Afternoon Coffee: MTA’s CPO Fired in Procurement Scandal, Amazon Business Launches in UK

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The chief procurement officer (CPO) for New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is under investigation for a suspected bribery scheme, the New York Post reports. According to MTA sources, Angel Barbosa sought “favors” from accounting firm KPMG in exchange for securing lucrative contracts with the agency. The MTA has been awarding contracts to KPMG since at least 2010 to help the agency streamline its multibillion-dollar budget and cut costs, the Post writes. The MTA’s inspector general is now investigating the allegations.

Amazon Business Expands to UK

Amazon announced Tuesday it is launching its B2B marketplace in the UK. Amazon Business launched in the US in April 2015, serving more than 400,000 businesses and generating more than $1bn in sales in its first year. Amazon Business launched in Germany in December 2016, with more than 50,000 business customers now using Amazon Business, according to a press release.

"As a company, we want to spend as little time as possible purchasing the thousands of things we need to run our business,” said Paul Egan, CTO of Founders Factory, one of the UK’s leading start up incubators. “Amazon Business gives us access to everything we need at competitive prices, whilst supporting our fast pace and agile way of working – crucial as we’re currently hiring one to two people per week on average."

EU Public Procurement Imbalance

The European Commission is concerned that EU companies get limited access to public markets in foreign countries and wants to do something about it, according to Euractiv. While the EU offers an comparably open procurement market, third countries are far more selective about which firms when business, creating an “imbalance.”

“An agreement needs to be reached at EU level about how to tackle these imbalances: the Commission made in January 2016 a revised proposal for an International Procurement Instrument, which would offer the EU an instrument to improve access to third countries’ procurement markets,” one executive said.

Oil Prices Rise

And finally, a commodities update: Oil prices rose to a one-month high Tuesday on news that U.S. crude production is drawing back. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 70 cents, or 1.4%, at $50.94 per barrel, Reuters reports.

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