|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Over 60 kilometers, they line up: truck after truck, after truck. Nearly every one of them is laden with coal.
The world’s longest tailback has been building for months and has varying drivers: first, China’s drought prompted Beijing to slash water-intensive coal production; last, President-elect Donald Trump fanned revival for the least loved of commodities by casting doubt on the world’s commitment to outmode coal.
In the background, a newly installed government in Ulaanbaatar was quietly negotiating its way out of the economic crisis it inherited.
Last week, those negotiations came out into the open. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, the state-owned miner of the world’s largest undeveloped coal deposit, announced it had negotiated an 85% price jump in its average selling price to $50 a ton from December, rising to $60 for 2017. Mongolia had been selling its coal at only $32 as part of a settlement for debt owed to the Aluminum Corporation of China, or Chalco. In another part of Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia Mining Corp. had already struck a deal to sell its premium washed variety of coal at $107.
So what’s the big deal? Right now, Mongolia is pleading poverty. Mounting debt has driven the government into talks with the International Monetary Fund. It’s been whacked with two credit rating downgrades in as many weeks.
Yet, sales of coal – coupled with rising earnings from the country’s other main resources, namely copper, gold and iron ore – appear destined to rescue this nation of 3 million people, with or without foreign handouts.
Interviews with drivers and border guards indicated that around half – or 1,500 trucks – make it across the border each day. That equates to around 135,000 tons every day. That’s 4,050,000 tons per month, or 48,600,000 tons annually.
How much annual revenue will 48.6 million tons of coal exports bring to Mongolia? Based on a mid-price between the $60 and $107 so far achieved at Tavan Tolgoi, the consignment at $83 a ton equates to over $4 billion – just from coal.
In a report published by Frontera News earlier this month, Nick Cousyn, the Chief Operating Officer for BDSec, Mongolia’s largest broker and investment bank, arrives at a similar conclusion, albeit via a different route:
“It doesn’t take Herculean assumptions to expect that through improvements and reform, Mongolia’s coal companies can collectively produce 40 million tons next year,” writes Cousyn. Basing his math on the price achieved by Mongolia Mining Corp., Cousyn continues:
“At an average price of $105 per ton, that would represent more than $4 billion in economic activity for the sector – or an increase of over $3 billion compared with an estimated $960 million for 2016. For Mongolia’s $12 billion economy, this would mean a 25% jump in GDP, returning the economy to the type of dizzying growth rates seen last decade.”
As border crossings go, Mongolia’s seems an interesting space to watch....
Shares in the baby formula milk firm Bellamy have plunged after a warning that new import regulations in China will cut into revenues.
The Australian organic formula maker has seen its shares slump more than 40%.
The company said that sales would temporarily be hit as the industry adjusted to new rules required by China's Food and Drug Administration.
China is a key market for manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand.
Long-term breastfeeding is rare among Chinese mothers.
Those who can afford it often choose to buy imported formula over Chinese brands, because of fears over dangerous levels of hormones and chemicals sometimes found in local baby formula.
That has led to a surge in demand for foreign brands in recent years.
"As with the broader infant formula market, Bellamy's has experienced restructuring of the sales channels into China since the regulatory announcements," the company said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
"Brands that are unlikely to gain registration are liquidating inventory at discounted prices, which impacts both imported brands such as Bellamy's and the market overall," it added.
The company said it expects revenue to fall to A$240m ($178m, £1.41m) in 2017. Analysts had been expecting the figure to come in well above A$300m.
Other Australasian infant formula exporters with China as their key market also saw their shares lower.
A2 Milk from New Zealand was down by more than 10% while both Blackmores and Bega Cheese also saw their shares lower.
They had been rising as investors expected an ongoing boom in Chinese demand.
The leaders of four major global cities say they will stop the use of all diesel powered cars and trucks by the middle of the next decade.
The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens say they are implementing the ban to improve air quality.
They say they will give incentives for alternative vehicle use and promote walking and cycling.
The commitments were made in Mexico at a biennial meeting of city leaders.
The use of diesel in transport has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, as concerns about its impact on air quality have grown. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that around three million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.
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Diesel engines contribute to the problem in two key ways - through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death.
Nitrogen oxides can help form ground level ozone and this can exacerbate breathing difficulties, even for people without a history of respiratory problems.
As the evidence has mounted, environmental groups have used the courts to try and enforce clear air standards and regulations. In the UK, campaigners have recently had success in forcing the government to act more quickly.
Now, mayors from a number of major cities with well known air quality problems have decided to use their authority to clamp down on the use of diesel.
At the C40 meeting of urban leaders in Mexico, the four mayors declared that they would ban all diesel vehicles by 2025 and "commit to doing everything in their power to incentivise the use of electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles".
"It is no secret that in Mexico City, we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic," said the city's mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera.
"By expanding alternative transportation options like our Bus Rapid Transport and subway systems, while also investing in cycling infrastructure, we are working to ease congestion in our roadways and our lungs."
Paris has already taken a series of steps to cut the impact of diesel cars and trucks. Vehicles registered before 1997 have already been banned from entering the city, with restrictions increasing each year until 2020.
Once every month, the Champs-Élysées is closed to traffic, while very recently a 3km (1.8m) section of the right bank of the Seine river that was once a two-lane motorway, has been pedestrianised.
"Our city is implementing a bold plan - we will progressively ban the most polluting vehicles from the roads, helping Paris citizens with concrete accompanying measures," said Anne Hidalgo, the city's mayor.
"Our ambition is clear and we have started to roll it out: we want to ban diesel from our city, following the model of Tokyo, which has already done the same."
Many of the measures being proposed to cut air pollution have a knock-on benefit of curbing the emissions that exacerbate global warming as well.
"The quality of the air that we breathe in our cities is directly linked to tackling climate change," said the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena.
"As we reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated in our cities, our air will become cleaner and our children, our grandparents and our neighbours will be healthier."
Many of the plans outlined by the mayors meeting in Mexico are already having a positive impact.
In Barcelona, extra journeys by publicly available bicycles have reduced the CO2 emissions by over 9,000 tonnes - the equivalent of more than 21 million miles driven by an average vehicle.
The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Total Return Index slid four percent last month, losing $1.7 trillion, the biggest fall since its launch in 1990. Some investors are dumping low-yield bonds and turning to stocks.
The main reason for that was Donald Trump winning the US presidential election, as speculators expect him to cut taxes and invest $1 trillion in infrastructure projects.
According to Bloomberg, after Trump’s victory, investors dumped $10.7 billion of American bonds, while domestic stocks rose to record highs. This is the biggest flee from the American bond market since the 'taper tantrum' in 2013.
Globally, equity markets’ capitalization rose $635 billion.
However, UK investors are not that bearish about bonds, raising bond allocations near 30 percent of balanced global portfolios in November. According to Reuters, the share of American bonds in their debt portfolios was at a three-month high.
"The United States is likely to err on the side of caution in terms of increasing rates," Justin Onuekwusi, a fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management told the agency.
The investor said Europe is not that pessimistic about bonds.
"We still ultimately think rates are likely to remain lower for longer. We have the ECB, BoJ, and the BoE all buying bonds, central bank balance sheets are at unprecedented highs as a percentage of GDP since the financial crisis," he added.
"It is prudent to remember (government bonds) have delivered excellent returns over the last one, three and five-year periods through conditions similar to today – a surprise to many. It is more than possible that they will continue to surprise," said Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer of Kleinwort Hambros.
In August, RIT Capital Partners Chairman Jacob Rothschild said low interest rates, negative yields on government debt and quantitative easing are part of the biggest economic experiment in world history, and the consequences are yet to be found out.
Janus Capital has noted that global yields are the lowest in 500 years, and the total amount of such bonds is $10 trillion. The leading investor in the fund Bill Gross called it a “supernova that will explode one day.”
Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) co-founder Howard Schultz will step down as chief executive to focus on new high-end coffee shops, handing the top job to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson, a long-time technology executive.
Schultz, who will become executive chairman in April 2017, said he would focus on building ultra-premium Reserve stores and showcase Roastery and Tasting Rooms around the world as well as setting the brand's "social impact agenda" that includes sending employees to college and recruiting veterans.
Starbucks had signaled the change in July, but its shares fell 3.6 percent to $56.41 in extended trading on Thursday, as investors recalled the company's decline after Schultz handed over the reins in 2000. He returned in 2008.
"Having him step down as CEO raised the anxiety level," said Stephens analyst Will Slabaugh, who said that Schultz is the heart and soul of the brand, its entrepreneurial leader and its savior.
"We're in a much better position on every level," said Schultz, who returned for his second stint as CEO in the depths of the "Great Recession," when Starbucks' stock was trading below $10. Late last year, it hit an all-time high above $60. Schultz has put Starbucks in the national spotlight, asking customers not to bring guns into stores and urging conversations on race relations.
Many of the campaigns have generated controversy, but analysts have not seen a hit to financial results and the efforts have raised the profile of the coffee company and cemented Schultz's status as a national figure.
"The idea that he's replaceable, I think that's erroneous," said Bill Smead, CEO of Smead Capital Management in Seattle, which owns Starbucks shares. He compared the change to the retirement of long-time McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) CEO Ray Kroc, who turned a handful of hamburger stands into the world's biggest restaurant company.
The announcement on Thursday also came as investors worry about the restaurant industry's stubborn traffic declines. Starbucks has held up better than most, but it has not been immune.
Johnson is a former technology executive who became president and chief operating officer at Starbucks in March 2015.
Johnson has been on the Starbucks board since 2009 but most of his career was in the technology industry. He was the chief executive of Juniper Networks Inc (JNPR.N) from September 2008 to January 2014 and prior to that held several senior positions at Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).
On a conference call after the announcement, analysts pressed the company on timing and whether, with Schultz stepping aside, senior management still had the "merchant gene."
"Not having retail experience could be a problem over time," said Howard Penney, an analyst at Hedgeye Risk Management.
"I'm not leaving the company and I'm here every day," said Schultz, whose office is connected to Johnson's.
Traffic at established Starbucks cafes fell in the last quarter, which Johnson has attributed to a change in the company's loyalty program, and Starbucks forecast a mid-single-digit rise in 2017 same-store sales.
The company dismissed speculation that Schultz could be preparing for a new career in politics.
"He has no plans to run for political office, as he has said many times, and will remain with the company as Starbucks executive chairman, focusing on premium coffee," a spokeswoman said....
A federal jury in Dallas on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit to pay more than $1 billion to six plaintiffs who said they were injured by Pinnacle hip implants.
The jurors found that the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks.
J&J, which faces more than 8,000 lawsuits over the hip implants, said in a statement it would immediately appeal the verdict and was committed to defending itself and DePuy from further litigation over the Pinnacle devices.
The six plaintiffs awarded more than $1 billion are California residents who were implanted with the hip devices and experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws. Plaintiffs claimed the companies promoted the devices as lasting longer than devices that include ceramic or plastic materials.
Both companies denied any wrongdoing stemming from the development and marketing of the devices.
According to plaintiff's lawyer Mark Lanier, the total verdict of $1.041 billion included $32 million in compensatory damages. The rest were punitive damages.
Verdicts of such size are often scaled back by courts. In July, the judge presiding over this case, U.S. District Judge Edward Kinkeade, reduced a $500 million verdict in an earlier Pinnacle implant case to $151 million, citing a Texas state law that limits punitive damages awards.
J&J and DePuy have been hit with nearly 8,400 lawsuits over the devices, which have been consolidated in Texas federal court. Test cases have been selected for trial, and their outcomes will help gauge the value of the remaining claims.
The verdict on Thursday came in the third test case, with the second producing the earlier $500 million verdict. J&J and DePuy were cleared of liability in the first test case in 2014
Lanier said Thursday's verdict was "a message loud and clear" that J&J has "a really nasty part of their business they need to clean up."
The company rejected a $1.8 million settlement offer from the plaintiffs before trial, Lanier said.
The plaintiffs in the second test case have appealed Kinkeade’s decision to cut the award. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy have also appealed the jury verdict in the case.
In its statement, J&J criticized the trial judge over certain rulings it claimed help the plaintiffs.
“Today’s verdict provides no guidance on the merits of the overall Pinnacle litigation because the court’s rulings precluded a fair presentation to the jury,” said John Beisner, J&J’s attorney.
He said the company will ask the appeals court to postpone any additional trials over the implant defects.
DePuy ceased selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened its artificial hip regulations.
J&J and DePuy also paid $2.5 billion that year to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits over its ASR metal-on-metal hip devices. The ASR devices were recalled in 2010 due to high failure rates.
J&J shares fell 38 cents to $111 in after-hours trading. They had closed up 8 cents during the day....
Chinese insurers may boost outbound investment by about $100 billion over the next three years, as they seek to diversify risks through buying more overseas securities, private equity and real estate, BNP Paribas said on Thursday, citing a survey.
This reflects insurers' long-term strategy, and is driven mainly by a desire to deliver stable and sustainable returns, rather than a response to a weakening yuan, said Philippe Benoit, head of Asia Pacific at BNP Paribas securities services.
"These are long-term investment decisions ... not based on what you're reading in the press," he said, adding that hedging yuan exposure played a minor role in the insurers' decision-making.
Chinese insurers are allowed to invest up to 15 percent of their assets overseas, but currently, just 2 percent has been allocated abroad, suggesting "it's a long-term trend".
The survey was published at a time when Beijing is stepping up efforts to stem capital outflows that adds depreciation pressure on the yuan. The Chinese currency has fallen to more than eight-year lows against a surging US dollar.
This week, China intensified scrutiny over outbound investment, and also tightened rules on overseas yuan loans in a battle to curb outflows.
Benoit said Chinese insurers, who have "a long-term mindset", are still in the early stages of foreign investing, and such an aspiration will be unlikely deterred by short-term factors.
Acquisitive Chinese insurers including Ping An Insurance Group of China and Anbang Insurance Group have been shopping overseas for the past few years, snapping up foreign companies and properties.
At the end of 2015, Chinese insurers held overseas assets worth $36.7 billion, a 51 percent jump from a year earlier, but still accounted for just 2 percent of industry assets totalling 12 trillion yuan ($1.74 trillion).
BNP Paribas' estimate was based on a recent survey with China's top 20 insurers, which showed that over half of the respondents plan to increase the percentage of their assets overseas to 5-10 percent, according to the French bank.
The United States and Europe are the most popular investment destinations for Chinese insurers, partly because of the size and the depth of the two markets, according to the survey.
Most insurers participating in the survey say they prefer to invest in foreign stocks, bonds, private equity and real estate.
Chinese insurers face a series of challenges overseas, including identifying investment opportunities and managing risks, creating business opportunities for Western banks such as BNP Paribas, which can act as custodian and advisor for Chinese insurers, Benoit said.