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Ukraine tycoon crows ‘I won’ after PrivatBank nationalization ruled illegal

FILE PHOTO: Women use PrivatBank ATM machines in Kiev, Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: Women use PrivatBank ATM machines in Kiev, Ukraine November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Polina Ivanova and Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky won a major victory on Thursday in his battle with the government over the nationalization of the country’s largest bank as a court ruled the change of ownership was illegal.

The ruling is a big setback for the government, which wrested PrivatBank from Kolomoisky, a co-founder of the bank, in December 2016.

PrivatBank was nationalized as part of an clean-up of the banking system backed by the International Monetary Fund, which supports Ukraine with a $3.9 billion loan program.

Ukraine’s dollar-denominated Ukraine bonds fell more than 1 percent after the ruling by a Kiev court as President Petro Poroshenko said in a televised address that overturning nationalization threatened “default and a new economic crisis.”

He has previously said that any backsliding on PrivatBank would spark a “deep crisis in relations with the IMF.”

The central bank said it was impossible to reverse the nationalization and it would appeal against the ruling.

After taking over the bank the government had said it wanted to recover money it says was siphoned out while Kolomoisky owned it. It has shored up the lender with billions of dollars since it was nationalized.

Kolomoisky denies any wrongdoing and says the bank was forcibly nationalized without proper justification.

“That means I won. I won the lawsuit,” Kolomoisky said after Reuters told him the news of the court’s decision, which was announced while Reuters was conducting a phone interview with him. “Well, excellent,” he added.

Kiev’s Western backers in a coordinated statement said they were “closely monitoring” the situation and that it was important for the authorities to continue efforts to recover losses from former owners and related parties of failed banks.

The fate of PrivatBank has also loomed over Ukraine’s ongoing presidential election campaign.

Kolomoisky has publicly supported the candidacy of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the frontrunner to beat the incumbent Poroshenko at an election run-off this Sunday. Zelenskiy has repeatedly denied that he would seek to hand PrivatBank back to Kolomoisky if elected.

Thursday’s ruling could boost Kolomoisky’s chances of winning compensation or retrieving the bank.

The finance ministry also said it would appeal the ruling. Kolomoisky suggested that instead the central bank should admit defeat and “submit a confession about how they did everything unlawfully.”

“I don’t call it a nationalization, I call it an expropriation because people receive compensation after a nationalization. They don’t receive anything after an expropriation. And we didn’t receive anything. So I want a legal assessment,” he added.

BLOW TO IMAGE

The authorities have spent nearly $6 billion since the nationalization to plug a hole in PrivatBank’s balance sheet, caused by what the government says were fraudulent lending practices and money laundering.

Kolomoisky disputes that assessment of the bank’s health when it was nationalized. The case led to hundreds of lawsuits and the authorities see it as a test of their fight against corruption.

Deputy Central Bank Governor Kateryna Rozhkova told a briefing she saw no grounds for PrivatBank’s former owners to be compensated.

“Our international partners do not accept this decision and do not understand the arguments of the court,” she said, adding that she expected the current central bank’s leadership to stay in place after the election.

Lawsuits challenging the nationalization of PrivatBank “deal irreversible damage to Ukraine’s international image,” the central bank said in a separate written statement.

The finance ministry said it had followed the law in nationalizing PrivatBank and said making sure banks met capital requirements “is crucial for ensuring the stability of the banking system and supporting public confidence.”

Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old comedian with no prior political experience, has had to fend off accusations from Poroshenko that he is a puppet of Kolomoisky, whose TV channel airs Zelenskiy’s shows. Zelenskiy insists his relationship with Kolomoisky is strictly professional.

“All this just underscores that the biggest risk of the Zelenskiy presidency is the relationship with former oligarch Kolomoisky and the unresolved issue of PrivatBank,” said Timothy Ash of BlueBay Asset Management after Thursday’s court ruling.

“Indeed, whether or not he gets the bank back, he is still being pursued for the losses which the state had to cover in the bank resulting from the nationalization.”

Zelenskiy’s campaign sought to make political capital out of Thursday’s ruling, pointing to the fact that it had happened while Poroshenko was still in charge of the country.

“This is Poroshenko’s judicial reform in action,” it said in a statement on Facebook. “Instead of defending the interests of the state, the NBU (central bank) loses the court decision on PrivatBank. One question: so who is a puppet of Kolomoisky?”

(Reporting by Polina Ivanova, Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

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Nets player: Embiid’s laughing apology over elbow ‘disrespectful’

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers
Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) warms up before game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

April 18, 2019

Some Brooklyn Nets players are unhappy with the laughing apology given by Philadelphia center Joel Embiid over the elbow he delivered in Game 2, calling it “disrespectful.”

Embiid was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul after a vicious elbow that caught the jaw of Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen during the 76ers’ victory. Embiid apologized for the elbow during the postgame press conference but broke into laughter with teammate Ben Simmons doing it.

“We didn’t really like that,” Nets guard Caris LeVert said Wednesday. “We thought that was kind of disrespectful, especially after the elbow he threw. There’s no love lost. It’s a playoff series. We expect that.”

Embiid said Simmons laughed because “I’m not usually humble,” an explanation accepted by the Nets’ Jared Dudley as Embiid being a “silly guy.” However, Dudley didn’t full excuse it.

“I felt a certain type of way for it just because you’re laughing and someone could have really gotten hurt,” Dudley said. “That’s been Embiid’s personality, but just because it’s your personality doesn’t mean it’s right. So, for us, you can either get even however you want to do it, but the biggest thing for us to get even is winning Game 3.”

Game 3 is Thursday night in Brooklyn with the series tied 1-1.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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Explainer: Betting on the past? Europe decides on connected car standards

FILE PHOTO: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess address a news conference in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Volkswagen in Berlin, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Douglas Busvine

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Commission’s push to implement a Wi-Fi standard for connected cars has won the support of lawmakers in a victory for Germany’s Volkswagen, although competitor BMW and other backers of a rival technology still hope to overturn the decision.

Advocates of the alternative C-V2X standard – which stands for Cellular Vehicle to Everything – say their technology is already viable and will only improve as next-generation 5G mobile networks are rolled out.

The apparently dry debate over acronyms has divided the car and telecoms industries and will influence which continent ends up dominating automated driving technologies that promise to be safer than people behind the wheel.

There are around 25,000 annual road fatalities in the EU and another 135,000 serious injuries. The Commission wants to halve both by 2030 as part of a long-term ‘Vision Zero’ goal to virtually eliminate them by 2050.

China, the world’s biggest car market, is already pressing ahead with C-V2X, which is designed to work with 5G but is incompatible with Wi-Fi. Ford will deploy C-V2X there in 2021 and has committed to install it in all its new cars and trucks in the United States from 2022.

The European Council, the intergovernmental part of the EU’s decision-making process, is due to take a decision by mid-May.

Here’s an explainer of what’s at stake and how the process is likely to play out:

WHAT IS THE COMMISSION PROPOSING AND WHO BACKS IT?

The European Commission has proposed a legal act to regulate so-called ‘Cooperative-Intelligent Transport Systems’ (C-ITS). This backs the ITS-G5 Wi-Fi standard that has already been adopted by much of the auto industry and is already certified.

The most prominent supporter of ITS-G5 is Volkswagen, which says it will start fitting the Wi-Fi technology to vehicles this year.

VW argues that viable C-V2X technology is years away, while Commission researchers could not find any commercially available C-V2X gear to test, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Also backing ITS-G5 are Renault, Toyota, VW truck units MAN and Scania, chip maker NXP, road-toll company Kapsch and technical standards umbrella group VdTueV.

WHY DO OTHER AUTO MAKERS AND TELECOMS PREFER 5G?

Supporters of C-V2X have grown rapidly in number since eight companies – Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ericsson ERICb.ST>, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm – founded an alliance in 2016.

The group, the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), now counts more than 100 members who argue that C-V2X is better than Wi-Fi in terms of security, reliability, range and reaction time.

5G advocates object to a review process foreseen by the Commission that would allow other technologies to be admitted later to C-ITS, once certified. They say such interoperability is impossible because Wi-Fi and cellular radio technologies are incompatible.

“It’s like putting a DVD into a VHS player and trying to make it work,” Mats Granryd, head of the GSMA telecoms industry group, wrote in a letter to EU lawmakers this week.

WHICH IS THE BETTER TECHNOLOGY?

Participants in the debate agree that C-V2X running on 5G networks will be the better technology – even Volkswagen is a member of the 5GAA – but they differ on when it will be ready for prime time.

C-V2X could, for example, help a connected car spot a person on foot carrying a smartphone before the driver does, making it possible for automated systems to hit the brakes and alert the pedestrian to the danger – a potential lifesaver.

Wi-Fi is cheaper, because 5G operators would charge for data. On the other hand, regulated mobile networks would likely be safer, says independent technology analyst Richard Windsor: “Would you trust your vehicle to be driven by a home router?” he asked.

Other markets led by China are meanwhile pressing ahead with C-V2X, potentially burdening European auto makers with the expense of developing and installing different systems in cars for the home market and for export.

WHO’S LIKELY TO PREVAIL IN THE END?

European lawmakers passed the Commission’s legal act by a narrow majority on Wednesday and the matter now goes before the European Council.

Here, opponents of the Commission’s proposal would need the backing of a so-called qualified majority of the EU’s 28 member states – 16 countries representing 65 percent of its population – to block it.

That will be a tall order, but 5G backers are hoping that a skeptical opinion expressed by the Commission’s own legal advisory team will bolster their case, say sources. A Council working party meets again on May 3 and May 10 to review that advice.

The government of EU heavyweight Germany says it has taken note of those reservations and has yet to make up its mind. A decision in the Council is due by May 13, although the review period may be extended.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Georgina Prodhan and Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

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South Africa’s Shoprite cuts chairman Wiese’s voting influence

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton, South Africa May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

April 18, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African grocer Shoprite is to buy back deferred shares held by its chairman Christo Wiese to simplify its voting structure but substantially curbing Wiese’s influence in the company he helped turn into an African powerhouse.

Besides ordinary shares, Shoprite’s capital structure includes deferred shares which carry about 32.3 percent of the voting rights at Shoprite. The deferred shares are held by Weise’s investment vehicle, Thibault Square Financial Services Proprietary Ltd.

Under the deal, Titan – another one of Wiese’s entities – will receive 20 million new ordinary shares from Shoprite, in exchange for deferred shares which Shoprite will buy for 265,000 rand ($18,836.41) and cancel, the retailer said in a statement.

The proposed deal will see Wiese’s voting interest reduced to 17.8 percent from 42.3 percent, while his direct shareholding will increase to 17.8 percent from 14.8 percent, Shoprite said.

Following the issuance of the new shares, the total voting interest of minority shareholders will increase from nearly 60 percent to more than 80 percent, while their shareholding will be diluted by 3.5 percent, it added.

Wiese has been instrumental in Shoprite’s transformation from just six outlets in South Africa in the 1970s to 2,800 shops across Africa, dwarfing rivals including Walmart Inc’s South African unit Massmart.

Shoprite, which also sells furniture and medicine, said the deal is expected to result in a potential once-off reduction in earnings and headline earnings of 3.3 billion rand, based on a 30-day-volume-weighted-average price of 165.35 rand per share as at April 17.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN

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Trump declares victory as Mueller report drops: ‘No collusion, no obstruction’

President Trump and his legal team declared victory Thursday as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report was released -- with the president repeating his "no collusion" mantra and saying “this should never happen to another president again.”

“I’m having a good day, too, it’s called ‘no collusion, no obstruction,’” he said in remarks for the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, at the White House. “There never was by the way, and there never will be.”

READ THE ROBERT MUELLER REPORT

“This should never happen to another president again, this hoax, it should never happen to another president again,” he added.

He also promised “to get to the bottom of these things,” hinting at calls for the origins of the two-year investigation to be reviewed.

Mueller’s report dropped at 11 a.m., spanning over 400 pages. Attorney General William Barr, who had issued a four-page summary of its findings last month, held a press conference Thursday morning and repeated his conclusions that the investigation found no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump campaign officials in the 2016 presidential election.

The report itself said: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

As for allegations of obstruction of justice, the report recounts 10 episodes involving Trump and, Barr said, “discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.” But Barr said the White House “fully cooperated” with the investigation, and that he concluded that the evidence is not sufficient to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense by Trump.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly declared victory even as Democrats have indicated that they intend to continue their own investigations, and are seeking to question Mueller and to challenge the decision by the Department of Justice to redact parts of the report.

EX-FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR ON MUELLER REPORT: 'WE NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT HOW THIS STARTED'

Trump himself tweeted that it was “game over” for his political opponents on Thursday, while his legal team issued a lengthy statement, describing the report as a “total victory for the President.”

“The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning -- there was no collusion -- there was no obstruction. After a 17-month investigation, testimony from some 500 witnesses, the issuance of 2,800 subpoenas, the execution of nearly 500 search warrants, early morning raids, the examination of more than 1.4 million pages of documents, and the unprecedented cooperation of the President, it is clear there was no criminal wrongdoing," the statement said.

"This vindication of the President is an important step forward for the country and a strong reminder that this type of abuse must never be permitted to occur again," it said.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Rudy Giuliani, one of the members of that team, appeared on "America's Newsroom" and brushed off questions about obstruction, saying that "the big victory is no collusion with the Russians."

“You’re not going to find a darn thing [in the report] that President Trump or anyone on his campaign had anything to do with whatever the Russians were doing," he said.

Fox News' Shannon Bream contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Zoom starts trading at $65 per share, 80 percent above IPO price

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York, New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

April 18, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Video conferencing company Zoom Video Communications opened at $65 per share on Thursday, 80.6 percent above its initial public offering price, in its debut on the Nasdaq.

Zoom priced its IPO on Wednesday at $36 per share, above its target range of $33-$35 per share.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

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AG Barr seemed more like counselor to Trump than attorney general, was ‘making a case for the president:’ Chris Wallace

Attorney General William Barr’s statements to the press before the redacted Mueller report on the Russia investigation was released to the public made him appear as though he was a counselor to the president rather the attorney general, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said Thursday.

Barr offered a staunch defense of President Trump on Thursday morning during the press conference where he previewed the report’s findings and explained why he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that the president had not obstructed justice.

READ THE ROBERT MUELLER REPORT

He also said it was important to consider the “context” for Trump’s actions during the past two years.

“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office and the conduct of some of his associates,” Barr said. “At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was, in fact, no collusion.”

WATCH: AG BARR SPARS WITH A REPORTER DURING NEWS CONFERENCE AHEAD OF MUELLER REPORT RELEASE

Reacting to the news conference, Wallace told "America's Newsroom" Barr "seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president."

"The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, talking about his anger, his feeling that this was unfair," he told anchors Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith. “Really, as I say, making a case for the president.”

Wallace went on to say that Democrats will come down hard on the portions regarding obstruction laid out in the report.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The Department of Justice released the redacted report to lawmakers and the public soon after the press conference.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Running against President Donald Trump in 2020 means having a message that doesn’t revolve around him, Democratic president Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday.

“The way we have to approach it is on one hand, when he says something that isn’t true, we have to say so,” the South Bend, Indiana mayor, whose presidential campaign has been blowing up in recent weeks, told CNN’s “New Day.”

“Then we have to move on very quickly,” he added. “A really robust message for my party can’t be one that revolves around the personality of somebody from the other party. We have to have a message that will make as much sense in 2040 as it does in 2020.”

He said he thinks the focus placed against Trump in 2016 was the result of a media environment, combine with party strategy, and that didn’t work to defeat him.

“I think a lot of Democrats were so horrified by who the Republicans were nominating, we almost forgot that don’t vote for the other guy is not the same as having your own message,” Buttigieg said.

While there is a great deal of division in the United States, Americans do agree on the outlines of a bipartisan immigration reform plan, said Buttigieg, adding that he thinks the reform measure pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “is the right template,” but it needs to have more protection for “dreamers.”

He also commented on his ongoing arguments with Vice President Mike Pence, saying he does believe the vice president has the right to his religious beliefs. However, Buttigieg said it’s an issue when Pence uses his faith to hurt other people.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said the country is in grave peril, and he can no longer sit on the sidelines.

“Let the record reflect that I’m now in second place in the Republican primary,” he told the “Fox News Rundown” podcast Wednesday, discussing his decision to challenge Trump for the party nod in the 2020 race.

On Monday, he became the first Republican to challenge Trump in the party primaries. That makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.

TRUMP ALREADY AMASSING HUGE WAR CHEST FOR 2020 — CHALLENGERS BEWARE

Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Weld is known for an unconventional, at times quirky, political style and a long history of friction with the party he now aspires to represent.

Weld, 73, said in announcing his candidacy on Monday that “it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity and opportunity for all.”

“There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”

Weld has said that Trump’s “priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than … the good of the country.”

About the daunting challenges ahead, Weld said: “It’s always uphill against an incumbent. And you know, I’m I think a poll I saw within the last few days had me at 8 percent nationally, which is where both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were at this stage four years ago.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

While Trump’s overall approval ratings have been poor for much of his presidency, he remains popular with Republican voters. The Republican National Committee in January issued a nonbinding resolution to declare the party’s undivided support for Trump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured cars are seen at the automobile terminal in the port of Dalian
FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured cars are seen at the automobile terminal in the port of Dalian, Liaoning province, China July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

April 17, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is considering plans to relax controls over the issuance of new car licenses in major cities to boost flagging auto sales, financial magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday, citing a draft document by the country’s state planner.

Caixin said China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had issued a document containing the proposals on April 11, without saying how the magazine had obtained it. Copies of the document were widely circulated on Chinese social media on Wednesday.

According to the document, the NDRC is considering plans to increase the number of newly issued automobile licenses in big cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by 50 percent this year, and double that next year, from current 2018 levels, Caixin said.

It also said local governments should not implement traffic restrictions and curbs on buying electric vehicles, and should remove relevant measures if already taken.

Efforts by Reuters to reach the NDRC for comment were unsuccessful outside business hours. Caixin said people close to NDRC’s policymaking department did not deny the authenticity of the document.

Beijing has been trying to boost consumption of goods ranging from eco-friendly appliances to big-ticket items such as cars to fire up growth, as the world’s second-largest economy is expected to slow further in 2019.

Auto sales in China, the world’s largest car market, contracted for the first time last year since the 1990s but executives told Reuters this week that they expect the market to return to growth this year thanks to government support.

Official data showed earlier on Wednesday China’s economy grew at a steady 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement.

(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Source: OANN

President Trump’s 2020 campaign made it clear on Tuesday that it wasn’t worried about a primary challenge by the former governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld.

When CBS News asked how seriously the campaign was taking Weld’s candidacy, the Trump campaign’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said, “Not seriously at all.”

McEnany pointed to both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Republican voters’ support for the president. “The voters have sent a pretty clear message — they stand with the president. The RNC has reflected that,” she said.

After Weld announced his candidacy on Monday, the RNC painted the challenge — along with any others that might arise — as fruitless. “The RNC and the Republican Party are firmly behind the president. Any effort to challenge the president’s nomination is bound to go absolutely nowhere,” the party said.

According to early polling from Monmouth University, Weld faces dismal prospects for his 2020 bid — only 10 percent of Republican voters say they could possibly support him.

TRUMP ALREADY AMASSING HUGE WAR CHEST FOR 2020 — CHALLENGERS BEWARE

Weld’s announcement also came amid figures showing that within the first three months of 2019, Trump had already filled his campaign coffers to the tune of more than $30 million.

McEnany discounted the possibility that Weld would get to debate Trump on TV, saying that the 2020 campaign wasn’t even entertaining the idea. “We’re focused on the Democrats,” she told CBS News.

After two U.S. senators blasted the president’s conduct, speculation emerged that those critics — Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Mitt Romney, R-Mass. — might challenge him in 2020. Both eventually denied planning to do so.

Intraparty tension seemed to reach a fever pitch in January when Romney’s niece, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, blasted her uncle in response to his criticisms of Trump’s character. Led by McDaniel, the Republican Party also unanimously approved a resolution earlier this year that offered the president “undivided support” before the 2020 presidential election.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Like Romney, Weld attacked Trump’s conduct while in office with a video that harped on, among other things, his comments surrounding the racially charged protests in Charlottesville, Va., that led to one person’s death.

Although Weld acknowledged he had a slim chance of besting Trump, he saw a reason for hope in the 2000 and 2008 candidacies of Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz. “John McCain made that work here twice. Not once but twice. He was the underdog both times,” Weld said.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton, South Africa May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

April 18, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African grocer Shoprite is to buy back deferred shares held by its chairman Christo Wiese to simplify its voting structure but substantially curbing Wiese’s influence in the company he helped turn into an African powerhouse.

Besides ordinary shares, Shoprite’s capital structure includes deferred shares which carry about 32.3 percent of the voting rights at Shoprite. The deferred shares are held by Weise’s investment vehicle, Thibault Square Financial Services Proprietary Ltd.

Under the deal, Titan – another one of Wiese’s entities – will receive 20 million new ordinary shares from Shoprite, in exchange for deferred shares which Shoprite will buy for 265,000 rand ($18,836.41) and cancel, the retailer said in a statement.

The proposed deal will see Wiese’s voting interest reduced to 17.8 percent from 42.3 percent, while his direct shareholding will increase to 17.8 percent from 14.8 percent, Shoprite said.

Following the issuance of the new shares, the total voting interest of minority shareholders will increase from nearly 60 percent to more than 80 percent, while their shareholding will be diluted by 3.5 percent, it added.

Wiese has been instrumental in Shoprite’s transformation from just six outlets in South Africa in the 1970s to 2,800 shops across Africa, dwarfing rivals including Walmart Inc’s South African unit Massmart.

Shoprite, which also sells furniture and medicine, said the deal is expected to result in a potential once-off reduction in earnings and headline earnings of 3.3 billion rand, based on a 30-day-volume-weighted-average price of 165.35 rand per share as at April 17.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN



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