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Quest Means Business

U.S. Moving Nearly 3,000 Troops To Eastern Border; OPEC And Russia Decline To Boost Oil Targets, Help Ease Prices; CNN's President Resigns; China Enforcing Zero COVID-19 Policies Through Olympics; Hospitality Venues Reopen As Europe Lifts Lockdowns; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 02, 2022 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: There is an hour to go of trading on Wall Street. Four straight days of gains on Wednesday, but not much more

nuanced. We are up to 200 points, but you can see how the day is definitely bifurcated with the earlier unease in the morning. So, it is corporate

earnings driving the markets today. We'll get to some of those.

The markets as they are and the main events driving us.

The U.S. is ordering 3,000 troops to deploy to Eastern Europe, it is part of the evidence Russia is building up its military presence around Ukraine.

An office romance costs my boss's job. Jeff Zucker resigns from CNN after failing to disclose a consensual relationship.

And Alphabet shares -- that's Google to you and me -- spiking eight percent. It is a 20 to one stock split.

That's the news.

Live from New York. We're together again on Wednesday, February the 2nd, I am Richard Quest and I mean business.

Good evening, nearly 3,000 U.S. troops are heading to Eastern Europe. It is part of the American show of force in response to Russia's military buildup

and the threat it possesses to Ukraine. The Pentagon is describing the moving as a Striker Squadron, roughly a thousand service members from

Germany to Romania; a further 1,700 troops to deploy from the U.S. to Poland and 300 to Germany itself.

Here are the new satellite images of Russia's activity.

The analysts say significant deployments have been seen in Belarus and tents are now being put up at the base in Crimea as you can see.

U.S. Pentagon says 8,500 troops in the U.S. remain on heightened alert and the U.S. President says the latest deployments are consistent with what

America has told Russia.

The Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, says they reflect the situation on the ground.


REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: As part of this commitment and to be prepared for a range of contingencies, the United

States will soon move additional forces to Romania, Poland, and Germany.

I want to be very clear about something. These are not permanent moves. They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment.

Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies.


QUEST: Nic Robertson is with me from Moscow. It's a nice number, but it is relatively small beer, as they say, compared to the 150,000 Russian troops

massed. What's the hope of the purpose they serve?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it is deterrence signaling to NATO allies who feel that they are potentially threatened in

all of this, that they have the support of their stronger NATO partners. That's the messaging here.

And there are still a lot of emphasis on finding the diplomatic track, and the thing that I'm watching at the moment is what we've heard from the

French President in the last few hours, saying that he is hoping to have a call with President Biden in the next couple of hours and hoping that if,

you know his conversations -- various conversations that he says he has upped with European partners over the past few days, fall in the right

direction, there is a possibility he could be coming to meet President Putin.

Now yesterday evening, that was an idea that President Putin had put forward as well that he hoped he might see Emmanuel Macron soon, and the

pair of them have had a couple of phone calls over the weekend, Friday, last week, Monday this week.

There is a momentum of conversation, a long conversation they had Monday, a momentum of conversation and the French President saying he is putting his

priority for Ukraine right now on finding a diplomatic solution, a political solution.

And interestingly, his Foreign Minister has been in Romania where some of those U.S. troops will be redeploying, too, from Germany today and the

Foreign Minister has been saying important for Russia to understand the threat of the response of heavy sanctions are a heavy price if it invades

Ukraine, but also saying also -- but also -- and this is the important part here, Richard, I'll just get to this.

Also saying that he understands the need to re-look at some of the missile defense agreements between Russia and NATO and these are things, common

ground that could become a pathway for some discussion.


QUEST: Change hats if you'll be as kind. See this from President Putin's point of view. So overnight, we all got a report that Putin says the U.S.

is warmongering. The U.S. is pushing forward, the U.S. is provoking, and I suppose the Western media, immediately knee jerk says: Well, come on, he

would say that, wouldn't he? He has got 150,000 troops amassing on Ukraine's border.

So change sides if you be as kind, or at least, look at it from the Russian side. Does Russia have a legitimate fear that NATO in the West is pushing

to threaten their security?

ROBERTSON: I'm going to answer it this way because I can't fully put on President Putin's hat. I think there are a few people that can.

I can say that President Putin has a fear of NATO's expansion, something he says breaks agreements that go back to 1975 in Helsinki; 1999 in Istanbul

and the United States, we know because of their response to him in a written response, say: Ah, yes, but you agreed to things, and you agreed to

both Paris and U.N. Charters. You agreed to, you know, various other agreements, so you're breaking where we're breaking, if that's what you're


I think from President Putin's perspective, he feels that NATO is a threat, but the language that he uses is very threatening and his track record is

very threatening. So whatever he thinks when he says or doesn't say, I'm not going to remove my Army, but he doesn't remove his armies, he is to

interpret his position, he has come for something. He wants something.

He wants these agreements from NATO and everything you put in place to get it. He is not stepping back from that. Think of this from his point of view

as a negotiating tactic. How long can he hold that position? This is what everyone's trying to guess right now.

QUEST: Nic Robertson, thank you, sir. I appreciate that. Thank you.

Now, staying with what is happening, fears of a war there in Ukraine have been pushing oil prices higher. You and I have talked about this on several


The gains today may not look huge, but they have to be seen in context of what's happened before. And so today, OPEC and Russia resisted calls to

boost their supply targets and help calm markets. The high energy prices benefit Russia, of course, and they fuel inflation, and they helped create

a headache for central bankers.

Look at the Eurozone inflation 5.1 percent in January, and that's challenging Christine Lagarde's assertion, the E.C.B. is unlikely to raise

rates this year.

Anna Stewart is in London. The E.C.B.'s mandate of price stability, 5.1 percent at some point, President Lagarde or the Governing Council will have

to start unwinding the accommodative position and stop the buying of the bonds.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: I mean, that already unwinding the pandemic asset purchase plan, but I think what investors are pricing in now is one,

two, maybe even three rate hikes this year and that is despite the E.C.B. saying pretty much there wouldn't be any rate hikes this year. But looking

at that inflation, now over double their target of two percent, you have to question whether it is time the E.C.B. to move.

They meet today and tomorrow. We'll get that news tomorrow.

Also, Richard, look at the U.K., inflation at 5.4 percent in December, another Central Bank meeting tomorrow, but that one, I think we will hear

of a rate rise tomorrow.

QUEST: Yes. Because that's almost baked in the view that the Bank of England has already used up its credibility on that.

STEWART: Absolutely. And then we move over to oil and gas prices, which of course is what is really fueling inflation at the moment, as well as supply

chain issues, and there is so much pressure from the U.S., from India, from Japan, on OPEC+ to put more oil on the market to try and bring that price

back down.

Not least as you were saying, the geopolitical tensions we are seeing is pushing that price ever higher. Did they budge from their slow and steady

plans? No, they did not, and I don't think that is any huge surprise, although we did see that price for Brent just creep up above $90.00 earlier

today on the back of that meeting.

The question is, Richard, with OPEC+, would it made any difference if they said they were going to produce more? Because frankly, right now, they are

not keeping up with their current pledges.

QUEST: Right. And well, they rarely do and anyway, if the issue is one of geopolitical stability, Anna, then the mere increase of supply won't do


Anna, thank you.

Take that point of what we're saying there. I spoke to Dmitry Konov, he is the Chief Executive of the Russian petroleum petrochemical firm, SIBUR. His

company processes oil into other products.

Rising energy prices hurt the business, and bearing in mind, it is not an exporter per se, but it's one of the many headwinds that's currently facing




DMITRY KONOV, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SIBUR: We are experiencing our challenges, we are experiencing high input cost, effectively, oil and gas

because we purchase them to produce what we produce, the synthetic materials and petrochemicals.

We, on the other front, we are experiencing significant inflation on construction, labor, materials, and equipment and we remain to be one of

the largest investors in the Russian economy expanding our production.

On the trade grounds on the other hand, beyond this rhetoric, which is mostly political, we don't see any implication on our front so far.

QUEST: And if we look at the price of oil, of gas at the moment, how much of the current elevated price -- we're at seven to eight-year highs -- how

much of that price is built in because of the tensions versus the underlying substantial price?

KONOV: I do think that $90.00 unfortunately, are mostly fundamental level driven by fundamental factors rather than driven by know the current events

which are happening.

QUEST: Although economies are growing, we now know that they are not going to grow as fast. Now, there is increased demand, but omicron and COVID is

still taking its toll. So what do you think is the fundamental that you're seeing here?

KONOV: The traditional oil fields deflate by about three to five percent a year, if no additional Western come in or no new oil fields are added. If

you look at the top, I think back in 2006, the annual investment in new exploration was about $180 billion if I am not mistaken.

The average for the last five years was something between 30 billion and 40 billion. So there has been a huge hand on the investment, mostly driven by

volatility and uncertainty. Also, including uncertainty on the energy transition regulation and kind of public demand.

Factor number two, if you look back into COVID, 2020, which was the peak of the COVID. Right? What we've seen was a massive depletion of stocks. So, we

sell to someone, someone else produces something from what we do, they sell to others, then goes to retail, then it goes to the customers, and the

customer starts to pay.

This cycle for our industry, I would say about 180 days. So, we have everyone that plays in the stocks to zero, literally zero.

Now, with the market going up, recovering, there is a massive restocking and this restocking creates an extra layer of demand, and this extra demand

leads to the elevated prices.

Fact number three is disruption in the supply chains. There is massive disruption in the supply chain everywhere, and there had been a huge

dislocation between the pricing in the different regions, and sometimes physical inability to deliver product from one market to another.

And if you look at the petrochemical industry, and also the energy, it is global. It is fragmented. So you will not have a single oil field serving

more than like 10 percent of the global supply for global demand, and that means that if you have disruption in supply chain, the prices start to be

much more volatile.

QUEST: What's interesting about that is none of those issues are going to be easily remedied. I know it's always a dangerous business to try and

forecast the price, but we are looking at elevated prices for the foreseeable future. Do you think?

KONOV: Yes, yes, I think and also it leads to a high inflation longer term. Well, it is high in the short term and people, many people expect it

will slow down. I think the growth will slow down obviously, but we live in the era of high inflation and I personally believe in that.


QUEST: That's oil. Now, occasionally on this news network, the network itself becomes the news and today was one of those days.

When we come back, the head of CNN has resigned. Jeff Zucker is leaving the company just at the moment as CNN is preparing for a mega merger, and

arguably the most important launch for years, a streaming service.

Brian Stelter is after the break.



QUEST: Anyone who has worked in a large corporation can imagine exactly what it was like this morning when everybody's phone and e-mail buzzed with

a letter, an e-mail of resignation from our CEO, Jeff Zucker. It came completely out of the blue.

Jeff Zucker is leaving CNN after he failed to disclose a consensual relationship with a senior colleague, the network's Chief Marketing

Officer. Zucker's departure is an absolute bombshell, not least of which for the daily, everyday stuff of working here, the staff, me and my

colleagues, but for CNN itself, a crucial time for the network.

Firstly, it's follows a high-profile firing of Chris Cuomo, the "Primetime" anchor, and then there's the fact that CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia is

navigating a massive merger into Discovery from AT&T, and we heard about that yesterday when we talked about the spin off.

At the same time, hundreds of millions are being spent on a huge bet on CNN+, our new streaming service, which should launch in a couple of weeks.

Brian Stelter is our chief media correspondent.

Brian, what was it like when the e-mail dropped?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think all work stopped for a few minutes as everyone processed the news, Richard, and as you said,

anybody in any corporate environment can relate to this on a number of levels.

First, Zucker has been the rock of CNN, a larger than life leader. Second, he is resigning not in a few weeks or in a few months, but effective

immediately. I'm told he wanted to stay longer, but WarnerMedia said no.

Here is the thrust of his statement saying that he put out explaining this saying: "As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo's tenure at CNN, I

was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleagues, someone I've worked with for more than 20 years. I acknowledge the

relationship evolved in recent years, but I was required to disclose it when it began, but I didn't. I was wrong and as a result, I'm resigning


So he is saying because he violated the personal relationships at work, part of the Code of Conduct that we all as employees agree to, he has

resigned. Now, as you mentioned, Allison Gollust is the executive he didn't name in his statement. Allison Gollust, the Chief Marketing Officer also

issued a statement today saying: "Jeff and I have been close friends and professional colleagues and partners for over 20 years. Recently, our

relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn't disclose it at the right time."


She indicates in the statement that she will remain at CNN, but both of these executives say they didn't disclose the relationship when they were

supposed to, and that is what has caused this shocking resignation.

QUEST: How much trouble and let me let me make it clear, I'm asking you exactly the same questions as I would ask on any other story like this, as

we always do, of course. How much trouble is CNN in losing Zucker at a time when CNN+ is about to launch, which is the biggest bet the company has made

for years?

STELTER: I would argue the biggest bet since the invention of CNN back in 1980, and yet, because this brand has been so strong for many decades or so

many decades, I believe it is so much bigger than any single individual.

You know, at CNN as at other newsrooms, you play for the front of the jersey, you play for the team, not for any individual. Zucker did inspire

incredible loyalty among anchors, among reporters, and so, it is a major loss for him to be leaving and to be leaving so suddenly, it is absolutely

a blow to CNN.

But frankly, I look around here, Richard, I see everything continuing because the news never stops. There are two big holes, though. As you

mentioned, CNN+ is one of them. It launches pretty soon. There's also the 9:00 PM Eastern Time hour on CNN, on the United States version of CNN, you

know, is wide open, because Cuomo was fired.

Think about the domino effect here. Andrew Cuomo, the Governor in New York goes down, Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor gets fired for improperly advising

his brother. Now Jeff Zucker loses his job, essentially, because of the Cuomo scandal, an incredible domino effect that we've seen in the past few


QUEST: It makes the morning show TV drama, look almost pedestrian in comparison to real life here.

STELTER: And as you know, I consult on that show. So I guess they are going to be asking me some questions about this. But I can tell you the

scramble internally today, the head of WarnerMedia, Jason Kilar, flying to New York to oversee this transition. Now, he is heading to D.C. in Atlanta.

You have a lot of pieces in motion because along with that streaming service launch, you also have AT&T spinning off CNN and the rest of

WarnerMedia and merging it with discovery in the months to come.

People thought Zucker was in line for a big promotion. Instead, he has resigned effective immediately and he did want to stay on longer,

WarnerMedia said no. So this is not one of those, you know, mutual agreements where everyone is parting ways happily. There is definitely some

animosity here -- Richard.

QUEST: I'm putting your name forward for 9:00 PM. Thank you.

Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

Wall Street is posting modest gains. Well, it depends on what you're in, but some shares are down, obviously, the Dow 30. There's a couple of others

that are propping it up. Otherwise, it's down. But it's up nearly half a percent.

The major averages were positive after trading up and down over the course of the session. NASDAQ is trailing marginally, but it's still having a good

day overall.

Google's parent, Alphabet, has been up as much as nine percent on earnings, a beat after yesterday's closing bell, it's a 20 for one stock split this

summer, making the shares more affordable.

Shares of PayPal heading in the other direction, they are down 25 percent after the company missed its fourth estimates on is cutting its outlook for

2022. And that's already from a low base.

Paul La Monica is with us. Twenty for one. Now does that mean you get 20 for every existing, or you have to have 20 existing to get one of the new?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, what it will mean, Richard, if you are the owner of one Alphabet share that currently trades at around

$3,000.00 following today's rally? You will eventually, assuming the price stays in this range, have about 20 shares at $150.00 apiece. So this

effectively lowers the share price that could make it then more affordable to individual investors, but it does not change the value of the company at

all, it just lowers the stock price for one share.

QUEST: And we need to think about that in the future, because there is a huge amount of research isn't there, about whether once a company's share

price becomes, quote, "reasonable" or perceives to be cheaper, it races back to where it was and how quickly.

Apple is a good example when it has been -- all those companies that have split, you know, I need to look at the numbers, but anecdotally, it feels

like they go up quicker afterwards.

LA MONICA: Yes, I think that there is a certain element to that. Of course, it's one thing when you're splitting your stock to for one, four

for one, maybe even five for one to do it by this magnitude, 20 for one, I think it will take a long time for a post-split Alphabet to go from 150 all

the way back to $3,000.00. That's a big move.

Obviously Berkshire Hathaway, a couple of years ago, when it bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the B shares split 50 for one and they're

obviously nowhere near that pre-split price, Richard.


But what is very interesting here is much in the same way that Berkshire Hathaway got added to the S&P 500, once they split their stock and Apple

got added to the Dow once it split its stock, there is a lot of chatter already about whether or not Alphabet could get added to the Dow because at

150 and change, and for a price weighted average, it is feasible to have Alphabet in the Dow and not have it skew the entire returns on a daily

basis because it doesn't have this absurdly high stock price.

QUEST: I do love it when we get into the weeds on this, in terms of the price weighted versus market weight and all of those.

Thank you, Guru La Monica. We must get some stats on this and look into this and exactly what happens. Thank you, sir.

Technology from companies like Alphabet that we've just been talking about have been helping wheelchair users in Japan, and they're doing it by

helping them to share tips and information.

This week, we're looking at how Japanese innovators are preparing for a world beyond the pandemic.

Blake Essig profiles one woman's efforts to improve accessibility.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two decades ago, at age 22, Yuriko Oda's his life changed forever. She was diagnosed

with distal myopathy, a group of rare disorders, typically affecting the muscles in one's arms and legs.

YURIKO ODA, FOUNDER AND CEO, WHEELOG! (through translator): It is said that as it progresses, it eventually makes a person bedridden. For me, it

has progressed since then, and I became a wheelchair user when I was 26.

ESSIG (voice over): When Oda had a son, she dreamt about taking him to the beach, but being wheelchair bound, it didn't seem possible.

ODA (through translator): When my son was about three years old, I decided to look for a barrier free beach and found one about three hours from my

house and we were able to go and enjoy it. I wondered what I had been struggling with for the past three years and I began to think that

information could change the lives of wheelchair users, and I want it to deliver the information properly to them.

ESSIG (voice over): In fact, it inspired Oda to start her own YouTube channel to provide information to other wheelchair users. In 2017, she

launched a crowdsource map application Wheelog! allowing users to post and search locations of barrier-free facilities like bathrooms and elevators,

as well as safe routes wheelchair users can take.

The app also lets them interact and ask each other questions.

ODA (through translator): Like, what do you do on a rainy day? And how do you cut your hair in a wheelchair?

ESSIG (voice over): From lockdowns to social distancing, the pandemic has restricted the ways we move around. For wheelchair users, that reality is


Oda hopes to help alleviate those difficulties by creating more inclusivity for the times they do go outside.

Today, Oda is touring the Aquatic Center, a venue built for the 2020 Games to learn more about its barrier free facilities to add to the Wheelog! app.

ODA (through translator): Many people might not have thought about diversity or barrier free facilities without the Olympics and Paralympics.

I was very impressed that the barrier free facilities went beyond just the minimum requirements.

ESSIG (voice over): For Oda, the blueprint of how we move around is evolving, and she is hoping to work many have put in can inspire people for

the better in the future.

ODA (through translator): I hope that this app will be utilized across various fields, including education. I would like to make Japan one of the

most barrier free developed countries in the world.


QUEST: As we continue, competition at the Winter Games is now underway. The host country, China, is trying to maintain its zero COVID policy. Are

these two things in contradiction? If Beijing succeeds, it could be setting itself up for a worse outbreak down the line.

Fareed Zakaria is with me in a moment.




QUEST: Competition has begun at the Beijing Winter Olympics, two days ahead of Friday's opening ceremony. Competitors in mixed doubles curling

were the first to take center stage.

Over the next two weeks, 3,000 athletes will face off inside the Olympics COVID bubbles, of one description or another. The Chinese government is

making sure none of those athletes have a chance to interact and thereby infect people in Beijing.

At least that's the theory, China's sticking to its zero COVID policies during the games and trying to prevent new infections. Now bear in mind,

it's a country of 1.4 billion people with roughly just over 3,000 new cases in the last month, gone up just marginally.

It's put 20 million residents in lock down in the weeks ahead of the Olympics. The critics though, they say, the zero COVID policy simply isn't

sustainable. George Soros, the investor, for example, is amongst them.


GEORGE SOROS, BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR AND PHILANTHROPIST: All Beijing can really do now is to enforce a zero COVID policy. This involves severe

lockdowns at the slightest sign of an outbreak.

But this is having negative effect on economic activity. And it is also inflicting severe hardship on the people, who instantaneously quarantine

wherever they are and their complaints can be silenced.


QUEST: Fareed Zakaria with me. I want to bring this to two distinct areas, the corporate area and what it's doing to companies but also the on the

COVID policy.

Why is he doing this?

Why a zero policy, when Australia shows, as does elsewhere, when you do open up, you're going to get a wave?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Richard, you made the analogy or you talked about corporate policy. And I think it's very similar to what happens

sometimes to very successful CEOs.

They make a series of decisions that are right and then they rest on their laurels. So China began COVID with a strategy that was very tough, very

intense but very successful. Remember, China has under 5,000 COVID deaths; the United States has, what, 850,000.

So a strategy that worked for the first year or two of COVID is now become a kind of ideology and become encrusted. And it's not right for this

moment, it's not right for this moment because we have vaccines, we have treatments and because Omicron is much milder. And in that circumstance,

you need a different strategy.


And Switzerland is actually thinking of doing away with all COVID restrictions entirely. And they're a pretty smart, sensible government.

So what you have in China is the classic case of success breeding a certain kind of dogmatism, which might well lead to failure.

QUEST: Why -- the view on when China might reopen, of course, people are saying it will be after the party Congress sometime later this year. But

that's a long time to, even for an export-led economy, with a huge domestic demand in its own right.

That's a long time.

Do you think they'll, do you think Xi will take the risk and open up before November?

ZAKARIA: He seems to be a man, who, you know, sticks to his guns, makes these big decisions. It's become a complete court. It's -- there's

virtually no contestation. So I think it's quite likely they will stick with what they've said.

But they will pay a price. You know, China is getting cut off from the world, as you said. There are no businessmen coming in, there are no

tourists coming in, there are no government officials, no negotiations in person taking place.

You still have these 2-week quarantines and, as you pointed out, Richard, there is a great danger. Omicron is a virus with a 3-day incubation, which

means it's going to spread like wildfire. At some level, it's inevitable it's going to spread. And you have got 1.4 billion people who have no


QUEST: On the question, but the other side is the corporate bit. He's beating up on technology companies perhaps with legitimate reasons in terms

of the release of information, protecting data.

But he's doing harm to his own companies. I mean DiDi maybe not so but you've got Tencent, Alibaba, which is huge;, all of which have felt

regulatory pressure that the West would say is more than just legitimate regulators expressing concern.

Does he not care about that?

ZAKARIA: I think that the way he would put it -- and I think there's something to be said for this -- is that what they're doing is reining in a

sector that had gone out of control. So a lot of the things that they are doing specifically are actually justifiable or, at the very least, in

theory, are justifiable.

Take the most famous case the Ant IPO. Ant was a wildly unregulated financial entity that was trying to do things that were in violation of

Basel 3, the kind of accords that financial institutions worldwide follow, probably did need some reining in.

But the real question, Richard, is the cumulative of all this, the manner in which the Chinese do it, there's no review process, you can't take them

to court, all of that has created a chilling atmosphere on entrepreneurship inside China, on investment outside of China.

So it's not the specifics, too. And I've talked to Chinese officials. They will point out that the actual things they are doing are justifiable. But

you put it all together, you put the speed and draconian nature, it's frightening.

QUEST: Fareed, thank you for taking time, it's exactly what we wanted to hear from you tonight, thank you.

And, of course, you can hear more from Fareed every Sunday on the program, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." You can see the times on your screen in your part of

the world.

The prime minister of Finland has announced they'll be lifting all COVID-19 restrictions in the next month. It follows nearby Norway and Denmark, who

are scrapping restrictions, with Denmark's government saying COVID is no longer a socially critical sickness.

Compare that, of course, to what we just talked about with China. It's good news for Europe's hospitality sector and for Sir Rocco Forte, who operates

luxury hotels across the continent. Sir Rocco with me from London.

It is always good to speak to you, sir. And you know, when we speak, we've spoken at the worst times of the crisis. Things are looking better.

Are you now looking at future investments and how to rebuild?

SIR ROCCO FORTE, CHAIR, ROCCO FORTE HOTELS: Yes, things are looking -- are looking much better, although, of course, they did get very much better at

the end of the summer and the early part of autumn, because we saw a huge surge of demand and people traveling again.

And we had some hotels actually doing better than 2019 in October and November. The company as a whole, October, we had 97 percent of '19 sales

and November we were 90 percent.

And then the new restrictions came in with Omicron and it dropped immediately into 60 percent in December and 50 percent in January.

So governments bringing in (INAUDIBLE) affect, hugely affect movement of people across countries. And actually, a lot of the government propaganda

frightens people, again, and gets them scared of going out and traveling.



QUEST: So what is it -- what is it you now need?

What is it you now would like to see from government?

FORTE: I'd like to see what's happened in this country happen everywhere else, that there's a lifting of all restrictions. This country, we're soon

going to start stopping testing. Effectively in this country, we have a large percentage of the population with antibodies.

And there's no need to carry on in the way that we've been going for the last few months. Europe is a little way behind, probably a month, 1.5

months behind. And of course, different countries in Europe have different situations.

The ones who were most restrictive in their lockdowns are the ones actually having more trouble now. But bookings for Easter and the summer are very

high indeed and I have every expectation that we have a very, very good summer season and we will exceed 2019 sales levels.

QUEST: Sir Rocco Forte, thank you sir. Next interview I do with you, I'm hoping it will be in one of your hotels, when we can actually be face-to-

face at last, over a cup of tea --


FORTE: The thing about our interview now is that I can't see you. Also, it's too short.

QUEST: We will remedy both of those issues when I'm with you, sir. I appreciate it. Thank you.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for the moment, I'll be back at the top of the hour. Together, we'll make a dash for the closing bell. Coming up next,

it is "MARKETPLACE ASIA." I will update you on the markets at the top of the hour.









QUEST: I'm Richard Quest, together let's have a dash to the closing bell, a minute away from now.

Wall Street showing off a private payer report showing job losses last month, the Dow is up more than 200 points, almost the best of the day

pretty much, near sessions highs after starting in the red bouncing around until lunch time.

All the major averages have made it into the green.

ADP'S report says America's private sector shrank last month, 300,000 jobs, the first decline since December 2020. The Dow components, and you'll start

to see why, United Health Care is near the top. It was near to the bottom yesterday. It's rebounding from those losses.

Travelers is up more than 2 percent, well outpacing the Dow. Salesforce is at the bottom, off 3 percent. Disney and JPMorgan also lagging.

So everybody on a frolic of their own today, there's no real direction. The clearest indication of that is Apple, right in the middle.

That is the dash to the bell for tonight. I'm Richard Quest and we have the closing bell coming up and as always, whatever you're up to in the hours

ahead, I hope it's profitable. The closing bell is ringing. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" is next.