Shell Bribes among ‘Culture of Corruption,’ Panalpina
David Voreacos and Laurel Brubaker Calkins - Bloomberg Businessweek - 5th
Bribes paid on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit came from “a culture of
corruption” that Panalpina World Transport Holding Ltd., a Swiss freight forwarder,
admitted in a U.S. court yesterday. Panalpina, Shell and five oil services companies
agreed to pay $236.5 million to settle probes by the U.S. Justice Department and
Securities and Exchange Commission. Panalpina, which admitted to bribing
government officials in seven nations, will pay $81.5 million, and Shell will pay $48.1
Prosecutors agreed to defer prosecution of five companies, including Panalpina and
Shell. Panalpina said it paid at least $49 million in bribes to government officials in
Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia and Turkmenistan. The bribes
from 2002 to 2007 let its clients avoid the customs process, pass off phony documents
or smuggle contraband including medicines and explosives, Panalpina said.
“Prior to 2007 a culture of corruption within Panalpina emanated from senior level
management in Switzerland who tolerated bribery as business as usual,” the company
said in a 34-page statement filed in federal court in Houston. “Dozens of employees
throughout the Panalpina organization were involved in various schemes to pay bribes
to foreign officials.” The company said Shell’s Nigerian employees “specifically
requested Panalpina Nigeria to provide false invoices with line items to mask the nature
of the bribes.” Shell wanted to “hide the nature of the payments to avoid suspicion if
anyone audited the invoices,” Panalpina said. Panalpina, based in Basel, Switzerland,
dropped 4.1 percent to 123.2 francs ($128.63) yesterday, ending an eight-day rise.
Scots head UK bankruptcy charts
6th November 2010
The number of people being made bankrupt in Scotland has been forecast to climb
once more after declining modestly in the last three months. Scots continue to be made
bankrupt at a rate nearly double that in the rest of the UK, despite a 4 per cent fall in the
number of personal insolvencies in the three months to the end of September,
according to figures published last week by the Accountant in Bankruptcy.
They were confirmed yesterday by the government's Insolvency Service, which also
showed that insolvencies in England and Wales fell 3.7 per cent over the quarter. Some
0.41 per cent of Scots have gone bankrupt in the past year, according to PKF
accountants and business advisers, compared to 0.25 per cent of those in England and
Anne Buchanan, corporate recovery partner with PKF, said Scotland's insolvency level
was "worryingly high" given benign base interest rates and low mortgage costs.
"This would indicate that there remains an enormous backlog of individuals who have
been teetering on the brink of personal insolvency for some considerable time but have
only just tipped over the edge in the third quarter," said Buchanan.
She pointed out that many people have already been living beyond their means in an
economy heavily dependent upon the public sector. And as creditors get tougher on
people slipping into debt, growing personal insolvency levels will once more become the
norm. She added: "Given that the impact of the spending review will start to be felt in
the autumn and winter then I believe we will have many more quarters where large
numbers of Scots are made bankrupt.
Oil hits two year high as analysts predict $100 a barrel in 2011
7th November 2010
Oil prices rose to a two-year high in New York on Friday, raising fears of a return to
$100 per barrel crude and consumer goods inflation. Brent crude, traded in London, hit
$88.80 before falling back to $88, which is slightly below highs seen in the spring. But
New York prices topped their highest in two years, touching $87.22 per barrel at one
point, before retreating on a stronger dollar in late trading.
Analysts have begun to forecast that the price of crude will reach $90 before the year is
out and top $100 per barrel in 2011. This week, JP Morgan raised its average 2011
forecast for New York-traded crude to $89.75 a barrel from $82.50, after the US Federal
reserve said it would continue with quantitative easing. "It is still the Fed's decision of
Wednesday which is boosting oil price," said analysts from Commerzbank. "The
additional liquidity pumped into the markets by the Fed's treasury purchases should also
reach commodity markets and is thus leading to increasing oil prices. What is more, the
higher price level reflects the weaker US dollar which is a direct consequence of the
ultra-expansive US monetary policy." Global oil demand has grown to 1m barrels per
day in 2010 - increasing by an amount more than double previous forecasts. Prices
were boosted this week when Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi Arabian oil minister, predicted
prices of $70 to $90 rather than his previous estimate of $70 to $80. Libya, another
member of the Opec, the oil cartel, has forecast $100 oil by the year end.
"The current oil price is largely supported by the fundamental anticipation of continued
and growing demand from the developing nations, although the quantitative easing in
the US has weakened the dollar and added some froth to crude prices," said Andrew
Moorfield, head of oil & gas at Lloyds TSB. Another bullish factor for oil is the high
prices that energy companies are currently getting for their reserves. Both BP and Shell
have been divesting fields for larger sums than the market expected this year.
Analysts from Evolution Securities, said: "Royal Dutch Shell's announced that it is
selling proved reserves of 27m barrels of oil equivalent for an average $16.7 per barrel.
This is another example, following BP's recent disposals, where the selling down of
peripheral assets can realise significant amounts of cash for relatively little loss of
reserves and production." Royal Dutch Shell has offloaded stakes in six mature
deepwater Gulf of Mexico gas fields for $450m (£270m). The oil major is taking
advantage of high prices as it tries to divest $8bn of assets this and next year.
It sold the fields, which produce 18,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and 27m barrels
in reserves, to W&T Offshore Inc. "We are focusing our investment on the most
promising growth opportunities and that means selling some fields that no longer fit our
strategy," said Marvin Odum, Shell's director for upstream Americas.
Shell's production in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen by 4pc since BP's oil spill provoked a
ban on deepwater drilling.
IMF Board Votes to Expand Power of Emerging-Market
Wall Street Journal - 8th November 2010
The International Monetary Fund's executive board voted Friday to boost the role of
emerging economies within the organization as part of a move to increase its role as the
world's arbiter on economic matters.
The vote to overhaul its governance structure is a critical part of an agreement reached
in October by finance ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing
nations. The IMF pledged to hold the vote before the G-20 leader's summit, set for Nov.
The change will result in increased powers for China, Brazil, Russia and India by
allowing them to become larger shareholders in the IMF. The changes include a
rebalancing of quota shares, which determine voting powers of IMF member countries
as well as the financial contribution each country contributes to the fund. The changes
will also affect which countries hold seats on the IMF's executive board.
The changes would also double the total contributions countries make to the IMF, a
figure the IMF put at $755.7 billion at current exchange rates.
"This historic agreement is the most fundamental governance overhaul in the Fund's 65-
year history and the biggest ever shift of influence in favor of emerging market and
developing countries," IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said after the
board's decision. "The negotiations have not been easy, but our members have shown
willingness to compromise."
Under the changes, China will hold the third largest quota share at 6.4%, below Japan's
6.5%. The U.S. has the largest quota at 17.7%, which would decrease to 17.4% under
the plan. Germany's quota at the fund will fall to 5.6% from 6.1%, while both the U.K.
and France quotas will fall to 4.2% from 4.5%.
In total, world financial leaders agreed that more than 12% of the quota share at the IMF
would shift to emerging economies with more than 6% coming from advanced
economies to dynamic emerging economies and another approximately 6% from over-
represented countries to under-represented countries.
Completing the governance restructuring will take time, however. While the IMF's
executive board approved the changes, the IMF's board of governors must also act
along with action by member countries in a process that could take several years.
For example, it will likely take around a year for European governments to decide which
of their smaller countries will give up their two of eight seats on the 24-member board.
Smaller nations such as the Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark stand a strong chance of
losing their seats to countries such as Turkey, South Korea or Poland.
The IMF has set an October 2012 target for the reforms to be complete.
When implemented, the changes will update a structure based primarily on the balance
of global power following World War II, attempting to put the IMF's power structure in
line with the economic muscle of member nations.
IMF officials have called the changes "historic", and there is hope in the U.S. and
Europe that by giving emerging economies a greater role in the fund would cement the
legitimacy of the institution as a global financial referee. Additionally, a greater buy-in by
more dynamic economies could strengthen the fund's function.
Today: Tuesday 9th November
David Cameron has arrived in Beijing, saying he wants to double trade between the
UK and China. George Bush has defended the use of waterboarding on terrorist
suspects. And are culture and arts the best way to bridge the gap between rich and
Bankers flock to Barclays despite bonus crackdown
10th November 2010
Barclays said yesterday it was having "no problems" in attracting top bankers to its
investment banking arm despite Europe's crackdown on bonuses. The bank's hiring
spree comes as other banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, have loudly
bemoaned new rules on bonuses and threatened to quit Britain.
Barclays has so far set aside £1.6bn to cover bonuses for staff, largely at its investment
bank Barclays Capital where the compensation ratio has hit 43 per cent. That comes
despite a marked slowdown at the division, which has been the driving force behind the
company's growth in recent years. When accounting treatments covering the value of
Barclays' own debt are taken into account, BarCap actually lost £182m in the quarter
although without these accounting quirks, the profits totalled £765m. The reason for the
high compensation ratio. however, was put down to the recruitment of 2,000 new
bankers. Asked if the bonus rules were preventing his ability to hire Rich Ricci, co-chief
executive, corporate and investment banking, said: "We have had no problems
recruiting a bumper crop of talent. People join banks for a number of reasons. I think
Barclays Capital is a great place to work." Privately senior figures at Barclays have
expressed irritation at the array of new rules covering how they can pay bonuses
imposed by Europe. However, its more emollient public stance is markedly different to
rivals such as HSBC, which last week renewed the threats to quit Britain as a result of
the regulations being imposed. Mr Ricci did, however, insist that regulators should take
care to provide the bank with a "level playing field" against financial institutions based in
Many banks have been sharply critical of new rules imposed on European banks by the
Committee of European Banking Supervisors, because they say they go beyond
international agreements on how bankers should be paid and therefore imposed an
unfair burden on the continent's finance houses against rivals when it comes to
However, Barclays appears to have had few problems drawing City talent to its banner.
Asked how he could justify the bonus money Barclays is expected to lavish on those
bankers, Chris Lucas, finance director, said the payments were a "function of the market
Overall Barclays reported income, net of insurance claims, of £22.9bn, up 2 per cent for
the first nine months. However, impairment charges fell sharply to £4.3bn from £6.2bn.
Pre-tax profits grew 4 per cent to £4.3bn.
Barclays said it was growing its share of the mortgage market, although it declined to
give details on its share of net new lending. Outgoing chief executive John Varley,
however, insisted that Barclays was playing its part in supporting the economic recovery
in Britain. He said the company had advanced £35bn in loans to UK households and
businesses so far this year, an increase of nearly a third when compared with last year.
"We understand what is required of us to support private-sector led economic activity,"
said Mr Varley in the bank's trading statement. He is being replaced by Bob Diamond
next year. The shares finished up 11.35p at 297p. Lloyds under fire for more job cuts:
The sacked would now fill a small football ground says union
Lloyds Banking Group got into the (un)seasonal spirit yesterday by announcing another
420 job losses, bringing the total axed since its disastrous merger with HBoS to 22,000.
The banking union Unite said that the people sacked by the group – whose senior
directors all remained in place despite the bank going cap in hand to the Government
for a £15bn bailout – would now almost fill a smaller Premiership football ground.
In total, 840 roles will be affected but relocation and redeployment will leave the number
of redundancies at half that level. The majority of the cuts will hit the wholesale division
and the Black Horse Personal Finance operation which is being closed to new business.
Unite national officer Cath Speight said in response to the announcement: "Craven
Cottage [home of Fulham FC] could hold the 22,000 people from this state-supported
bank who been left devastated by the weekly flow of job loss announcements.
"Unite is calling on the new CEO, António Horta-Osório, to make a firm commitment to
all colleagues that his first priority will be job security when he joins the company in
early 2011. Today more than 400 people face the reality of a future without employment
as Lloyds Banking Group continues to throw increasing numbers of staff on to the scrap
heap of the jobless." By contrast to Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, which required an
even bigger bailout but axed directors, has indicated that no major redundancy
announcements were likely in the final quarter of the year at its recent third-quarter
US: Business leader reveals how his recession-
defying companybecame most successful in its
Transcendental Meditation News - UK 11 November 2010
The international finance world was impressed when the head of a leading US hedge
fund revealed several months ago that his company had made billions more than any
other hedge fund worldwide in the previous year (returning a record 38% yield on one
$50 billion fund).
Now a recent article in a business publication explains that this executive attributes his
success to Transcendental Meditation, which he has practised for 35 years.
In a video interview and other publications, he explained why he has made a donation
of $1.23 million to David Lynch's charity, which supports the teaching of Transcendental
Meditation toyoung people worldwide, and why he pays for all his employees to learn
the Transcendental Meditation Technique.
'I think it's the single most important reason for whatever success I've had . . . . I notice
a difference from the moment I start to meditate. I can be stressed or tired, and
immediately I will get very rested and relaxed and the stress will flow off me. I'll finish
meditation feeling refreshed and centered, and that feeling will carry throughout the
day.' He adds that this is quite a good return 'on an investment of twenty minutes'.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
War News for Saturday, November 13, 2010
Taliban fighters launched a pre-dawn attack on a NATO base in eastern Afghanistan on
Saturday, triggering a firefight with foreign and Afghan forces that left eight militants
dead. NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said its troops and Afghan
National Army (ANA) soldiers stationed at Jalalabad airport came under attack, but that
none of their forces were killed. "The forward operating base received small arms fire
from an unknown number of insurgents and after gaining positive identification of
insurgent fighting positions an ANA and ISAF quick reaction force was sent to the area," it
added. "Initial reports indicate no ANA or ISAF service members were killed." One of the
attackers was wearing a suicide vest, ISAF said.
Chery Launches New Electric Car In China
November 15, 2010
Chinese automaker Chery Automobile has released its first 100% electric vehicle, Riich
M1-EV, at the 25th World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition held in Shenzhen.
The latest move marked the auto maker's entry into the new-energy vehicle market.
The Riich M1-EV uses a 336V lithium iron phosphate battery pack. It has a top speed of
120 kilometers per hour and can drive up to 160 kilometers on a single charge. In
addition, Chery also showcased its S18D all-electric car at the event.
Sensex Recovers as Select Blue Chips Move
The Sensex is down 5.62 points or 0.03% at 20,304.07, well off the day's low of
20,209.65. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange is down 6.40 points or 0.1%
Realty stocks, which started off on a weak note, have edged higher on modest support
after recent sharp losses. A few stocks from healthcare, automobile, FMCG and
banking sectors have moved up a bit. Capital goods, information technology and metal
stocks are seen struggling to make a headway. Oil stocks are also mostly subdued this
morning. Midcap and smallcap stocks are finding modest support. Sterlite Industries has
lost around 1.3%. HDFC Bank is down by a little over 1%. Wipro, Cipla, ONGC, BHEL,
ITC, Tata Power, Infosys Technologies, Hero Honda, Hindalco, State Bank of
India and Maruti Suzuki are trading lower by 0.3% - 1%. Reliance Industries, Mahindra
& Mahindra and Reliance Infrastructure are also trading weak. Larsen & Toubro is down
with a modest loss despite a consortium of the company and non-resident Keralite
businessman P Mohamed Al-led Galfar Engineering & Contracting bagging the design
and development order for the New Salalah International Airport in the Sultanate of
Oman for $764 million (Rs 3,452 crore). L&T is the leader of the consortium and its
scope of works will be approximately $500 million (Rs 2,200 crore). L&Tâ€™s scope of
works involves the complete design, including airside and landside works, and
construction of the 660,000 sq ft passenger terminal building, the air traffic control
tower, ancillary buildings including MEP Systems and airport-wide system networks.
These are scheduled to be completed in 30 months. Upon completion, the airport will
have a capacity to handle two million passengers per annum, said a press release.
Bharti Airtel has gained over 3% to Rs 319. Reliance Communications, the other
telecom stock in the Sensex, is up 1.8% at Rs 172. DLF, ICICI Bank,Jaiprakash
Associates and Tata Steel are also up with notable gains. Among Nifty stocks, Sesa
Goa, BPCL, Suzlon Energy, GAIL India, SAIL, Punjab National Bank, Axis
Bank and Siemens are trading weak. HCL Technologies is also down in negative
territory despite reports the company has bagged a $100 million deal for its BPO unit.
Ranbaxy Laboratories is up nearly 2%. Reliance Capital, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Kotak
Bank and IDFC are also trading firm. Meanwhile, Gravita India is on song on its maiden
appearance at the bourses. The stock is currently trading at Rs 236, up 89% over the
issue price of Rs 125. On the National Stock Exchange, over 10.5 million shares have
been traded so far at the Gravita India counter this morning. Mahindra Satyam (down
7.65% at Rs 77.80) continues to languish deep down in negative territory due to weak
results for the July - September 2010 quarter. Coal India is up by about 1% at Rs 320.
General Motors IPO "Well-Scripted,"
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov 17, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) –
Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, offers the
following observations about the General Motors IPO:
"Anyone doing an IPO might want to use this as a case study - it's so well-scripted,"
stated Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl, "Executives Stephen Girsky and Chris Liddell
know the financial market and understand what it takes to make an IPO successful.
They lined up institutional investors ahead of time and began a steady drumbeat of
good news about 45 days ago in order to set the stage for the big day."
Anwyl points to the following recent events that have kept GM in a favorable light during
this pre-IPO period:
GM solidified its executive management and hired a group of respected marketing
professionals to shift the company's image. GM reduced its debt by $11 billion and
promised that upon the completion of its IPO, it will buy back some of the GM stock held
by the US Treasury and contribute significantly to the GM pension plans. GM became
the first automaker to sell two million vehicles in China. GM launched advertising for the
Chevy Cruze that delivered head-on comparisons against of competitors, attempting to
boost consideration of GM's most important new vehicle launch of the decade. GM
followed with nostalgic Chevy ads to round out the appeal of the brand. A special edition
Chevy Cruze received better-than-anticipated mileage ratings from the Environmental
Protection Agency. GM announced that it would discontinue the Mr. Goodwrench brand
just like it discontinued Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer, emphasizing its commitment to
efficiency regardless of history. GM announced impressive third-quarter results, and
celebrated the fact that it exceeded October sales expectations. GM announced that
General Electric will buy 12,000 Chevy Volts just as the media begin to question the
Volt's significance within the larger context of the auto industry. Chevy Volt was named
as Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the Year.
Promising Buick product plans are under embargo until the Los Angeles Auto Show --
the very day of the IPO pricing announcement.
"Given the steps GM has taken, the IPO should play out well for them despite
complications such as the fact that the government is a major investor," noted Anwyl.
"Scripted or not, these messages surely paint a favorable picture of the company and
offer hope for the future."
Latin Americaattractive marketfor Indian export:
Indian exporters should focus on the emerging economies, especially Latin American
countries, to sustain growth as demand in rich countries slackens, Minister of State for
Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia has said.
'We need to augment our exports to Latin American countries as they are vibrant
economies and offer big opportunities,' Scindia said at an event organised by the
Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) here Tuesday.
Scindia said his ministry would announce a report on 'reduction of transaction cost' after
consultation with all concerned ministries.
'Government will chalk out a strategy to facilitate exports and investment after in-depth
study which will be commissioned shortly,' the minister said. Advising Indian exporters
to focus on developing countries, Scindia said advanced nations would show an import
growth of 0.9 to 1 percent while developing economies would exhibit import growth
between 4.5 to 5 percent. FIEO President A. Sakthivel said new and untapped markets
were helping maintain export momentum despite moderate growth in traditional
markets. 'The market diversification strategy has started yielding result and will help us
to expand our export base.
Indian, Pakistani traderswant less restrictions
Indian and Pakistani businessmen at the 30th India International Trade Fair (IITF) want
more access to each other's markets and removal of various barriers to further trade
and good relations between the two neighbours. Pakistan pavilion director Mazhar
Mufti, who is also assistant secretary of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of
Commerce and Industry, said business and trade opportunities are enormous between
the two countries. 'There is a huge opportunity here. We need Indian goods. It's a
necessity for us. Indian businesses could also get access to a huge market as
Pakistan,' Mufti told IANS. According to Mufti, trade barriers like product lists for exports
and imports only hurt the interests of the people on both the sides.
'We are currently importing everything from vegetables to other products but because of
such restrictions, people's interests are getting hurt,' he added. Mufti pointed out that
opening trade, business and people-to-people contacts will help in generating more
jobs, control price rise and lead to good relations between the two neighbours.
'You import cement, gas and other products from around the world at high prices and
we import products like medicines when all these can be traded between us at a more
affordable rate,' he pointed out. Mufti also cited the export of cement by Pakistan for
Commonwealth Games projects here and said there was a great opportunity for all
kinds of goods.
Pakistani traders selling goods like textiles, spices and handicrafts have reported
bumper sales and an enthusiastic response from their Indian customers at the IITF.
Pakistani businessman Ali Noor, who is in the country to sell and promote his spices
and ready-made food pastes, felt that the reason for such a robust response to
Pakistani items is the lack of trade with India. Similar sentiments were expressed by the
Indian business community at the fair. Ramesh Tiwari, who co-owns one of the stalls,
said retail venues of products should be opened all year around - to benefit everyone.
'This only happens once a year, but if the governments agree and provide us with
permanent year-round venues in each others' countries for retail sales, that would be
fantastic for both the sides,' he added. Enthusiastic shoppers are buying everything
from textiles to spices at such a rate that the stall owners believe will exhaust all their
stocks before the fair ends.
Six-month rego: all in favour
November 22, 2010
THE three major political parties have backed a campaign for a six-month payment
option for vehicle registration, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce has
said. Labor, the Liberal-National Coalition and the Greens have all committed to
considering the payment option for the ever-increasing registration fee which is more
than $600 a year.
The six-monthly payment option is currently only available to concession card holders
but the VACC's executive director, David Purchase, said other motorists found it difficult
to pay because of the high cost. The payment option was available in all other states.
"Vehicle registration and the TAC fees payable on the average family car are one of the
largest government-levied charges in the household budget: a lump-sum payment is a
big hit to the pocket,'' Mr Purchase said.
The VACC quoted from letters sent to it from Labor's Minister for Roads, Tim Pallas,
and the Coalition's transport spokesman, Terry Mulder, who both said it was a matter to
consider. The Greens' Greg Barber said the Greens supported it under condition that
the administration costs did not affect the option for low-income earners. Mr Purchase
called for the next state government to introduce the six-month payment option upon
South Korean Market Trades Notably Lower
The South Korean market is trading notably lower, mirroring the trend in most of the
markets in the Asian region on the back of renewed concerns about Ireland's debt
worries. Automobile and shipping stocks are among the prominent losers, while bank
stocks are trading notably higher.
The benchmark KOSPI index, which opened at 1,938.9, marginally below the
unchanged line, is currently down 18.4 points or 0.9% at 1,926. Among automobile
stocks, Kia Motor and Hyundai Motor are trading lower by 2.4% and 1.6%, respectively,
while Ssangyong Motor is gaining about 1%. Shipping stocks Samsung Heavy
Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding are down 1.6%-2.6%
from their previous closing prices. STX Pan Ocean is up with a gain of 1.7%. Among
technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics are trading flat, while
LG Display LCD and LG Electronics are up 2% and 1.5%, respectively.
Bank stocks Woori Finance, Shinhan Financial and KB Financial are up 1.7%-2.6%.
Korea Exchange Bank is gaining about 0.8% and Hana Financial Group is up as much as
Among steel stocks, Hyundai Steel is trading modestly higher, while POSCO is down
with a loss of 1.5%. Oil stocks are trading mixed.