Russian national Oleg Pulatov, one of the accused of downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, nearly five years after the crash that killed 298 passengers and crew, is seen in this handout photo released by Dutch Police and obtained by Reuters on June 19, 2019. Dutch Police/Handout via REUTERS
June 19, 2019
By Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch
NIEUWEGEIN, Netherlands (Reuters) – Three Russians and a Ukrainian will face murder charges for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine which killed 298 people, in a trial to start in the Netherlands next March, an investigation team said on Wednesday.
The suspects are likely to be tried in absentia, however, as the Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and is not expected to hand anyone over.
“These suspects are seen to have played an important role in the death of 298 innocent civilians”, said Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.
“Although they did not push the button themselves, we suspect them of close cooperation to get the (missile launcher) where it was, with the aim to shoot down an airplane.”
Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a letter to parliament the Netherlands had taken unspecified “diplomatic steps” against Moscow for failing to fully comply with legal requests or providing incorrect information.
The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane’s destruction named the four suspects as Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. It said international arrest warrants for the four had been issued.
Girkin, 48, a vocal and battle-hardened Russian nationalist, is believed to live in Moscow where he makes regular public appearances. He is a commentator on Russian and foreign affairs via his own website and YouTube channel.
“The rebels did not shoot down the Boeing,” Girkin told Reuters on Wednesday without elaborating.
Ukrainian authorities said they would try to detain Kharchenko, the suspect believed to be on their territory.
MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone on board was killed.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The Russian Federation must now cooperate fully with the prosecution and provide any assistance it requests.” There were 10 Britons on the flight.
Most of those on board were Dutch. The joint investigation team formed by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.
Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said Moscow was not to blame and there are other explanations for what happened.
The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.
Asked if she expected the suspects to attend the trial, Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the plane, said: “No, I don’t think so. But I don’t care. I just want the truth, and this is the truth.”
Moscow has said it does not trust the investigation.
“Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite expressing an interest right from the start and trying to join it”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The investigation team said Girkin was a former FSB security service colonel who served as minister of defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in the summer of 2014.
It said Dubinsky was head of the military intelligence agency of DNR, while Pulatov was head of a second department of the DNR military intelligence agency. Kharchenko was head of a reconnaissance battalion for the second department, it said.
Prosecutors have said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.
(Additional reporting by Bart Meijer in Amsterda, Maria Vasilyeva and Anastasia Teterevleva in Moscow; Editing Hugh Lawson and Janet Lawrence)
A converted supermini car Zastava 750, which has its combustion engine replaced with an electric one by BB Classic Cars, drives in Skopje, North Macedonia, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
June 19, 2019
SKOPJE (Reuters) – In the North Macedonian capital Skopje, a small light blue car, reminiscent of bygone Communist times, silently zips through the streets in the first major attempt in the Balkan country to produce its own electric vehicle.
It is the brainchild of Skopje-based BB Classic Cars, a local company which restores vintage cars and now converts some of them to electric ones with help from a government innovation fund partly aimed at promoting greener technologies.
North Macedonia, which wants to join the European Union where tighter emissions rules are due to come into force in 2020, is battling major pollution mainly from car emissions and heating coal. It is planning to introduce subsidies for purchases of less polluting or zero emission cars.
BB Classic Cars converted the supermini Zastava 750, an upgraded license-built Fiat 600 popular across the now-defunct Yugoslavia, replacing its petrol engine with an electric one.
Milorad Kitanovski, director of the BB Classic Cars, said that the performance of converted Zastava 750s, originally manufactured in Serbia’s city of Kragujevac from the early 1960s until mid-1980s, is the same or better than the original.
“The engine has a far greater potential for a far greater performance and higher speed, but we limited it to 120 kilometers per hour,” Kitanovski said.
The converted cars are fitted with electric motors manufactured by Germany’s Kessler which also has a plant in North Macedonia. Kitanovski did not say how much the company invested to make the conversion.
The car has a range of 150 kilometers, while charging time is around three hours with a home charger, and only 15 minutes with rapid chargers.
“The cost of three hours of charging is less than 1 euro ($1.12), for the 10 kilowatts which is the battery capacity,” Kitanovski said.
The price tag is set around 20,000 euros ($22,568.00) and the company is mainly looking at international buyers, he said.
In comparison, Porsche Macedonia offers Volkswagen’s e-UP! and e-Golf electric cars for 25,000 euros and 37,000 euros respectively, according to a February report by the country’s MIA news agency.
(Reporting by Ognen Teofilovski; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
FILE PHOTO – Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is seen during the Arab summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Hamad l Mohammed
June 19, 2019
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Kuwait’s ruling emir arrived on a state visit to Iraq on Wednesday and is expected to discuss escalating regional tensions after attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was met by Iraq’s president, oil minister and other senior Iraqi officials and will discuss bilateral ties and recent regional and international developments, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA said.
The two OPEC member states transport most of their crude through the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, and near where six tankers have been attacked in the past month.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which Tehran denies. Kuwait has described the tanker attacks as a threat to international peace and security, without assigning blame.
(Reporting by Iraq Newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra)
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo
June 19, 2019
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) – Evidence suggests Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials are liable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.N. rights investigator said on Wednesday.
There was no immediate reaction from Riyadh which was sent the 100-page report in advance – but the kingdom has regularly denied accusations that the prince was involved.
Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, called for countries to widen sanctions to include the Crown Prince and his personal assets, until and unless he can prove he has no responsibility.
Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding.
His body was dismembered and removed from the building, the Saudi prosecutor has said, and his remains have not been found.
“It is the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that Mr. Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,” Callamard said in her report based on a six-month investigation.
Callamard went to Turkey earlier this year with a team of forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities.
“There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s”, she said.
“Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince demanding further investigation,” she added, urging U.N. Secretary-General to establish an international probe.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
FILE PHOTO – A North Korean flag is seen on the top of its embassy in Beijing, China, February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
June 19, 2019
By Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has provided its largest food and aid donation since 2008 to U.N. aid program in North Korea, officials said on Wednesday, amid warnings that millions of dollars more is needed to make up for food shortages.
South Korea followed through on a promise to donate $4.5 million to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), and announced it was also providing 50,000 tonnes of rice for delivery to its northern neighbor.
North Korea has said it is facing droughts, and U.N. aid agencies have said food production fell “dramatically” last year, leaving more than 10 million North Koreans at risk.
“This is the largest donation from the Republic of Korea to WFP DPRK since 2008 and will support 1.5 to 2 million children, pregnant and nursing mothers,” WFP senior spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in a statement, referring to his agency’s operation in North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
More aid would be needed, however, to make up for the shortfalls, he said.
“WFP estimates that at least 300,000 metric tons of food, valued at $275 million, is needed to scale up humanitarian assistance in support of those people most affected by significant crop losses over successive seasons,” Verhoosel said.
North Korea is under strict international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
While inter-Korean engagement spiked last year amid a push to resolve the nuclear standoff, Seoul’s efforts to engage with Pyongyang have been less successful after a second U.S.-North Korea summit ended with no agreement in February.
SANCTIONS A PROBLEM
South Korea would work with the WFP to get the aid as quickly as possible to the North Korean people who need, the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said in a statement.
“The timing and scale of additional food assistance to North Korea will be determined in consideration of the outcome of the aid provision this time,” the ministry said.
According to South Korean officials the rice is worth 127 billion won ($108 million).
The government would aim to have the rice delivered before September, and officials were in touch with counterparts in North Korea, Unification minister Kim Yeon-chul told reporters.
South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry said the last time South Korea sent rice to North Korea was in 2010, when 5,000 tonnes were donated. The largest donation ever was in 2005 when South Korean sent 500,000 tonnes of rice.
Seoul also recently donated $3.5 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for humanitarian projects in North Korea.
Technically humanitarian aid is not blocked by the sanctions, but aid organizations said sanctions enforcement and a U.S. ban on its citizens traveling to North Korea had slowed and in some cases prevented aid from reaching the country.
Aid shipments have also been controversial because of fears that North Korea’s authoritarian government would divert the supplies or potentially profit off it.
Verhoosel said the WFP would require “high standards for access and monitoring” to be in place before distributing any aid.
In March, Russia donated more than 2,000 tonnes of wheat to the WFP’s North Korea program.
(Reporting by Josh Smith. Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin.; Editing by Robert Birsel)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is seen at a gas station in Vienna, Austria, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo
June 19, 2019
(Corrects name of Borealis CEO to Alfred Stern (not Achim Stern) in paragraph 22 in June 18 story.)
By Kirsti Knolle
VIENNA (Reuters) – After years of largely banking on low-cost Russia for growth, OMV is shifting attention towards the Middle East as its chemist chief executive chases his vision of making the Austrian oil and gas group a major supplier of plastics.
OMV boss Rainer Seele has spent more than 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) – 40% of the group’s M&A budget until 2025 – for oil and gas concessions in the region, a 15% stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co’s (ADNOC) refining business and a to-be-formed trading joint venture with ADNOC and Italy’s Eni.
“We want to have a fully integrated business model in Abu Dhabi – from the well via the refinery and the petrochemicals all the way to marketing and trade in international markets,” the chief of Austria’s second-largest listed company told shareholders last month.
OMV traditionally earns its money from producing, distributing and refining oil and gas in Europe. A focus on low-cost oil and gas fields in Russia – a source of investor concern due to U.S. and EU sanctions – helped the group get back on its feet financially in recent years and become one of the best cash-flow generators in the sector.
After fixing a price this month for the purchase of Siberian gas assets from Gazprom, OMV has largely achieved its Russian expansion plans.
The Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, of which OMV is a financing partner, could face delays. However, OMV’s downside risks are limited to the 950 million euros it has committed, of which it has paid 644 million euros so far.
“This is already captured by its discounted valuation relative to its peers,” analysts at Berenberg said in a note.
Seele’s new, Middle East-focused strategy stems from a shift in the environment surrounding OMV’s business model, with challenges created by the politically promoted rise of renewable energy and increased use of electric vehicles.
Consultancy Wood Mackenzie forecasts that demand for oil in developed countries will revert to structural decline next year and drop by about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2035. In contrast, it expects demand in developing economies, mainly in Asia, to increase by nearly 16 million bpd in the same period.
The rise in developing-country demand is seen largely driven by the petrochemicals industry, which uses oil to make the plastics needed for fertilisers, packaging, detergents and clothes, as well as for electric-car parts, solar panels and wind turbines.
This is where Seele gets excited. Refraining from expanding into renewables like BP and Royal Dutch Shell, the CEO plans to monetize his oil with the expected surge in demand for plastics and also jet fuel, especially in China.
For Seele, the new focus is a journey back to his roots. The 58-year-old German holds a PhD in chemistry and started his career as a chemical research scientist.
He has chosen the United Arab Emirates as a base from which to secure a big piece of the Asian petchem pie, aiming to maximize profit via the entire value chain.
“What I am always preaching is, hey guys, try to think integrated,” he told Reuters when asked why he did not simply buy into China. “I cannot come up with an integrated business model in Asia if I buy into a petchem unit there. It would be an isolated investment.”
The UAE, a strategic investor in OMV since 1994, has aggressive energy ambitions for the coming decade. It is cooperating with international groups including Shell, Germany’s Wintershall DEA and U.S. investment firms KKR and BlackRock to pioneer approaches and technologies.
Last year, the UAE launched a $132 billion capex program to become self-sufficient in gas by 2030 and establish itself as an exporter of petrochemical products. It plans to invest $45 billion alone into the Ruwais complex, which is located 240 km (150 miles) west of Abu Dhabi, to make it the largest integrated refinery/petrochemicals facility in the world.
CREATING A “BORDEAUX”
ADNOC Refining plans to spend $1.9 billion annually, according to its five-year business plan. As OMV holds 15%, its share would be 285 million euros per year.
A cost optimization of Ruwais operations will be followed by investments to enable the use of different feedstocks and the processing of heavier, more sour crude at the site, Seele said in explaining the plans for ADNOC Refining.
“We will create a Bordeaux,” said Seele, a connoisseur of red wine. “Right now we are only running with Cabernet Sauvignon in Abu Dhabi and we will add some Merlot.”
One challenge will be to export to Ruwais OMV’s European model of bundling refining and petrochemical production in integrated hubs.
“We are transferring our European refineries now from predominantly fuel refineries to jet fuel and petchem units,” Seele said. “That’s the transformation we have in mind (for Ruwais as well).”
To deliver on its goal, OMV is working closely with its subsidiary Borealis, which partly runs the Ruwais refinery via its Borouge joint venture with ADNOC. Seele and Alfred Stern, chief executive at Borealis, plan big.
Borouge hopes to give the final go-ahead for the construction of a fourth petrochemical complex at the site next year, Stern told Reuters. He did not disclose the cost of the new complex, but said it would be a “multi-billion” decision.
OMV’s purchases of a 20% stake in Abu Dhabi’s SARB and Umm Lulu offshore oil concessions and a 5% stake in the Ghasha offshore gas and condensate fields from ADNOC were crucial for growth as they secure access to cheap feedstock, Seele said.
OMV also plans to recycle used plastic and convert it into synthetic crude oil at the Abu Dhabi complex. It is testing the patented, so-called ReOil technology at home.
“What we see in the market is a clear signal. If we don’t find a solution to recycle plastics, our polymer business will be negatively impacted,” the CEO said with a view to investors, who want the industry to work harder against climate change.
“At the latest, in 2025 we would like to have a commercial plant.”
Analysts have praised OMV’s plans, saying major players in the oil and gas industry may envy the company for the deals with its financially strong shareholder ADNOC.
However, risks remain: The emirate’s gas fields have proved challenging to monetize in the past due to high operating costs and artificially low local prices for the fuel.
“New technologies and development plans can improve this, but the fields still remain relatively difficult,” said Robin Mills, chief executive at energy consultancy Qamar Energy in Dubai.
Another challenge is inadequate infrastructure. The pipeline network needs to be extended, Seele says, at the same time indicating a solution is under way. “If you identify a problem, solve it.”
($1 = 0.8897 euros)
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Additional reporting by Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey)
An Airbus A350-1000 performs during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
June 19, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus, reeling from the potential loss of a major customer for its best-selling A320neo as British Airways owner IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX, prepared to hit back with more orders for its A321XLR on Wednesday.
The planemaker has been negotiating with U.S. airlines investor Bill Franke whose Indigo Partners has also been known to place orders for multiple airlines within its portfolio and could reel it in for the Paris Airshow, industry sources said.
Airbus declined to comment.
After weathering intense scrutiny over safety and its public image, Boeing won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as IAG signed a letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.
The surprise order lifted the energy of a previously subdued Paris Airshow, where the talk had been of the possible end of the aerospace cycle, given the issues at both Boeing and Airbus as well as geopolitical and trade tensions around the world.
Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it would order 10 Airbus new A321XLR jets and convert a further 26 from existing orders already on the Airbus books.
Airbus is also in talks with leasing company GECAS and has been trying to secure an eye-catching order for the A321XLR from American Airlines, though the world’s largest carrier does not typically make announcements at air shows.
Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Eric M. Johnson, Jamie Freed, Editing by Alistair Smout)
FILE PHOTO: Japanese Vice Minster of Finance Masatsugu Asakawa, Finance Minister Taro Aso, and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda hold a news conference after the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting at the IMF and World Bank’s 2019 Annual Spring Meetings, in Washington, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
June 19, 2019
By Leika Kihara
TOKYO (Reuters) – Substantial discussions on trade, including reform of the World Trade Organization, will likely take place at a summit of Group of 20 major economies next week in Osaka, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said on Wednesday.
Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the U.S.-China trade row and urge countries to resolve tensions with a multilateral framework, said Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs.
“With regard to differences (on trade) between the United States and China, Japan of course won’t take sides. We will also not take any steps that go against WTO rules,” said Asakawa, who oversaw the G20 finance leaders’ gathering earlier this month.
“Japan will continue to take a multilateral approach in promoting free trade,” he told a news conference.
China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, are in the middle of a costly trade dispute that has pressured financial markets and damaged the world economy.
Markets are focused on whether U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping can narrow their differences when they sit down at the G20 summit.
The bitter trade war has forced the International Monetary Fund to cut its global growth forecast and overshadowed the G20 meetings that conclude with the Osaka summit on June 28-29.
At the finance leaders’ gathering, the G20 issued a communique warning that trade and geopolitical tensions have “intensified” and that policymakers stood ready to take further action against such risks.
“The macro-economic impact (of the trade tensions) is an issue of concern,” Asakawa said, conceding it took considerable time for G20 finance ministers and central bank heads to agree on their communique’s language on trade.
More “concrete” discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit, he added.
The row over trade appeared to spread to currency policy when Trump criticized European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s dovish comments as aimed at weakening the euro to give the region’s exports an unfair trade advantage.
Asakawa rebuffed the view the Bank of Japan’s massive stimulus program could also provoke the ire of Trump.
He also said the G20 shared an understanding that members would accept any exchange-rate moves driven by ultra-easy monetary policies as long as the measures are not directly aimed at manipulating currencies.
“The BOJ’s ultra-easy policy is aimed at beating deflation, not at manipulating exchange rates. That’s understood widely among the G20 economies,” he said.
Fears of the widening fallout from the trade war have heightened market expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates this year. Draghi said on Tuesday the ECB will ease again if inflation fails to accelerate.
The dovish tone of other central banks have piled pressure on the BOJ, though many analysts expect it to keep policy steady at least at this week’s rate review.
(Additional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher & Shri Navaratnam)
General view of a landscape of partially thawed Arctic permafrost near Mould Bay, Canada, in this handout photo released June 18, 2019. The image was captured in 2016 by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks who were amazed to find the permafrost thawing 70 years faster than models predicted. Louise Farquharson/Handout via REUTERS
June 19, 2019
By Matthew Green
LONDON (Reuters) – Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilized the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.
“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters by telephone. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.”
With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.
The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analyzing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned Cold War-era radar base more than 300 km from the nearest human settlement.
Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognizable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.
The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.
Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.
“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a post-doctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.”
Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.
Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
With scientists warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilization in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.
“Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown and it’s happening before our very eyes,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. “This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.”
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference about the government’s decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
June 19, 2019
By David Ljunggren and Nia Williams
OTTAWA/CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada on Tuesday approved as expected a hotly contested proposal to expand the western Canadian crude oil pipeline it bought last year, providing hope for a depressed energy industry but angering environmental groups.
Construction on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is scheduled to resume this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference. A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier that Ottawa expected legal challenges to the approval.
The project would triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to carry 890,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia’s Pacific coast, alleviate congestion on existing pipelines and diversify exports away from the United States.
Trudeau, who faces a tough fight in a national election scheduled for October, has been under pressure both from western Canadian politicians who accuse him of doing too little for the oil industry, and from environmental groups, which see the oil sands as a highly polluting source of crude production.
“This isn’t an either/or proposition. It is in Canada’s national interest to protect our environment and invest in tomorrow, while making sure people can feed their families today,” he said, adding he knew some people would be disappointed.
The Liberal government previously approved the expansion in 2016 but that decision was overturned last year after a court ruled the government had not adequately consulted indigenous groups.
The approval was widely expected as the government spent C$4.5 billion ($3.4 billion) to buy the 66-year-old pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd last year to ensure that the expansion proceeded. Western Canada’s oil production has expanded faster than pipeline capacity, causing a glut of crude to build up.
Trudeau said the government would make a series of accommodations to indigenous concerns about the pipeline, including on protections of killer whale and fish habitats in British Columbia.
One group of indigenous activists in British Columbia, called Tiny House Warriors, vowed in a statement that the expansion would not be built on their territory.
“The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land,” spokeswoman Kanahus Manuel said.
FURTHER OBSTACLES AHEAD
The government’s latest approval can be appealed through the courts. Trans Mountain also requires various permits and route approvals in British Columbia, where that province’s left-leaning New Democratic Party government opposes the project.
The B.C. government also plans to appeal a recent British Columbia Appeal Court ruling that the provincial government cannot restrict the flow of oil on pipelines that cross provincial boundaries.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan said his government was “disappointed” with the federal government’s decision but would not unduly withhold construction permits.
Mike Hurley, mayor of Burnaby, where the pipeline terminates in a tank farm near the Westridge Marine Terminal on Burrard Inlet, said his city was “absolutely against” the pipeline expansion.
“It brings too much extra risk into our community and we don’t believe the risk is worth the rewards. There’s risk of fire, explosion, chemical releases, a natural disaster for our First Nations people who use the inlet so much, and for business.”
Construction is expected to take 2-1/2 years, investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co said. Assuming work on the expansion resumes this year, the expanded pipeline could be in service in early 2022.
“We will measure success not by today’s decision but by the beginning of actual construction and more importantly by the completion of the pipeline,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a frequent critic of Trudeau. “This is now a test for Canada to demonstrate to the rest of the world we are a safe place in which to invest.”
The decision will help create billions in economic benefits across Canada as it allows Canadian oil to reach higher-paying international markets, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said in a statement.
Eighty percent of the expanded pipeline’s total capacity has been contracted to companies including Suncor Energy Inc, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Exxon-owned Imperial Oil Ltd, according to a National Energy Board filing.
The Canadian government has long said it planned to sell the pipeline once most of the obstacles to its construction have been cleared. Numerous indigenous groups have said they are interested in investing in it.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Nia Williams in Calgary; Additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)
A woman shops in a supermarket in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
June 18, 2019
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s gross domestic product (GDP) likely contracted 5.9% in the first quarter from the same quarter a year ago, hit by a decline in domestic consumption and production due to stubbornly high inflation and a sharp recession, according to analysts polled by Reuters.
South America’s second largest economy is expected to report official GDP data for the first quarter on Wednesday, according to the statistics agency INDEC’s formal publication schedule.
A Reuters poll of eight local and international analysts indicated a range of economic contractions between 5.6% and 7.2%, with the average drop around 5.9%. Analysts said a gradual recovery process would follow.
“Slowly economic activity will recover,” as it benefited from low levels of consumption and idle capacity in the quarterly comparisons, said Pablo Besmedrisnik, director of consultancy Invenómica.
Argentina’s economy had grown 3.9% year-on-year in the same quarter in 2018, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC). The country’s GDP has been falling since the second quarter of 2018.
(Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson, leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister, leaves home in London, Britain, June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
June 18, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, won the most votes cast in the second round of voting for Conservative Party leader on Tuesday, with four other candidates also getting through.
Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister, won 126 votes, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in second place on 46 votes and environment minister Michael Gove third with 41 votes.
The international development minister Rory Stewart was fourth on 37 votes and the interior minister Sajid Javid was fifth on 33 votes.
One candidate — former Brexit minister Dominic Raab — was eliminated after he failed to receive the required minimum of 33 votes.
Now the remaining candidates will face further votes to whittle down the contest to two, when Conservative members will decide who will become leader, and Britain’s next prime minister.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)
Israeli Eviation Alice electric aircraft is seen on static display, at the eve of the opening of the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 16 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
June 18, 2019
LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) – An electric plane capable of flying up to 650 miles with nine passengers made its debut at the Paris Airshow on Tuesday, with its manufacturer targeting regional commuter routes such as the French capital to the southern city of Toulouse.
Eviation Aircraft said the plane – called Alice – was a radical rethinking of the cost, experience and environmental impact of regional travel.
The impact of air travel on the environment has become a key focus of climate campaigners and airlines have long been looking at ways to address emissions and their costs through new designs and cleaner technologies.
“Operating at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners, our Alice will redefine how people travel regionally and usher in a new era of flying that is quieter, cleaner and cost effective,” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay said.
The company said it would be aimed at high traffic commutes such as Paris to Toulouse, Norway’s Oslo to Trondheim and America’s San Jose to San Diego.
It said its first commercial customer would be Cape Air, one of the largest independent regional airlines in the United States, serving 35 cities there and in the Caribbean. Cape Air has a “double-digit” purchase option for Alice, a statement said.
“We see tremendous opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our operations,” Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf said in a statement released from the airshow, which has been dominated by deals for industry heavyweights Boeing and Airbus.
Following test flights this year and certification in 2021, Eviation said it planned to begin shipping the aircraft for commercial use in 2022.
(Writing by Alison Williams in London; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo
June 18, 2019
GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations extrajudicial executions investigator, Agnes Callamard, will to issue her report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday, a statement said.
Callamard, who has led an international inquiry into Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, said after a visit to Turkey this year that the evidence pointed to a brutal crime “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials.
The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
FILE PHOTO: Vice governor of the People’s Bank of China Chen Yulu attends a thematic forum of the second Belt and Road Forum for international cooperation in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
June 18, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – China will let markets play a more prominent role in deciding the exchange rate for its yuan currency, the central bank’s vice governor Chen Yulu said on Tuesday.
“We will improve the market based exchange rate formation and transmission mechanism, we aim to let the market play a more decisive role in determining exchange rate,” Chen said during an event at Bloomberg in London.
China has taken big strides in trying to promote the international usage of its currency since 2009 but the yuan’s take up in global trade and markets remains meagre thanks to its relatively closed markets and largely policy determined exchange rate.
Chen also added that policy makers in the world’s second largest economy would push ahead with efforts to make yuan-denominated assets more attractive to investors outside China and focus on opening its financial sector.
“Going forward, China will pursue high standards in improving the financial sector: We will improve the business standard and improve the policy climate to further improve the attractiveness of RMB assets.”
(Reporting by Karin Strohecker and Saikat Chatterjee)
President Donald Trump, whose administration has blamed Iran for the attacks on Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, described those and other recent incidents as “very minor.”
Trump’s comments came in an interview with Time magazine Monday.
In the interview, Trump cast doubt about going to war to protect international oil supplies; however, he said he might take military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
“I would certainly go over nuclear weapons,” Trump said when asked what moves would lead him to consider going to war with Iran, “and I would keep the other a question mark.”
Asked about the recent attacks on oil tankers, he described those as limited and said: “So far, it’s been very minor.”
He noted the Gulf of Oman is less important to the United States than it once was.
“Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump said. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we’re now an exporter of energy.”
And Trump maintained Iran has adopted a less hostile posture toward the U.S. since he took office.
Meanwhile, Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, citing concerns about a threat from Iran, said Monday 1,000 more troops will be deployed to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: Neil Woodford, founder and fund manager at Woodford Investment Management, is seen in this undated handout picture released on June 10, 2019. Jonathan Atkins/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
June 18, 2019
By Carolyn Cohn and Muvija M
(Reuters) – British money manager Neil Woodford faced further pressure on Tuesday after retail platform Fidelity International stopped its customers from making new investments in one of his smaller funds.
Woodford, one of Britain’s best-known fund managers, suspended the 3.7 billion pound ($4.6 billion) LF Woodford Equity Income fund on June 3 due to a rise in redemption requests, leaving investors unsure about when they will get their money back.
This has put Woodford’s business under scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and led to outflows from the Income Focus fund, his other open-ended investment fund.
Fidelity’s decision to curb new investments in the Income Focus fund is the latest setback for Woodford, after British wealth manager St James’s Place ended a 3.5 billion pound investment mandate with Woodford Investment Management.
Meanwhile, investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown removed the Equity Fund, which has come under fire for investing in unlisted and illiquid stocks, from its ‘Wealth 50’ list and cut its exposure to the Income Focus fund.
Fidelity said in an emailed statement that its move was “in the best interest of our platform clients unless and until uncertainties are resolved,” adding it was not restricting withdrawals from the fund.
It said that the restrictions were temporary and a “precautionary measure”.
The Income Focus fund “doesn’t have any exposure to illiquid or unquoted securities”, a Woodford spokesman said in an email, adding that it contains “a combination of large, mid and small-sized companies”.
The Income Focus fund’s assets under management (AUM) have dropped 32% since the Equity Income fund suspension, to 325 million pounds, Morningstar data shows. Redemptions and market movements can contribute to a drop in AUM.
The suspension of Woodford’s fund could become a “very big problem” if it caused investors to doubt the integrity of the financial system, Bank of England policymaker Anil Kashyap said on Tuesday.
And PIMFA, the trade association for investment managers and financial advisers, said it represented “an erosion of trust”, while retail investor lobbyist Gina Miller called for an independent review into the regulator.
Woodford’s only listed fund, the Woodford Patient Capital Trust, hit record lows on Tuesday, down more than 30% since the Equity Income fund suspension. It recovered ground to 55 pence by 1220 GMT, down 0.2%.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (not pictured) at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo
June 18, 2019
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat warned on Tuesday that the world should not open a “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East, as he denounced U.S. pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of a landmark nuclear deal.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
The United States blamed Iran for the attacks, more than a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Iran denied involvement in the tanker attacks and said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on the same day the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
Speaking in Beijing after meeting Syria’s foreign minister, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said the United States should not use “extreme pressure” to resolve issues with Iran.
Wang told reporters that China was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf and with Iran, and called on all sides to ease tension and not head towards a clash.
“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said.
“In particular, the U.S. side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said.
“Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis.”
Wang also said that the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue, and he urged Iran to be prudent.
“We understand that relevant parties may have different concerns but first of all the comprehensive nuclear deal should be properly implemented,” he added. “We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement.”
At the same time, China hopes other parties respect Iran’s legitimate lawful rights and interests, Wang said.
China and Iran have close energy ties, and China has been angered by U.S. threats against countries and companies that violate U.S. sanctions by importing Iranian oil, including Chinese firms.
China has had to walk a fine line as it has also been cultivating relations with Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, the Asian giant’s top oil supplier.
Iran’s foreign minister has visited China twice this year already. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has also visited Beijing this year.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Se Young Lee and Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar Tuesday outlined an ambitious plan for how she’d spend her first 100 days if elected president of the United States, including a call for a bold infrastructure plan that she says would be her key budget priority.
“There are so many things we can do right away,” the Minnesota Democrat and presidential candidate told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “My idea is that I’ve got 100 bills that have passed since I’ve been in the Senate and then a hundred bills we can do in the first 100 days and I truly believe these are things we can do.”
CNN has obtained an 18-page list of Klobuchar’s goals, showing that on day one, she’d bring the United States back into the International Paris Climate agreement and that she’d work to ensure the United States “maintains global leadership” while addressing the climate crisis.
She also said in the plan that she’ll “immediately” suspend efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing conditions and that she wants to allow for the safe importation of prescription drugs from safe nations such as Canada.
On Tuesday, Klobuchar told MSNBC that Congress would not be needed to return the United States to the climate agreement, or to “bring back the clean power rules that have been negotiated for years that the president left on the cutting room floor.”
Further, as president, she said she can also stop the action to throw out “Dreamers” and to eject people who are in the United States through legal temporary status.
Source: NewsMax Politics
An aerial view shows the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. Picture taken June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
June 18, 2019
By Tim Hepher and Eric M. Johnson
LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) – Airbus and Boeing bagged a combined $15 billion of plane deals on day two of the Paris Airshow, as their sales teams scrapped for orders after a downturn in business at many airlines and the grounding of Boeing’s top-selling jet.
Airbus extended its early lead in orders at the event with a $6 billion deal on Tuesday to sell 36 planes to Philippines airline Cebu Air, including 10 of the new long-range A321XLR model launched on Monday.
The European planemaker also struck a deal to sell a further 30 A320neo aircraft to Saudi Arabian Airlines, worth $3.3 billion at list prices, while Malaysia’s AirAsia converted 253 A320neo orders to the larger A321neo model. Financial terms of the AirAsia deal were not disclosed.
Airbus shares were up 0.6% at 1100 GMT, having touched a record high of 126.50 euros in early trade.
Boeing, meanwhile, gained a much needed lift after a slow start to the show on Monday as Korean Air committed to buying 20 of the U.S. planemaker’s 787 Dreamliners, worth $6.3 billion at list prices.
Despite the flurry of activity, dealmaking at the aerospace industry’s biggest annual event has been quieter than normal, fuelling speculation that a decade-long boom might be coming to an end.
With airlines struggling to contend with overcapacity, slowing economies and geopolitical tensions, some analysts warn that Airbus and Boeing could face a growing number of cancellations from their bulging order books.
Boeing in particular is suffering after the grounding of its MAX 737 aircraft in March following two deadly crashes.
A321XLR TAKES OFF
However, the planemakers are confident of continued strong demand for more fuel-efficient jets as emissions regulations tighten and air travel continues to rise, driven by Asia’s growing middle classes. Boeing on Monday increased its 20-year industry demand forecast.
“Although investors have started to ask questions about the state of the upcycle, the aerospace industry remains very confident in the current state of the market,” analysts at Vertical Research Partners said in a note.
Sources familiar with the matter say that American Airlines and leasing giant GECAS are also in talks to buy Airbus’s new A321XLR, which is aimed at new routes for airlines with smaller planes, stealing a march on Boeing’s plans for a potential planned NMA mid-market jet.
As well as 10 Airbus A321XLR jets, Cebu Air said it was buying 16 larger A330neo planes and five of A320neo model. Finance chief Andrew Huang told a news conference the A330neo jets would have up to 460 seats, allowing the budget airline to add new international routes.
Cebu, which operates the Cebu Pacific brand, had a 51% share of the Philippine domestic market in 2018, according to company data. In the international market, its 19% share was second only to the 28% held by full-service rival Philippine Airlines.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, which already has 35 planes on order from the Airbus A320neo family, said its additional purchases included 15 of the A321XLR jet and that it also has an option to buy as many as 35 more A320neo aircraft.
Korean Air said in October 2018 that it was likely to order more Boeing 787 jets, mainly to replace its existing aircraft, as it looks to streamline its fleet and reduce costs.
(Additional reporting by Laurence Frost, Andrea Shala, Alistair Smout, Cyril Altmeyerhenzien, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Neil Jerome and Jamie Freed; Editing by Mark Potter, Keith Weir and David Goodman)
An aerial view shows the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
June 18, 2019
(Reuters) – Following is a summary of commercial aircraft deals announced by Airbus and Boeing at the Paris Airshow.
* Air Lease Corp signs letter of intent for 50 A220-300s, 27 A321XLRs and 23 A321neos worth an estimated $11 billion at list prices.
* Virgin Atlantic orders 14 A330neos worth $4.1 billion at list prices, and takes out an option for six more.
* Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines orders four A321XLRs, estimated to be worth more than $500 million at list prices.
* Philippines budget airline Cebu Air orders 16 A330neos, 10 A321XLRs and five A320neos, worth about $6 billion in total at list prices.
* Saudi Arabian Airlines orders a further A320neo family aircraft worth an estimated $3.3 billion at list prices, and takes out options for as many as 35 more.
* Malaysia’s AirAsia Group converts 253 A320neo orders to the larger A321neo. Financial terms not disclosed
* Korean Air commits to buying 20 787 Dreamliners worth $6.3 billion at list prices.
* GECAS exercises purchase rights for 10 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters worth about $1.1 billion at list prices, and adds 15 more purchase rights.
(Compiled by Mark Potter)
FILE PHOTO: An AirAsia Airbus A320-200 prepares to land at Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi, Vietnam April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo
June 18, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – AirAsia Group has decided to convert 253 orders for Airbus’ A320neo planes to the larger A321neo model, making AirAsia the world’s largest customer for the A321neo.
“The change will enable the airline to offer higher capacity in response to ongoing strong demand across its network,” Airbus said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reuters last month reported the Malaysian low-cost carrier was in negotiations to buy the new longer-range version of the A321 passenger jet, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Airbus launched the A321XLR, which has a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, at the Paris Airshow on Monday.
AirAsia’s long-haul arm AirAsia X last year placed an order for 34 A330neo widebodies which it has yet to firm up. Some of those could be switched to long-range narrowbodies, the head of AirAsia X’s Malaysia arm said in November.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Jamie Freed and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mark Potter)
FILE PHOTO: A Volvo logo is pictured on the stand during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland, March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
June 18, 2019
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s AB Volvo is joining forces with U.S. chipmaker Nvidia to develop artificial intelligence used in self-driving trucks, the companies said on Tuesday.
The agreement between Volvo and Nvidia is a long-term partnership spanning several years, and work will begin immediately with personnel from the two companies being co-located in Gothenburg, Sweden and Santa Clara, California.
Volvo said the partnership will focus on the development of a flexible, scalable autonomous driving system, which is planned to be used first in commercial pilot schemes before it is deployed in commercial vehicles from the Volvo Group, Volvo said.
“Utilizing Nvidia’s end-to-end artificial intelligence platform for training, simulation and in-vehicle computing, the resulting system is designed to safely handle fully autonomous driving on public roads and highways,” Volvo said in a statement.
Nvidia, which has previously announced technology partnerships with automakers including Volkswagen, Mercedez-Benz and Toyota, said it was thrilled to team up with Volvo.
“The latest breakthroughs in AI and robotics bring a new level of intelligence and automation to address the transportation challenges we face,” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said.
Nvidia’s so-called Drive Constellation chips often power the machine learning used to refine self-driving car software algorithms inside data centers, and the company has also been working to build its Drive chips into cars.
But automotive chips accounted for only $641 million of Nvidia’s $11.7 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.
Tesla Inc was a major customer for Nvidia’s automotive chips, but last year, Chief Executive Elon Musk said the company was developing its own chip.
AB Volvo’s and Nvidia’s collaboration will be built on Nvidia’s full software package for sensor processing, perception, map localization and path planning.
(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Keith Weir)
FILE PHOTO – Mohamed Mursi, head of the Brotherhood’s newly formed Justice and Freedom Party gestures during an interview with Reuters in Cairo, May 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
June 18, 2019
CAIRO (Reuters) – Former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi has been buried alongside other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, his son, Ahmed Mursi, said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
The burial was attended by members of the family in Cairo’s Nasr City after authorities refused burial in Mursi’s home province of Sharqiya in the Nile Delta, Ahmed Mursi said.
“We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital … and the burial was at the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guides,” Ahmed wrote.
Mursi died on Monday from a heart attack after collapsing in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, authorities and a medical source said. He was 67.
Mursi, a top figure in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, had been in jail since being toppled by the military in 2013 after barely a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.
His death is likely to pile international pressure on the Egyptian government over its human rights record, especially conditions in prisons where thousands of Islamists and secular activists are held.
(Reporting By Ali Abdelaty, writing by Sami Aboudi)
FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Gilber Caro speaks during an interview with Reuters in Caracas, Venezuela June 12, 2018 in this still image taken from a video. REUTERS TV/ via REUTERS
June 18, 2019
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela on Monday freed opposition lawmaker Gilber Caro, who was detained in April in what allies said was a violation of his parliamentary immunity, the opposition-controlled National Assembly said on Twitter.
The move by President Nicolas Maduro’s government, which faces a challenge to its legitimacy from National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, comes days before a visit by Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, to meet victims of rights abuses and speak with both leaders.
“The parliamentarian Gilber Caro should never have been jailed,” the National Assembly said. “Today he comes out from behind bars, but just like all Venezuelans, he still is not free.”
In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, calling Maduro a dictator and saying his 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He has been recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by dozens of countries, including the United States and most South American neighbors.
Maduro calls Guaido a U.S.-backed puppet seeking to oust him in a coup. He retains control of state functions and Venezuela’s armed forces.
The U.N. last month criticized the Maduro government’s handling of Caro’s arrest, saying its failure to confirm his fate and whereabouts constituted an “enforced disappearance” under international law.
Caro, who had previously spent 18 months in jail on treason and weapons charges between 2017 and 2018, was freed from the Sebin intelligence agency’s Caracas headquarters, known as the Helicoide, attorney and former lawmaker Pedro Diaz-Blum told Reuters.
Diaz-Blum is a member of the Boston Group, a network of U.S. and Venezuelan legislators that has served as an intermediary between the government and the opposition for more than a decade. The group on Monday posted a brief video on Twitter of Caro greeting some of its members in an office.
Rights group Penal Forum said Melvin Farias and Junior Rojas, two men it called political prisoners and said had been jailed for more than a year, had also been freed.
Several politicians close to Guaido who have been arrested in recent weeks remain behind bars, including his chief of staff Roberto Marrero and National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas and Vivian Sequera; Additional reporting by Tibisay Romero in Valencia; Writing by Luc Cohen and Clarence Fernandez)
FILE PHOTO: Egyptian clients wait at one of the outlets of Qatari-funded beIN Sports channel in Cairo, Egypt June 12, 2018.. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo
June 18, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – A French court has ruled that pirated sports content belonging to the Qatar-based broadcaster beIN was accessible via a Saudi-based satellite operator, but said it had not found evidence of “clear and illegal disruption”, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
BeIN Media Group filed a complaint in France against Saudi-based Arabsat to try to establish, in what it said was a “credible” court, that Arabsat was carrying pirated broadcasts of global sports events to which beIN held the rights.
Several global sports bodies have threatened legal action against the pirate channel beoutQ over what they say are illegal broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa. It is unclear who owns or operates beoutQ.
A June 13 ruling by the Paris court, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, found that signals from beoutQ were available on Arabsat frequencies and accessible from French territory, based on findings by a firm retained by beIN.
“These elements are sufficient to establish that Arabsat has a charge to answer,” the ruling said.
But it also said beIN had failed to demonstrate the existence of “clear and illegal disruption or prove that there was immediate risk of commercial damage” that could justify forcing Arabsat to block beoutQ’s satellite signals in France.
BeoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a political and economic boycott of Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies. The channel is widely available in Saudi Arabia but Riyadh says it is not based there, and that Saudi authorities are committed to fighting piracy.
Soccer governing body FIFA said on Sunday that beoutQ was transmitting the Women’s World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa via Arabsat frequencies and called on the operator to help address the misuse of its intellectual property.
Arabsat, which is owned by Arab League states, has denied that beoutQ uses its satellite frequencies for illegal broadcasts. Reuters has not been able to contact beoutQ for comment.
Arabsat welcomed the French ruling, saying it rejected “all false accusations that Qatar’s beIN Sports group tried to pin on Arabsat”.
BeIN also welcomed the court decision, which a spokesman said would be used to support the company’s filings in separate international investment arbitration cases.
Arabsat has a small presence in France, which enabled beIN to file its complaint in Paris. BeIN was ordered to pay fees of 25,000 euros ($28,000) to Arabsat and 6,000 euros to an Arabsat adviser.
(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Luke Baker in Paris, Eric Knecht in Qatar, Alexander Cornwell in Dubai and Stephen Kalin in Saudi Arabia; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Nick Tattersall)
FILE PHOTO: Ships and shipping containers are pictured at the port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
June 17, 2019
By Jonathan Saul
LONDON (Reuters) – A group of leading banks will for the first time include efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions in their decision making when providing shipping company loans, executives said on Tuesday.
International shipping accounts for 2.2% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), has a long-term goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2008 levels by 2050.
Working with non-profit organisations the Global Maritime Forum, the Rocky Mountain Institute and London University’s UCL Energy Institute, 11 banks have established a framework to measure the carbon intensity of shipping finance portfolios.
The banks involved in the “Poseidon Principles” initiative, which will set a common baseline to assess whether lending portfolios are in line or behind the adopted climate goals set by the IMO, represent around a fifth or $100 billion of the total global shipping finance portfolio.
The results will be published annually in individual sustainability reports and the data will be obtained by banks from borrowers under existing loan agreements.
Although the IMO agreed stricter energy efficiency targets last month for certain types of ships, environmental campaigners are calling for tougher goals.
“We are helping the shipping industry emerge into the 21st century in a responsible way,” Michael Parker, global head of shipping at Citigroup, told Reuters.
Those involved so far are Citigroup, Societe Generale, DNB, ABN Amro, Amsterdam Trade Bank, Credit Agricole CIB, Danish Ship Finance, Danske Bank, DVB, ING and Nordea.
“Banks have a huge role to play here because there is about $450 billion of senior debt that the world’s shipping banks and Chinese lessors grant to the sector and about 70,000 commercial vessels,” Paul Taylor, global head of shipping & offshore with Societe Generale CIB, said.
Banks will in the longer term be more selective about which ships they include in their lending portfolios, bankers said.
“Will there be companies that will find it difficult to get finance as they have less efficient ships, yes, it will be a consequence of it – but it’s not going to be used to look for those companies and somehow find a way of getting them out,” Citigroup’s Parker said.
Oivind Haraldsen, Danske Bank’s global head of shipping, said more institutions would join the efforts to cut the carbon footprint of the sector.
“All of us have to push – we as banks probably have more power than we are aware,” he said.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at an industrial port in the Keihin Industrial Zone in Kawasaki, Japan September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
June 17, 2019
By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO – Japanese manufacturers’ business confidence dropped to a more than 2-1/2-year low in June, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday, re-igniting fears the economy could be hit by slowing external demand in the face of a global slowdown and trade risks.
The monthly poll, which tracks the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) tankan quarterly survey, found the service-sector mood slipping for the first time in four months, suggesting business confidence has fallen ahead of a planned nationwide sales tax increase in October.
Both manufacturers’ and non-manufacturers’ sentiment are expected to remain below last month’s levels over the coming three months, boding ill for the central bank’s closely-watched tankan survey due next in July.
Subdued business confidence – on top of weakness in exports and household spending – has clouded the outlook for the world’s third-largest economy, though analysts widely expect the BOJ to keep policy steady at this week’s rate review.
In a Reuters poll of 505 large- and mid-sized companies, in which 263 firms responded on condition of anonymity, exporters voiced concerns about China’s economic slowdown and its trade war with the United States.
“Our clients are making cautious decisions in capital spending, as the international situation is unstable because of U.S.-China trade tensions and the UK’s departure from the EU,” a manager of a machinery maker wrote in the survey.
The Reuters Tankan sentiment index for manufacturers stood at 6 in June, down six points from May, weighed down by electricity, transport equipment machinery and steel companies, the June 4-13 survey showed.
The index hit the lowest reading since September 2016, falling for the first time in two months.
It is expected to rebound to 11 in September.
In the first quarter, Japan’s economy managed a second straight quarter of growth after a third-quarter contraction, thanks to stronger capital spending, but analysts expect global trade tensions to remain a drag on growth.
The service-sector index dropped five points to 22 in June from 27 in the previous month, weighed by retailers, potentially setting off alarm bells for consumption, which makes up about 60% of the economy.
The index is seen falling further to 21 in September.
Fragile domestic demand could be a source of concern for policymakers who are taking steps to ensure the planned sales tax increase to 10% from the current 8% will go ahead in October, as the 2014 tax hike depressed consumer sentiment.
The BOJ’s last quarterly tankan showed the business mood hit a two-year low in the March quarter, underlining the impact rising trade tensions and weakening overseas demand were having on Japan’s export-reliant economy.
The Reuters Tankan indexes are calculated by subtracting the percentage of pessimistic respondents from optimistic ones. A positive figure means optimists outnumber pessimists.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
FILE PHOTO: A “Made in USA” label is pictured on the back of a tie Medford, Massachusetts January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
June 17, 2019
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A wide range of U.S. companies told a hearing in Washington on Monday that they have few alternatives other than China for producing clothing, electronics and other consumer goods as the Trump administration prepares new tariffs on remaining U.S.-China trade.
The comments came on the first of seven days of testimony on President Donald Trump’s plan to hit another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports with duties of 25%.
Sourcing from other countries will raise costs, in many cases more than the 25% tariffs, some witnesses told a panel of officials from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the Commerce Department, State Department and other federal agencies.
Trump and top members of his cabinet have said that the tariffs, if imposed, would accelerate a move of manufacturing out of China.
But dozens of witnesses in oral and written testimony said that moving operations to Vietnam and other countries would not be feasible for years due to a lack of skills and infrastructure in those locations. China dominates global production in industries from shoes to electronics to port gantry cranes.
“That 25% is just going to whack us on the head,” said Rick Helfenbein, president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. “If we could move more product out of China we would, but we haven’t been able to.”
Mark Flannery, president of Regalo International LLC, a Minnesota-based maker of baby gates, child booster seats and portable play yards, said that pricing quotes for shifting production to Vietnam – using largely Chinese-made steel – were 50% higher than current China costs, while quotes from Mexico were above that.
“Currently there’s no country manufacturing metal baby gates outside of China,” Flannery said.
Child safety products such as car seats were spared from Trump’s previous tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, imposed in September 2018. But in the drive to pressure China in trade negotiations, USTR put them back on the list, along with other products spared previously, from flat-panel televisions to Bluetooth headphones.
The proposed list, which will be ready for a decision by Trump as early as July 2, includes nearly all consumer products, and could hit Christmas sales hard, particularly cell phones, computers, toys and electronic gadgets.
Marc Schneider, chief executive of fashion footwear and apparel marketer Kenneth Cole Productions, said 25 percent tariffs would wipe out the company’s profits and cost jobs.
“We’re going to lower the quality of footwear, raise prices and accomplish nothing by moving it around to other countries,” Schneider said.
Jean Kolloff, owner of cashmere importer Quinn Apparel, said her reason for opposing the tariffs was more geographical – the Alashan goat that produces light-colored cashmere wool is only found in China’s Inner Mongolia region.
The tariff hearings are underway amid a severe deterioration of U.S.-China relations since Trump accused Beijing in early May of reneging on commitments that had brought the world’s top two economies close to a deal to end their nearly year-long trade war.
Since then, Trump raised tariffs to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The $300 billion list of products being reviewed in the hearing would bring punitive tariffs to nearly all remaining Chinese exports to the United States.
There are no meetings scheduled to resume negotiations over U.S. demands that China enforce intellectual property protections and curb forced technology transfers and industrial subsidies.
Trump has said he wants to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the June 28-29 G20 leaders summit in Japan, but neither government has confirmed a meeting.
Companies including retailer Best Buy, vacuum cleaner maker iRobot and TV streaming device maker Roku Inc all argued against the tariffs on consumer tech goods, saying they would reduce demand for electronics and ultimately threaten U.S. technology leadership.
U.S. FACTORIES, CHINESE PARTS
Not all of the witnesses on the first day of the hearing were opposed to the tariffs. Mike Branson, president of Rheem Manufacturing Co’s air conditioning division, asked Trump administration officials to close a loophole that was allowing Chinese firms to skirt air conditioner tariffs by shipping condenser and air handler units separately.
This allowed the units to be imported duty free as parts, rather than as completed systems that were subject to tariffs. Domestic manufacturers had ample capacity to make these products, Branson said.
Other companies with U.S. manufacturing operations voiced opposition to the tariffs because they depend on Chinese components, such as light-emitting diode parts for lighting manufacturer Ledvance LLC and stitched leather parts for athletic shoe maker New Balance LLC.
New Balance vice president Monica Gorman said the tariffs “will risk our company’s overall financial health, which will in turn limit our ability to maintain and re-invest in our American factories.”
(Reporting by David Lawder, Additional reporting by Chris Prentice and Jason Lange in Washington and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
FILE PHOTO: The MoneyGram logo is seen on a kiosk in New York, U.S. January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
June 17, 2019
(Reuters) – Blockchain firm Ripple has bought $30 million worth of shares and warrants in MoneyGram International Inc, the two companies said on Monday, as they partner to use Ripple’s product for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement.
Ripple bought MoneyGram’s stock at $4.10 per share, representing a premium of about 183% to its Monday closing price. The partnership will initially be for two years, MoneyGram said.
Shares of MoneyGram surged about 77% to $2.56 after the closing bell.
Ripple may also buy additional common stock or warrants for up to $20 million at a minimum price of $4.10 per share, MoneyGram said.
The partnership will focus on Ripple’s xRapid, a platform for cross-border payments that uses XRP, a virtual currency powered by blockchain to send and receive currencies.
“Through Ripple’s xRapid product, we will have the ability to instantly settle funds from U.S. dollars to destination currencies on a 24/7 basis, which has the potential to revolutionize our operations and dramatically streamline our global liquidity management,” MoneyGram Chief Executive Officer Alex Holmes said in a statement.
(Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
FILE PHOTO: Lyft President John Zimmer and CEO Logan Green applaud as Lyft lists on the Nasdaq at an IPO event in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
June 17, 2019
By Suzanne Barlyn
(Reuters) – Companies going public in the United States face insurance costs that have increased as much as 200% in the last three years to cover their executives against lawsuits alleging they misled investors.
A rise in securities class-action cases involving initial public offerings is spurring IPO insurers to double and triple prices for directors and officers coverage, or “D&O” coverage, insurers and brokers told Reuters.
A $5 million policy that cost $200,000 in 2016 can now easily cost $500,000 to $600,000, said Paul Schiavone, head of North American Financial Lines for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, an Allianz SE unit.
“You want to be part of the market, but there are also lots of risks in IPOs,” said Schiavone. “If things don’t go well in a year, you have the investors saying, ‘I want my money back.’”
The tightening insurance market follows a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows some securities lawsuits to proceed in state court in addition to federal court.
“Since then, the market has gotten absolutely more challenging,” said Jennifer Sharkey, President of the Northeast Management Liability Practice for insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Investors who used to wait months to see how a new stock would perform now waste little time to see if promises made in offering documents come to fruition – and are swift to accuse the executives of misleading investors if they do not.
“You have a lot more aggressive lawyers and investors out there who are looking where the cash is,” said Jeff Lubitz, who heads Securities Class Action Services for Institutional Shareholder Services. “And now, it looks like they will have multiple choices on how to jump on this.”
The changes come amid a spate of mega-IPOs, including recent offerings by ride-sharing rivals Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc. There were 205 IPOs in 2018, up 14% from 2017, according to accounting and consulting firm EY.
Many larger companies have ample funds to pay the premiums, but smaller companies that need the insurance in order to attract reputable board members may feel the strain, insurance brokers said.
There have been 25 lawsuits related to IPOs so far this year, against 19 companies. Six companies that launched IPOs face suits in both state and federal court, including Lyft, BrightView Holdings Inc, and US Xpress Enterprises.
Shareholders slapped Lyft with a lawsuit about three weeks after its stock began trading on March 28 and quickly tanked more than 20%. The suit alleges that Lyft misled investors by overstating its market share. A Lyft spokeswoman declined to comment.
As the pace quickens and litigation picks up in two court systems, insurers are on the line to pay tens of millions of dollars in defense costs and substantial settlements.
IPO-related settlements have totaled $929 million since 2017, including a $250 million settlement by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in April, after an earlier $75 million state court settlement. Last year, LendingClub Corp settled a suit for $125 million, according to ISS.
About 25 insurers sell D&O coverage to companies going public, including American International Group Inc, Chubb Ltd, AXA XL, Beazley PLC, and Allianz SE. The insurers, collectively, can offer about $150 million coverage, according to broker Aon Plc.
Insurers are chopping coverage limits and requiring IPO clients to pick up more costs before a policy kicks in. And they are requiring companies to pay a percentage of the eventual loss, said Rachel Turk, D&O team leader for Beazley.
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York, Editing by Neal Templin and Rosalba O’Brien)
FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo
June 17, 2019
By Richard Cowan and Alexandra Alper
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week is set to meet with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, in a bid to fast-track passage of a delayed trade deal, two congressional aides said on Monday.
Trudeau is to travel to Washington on Thursday to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss ratification of the new North American trade accord, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Mexico’s Senate is scheduled to take up the legislation in a full vote on Tuesday.
The Trump administration has been pushing Congress to speed up a vote on the agreement. But the Democratic-led House of Representatives has sought more time to review the deal, with Pelosi pressing for improved enforcement mechanisms for labor and environmental standards.
Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, have been seeking a vote on the USMCA before the August recess to avoid budget debates and 2020 presidential campaign activity, which is expected to intensify in the autumn.
Pelosi controls the overall House legislative agenda, including trade measures, and many political experts see USMCA as unlikely to come to a vote in that chamber during the summer.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby seeking quick passage of the accord, sees progress for the deal as feasible in the short term, despite concerns voiced by Democrats.
“We think the objective of securing a vote on USMCA in the House before the August recess is a reasonable goal,” the chamber’s senior vice president for international policy, John Murphy, told reporters in a phone call on Monday. “The gaps are bridgeable.”
He pointed to Pelosi’s move to appoint a number of House Democrats to a working group with officials at the United States Trade Representative’s office to address their concerns as cause for cheer.
Trudeau’s meetings with congressional leaders were first reported by Politico. Trudeau’s meeting with Pelosi is scheduled for 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Thursday, a Pelosi aide said.
Canada’s government confirmed Trudeau will meet with U.S. House and Senate leaders on Thursday but provided no details.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Alexandra Alper; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Iran is a “failing country” that’s lashing out and most likely was behind the attacks on a pair of oil tankers last week, despite the “Russian trolls on Twitter” trying to convince people otherwise, Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Monday.
“I think when it comes to Russia, whatever they say, usually the opposite is true,” the Illinois Republican told Fox News’ Dana Perino. “If we have evidence and I’m sure that we do, I’ve heard a lot of it exists, and we know it’s Iran, we need to accept that because that’s obviously the case…I think if we put this redline down that says even if we don’t respond to the last two attacks, this cannot keep going.”
The bottom line is that Iran is lashing out, as it has just one-tenth of the oil exports it once had, said Kinzinger, and it has “disrupted the international order.”
“We are seeing investments in other countries,” said Kinzinger. “That’s actually receded a lot, but I think right now it’s going to take patience to understand they are obviously very desperate. They don’t want to provoke us into military action.”
However, Kinzinger said he doesn’t necessarily think President Donald Trump must come to Congress to have action approved.
“I don’t think every military action needs to come to Congress because nothing would ever get done,” he said.
Kinzinger also responded to a report in The New York Times that the U.S. military has been putting malware into Russian systems.
“I think we are stepping up our attacks on Russia and we should (after) this disinformation campaign and the 2016 election,” said Kinzinger. “I don’t know who linked the story; it’s more in the classified space. I think it’s irresponsible.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Sotheby’s auction house is seen at a branch office in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
June 17, 2019
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Svea Herbst-Bayliss
PARIS/BOSTON (Reuters) – Patrick Drahi, the billionaire behind telecoms and media group Altice, agreed on Monday to buy Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion, marking the storied art auction house’s return to private ownership after 31 years.
The acquisition will allow avid art collector Drahi to join rival French billionaire Francois Pinault at the top of the art world and New York society, with Pinault’s holding company Artemis owning a majority stake in Sotheby’s rival Christie’s.
Rival French billionaire and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault is equally active in the arts world via his Louis Vuitton foundation.
Drahi’s expansion in the United States also has echoes of former Vivendi boss Jean-Marie Messier, who helped Vivendi move into entertainment via the Universal business.
Sotheby’s said it would be acquired by BidFair USA, an acquisition vehicle set up by Drahi, which had offered $57 in cash per share to buy out Sotheby’s.
The offer represented a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on Friday, and gives Sotheby’s a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.
It will result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company. Founded in London in 1744, Sotheby’s had the distinction of being the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
It also marks a new chapter for the auction house that became a destination for a new generation of wealth created on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and around the world, art experts said.
By having been public, in many ways, Sotheby’s operated at a competitive disadvantage to its main U.S. rival, Christie’s, which was already private, experts said.
“Now the company can become more flexible and nimble as a privately-held enterprise and it will be interesting to see the changes that will be made,” said Abigail Asher, a partner at international art consultants Guggenheim, Asher.
LOEB WELCOMES DEAL
The art world has been a favorite in recent times for investors looking to make extra returns in a world of ultra-low interest rates, with the prices of many expensive works of art having steadily increased.
A report published by Swiss bank UBS and Art Basel in March said that the global art market had enjoyed another uptick in 2018.
Drahi said he would be funding the takeover through financing arranged by French bank BNP Paribas and by equity provided by his own funds. Drahi has also been selling non-core assets in recent years to ease concerns over the debt levels of his businesses.
Drahi said he would not be selling shares in his Altice Europe business, but would be cashing in a small stake in his Altice USA division. Shares in Altice USA fell around 2% on Monday.
“I am making this investment for my family, through my personal holding, with a very long-term perspective,” said Drahi, adding that the takeover also further highlighted how his family had been settling down in the United States.
About five years ago Sotheby’s ended a long-running fight with activist investor Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point, by asking Loeb and two associates to join Sotheby’s board, and Loeb was instrumental in hiring Smith as CEO.
Loeb, a prominent art collector, on Monday praised the sale.
The price “affirms the value we saw when we first invested in Sotheby’s, and rewards long-term investors like Third Point who believed in its potential,” Loeb told Reuters.
BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley advised Drahi, while LionTree Advisors worked on behalf of Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s was founded in London in 1744, and expanded overseas in the 20th century, moving to New York in 1955, Asia and then France in 2001.
Famous items sold by Sotheby’s include the collections of the late Duchess of Windsor, the personal collection of artist Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” in 2012.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Nivedita Balu; Editing by Deepa Babington and Ed Osmond)
FILE PHOTO: A logo of IndiGo Airlines is pictured on passenger aircraft on the tarmac in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo
June 17, 2019
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s biggest airline IndiGo said on Monday it had placed a $20 billion jet engine order from CFM International, a move that marks a shift away from Pratt & Whitney <UTX.N> toward its French-American rival.
CFM, owned by General Electric and France’s Safran, will provide the 1LEAP-1A engines to power 280 A320neo and A321neo jetliners already on order from Airbus by the Delhi-based budget carrier.
IndiGo has an order book of 430 Airbus planes of the A320neo family, of which the first 150 aircraft were to be powered by engines from United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney.
Reuters reported earlier in June that IndiGo had chosen CFM over Pratt for what was one of the largest jet engine orders and that the deal would be for more than 600 engines, including spares.
Although the Pratt engines fitted on the A320neo aircraft are fuel-efficient there have consistently been issues with them since they entered into service in 2016, forcing IndiGo to ground its planes several times.
“The CFM LEAP engine will allow IndiGo to maintain its strong focus on lowering operating costs and delivering fuel efficiency with high standards of reliability,” Riyaz Peermohamed, Chief Aircraft Acquisition and Financing Officer at IndiGo, said in the statement.
The delivery of the first LEAP-1A-powered A320neo is scheduled in 2020, IndiGo said in the statement, adding that the contract with CFM includes spare engines and an overhaul support agreement as well as a long-term service agreement.
CFM introduced its LEAP engines in India around 2016. It currently has 60 such engines operational in the country.
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee and Aditi Shah, editing by Deepa Babington and Jane Merriman)
FILE PHOTO: The Nordea bank logo is seen outside their corporate headquarters in Stockholm February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Bob Strong/File Photo
June 17, 2019
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The Danish headquarters of Nordea was searched last week by Denmark’s state prosecutor in relation to a money-laundering investigation into the bank, a Nordea spokesman told Reuters.
The Danish prosecutor has been investigating the Nordic region’s biggest lender in relation to money laundering risks since June 2016.
Nordea took a 95 million euro provision in April for a possible fine for alleged money laundering.
Both physical, digital documents and e-mails were seized during the search of the building in Copenhagen on June 12, said Danish newspaper Borsen, the first to report the news, citing anonymous sources.
Shares in Nordea fell around 2% after news of the raid broke.
The prosecutor declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
The search was regarding “the combat of money laundering in relation to past customers in the International Branch,” Nordea said in a statement.
“We fully cooperate with the prosecutors to ensure that they have access to all relevant information,” said Frank Vang-Jensen, head of Nordea in Denmark.
Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest lender, has been embroiled in a massive money laundering scandal at its Estonian branch that has sent ripples across the Nordic banking sector.
(Reporting by Jacob Grønholt-Pedersen and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Keith Weir)
French President Emmanuel Macron, listens to Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, next to Olivier Dassault and French Defence Minister Florence Parly during a visit at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool
June 17, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – A next-generation drone being developed by several European nations must be price competitive or the project designed to project European unity and strength in an increasingly uncertain world will flounder, France’s defense minister warned on Monday.
France and Germany are spearheading the development of a new manned fighter jet to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet, as well as a range of associated weapons, including drones.
“I want to tell the companies that this program will only run its course if the drone that they propose is competitive,” Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a speech at the Paris Airshow.
“This is an issue not only for buyers already in the running — France, Germany, Spain and Italy — but also for future export customers.”
Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo in April, 2018, unveiled a first full-scaled model of the planned Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone at the Berlin air show.
The drone, with two turboprop engines, is planned to enter into service in the middle of next decade and will mainly focus on surveillance although a weaponized version is an option.
France’s Thales, Italy’s Elettronica, Germany’s Hensoldt, and Spain’s Indra said they would team up to offer intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance functions for the drone.
(Reporting by Sophie Louet; writing by Richard Lough; editing by John Irish)
FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
June 17, 2019
By Aditi Shah
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Jet Airways’ creditors said on Monday they plan to begin insolvency proceedings against the Indian airline in a last-ditch bid to find a buyer for the carrier or its remaining assets and recover some of what they are owed.
Once India’s biggest private carrier, Jet Airways stopped flying in April after running out of cash, leaving thousands without jobs and pushing up air fares across the country.
“Lenders have decided to seek resolution under IBC since only a conditional bid was received,” they said in a statement, referring to India’s Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
This process will allow Jet’s lenders, led by State Bank of India, to sell the company as a whole or sell its assets piecemeal to maximize recovery for creditors and bring to an end weeks of uncertainty over the airline’s future.
Jet and its lenders have been searching for new investors but have failed to agree a proposal.
Jet shareholder Etihad Airways and Indian business house Hinduja Group were among those interested in buying a stake in the airline.
Two operational creditors owed about 67 million rupees have already filed an insolvency petition against Jet. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Mumbai will decide on June 20 whether or not to admit the petition.
Jet’s pilots and cabin crew, who are owed at least 4 billion rupees ($57 million) in unpaid salaries from January to May, had also sought legal advice on filing an insolvency petition, two people aware of the matter told Reuters.
India’s largest stock exchange said this month that Jet would soon no longer be traded in the derivatives market, while day-trading in the stock would also be barred, in a bid to curb speculative trading.
(Additional reporting by Swati Bhat and Abhirup Roy in Mumbai, Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru and Aftab Ahmed in New Delhi; Editing by Euan Rocha and Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO – A plane of Etihad Airways company is seen at Minsk international airport near the village of Slabada, Belarus, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
June 17, 2019
By Alexander Cornwell and Hadeel Al Sayegh
DUBAI (Reuters) – Etihad Airways has appointed former Aer Lingus chief financial officer Andrew MacFarlane as its new group CFO, a spokesman for the Abu Dhabi airline said on Monday.
MacFarlane, who served as Aer Lingus CFO from 2009 to 2014, replaces Mark Powers who left Etihad earlier this year for personal reasons.
MacFarlane joins Etihad from state fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) where he has held a non-aviation role since 2014, according to his LinkedIn page.
He is the airline’s second CFO since it announced it was overhauling its management in 2017.
Etihad has begun a five-year turnaround strategy led by Group Chief Executive Tony Douglas, who joined the Abu Dhabi carrier in 2018.
The loss-making airline has scaled back its ambitions and started reorganizing as a mid-sized carrier focused on point-to-point traffic in 2018.
It has canceled dozens of Airbus and Boeing aircraft orders worth tens of billions of dollars.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, additional reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh. Editing by Jane Merriman)
Visitors look at the French-German-Spanish New Generation Fighter (NGF) model during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
June 17, 2019
By Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) – Spain on Monday joined a Franco-German project to build a next-generation fighter jet, an initiative touted as key to ensuring Europe can defend itself without depending on allies in an increasingly uncertain world.
Dassault Aviation and Airbus will build the warplane which is expected to be operational from 2040, with a view to replacing Dassault’s Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighter over time.
The European project faces competition from Britain, which last year launched its own plans for a new combat jet dubbed “Tempest”. Industry executives have urged European capitals to move swiftly or risk losing out in a global market to bigger players led by the United States, or even China in the future.
The defense ministers of France, Germany and Spain signed an accord launching a trilateral framework of cooperation at the Paris Airshow, sat in front of a mock-up of the jet and with French President Emmanuel Macron applauding behind them.
France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines will jointly develop the new warplane’s engine.
Dassault and Airbus have delivered a joint industrial proposal to the governments of France and Germany.
“The first demonstrator phase marks another decisive step,” they said in a joint statement.
France had explored working with Britain on the project, bringing together Europe’s two biggest military powers.
But in July 2017, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans for the new Future Combat Air System (SCAF), including a fighter jet and a range of associated weapons such as drones.
Britain’s unveiling last July of its plans for a next-generation aircraft to rival the United States’ F35, the world’s most advanced warplane, laid bare European divisions and deepening scepticism about the future of European defense cooperation as Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union.
BAE Systems, Italy’s Leonardo, engine maker Rolls-Royce and missile maker MBDA are running the British project.
“Competition amongst Europeans when it weakens us against the Americans, the Chinese, is ridiculous,” Macron told reporters at the air show when asked about the two combat jet programs.
The French and German governments expect to invest an initial 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in the combat jet by 2025, with France, the project leader, contributing 2.5 billion euros, according to the French defense ministry.
Paris and Berlin target the first flight of a prototype around 2026.
(Reporting by Michel Rose, Sophie Louet; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Potter)
FILE PHOTO: A NVIDIA logo is shown at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
June 17, 2019
By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp on Monday said it will make its chips work with processors from Arm Holdings Inc to build supercomputers, deepening Nvidia’s push into systems that are used for modeling both climate change predictions and nuclear weapons.
Nvidia was long known as a supplier of graphics chips for personal computers to make video games look more realistic, but researchers now also use its chips inside data centers to speed up artificial intelligence computing work such as training computers to recognize images.
To do so, Nvidia’s so-called accelerator chips work alongside central processors from companies such as Intel Corp and International Business Machines Corp.
At a supercomputing conference held in Germany on Monday, Nvidia said its accelerator chips will work with Arm processors by the end of the year.
Arm, owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, provides the underlying processor technology for the chips in most mobile phones. But companies such as Ampere Computing, headed by Intel’s former president, have been working to take those chips into data centers, where Intel’s chips are dominant.
But Arm processors are different from Intel or IBM chips in that Arm itself does not make chips. Instead it licenses out the underlying technology so others can make chips with it.
Ian Buck, vice president of Nvidia’s accelerated computing unit, said the project to build a supercomputer with Arm will be a “heavy lift” from a technical perspective.
But he said Nvidia undertook it because researchers in Europe and Japan want to develop super computing chips with Arm’s technology, essentially giving them a third option beyond IBM and Intel over which they can have more control.
“That openness … makes it very attractive,” Buck said of Arm’s technology during an interview with Reuters before the conference. “What makes Arm interesting, and why we’re announcing support is, is its ability to provide an open architecture for supercomputing.”
The move to work with Arm on supercomputers follows Nvidia’s $6.8 billion deal to buy Israeli firm Mellanox Technologies. Mellanox makes high-speed networking chips that help stitch together many smaller computers into a larger one and is found in some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
FILE PHOTO: A man stands at an Airbus trade pavilion at Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, Britain, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
June 17, 2019
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is poised to break records by launching the longest-range narrow-body jetliner at the Paris Airshow this week, but jetmakers are having to rethink their mantra on comfort as they squeeze ever more miles out of jets designed for shorter trips.
Airbus and Boeing have been promoting new carbon-fiber long-haul aircraft such as the 787 Dreamliner and A350, which offer roomier cabins and help passengers avoid jet lag by providing a cabin pressure closer to that felt on the ground.
But they have also been adding more range and capacity to older and narrower models such as the A320neo family and the 737 MAX as airlines demand more flexibility with the advantages of highly efficient single-aisle planes, supporting low fares.
Airbus is about to push that further by adding a longer stride to the A321neo with its new A321XLR, whose range of 4,500 nautical miles leapfrogs the out-of-production Boeing 757 and nudges it into the long-jump category enjoyed by wide-body jets.
It also eats into a range category targeted by a possible new mid-market twin-aisle jet, the NMA, under review by Boeing.
But there is a debate over whether passengers will enjoy flying longer distances in medium-haul planes, or at what price.
Airline bosses on the long-haul low-cost panel at the Paris Air Forum on Friday differed over whether extended-range narrow-body jets or wider twin-aisles were best suited for their growing industry.
In particular, the rise of the single-aisle long-distance jet involves revisiting years of industry marketing about the benefit of escaping jet lag and fatigue on long trips.
Aircraft cabins are pumped to a higher pressure than the ultra-thin outside air at cruising altitude. But the pressure is still lower than at sea level due to structural limitations.
That’s not a problem for shorter trips but travel experts say the higher altitude setting on older planes can contribute to jet lag on long flights, worsening the effect of time zones.
Although Airbus stresses the 1980s-designed A320 fuselage is wider than the competing 737 MAX and therefore has roomier seats, it also has a lower cabin pressure than modern long-haul alternatives like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or Airbus A350.
On those airplanes the cabin is pressurized at a level equivalent to 6,000 feet compared with 8,000 feet for the A320 and most other metal-built jets of all sizes.
For the Airbus A330neo wide-body jet the cabin altitude is above 7,000 feet but still below 8,000 feet.
“XLR cabin pressure could be an issue,” said an airline executive who has studied the plane, asking not to be named.
The company itself set out the disadvantages of flying with a high cabin altitude on long journeys when it launched the business-jet version of the A320neo family in 2015.
“A lower cabin altitude makes most sense on long flights, especially towards their end, when an aircraft is able to reach its highest cruising altitude,” Airbus said then on its website.
For the business jet version, Airbus was able to lower the cabin altitude below 6,400 feet. But it could only do so by reducing the maximum number of trips, which matters relatively little to luxury operators but is less attractive to airlines.
Airbus faces a dilemma whether to lower the cabin altitude on the A321XLR and meet its published goal for long flights, or leave it tuned for shorter flights and increase durability.
Airbus declined to comment.
The A321XLR is expected to be able to fly around eight hours in most cases, linking U.S. eastern cities deep into Europe.
The head of International Airlines Group’s low-cost long-haul carrier Level, Vincent Hodder, told the Paris Air Forum the XLR could be configured to fly as long as 10 hours. Level and others are studying it, he said.
Airbus is chasing potential customers including American Airlines and JetBlue for the launch, where it aims to grab up to 200 orders also including U.S. airline investor Indigo Partners.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, editing by Louise Heavens)
FILE PHOTO: Huawei’s new Honor 20 smartphone at a product launch event in London, May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
June 16, 2019
(Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is preparing for a 40% to 60% decline in international smartphone shipments, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.
The Chinese technology company is looking at options that include pulling the latest model of its marquee overseas smartphone, the Honor 20, according to the article, which cited people familiar with the matter.
The device will begin selling in parts of Europe, including Britain and France, on June 21, the report said. Executives will be monitoring the launch and may cut off shipments if the sales are poor, it said.
Marketing and sales managers at the tech giant are internally expecting a drop in volumes of anywhere between 40 million to 60 million smartphones this year, the report said.
In order to offset overseas decline, Huawei is aiming to grab up to half of China’s smartphone market in 2019, Bloomberg said. The company did not respond to a Reuters request seeking comment.
The U.S. government put Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company, on a trade blacklist in May that bars U.S. suppliers from doing business with it because of what Washington says are national security concerns.
At the time, Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said the restrictions “may slow, but only slightly” the company’s growth.
A similar U.S. ban on China’s ZTE Corp, almost crippled business for Huawei’s smaller rival early last year before the curb was lifted.
The company’s woes are feeding into trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. President Donald Trump has said U.S. complaints against Huawei could be resolved within the framework of any trade deal.
The ban has been eased slightly to allow a temporary general license that lets Huawei purchase U.S. goods.
However, Broadcom sent a shockwave through the global chipmaking industry last week when it forecast that the U.S.-China trade tensions and the Huawei ban would knock $2 billion off this year’s sales.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)