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Salesforce still mulls bid for Twitter as shareholders resist: sources www.reuters.com

Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) is still deliberating whether it should make an offer for Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) in the face of resistance from Salesforce shareholders over the strategic merits and valuation of such a deal, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Twitter shares have lost as much as a third of their value since Oct. 5 on concerns the company has attracted less interest from potential acquirers than previously envisaged. It now has a market capitalization of $12 billion.
Salesforce is deliberating whether it is worth making a lowball offer for Twitter in the coming days based on Twitter's stock performance and any news of other bidders, the people said.
Other potential acquirers such as Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O) and Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) have backed away from making offers for the Internet company, the people said. There may however be other companies contemplating offers for Twitter whose identity has not yet been reported, some of the sources suggested.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Salesforce declined to comment while Twitter, Google and Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters previously reported that Twitter aimed to conclude deliberations about selling itself by Oct. 27, when it reports its third-quarter earnings.
Salesforce.com, run by CEO Marc Benioff, is focused on cloud-based sales and marketing software. Unlike Twitter, its main product is aimed at business users, not consumers. Under Salesforce.com, Twitter could become a corporate tool used to power sentiment analysis and nurture customer relationships.
A potential acquisition of Twitter has weighed down Salesforce's stock since news broke on Sept. 23 that it was vying for Twitter. Its shares rose as much as 7 percent on Monday after a weekend report by Bloomberg News suggested Salesforce was unlikely to make an offer.
Some analysts and investors have questioned why Salesforce would need to own Twitter, when it already licenses the Twitter "firehose" for its new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.
At Salesforce's annual client conference last week, Benioff said Salesforce considers buying many companies but maintains discipline, and wished Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey "well." These comments tamped out expectations that Salesforce would be an aggressive bidder for Twitter.
Since its founding a decade ago, Twitter has struggled to generate revenue growth and profit, despite having some 313 million average monthly active users and a growing presence as a source of news.


Minister of Environment: Saker falcons do not exit Mongolia on commercial purposes www.mongolia.gogo.mn

No saker falcon has exited Mongolia on commercial purposes since 2013, stated the Minister of Environment and Green Development, Ms D.Oyunkhorol at a press conference today in response to a statement made by the president of Mongolian Professional Hunters Association D.Khurtsgerel, who accused the Minister for smuggling the rare species of birds, on October 7.
“Minister has no authority or whatsoever over exporting falcons. The Cabinet issued a resolution in 2013 banning the commercial export of saker falcons. The birds are gifted on some occasions to high-level guests from the Middle East. For security, all information regarding the arrival and departure dates and visit programs are classified, including the information on gifts. In 2016, four officials paid visits here from the Middle East. These guests were accompanied by 50-150 people. With the visits, the airport, hotel and other services made income of about MNT 15 billion only in August and September. The guests were imposed MNT 10 billion customs duty to carry each gift bird with them”, she said.
“On the other hand, great amount of investment was made in Mongolia from the Middle East within the past decade. For instance, USD 13 million in construction of Taishir Hydropower Plant, USD 3.4 million in establishment of Biodiversity Research Center, and USD 360 million in purchasing necessary medical equipment for the general hospitals of Khentii and Bayan-Olgii provinces. Middle Eastern investors have settled financing of USD 7 million for the project on Burn Treatment Center and USD 12 million for construction of Khentii airport. Therefore, a person cannot insinuate the high-ranking officials and investors on the basis of his own personal interests”, the Minister underlined.
According to the director of Environmental and Natural Resources Management Department of the Ministry, Mr D.Davaasamba, President of the Hunters’ association D.Khurtsgerel submitted a proposal on exporting saker falcons, which was rejected by the Ministry.


S.Korea likely to seek TPP membership www3.nhk.or.jp

Japan's largest business organization says the South Korean government plans to seek entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
South Korea's trade minister Joo Hyung-hwan met Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, in Seoul on Monday.
According to Keidanren, Joo said the government will soon make the official decision to take part in the TPP. Joo reportedly asked for support from Japan's government and business sectors for the planned bid to join the deal.
Japan is one of the 12 nations that signed the agreement earlier this year. Seoul can only join the pact after gaining approval from each of those 12 countries.
South Korea has put priority on bilateral free trade deals. But it has been analyzing the contents of the TPP since the 12 countries reached a broad agreement on it in October last year.
Joo's remark suggests that Seoul has concluded that the deal would benefit South Korean firms in exports and investment.


China's state-owned steel maker goes bankrupt www3.nhk.or.jp

A Chinese state-owned steel maker has entered into a bankruptcy restructuring process. The firm has been seen as an example of a "zombie company," which loses money but stays afloat with help from local authorities and banks.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reports that a court accepted a bankruptcy reorganization application from a creditor of Dongbei Special Steel Group on Monday. The firm's debts are estimated at 8 billion dollars.
Dongbei is based in the northeastern province of Liaoning. Its finances have been hit hard by the drop in steel prices and burdens from past major investments. It has defaulted on debts 9 times since March.
Production overcapacity of steel and coal, which has caused the prices of steel and other materials to collapse, has been named as one reason for China's economic slowdown.
The restructuring of such zombie companies is part of the government's reform plan to secure stable economic growth.


Economists share Nobel Prize for contract theory www.rt.com

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics has been won by Harvard University's Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their contributions to contract theory and its part in binding employers and workers, and companies with customers.
The economists’ work helped to launch contract theory “as a fertile field of basic research,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
“The work lays an intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions,” the academy said shortly after announcing the eight million Swedish crown ($928,000) award.
British-born Oliver Hart is an economics professor at Harvard University. Finnish-born Bengt Holmstrom is professor of economics and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to the academy, Hart's work is focused on the right combination of financing and helps us understand which companies should merge, as well as when institutions should be privately or publicly owned.
Holmstrom's work is devoted to the order of formulating contracts for executives.
“The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design,” the academy said, stressing that modern economies were held together by innumerable contracts.
The prize in economics was established in 1968. It was not included in the original group of awards included in Alfred Nobel's will in 1896.
The awards for contributions to chemistry and peace, physics, physiology or medicine were announced last week. The recipient of the literature prize will be announced on Thursday.


Oil price lifted by Russia backing Opec production freeze www.bbc.com

Russia has said it will support a proposal by Opec to freeze oil production in order to reverse the slump in global prices.
The move lifted the price of oil, with Brent crude hitting a 52-week high.
"Russia is ready to accede to joint measures to reduce [oil] production, and is calling on other oil exporters to do so," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We support the recent Opec initiative to set production limits," he added.
In late afternoon Brent Crude oil was trading up by 2.5% at $53.21 a barrel, just off the $53.73 high hit earlier on Monday.
Speaking at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Mr Putin said that oil prices had "more than halved" in two years due to surplus production, provoking a "cycle of decreasing investment".
'Avoid fluctuations'
He said that if the trends persisted, they would give way to oil shortages and "new, unpredictable price hikes".
He expects to reach an agreement to support a cut at Opec's next meeting in November, he said.
"Of course, this will also cool down speculative activities and help avoid new price fluctuations," he said.
In September, members of the The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) voted to cut production for the first time in eight years.
The group's 14 members produce about a third of the world's oil and have been hit hard by falling prices, as has Russia.
High prices
Opec aims to agree to cut around 700,000 barrels per day at its policy meeting on 30 November in Vienna, bringing its output to 32.5-33 million barrels per day.
But some analysts have questioned whether all of its members will stick to the agreement.
Differences between Iran and its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, have thwarted efforts to reach a deal in the past, and Russia's latest intervention may have little impact, said John Hall, chairman at Alfaenergy group
"Russia and Opec have not worked well in the past, and while Vladimir Putin promising joint measures is welcome, whether he sticks to it is another matter," he said.
"You've also got to see the wider context: Saudi Arabia and Iran are in a proxy war in Yemen. It is still very doubtful they can come to an agreement whether Russia supports a cut or not."
'US obstruction'
However, John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, told the Reuters News Agency: "Putin coming out to say Russia will be part of the initiative has added another layer of credence to the speculation there will be a coordinated cut.
"At some point, the market will call them on it and say 'show us the cuts'."
In his speech Mr Putin also criticised unilateral sanctions, suggesting the US had blocked the expansion of more oil pipelines from Russia to Europe.
"The authorities in certain countries have been telling businesses to close profitable projects, refuse to buy fuel supplied via the shortest possible routes and at attractive prices," he said.
"Such actions do nothing to increase the stability of global energy system and also of the global economy as a whole."


Russian oil giant Rosneft to buy smaller rival Bashneft www.rt.com

Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft has acquired the state-owned stake of another major oil producer Bashneft for 329.6 billion rubles (about $5.3 billion). The deal is expected to be closed by October 14.

The deal was approved by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday.

"Today I have signed a decree allowing the sale of 50.755 percent of the shares in the Bashneft oil company to the public joint-stock company Rosneft for a price of 329.69 billion rubles,” said Medvedev.

British energy giant BP owns 19.75 percent of Rosneft, and CEO Bob Dudley said it doesn’t oppose the deal. Dudley said BP would not take part in any future privatization of Rosneft, saying the company is happy with its current stake.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin described a Rosneft takeover of Bashneft as not the best option, but added that the biggest bid would win, since the sale is needed to reduce the country's budget deficit.

“Probably it’s not the best option when one company under state control acquires another purely state company. That’s one position. In the end, the important thing for the budget is who gives the most money. In this sense we can’t discriminate against market participants, not a single one of them,” Putin said in an interview with Bloomberg.

The Kremlin is looking to raise money to tackle Russia's biggest budget deficit since 2010. The initial goal was to reduce it to three percent of GDP, but different agencies estimate the deficit could hit 3.6-3.9 percent this year, slowly reducing to 3.1 percent next year and 2.2 percent in 2018.

Russia’s Bashneft inherited the oil related assets of the Soviet Union in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan. It is one of the largest crude producers in the country, with more than 180 oil fields producing 19 million tons of oil per year.



Why the New Silk Roads terrify Washington www.rt.com

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

Almost six years ago, President Putin proposed to Germany 'the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.'
This idea represented an immense trade emporium uniting Russia and the EU, or, in Putin’s words, “a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of dollars.”

In a nutshell: Eurasia integration.

Washington panicked. The record shows how Putin’s vision – although extremely seductive to German industrialists - was eventually derailed by Washington’s controlled demolition of Ukraine.

Three years ago, in Kazakhstan and then Indonesia, President Xi Jinping expanded on Putin’s vision, proposing One Belt, One Road (OBOR), a.k.a. the New Silk Roads, enhancing the geoeconomic integration of Asia-Pacific via a vast network of highways, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports and fiber-optic cables.

In a nutshell: an even more ambitious version of Eurasia integration, benefiting two-thirds of the world population, economy and trade. The difference is that it now comes with immense financial muscle backing it up, via a Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), and an all-out commercial offensive all across Eurasia, and the official entry of the yuan in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights; that is, the christening of the yuan as a key currency worth holding by every single emerging market central bank.

At the recent G20 in Huangzhou, President Xi clearly demonstrated how OBOR is absolutely central to the Chinese vision of how globalization should proceed. Beijing is betting that the overwhelming majority of nations across Eurasia would rather invest in, and profit from, a “win-win” economic development project than be bogged down in a lose-lose strategic game between the US and China.

And that, for the Empire of Chaos, is absolute anathema. How to possibly accept that China is winning the 21st century / New Great Game in Eurasia by building the New Silk Roads?

And don't forget the Silk Road in Syria
Few in the West have noticed, as reported by RT, that the G20 was preceded by an Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Essentially, that was yet another de facto celebration of Eurasia integration, featuring Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

And that integration plank will soon merge with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union – which in itself is a sort of Russian New Silk Road.

All these roads lead to total connectivity. Take for instance cargo trains that are now regularly linking Guangzhou, the key hub in southeast China, to the logistics center in Vorsino industrial park near Kaluga. The trip now takes just two weeks – saving no less than a full month if compared with shipping, and around 80 percent of the cost if compared with air cargo.

That’s yet another New Silk Road-style connection between China and Europe via Russia. Still another, vastly more ambitious, will be the high-speed rail expansion of the Transiberian; the Siberian Silk Road.

Then take the closer integration of China and Kazakhstan – which is also a member of the EEU. The duty-free Trans-Eurasia railway is already in effect, from Chongqing in Sichuan across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland all the way to Duisburg in Germany. Beijing and Astana are developing a joint free trade zone at Horgos. And in parallel, a $135 million China-Mongolia Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Zone started to be built last month.

Kazakhstan is even flirting with the ambitious idea of a Eurasian Canal from the Caspian to the Black Sea and then further on to the Mediterranean. Sooner or later Chinese construction companies will come up with a feasibility study.

A virtually invisible Washington agenda in Syria – inbuilt in the Pentagon obsession to not allow any ceasefire to work, or to prevent the fall of its “moderate rebels” in Aleppo – is to break up yet another New Silk Road hub. China has been commercially connected to Syria since the original Silk Road, which snaked through Palmyra and Damascus. Before the Syrian “Arab Spring”, Syrian businessmen were a vital presence in Yiwu, south of Shanghai, the largest wholesale center for small-sized consumer goods in the world, where they would go to buy all sorts of products in bulk to resell in the Levant.

The “American lake”
Neocon/neoliberalcon Washington is totally paralyzed in terms of formulating a response – or at least a counter-proposal - to Eurasia integration. A few solid IQs at least may understand that China’s “threat” to the US is all about economic might. Take Washington’s deep hostility towards the China-driven AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank). Yet no amount of hardcore US lobbying prevented allies such as Germany, Britain, Australia and South Korea from joining in.

Then we had the mad dash to approve TPP – the China-excluding, NATO-on-trade arm of the pivot to Asia that was meant to be the cherry of the mostly flat Obama global economic policy cake. Yet the TPP as it stands is practically dead.

What the current geopolitical juncture spells out is the US Navy willing to go no holds barred to stop China from strategically dominating the Pacific, while TPP is deployed as a weapon to stop China dominating Asia-Pacific economically.

With the pivot to Asia configured as a tool to “deter Chinese aggression”, exceptionalists have graphically demonstrated how they are incapable of admitting the whole game is about post-ideological supply chain geopolitics. The US does not need to contain China; what it needs, badly, is key industrial, financial, commercial connection to crucial nodes across Asia to (re)build its economy.

Those were the days, in March 1949, when MacArthur could gloat, “the Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake”. Even after the end of the Cold War the Pacific was a de facto American lake; the US violated Chinese naval and aerial space at will.

Now instead we have the US Army War College and the whole Think Tankland losing sleep over sophisticated Chinese missiles capable of denying US Navy access to the South China Sea. An American lake? No more.

The heart of the matter is that China has made an outstanding bet on infrastructure building – which translates into first-class connectivity to everyone – as the real global 21st century commons, way more important than “security”. After all a large part of global infrastructure still needs to be built. While China turbo-charges its role as the top global infrastructure exporter – from high-speed rail to low-cost telecom - the “indispensable” nation is stuck with a “pivoting”, perplexed, bloated military obsessed with containment.

Divide and rule those “hostile” rivals
Well, things haven’t changed much since Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski dreaming in the late 1990s of a Chinese fragmentation from within, all the way to Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which is no more than futile rhetorical nostalgia about containing Russia, China and Iran.

Thus the basket of attached myths such as “freedom of navigation” - Washington’s euphemism for perennially controlling the sea lanes that constitute China’s supply chain – as well as an apotheosis of “China aggression” incessantly merging with “Russia aggression”; after all, the Eurasia integration-driven Beijing-Moscow strategic partnership must be severed at all costs.

Why? Because US global hegemony must always be perceived as an irremovable force of nature, like death and taxes (Apple in Ireland excluded).

Twenty-four years after the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guide, the same mindset prevails; “Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival…to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and southwest Asia”.

Oops. Now even Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski is terrified. How to contain these bloody silky roads with Pentagon “existential threats” China and Russia right at the heart of the action? Divide and Rule – what else?

For a confused Brzezinski, the US should“fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.”

Have a pleasant nightmare.



Global demand for energy will peak in 2030, says World Energy Council www.theguardian.com

Global demand for energy per capita will peak in 2030 thanks to new technology and stricter government policies, the World Energy Council has predicted.
In a report on a range of scenarios for global energy use, the group of academics, energy companies and public sector bodies outlined a “fundamentally new world for the energy industry” calling it the “grand transition”.
The report, launched ahead of the World Energy Congress in Istanbul, forecast demand per person for energy – including transport fuels, heating and electricity – would begin to fall after 2030.
Ged Davis, executive chair of scenarios at the World Energy Council said: “Historically people have talked about peak oil but now disruptive trends are leading energy experts to consider the implications of peak demand.”
But while overall per capita energy demand will begin to fall, demand for electricity will double by 2060, the council said, requiring greater infrastructure investment in smart systems that promote energy efficiency.
The “phenomenal” growth of solar and wind energy is predicted to continue, while coal and oil will fade out of the energy mix.
Solar and wind accounted for just 4% of power generation in 2014 but could supply as much as 39% by 2060, while hydro-electric power and nuclear are also slated to grow.
But fossil fuels will remain the number one source of energy, having fallen just 5% since 1970 from 86% of energy supply to 81% in 2014.
The council drew up three scenarios to assess different areas of energy use. The range of outcomes could see fossil fuels provide anything from 50% to 70% of energy by 2060, said the council, which is the UN-accredited global energy body.
Under two of the scenarios, oil production will peak in 2030 at between 94m barrels per day (bpd) and 103 mb/d, although the third scenario would see it peak and plateau at 104 m/bpd for a decade from 2040.
The council said moving from petrol cars to cheaper technologies such as electric vehicles will prove “one of the hardest obstacles to overcome” in efforts to decarbonise global energy use.
Oil powered 92% of vehicles in 2014, but that is expected to fall to between 78% and 60% as electric vehicles become more popular.
But the council warned that keeping global warming below 2Cwould require an “exceptional and enduring effort, far beyond already pledged commitments and with very high carbon prices”.
Its predictions for carbon emissions vary wildly depending on the strength of efforts to tackle the problem, from a reduction of 61% by 2060 to a slight increase of 5%.
Overall, the report’s theme of a grand transition envisages lower population growth, radical new technologies, greater environmental challenges and a shift in economic and geopolitical power.
The report was produced in partnership with consultancy Accenture Strategy and the Paul Scherrer Institute, a research centre in Switzerland.
Last year’s report warned of a threat to global energy networks caused by extreme weather events associated with global warming.


Samsung 'pauses Note 7 production', say media reports www.bbc.com

Smartphone giant Samsung has reportedly stopped production of its Note 7 phone amid claims that replacement devices still have critical battery issues.
Reuters and South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited unnamed officials claiming the company had temporarily halted its Galaxy Note 7 production lines.
Samsung told the BBC it was "adjusting the production schedule to ensure quality and safety matters".
The move came as two US networks stopped replacing or selling the phone.
Samsung said on Monday it would also stagger shipments of the Note 7 to conduct in-depth inspections.
The South Korean firm issued a recall of the smartphone in September and assured customers last month that the fixed devices were safe.
But there have now been several reports of replacement phones starting to emit smoke.
'No longer exchanging'
It comes after the AT&T and T-Mobile networks in the US said they would no longer replace the devices, while the latter said it would halt all sales of the phone.
"While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note 7 and exchanges for replacement Note 7 devices," T-Mobile said on its website.
Meanwhile, AT&T said: "We're no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents." It advised customers to exchange them for other devices.
Manufacturing error
Samsung said in a statement last month that the issue of overheating was caused by a "rare" manufacturing error that resulted in the battery's "anode-to-cathode [negative and positive electrodes]" coming into contact.
But last week, a domestic flight in the US was evacuated after a replacement Note 7 started emitting smoke in the cabin. And a man in Kentucky reportedly woke up to a bedroom full of smoke from a replaced Note 7.
In an update on Monday, Samsung said it understood the concerns of carriers and consumers about the newly released replacement Note 7 devices.
"We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible," Samsung said.
"If we conclude a product safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) to take immediate steps to address the situation."
Shares in Samsung Electronics closed down 1.5% in Seoul.
Eric Schiffer, a brand strategy expert at Reputation Management Consultants, said the company needed to take action to limit the harm to its image.
"If the Note 7 is allowed to continue, it could lead to the single greatest act of brand self-destruction in the history of modern technology," he said.
"Samsung needs to take a giant writedown and cast the Note 7 to the engineering hall of shame next to the Ford Pinto."
In 1977, the Pinto was the subject of a then-record US recall to address safety concerns.