Air France pilots have voted to extend their week-long strike over cost cuts and plans for the company's Transavia unit until September 26.]]> |||
Paris - Air France pilots have voted to extend their week-long strike over cost cuts and plans for the company's Transavia unit by a further four days until September 26, the head of the SNPL union said on Saturday.
More than four-fifths of the 74 percent of pilots who took part in the ballot agreed to pursue the industrial action beyond the current deadline of Monday, said Jean-Louis Barber, head of the Air France section of the SNPL.
“It could continue even further (beyond September 26), given the very strong mandate,” Barber added, calling for a meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to help resolve the conflict with management.
Air France said on Friday it expected to operate 45 percent of its flights on Saturday, based on an estimated 60 percent of the pilots walking out.
The situation is expected to worsen on Sunday, with just 38 percent of flights going ahead - the lowest level since the strike began on Monday - and 65 percent of pilots walking out, the airline said on Saturday.
The pilots are protesting over Air France's plans to expand the low-cost operations of its Transavia brand by setting up foreign bases as it seeks to fight back against fierce competition from budget carriers.
The expansion of Transavia is part of a new strategic plan unveiled this month aimed at boosting earnings. The proposals would see Transavia's fleet rise to 100 jets by 2017, from about 50 now, and the number of passengers more than double to 20 million.
The company has said the idea is not to replace Air France but to complete its armoury to attack the leisure market.
But the SNPL said it was concerned that Air France would abandon Transavia's development in France altogether, blaming it on pilot opposition, and then focus on the unit's expansion elsewhere in Europe, thus moving jobs outside the country.
“The SNPL, which wants to develop Transavia France, ... today feels betrayed by management,” Barber said, adding that it was clear Air France wanted to shift jobs outside France through Transavia Europe.
“We call on the prime minister to hold a meeting quickly, and we have no doubt that he will pay close attention faced with the plan to relocate our jobs.”
Air France, which has said the strike is costing it €10 million to €15 million (between R142 million to R214 million ) a day, deplored the move to continue the strike.
“Air France has maintained constant dialogue with its pilots in order to reach an agreement to benefit the group's growth and competitiveness,” Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey said in a statement on Friday after the union gave notice it may extend the strike.
“I am sorry to announce that our concrete proposals to reassure our pilots have not yet drawn a reasonable response.”
Shares in Air France-KLM, the Franco-Dutch parent group, have lost 5.7 percent since the strike began, ending 2.5 percent lower on Friday. - Reuters]]>
Financial leaders of the Group of 20 top economies remain committed to chasing higher global growth.]]> |||
Cairns, Australia - Financial leaders of the Group of 20 top economies remain committed to chasing higher global growth, but were divided on how to achieve it as Germany pushed back at calls from the United States and others for more immediate stimulus.
Opening a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey outlined on Saturday an ambitious agenda of boosting world growth, fireproofing the global banking system and closing tax loopholes for giant multinationals.
“We have the opportunity to change the destiny of the global economy,” said Hockey, who back in February launched a campaign to add 2 percentage points to world growth by 2018 as part of Australia's presidency of the G20.
That goal has seemed ever more distant as members from China to Japan, Germany and Russia have all stumbled in recent months. Just this week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) slashed its growth forecasts for most major economies.
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called for the euro zone and Japan to do more to boost demand and revive activity, signalling out Germany as having scope to do much more thanks to its burgeoning trade surplus.
Berlin was none too pleased.
“We will not agree on short-sighted stimuli,” a German G20 delegate said, arguing that in most countries debt was still too high to allow for increased spending.
Germany has been under intense pressure to allow the euro zone to ease back on fiscal austerity and to boost its own economy through more government spending or tax cuts.
More than 900 individual growth proposals had been submitted and analysed by officials, said Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver, the co-head of a G20 working group on growth.
“We believe that these actions in total - and if implemented, and that is key - would come very close to 2 percent,” he told Reuters.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin was certainly putting the accent on near-term stimulus.
“I want to repeat and say again that the immediate concern with the shorter term is very much expressed,” he said was his message to his G20 colleagues. “The immediate concern is really to recover growth while global growth in 2014 is still subdued.”
The outlook for activity has not been helped by geopolitical tensions, from fighting in the Middle East to the strife between Russia and Ukraine.
Hockey said Australia, as the G20 host this year, had sought feedback from other G20 members on whether Russia should attend the meeting of leaders in Brisbane in November.
There had been calls from some quarters to block President Vladimir Putin from attending the summit given Russia's actions in Ukraine and the downing of airliner MH17.
The overwhelming consensus was that the door be left open to continue engagement with Russia, said Hockey.
Geopolitical tensions were also high on the agenda when financial policymakers of Japan, China and South Korea held their first trilateral meeting in more than two years in Cairns on Friday.
Another risk discussed was the Ebola epidemic as Sierra Leone began a three-day lockdown to try and stem the disease.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on Friday warned of the economic danger if fear of the disease caused consumers and travellers to change their behaviour.
So serious was the situation, he said, that the United Nations was taking a leading role. Sources indicated the G20 communique on Sunday would include the need for international cooperation in fighting the outbreak.
“The (UN) Secretary General is handling Ebola as if it were sort of an outbreak of war, where instead of sending peacekeeping troops, we're going to send in people who are going to be battling Ebola,” Kim said.
Also on the drawing board at the G20 are plans to stem the loss of revenue from multinationals shifting their profits to low-tax countries, potentially reclaiming billions of dollars.
Taxation arrangements of global companies such as Google Inc , Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc have become a hot political topic following media and parliamentary investigations into how many companies reduce their bills.
The OECD has unveiled a series of measures that, if implemented by members, could stop companies from employing many commonly used practices to shift profits into low-tax centres.
Since countries began targeting cross-border loopholes five years ago, an additional €37 billion ($47.5 billion) in tax had been recovered, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said, adding that firms were estimated to be holding $2 trillion in low- or no-tax countries.
“The whole world needs to go after tax cheats,” Hockey said about the measures, which he hopes will be adopted by at least 44 countries. - Reuters]]>
Moody's confirmed Britain's credit rating, saying that Scotland's rejection of independence has preserved the strengths of the country's and financial system.]]> |||
Washington - Ratings agency Moody's confirmed Britain's credit rating at “Aa1” on Friday, saying that Scotland's rejection of independence has preserved the strengths of the country's institutions and financial system.
“Moody's decision to affirm the UK's rating follows the outcome of the referendum on Scottish independence, which maintains the 307-year-old union, thereby preserving the country's current institutional and fiscal framework,” the company said.
Moody's noted however that a 'yes' vote for independence on Thursday would not have significantly changed Britain's credit profile.
According to the ratings firm, the promises made by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to confer more powers to the four nations that make up the United Kingdom will not affect the outlook for one of the world's most credit-worthy countries.
“While the political process going forward will likely lead to further devolution of powers to Scotland and some changes in the fiscal transfers, the rating agency does not anticipate that these will have a material impact on the quality of the UK's institutions, or its financial strength,” it said.
Moody's said it was keeping Britain's outlook stable, suggesting that it did not expect to change the rating in the coming months.
Britain, the world's sixth-biggest economy, has “very high” strength, reflecting its size, diversity and elevated levels of competition, as well as flexible labour market, it said.
Although the pace of the recovery after the global financial crisis was weaker than expected, the economy has more recently returned to growth in line with its historical trend of 2.0-2.5 percent.
“The structural economic strengths of the UK also indicate that trend growth will remain in line with this historic performance,” Moody's said.
The British economy grew by 0.8 percent in the second quarter from the first quarter, and expanded by 3.2 percent year-over-year. - Sapa-AFP]]>
You might be surprised to know that Cyril Ramaphosa is not considered a multimillionaire.]]> |||
Johannesburg - If you raised your eyebrows when you heard Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has assets worth R76 million, then you might be surprised to know that – even at that figure – he is not considered a multimillionaire.
Well, not according to a survey done by New World Wealth, a company that provides information on the global wealth sector.
The company has just released a report on where the world’s wealthiest choose to buy a second home. For the purpose of the study, a millionaire is an individual with net assets of R10m or more and a multimillionaire an individual with net assets of at least R100m.
The South African portion of the study was based on a sample of 600 multimillionaires who have second homes in South Africa.
According to the report of the 49 000 millionaires living in South Africa this year, about 2 060 were classified as multimillionaires. There are also about 2 500 foreign multimillionaires who have bought second homes in South Africa.
“This means that during peak holiday months South Africa can be home to over 4 500 multimillionaires in total.”
We pale in comparison with the rest of the world, where in total about 495 000 people are classified as multimillionaires.
The cities with the highest number of resident multimillionaires is Hong Kong (15 400), New York (14 300) and London (9 700).
The cities with more super-rich individuals who buy second homes than anywhere else in the world is London, with 22 300 multimillionaires, followed by New York with 17 400, Hong Kong (14 800), Singapore (11 200) and Dubai (8 200).
South Africa’s wealthiest mainly live in Joburg (990), followed by Cape Town (380), Durban (115) and Pretoria (105).
The area most popular for a multimillionaire to buy a second home is Knysna, with 320 homes, this is followed by Umhlanga (250), Camps Bay (220) and Plettenberg Bay (180). The popular Joburg suburbs for the super-rich are Sandhurst, with 130 homes, Hyde Park (120), Bryanston (120) and Houghton (60).
The transfer of over R2.3 billion in fees from Lonmin to two of its subsidiaries should be investigated, centre says.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The transfer of over R2.3 billion in fees from Lonmin to two of its subsidiaries, with one located in a tax haven, should be investigated, the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) has said.
“Lonmin, just for the years 2008 to 2012 transferred in commission fees US160 million (R1.2 billion) to a subsidiary, Western Metals Sales Limited based in Bermuda,” senior economist Dick Forslund said in a statement on Thursday.
Bermuda is a well-known tax haven.
“A further US155m (R1.2bn) was paid in management fees to Lonmin Management Services.”
The AIDC called on the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and government to investigate Lonmin’s financial operations, other transnational mining corporations, transfer pricing, and illicit financial flows.
The Economic Freedom Fighters on Friday echoed the AIDC's call, calling on Sars to probe Lonmin for alleged tax evasion.
Lonmin was not immediately available for comment.
Forslund said the amounts were shifted from Lonmin's South African operations so as not to be used for meeting wage demands, social labour commitments, or be included in taxable income.
Forslund was reacting to testimony at Tuesday's hearing of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating the deaths of 44 people during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August 2012.
“Lonmin needs to clarify the role and relationship of several of its subsidiaries, not least Lonmin PLC (the parent company), Western Platinum Ltd, Eastern Platinum Ltd, Lonmin Management Services (PTY) Ltd and Western Metals Sales Limited,” he said.
“Contradictory answers have been provided both to the Marikana commission and to journalists in relation to revelations made.”
Forslund said Lonmin’s Bermuda connection was one piece in a complex inter-company labyrinth and picture of “excessive dividend payments” prior to the 2008 economic downturn, exorbitant executive salaries, and yearly management fees to head offices.
“This is an important part of the background to the August 16
Marikana massacre and shaped Lonmin’s response to the wage demands of rock drill operators and other workers at its operations.”
At the Farlam commission on Tuesday former Lonmin chief operating officer Mahomed Ismail Seedat was questioned about the transfers and the relationship between the different companies.
Seedat could only provide general information that was contradictory, Forslund said.
“Nevertheless, he was forced to admit in reference to the Lonmin subsidiary in Bermuda, Western Metal Sales Limited, that 'A structure like this is normally set up to be optimal from a tax perspective'.”
According to Forslund Seedat told the commission the Bermuda operation was closed in 2008. However, financial reports audited by firm KPMG recorded flows of money to Bermuda until 2012.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's shares surged by more than 40 percent in their first day of trading on Friday as investors jumped in to buy what looks likely to be the largest IPO in history.]]> |||
New York - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's shares surged by more than 40 percent in their first day of trading on Friday as investors jumped in to buy what looks likely to be the largest IPO in history.
More than two hours after trading began at the New York Stock Exchange, the stock opened at $92.70 (R1,021) and rose from there, hitting a high of $99.70 in active trading, during which more than 100 million shares change hands in composite trading in the first 10 minutes of trading.
Cheers went out among traders on the NYSE floor at Wall and Broad Streets as the stock started to trade shortly before noon ET (18:00 SA time).
“This is by far the biggest IPO event-extravanganza that we've had,” said Peter Costa, floor trader at Empire Executions.
The pricing on Thursday initially raised $21.8 billion for the Chinese e-commerce company.
Scott Cutler, head of the New York Stock Exchange's global listing business, told CNBC that underwriters would exercise their option for an additional 48 million shares, to bring the IPO's size to about $25 billion, making it the largest IPO in history.
Alibaba is nearly unknown to most Americans but is ubiquitous in China, where it is responsible for 80 percent of online sales.
The company earned $3.7 billion in the 12 months ended March 31, 2014, up about $2 billion from the prior 12-month period.
The sale values the company at about $168 billion, more than American icons such as Walt Disney and Coca-Cola.
Should the stock close at $98 on its first day, it would be worth about $241 billion, nearly the value of Wal-Mart Stores.
Jack Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 in his apartment.
His personal fortune is more than $14 billion on paper, vaulting him into the ranks of such tech billionaires as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
The deal is also expected to make millionaires out of a substantial chunk of the company's managers, software engineers and other staff.
The rise in the stock exceeds the average gain by new IPOs on US exchanges of late.
In the second quarter, the average first-day gain was 9.2 percent, according to Renaissance Capital IPO Intelligence.
Underwriters usually aim for a gain of 10 percent to 15 percent on the first day.
“We did put in for the IPO and we are getting an allocation, though not the full allocation we put in for. We probably got about 10 percent of that,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at US Global Investors in San Antonio.
Demand was intense among the retail investor crowd as well.
JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at retail brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding, said the company received customer orders amounting to about 70 percent of what it saw for Facebook, and about three times the customer orders it had for Twitter's.
With underwriters electing to sell more shares, the company's initial public offering becomes the largest in history, surpassing Agricultural Bank of China's $22.1 billion listing in 2010.
Alibaba Group's orange banners were festooned around the exchange, with its logo on NYSE computer screens.
Ma was on hand at the trading floor to watch several long-time customers ring the opening bell at the exchange.
“I don't want disappointed shareholders, I want to make sure they make money,” Ma said of the pricing, on CNBC, adding that he worries most when customers are happy.
NYSE held extensive tests to ensure it would be able to handle heavy trading volume and kept a call going on Friday with periodic updates to note the indicated price range and to say that systems were working properly. - Reuters]]>
JSE stocks ended slightly lower as subdued commodity prices and concerns about Chinese growth pulled resource shares down.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South African stocks ended Friday slightly lower as subdued commodity prices and concerns about Chinese growth pulled resource shares down, although other sectors were propped up by global market relief over the outcome of Scotland's referendum.
Shares on the back foot included iron ore producer Kumba , which shed 1.15 percent.
Bullion producers were also under pressure as the precious metal was poised for its third straight weekly drop in the face of dollar gains, with Johannesburg's Gold Mining index shedding 0.15 percent.
On the upside, shares of e-commerce firm Naspers added 2.1 percent, extending gains from the previous session after brokerage house UBS raised its rating for the group to 'buy' from 'neutral'.
UBS cited “the structural growth opportunities in both its PayTV business, and unlisted internet assets.”
World equities rallied on Friday as Scotland's decision to stay in the United Kingdom lifted Europe and got investors over the latest in a recent run of tricky global political hurdles, helping minimise losses in Johannesburg where the market was positive for much of the session.
The benchmark Top-40 index slipped 0.14 percent to 46,163 while the wider All-share index dropped 0.16 percent to 51,462.
Both indices remain near life highs scaled in July but with commodity prices on the wane, the market might struggle to reach them again anytime soon.
“The commodity story is not looking great, so for the overall JSE I can't see what else can push us higher at the moment,” said Abri du Plessis, chief investment officer at Gryphon Asset Management.
“The rest of the market is just being pulled up by easy monetary policy globally.” - Reuters]]>
Pound sterling jumped and British shares climbed after Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a landmark referendum.]]> |||
Frankfurt - Pound sterling jumped and British shares climbed in London on Friday after Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a landmark referendum.
But sterling slipped to 1.163 dollars (R12.82) later in the afternoon as investors began weighing the wider implications of the vote.
“The excitement is over,” said Commerzbank analyst Ulrich Leuchtmann.
Sterling had risen by almost one percentage point to 1.65 dollars in early trading as the news of the referendum results emerged.
London's stock market FTSE-100 index was 0.7-per-cent higher at 6865 points in late afternoon trading, with the vote in Scotland also allaying investors' fears that a UK breakup could spur independence in other parts of Europe.
Shares in Madrid posted a hefty gain of 1.23 per cent in the morning session as the Scottish vote appeared to reduce the risk of a push for independence in Spain's Catalonia region.
But as the trading day drew to a close, stocks in Madrid were up just 0.3 per cent.
Bourses in other parts of the world also climbed, with the referendum outcome removing the sense of uncertainty that has been hanging over British financial markets.
Investors had experienced a roller-coaster ride of anxiety in recent months when opinion polls showed the vote in Scotland as being too close to call.
The question of which currency an independent Scotland would adopt had played a central role in the referendum campaign.
“The uncertainty factor of recent weeks has been removed from the table,” analysts at DZ Bank said in a note to clients.
Leading the gain in British stocks was a surge in shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group, which have strong business links in Scotland.
Several large financial houses, including RBS, withdrew their threat to relocate their headquarters outside of Scotland.
But new questions have emerged after the vote.
Investors are now waiting for details of the British government's plans for the further devolution of powers across the United Kingdom.
“The UK has not come out of this unscathed,” said UniCredit Bank economist Daniel Vernazza.
British political leaders “have agreed to transfer substantial tax-raising powers, although differences remain between the parties,” he said.
“That transfer of powers will now have to be delivered.”
While shares in Asia closed higher, Europe's broad-based STOXX Europe 600 index was trading 0.5 per cent up at 349.56 points in late trading.
Wall Street also gained ground with the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index rising 0.4 per cent shortly after the New York market opened. - Sapa-dpa]]>
The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said it would work with banks, cash-in-transit companies and the police to bring down crime in the banking sector.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) on Friday said it would work with banks, cash-in-transit companies and the police to bring down crime in the banking sector.
“It is only through such collaboration that we will ensure that the fight against organised crime is dealt with,” Sabric said in a statement.
“We believe that fighting crime is a collective responsibility and not only that of law enforcement.”
Sabric welcomed the decrease of 0.4 percent in serious crime after the release of the 2013/2014 crime statistics.
Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay welcomed the statistics on behalf of the banking and cash-in-transit (CIT) industries.
“We continue to review all working structures to appropriately address the threats posed by organised criminals,” Pillay said in a statement.
“We would also like to thank the police for continuously striving to collaborate with the banking and CIT industries to ensure that the criminals are brought to book, and we look forward to more arrests and successful prosecutions.”
Sabric's crime statistics indicated an increase in bank robberies, bank burglaries and CIT robberies in the 2013/14
Pillay said the good news was an 11 percent decrease in ATM attacks.
“This decrease indicates a positive impact on the fight against ATM attacks. This decrease in ATM attacks is consistent with the previous year's 17 percent decrease,” Sabric said.
Releasing the crime statistics in Pretoria, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said the largest increase was in bank robberies, which saw a 200 percent hike.
“Bank robbery went from seven to 21, with Gauteng contributing most of them,” Phiyega said.
She said bank robberies were mostly organised and associated with syndicates, which needed intelligence-led policing.
Cash-in-transit robberies stabilised and common robbery increased by 0.6 percent. - Sapa]]>
Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of US states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.]]> |||
Washington - Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of US states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.
The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11.
Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.
Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs.
The figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.
Georgia reported the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent.
That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended. - Sapa-AP]]>