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by Peter Ker
Rio Tinto may have difficult political climate to navigate in Mongolia, after a prominent resource nationalist was confirmed as the next president of the developing Asian nation.
Battulga Khaltmaa has previously criticised the investment agreement that Rio Tinto struck with the Mongolian government for the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in 2009, and his rise to the presidency was confirmed over the weekend when his rival Miyeegombo Enkhbold conceded defeat.
Khaltmaa is a former judo champion with closer links to Russia than China, and who was investigated by Mongolian authorities in 2016 over suspected money laundering.
He won office in recent days after campaigning for "Mongolia first" and has long criticised the share of Mongolia's mining wealth that flows overseas.
Barely sixteen months ago, Battulga was leading a protest in central Ulaan Baatar about foreign miners' sway in the developing Asian nation.
"Our wealth is shipped outside of the country. Where is that money going?" he was reported to ask the several thousand demonstrators in attendance in late March 2016.
Rio is the most prominent miner in Mongolia and has therefore been the focus of Battulga's nationalist critiques in the past. He has also criticised one of Oyu Tolgoi's major contractors, MCS.
While there has been no sign that Battulga's victory poses a direct threat to Rio's involvement in Oyu Tolgoi, Battulga has vowed to reinstate a law which requires all funds from foreign-controlled projects in Mongolia be funnelled through Mongolian banks.
Such a law was proposed in April, sparking alarm among foreign investors in the nation; the proposal threatened to breach the Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement and caused the International Monetary Fund to delay a bail out of the Mongolian economy.
The proposal was abandoned in May, but Battulga seems determined to reinstate it.
Oyu Tolgoi has been producing copper, gold and silver since 2013, but the bulk of the project's value lies in the underground expansion, which is currently being built but is rumoured to be behind schedule.
The Rio subsidiary that is building the project, Turquoise Hill Resources, expects first production from the underground mine in 2020.
Peak production of about 622,000 tonnes of copper a year is expected to be reached by 2025.
While Rio has traditionally been confident that its investment agreement can legally withstand any political whim in Mongolia, an unhelpful president could still make life in Mongolia uncomfortable for the miner.
Just two months ago, Turquoise Hill and Rio won extra time from the Mongolian government to find a domestic power source for Oyu Tolgoi, under a deal that will allow Rio to continue using power from China in the meantime.
Such deals may prove harder during the Battulga era.
Other ASX listed companies working in Mongolia include Xanadu Mines, which is exploring for copper and gold in the South Gobi Desert, and Aspire Mining, which hopes to develop coking coal mines in the nation.
Rio shares were 11¢ lower at $64.93 in morning trade on Monday. The company will report production results for the June quarter on July 18....
COSCO Shipping Holdings Co Ltd (601919.SS) has offered to buy Orient Overseas International Ltd (OOIL) (0316.HK) for HK$49.23 billion ($6.30 billion), in a deal that will see the mainland China group become the world's third largest container liner.
The proposed deal is the latest in wave of mergers and acquisitions in global container shipping that has left the top six shipping lines controlling 63 percent of the market. OOIL's shipping subsidiary, OOCL, has a 2.7 percent slice of the market.
COSCO Shipping is offering HK$78.67 for each OOIL share, a premium of 37.8 percent over OOIL's closing price of HK$57.10 on its last trading date, the companies said in filings with the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges on Sunday.
OOIL's controlling shareholders had on Friday agreed to sell their 68.7 percent stake at that price to COSCO Shipping, which is making the offer with Shanghai Port International Group (SIPG) (600018.SS) that will take 9.9 percent, they said.
COSCO Shipping will have a fleet of more than 400 vessels and capacity exceeding 2.9 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) should the deal go through, it said.
This would make it the world's third largest container shipping line after Denmark's Maersk Line MAERSKb.Co and Switzerland's Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), according to Singapore-based transport research firm Crucial Perspective. It is currently the fourth-largest behind France's CMA CGM [CMACG.UL].
"COSCO Shipping Holdings believes this acquisition will enable both COSCO Shipping Lines and OOIL to realize synergies, enhance profitability and achieve sustainable growth in the long term," the Chinese group said in the statement.
OOCL was founded in 1969 by Hong Kong shipping magnate Tung Chao-yung, whose son, Tung Chee-chen is chairman, president and chief executive of the company, while several Tung children are in senior management roles.
The two companies in January dismissed merger rumors but analysts said that OOCL was still a likely bid target due to its long profitable history and relatively low leverage.
Both firms are also part of the "Ocean Alliance" partnership, which also includes CMA CGM and Evergreen Marine Corp (2603.TW), that was formed last year to take on the rival grouping of Maersk Line and MSC.
COSCO Shipping itself was created from the state-driven merger of former rivals China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company and China Shipping Group. Shares in the firm, which flagged a return to first-half profit last week, have been suspended since May 16.
The companies said that they plan to retain OOIL's listing status and maintain its global headquarters and presence in Hong Kong to support the city as a global maritime center.
Should the deal fall through, COSCO Shipping has also agreed to pay OOIL a reverse termination fee of $253 million, they said
UBS AG Hong Kong Branch (UBSG.S) is advising COSCO Shipping and SIPG, while J.P. Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited (JPM.N) is advising OOIL.
(Reporting By Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Matthew Miller in BEIJING; editing by John Stonestreet and Jane Merriman)...
ULAANBAATAR – A brash businessman with martial arts skills clinched Mongolia’s first-ever presidential runoff election Saturday after his opponent conceded defeat in the scandal-plagued race to take the helm of the resource-rich but debt-laden country.
Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party (DP), a 54-year-old former world champion in the Soviet martial art Sambo, had 50.6 percent of the vote with 986 ballots outstanding, according to the General Election Commission.
Parliament Speaker Mieygombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds the majority in the legislature, had lagged well behind the wrestler since early Saturday morning.
Recognizing he was down for the count, he thanked his supporters in a concession speech broadcast on Facebook, saying that he would “respect and accept the presidential results.”
“Although the MPP couldn’t succeed in this election, the Cabinet will keep working to complete our agenda of overcoming the financial crisis for the well being of our people,” he said, adding that he had spoken to the sitting president about “transferring power as well as presidential stamp in the parliament house which also ends the election.”
“We did this thanks to power of people,” Battulga told supporters in Ulaanbaatar’s Independence Square, promising that he will “push the government in order to complete all their work.”
The new president will inherit a $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout designed to stabilize its economy and lessen its dependence on China, which purchases 80 percent of Mongolian exports.
The former Soviet satellite’s economy grew by a measly 1 percent last year, a stark contrast from an impressive 17 percent in 2011.
It has been hit hard by a more than a 50 percent fall in the price of copper, its main export, over the past five years, while slowing growth in China, its biggest customer, has hobbled the economy.
Earlier in the day, Battulga, who ran on a populist, anti-China platform, told a press conference “Mongolia has won.”
“I will start work straight away to resolve the economic difficulties and make Mongolians debt free as I promised,” he said.
The real estate tycoon whose company funded a massive $4.1 million statue of Emperor Genghis Khan, has pledged to tap the country’s mining wealth to get Mongolians out of debt.
Both Battulga and Enkhbold were linked to scandals ahead of the first-round vote.
A video showed Enkhbold and two MPP officials allegedly discussing a 60 billion tugrik ($25 million) plan for selling government positions.
Battulga was haunted by reports of offshore accounts attached to his name, as well as the arrests of several of his associates by Mongolia’s anti-corruption body last spring.
But in the nearly two weeks between the first round and the runoff, public opinion appeared to turn in favor of him.
General Election Commission presented the results of Presidential election’s second round at 9.40AM. The Head of General Election Commission Ch.Sodnomtseren informed that the GEC discussed the second polling of Presidential election and prepared two resolutions. The first resolution states MPP’s candidate M.Enkhbold received 497,067 votes, which is 41.16 percent of the total votes, while DP’s candidate Kh.Battulga received 50.61 percent with 611,226 votes in the second polling of 2017 Presidential election of Mongolia.
Also, a Resolution on Approving the Authorities of the President of Mongolia was prepared to present to the Parliament for approval. A total of 1,990,797 people registered for the second polling of Presidential election and the voter turnout reached 60.67 percent with some 1,207,787 voters participating in the polling.
BEIJING, July 6 (Reuters) - The People's Bank of China (PBOC) and the Bank of Mongolia have extended their currency swap arrangement for another three years, China's central bank said on Thursday.
The deal aims to facilitate bilateral trade and investment and promote the economic development of both countries, according to the statement on the website of PBOC.
The swap arrangement will continue to have a size of 15 billion yuan ($2.20 billion) and 5.4 trillion Mongolian tugrik. ($1 = 6.8037 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Sam Holmes)
The European Union and Japan have formally agreed an outline free-trade deal.
The agreement paves the way for trading in goods without tariff barriers between two of the world's biggest economic areas.
However, few specific details are known and a full, workable agreement may take some time.
Two of the most important sectors are Japanese cars and, for Europe, EU farming goods into Japan.
The outline plan was signed in Brussels after a meeting between the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the eve of a meeting of the G20 group of leading economies in Hamburg.
It comes hard on the heels of the collapse of a long-awaited trade agreement between Japan, the US and other Pacific ring countries, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was scrapped in January by US President Donald Trump.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the agreement showed the EU's commitment to world trade: "We did it. We concluded EU-Japan political and trade talks. EU is more and more engaged globally."
Mr Tusk also said the deal countered the argument put forward by some of those in favour of Brexit that the EU was unable to promote free trade: "Although some are saying that the time of isolationism and disintegration is coming again, we are demonstrating that this is not the case."
He added that the deal was not just about common trade interests, but reflected "the shared values that underpin our societies, by which I mean liberal democracy, human rights and the rule of law".
Japan is the world's third-largest economy, with a population of about 127 million.
As it stands, the country is Europe's seventh biggest export market.
One of the most important trade categories for the EU is dairy goods.
Japan's appetite for milk and milk-based products has been growing steadily in recent years.
The EU's dairy farmers are struggling with falling demand in its home nations and an ultra-competitive buying climate, which farmers say means they are paid less than the cost of production.
Even once the agreement is fully signed, the deal is likely to have in place long transition clauses of up to 15 years to allow sectors in both countries time to adjust to the new outside competition.
The voice-controlled Tmall Genie can be used to play music, run third-party apps and buy goods from the Chinese retail giant's online stores. Like many such devices, it lacks a display.
At launch, it will understand only Mandarin and be sold in the company's domestic market.
It will compete in China against devices already launched by Baidu and JD.com.
Tencent - China's biggest technology company by market capitalisation - has announced it has a similar product in development.
In the West, Amazon's Echo range of smart speakers compete against Google Home. Apple and Microsoft have similar products scheduled for release soon. And Samsung is readying a speaker of its own, powered by its new Bixby virtual assistant, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Alibaba's new product derives its name from the company's e-commerce platform - Tmall - and during a demonstration in Beijing was used to order a delivery of Coca-Cola and buy credit for a phone.
Tmall allows local and international retailers to run their own virtual storefronts on its platform and says it is China's third most visited shopping site.
"It clearly is an advantage if - like Amazon - you can pull consumers into your retail ecosystem with a smart speaker," said Eden Zoller from the technology consultancy Ovum.
"But one thing we need to remember is it's early days for this category, and there remain questions of consumer trust in using the digital assistants to buy goods, on a smartphone or smart home speaker device.
"By that, I mean both the security of the transaction and privacy concerns about how personal data is leveraged and shared."
Alibaba has addressed these concerns in part by using voiceprint-technology to try to restrict purchases to recognised users.
In addition, it has built in support for Alipay, the company's popular online payment system, which is similar to PayPal.
However, to begin with, the company is marketing the device as a "limited beta" release that will help provide feedback before it is ready to mass produce the item.
It will charge 499 yuan ($73; £57) for the product, making it one of the cheapest on the market.
Japan's SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) is targetting raising between $3 billion and $5 billion through an offering of U.S. dollar bonds, according to a person familiar with the plans.
The group has named Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank as joint global coordinators for a bond offering, it said in an announcement on Thursday, without disclosing the amount it plans to raise.
A SoftBank spokesman said an issuance of hybrid bonds is under preparation, but declined to comment on details.
The bond offering comes after the telecoms-to-investment conglomerate announced raising the world's largest private equity fund – the nearly $100 billion Vision Fund backed also by Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund - in May.
It bought British semiconductor designer ARM Holdings last year for $32 billion and has been involved in a number of deals across the globe this year including acquisitions of two robotics business from Google's parent company Alphabet Inc.
Shortly after it announced the ARM deal, SoftBank said it was considering selling around $9.8 billion worth of hybrid bonds in the financial year that ended in March to bolster its capital base and secure funds for future growth.
Hybrid bonds are often treated as quasi-equity by credit-rating firms, allowing companies to raise capital without hurting their ratings.
SoftBank did not specify the purpose of the proceeds in the announcement on Thursday. It will meet fixed-income investors in Hong Kong, Singapore and London from tomorrow. The group is rated Ba1 by Moody's and BB+ by S&P.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Government of Mongolia won in the arbitration dispute with three Chinese investors to Tumurtein Khuder Company. The investors appealed to the permanent court of Arbitration at the Hague in February 2010, concerning the Government agency’s decision on cancellation of Tumurtei khuder company’s license of Tumurtei iron ore mine. On June 30, the arbitral tribunal made decision to dismiss the claimants’ requests in full.
Tumurtei mine located in Khuder soum of Selenge aimag has a reserve of 250 million tons of iron ore. The mine license was cancelled in 2006 as license holder ‘Tumurtein Khuder’ company had breached relevant laws and regulations by not repaying costs for the exploration of the deposit conducted with the state budget finance, having failed to develop plans on environmental protection and rehabilitation and take measures, making explosion on a field of ‘Khustain Yeroo” company or unauthorized field and by having exported iron ore instead of concentrating it as stated in its Environmental Impact Assessment.
The Chinese investors, including China Heilongjiang International Economic and Techinical Cooperative Corporation claimed investment of USD60 million, plus potential profits since the license revocation as well as all costs incurred arbitration dispute.
Mining accounts for over 80% of Mongolian exports
The mining sector accounts for approximately 25% of Mongolia’s GDP and more than 80% of all exports. The resource-rich economy has had its double–digit growth glory days back when commodities demand from China was robust. However, since the commodity price slide in mid-2014, the economy has been struggling to cross the 5% growth rate mark. Mongolia has been attempting to immune itself from such commodity shocks by diversifying into other export oriented industries such as meat, dairy, and cashmere. Regardless, nothing diminishes the importance of metals and mining in generating revenue for the economy, and particularly funds coming from major mining giants operating in the country including such as Rio Tinto or Xanadu Mines.
2 reforms to attract more foreign investment
Although commodity prices are recovering, this will still not put the metals and mining industry in Mongolia back to where it was during the boom period. To plug the gap, local authorities are undertaking new reform measures to attract foreign investment into the area.
In May, the country decided to open up a wider mining exploration area, now covering over a fifth of its territory.
The country has also revoked a banking law that required foreign companies to channel all their sales revenues from investment projects through local banks.
Rio Tinto and others stand to benefit
Consequently, companies such as Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill have launched new exploration projects in the Asian nation for metals and mineral resources, beyond the pre-existing Oyu Tolgoi mine. OT is a copper-gold mine in the South Gobi region of Mongolia. Turquoise Hill currently holds a 66% stake in OT, with the other 34% being with the Government of Mongolia. Rio Tinto indirectly owns a 50.8% interest in Turquoise Hill Resources.
In October, a new gold zone was discovered at the Bayan Khundii gold project in Mongolia by Canada’s Erdene Resource Development. The project, now Erdene’s flagship venture, has grown to prominence in the past 18 months.
Australia’s Xanadu Mines is another established explorer and metal miner in Mongolia. Its flagship Kharmagtai copper-gold exploration project has been delivering beyond initial expectations thus far.
The Coal Mongolia 2017 international conference and exhibition to be held from September 7-9 this year in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, is expected to help the economy attract international investment into the coal sector of Mongolia. Currently, Mongolian coal export capacity has reached about 50 million tonnes but actual export is around half of the full capacity.