Australia Banking Sector – Completion of divestment of CFSGAM – Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)

Source: Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)

Friday, 2 August 2019 (SYDNEY): Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) today announced that the divestment of its global asset management business, Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFSGAM) to Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB), has completed.

CBA Chief Executive Officer Matt Comyn said: “Today’s announcement represents an important milestone towards executing CBA’s strategy to become a simpler, better bank. The sale of CFSGAM to MUTB creates significant value for CBA shareholders and is a positive outcome for CFSGAM clients and employees.”

Global Media Sector – ITALY’S ANSA CHOOSES AFP FOR GLOBAL VIDEO, PHOTO, TEXT NEWS

Source: AFP


Italy's leading news agency, ANSA, signs an agreement to buy AFP's international news service in video, photo and text.
In a multi-year deal starting January 1, 2020, Italy's leading news agency ANSA has agreed to buy AFP’s global video, photo and text news services for distribution in daily newspapers and digital media markets.

AFP chairman and chief executive Fabrice Fries welcomed the agreement, which renews relations with ANSA after a five-year hiatus.“It is a sign that AFP now provides a world class video service, which includes 24-hour-a-day live feeds across the planet, and original, innovative content. One of AFP's great strengths is our unrivalled text coverage across Europe and the Mediterranean.”

ANSA'S CEO Stefano De Alessandri said the agency was pleased to "renew this agreement with a major European news agency whose production is more in line with demand from the Italian and European markets.

The news products offered by AFP also meet the requirements of our editorial staff. This will enhance our international product and benefit ANSA's 5,400 customers in Italy and abroad.”

AFP and ANSA are already working together on European projects, including a data journalism website European Data News Hub (EDNH), which was launched in 2017. The EDNH website has become one of the most popular sites for European news headlines. It was created by a consortium of major European news agencies and gives both internet users and world media a trusted news source for the key issues facing the European Union.

ANSA and AFP are also looking at developing joint corporate projects.

Federal States of Micronesia – FSM Names Falcam to Serve as Chief Negotiator for Compact Negotiations with the United States

Source: Secretariat of the FSM

KOLONIA, Pohnpei—The Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning (JCRP) of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) announced today the selection of Mr. Leo A. Falcam Jr. as the nation’s Chief Negotiator for expected negotiations with the United States on the expiring provisions of the Amended Compact of Free Association.

Mr. Falcam is currently Chief of Staff to H.E. President David W. Panuelo and has now served in that capacity for three consecutive FSM Presidents.

“Chief Falcam is the right person for the job at this juncture in our development,” stated JCRP Chairman Asterio R. Takesy. “He is well-respected both within the FSM and the US and will speak with the clear, unified voice of our country in the upcoming negotiations. In short, he is an ideal choice to advance the FSM’s interests in these critical discussions,” Mr. Takesy added.

In his letter recommending and endorsing Mr. Falcam for the position, President Panuelo wrote, “The value that I endorse in my Chief of Staff does not originate from any one particular action, event or activity; rather, it originates from the depth and breadth of experience, expertise and credibility that he has demonstrated and enjoyed over the years, and the confidence that I, and many others, place in his ability to help our Nation to chart an effective and reasonable path towards achieving our National and self-sustaining goals.”

Mr. Falcam currently serves as FSM representative to the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) and the Joint Committee on Security and Defense (JCM), two bodies with FSM and US representatives that are responsible for oversight of implementation of the Amended Compact.

In addition, Mr. Falcam is a retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps with 31 years of distinguished service. Among his many commendations, Mr. Falcam has received two Legion of Merit Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Mr. Falcam attended Argentine National Defense College in Buenos Aires and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia. In 1981 he received a BS degree in Aviation Science from Parks College of Saint Louis University. He is a graduate of Xavier High School in Chuuk State, FSM.

Mr. Falcam is the son of the late President Leo A. Falcam and the late Mrs. Iris Falcam. His father’s distinguished career in public service included service as the first Governor of Pohnpei State and the fifth President of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The JCRP was established as a joint committee comprising nine members: one representative from each of the four states as appointed by the President, in consultation with the leadership of each state; four representatives from the FSM Congress, including one from each congressional delegation; and the FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs, who serves as ex officiomember. It was established, among other purposes, to help coordinate the Nation’s preparation for effective and smooth post-Compact government, to prepare for the renegotiation with the US of expiring Compact economic provisions, and to select a chief negotiator for the nation. 

Several highly qualified candidates were considered in an extensive process.

Japan Foreign Affairs Sector – Foreign Press Center Japan Newsletter

Issued by Foreign Press Center Japan (FPCJ)

■ What Kind of Policies or Support Could Deal With the Problem of Middle-aged Hikikomori?

At the end of March this year, the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government released the results of a survey that indicated there were a total of 613,000 middle-aged (40–64 years old) hikikomori [people who have withdrawn from society/recluse], surprisingly more than the 541,000 hikikomori aged 15–39 years old (as of 2015). 
The most common reason to become hikikomori was losing their job, and one in three were found to be relying on their senior parents for financial support, demonstrating how severe the “8050 Problem” is. The 8050 Problem refers to people living in poverty when the parents are in their 80s and the hikikomori in their 50s. What kind of policies or support could deal with this problem of middle-aged hikikomori?

The FPCJ invited Dr. Tamaki Saito, a professor at Tsukuba University and a leading figure in the research and treatment of hikikomori, to discuss this issue.
See the video at the following link. 
*Consecutive English interpretation follows the Japanese. 

Video Report: Middle-aged Hikikomori—Current Situation, Issues, and Outlook
(Dr. Tamaki SAITO, Professor, Tsukuba University)
https://fpcj.jp/en/worldnews-en/briefings-en/p=73828/


■ How Will Japanese Politics Develop After the House of Councillors Election?

Ahead of the House of Councillors election held on July 21, the FPCJ invited Dr. Yu Uchiyama, a professor at the University of Tokyo and an expert in modern Japanese politics, to discuss the election and the outlook for Japanese domestic politics afterwards. 

▽Video Report: Outlook for Domestic Japanese Politics After the House of Councillors Election
(Dr. Yu UCHIYAMA, Professor, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
https://fpcj.jp/en/worldnews-en/briefings-en/p=73580/

Pacific Development – New UN project to boost women’s entrepreneurship launched in Samoa

Source: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Apia (ESCAP news) – The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and the Government of Samoa, today launched a new project to support the growth of women entrepreneurs as a strategy for poverty reduction, social well-being and sustainable economic growth.

The five-year project titled 'Catalyzing Women's Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem' aims to create an enabling policy and business environment that enhances women entrepreneurs' access to capital through innovative financing mechanisms as well as increasing their use of ICT and digital solutions. The project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

"The increasing number of woman entrepreneurs in Samoa is exciting and ESCAP stands ready to work with the Samoan government to maintain momentum. Women entrepreneurship empowers women and girls to take charge of their futures. It must be central to our effort to achieve gender equality in Asia and the Pacific," said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Alisjahbana on the occasion.

Currently, 24 per cent of women in Samoa are estimated to be involved in entrepreneurial activities. Yet, women entrepreneurs still face many obstacles to starting and operating their businesses. Access to finance is limited – 47 per cent of Samoan women report they find it difficult to get loans. Additionally, many women do not wish to start or formalize their business because they lack knowledge of the complex registration and tax procedures. Identifying and overcoming these various barriers will be key to catalyzing women's entrepreneurship in the country.

The formal launch of the project in Samoa was officiated by Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa, Mr. Iosefa Maiava, Head of Office, ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific; Ms Simona Marinescu, United Nations Resident Coordinator and H.E. Mario Bot, High Commissioner of Canada to New Zealand.

"Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and for maintaining international peace and security," said H.E. Mario Bot, High Commissioner of Canada to New Zealand. "Tackling the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Samoa and across the Asia-Pacific region requires innovative approaches. Canada is pleased to be supporting the project and its efforts to support women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in growing their businesses, including improving their access to innovative financing mechanisms and new technologies."

 

"Samoa supports the aim of the project in support of the growth of women entrepreneurs as a strategy to reduce poverty. However, it is imperative that the assistance is extended first to those entrepreneurs that need it the most," shared Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa ahead of the launch event.

 

As part of the innovative financing initiatives under this project,ESCAP and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) launched a Women Fintech MSME Innovation Fund earlier this year. Samoa's SkyEye was selected as one of the 10 winning innovative business models with its mobile marketplace app that will provide rural women MSMEs with a market for their produce. "SkyEye identified the need for a local Payment Gateway to facilitate e-commerce transactions for Women-led MSMEs and the development of Samoa's digital economy at large. We are privileged to take on the task to develop such a solution and appreciate the support from ESCAP and UNCDF both financially and technically to deliver this project successfully for the benefit of our community," said SkyEye Chief Executive Officer Sam Saili.

 

The launch follows a national consultation on integrating women's needs and considerations into policy and other initiatives supporting entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and enabling environment – including ICT solutions – for businesses. Some 50 policymakers, MSME representatives and other stakeholders participated in the consultation.

Global Oil Sector – Small oil discovery at the Utsira High – Equinor

Source: Equinor

Equinor and partners Lundin and Spirit Energy have made a small oil discovery in production licence 167 at the Utsira High in the North Sea.

The Lille Prinsen Outer Wedge well is located about 1 kilometre west of Lille Prinsen Main, an oil discovery made in the summer of 2018. Lille Prinsen Outer Wedge is located 200 kilometres west of Stavanger and 5 kilometres north-east of the Ivar Aasen field.

The discovery in the main reservoir is currently estimated to contain between 5 and 25 million barrels of oil in-place. It has not yet been concluded if the discovered oil is commercial.

Evaluation of other segments in Lille Prinsen, and former discoveries in shallower formations, will determine the need for further appraisal of Lille Prinsen.

A small-size oil discovery was recently made in the Klaff well in PL 502 about 1 kilometre west of the Johan Sverdrup oil field in the central part of the North Sea.

The discovery was made in fractured basement rock, and it is currently not possible to determine whether the oil is recoverable. Pending new information and interpretation of acquired data the preliminary classification is that the Klaff well is dry.

Global Energy Sector – Equinor second quarter 2019 results

Source: Equinor

Equinor reports adjusted earnings of USD 3.15 billion and USD 1.13 billion after tax in the second quarter of 2019. IFRS net operating income was USD 3.52 billion and the IFRS net income was USD 1.48 billion.

The second quarter was characterised by:

Overall solid operational performance, maintaining high production
Financial results impacted by lower prices, turnarounds and production mix
Lowering organic capex guiding from USD 11 billion to USD 10-11 billion
Progressing attractive project portfolio – further reducing capex for Johan Sverdrup phase 1

“We continue to progress our highly competitive projects delivering production growth towards 2025. Today we announce that we have improved the world-class Johan Sverdrup project even further. Investment costs for phase 1 have been reduced by an additional
3 billion kroner, bringing total reductions to 40 billion kroner since submission of the plan for development and operations. With a planned start up later this year, and faster ramp up to reach plateau production during summer next year, the project will produce and create substantial value for decades to come. Earlier this month we announced that we are capitalising on our investment in Lundin and increasing our direct ownership in Johan Sverdrup to 42.6%”, says Sætre.

“Last week, after a competitive bid process, we were awarded the opportunity to develop our biggest renewables project so far. The Empire Wind project marks a milestone in the development of our global offshore wind portfolio, and we are proud to have been selected to deliver renewable energy to more than half a million families in New York”, says Sætre.

Adjusted earnings [5] were USD 3.15 billion in the second quarter, down from USD 4.31 billion in the same period in 2018. Adjusted earnings after tax [5] were USD 1.13 billion, down from USD 1.70 billion in the same period last year. Production was maintained at a high level, but lower prices, high turnaround activity and some quarter specific items impacted the result. The liquids share of the production mix was low in the quarter and will increase going forward. Underlying operating costs and administrative expenses per barrel increased somewhat from the same quarter last year, mainly due to new fields coming on stream. Adjusted depreciation expenses were down. Weak refinery results and a timing effect on gas storages impacted the results from the Marketing, Midstream & Processing reporting segment in the quarter. IFRS net operating income was USD 3.52 billion in the second quarter, down from USD 3.84 billion in the same period of 2018. IFRS net income was USD 1.48 billion, up from USD 1.22 billion in the second quarter of 2018.

Equinor delivered total equity production of 2,012 mboe per day in the second quarter, on par with the same period in 2018. Expected natural decline was offset by increased production from new fields and new wells.

As of the end of second quarter 2019, Equinor had completed 21 exploration wells with seven commercial discoveries. Adjusted exploration expenses [5] in the quarter were USD 0.24 billion, on par with the same quarter of 2018, with more wells drilled and completed.

Cash flows provided by operating activities before taxes paid and changes in working capital amounted to USD 11.96 billion for the first half of 2019 compared to USD 13.22 billion in the same period of 2018. Organic capital expenditure [5] was USD 4.82 billion for the first six months of 2019. At quarter end, net debt to capital employed[1] was 19.9%. Following the implementation of IFRS 16, net debt to capital employed1 was 25.9%.

The board of directors has decided on a dividend of USD 0.26 per share for the second quarter.

The twelve-month average Serious Incident Frequency (SIF) was 0.5 for the twelve months ended 30 June 2019, equal to the average for the same period a year ago.

Global Energy Sector – Information relating to dividend for second quarter 2019 – Equinor

Source: Equinor

Key information relating to the cash dividend to be paid by Equinor (OSE: EQNR, NYSE: EQNR) for second quarter 2019.

Dividend amount: 0.26
Declared currency: USD
Last day including rights: 15 November 2019
Ex-date: 18 November 2019
Record date: 19 November 2019
Payment date: 27 November 2019
Other information: Dividend per share in NOK will be communicated 25 November 2019.

This information is published in accordance with the requirements of the Continuing Obligations.

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

Africa Hotel Sector – Ethiopia backs Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF)

SOURCE: Bench Events

Ethiopia's public and private sector leaders voice approval for Africa's premier hotel investment conference

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 24, 2019/ — Prominent figures from Ethiopia's public and private sectors have spoken out publicly to welcome the return to Addis Ababa of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) (www.AHIF.com), which is the premier tourism and hotel investment conference in Africa, and to encourage others to attend. AHIF attracts many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. It will return to the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa in the last week of September, 23-25, 2019. AHIF was previously held in Ethiopia's capital city in 2014 and 2015.

According to an independent study by Grant Thornton and the international tourism advisory expert, Martin Jansen van Vuuren, of Futureneer Advisors, the event is forecast to be worth $millions to Ethiopia's economy and to facilitate the investment of $billions in hospitality projects across Africa. In 2018, AHIF facilitated around $2.8 billion of investment in the hospitality sector and between 2011 and 2018, $6.2 billion. Abebe Abebayehu, Commissioner, Ethiopian Investment Commission, said: "We are glad to support this prestigious event. AHIF attracts the highest calibre group of business leaders in the hospitality industry in Africa. By taking part, we will be able to get a much deeper understanding of what investors need. That is particularly important to us in the context of the government's focus on tourism as a strategic pillar of the economy. By encouraging more investment in hospitality projects, we will create productive employment for our young population and earn valuable hard currency."

One of the most important roles played by AHIF is to facilitate networking between delegates. Many investors and developers are keen to find new sources of finance, expert advisers and importantly, local partners. One Ethiopian businessman, Neway Berhanu, Managing Director, Calibra Hospitality Group, has benefitted substantially from this. He says: "Calibra Hospitality Group's success in becoming the leading consulting company in Ethiopia has been greatly helped by being an active participant in the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, since 2011. Thanks to Bench Events (www.BenchEvents.com), we are now well connected, having established very good relationships with all the major international hotel Brands. That has enabled us to conclude close to 25 International transactions, bringing business to Ethiopia. I would encourage the business community and all stakeholders in the hospitality sector to attend."

The promotion of tourism is another critical issue for many African countries. For Ethiopia, it is underlined by a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which states that Travel & Tourism represents 61% of Ethiopia's exports and it expects the industry to expand by a whopping 48.6% in 2019. A rapidly growing national airline, a new hub airport, relaxed visa regulations and the country being the political centre of Africa, by virtue of hosting the headquarters of the African Union, are drivers of these impressive numbers. Ms Lensa Mekonnen, CEO, Tourism Ethiopia said: "AHIF will provide an excellent opportunity to welcome the cream of the hotel industry to Ethiopia. Our aim is to show them our assets and thereby attract more international-standard hotel and resort brands to establish themselves close to our historical, natural and cultural sites, in addition to the capital city. By promoting regionally balanced development, we will attract more tourists to Ethiopia and encourage them to stay longer."

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, concluded: "Ethiopia is a centre for political meetings in Africa and a fast-growing transport hub. That already makes it attractive to hotel investors. The government's declared interest in prioritising tourism will further increase the attractiveness, along with its renewed enthusiasm for collaboration with the business community. When AHIF first came to Ethiopia, there were three internationally-branded Hotels, the Hilton, the Radisson and the Sheraton. Now there is a Best Western, a Golden Tulip, a Hyatt Regency, Marriott apartments and a Ramada; plus, another 27 hotels in the pipeline!"

About the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF):
AHIF (www.AHIF.com) is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. It is organised by Bench Events (www.BenchEvents.com), who has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Bench Events' mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide.
www.BenchEvents.com.

Sponsors of AHIF are: Platinum Sponsors: Accor, Hilton, Marriott International and Radisson Hotel Group; Gold Sponsors: Aleph Hospitality, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Calibra Hospitality, Cabo International Partners, CityBlue Hotels, Citymax Hotels, Dream Hotel Group, Drees and Sommer, febc, Hotel Partners Africa, Insignia, IHG, JLL, Louvre Hotels Group, Munich RE, PrideInn Hotels & Conferencing, STR, Stuart and Partners and TIME Hotels.

Australia Immigration Sector – Research launch – Syrian, Iraqi refugee settlement in Victoria

Source: AMES Australia

Research launch – Syrian, Iraqi refugee settlement in Victoria

Epping Memorial Hall, 827 High Street, Epping

AMES Australia and the University ogf Technology Sydney are launching the results of study into settlement outcomes for recently arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees this evening.

The findings…

Refugees who have come to Australia as result of the conflict in Syria and Iraq are overwhelmingly happy and feel safe and welcome but they are struggling to find work, according to the first survey of settlement outcomes for this group of new arrivals.

And the data shows that Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Victoria feel the most welcome and feel they have the best schooling arrangements.

They are also largely proficient in English, happy with the amenities in their local communities and their children's schooling arrangements, the study found.

But the survey also found many have struggled so far to find paid employment.

The survey – carried out by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Western Sydney University (WSU), the University of Sydney Business School and AMES Australia – canvased 200 families who have settled in Victoria, NSW and Queensland about their lives in Australia.

The families are among the special one-off intake of refugees from the Syrian conflict that was announced by the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015.

Their arrival, mostly in 2017, effectively doubled Australia's refugee intake for that period. The survey found that more than 80 per cent of all refugees felt safe in their neighbourhoods and 100 per cent of young family members living in Victoria felt safe in their neighbourhoods.

Young refugees living in Victoria were also the most likely of those living in any state to feel welcome. Victoria was the only state to have no refugees say they did not feel welcome "at all", compared to seven per cent in NSW and five per cent in Queensland.

Victoria was also the only state to record no one saying their schooling was "bad" with 62 per cent saying it was "very good" or "excellent".

Just over 40 per cent of refugees across the country said it was "easy" to talk to their neighbours.

Lead researcher Professor Jock Collins, of UTS, said that all of the refugee parents in Victoria thought there was a bright future for their children in Australia and three out of five adults, or 59 per cent, said they were "very happy" or "mostly happy" with their lives in Australia.

He said across the country just over 40 per cent of refugees said they understood English "well" or "very well" and around 20 per cent said "not at all".

But just 12 per cent of adult refugees surveyed nationally were in paid employment, the survey showed.

AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said that it was clear that all of the newly-arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees were grateful for the safety and opportunity Australia provided them.

"We are seeing that employment is a priority for most people and can be a struggle but all of the people we surveyed are optimistic about the future and that Australia will provide a great future for their families," Ms Scarth said.

"It is pleasing that all of the families surveyed are satisfied with the on-arrival services provided to them by organisations like ours," she said.

"But many of these people had highly-paid professional jobs in Syria and Iraq before the conflict and their greatest priority is to find work in Australia.

"We know that these are resilient and proud people who are not content to rely on welfare. But they face barriers to entering the workforce and starting to contribute to society.

"Some of the barriers they need support to overcome are a lack of Australian work experience and English language proficiency.

"Investing more in helping overcome these barriers will pay dividends not only for individual families but for communities and Australian society as a whole into the future," Ms Scarth said.

Iraqi refugee Osama Butti, the first of 12,000 extra refugees accepted by Australia because of the Syria-Iraq conflict says he is grateful to have found a safe place for his family in Australia.

"We are very happy to be here in Australia and life is good for us," Mr Butti said. "My children have settled well and are enjoying school," he said.

"But for me, finding permanent, ongoing employment has been a challenge," Mr Butti said.