|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Hanjin Shipping used to be one of the world's top 10 shipping companies. But now it faces the final curtain.
Friday is the deadline for the firm to be declared bankrupt by a South Korean court after months of uncertainty.
Hanjin's collapse is the largest to hit the shipping sector and it sent shockwaves through the industry.
What went wrong?
For years, the global economic downturn had affected profits across the cargo shipping industry. It led to overcapacity, lower freight rates and rising debt levels.
The question was not whether a big shipping line would go under, but which one would be first. The questionable honour eventually fell to Hanjin, at that time South Korea's biggest shipper and number seven in the world.
Crippled with $5.4bn (£4.1bn) in debt in August 2016, the company failed to get any more money from its creditors. Hanjin went into receivership and applied for court protection.
There was still a chance for an investor or the government to come to the rescue yet it quickly became clear that any such hopes were futile.
"Stopping the credit line immediately results in an inability to purchase fuel, it immediately results in vessels not being able to go to port and it immediately results in all customers going to the competitors," explains Lars Jensen of Sea Intelligence Consulting.
What followed were long and painful months of sailors losing their jobs and investors losing their money.
No chance for a rescue?
With Hanjin's situation suddenly in limbo, its ships were stranded at sea. Most ports refused them entry, fearing they would not get paid for loading and unloading the cargo. Some ships were arrested while docking as debtors had issued warrants to get at least some of their money back.
Technically though, there still could have been a rescue - Hanjin needed to find an investor or convince the government to step in.
"There was likely a window of some 24 to 48 hours after the announcement where Hanjin could have been saved, but after that it was simply a snowball effect and it was unrealistic to bring back the company," says Mr Jensen.
The chaotic demise of the company's operations did little to shore up confidence. So over the following months, many of the better assets got sold off - ranging from vessels to cargo terminals in the US to its Asia-US route operations.
The buyers were other global shipping companies that were able to cherry pick what they wanted. "All the good assets have been sold, the carcass has been thoroughly cleaned up," says Greg Knowler, a maritime trade specialist at IHS.
After Friday's official bankruptcy, the court handling the liquidation process will proceed to sell off the remaining assets and give the money to the creditors.
For the seamen, the collapse of their company meant that almost all of them lost their jobs. Hanjin's ships had been crewed with South Korean officers and engineers and an international mix of seamen hired through agencies.
One of those now unemployed is captain Moon Kwon-do, who last year was stuck for months on the Hanjin Rome after it had been seized by creditors in the Singapore port.
"I will never sail again, I will abandon my life as a seaman," he says with bitterness and frustration.
Despite a lot of protests organised by unions, the government in Seoul did not step in to help. Yet there's doubt that saving Hanjin would have worked.
"If you're shipping cargo anywhere in the world - would you have gone with Hanjin after that?" asks Mr Knowler. The sudden suspension of all the company's vessels had led to supply chain disruptions around the world.
"I don't think it could have been saved," he concludes.
In fact, as dramatic as it was for Hanjin, for the rest of the industry the failure of one of the big players might have been a lucky break.
"This was a long time coming, it's what was widely needed," says Mr Knowler. "So from this perspective this was a good thing."
Hanjin's bankruptcy has a good chance of bringing global overcapacity in the sector down to a sustainable level.
"Everyone will be seen to have had a hard time in 2016," says Mr Jensen. Fellow shipping giant Maersk, for instance, earlier this month revealed a $1.9bn net loss for 2016 - just its second annual loss since World War Two.
"2016 was the bottom of the market, but the climb upwards towards a more balanced market will take two to three years to fully accomplish," says Mr Jensen.
Analysts agree that it is unlikely there will be another large carrier like Hanjin failing. South Korea is now left with Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) taking over as the country's biggest shipping company.
And while last year HMM was in as much financial trouble as Hanjin, the collapse of its fellow shipper means that it is now on a much safer footing, says Mr Knowler.
"There is absolutely zero chance that the Korean government will let another major shipping line - now their only major line - fail."
The Chinese government is encouraging steel companies to sign long-term contracts with coal and downstream steel consuming companies while improving their product quality.
The measure, set out in a document issued by five ministry-level bodies, is aimed at stabilizing recently fast growing steel prices and further cutting the industry's overcapacity.
The document, jointly released by National Development and Reform Commission and other four ministries, said that although progress had already been made to cut overcapacity in the steel industry in recent months, the elimination of outdated capacity remains a major challenge.
Despite the rapid rise of spot and future prices for steel in the short term and the recent recovery in output and sales performance of steel companies, companies should carry out further efforts to reduce capacity to support economic growth, as the country's oversupplied steel sector has experienced years of plunging prices and factory shutdowns due to a sluggish economy, it said.
Analysts said despite the surge in steel price since the beginning of this year, the supply-demand situation has not changed and the government document aims to stabilize the market and prevent steel price from overheating and disproportionately rising.
According to Wang Guoqing, director of the Lange Steel Information Center, despite the surging steel prices, steel inventories remain high.
Figures from the center released that the total inventory of steel in 29 major cities in China exceeded 12.39 million metric tons as of Feb 10, a 35 percent increase compared with three weeks ago, surpassing the peak of 2016.
The construction steel saw the biggest growth, more than 8.31 million tons as of Feb 10, 50.8 percent higher than three weeks ago, it said.
The government needs to ensure that cutting overcapacity proceeds as planned, he said.
According to Huatai Futures, considering the current stable increase in steel output and off-season demand, the inventory for steel in 2017 is believed to exceed 18 million tons, the highest of the past three years.
China's crude steel output rose slightly last year, with crude steel production increased 1.2 percent year on year to 808.37 million tons in 2016, compared with a 2.3 percent decrease in 2015, according to the National Development and Reform Commission
China plans to reduce steel output by an additional 100 million tons to 150 million tons by 2020. Its 2016 target to cut 45 million tons was achieved ahead of schedule.
China will enact stricter rules for trimming steel overcapacity in 2017 after making significant progress in 2016, according to experts.
Red Cross officials are calling for emergency aid for nomadic herders in Mongolia who are facing a serious food shortage and livestock losses due to extreme winter conditions.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC, made the appeal at a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.
Officials hope to collect about 650,000 dollars. They want to send cash to the families and help put their children up at school facilities.
They said that more than 70 percent of Mongolia is currently covered with snow, and the harsh weather has killed off many of the animals that herding families rely on for food.
The situation has been made worse by a summer drought that stunted the grasses that livestock feed on.
They said nearly 160,000 Mongolians have been seriously affected.
It's the second straight year that the landlocked Asian country has been hit by a severe cold spell. More than 1.2 million of the herders' animals died last winter.
IFRC officials warn that many of the herders may flood into the slums of the capital, Ulan Bator, seeking refuge.
The Samsung Group was founded in 1938 in Daegu in the southern part of the country by Lee Byung-chull, the late grandfather of the arrested Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.
The group is comprised of 59 affiliate companies in fields such as heavy machinery, construction and finance, which operate in more than 90 countries and territories.
South Korea's Fair Trade Commission says the group's total assets were worth 348 trillion won, or more than 300 billion dollars, in April 2016. The figure is the largest among the country's conglomerates.
The Samsung Group's exports are said to amount to 20 percent of the country's total.
Samsung Electronics is the core of the group. It has grown into a global company through sales of smartphones, semiconductors and home appliances. It has been competing fiercely for market share with Apple and other smartphone makers.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is 48 years old.
He has studied business administration at Japan's Keio University.
Lee has been involved in his company's expansion in the semiconductor and display businesses. He became vice chairman in 2012.
After his father, the company's chairman, fell ill with myocardial infarction in 2014, he has led management as a de-facto leader.
There's concern that Lee's arrest has tarnished Samsung's image and could affect its management, as well as the South Korean economy as a whole.
South Korean authorities have arrested the de facto head of the Samsung Group on suspicion of bribery and other charges.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was arrested on Friday morning. Samsung is the country's largest conglomerate.
Lee is suspected of asking for support from the presidential office in connection with a merger of 2 Samsung affiliates.
He is also suspected of applying pressure through the presidential office on the Fair Trade Commission to secure favorable treatment for cross-shareholding within the group.
In return, he allegedly provided a massive amount of funds for President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.
A court approved the arrest warrant requested by a special prosecutor investigating a political scandal involving President Park and Choi.
The court reached the decision after looking into the matter on Thursday through early Friday.
The prosecutor had provided the court with additional evidence after it rejected his request last month.
Observers say Lee's arrest could accelerate the investigation into the alleged bribery. They also say it may have an impact on the Samsung Group.
Late in 2016, things did not look so rosy for Vladimir Putin. The Russian economy was in decline, the country was isolated on the global stage, and the president was a figure shunned by Western nations. Some commentators even began to entertain the possibility that Putin would use the opportunity to exit the political scene.
Since then, the unexpected election of Donald Trump has punched holes in the anti-Putin front.
“With Trump as a potential powerful ally, Putin is a kind of half-emperor of the world,” says political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky. “His re-election now has a global aspect.”
For Russia’s elite, the election picture is, finally, clear: Putin is running, and he will be in office until at least the time of the next elections in 2024.
“It would be good if Vladimir Putin comes out with his vision by next December – what the nation will look like politically and economically by 2024,” a senior Russian official said on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
This election will be one of continuity and no change. There will be no new challengers. Russia’s most prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny announced he would battle Putin for the presidency last December. But in an accelerated and disputed court case earlier this month, he was sentenced to five-years probation. From the Kremlin’s perspective at least, he is barred from running.
Instead, Putin will face a manufactured opposition, consisting exclusively of members of the old guard. The RBC newspaper has reported that parliamentary party leaders Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov will all run. All three follow the Kremlin’s lead and agenda. Grigory Yavlinsky, the long-time leader of centrist opposition Yabloko party, also announced that he would run.
Every one of these candidates has run more than twice. 2018 will be Zhirinovsky’s sixth presidential election.
Search for the Enemy
At first glance, the 2018 election should present little challenge to the sitting president. The street protests and dissent that characterised his last presidential election in 2012 are a distant memory. The nation is seemingly coming to terms with Putin’s everlasting rule. Without competition or obvious alternatives, Putin’s approval rating remain at record-highs.
Yet there are some signs this election may not be as straightforward as the Kremlin expects. The challenge is avoiding boredom. The faces are the same. The conclusion is foregone. There is no drama, no fight, and, consequently, no reason to go out and vote.
Putin cannot allow this, says political analyst Nikolai Petrov. “The nature of his rule has changed, and even 70 percent of the vote at 70 percent turnout will not be enough,” he says, referring to the legitimacy benchmark reportedly set by the Kremlin.
Five years ago, on Feb. 23, 2012, Vladimir Putin addressed tens of thousands of his supporters at Moscow’s largest stadium Luzhniki. There, he recited lines from Borodino, a famous poem by 19th century writer Mikhail Lermontov that every Russian knows by heart.
“Is Moscow not behind us? / By Moscow then we die,” he screamed. “The battle for Russia is not over!”
In 2013, Putin identified the enemy as Russia’s big city middle class, unhappy as it was with his return to the presidency. In 2018, he will also need to defeat an “unexpected adversary,” says Pavlovsky.
Only this time around, finding one won’t be so easy.
At this stage of his rule, Putin faces a dilemma, says Petrov. He can either move further ahead to full scale authoritarianism, or start liberal political and economic reforms. Moving in any direction will be difficult.
Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and his associates are now formulating Putin’s new economic program. Kudrin has pulled few punches in his recent statements regarding the Russian economy. The first draft of his program might be ambitious.
But few establishment voices expect Putin to change the system. “Some of Putin’s ideas at this campaign may look fresh, and he might even use the term ‘reforms’ but there will be no break with the past,” the Russian economist and former government official Evgeny Gontmakher told The Moscow Times.
Putin’s forthcoming presidential campaign will instead be aimed at maintaining the status quo.
“Russian business has a stake in Putin’s new presidential term. We are not expecting new slogans and we do not want them to change,” Alexander Shokhin, the head of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the biggest Russian business lobbying body, said in an a recent interview with state television.
Government officials are equally phlegmatic about the potential for dramatic changes.
“Live for today — that’s our window of opportunity,” one senior official told the Moscow Times....
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ In response to the particularly harsh winter which has struck large parts of Mongolia since November, the European Commission is providing over 115 000 EUR in humanitarian funding to bring immediate relief to the most affected families. The aid will directly benefit 5000 most vulnerable individuals in some of the country’s worst-hit provinces, namely Khuvsgul, Selenge, Uvs and Zavkhan.
This EU funding supports the Mongolian Red Cross Society in delivering much-needed assistance through the provision of first aid kits and unconditional cash grants. The kits enable herders to maintain their physical well-being in particularly challenging conditions, while cash assistance allows beneficiaries to cover other immediate needs triggered by the extreme climatic conditions, following their own priorities. The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Vast swathes of Mongolia, particularly in the north, have witnessed an exceptionally cold winter and heavy snow fall over the past few months. The premature severe weather patterns have placed an estimated 157 000 people in 15 out of 21 provinces under high risk of the what is known as the “dzud” climatic phenomenon. The adverse conditions have hampered the capacity of herders to access town centres, where health facilities and other services are located, and threatened the survival of livestock. The Government of Mongolia in late December called for humanitarian assistance from the international community as the situation worsened.
Dzud, characterised by a prolonged summer drought followed by severe winter conditions, is not uncommon in Mongolia. The latest dzud in late 2015 killed more than one million heads of livestock and severely affected thousands of pastoralists whose livelihoods largely depended on animal husbandry. In response, the Commission had provided 420,000 EUR to its humanitarian partners in order to help alleviate the burdens of the most impacted households.
The $3.3 billion (2.6 trillion yen) acquisition by SoftBank Group Corp., the Japanese telecommunications, internet and solar energy giant, of Fortress Investment Group marks tycoon Masayoshi Son's latest step in building an investment empire.
Son said the deal, announced by both sides Wednesday, will immediately contribute to his strategy for growth and complement his Softbank Vision Fund plan for investing in leading technologies including artificial intelligence and the "internet of Things," which links devices through the Internet.
"Fortress' excellent track record speaks for itself, and we look forward to benefiting from its leadership, broad-based expertise and world-class investment platform," Son said in a statement.
Tokyo-based Softbank has been aggressive in global acquisitions and has been seeking partners for its private fund for technology investments that it says may grow to $100 billion. Son appears determined to deliver on his promise to President Donald Trump to invest $50 billion in U.S. startups and create 50,000 jobs.
In buying New York-based Fortress, he is betting more on Fortress's wide ranging expertise and heft in global investment than on gaining any edge in the technology sector: the U.S. investment house has largely focused on finance and real estate, leisure industries, transport and other infrastructure.
Private equity accounts for nearly two-thirds of the company's investments.
Softbank's shares jumped 1.6 percent Wednesday in Tokyo trading. Shares in Fortress were up 6.5 percent late Tuesday.
Softbank also owns the U.S. wireless company Sprint Corp. and Britain's ARM Holdings, which is known as an innovator in the "internet of things," and in technology used in smartphones.
Fortress said its senior professionals will stay to keep up its fund performance.
Fortress co-chairmen Pete Briger and Wes Edens praised Son as "visionary." They said the companies have much in common, and the deal will benefit shareholders.
"We join a company with tremendous scale and resources, and a culture completely aligned with our focus on performance, service and innovation," they said in a joint statement.
Softbank, the first carrier to offer the iPhone in Japan, also sells the Pepper human-shaped companion robot. The company, founded in 1981, has within its investment empire financial technology and ride-booking services.
Last week, the company reported its October-December profit soared to about 40 times what it was a year ago.
A new report by SNL Metals and Mining on exploration spending by the largest mining companies, documents the shifting sands in the mining industry last year as the sector began to turn around.
SNL, part of S&P Global, notes that larger players allocated a total of nearly $2.2 billion for non-ferrous exploration during the year. Companies with the 20 largest exploration budgets in 2016 accounted for 31% of the just under $6.9 billion worldwide exploration total.
The top 10 companies were responsible for over $1 of every $5 spent on exploration worldwide last year with combined budgets of some $1.46 billion.
Exploration for gold represented 56% of the total budget of the largest players – gold companies usually dominate the top 20 list. Together copper and gold account for 90% of the budgets of the top 10 companies.
The 12 largest gold miners spending on exploration came to 37% of worldwide gold allocations. Two companies, Canada’s Agnico-Eagle and South Africa-based Gold Fields joined the top ten for the first time spending $111 million and $125 million respectively.
These 10 companies spend most looking for gold, copper
Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
Last year’s top spender AngloGold Ashanti allocated nearly half its $185 million budget to brownfield projects with the lion’s share going into Colombia.
Larger players represented 34% of the global total spent on copper exploration. In turn two companies, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta accounted for nearly half of the spending by the top 20 companies delineating and finding copper deposits.
SNL also notes that Rio Tinto was one of the few major mining companies whose planned exploration spending increased in 2016, up about 19% to $218 million. The Melbourne-based company was also the only large firm to spend money ($20 million) on uranium exploration.
Despite the weakness on uranium markets, total global spending on uranium was $284 million last year, nearly as much as was spent on diamonds and surpassing exploration dollars for nickel.
A persistent financing drought has squeezed juniors' budgeting to the point that the majors have become the biggest drivers of early-stage exploration.
The only other diversified mining company in the top 10 – Vale – spent $51.5 million looking for copper and $41.5 million for nickel. Allocations for other minerals were mostly focused on phosphates and potash in Brazil and Peru.
Overall diamonds accounted for 8% (with Alrosa and De Beers responsible for about 54%) and other targets, including silver, potash, phosphates and manganese made up 7% of the spending by larger players.
Considering the stage of exploration, spending patterns in the industry changed last year notes SNL:
Conventional wisdom holds that the major companies leave grassroots exploration to the juniors. It may therefore be surprising that the larger players contributed 34% of all greenfields allocations in 2016.
A persistent financing drought has squeezed juniors' budgeting to the point that the majors have become the biggest drivers of early-stage exploration.
Similarly, the larger players traditionally dominate minesite spending; however, in 2016 they accounted for only 37% of the near-mine work, as their investors demand improved returns over growth.
It is also interesting to note that the major players were responsible for just 25% of late-stage and feasibility work....
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The relations concerning the agreements the central and local government administrative bodies establish with foreign organizations are governed by Regulation on Establishing Agreements Between Organizations. On February 15, the cabinet approved the revisions of this regulation.
In compliance with the original regulation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is obliged to review the contents of new deals, administering relations, effectiveness and relevance of new agreements, to be established by Mongolia’s government bodies with international organizations. The Ministry also checks if the agreement is in accordance with intergovernmental agreements of Mongolia and similarity of drafts in both languages.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reviewed 63 agreements in 2015 and 79 in 2016 to make comments and give necessary recommendations to the agreement parties. A critical amount of mistakes and shortcomings were detected, to be specific, non-compliance with the Mongolian laws and regulations and international agreements, abuse of authority by local and state administrators, duplication of objectives that have already been agreed under international agreements, errors in the development of agreement drafts and preparation of unnecessary deals just to organize visits.
The revisions of the Regulation had been developed in order to reduce occurrences of above mentioned errors.