportunities.

ClubOne Platform is positioned itself as Club of Everyone
ClubOne Platform is positioned itself as Club of Everyone

ClubOne is an in-house developed social casino platform which consists of more than five different main casino playing genres such as Online Poker, Online Mahjong, Sic Bo, Baccarat, Roulette and Slots, to name a few. Each genre is packed with a series of its corresponding type of games, such as Texas Hold’em within our Online Poker genre catalogue.

According to PerfectPairs, ClubOne is positioned as a “Club for Everyone”. In contrast from traditional mobile casino games, users are able to customize and manage ClubOne to their own preferences of game type and rules setting. Hence, users can then invite and show to friends their most unique private social club.

Furthermore, ClubOne offers numerous real-time tournament modes, instant messaging, and it is cross-platform. This facilitates and encourages users to play the game with friends at anytime, anywhere. The freedom of flexibility, entertainment, and professionalism in the tournaments are the major highlights and features of ClubOne.

The Company will first launch both simplified and traditional Chinese language versions in pan-Chinese market, followed by English, Thai, Vietnamese and other additional language versions in the fourth quarter of 2015.

ClubOne website:

For further information contact:

Amanda Chang
Investor Relations Department  

Jimmy Sheng
Business Development

About GigaMedia

Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, GigaMedia Limited (Singapore registration number: 199905474H) is a diversified provider of online games and cloud computing services. GigaMedia’s online games business is an innovative leader in Asia with growing game development, distribution and operation capabilities, as well as platform services for games; focus is on mobile games and social casino games. The company’s cloud computing business is focused on providing enterprises in Greater China with critical communications services and IT solutions that increase flexibility, efficiency and competitiveness. More information on GigaMedia can be obtained from

The statements included above and elsewhere in this press release that are not historical in nature are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. GigaMedia cautions readers that forward-looking statements are based on the company’s current expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those contained in such forward-looking statements. Information as to certain factors that could cause actual results to vary can be found in GigaMedia’s Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2014.

Photo –

Source: GigaMedia Limited

Related stocks: NASDAQ-NMS:GIGM

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May 18, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Travel To Sydney This Winter For The World’s Largest Creative Festival -VIVID SYDNEY-

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SYDNEY /PRNewswire/ — See Sydney come alive in the most spectacular way during Vivid Sydney 2015 when the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas is staged in this spectacular harbour city. For 18 nights, from 22 May  8 June, Vivid Sydney will again transform the city and harbour into a mesmerising free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations.

Vivid Light is an incredible light show that blankets Sydney’s most iconic landmarks in a vibrant display of colour and movement. From 6pm to midnight each night, enchanting light installations and grand-scale 3D projections illuminate the sails of the Sydney Opera House along with more than 60 ‘light art’ sculptures located all through the city to turn night-time into play-time.

The 2015 program includes expansion into new city precincts Chatswood and Central Park as well as expanded offerings at Pyrmont and The Star and The University of Sydney which will see Vivid Sydney’s light shine further into the city and the suburbs. Of course there’s Vivid Music and the Vivid Ideas seminar program with amazing speakers to entertain, provoke and delight!

Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) has embraced the Vivid Sydney festival with a special Vivid Stay and Play package from JPY366,900 – JPY583,900 per person based on twin share.

What’s included:

  • Return economy airfares to Sydney on Qantas or Jetstar
  • 8 nights’ accommodation in an Ocean View Room or Sydney Opera House room at Shangri-La, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour or InterContinental Sydney
  • Airport transfers, selected breakfast, half-day sightseeing tour of Sydney Tower Eye and a Vivid Celebration tour including a dinner cruise

Travel dates: Valid for travel between 1 April  30 November

JALPAK have also released a range of travel packages for Vivid Sydney from JPY88,800 – JPY324,800 per person based on twin share.

What’s included:

  • Return economy airfares to Sydney on Japan Airlines
  • 5 nights’ accommodation at Novotel Sydney Central, PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour or Shangri-La
  • Airport transfers, six meals, half-day Sydney sightseeing tour, Vivid Walking Tour, Dinner Cruise and Blue Mountains one day tour

Travel dates: Valid for travel between 1 April  30 September

What not to miss:

Sydney Opera House  Lighting the Sails

One of the most recognisable installations part of Vivid Sydney. The Lighting of the Sails sees mesmerising digital artwork projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House each night. Playing with technology to invent new forms of design and moving imagery, Universal Everything (UK) has created a digital artwork bound to amaze.

Customs House  Enchanted Sydney

From Vivid Sydney regulars, Spinifex, comes Enchanted Sydney, a glorious projection of free-flowing images of Sydney’s flora and fauna on the iconic facade of Customs House. The artwork mixes familiar (and not so familiar) aspects of Sydney’s natural environment to create a continually evolving and blossoming world.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia  Mechanised Colour Assemblage

A Vivid Sydney favourite, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) will be back in 2015 with an entrancing twist. Mechanised Colour Assemblage which will transform the MCA facade into a series of sound and colour ‘machines’ that create a continuously morphine, audiovisual experience that blends voices and colours together into a single element.

Paint The Town

Paint the Town is a cutting edge, interactive illumination from 32 Hundred and Iain Reed that will transform the world famous view of Sydney Harbour into a breathtaking canvas of light.

In 2015, Vivid Sydney will be bigger than ever, expanding into five precincts and offering more than 60 light displays and projections, as well as an impressive line-up of more than 70 music performances and 150 Ideas talks.

The biggest-ever Vivid Music program will feature Australian-exclusives such as The Hoodoo Gurus at the Powerhouse Museum and Daniel Johns’ international solo debut at the Sydney Opera House.

Vivid Ideas will introduce The Game Changers, a new talks series headlined by three global influencers which include multi Emmy-winning writer Matthew Weiner, series creator and executive producer of Mad Men and former executive producer and writer on The Sopranos; Grammy-winning designer Stefan Sagmeister, whose clients include the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and the Guggenheim Museum; and entrepreneur and publisher Tyler Brule, founder of the world-famous magazines Wallpaper and Monocle.

For further details, terms and conditions and to book please visit:

For further details on Vivid Sydney please visit

The full Vivid Sydney media kit and high-res imagery including 2015 Vivid Sydney light renders and footage of 2014 festival highlights is available at

Source: Destination NSW

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May 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized