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FILE PHOTO: Outside view of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
April 25, 2019
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are expected to end in failure, although no final decision has been taken, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.
Germany’s top two banks both declined to comment on the merger talks, which have met fierce opposition from the workforce, with unions fearing 30,000 job losses..
German government officials, led by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, have pushed for a tie-up to create a national banking champion and end questions over the future of both banks, which have struggled to recover since the financial crisis.
Shares in Commerzbank were 1.5 percent lower at 0728 GMT on Thursday, while Deutsche Bank’s were up 0.7 percent.
Deutsche Bank is expected to provide an update on the status of the talks, now in their sixth week, by Friday at the latest, another official said.
The inability to craft a deal will increase pressure on Deutsche Bank to make more radical changes, such as cuts to its U.S. investment bank that regulators and some major investors have been advocating. Deutsche is already looking at a deal for its asset management unit.
A failure of talks is also likely to make Commerzbank vulnerable to a foreign takeover. Both Unicredit and ING Groep have expressed interest in Germany’s No. 2 lender, sources have said.
Some major Deutsche Bank investors have questioned the deal’s logic and are unwilling to step up with any extra cash to get it done, while credit ratings agencies warn of risks.
The European Central Bank would ask Deutsche Bank to raise fresh funds before it gave the go-ahead for a merger, a person with direct knowledge of the matter has said.
The ECB’s single supervisory board, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday, has not received a formal application from the banks about a merger, a person familiar with the situation said.
But supervisors’ discussions would likely emphasize the disadvantages over the advantages, the person said, adding that it looked increasingly improbable that a deal would happen.
Both banks announced the start of formal talks on March 17 and have since been crunching the numbers for a tie-up.
Last month, Deutsche Bank Chairman Paul Achleitner said the banks would aim to announce more concrete steps by the time his bank published its earnings on April 26.
Deutsche’s first-quarter earnings are expected to show continued weakness, with an expected 75 percent decline in net profit and a 9 percent decline in revenue, according to a consensus forecast posted on the bank’s website.
(Reporting by Francesco Canepa, Frank Siebelt, Hans Seidenstuecker, Andreas Framke, Arno Schuetze and Tom Sims; Editing by Sabine Wollrab, Tassilo Hummel, Michelle Martin and Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO: Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao attends the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
April 25, 2019
MANILA (Reuters) – The Asian Development Bank sees value in continuing to lend to China, its president said on Thursday, in response to calls for the institution to stop granting loans to the world’s second-largest economy.
ADB President Takehiko Nakao also said the multilateral financial institution’s lending to China “is not huge” so it will not crowd out borrowers from poorer countries.
“There is merit in lending to China. One we can have influence over such policies like climate change and the environment, which might have a positive impact on developing countries and to the region,” Nakao told reporters.
The Japanese government, which is a founding member of the ADB, has urged the Manila-based lender to stop lending to China on the grounds that it is rich enough to “graduate” from aid, the Nikkei has reported.
But while China’s share in ADB lending has been declining, Nakao said there are no plans of “letting China graduate immediately”.
Nakao said ADB earns from its loans to China and this income could also be used to support its operations in poorer countries.
China has been the bank’s second-largest sovereign borrower and is a major contributor to the institution’s development finance and knowledge sharing initiatives, the ADB said.
ADB’s committed loans to China have fallen to 12 percent of its total in 2018 from 19 percent in 2013, Nakao said.
Founded in 1966 with a mandate to lift hundreds of millions of Asians out of poverty, the Japanese-led ADB has 67 member countries ranging from struggling Bangladesh and Pakistan to booming China and India, with its largest donors Japan and the United States.
(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
FILE PHOTO: A trader is reflected in a computer screen displaying the Spotify brand before the company begins selling as a direct listing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
April 25, 2019
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Music streaming service Spotify Technology SA said it will remove all songs belonging to one of India’s oldest record labels from its app after they failed to agree on licensing terms, months after the Swedish company’s launch in the country.
According to a court document, Saregama India Ltd filed a petition with the Delhi High Court seeking an injunction against Spotify to stop it from using its songs.
The move comes two months after Spotify launched in India, a price sensitive market already crowded by well-funded local players like JioSaavn and Apple Music.
According to the court document dated April 23, Spotify’s senior counsel said the streaming service would remove all Saregama songs from its app within 10 days.
Spotify said last month it had more than 1 million unique users in India across its free and premium categories within a week of its launch. The company offers a free version supported by ads and a premium ad-free variant that charges users 119 rupees ($1.68) per month.
Spotify declined to comment, while Saregama did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
A protester glues her hand to a train during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
April 25, 2019
By Dylan Martinez and Emily G Roe
LONDON (Reuters) – Environmental activists glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange and climbed onto the roof of a train at Canary Wharf on the final day of protests aimed at forcing Britain to take action to avert what they cast as a global climate cataclysm.
The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption in recent weeks across London, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.
At London Stock Exchange’s headquarters on Thursday, six protesters dressed in black suits and red ties were blocking the revolving doors of the building.
At the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station in Canary Wharf, five protesters from the group climbed aboard a train and unfurled a banner which read: “Business as usual = Death”. One glued herself to a train.
“Extinction Rebellion to focus on the financial industry today,” the group said in a statement. The “aim is to demand the finance industry tells the truth about the climate industry and the devastating impact the industry has on our planet.”
Police said 1088 arrests have been made since the main protests began last Monday.
The group advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
(Writing by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)
FILE PHOTO: Gucci logo is seen in a store at Fiumicino airport in Rome, Italy, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
April 25, 2019
By Emilio Parodi
MILAN (Reuters) – French luxury group Kering is close to agreeing to pay between 1.3 billion and 1.4 billion euros ($1.5-1.6 billion) to settle a dispute with Italian authorities over unpaid taxes by its fashion brand Gucci, three sources told Reuters on Thursday.
An agreement between the French luxury goods group and the Italian tax authority is expected to be signed in the first days of May, said one of the sources, who all have direct knowledge of the matter.
This would be the biggest tax settlement ever agreed by a company with the Italian tax authorities.
Kering, which has consistently denied avoiding tax, saying its activities were fully compliant with all tax obligations, had no immediate comment, while the tax authority could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this year, Kering said it faced a claim for 1.4 billion euros in unpaid Italian taxes, adding that it contested the preliminary findings.
The company’s Swiss-based Luxury Goods International (LGI) subsidiary has been under investigation for allegedly avoiding tax on earnings generated elsewhere.
Most of the allegations centre on Gucci, whose offices in Milan and Florence were raided by Italian police in late 2017.
In November 2018 Milan prosecutors wrapped up their probe into alleged tax evasion of more than 1 billion euros by Gucci for revenues booked in the years between 2010 and 2016.
The prosecutors say that revenues booked through LGI should be taxed in Italy and not in Switzerland.
By agreeing to a settlement, Kering would be spared from having to pay interest and sanctions for late tax payments, which one source said would have added around 500 million euros to the final bill.
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, additional reporting by Sarah White, editing by Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO: Members of Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar, get ready before heading out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, Libya April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo
April 25, 2019
By Ulf Laessing
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Eastern Libya commander Khalifa Haftar has thrown much of his military forces into attacking Tripoli, but the outcome of the offensive could be determined by a separate battle — to keep open the parallel finance system that funds his soldiers.
Mobilizing Libya’s biggest military campaign since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Haftar has advanced on the U.N.-backed administration in the capital from a bastion in the east, where he has a parallel government and central bank branch.
The general has funded his eastern state with a mix of unofficial bonds, Russia-printed cash and deposits from eastern banks, accumulating debt worth around 35 billion Libyan dinars ($25.18 billion) outside the official banking system.
But diplomats and banking sources say that those sources of support might be closing, as the Tripoli-based central bank, which controls the country’s energy revenues, has taken steps to curtail the operations of banks in the east.
Those banks have in recent months struggled to meet minimum deposit requirements, which could give the Tripoli central bank allied to Tripoli Premier Fayez al-Serraj the excuse to shut off access to hard currency, they said.
“There is a looming banking crisis that could undermine eastern authorities’ ability to fund themselves in the near future,” said Claudia Gazzini, senior Libya analyst at International Crisis Group.
“The crisis was already in the making before the war broke out.”
Haftar has built up his Libyan National Army (LNA) with the help of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt supplying heavy gear such helicopters, according to U.N. reports.
But Gulf countries such as the UAE have preferred not to give cash directly to Haftar, fearing it will end up being used for the wrong purposes, several diplomatic sources told Reuters.
That has forced the septuagenarian leader to use merchants to import vehicles and other gear, using hard currency obtained from the Tripoli central bank and paid out by eastern commercial banks issuing letters of credit, military sources said.
There is no public data on the costs of Haftar’s war, but he has sent more than 1,000 troops west plus support staff like drivers or medics, military sources and residents said.
Fuel is not a problem, costing just 0.15 dinars a liter, with state oil firm NOC serving the whole country.
But in its attempt to capture Tripoli the LNA has used hundreds of vehicles, with convoys going west non-stop from Benghazi, carrying anything from soldiers to ammunition to food.
In addition, every day two flights with Russian-made transport planes go from Benghazi to Jufrah in central Libya, his main base. Seriously wounded soldiers are flown to Tunisia.
The offensive has stalled, and so the LNA has vowed to move in yet more troops.
Haftar’s finances face another potential vulnerability.
In November, the House of Representatives allied to Haftar approved a law to set up a military investment authority which gives the LNA control — like in Egypt — of parts of the economy including civilian activities such as scrap metal.
The investment vehicle’s companies are exempted from taxes and import duties, as part of a welfare state envisaged by Haftar, but they need banks to deal with partners abroad and expand their businesses, analysts say.
“If the banks fail, Haftar’s welfare state will come under pressure,” said a Western diplomat.
Functioning banks are also needed for Haftar’s parallel government to pay salaries and serve an LNA support network, analysts say. The central bank in Tripoli covers some public salaries in eastern Libya but not LNA soldiers hired after 2014 when the country split into western and eastern administrations.
The Tripoli central bank has already cut three eastern banks from Libya’s electronic banking system to curb their operations. Lenders have still been able to get hard currency via other banks but in a further step the Tripoli central bank might shut access completely, diplomats and business sources said.
The Tripoli central bank (CBL) has vowed to stay neutral and but diplomats say it is also helping Serraj, approving his plans to allocate some 2 billion dinars for his own war effort.
CBL did not respond to mailed questions.
There has been a banking crisis building up all across Libya and especially in the east, where three eastern banks have struggled to keep a required 20 percent of customers’ deposits at the Tripoli central bank: They have been paying out more hard currency in recent months, but need to balance accounts.
“Their deposits with CBL have fallen short of their statutory minimum requirements,” Husni Bey, a prominent business leader and owner of HB group.
Data received by Reuters confirmed his.
Diplomats do not expect Tripoli central bank governor Sadiq al-Kabir to shut eastern banks completely as this would pose risks for western lenders. The same banks operate in the west and east with money flows hard to differentiate.
But they fear the longer the conflict lasts, the harder it will be to unify the central banks and repay debt.
The west has piled up debt of 68 billion dinars, bringing Libya’s total deficit and public debt to 130 billion, including unpaid state obligations such as social insurance, said Bey.
The biggest worry among diplomats is that Haftar, who surprised world powers with his offensive, might try selling crude from oilfields and ports, bypassing NOC.
“If the offensive fails, Haftar might do this as he feels encouraged by (U.S. President Donald) Trump,” said one Western diplomat.
On Friday, the White House said that Trump had told Haftar by phone he recognized his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources”, a comment which has enraged his opponents but fired up LNA supporters.
(Additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Editing by William Maclean)
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., on Wednesday refused to acknowledge that the Mueller Report failed to establish evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and appeared to double down on his claims that President Trump puts Russia's interest before the U.S.
Swalwell has been one of Trump's most vocal Democratic critics and has announced his bid for the 2020 presidential election.
MSNBC host Ari Melber challenged Swalwell during his appearance.
“Do you accept the findings in the Mueller report that do not support some of those claims?” Melber asked Swalwell.
“I accept that I probably should have been out there a little bit earlier because who knew how many links there were? 200 pages of links," Swalwell said. Melber pressed him again, asking if he no longer maintained that Trump is a “Russian asset.”
“No, I think he acts on Russia’s behalf and I challenge him to show me otherwise,” Swalwell said.
The host asked him one more time about the distance between his allegations of conspiracy and the findings in the Mueller report. Swalwell replied that he believes Trump puts Russia’s "interests ahead of our interests," citing "Assad in Syria, he wants to reduce the role of NATO, he continues to pull back sanctions on Russia, he won't tell us what he talked about with Vladimir Putin and he won't tell us anything about his finances with the Russians."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report released late last month revealed Mueller did not establish evidence that the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia.
Swalwell has long been a critic of the president and even documented his determination to not buy coffee at Trump Tower on Twitter in February.
Trump has railed against Mueller’s report, even resorting to public profanity in dismissing it, but has also embraced it, claiming exoneration and painting any other attempt as partisan overreach.
“You want to see the nonpartisan, definitive, conclusive taxpayer-funded lengthy unobstructed, unimpeded, un-interfered with investigation? You just saw it and it’s called the Mueller report,” senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Source: Fox News Politics
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FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
April 23, 2019
(Reuters) – A Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked prosecutors from releasing hidden camera footage that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft engaged in sexual acts inside a massage parlor, local television station WPTV reported.
The billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl champions is among dozens of men accused of soliciting prostitution inside Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges and issued a public apology for his actions.
Palm Peach County Judge Leonard Hanser said Kraft’s right to a fair trial could be harmed if prosecutors release the video to media outlets, which requested the footage under Florida’s robust open government laws, according to a ruling posted online by WPTV.
“The potential jury pool would be given the opportunity to preview trial evidence, including identifying (Kraft) as the person depicted in the videotapes,” Hanser wrote.
The videos will remain sealed until a jury is seated, a plea deal is reached or the case is dismissed, Hanser ruled.
Another judge, who is overseeing the prosecution of the spa’s owner and manager, had previously blocked public dissemination of any footage until he holds a hearing on the matter next week.
Kraft, 77, purchased the Patriots, one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises, in 1994.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)
FILE PHOTO – Australian Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten laughs during remarks at his election night party in Melbourne, July 2, 2016 on Australia’s federal election day. REUTERS/Jason Reed
April 20, 2019
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten gave himself 100 days to make sure that low-paid workers get more money for working overtime if he wins next month’s election.
Labor party leader Shorten, a former union organizer, said on Saturday he would reverse the decision by a tribunal to cut overtime pay in several low-paying industries within 100 days of the May 18 poll.
“Do we really want to go down the American path of workplace relations where a worker … to make ends meet has to rely on tips and charity and the coins and dollar notes left on the table after the guest has gone?” Shorten told supporters in Melbourne.
“That is not the Australian way.”
In 2017, the Fair Work Commission ruled that reductions in the so-called penalty rates for weekends, public holidays and late night or morning shifts in retail, hospitality, fast-food and pharmacy would be phased in gradually by 2020.
The commission, an independent tribunal that sets the minimum wage, ruled that the cuts would vary, depending on the industry.
Opinion polls have had Shorten’s center-left Labor party well ahead for years and show that the coalition of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberals and the rural-focused National party is headed for a resounding defeat.
A recent poll showed that support for Australia’s once-influential far-right One Nation party plummeted after a series of scandals, paving way for Morrison and Shorten to intensify their fight for the right-wing voter.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Nick Macfie)
George Conway says he stands with Hillary Clinton in urging Congress to hold “substantive hearings” that build on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report despite the fact she is a flawed messenger.
“If she’s with the Constitution, I’m with her,” Conway tweeted, referencing Clinton’s 2016 campaign slogan “I’m with her.”
Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, was reacting to Clinton’s column in The Washington Post on how to respond to Mueller’s report besides “immediate impeachment or nothing.”
“Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee wrote.
“In 1998, the Republican-led House rushed to judgment. That was a mistake then and would be a mistake now,” she added, referencing charges of perjury and obstruction of justice brought against her husband, then-President Bill Clinton.
Clinton urged Congress to be “deliberate, fair, and fearless,” and said all Americans “should demand action and accountability.”
“Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation,” she added.
Conway, a lawyer, last week wrote his own column for the Post, calling Trump a “cancer on the presidency.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
U.S. tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer display rack is seen in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
April 19, 2019
(Reuters) – American Media Inc (AMI) said on Thursday it was selling its National Enquirer tabloid to James Cohen, whose family owns a magazine distributor and used to own the Hudson chain of airport newsstands.
The National Enquirer had admitted to paying hush money to help U.S. President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The weekly tabloid, along with two of its sister publications, will be purchased by Cohen. The Washington Post reported the sale was for $100 million. The companies did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the price.
Cohen’s family owns a U.S. magazine and book distributor, Hudson News Distributors. In 2008, the family sold the airport retail and newsstand business to Dufry AG.
The deal comes a week after AMI said it was looking at “strategic options” for the National Enquirer as well as for the Globe and National Examiner brands.
The sale is expected to reduce AMI’s debt to $355 million.
Last week, the New York Times reported that owners of the National Enquirer were in talks to sell the tabloid to California-based billionaire Ronald Burkle.
Paul Pope, one of the heirs of the National Enquirer founder, Generoso Pope Jr., had also been in the list of bidders, according to media reports.
On Tuesday, Pope dropped his bid to buy the supermarket tabloid from American Media, the New York Post reported.
Over its 92-year history, the National Enquirer has enticed readers in supermarket checkout lines with sensational headlines and photos about celebrities. The tabloid’s website says it has an audience of 5 million.
Earlier in February, Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.com Inc, accused the publication of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing intimate photos. AMI has defended its reporting on Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor.
(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal; Editing by James Emmanuel and Peter Cooney)
FILE PHOTO – An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 from San Francisco approaches for landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport over a parked Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
April 18, 2019
(Reuters) – Air Canada said on Thursday its Boeing Co 737 MAX pilots were reviewing aircraft systems and alternative flight conditions for the grounded planes, and the carrier would decide on further training pending final recommendations from regulators.
On Wednesday, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau called for pilots to receive simulator training for Boeing’s new 737 MAX software, going beyond a draft report by a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-appointed board, which recommended additional training without requiring a simulator.
Boeing is working to deliver to global regulators a software update and new training proposals for the MAX following a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October and an Ethiopian crash in March, which killed 346 people combined.
Boeing said on Wednesday it was making “steady progress” on the path to certifying the software update and had made the final test flight before a certification flight.
Air Canada said it was the only carrier in the United States and Canada with 737 MAX simulators. The country’s largest carrier said it was pleased to see the Canadian government take a “rigorous approach” in how it weighs its requirements for reintroducing the jets into service.
Air Canada’s rival, Westjet Airlines, declined to specifically address Garneau’s comments, but the carrier follows all Transport Canada recommendations, a company spokeswoman said by email.
(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Peter Cooney)