Business

AMSTERDAM - Unions representing workers at BP's large Rotterdam refinery said on Saturday they plan to hold talks with management on Monday, in a possible step toward resolving a pay dispute that has left the plant idled for more than a week. In addition, spokesman Jaap Bosma of the CNV union said workers at the plant are planning to restart one facility at the refinery, Crude Distillation Unit 4 (CDU4), on Monday. (Reporting by Toby Sterling, Editing by Louise Heavens)...
SINGAPORE - China's Shenzhen Energy Group has signed a long-term agreement with oil major BP to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG), aiming to lock in supplies with gas-fired power generation poised to surge in the world's second-largest economy. The agreement is Shenzhen Energy's first long-term international LNG contract and its first long-term contract with BP Singapore, the Chinese company said in a statement on Friday. The statement did not specify details of the agreement, including the duration of the contract. "To meet the demand of Guangdong province and Shenzhen city for energy security and stability, Shenzhen Energy Group is making efforts to promote the construction of gas power plants," it said. "It is estimated that around 2024, as the gas power plants go into operation, the group's total demand for natural gas will significantly rise." China's LNG importers are widely expected this winter to avoid...
- German chemicals distributor Brenntag has held preliminary discussions with Univar Solutions Inc regarding a potential acquisition, Brenntag said on Friday. The discussions are ongoing and Brenntag said it not foreseeable whether there will be any kind of transaction. (Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)...
MILAN - Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has given cabinet undersecretary Alessio Butti powers to oversee Rome's strategic policies to develop ultra-fast broadband networks, a government decree seen by showed on Friday. The move comes ahead of an end-November deadline for state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) to decide whether to submit a preliminary offer for Telecom Italia's (TIM) landline grid, under a plan championed by Meloni's predecessor Mario Draghi. The multi-billion euro offer would be part of a broader plan to merge TIM's network with smaller rival Open Fiber, which is controlled by CDP. Butti criticised such a plan and called on CDP to take control of TIM as a way to pursue the goal of combining the former phone monopoly network assets with those of Open Fiber. TIM's top investor is French media company Vivendi with a 24% stake and the second largest is CDP with a 10% stake. Meloni's of...
MILAN - Italy's state railways company Ferrovie dello Stato said on Friday it will grant its staff a 300 euro additional bonus this year under a scheme approved by the government to help soften the impact of the rising cost of living. Ferrovie said under an agreement with unions it will give its staff the additional credit to pay expenses such as energy bills, public transport and gasoline. Ferrovie employs some 82,000 workers in Italy. Earlier this month the government approved legislation to forego taxation on so-called fringe benefits paid to employees this year for up to 3,000 euros per worker as part of a 9 billion euro aid package to help firms and households with decades-high inflation rates and increased energy prices. (Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Grant McCool)...
By Sam Tobin - The younger brother of steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal had his deal with creditors – under which he agreed to pay 0.2% of his total debts of more than $2 billion – overturned in a London court on Friday. Pramod Mittal was declared bankrupt in June 2020 over an approximately $170 million debt owed to Moorgate Industries UK Limited, previously called Stemcor UK Limited. The businessman entered into an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) with his creditors in October 2020. Joseph Curl, representing Moorgate, said in court documents filed earlier this month that Mittal's debts increased by a factor of more than 40 to almost $2.7 billion shortly before creditors voted on the IVA proposal. Curl said loans to four of Mittal’s creditors carried "absolutely extraordinary" rates of compound interest, with interest making up more than 97% of his total debt. Mittal’s lawyers argued Moorgate did...
NEW YORK - EY has hired Rodolfo Araujo, an expert in corporate governance, to lead the auditing and consulting firm's environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy and investor engagement efforts, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. Araujo will provide strategic counsel to corporate boards, management teams and asset managers on ways to develop ESG initiatives at EY Parthenon, EY's global strategy consulting arm, the sources said. An EY spokesperson declined to comment. His hire comes at a time corporations are focusing more intently on ESG issues ranging from pollution and employee safety to carbon emissions and are looking for help on how to engage with shareholders on the topic. Araujo spent more than three years at FTI as the global consulting firm's head of corporate governance and activism. Before that he helped decide the outcome of contested mergers and proxy contests as a vice president at Inst...
ATHENS - Binance Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao said on Friday regulation rather than opposition of the crypto sector is a better option for world governments as digital currencies become more mainstream. Regulation of crypto currencies has come into sharp focus following the collapse of several platforms, culminating in the crash of the FTX currency exchange earlier this month. "I think most governments now understand that adoption will happen regardless. It's better to regulate the industry instead of trying to fight against it," Zhao said, speaking at a Binance event in Athens. The opaque world of crypto came into the spotlight when FTX, a crypto exchange, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Nov. 11 after traders pulled $6 billion from the platform in three days. The collapse has left an estimated 1 million creditors facing losses totalling billions of dollars. Nonetheless, Z...
By Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS -U.S. online retail giant Amazon may be able to end two EU antitrust investigations by the end of the year after tweaking concessions to address concerns over its use of sellers' data, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. Settling the EU investigations means the company will avoid a fine of as much as 10% of its global turnover. Faced with charges of using its size, power and data to push its own products to gain an unfair advantage over rival merchants that also use its platform, Amazon in July offered to refrain from using sellers' data for its own competing retail business and its private label products. The European Commission then sought feedback from rivals and customers and subsequently said the company needed to improve its concession. Amazon has increased the range of data which it cannot use, one of the people said. "It is possible an EU decision wi...
ATHENS - National Bank (NBG), Greece's second-largest lender by market value, on Friday issued 200 million pounds ($241.6 million) of notes which will mature in 4-1/2 years. It is the first sterling-denominated offer from a Greece-based issuer since 2009, with 70% of the senior preferred notes taken up by foreign investors, National Bank said in a statement. The final cost for the issue came at 6.97%. Goldman Sachs acted as joint bookrunner for the transaction. ($1 = 0.8278 pounds) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)...
By Sam Tobin LONDON - Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) on Friday obtained a civil recovery order relating to nearly 54 million pounds ($65 million) of suspected criminal property held in accounts with Barclays. The NCA's lawyers told London's High Court that the money is likely "the proceeds of unlawful conduct", a view shared by Barclays which first approached the agency about the money. Andrew Sutcliffe, representing the NCA, said in court documents that the NCA will set up a claim scheme to allow "innocent account holders" to ask for the return of the money if they can show it is not criminal property. Judge Robin Knowles said he was prepared to make the civil recovery order "without hesitation". "We welcome the High Court's ruling, which enables the funds to be transferred to the NCA to support further their efforts in stopping fraud and economic crime," a Barclays spokesperson said. The...
SANTIAGO - Enel Generacion Chile said on Friday that it reached an agreement with Shell to carry out contractual modifications that would have a pre-tax financial positive impact of about $500 million. In a note to local markets regulator, Enel Generacion Chile said the changes are still pending some corporate authorizations that are expected in December. The note said that "among others", one of the changes is the partial disposal of projected excess liquefied natural gas.  "It is estimated that the operation will have a positive impact on the pre-tax result of Enel Generacion Chile of approximately USD 500 million," the note added. The company did not provide further details. After the statement sent to the regulatory body, Enel Chile's shares rose more than 4% on the Santiago stock market at the beginning of Friday afternoon. On Tuesday, Enel, the Chilean subsidiary's parent company in Italy...
By Cecile Mantovani and Caroline Pailliez PARIS - Ski resort managers in the French Alps are scrambling to find ways to conserve energy as part of a national effort to reduce consumption, with about half the resorts also bracing for power bills to be three to six times higher than in prior years. In Chamonix, close to Switzerland, if there is no crowd, the lift will go 10% slower. And if the resort gets an alert that power supplies cannot meet demand, Chamonix will slow the lifts by 30%. A number of ski resorts including Chamonix and Val Thorens have also pledged to limit artificial snow production and reduce heating within buildings, officials said. In Val Thorens, maintenance and restaurant staff will be lifted to their workplace before the slopes open in a slot of around 10 minutes, rather than have the ski lifts working near-empty for an hour. Those measures "will be invisible and painless for our customer...
MILAN - A consortium made up of defense group Leonardo and commercial vehicle maker Iveco has won an order to supply Brazil's army with 220 armoured vehicles worth up to 2 billion euros ($2.08 billion), Italy's defence minister said. "(This) demonstrates the excellence of Italian industry in the world and excellent teamwork," Guido Crosetto said in a statement on Friday. A spokesman for Iveco confirmed the consortium had won the contract but declined to comment on the figures. Leonardo had no immediate comment. ($1 = 0.9614 euros) (Reporting by Angelo Amante and Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Gianluca Semeraro)...
LONDON - The volume of Black Friday payment transactions in Britain as of 1700 GMT was up 3.2% compared to 2021, data from Barclaycard Payments showed on Friday. Barclaycard Payments processes nearly 1 pound ($1.21) in every 3 pounds spent on credit and debit cards in the UK. "This is encouraging news for retailers who will have been unsure about the outcome of today, given the rising cost-of-living," its head, Marc Pettican, said. ($1 = 0.8269 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)...
LONDON - Scotland's largest teaching union announced on Friday 16 new strike dates in a dispute over pay. Britain faces widespread industrial unrest in the run up to the Christmas holiday period and into January as workers struggling with double-digit inflation resort to strike action to demand better pay and working conditions. The Educational Institute of Scotland said the industrial action would take place between Jan. 16 and Feb. 6. "We have been forced into the escalation of this action by the lack of willingness to negotiate properly and to pay teachers properly, by a government that says it wished to be judged on its record on education," Andrea Bradley, the union's general secretary said in a statement. Thousands of Scottish teachers walked out of work on Thursday, leading to the closure of most schools in the country. Scotland's education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said this week the union's dema...
By Jan Strupczewski BRUSSELS -A meeting of European Union government representatives, scheduled for Friday evening to discuss a Group of Seven (G7) proposal to cap Russian seaborne oil prices, was cancelled, EU diplomats said. "There was not enough of a convergence of views," one diplomat said. "There won't be a meeting tonight nor this weekend," a second diplomat said. On Thursday, European Union governments were split on the level at which to cap Russian oil prices to curb Moscow's ability to pay for its war in Ukraine without causing a global oil supply shock. The cap is to enter into force on Dec. 5. The idea of the cap is to prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than the price set by the Group of Seven nations and its allies. Because the world's key shipping and insurance firms are based in G7...
PARIS - CMA CGM said it expects a pullback in shipping markets to accelerate in the fourth quarter due to high energy prices and flagging consumer spending, and this will reduce its profitability following an earnings surge in the past year. French-based CMA CGM, one of the world's largest container lines, reported on Friday a net profit of $7.0 billion for the third quarter, up from $5.6 billion in the year-earlier period. However, the net profit was down from $7.6 billion in the previous quarter, while core earnings also fell slightly from the second quarter, with CMA CGM noting an easing in spot freight rates as shipping demand softened. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz, editing by Tassilo Hummel)...
MILAN - A buyout offer launched by the Benetton family and U.S. investment fund Blackstone for Italy's Atlantia has breached the 95% threshold, calculations showed, allowing the bidders to squeeze out the remaining investors. The bidders have said from the start they would exercise their "squeeze out" right should they breach that threshold. Including the stake already owned by the Benetton family and the holding Atlantia has in itself, they gained the support of 95.96% of shares, according to a calculation. (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Gianluca Semeraro)...
BRUSSELS - A meeting of European Union government representatives, tentatively pencilled in for Friday evening to discuss the G7 proposal of price cap on Russian seaborne oil, was cancelled, EU diplomats said. "There was not enough of a convergence of views," one of the diplomats said. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)...