Australia Elections – Refugees voting in their first federal election

Source: AMES

Around 250,000 newly minted Australian citizens will vote in tomorrow's federal election – the most at any election in history.

And, according Australian Electoral Commission and Department of Social Services data, among the new citizens voting will be more than 10,000 former refugees, many who have never voted before or have voted only under duress.

One of them is Ekhlas Franso, who with her two sisters escaped terror attacks on the streets of Baghdad and survived seven years as refugees living in Syria with little money and no work.

Now, as recently confirmed Australian citizens, they will be voting in tomorrow's federal election for the first time.

Ekhlas says her vote is important because it puts in place the last piece of new identity as an Australian.

She feels she has finally achieved a full, new life in a stable and free society. Ekhlas says voting, for her, is both a right and responsibility.

"In Iraq every time we voted it was with fear. No one forced us to vote a certain way but if we didn't vote for the right person there could be trouble. But here in Australia there is democracy and freedom," Ekhlas said.

"Becoming citizens last December was really important for my sisters and me. We now feel like we belong somewhere and we can move on with our lives," she said.

"On election day we will cast our votes like other Australians. It will be a privilege and it marks our good luck in becoming a part of this wonderful country," Ekhlas said.

She said she was forced to flee her homeland in 2006.

"The violence was increasing with the terrorists and different groups fighting," Ekhlas said.

"As Christians, things were even more dangerous for us and when my sister was threatened, we knew it was time to leave," she said.

Ekhlas and her sisters Basma and Nadia fled to Syria where they spent seven years in limbo.

"Life was also difficult in Syria. We could not work and my sister here in Australia was supporting us. She applied for us to come to Australia as refugees and after seven years we were accepted," said Ekhlas, who now lives in Melbourne's north.

"At the beginning everything was new and it was difficult coming to a new country and a new life here in Australia but now we are very happy to be in a free country and to be safe," she said.

Ethnic Hazara Muhammad Raza was born and grew up in Pakistan and although he was a citizen, he was forced to flee his homeland when extremist militias targeted his community.

"In Pakistan we could vote but the political process is corrupt and you we were always choosing the lesser of a set of evils. We have a history of politicians robbing the country to get rich," Raza said.

He said voting in his first Australian federal election was "awesome".

"I am very excited and I'm taking the opportunity to vote very seriously. It is a privilege to cast a vote in choosing who will represent us," Raza said.

"In Australia we have a democratic system that is transparent and accountable compared to Pakistan.

"Here I can approach my local politician if I have a problem. In Pakistan, I would never get near a politician.

"I feel that I am now part of this country and I take the responsibility to vote seriously. I am grateful to Australia for giving me a new life and full place in this society," said Raza, who now lives in Melbourne's south east.

CEO of migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia Cath Scarth said overwhelmingly, refugees and migrants relished the chance to vote and play a part in the political process.

"Refugees and migrants see the right to vote as a validation of their places in Australian society and it gives them a sense of belonging," Ms Scarth said.

Many, especially refugees, have come from places where they don't have a vote or the act of voting can be extremely dangerous.

So, we find most new citizens relish the opportunity to take part in the political process and take it very seriously," she said.

Ms Scarth said part of AMES Australia's mission was to help orientate newly arrived refugees and migrants to Australian society and part of that work was to help them understand the electoral process.

"Australia's preferential voting system, particularly, can be confusing. So we work with the Australian Electoral Commission to help newly arrived citizens to understand how the system works and also the mechanics of actually voting," she said.

"We also stress that voting in Australia is compulsory and that it is a safe and normal thing to do," Ms Scarth said.

London Financial Market – London Stock Exchange Welcomes Finablr PLC to the Main Market

Source: London Stock Exchange

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–London Stock Exchange welcomes Finablr PLC (“Finablr”), a global payments and foreign exchange company, to open London’s markets for trading and to celebrate the listing of the Company’s shares on the Premium Segment of the Main Market of LSE.

Finablr is a global platform for Payments and Foreign Exchange solutions underpinned by modern proprietary technology. With deep regulatory know-how, a relentless focus on innovation and leading industry partnerships, Finablr group companies provide a broad array of tailored and trusted financial solutions for consumers and businesses.

The Company is primed for growth as it benefits from structural drivers, like the globalisation of commerce driven by migration and mobility, cross-border trade, growth of e-commerce and the creation of connected communities. Through category-renowned brands, including UAE Exchange, Travelex, Xpress-Money, Unimoni, Remit2India, Ditto and Swych, Finablr sits at the centre of these intersecting trends, with an ability to serve both the end consumer and global corporates.

Finablr is present across the entire payments and foreign exchange value chain, from origination to processing to last-mile distribution. An integrated platform is at the heart of the Company’s proposition, supporting its omni-channel strategy with best-in-class operating capabilities and connectivity to global payment networks. This allows the Company to develop a deep understanding of its customers’ requirements and deliver a range of solutions tailored to their lifestyle and business needs.

In 2018, Finablr managed over 150,000,000 transactions, shifting the equivalent of $114.5 billion in volumes for its customers. It has a broad global reach spanning over 170 countries and has relationships with more than 100 regulators. The company’s truly global reach, its technology’s sophistication and its platform’s economies of scale have made Finablr a partner of choice for leading global banks, financial institutions, retailers, mobile wallet providers and payment and technology companies.

Dr. B R Shetty, Founder and Chairman of Finablr said: “Today marks a momentous milestone for Finablr and the beginning of an exciting new era to support the ever-evolving needs of a global customer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our global patrons for their trust and faith in our commitment.”

Dr. Shetty, Finablr's largest shareholder and acknowledged by investors for star-studded track record of all-round value creation, had bought UK-based Travelex in 2015 $1.1 billion.

Finablr, as a group, has a global presence in over 170 countries and managed $114.5 billion in annual volumes in 2018. The group has been seeking to raise $200 from the IPO.

Promoth Manghat, Group Chief Executive Officer of Finablr said: “We are delighted that Finablr has joined the London Stock Exchange’s Premium Market, providing a new platform to grow over the coming years. We are very confident about the long-term prospects of the payments and foreign exchange solutions and the overarching presence of technology in such transactions and remain committed to generating the greatest value for our all our shareholders.”

Amidst unstable global macro and micro market situations bringing uncertainty in the broader socio-economic conditions, a rational price revision to 175 pence per share, down from an initially anticipated range above 200 pence, gave Finablr an implied market value of about $1.59 billion, said the bookrunner.

Books were covered at full value of the deal worth 192.5 million shares, thereby making the share offering to raise about £337 million. The deal size shall include a revised base deal size of 175 million shares and 17.5 million of over-allotment option shares.

The group claims to have built on the strength of their technology platform to provide best in class payments experiences to consumers and businesses. The group further claims that they are very well positioned to capture the future opportunities.

Dr. Shetty concluded, “We have grown with a principle theme of Customer Service as our Currency and our endeavor would always be to serve the last person in the queue with equal zeal and care.”

Barclays, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Cazenove acted as Joint Global Co-ordinators and Joint Bookrunners, with EFG-Hermes, BofA Merrill Lynch and Numis also acting as Joint Bookrunners to the listing. Evercore acted as financial adviser to Finablr.

London Financial Market – London Stock Exchange Welcomes Finablr PLC to the Main Market

Source: London Stock Exchange

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–London Stock Exchange welcomes Finablr PLC (“Finablr”), a global payments and foreign exchange company, to open London’s markets for trading and to celebrate the listing of the Company’s shares on the Premium Segment of the Main Market of LSE.

Finablr is a global platform for Payments and Foreign Exchange solutions underpinned by modern proprietary technology. With deep regulatory know-how, a relentless focus on innovation and leading industry partnerships, Finablr group companies provide a broad array of tailored and trusted financial solutions for consumers and businesses.

The Company is primed for growth as it benefits from structural drivers, like the globalisation of commerce driven by migration and mobility, cross-border trade, growth of e-commerce and the creation of connected communities. Through category-renowned brands, including UAE Exchange, Travelex, Xpress-Money, Unimoni, Remit2India, Ditto and Swych, Finablr sits at the centre of these intersecting trends, with an ability to serve both the end consumer and global corporates.

Finablr is present across the entire payments and foreign exchange value chain, from origination to processing to last-mile distribution. An integrated platform is at the heart of the Company’s proposition, supporting its omni-channel strategy with best-in-class operating capabilities and connectivity to global payment networks. This allows the Company to develop a deep understanding of its customers’ requirements and deliver a range of solutions tailored to their lifestyle and business needs.

In 2018, Finablr managed over 150,000,000 transactions, shifting the equivalent of $114.5 billion in volumes for its customers. It has a broad global reach spanning over 170 countries and has relationships with more than 100 regulators. The company’s truly global reach, its technology’s sophistication and its platform’s economies of scale have made Finablr a partner of choice for leading global banks, financial institutions, retailers, mobile wallet providers and payment and technology companies.

Dr. B R Shetty, Founder and Chairman of Finablr said: “Today marks a momentous milestone for Finablr and the beginning of an exciting new era to support the ever-evolving needs of a global customer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our global patrons for their trust and faith in our commitment.”

Dr. Shetty, Finablr's largest shareholder and acknowledged by investors for star-studded track record of all-round value creation, had bought UK-based Travelex in 2015 $1.1 billion.

Finablr, as a group, has a global presence in over 170 countries and managed $114.5 billion in annual volumes in 2018. The group has been seeking to raise $200 from the IPO.

Promoth Manghat, Group Chief Executive Officer of Finablr said: “We are delighted that Finablr has joined the London Stock Exchange’s Premium Market, providing a new platform to grow over the coming years. We are very confident about the long-term prospects of the payments and foreign exchange solutions and the overarching presence of technology in such transactions and remain committed to generating the greatest value for our all our shareholders.”

Amidst unstable global macro and micro market situations bringing uncertainty in the broader socio-economic conditions, a rational price revision to 175 pence per share, down from an initially anticipated range above 200 pence, gave Finablr an implied market value of about $1.59 billion, said the bookrunner.

Books were covered at full value of the deal worth 192.5 million shares, thereby making the share offering to raise about £337 million. The deal size shall include a revised base deal size of 175 million shares and 17.5 million of over-allotment option shares.

The group claims to have built on the strength of their technology platform to provide best in class payments experiences to consumers and businesses. The group further claims that they are very well positioned to capture the future opportunities.

Dr. Shetty concluded, “We have grown with a principle theme of Customer Service as our Currency and our endeavor would always be to serve the last person in the queue with equal zeal and care.”

Barclays, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Cazenove acted as Joint Global Co-ordinators and Joint Bookrunners, with EFG-Hermes, BofA Merrill Lynch and Numis also acting as Joint Bookrunners to the listing. Evercore acted as financial adviser to Finablr.

Global Marine Environment – 10 rivers will be studied by the Tara Ocean Foundation to understand the origins on land of plastic pollution in the oceans

Source: Tara Ocean Foundation

Where does plastic waste originate? How does it arrive in the Ocean? Where should we concentrate our efforts to stop the flow of this waste? What impacts do plastics have on marine biodiversity? Recent estimates find that 80% of plastic waste found at sea originates on land. The Tara Ocean Foundation and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have been involved in this research since 2010. Now it is urgent to explore and identify the flux of plastic waste from land to sea in order to stop it. The upcoming Mission Microplastics 2019 — with the CNRS in charge of scientific coordination —will take the schooner Tara through several regions in Europe for 6 months, exploring 10 major European rivers. The journey will begin on May 23, 2019 in Lorient (Morbihan),Tara’s home port.
A new chapter of research about plastic at sea aboardTara
During several expeditions since 2010, the schooner collected microplastics (from 0.2 to < 5mm in diameter) in her nets. The evidence is clear: microplastics are ubiquitous throughout the oceans. In 2014 we focused on this pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Then in 2017 we discovered an important zone of plastic accumulation in the Arctic Ocean, and in 2018 we identified the biodiversity associated with microplastics in the north Pacific vortex. Now Tara and her partners will identify the sources, predict their outcome, and assess the impact of plastics from the land to the sea.

Microplastics, the most problematic fragments
Many studies in Europe and around the world have already made it possible to characterize the flow of waste in various aquatic environments — seawater, coastal waters, rivers, transitional waters such as estuaries and lagoons. But most often these studies have concentrated on the larger plastic fragments— "macro-debris" (> 2 cm). Microplastics are the result of the degradation of macro-debris. These tiny fragments have numerous interactions with marine organisms: they can disperse potentially invasive species and pathogens attached to plastics, and accumulate toxic products and endocrine disruptors which then enter the food chain, etc.
 
Explore the course of rivers to identify the foci of plastic dispersion and their impact
Rain running down roads and gutters into lakes, water flowing in streams and rivers— are vectors of the plastic waste produced by everyone which eventually winds up in the ocean. Tara will stay close to the coasts, conducting this new investigation to determine the exact origin on land of the plastics found at sea.
 
An interdisciplinary team of about 40 scientists — marine biologists, ecotoxicologists, oceanographers, mathematicians/modelers, chemists and physicists — will lead this mission, working together to accomplish 2 major goals:
1. Identify sources of pollution and behavior of microplastics as they disperse into the ocean
2. Understand the impacts of microplastics on marine biodiversity and the food chain

Sampling is planned at the mouth of 10 major rivers in Europe: the Thames (England); the Elbe and Rhine (Germany); the Seine, Loire, Garonne and Rhone (France); the Tagus (Portugal); the Ebro (Spain); the Tiber (Italy).
Samples of microplastics (1 – 5mm), micro-metric particles (1-1000 μm) and nano- plastics (1-999 nm) will be collected at the surface and in the water column. These microplastics will provide clues and evidence to identify their origin, find the foci of dispersion (according to their size and chemical nature), and target the densest concentrations of microplastics in order to take action at the source.
 
Better understand the toxicity of microplastics
Sampling at sea, in estuaries and in rivers will allow us to study the impact of plastics on biodiversity and their transfer into the food chain. Plastics fragments are like rafts that can transport a wide diversity of species over long distances and durably disrupt ecosystems. They can also accumulate in the food chain and end up on our plates.
Plastics contain additives (including endocrine disruptors) that can be absorbed by the tissues of animals that swallow them. This research will contribute to identifying the most toxic plastics according to their composition, in order to eliminate them as a priority from our consumption.
 
Plastic at sea: the solutions are on land!
It would be impossible to collect the enormous quantity of microplastics at sea. The most effective solution is to stop the flow of waste coming from the continents.
"Identifying the sources of the flux is essential for the implementation of effective public policies. This joint mission of the Tara Ocean Foundation and the CNRS, though short in duration, will provide clues for refining future approaches and for modelizing the flux," explains Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Ocean Foundation. Better assessing the sources of microplastics and their fate at sea is a scientific and political challenge. New knowledge will allow us to combat the pollution more effectively while continuing to advance recycling, reduction, reuse and repair, and ultimately contributing to the implementation of a circular economy.
Tara will make 18 stopovers in Europe
authorities, and representatives of the private sector and scientific community. In addition to conferences and visits aboard the schooner, the Tara Ocean Foundation will propose a new traveling exhibition —about the relationships between marine biodiversity and micro-plastics. We intend to share with the greatest number of people the solutions to plastic pollution at sea — solutions that are found on land!
 
Insights from the ocean
These stopovers will also be an opportunity to discover the high level research made by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), major partner of the Tara’s expeditions. EMBL drives visionary fundamental research and technology development in the life sciences from six sites across Europe. It is also the place where the idea for Tara Oceans (2009–2013) was born: EMBL scientist Eric Karsenti initiated the expedition and led its scientific activities. More than 35,000 samples from the world’s oceans were collected during the Tara Oceans expedition. EMBL still coordinates the scientific consortium research effort with CNRS, which includes more than 100 scientists from 18 partner institutions around the world. Edith Heard, EMBL Director General, says: "EMBL continues to make crucial contributions in data analysis, data storage, and in making all data publicly available. As the largest cohesive ecosystem on Earth, the oceans can provide us with insights that are crucial not only for the preservation of mankind, but also of our planet. EMBL will continue working to gain these vital insights in future, together with the Tara Ocean Foundation and the CNRS among others." Tara Ocean Foundation and EMBL will organise special events during the upcoming ports of call at or near EMBL sites: London, Hamburg, Rome, Marseille and Barcelona.
 
More information about stopovers fondationtaraocean.org

Global Oil Sector – Ex dividend – Equinor

Source: Equinor

 May 16, 2019 07:35 CEST – From 16 May 2019, the shares in Equinor (OSE:EQNR) on Oslo Stock Exchange (Oslo Børs) will be traded ex dividend at USD 0.26.

From 17 May 2019, the rights under the American Depository Receipts (ADRs) program in Equinor (NYSE: EQNR)  on New York Stock Exchange will be traded ex dividend at USD 0.26

Record date is 20 May 2019.

This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to Section 5-12 the Norwegian Securities Trading Act

Australia Health Sector – Health Economic Model Published in Advances in Therapy Demonstrates Reduced Cost and Decreased Hospital Stay with the RECELL(R) System

Source: BusinessWire

Real world experience found that the RECELL System could save one US Burn Center up to USD $28MM annually – VALENCIA, Calif. & MELBOURNE, Australia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AVITA Medical (ASX: AVH, OTCQX: AVMXY) announced today that the health economic model of the U.S. burn care pathway, developed in collaboration with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and IQVIA, has been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Advances in Therapy. The model demonstrates that utilizing AVITA Medical’s RECELL® System for the treatment of in-patient burns is cost-saving or cost-neutral and results in reduced length of hospital stay as compared to the standard of care.

“This model is the outcome of an outstanding collaboration between industry, government, medical, and health economics experts to develop the first economic model of U.S. burn care, allowing for robust evaluations of changes to practice including use of new products such as the RECELL System,” said Andrew Quick, Chief Technology Officer.

Utilizing this model, health economic data projects that use of the RECELL System to treat in-patient burns could save a major U.S. burn center up to USD $28 million annually compared to treatment with the standard of care. These findings were recently presented at the American Burn Association (ABA) 51st Annual Meeting by Kevin Foster, MD, MBA, FACS, of the Arizona Burn Center. The model calculated savings based on the demographic mix of patients treated at that center in 2018.

Each year nearly half a million Americans suffer acute thermal burns that require medical treatment, resulting in approximately 50,000 hospitalizations and more than 3,000 deaths. Use of split-thickness skin grafts is considered standard treatment; however, skin grafts are associated with significant pain, delayed healing and hypertrophic scarring, each of which contributes to the substantial costs incurred by the healthcare system.

“Use of this model will have broad implications for the U.S. burn care community, allowing burn centers and hospitals to better understand the fiscal aspects associated with the care of patients with severe burn injuries,” said Erin Liberto, Chief Commercial Officer. “On average, burn centers can save 14-17% of their costs utilizing the RECELL System. The health economic data coupled with our strong clinical data and reimbursement coverage present an undisputable value proposition to hospital administration and further enhance our ability to penetrate new accounts.”

The Advances in Therapy article titled, “Cost-Effectiveness of the Use of Autologous Cell Harvested Device Compared to Standard of Care for Treatment of Severe Burns in the United States,” may be accessed online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-019-00961-2. The model employs sequential decision trees to depict the stages of burn care, from initial burn assessment through treatment for definitive closure of the burn wound, and predicts relative differences between use of the RECELL System compared to the standard of care. The model is based on data from the American Burn Association’s National Burn Repository database, clinical trials, and real-world use data. Actual costs of care come from three U.S. burn centers, and when combined with Monte Carlo simulation of a burn center patient population, the overall burn center budget impact can be accurately predicted.

Authors of the publication include James H. Holmes IV, MD FACS, Director, WFBMC Burn Center, Professor of Surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, William Hickerson, MD, FACS, Memphis Medical Center, and Kevin Foster, MD, MBA, FACS, Maricopa Integrated Health System at the Arizona Burn Center.

Funding for the model was provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), under the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Funding provided by BARDA, under Contract No. HHSO100201500028C.

ABOUT AVITA MEDICAL LIMITED

AVITA Medical is a regenerative medicine company with a technology platform positioned to address unmet medical needs in burns, chronic wounds, and aesthetics indications. AVITA Medical’s patented and proprietary collection and application technology provides innovative treatment solutions derived from the regenerative properties of a patient’s own skin. The medical devices work by preparing a REGENERATIVE EPIDERMAL SUSPENSION™ (RES™), an autologous suspension comprised of the patient’s skin cells necessary to regenerate natural healthy epidermis. This autologous suspension is then sprayed onto the areas of the patient requiring treatment.

AVITA Medical’s first U.S. product, the RECELL® System, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2018. The RECELL System is indicated for use in the treatment of acute thermal burns in patients 18 years and older. The RECELL System is used to prepare Spray-On Skin™ Cells using a small amount of a patient’s own skin, providing a new way to treat severe burns, while significantly reducing the amount of donor skin required. The RECELL System is designed to be used at the point of care alone or in combination with autografts depending on the depth of the burn injury. Compelling data from randomized, controlled clinical trials conducted at major U.S. burn centers and real-world use in more than 7,000 patients globally, reinforce that the RECELL System is a significant advancement over the current standard of care for burn patients and offers benefits in clinical outcomes and cost savings. Healthcare professionals should read the INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE – RECELL® Autologous Cell Harvesting Device (https://recellsystem.com/) for a full description of indications for use and important safety information including contraindications, warnings and precautions.

In international markets our products are marketed under the RECELL System brand to promote skin healing in a wide range of applications including burns, acute wounds, scars and vitiligo. The RECELL System is TGA-registered in Australia and CFDA-cleared in China.

To learn more, visit www.avitamedical.com.

Global Oil Sector – Annual general meeting approved dividend of USD 0.26 per share for fourth quarter 2018 – Equinor

Source: Equinor

 May 15, 2019 22:01 CEST – On 15 May 2019, the annual general meeting (AGM) of shareholders in Equinor ASA (OSE: EQNR, NYSE:EQNR) approved the annual report and accounts for Equinor ASA for 2018, as proposed by the board of directors.

The annual accounts and the annual report for Equinor ASA and the Equinor group for 2018 were approved, and a dividend of US dollar ("USD") 0.26 per share will be distributed for the fourth quarter of 2018.

The fourth quarter 2018 dividend accrues to the shareholders as registered in Equinor’s shareholder register with the Norwegian Central Securities Depository (VPS) as of expiry of 20 May 2019 (the ”Record Date”).

Subject to ordinary settlement in VPS, this implies that the right to dividends accrues to shareholders as of 15 May 2019. The shares will be traded ex-dividend on the Oslo Stock Exchange (Oslo Børs) from and including 16 May 2019. For US ADR (American Depository Receipts) holders, dividend accrues to the ADR-holders as of 16 May 2019, and the ex-dividend date will be from and including 17 May 2019.

Shareholders whose shares trade on Oslo Børs will receive their dividend in Norwegian kroner (”NOK”). The NOK dividend will be communicated on 24 May 2019. The expected payment date for the dividend is on or around 29 May 2019.

The AGM authorised the board of directors to resolve quarterly dividend payments until the next ordinary annual general meeting, but not beyond 30 June 2020.

A proposal from two shareholders had been submitted in advance, suggesting that Equinor should refrain from oil and gas exploration and production activities in certain areas. This proposal was not adopted.

Furthermore, a shareholder had proposed that Equinor should set medium and long-term quantitative targets that include Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions. The shareholder’s proposal was not adopted.

A  proposal from a shareholder was linked to a new direction for the company including phasing out of all exploration activities within two years. This proposal was not adopted.

Another shareholder had proposed that all Equinor‘s efforts within CO2 capture and storage should be immediately abandoned. This proposal was not adopted.

The AGM endorsed the board’s report for 2018 on Corporate Governance. Furthermore, the AGM endorsed the board's guidelines on stipulation of salary and other remuneration for executive management and approved the part of the proposal related to remuneration linked to the development of the company’s share price. Remuneration to the company's external auditor was also approved.

The proposal of the corporate assembly to the general meeting to elect Ernst & Young AS as the group’s new external auditor as of the accounting year 2019 was approved by the AGM.

The AGM authorised the board to acquire Equinor shares in the market on behalf of the company in order to continue the share saving plan for employees. The authorisation shall be valid until the next annual general meeting, but not beyond 30 June 2020.

The AGM also authorised the board to acquire Equinor shares in the market for subsequent annulment. Own shares acquired pursuant to this authorisation may only be used for annulment through a reduction on the company’s share capital. The authorisation shall be valid until the next annual general meeting, but not beyond 30 June 2020.

Please find enclosed the complete minutes of the AGM.

Global Oil Sector – Oil observed on the sea surface at Statfjord – Equinor

Source: Equinor

 May 15, 2019 14:52 CEST | In connection with loading oil from buoy to shuttle tanker on the North Sea Statfjord field, oil was observed on the sea surface early this morning, 15 May. The loading operations were stopped when this was discovered, and the loading systems were shut down.

Efforts have been initiated to map the extent of the oil observed on the sea surface.

In compliance with regular procedures Equinor’s emergency response organisation was quickly mobilized, and the authorities were notified.

Global Oil Sector – Plan for Johan Sverdrup phase 2 approved – Equinor

Source: Equinor

 May 15, 2019 13:26 CEST – The plan for development and operation (PDO) of the second phase of the Johan Sverdrup field development was formally approved by Norwegian authorities on 15 May. The same day sees the construction start of the field’s second processing platform at Aibel’s yard in Haugesund.

“This is a big day for Equinor and the other Johan Sverdrup partners comprising Lundin Norway, Petoro, Aker BP and Total. Johan Sverdrup is a world-class field that will provide value to its owners and society for 50 years ahead with record-low emissions. This truly marks the beginning of the second development phase,” says Anders Opedal, executive vice president for Technology, Projects and Drilling in Equinor.

The project received broad support in the Storting (Norway’s parliament) on Monday 29 April, and today the partnership received the formal approval by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE).

Johan Sverdrup is the biggest field development on the Norwegian continental shelf since the 1980s. Phase two of the development, with planned start-up in Q4 2022, will increase field production from 440,000 barrels of oil per day to 660,000 barrels per day.

The second development phase has a capital expenditure of NOK 41 billion. In addition to construction of a new processing platform (P2), the development will also include modifications of the riser platform, five subsea systems, and preparations for power supply from shore to the Utsira High in 2022.

The first phase of the Johan Sverdrup development is approaching 90 % finished and production is expected to start in November this year.

Only a year after the drilling platform was completed and sailed away from Haugesund, the construction of another topside is kicked off at the Aibel yard in Haugesund.

“Johan Sverdrup has played an important role to suppliers and local communities in Norway, including Aibel and Haugesund. With the construction of the second processing platform kicked off here at Aibel’s yard on Risøy, the Johan Sverdrup project will once more become a landmark in Haugesund, which is great,” says Trond Bokn, senior vice president for the Johan Sverdrup development in Equinor.

In the first phase of the Johan Sverdrup development more than 70% of the contracts were awarded to suppliers in Norway. Despite continued strong international competition, the Norwegian share will probably be even higher in the second development phase.

The contract awarded to Aibel for construction of the second processing platform for Johan Sverdrup will help employ up to 1500 people in Haugesund during the construction phase. The Agenda Kaupang analysis agency estimates that the Johan Sverdrup field development may contribute to more than 150,000 man-years in Norway in the period 2015-2025.

“Close and good cooperation with our suppliers has been key to the improvements we have seen in the development so far. Bringing considerable experience and expertise into the second construction phase – which we are currently doing on the processing platform – gives us a sound basis for delivering also the next phase safely, with quality and at cost,” says Bokn.

The Johan Sverdrup field is powered from shore, placing it among the oil and gas fields with the lowest CO2 emissions in the world. In the second phase the field will also supply shore power to other fields on the Utsira High, including the Edvard Grieg, Gina Krog and Ivar Aasen fields. Emission reductions from Johan Sverdrup alone are estimated at more than 620,000 tonnes of CO2 on average per year, corresponding to annual emissions from 310,000 private cars.

Global Cigarette Producers – ‘Can a Tobacco Company Be Sustainable?’ Philip Morris International Says ‘Absolutely,’ and Outlines Clear Progress Toward a Sustainable, Smoke-Free Future

Source: Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE:PM) today published its fourth Sustainability Report, detailing its progress in key areas across its value chain. PMI’s mission to unsmoke the world is core to its sustainability ambition and business strategy.
 

André Calantzopoulos, PMI’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re often asked, ‘Can a tobacco company be sustainable?’ Our answer to that is, ‘Absolutely.’ That is, provided we are taking every step possible to completely replace cigarettes with better alternatives for the adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking, addressing challenges across our value chain and seizing opportunities to add value to society. Our most recent Sustainability Report reflects the hard work and dedication of all our employees globally in moving toward our goal of a smoke-free future. It demonstrates that we are on track to achieve this bold ambition and are well positioned to address the challenges ahead.”

The 2018 Sustainability Report outlines how PMI is accelerating efforts to accomplish its mission to unsmoke the world, including its progress against a set of key business transformation metrics. The company’s strategy supplements the efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce smoking prevalence, and is aiming to reduce smoking among PMI consumers more than three times faster than the target set by the WHO. The company’s aspiration is that at least 40 million people who would otherwise have smoked cigarettes will have switched to PMI’s smoke-free products by 2025, reducing the number of PMI cigarette smokers by 55 million.

The report documents how PMI is continuing to focus considerable resources to prevent child labor and improve labor conditions throughout its value chain; scaling up its efforts toward improving inclusion and diversity; and reducing its environmental footprint through greener energy, water and litter management and the preservation of biodiversity, land and forests.

The following were among PMI’s key milestones in 2018 on the road to a sustainable, smoke-free future:

  • Only four years after it was launched, PMI estimates that 6.6 million adult smokers have stopped smoking and switched to the company’s heated tobacco product IQOS.
  • Smoke-free products represented 5.1 percent of shipment volume, but already 13.8 percent of net revenues. IQOS was available in 44 markets by the end of 2018. In 19 of these markets, net revenues from smoke-free products for PMI exceeded 10 percent of total net revenues, and in three markets, smoke-free products already became the biggest part of PMI’s business, exceeding 50 percent of total net revenues.
  • PMI continued to shift its resources toward smoke-free products: 92 percent of its research and development investment and 60 percent of its global commercial expenditure were dedicated to smoke-free products, while seven manufacturing facilities were producing them, up from three factories in 2017.
  • Playing its part in the circular economy, PMI established a centralized initiative to recycle used IQOS devices; CIRCLE (Central Inspection and Recycling for Closed Loop Economy) brings returned device recycling to the highest industry standards. 
  • PMI initiated a step change improvement of its Agricultural Labor Practices program, with the ambition to have no child labor within its tobacco supply chain by 2025. Its program is already considered industry-leading, and the monitoring data, covering 88 percent of contracted farms, show that 98 percent of the over 300,000 farms visited by field technicians were free of child labor in 2018.
  • PMI reinforced its human rights due diligence work by conducting a pilot human rights impact assessment at its factory in Mexico.
  • PMI scaled up its efforts in managing social and labor practices in its electronics supply chain.
  • Worldwide representation of women in PMI management roles increased to 35.2 percent, on track to reach its target goal of 40 percent by 2022.
  • PMI’s factory in Brazil received the Alliance for Water Stewardship certification in 2018—the first of any industry in Latin America—and the aim is that by 2025, all PMI’s factories will be certified to the AWS standard. 
  • For the fifth year in a row, PMI achieved CDP’s Climate A-list for its comprehensive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change and for transparency in its reporting practices.

The four pillars of PMI’s sustainability strategy are: Transforming Its Business, Driving Operational Excellence, Managing Its Social Impact and Reducing Its Environmental Footprint. In each of these pillars, PMI reassessed its most relevant challenges, with insights provided by a broad group of external and internal stakeholders, to prioritize areas where its work can have the greatest impact, thereby contributing toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The 2018 Sustainability Report was developed in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting standards and is aligned with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards and provides extensive data, inviting readers to assess PMI’s performance across a wide set of metrics.

“It was important to have an updated outside view, considering that our business transformation is advancing rapidly and will lead to new challenges and opportunities,” said Huub Savelkouls, PMI’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “The sustainability materiality analysis we carried out last year highlighted that the mission of our company—to unsmoke the world by replacing cigarettes with better smoke-free alternatives for those adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking—is fundamental for PMI’s ambition to become a sustainability leader.”

Download the full 2018 Sustainability Report here: www.pmi.com/sustainability/sustainability-report.

About Philip Morris International: Delivering a Smoke-Free Future

Philip Morris International (PMI) is leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with smoke-free products to the benefit of adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, society, the company and its shareholders. PMI is a leading international tobacco company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smoke-free products and associated electronic devices and accessories, and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside the U.S. PMI is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while not risk-free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke. Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities and scientific substantiation, PMI aims to ensure that its smoke-free products meet adult consumer preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements. PMI's smoke-free IQOS product portfolio includes heat-not-burn and nicotine-containing vapor products. As of March 31, 2019, PMI estimates that approximately 7.3 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to PMI’s heat-not-burn product, which is currently available for sale in 47 markets in key cities or nationwide under the IQOS brand. For more information, please visit www.pmi.com and www.pmiscience.com.

Forward-Looking and Cautionary Statements

This press release and the Sustainability Report contain projections of future results and other forward-looking statements. Achievement of future results is subject to risks, uncertainties and inaccurate assumptions. In the event that risks or uncertainties materialize, or underlying assumptions prove inaccurate, actual results could vary materially from those contained in such forward-looking statements. Pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, PMI is identifying important factors that, individually or in the aggregate, could cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements made by PMI.

PMI's business risks include: excise tax increases and discriminatory tax structures; increasing marketing and regulatory restrictions that could reduce our competitiveness, eliminate our ability to communicate with adult consumers, or ban certain of our products; health concerns relating to the use of tobacco products and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; litigation related to tobacco use; intense competition; the effects of global and individual country economic, regulatory and political developments, natural disasters and conflicts; changes in adult smoker behavior; lost revenues as a result of counterfeiting, contraband and cross-border purchases; governmental investigations; unfavorable currency exchange rates and currency devaluations, and limitations on the ability to repatriate funds; adverse changes in applicable corporate tax laws; adverse changes in the cost and quality of tobacco and other agricultural products and raw materials; and the integrity of its information systems and effectiveness of its data privacy policies. PMI's future profitability may also be adversely affected should it be unsuccessful in its attempts to produce and commercialize reduced-risk products or if regulation or taxation do not differentiate between such products and cigarettes; if it is unable to successfully introduce new products, promote brand equity, enter new markets or improve its margins through increased prices and productivity gains; if it is unable to expand its brand portfolio internally or through acquisitions and the development of strategic business relationships; or if it is unable to attract and retain the best global talent. Future results are also subject to the lower predictability of our reduced-risk product category’s performance.

PMI is further subject to other risks detailed from time to time in its publicly filed documents, including the Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2019. PMI cautions that the foregoing list of important factors is not a complete discussion of all potential risks and uncertainties. PMI does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that it may make from time to time, except in the normal course of its public disclosure obligations.