Singapore Airlines considering raising funds in currency bonds
SINGAPORE, May 24 — As Singapore Airlines Ltd. considers broadening its debt sources amid plans to spend S$30.1 billion (RM94.5 billion), some analysts are pointing to the likelihood of a shift to US-dollar bonds and the higher borrowing costs…
Oil firm on expected cut extension, but economic slowdown weighs
SINGAPORE, May 23 — Oil prices were firm today on the expectation that an Opec-led production cut would be extended to next March, but analysts said economic slowdown was clouding the mid-term outlook for crude markets. Brent crude futures at…
Iraq agrees to nine-month extension of OPEC production cut: minister
BAGHDAD: Iraq has agreed to a nine-month extension of a production cut pact among OPEC members that is aimed at boosting crude prices, the country's oil minister said on Monday.
“We are in agreement with the kingdom (of Saudi Arabia)… to continue the production cut” for another nine months, Jabbar al-Luaybi told a news conference in Baghdad alongside the Saudi energy minister, Khalid al-Falih.
“After our conversation with the prime minister, he gave the green light to his excellency (the Iraqi oil minister) to approve” the nine-month extension, Falih said.
At the end of November, the 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day from Jan 1, initially for six months, to reduce a supply glut.
Then in December, non-OPEC producers led by Russia agreed to reduce their own output by 558,000 barrels per day.
OPEC members and Russia will meet on Thursday and are expected to extend the production cut agreement.
“After the historic agreement last November which restored balance to the markets, the oil industry began to recover in a major way, but not completely,” Falih said.
Iraq, which relies on revenue from crude sales for the vast majority of government funds, was hit hard by the fall in oil prices, which came as it wages a costly war against the jihadists. — AFP
AkzoNobel shareholders seek court help to oust chairman
AMSTERDAM: AkzoNobel shareholders and a US hedge fund manager Monday urged a court to allow a vote on ousting the chairman of the world's leading paint manufacturer, seen as blocking a US takeover bid.
Activist investor Elliott Advisors, and at least seven other shareholder groups, are calling for a shareholders' meeting to be held, accusing the management of “creating a crisis of confidence” after the Dutch company rejected three takeover offers from US rival PPG.
Elliott took its case to the Dutch Enterprise Chamber in Amsterdam, asking the tribunal to order an extraordinary meeting of AkzoNobel shareholders, which could vote on whether to dismiss chairman of the board Antony Burgmans.
But the Dutch chemical giant hit back, saying axing Burgmans will “not change any decisions taken by its board of directors in relation to PPG.”
Both Burgmans and Michael McGarry, chief executive of the Pittsburg-based PPG, attended Monday's hearing.
“Shareholders are single-handedly being robbed of their right to call to account those in charge of policy, namely Burgmans,” said lawyer Jan Willem de Groot, acting for Elliott.
“There is a serious crisis of confidence between AkzoNobel and a large group of shareholders,” De Groot told the packed courtroom.
AkzoNobel, whose best-known brands include Dulux and Trimetal, earlier this month snubbed a third takeover offer by PPG – which valued the company at around €24.6 billion (RM118.99 billion).
AkzoNobel maintained the PPG bid undervalued the group and “contained significant risks and uncertainties”.
According to financial regulations, PPG now has until June 1 to submit a formal bid for AkzoNobel to the Dutch market regulator without the AkzoNobel board's support – meaning the bid could turn hostile.
The Enterprise Chamber will hand down its ruling on Monday, May 29, the presiding judge Gijs Makkink said.
Elliott, headquartered in New York, holds a stake of just over 3.0% in AkzoNobel but with other shareholders in favour of the deal with PPG, claims more than 17% representation.
'Serious' talks needed
De Groot said “the rapid way” in which AkzoNobel's board had refused the request by Elliott and other shareholders for an extraordinary meeting was “unacceptable”.
“Elliott insists that PPG's proposal must be taken seriously and that can only happen through serious negotiations with each other,” De Groot added.
McGarry told the hearing Burgmans “refused to entertain a proposal from PPG and engage with PPG, regardless of the impact to stakeholders.”
“It was and still is our preference to negotiate with Akzo, and if possible, reach an agreement,” he said.
“We are not here to give an opinion on whether Mr Burgmans should remain in his position,” McGarry's lawyer Arnold Croiset van Uchelen told the judges.
“What PPG wants is for Akzo to hold a proper discussion over the possible combination of both companies,” the lawyer said, also vehemently denying accusations of collusion between PPG and Elliott.
He told the judges that PPG was prepared to pay a 200-million-euro break-up fee should negotiations with AkzoNobel reach a dead-end.
AkzoNobel, formed in 1994 from the merger of the Dutch and Swedish firms Akzo and Nobel, has said it believes there is a “significant integration risk” to a tie-up with PPG, warning the US company has provided no job guarantees for its 46,000-strong workforce.
It has also stood by Burgmans, saying his dismissal “would be irresponsible, disproportionate (and) damaging”.
Elliott's bid to remove Burgmans is an attempt “to force the management and board to change course,” said Harm-Jan de Kluiver, representing AkzoNobel.
The fund was really motivated by “short-term gain which it thinks it will get if Burgmans is fired and AkzoNobel is taken over by PPG,” De Kluiver added.
Amid the furore, Dutch authorities have said they wanted to beef up protection for large Dutch multinationals that have become targets for takeovers, with Economics Minister Henk Kamp saying he preferred AkzoNobel to remain in local hands.
Kamp said authorities were looking at extending a so-called cooling off period to one year during hostile takeover bids, enabling a company's top management to regroup and formulate a new strategy. — AFP
Asia ministers in push for China-led free trade pact
HANOI, May 22 — Asian trade ministers met today to hammer out the terms of a massive China-led pact that has taken centre stage as Washington pulls away from regional free trade deals in favour of bilateral agreements. The 16-nation Regional…
Founder of China’s LeEco steps down amid cash crunch
HONG KONG, May 22 — The founder of LeEco, a Chinese Netflix-to-Tesla-like conglomerate, has stepped down as the CEO of the group’s main listed unit, as the company begins to streamline and cut debt after rapid expansion led to a cash crunch….
RBS tries for last-minute settlement before investor court case, sources claim
LONDON, May 22 — Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has tried to reach a last-minute settlement with a group of investors who allege that the lender misled them over a 2008 capital increase, according to two people close to the matter. A successful…
China slaps import duties on sugar; experts question impact
BEIJING, May 22 — China said today it will impose hefty penalties on sugar imports after lobbying by domestic mills, but experts said the ruling may not go far enough to stem the flow of lower-priced sweetener into the world’s top importer….