Category: Commodities

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite
CommoditiesMarkets

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite

With growth and inflation expectations notably higher after new U.S. payroll data, investors have cut cash holdings and increased exposure to equities, real estate and alternative investments.

The percentage of asset allocators overweight equities rose significantly by 17 points to a net 43%, while lowering cash overweights to their lowest level since July. Four-fifths of panelists now expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates during the current quarter.

Confidence in the global economy rebounds, with net expectations of it strengthening in the next 12 months up 22 percentage points from October. 

Concerns over a slowdown in China abate, as local fund managers turn neutral on the country’s growth outlook – their most positive reading in more than a year. 

Eurozone and Japan strengthen as the most favored equity markets globally, reflecting deeper consensus on the U.S. dollar. A net 67% now expect the currency to appreciate in the next year. 

Real estate and alternative investment overweights rise to their second-highest readings in the survey’s history. In contrast, aggressive underweights on commodities and Global Emerging Markets are maintained.

“With consensus very clustered in QE and strong dollar trades, asset price upside appears limited until an ‘event’ curtails the Fed hiking cycle, as in 1994,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

“While European equities are loved by global investors and the ECB has created some excitement about growth, sector positioning shows local asset managers are lacking conviction and hugging their benchmarks,” said Manish Kabra, head of European quantitative strategy.

Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020
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Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020

The market report defines and segments the oilfield services market with analysis and forecast of the global E&P revenue and applications. It also identifies driving and restraining factors for the oilfield services market, with a comprehensive analysis on trends, opportunities, burning issues, and winning imperatives.

The global oil and gas production has increased over the last five years from 81.149 Million barrels per day in 2009 to 88.673 Million barrels per day in 2014. This has led to the supply for oil & gas exceeding its demand which has ultimately caused a decline in the prices of crude oil during the last six months of 2014.

This reduction mainly impacted the upstream exploration and production (E&P) activities. Consequently, the oil and gas operators have reduced their capital expenditure outlook for 2015 citing concerns over low profit margins. However, the expected increase in production from petroleum rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the U.S. has resulted in higher demand for production based services.

The pressure pumping segment occupied the largest market share, by value, in 2014 owing to high usage of hydraulic fracturing in North America’s shale gas activities. Among application, onshore is used more as offshore applications are expensive. The cost factor is highly crucial in deciding the feasibility of any oilfield service activity, especially during a low crude oil price environment.

North America is the largest market for oilfield services. The region has been experiencing rapid increase in its oil and gas production levels since the last 10 years and accounted for more than 45% of the total market in 2014. This is largely due to two factors viz. the production from unconventional shale plays and the deep-water production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The technological advancement along with the experience in producing from unconventional formations has boosted the domestic production in this region. The region is expected to grow further during the forecast period, which can be attributed to the continued production related activities within the region.

To find out more about this report, please click HERE.

Copper Slump as Price Plummets
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Copper Slump as Price Plummets

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The London Metal Exchange has reported a drop in the price of copper as Greek economy fears and lower than predicted purchases by the Chinese cause price crash. The speculation has left the price of the metal at 5723.00 US dollars per ton today, with the last month seeing a low of 5,642.50 US dollars per ton on Monday 22nd June.

Wood Mackenzie analysed the issue in February and cited numerous worldwide social and economic factors as key to the slump in price that has been taking place since the start of this year: ‘The fall in the oil price at the end of 2014 was clearly the initial trigger, compounded by the collapse of the Russian rouble, slowing growth in China, Japanese recession, the Greek elections and further signs of weakness within the European economy.’

Greece, a major importer of copper, has been holding tough negotiations on the repayment of their vast debts and faces problems with staying in the European Union, leaving them with an uncertain economic future. Another major factor could be the strike at Chile’s copper mine Collahuasi, with workers caught in a fierce dispute with the mine’s managers over working conditions.

 China, a global force in the imports market, reduced their importing of copper, with many speculating that this was due possibly to necessary smelting machinery maintenance. The acquisition of Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, which is held in majority by Chinese state owned firm Minmetals, highlights China’s commitment to the purchase of the metal and its use in construction, but recent predictions expect them to produce more copper than expected in a new contract with MMG.

 

 

Demands of the  Digital Consumer
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Demands of the Digital Consumer


The evolution of consumer expectations as a result of the digital revolution has drastically altered their approach to financial services according to new research by IRESS, the leading supplier of wealth management, financial markets and mortgage systems.

IRESS’ report “Data, Disruption and the Digital Consumer” highlights the level of pre-purchase research undertaken by consumers. 80% of consumers surveyed online now conduct research before making a significant purchase or investment decision. This is largely due to the impact that price comparison sites have had, as 52% of consumers use them, 60% trust them and 33% say that they have had a positive impact on them personally. Company websites are the next most popular method (49%) to research products while 19% use peer review websites and 29% say that they use a specialist website.

• 80% of consumers now conduct research when making significant purchases or investments, with online crucial
• Despite this, consumers less likely to secure complex products unassisted online
• Consumers believe financial services lags behind other industries (retail and music lead) in technology adoption
• Consumers call for single view of all their financial information and improved security
• A quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice

The Online Opportunity
Despite the research consumers are undertaking online, their comfort in making online unassisted decisions is inconsistent across financial services. While 56% of people in the online survey had carried out a bank account transaction online, consumers are less likely to implement more complex product decisions or make transactions with longer lasting impacts without using any other channels. For instance, just 2% have secured a retirement product solely via the internet, 3% have secured a mortgage while only 9% have invested in stocks, shares or funds. However, there is clearly appetite for greater online access, with almost one third of people saying they would feel comfortable securing a mortgage solely online (30%) or investing in stocks and shares or funds (31%). The gap to be filled here would seem to be providing some level of assistance or scaled advice.

More than two thirds of consumers (68%) were positive on the impact of technology in their interactions with financial services firms. However, it is clear that the industry has more progress to make. When asked which industry had embraced technology the most in the last five years, nearly a quarter (23%) stated retail, with music a distant second at 12%. Financial services scored lower, with 9%.

There are clearly innovations that consumers need and would like to see implemented. Nearly a quarter of people (23%) said they would like the ability to view their financial world – bank accounts, mortgages, investments, insurance – in one place. The joint most popular response was increased security through the use of biometrics, which 23% of people said was one of the innovations that they would most like to see. Fully integrated customer service options across phone, online, social media and text (18%) was the next most popular prospective advance.

The Future Shape of Advice
Financial advice remains an important service for many people. Overall, a quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice, with this figure rising steeply for those with higher incomes (42% of respondents with a household income of more than £60,000). There are clearly online opportunities for efficiently delivering this advice to a wider audience. However, when it comes to planning how much to save for future retirement, almost half (44%) of consumers still prefer the reassurance of face to face advice with an adviser – clearly, digital is to form part of a ‘menu’ of advice options.

Simon Badley, Managing Director (UK), IRESS, commented: “Digitalisation has meant the needs and demands of consumers has undergone a seismic shift in the last decade. Financial Services companies need to do more to match the consumer experience and engagement expectation and build more trust from the digital consumer. Without innovation from established companies, the industry will be more prone to disruption.

“Regulatory change and in particular the pensions freedoms have highlighted a need for access to financial advice but the solution will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This research has shown that many consumers still want face to face advice when planning for retirement yet will happily make financial decisions online in other scenarios. The future is undoubtedly multi-channel.”

The report has also led IRESS to the development of five key foundations:
• Unify engagement via multiple financial advice options ranging from full advice, scaled or guided advice and self-service.
• Simple and secure multi-channel engagement and customer support will help consumers switch between channels based on advice need or assistance in real-time.
• Integration of research and advice functions into digital models to take advantage of the high level of online research already being conducted on financial decisions
• Provision of simple but detailed information and guidance online via semi-automated prompts for people to utilise when researching, selecting or altering products
• Leverage technology to provide consumers with a consolidated single view of their overall financial position, ensuring consistency between channels.

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?
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Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?


Bud Genius, Inc., a leading laboratory for cannabis testing and profiling, developer of data-driven rating systems for marijuana strains, brand and retail development specialist, and licensee of celebrity-endorsed marijuana-related merchandise, commented today on an article in USA Today, which examined the potential role of major tobacco companies in the cannabis industry.

“At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

“Many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market,” the article stated. “At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

Angel Stanz, CEO of Bud Genius says the corporate giants are inevitable and very few companies will survive the incursion regardless of whether they are publicly traded or privately held. “The one thing that the big tobacco companies will need is data, which they do not have and currently cannot collect. Multinational corporations base their marketing, brand positioning, and product management on data. This includes detailed demographics of their consumers and how attributes of each product appeal to them,” he said. “As the company with the largest combination of quantitative and qualitative data regarding cannabis strain composition and specific consumer interests, I believe that the day the tobacco companies enter the cannabis market is the day that our company value soars.”

In a June 2014 paper titled, “Waiting for the Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization,” researchers Rachel Ann Barry, Heikki Hiilamo and Stanton Glantz wrote: “Since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana and marijuana legalization as both a potential and a rival product… As public opinion shifted and governments began relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana criminalization, the tobacco companies modified their corporate planning strategies to prepare for future consumer demand.”

Stanz thinks this level of competition will be good for the cannabis industry and will keep businesses innovating. “Big tobacco will cause a catastrophic thinning of the herd. Smart companies are acting now to position themselves with unique intellectual property. For example, the tobacco industry is built on brands — Are you the cowboy or the jazz guy? However, these outdated brands will not work in the cannabis industry,” Stanz commented. “The three biggest brand names in the marijuana industry, one of which we recently announced, are beginning down the path of carving out market share and creating market dominance,” he added. “We view the eventual competition from the tobacco industry as building immense value in our data and stimulating the value of name brands – an area where we hold the industry’s brightest star.”

Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential
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Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential


To put this potential find in perspective, the entire North Sea production over the last 4 decades is around 45 billion barrels, and the world’s largest oil reserve, Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar, produced an estimated 65 billion barrels of oil since 1951.

Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corporation (OTCBB: BECC) based in Dallas, Texas, and known by the media as the ‘Frack Master’, will be available for interview in Birmingham on April 15 and 16, when he attends the Shale World UK conference and exhibition. He will also be in London for interviews following the conference.

“We knew about this potential long before it became news and now UKOG has proven what the geology showed. This is actually an extension of the same formation that was being extracted in the North Sea. It just comes on land, and ironically is not far from Gatwick Airport,” Faulkner said. “This is a game changer for England, and they will now have to shift their entire focus on how to approach oil and gas production. There’s too much at stake now for them not to,” he added.

Even at current oil and gas prices, Chris Faulkner thinks shale exploration will still be viable in the UK. “Shale oil gas will take some time to bring online, but this is a long-term investment and prices will always fluctuate up and down. Now the UK can gain independence from foreign supplies by developing this massive resource under its own soil.”

Faulkner feels that the two biggest obstacles to shale in the UK are the complex planning regulations and public opposition. Opponents base their argument on unfounded safety fears, which been proven untrue by US production and confirmed by the highly respected 2014 University of Manchester study claiming fracking can be done safely domestically. Drilling restrictions in the UK are more stringent than the US, pointing to stronger safety precautions amidst increased regulatory hurdles.

Energy security and shale development have not become issues in the current General Election campaign, mostly because of milder temperatures this winter. Last fall, with Russia jawboning to reduce gas flowing through the Ukraine, a cold winter could have led to shortages, and energy independence would certainly have propelled up the political agenda. “The UK is at the end of a very long pipeline and only has two weeks of storage capacity if anything goes wrong,” Faulkner says.

Chris Faulkner will be speaking at the Shale World UK conference and exhibition being held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday, April 15 and 16. His topic will be: “Can unconventional exploration be economic at current oil and gas prices?”

Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market
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Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market

“The global oil market could be braced for more uncertainty in the coming months. The Iranian nuclear deal is likely to see sanctions on exports lifted leading to an increase in Iranian crude oil production. The speed at which these barrels hit the market is currently unclear and foreign investment will be key to unlocking this potential.

“Any incremental rise in production will certainly test the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) 30 million barrels per day production quota and add a new dimension to the OPEC meeting in June.”

Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean
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Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean

The Institute’s three and six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programmes are open to all Retail Traders globally, and include full trader coaching on a weekly basis with Institute Senior Mentors Raj Malhotra (New York) and Jason Mcdonald (London). Weekly coaching is done on a remote basis after the initial 10-day period of the Mentoring Programme which is held in the Turks and Caicos in July 2015.

During this initial 10-day period, Institute mentees will be expected to complete a hands-on programme directly with Raj Malhotra, Jason Mcdonald, Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil and their Mentoring Programme peers. After the initial period of 10 days in Turks and Caicos, Institute mentees return to their home countries and the remainder of the three or six-month Mentoring Programmes are spent trading with real money in a live Trading Account and communicating with Raj and Jason directly, via screen sharing and Skype calls.

Traders also have the opportunity to trade as part of a remote trading desk as a team which is backed with real Institute capital and overseen by Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil.

Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts
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Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts

Russia is one of the major countries in the Eurasia liquefied petroleum gas market, which is not only expected to garner the largest share, but is also estimated to grow at the highest CAGR. Russia is one of the largest producers of natural gas worldwide and a majority of its production is consumed in the western European countries such as Germany and U.K.

Considering the overall Eurasian LPG market, the market is dominated by the Russian and CIS countries in terms of production; in terms of consumption, the market is dominated by the Western European countries in Eurasia. In the Eurasian region, the demand varies according to various applications that are particular to different countries. For example, the North and East European countries use a large portion of the LPG for residential/commercial application, whereas the Western European countries preferably use LPG for industrial and auto gas applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is segmented on the basis of different applications. Eurasia has lower average annual temperatures; hence, in order to keep homes warm during the winter, the Europeans use different heating mediums. LPG is a better fuel for such applications, as it burns without generating smoke. Hence, in Eurasia, the residential/commercial application of LPG is mostly driven by the use of LPG for heating applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow considering the applicability of LPG in various applications. Europe, being a developed region, has people who are conscious about their carbon emission. Hence, the Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow in the auto gas application of LPG.

As of 2014, the Eurasian liquefied petroleum gas market was dominated by Gazprom, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc, and Total S.A. Of these, Gazprom has the highest market share in Eurasia. New product launches and partnerships, agreements, collaborations, and joint ventures are the major strategies adopted by most of the market players to boost the market growth.

 

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/svmk52/eurasia_liquefied

Mongolia - Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?
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Mongolia – Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?


The daylong Investing in Mongolia Conference will highlight the recent rise of the Asian country as a global hotspot for minerals, precious metals and coal and ask if its booming mining sector can birth a true market economy.

The conference will showcase presentations from a number of private and publicly traded companies with a well-established footprint in the Mongolian market, including:

– Golomt Bank and its wholly owned financial services firm Golomt Securities

– Leading importer Ulemj

– Road and transportation infrastructure developer Khot

– Commercial real estate investor and developer Mongolia Growth Group

– Erdenes MGL, the largest state-owned mining operation in Mongolia

– Mine-owner Sharyn Gol JSC

– Petroleum importer MT Group

In addition, officials from the Mongolian Embassy and Mongolian Stock Exchange will on be hand to provide macroeconomic perspectives. The conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 

British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco
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British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco

The transaction is in line with our strategy to evolve our retail portfolio. It further reduces our foodstore weighting and increases our exposure to multi-let retail parks and shopping centres. Our full ownership of these assets will provide significant potential to add further value through asset management and development.

Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail & Leisure, British Land, said: “This mutually beneficial transaction clearly demonstrates the great relationship we enjoy with Tesco. It plays to our strengths of managing multi-let assets and gives Tesco more control of their stand-alone portfolio. We see significant opportunity to add value and drive returns through asset management and development.”

Key transaction terms

Sale of 50% stake in the Tesco Aqua Limited Partnership (“Aqua”) comprising 21 stand-alone foodstores; portfolio value £352 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 13.3 years; NIY 4.8%
Acquisition of 50% stakes in Tesco BL Holdings Limited (“TBLH”) and The Tesco British Land Property Partnership (“TBLPP”) comprising 3 retail parks and 3 shopping centres, all anchored by Tesco stores, and 3 stand-alone foodstores; combined portfolio value £381 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 11.4 years; topped up NIY 5.2%
British Land will make a net cash payment of £96 million to Tesco reflecting the difference in net asset value (including mark to market on debt) for Aqua (£81 million) and the combined TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures (£177 million).
In line with strategy to evolve the Retail portfolio

Stand-alone foodstore weighting reduced from 10% of portfolio to 8%
Increases focus on multi-let assets; number of stand-alone foodstores reduced from 79 to 58
Reduces the number of British Land joint ventures by 3 and the number of assets held in joint ventures by 30
Opportunity to drive returns through asset management and development

Taking full ownership of 660,000 sq ft of retail parks and 730,000 sq ft of shopping centres
Potential to enhance returns through asset management notably at Serpentine Green, Peterborough, Beaumont Leys, Leicester and the Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes
Asset swaps in line with valuation and accretive to earnings

Property asset swaps in line with latest reported valuations
Transaction accretive to earnings
Group weighted average interest rate reduced by 15 basis points

Financial effects

Overall, the transaction is accretive to earnings in 2016 reflecting a £2 million increase in net rent and an £8 million reduction in net interest.

The assets acquired within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures generate annual accounting net rental income of £20 million. The assets sold within the Aqua joint venture generate £18 million.

The acquired debt held within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures currently bears interest of £5 million per annum. The Aqua disposal saves £14 million of interest per annum and including the £96m of net cash payable to Tesco the interest saving is £8m per annum. The net cash payable will be funded from existing resources.

The Group’s proportionally consolidated weighted average interest rate is reduced by 15 basis points. The proportionately consolidated weighted average debt maturity is unchanged at 8.9 years. The transaction increases LTV by 0.4%.

Net asset value per share is reduced by 3 pence per share principally due to the impact of mark to market on the debt.

 

 

How Much Are the UK's Natural Resources Worth?
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How Much Are the UK’s Natural Resources Worth?

Between 2008 and 2012 the value of the UK’s freshwater ecosystems, which covers inland wetlands and open water, rose by 26% from £29 billion to £37 billion.

These figures form part of ONS’s efforts to measure Natural Capital, which is aiming to place a value on the economic benefits of our natural resources.

ONS has become an international leader in developing natural capital accounting, which is highlighting the losses, gains and importance of the services provided by natural assets.

Alongside the new analysis of freshwater ecosystems, the ONS is also publishing an interim review of the work to measure natural capital, examining what has been achieved so far and what the project aims to produce by 2020.

The key findings uncovered from Natural Capital to date include:

A preliminary estimate valued the UK’s natural assets at £1.6 trillion, broadly equivalent to the UK GDP.

The value of UK’s non-renewable assets (oil & gas reserves, coal and minerals) reduced by 30% between 2007 and 2011.

The value provided by the UK’s woodlands for carbon storage and recreation was 13 times higher than if it were used solely for timber, an estimated £2.4 billion.

Urban land use increased by 5.4% between 2000 and 2010.

Glenn Everett, Director of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme, said “The degradation of our natural resources and loss of the services nature provides to people and the economy in not accounted for in the nation’s balance sheet. So there is an important need to take stock of the economic benefits that we receive from our natural assets.”

Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor
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Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor

“The Chancellor really is a ‘Hat Trick Hero’. His third, successive beer tax cut shows he has listened to consumers, publicans and brewers.

“Beer tax is now ten pence lower than it would have been under the beer duty escalator, which he abolished.

“It will boost employment by 3,800 this year alone and attract new capital investment. It will put 180 million pounds in the pockets of beer drinkers and pubgoers. That is a huge difference.

“Cutting beer duty supports a great British Industry which contributes £22 billion to GDP and supports almost 900,000 jobs. It’s also a boost for pubs, as beer accounts for seven out every ten alcohol drinks sold in our pubs.

“The renewed confidence in our sector is reflected in rising beer sales in 2014, for the first time in a decade.

“There is of course more work to de done, and we look forward to persuading MPs in the next Parliament that further action is needed to encourage consumers towards our lower-strength, British-made national drink.”

 

How the Chancellor's Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad
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How the Chancellor’s Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad

“Trade with China dominated the Chancellor’s coverage of exports in his 2015 Budget. He promised to double UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) resources to support exports to China, and posed the reminder that the UK is the first Western country to seek to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Bank in Beijing.

“I would have liked to hear further detail about how the Chancellor expects to achieve the Government’s target of £1 trillion UK exports by 2020. It is encouraging that the Government aims to encourage exports to areas outside of the beleaguered Eurozone, which is currently still the UK’s largest exports market. China is in the process of opening its doors, and is an exciting market to consider. However, although all currencies are subject to national and global uncertainties and risk, China’s currency is less predictable, given that it is in the process of moving towards a free-floating currency. Without the right guidance, companies could see significant currency losses given unfavourable exchange rates.

“Seen this way, it could be said to be risky to place all of our eggs in one basket if the Government is to focus pumping new resources into opening up China to UK exporters. It would seem prudent to spread or extend resources to help UK businesses export to a wider range of overseas markets, so that UK exporters can make the most of other markets in addition to China and the Eurozone.”

 

FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award
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FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award

Open Garden announced that its app, FireChat, won the prestigious SXSW Innovation Award at this year’s event. FireChat, the first off-the-grid messaging app, took home the coveted award in the “Innovation in Connecting People” category. The winners were announced yesterday at the 18th Annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony in Austin, TX.

Previously called the Interactive Awards, the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards showcase the evolving and broadening scope of the digital industry by reflecting the increasingly multifaceted and diverse ecosystem of platforms, software, apps and devices.

“We’re ecstatic that FireChat was chosen for such a respected award at this year’s festival,” said Micha Benoliel, cofounder and CEO of Open Garden. “Our mission is to connect people around the world. The recognition from this team of judges and our peers is wonderful and exciting for our team as we continue our efforts.”

FireChat is a free application for Android and iOS devices. It is available here.

About Open Garden

Open Garden Inc. is a San Francisco based startup dedicated to connecting the next billions of mobile devices with peer-to-peer connections. Open Garden is the publisher of FireChat, the first messaging app that works off-the-grid. Launched in March 2014, FireChat has reached the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 124 countries around the world. 

Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.
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Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.

The new division is already working with global travel organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a number of other key organisations within the travel sector; with the experience gained in years of travel-sector related security work, the team works to protect the world’s largest airports, airlines, associations, data processing centres, global distribution system suppliers and travel agents.

The dedicated airline team will provide comprehensive professional security guidance and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance support for the common use environment and the various organisations operating within the BSP, as well as advice and guidance for the complex challenges the industry faces daily.

Commenting on the launch of this specialist division, Pascal Buchner, Director ITS & CIO at IATA, said:

“As the association that represents 250 of the world’s airlines, we keenly support the development of more intelligent and robust data security within our sector.

“The travel-sector-specific experience that Foregenix has developed and brings to the airline industry will certainly benefit the airlines and our partners in improving their payment security. “

Speaking about announcement, Benjamin Hosack, Director at Foregenix, said:

“We have been working in the travel sector for years with organisations such as IATA and many other large multi-nationals. The payment card data security challenges in the sector are complex and require a very good understanding of the travel industry ecosystem in order to be able to provide guidance.

“Our division is made up of experienced industry professionals who have a background of working with some of the leading travel organisations in the industry. We have the experience and credentials to support our clients in such a complex, yet highly valued sector.”

BT Opens 'Alexander Black' Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing
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BT Opens ‘Alexander Black’ Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing

BT today announced the opening of a concept store in Milan that gives retailers a vision of how creative use of technology can radically transform the in-store shopping experience. Designed as a real shop branded ‘Alexander Black’, it showcases more than 40 innovative technologies that create a personalised experience for customers who do their shopping in ‘brick and mortar’ stores.

The Alexander Black shop also demonstrates how the in-store experience can be seamlessly integrated with the brand’s online, mobile and customer service channels to create an intelligent and consistent experience across all channels.

The Milan shop, opening six months after the launch of the first Alexander Black store in New York, contains live, real time demonstrations of BT solutions that:
• improve individual customer engagement and the overall in-store experience
• improve the retailer’s in-store operations and support their omnichannel strategy
• provide shop floor staff with real-time visibility of inventory across all channels and global supply chain
• enable shop floor staff to quickly access customer and product information
• provide innovative ways to verify product authenticity and identify counterfeited goods
• make all those solutions accessible through managed mobile devices
• provide in-store security with innovative video surveillance and anti-theft systems, and help manage the flows of cash.

“Bricks and mortar stores are challenged by the very deep changes in customer expectations created by the rise of online shopping,” said Hubertus von Roenne, vice president, Global Industry Practices, BT Global Services. “Successful retailers absolutely need to orchestrate new technology in a creative way and blend the digital and physical worlds so that their customers have the same amazing experience regardless of the place or time of their shopping.”

The Alexander Black store shows how technologies such as RFID, NFC (Near Field Communications), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), beacons and Wi-Fi can transform the in-store shopping experience.

“From interactive displays to digital screens where the content is personalised by relevant criteria, such as individual shopping history and demographics, there is a huge range of new ways to engage and delight the customers. Being able to integrate these multiple experiences to provide a consistent, joined up brand experience across all channels has become a key priority for retailers. We are delighted to open this new showcase store in Milan, home of some of the world’s most creative retailers,” added von Roenne.

BT’s solutions for in-store retail are globally managed end-to-end solutions, supported by a single global multilingual help desk.

The new Alexander Black concept store is located within BT’s Customer Innovation Showcase in Milan. BT owns a global network of 18 Showcase facilities providing interactive live demonstrations of all the latest solutions that BT is developing and delivering to improve business efficiency, support enterprises’ critical applications and keep ICT services secure.

Accountancy Firms Must Evolve and Innovate to Survive Says ICAEW
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Accountancy Firms Must Evolve and Innovate to Survive Says ICAEW

Tomorrow’s Practice, which launched yesterday at ICAEW, is considering the opportunities open to accounting firms if they want to evolve and innovate.

The Tomorrow’s Practice initiative is looking to raise awareness of the areas of change affecting the profession. It is based on conversations across the UK with people in the profession and business, collecting their views on the needs of small businesses and the future of accountancy practices.

The report has identified four key factors driving a shift in the accountancy landscape:

  • Technology has made basic accounts preparation and bookkeeping easier for businesses. This has the potential to change the role of the accountant, creating different opportunities to add value.
  • Competition is coming from consultants, professional services firms, other accountants, and even the internet – firms need to maintain their position as trusted advisers to clients, while ensuring they do not compromise the quality of their service to reduce costs.
  • Regulation – changing audit rules, the evolving pensions landscape, and new opportunities in legal services mean accountants can develop new propositions
  • Clients’ expectations are changing – companies want a ‘one stop shop’ for their business support, so accountants need to think about how they can play more of an advisory role. Flexibility to provide a tailored service to clients is key


In addition to thinking about what their clients want, practitioners should consider the needs of their staff. Practices are having problems in finding and keeping good staff, made harder by changing priorities – fewer managers aspire to become partners and many staff are seeking an improved work/life balance.

In identifying the challenges, Tomorrow’s Practice seeks to help practices make informed choices about their future. Firms and sole practitioners can all take advantage of new opportunities, but they need to choose the path that’s right for them. This could mean developing their own niche markets, building up their expertise or network to provide a ‘one stop shop’, or even providing specialist assurance services.

Arthur Bailey, ICAEW President, said: ‘The accountancy landscape is changing, and smaller practices need to embrace the opportunity. Our members should consider how they will react to changes in the marketplace and provide the added value clients are demanding. This could mean firms specialising in a particular area or providing additional services that make them indispensable to the businesses they serve. Whichever path our members choose to take, we’ll be there to support them, using our learnings from Tomorrow’s Practice to develop new guidance.’

Americans Take Advantage Of Lower Gas Prices And Tax Refunds To Pay-Off Debt
CommoditiesMarkets

Americans Take Advantage Of Lower Gas Prices And Tax Refunds To Pay-Off Debt, Cover Everyday Needs

The 22nd quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll revealed that nearly four-in-five Americans (78 %) are realizing savings at the pump, and 58 % of them are using these savings to cover basic necessities (31 %) or to pay off/avoid debt (27 %). Nearly one third of Americans (32 %) state that the decline in gas prices has had a “huge” or “significant difference” in their personal financial situations, according to Americans polled who benefitted from price savings.

In addition, more than half of Americans (55 %) expect to receive a refund on their taxes this year and nearly four-in-ten (37 %) of them will use their refund to pay off debt.

The Heartland Monitor poll surveyed Americans’ attitudes, expectations, and personal financial situations amidst lower gas prices and as the country approaches the height of tax season. The results reveal a population that is more optimistic for the future but continuing to struggle despite the broader economic recovery.

In a positive sign, for the first time in Heartland Monitor’s polling since June 2013, Americans are now more likely to say that the national economy will improve over the next twelve months (32 %) than they are to say it will get worse (25 %). However, an overwhelming majority of Americans express deep concerns over the cost of living for necessities and wages and income with nearly 80 % of the country claiming the U.S. economy rates “Fair” or “Poor” on these factors.

“While many Americans still face financial challenges, these poll results also indicate the great progress made in turning around our economy,” said Tom Clarkson, president, West Territory, Allstate Personal Lines. “As a network of small businesses, we understand that middle class Americans have been incredibly resilient to overcome these challenges and local institutions and small businesses will continue to play an important role in our economic growth.”

“Americans indicate in the poll that they still plan to be cautious with their savings at the pump and any tax refund they might receive,” said Ronald Brownstein, Atlantic Media’s editorial director. “That fits with the pattern of restrained optimism we see throughout the poll. While Americans’ attitudes about their personal prospects and the country’s direction have clearly brightened since last fall, most Americans remain skittish about the economy’s overall performance and concerned about its ability to generate rising wages and living standards.”

Impact of Lower Gas Prices

– Among the 78 % of those polled who’ve benefitted from savings at the pump, nearly half of those polled (43 %) say that the decline in gas prices has had “only a slight difference” or made no impact on their personal financial situations.

– Americans who say that lower gas prices have made a huge or significant difference in their personal finances are more likely to believe that their personal finances will improve by this time next year.

Impact of Tax Refunds and Property Taxes

– The top priority for spending anticipated tax refunds is paying off debt (37 %) followed by saving or investing (29 %) and spending on necessities (20 %).

– The highest expectations for a tax refund come from households that earn between $30k and $75k per year and among younger age groups.
– Individuals under 50 years old expressed a higher degree of commitment to pay off debt than older Americans.

– Four-in-ten (40 %) Millennials and 45 % of Gen X’ers plan to use their tax refunds to pay off debt. Across the nation, just 8 % of respondents say they will spend their tax refund on non-essential purchases.

– When polled on different factors about the community they live in, Americans gave a substantial “fair” or “poor” rating for the amount they pay in local and property taxes (63 %), followed by wages and incomes (62 %), and costs of living (60 %).

BP Finalises Deal to Develop Egypt's West Nile Delta Gas Fields
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BP Finalises Deal to Develop Egypt’s West Nile Delta Gas Fields

The project underlines BP’s commitment to the Egyptian market and is a vote of confidence in Egypt’s investment climate and economic potential.

Production from WND is expected to reach up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d), equivalent to about 25 per cent of Egypt’s current gas production and significantly contribute to increasing the supply of energy in Egypt. All the produced gas will be fed into the country’s national gas grid, helping to meet the anticipated growth in local demand for energy. Production is expected to start in 2017.

“BP is proud of its record in Egypt over the past 50 years and we are looking forward to many more years in the country. The WND project investment is the largest foreign direct investment in Egypt, and demonstrates our continued confidence in Egypt and our commitment to unlock its energy potential. WND production is key to Egypt’s energy security,” said Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive.

Gas will be produced from two BP-operated offshore concession blocks, North Alexandria and West Mediterranean Deepwater. BP believes that there is the potential through future exploration to add a further 5-7 tcf which could boost WND production with additional investments.

Commenting on the project, Hesham Mekawi, BP North Africa Regional President said, “This is a critical milestone in the Egyptian oil and gas history. It marks the start of a major national project to add significant production to the domestic market. BP expects to double its current gas supply to the Egyptian domestic market during this decade when the WND project reaches its peak production. BP will also continue to invest in our existing oil operations at the Gulf of Suez (through GUPCO) and gas operations in the East Nile Delta (through Pharaonic Petroleum Co.), as well as progressing our recently discovered resources to allow for the next new major development after WND.”

The scale of investment and activities of the WND project are expected to significantly contribute to the growth of petroleum-related industries and to Egyptian employment. During the construction phase, the project is projected to employ thousands of direct and indirect personnel. In line with BP’s commitment to support the development of Egyptian capability, the WND project will encourage technology transfer and know-how through training and on-the-job development. This will help to create strategic national capabilities to unlock the country’s future hydrocarbon potential.

As part of the WND project, BP will also undertake a social investment programme directed to various sustainable development projects in coordination with the local communities and utilizing local service providers.

This will be in addition to the project’s principal approach, which is focused on increasing local labour, with a commitment to employ significant local labour during operations.

Wind Turbine Composites Material Market Worth $5.5 Billion by 2020
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Wind Turbine Composites Material Market Worth $5.5 Billion by 2020

“Asia-Pacific: The biggest market of composites used in wind turbines”

The Asia-Pacific region was the world’s largest Wind Turbine Composites Material Market in 2014. China is the key consumer of wind composite in Asia-Pacific. Growth of installed wind power capacity in China and India is one of the biggest drivers for this market in Asia pacific region. China set a new record for annual installations in 2014, by increasing the new wind generating capacity by more than 45% as compared to 2013. Various product launches, and expansions have in turn made the regions a potential growth market for wind composite.

“Glass Fiber Composite is the biggest material type”

Glass fiber composite is the biggest composite material used in wind turbine driven by its high demand for manufacturing wind turbine blades. Carbon fiber composite finds its usage mostly in spar and structural element of wind blades, whereas its usage in longer blades is limited primarily because of its high cost. Carbon fiber composite are projected to grow at a healthy rate in the projected period.

Toray Industries (Japan), Cytec Industries Inc. (U.S.), Royal TenCate nv (Netherlands), Gurit Holding AG (Switzerland), Hexel Corporation (U.S.), and Teijin Limited (Japan) are some of the major supplier of wind composites material. Company profiling and competitive strategies adopted by top composites wind turbine blade manufacturers such as HT blades (China), TPI Composites (U.S.), Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Denmark), Gamesa (Spain), LM Wind Power Group (Denmark) etc. are also covered in the report.

The report also defines driving and restraining factors for the global Wind Turbine Composites Material Market with the analysis of trends, opportunities, burning issues, winning imperatives, and challenges. Additionally, the market is forecasted on the basis of major regions, such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World (RoW) by both value and volume. The regional wind turbine composite market is further segmented on the basis of major countries such as China, U.S., Germany, Spain, U.K., India, Canada, France, Brazil, etc.

Falling Oil Prices Have Global Implications
CommoditiesMarkets

Falling Oil Prices Have Global Implications

Topping the list of political risks facing emerging market investors is the increasing instability in already-fragile oil producing countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Russia and Venezuela as a consequence of the low oil price. The effectiveness of extremist groups in the Middle East & Africa will be amplified in afflicted countries that lack the resilience to absorb economic shocks.

The map illustrates that 2015 will be a particularly challenging year for oil producers in the Middle East and Africa several of which already have High or Very High country risk ratings. Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, which should otherwise stand to benefit from cheaper oil imports, face increased security risks because of the power vacuums in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The low oil price continues to cast an economic shadow over the CIS region, particularly for Russia’s larger regional trading partners such as Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Matthew Shires, Head of Political Risk said “By using the latest data and analytics, the political risk map helps organisations determine their emerging market investment strategies. Businesses need to constantly monitor their exposure to political risk such as the impact of oil price uncertainty and political instability. The Aon Political Risk Map allows our clients to do exactly that.”

Paul Domjan, Managing Director, Roubini Country Insights, said “Roubini Global Economics is proud to continue its partnership with Aon for its clients. During 2014 political risks in the emerging markets rose, particularly in oil exporting regions. The quarterly updates to the risk icon scores and the country ratings highlight developing risk-trends, allowing investors to respond quickly to deterioration and to better hedge their exposure or take advantage of new opportunities. Once again, the map demonstrates the power of combining RGE’s country analysis and benchmarking with Aon’s expertise in country risk.”

Oil Prices May Come Under Pressure as Storage Limits Begin to Hit
CommoditiesMarkets

Oil Prices May Come Under Pressure as Storage Limits Begin to Hit

“Oil prices remain volatile. The recent rally in the oil markets has seemingly run out of steam as bearish supply-side factors appear to be dictating the directional move in oil price.”

“The contango continues to act as a stimulus for demand in the short-term. The ‘storage play’ remains an attractive strategy for those with capacity to store, which in turn is helping the market maintain a quasi-equilibrium. However, as we approach storage limits, which are expected to be hit in the second to third quarter, oil prices may come under pressure as the supply glut can no longer be absorbed by storage tanks.”

“Fundamentally the market remains oversupplied with many still feeling the effects of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision to maintain its 30/million barrels per day production quota, coupled with the burgeoning US shale production boom. For the market to successfully absorb the excess barrels, an increase in consumer-led demand is needed.”

Troubled Outlook for the UK Oil and Gas Industry
CommoditiesMarkets

Troubled Outlook for the UK Oil and Gas Industry

The decline continues the downward trend seen over the last seven quarters and the overall index has slumped further into negative territory for the second quarter in a row.

Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director, said:

“Unsurprisingly figures published today reveal serious concerns within the industry in light of the very real problems which face the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), including rising operational costs and a substantial drop in production efficiency. These existing problems, apparent even when the oil price was above $100 per barrel, have been exacerbated by the recent fall in oil price.”

Many of the survey respondents expressed a growing concern that the impact of oil price combined with the challenge of operating in a high cost, mature basin will increasingly have a negative effect on future activity levels. A number of companies say they have been reviewing their budgets for 2015 and there are clear signs that capital expenditure across the sector will drop.

Comments from contractor companies, working on UK oil and gas developments where investment is already committed, suggest that the full impact of the oil price is yet to be felt although respondents expressed their concern that future projects could be delayed or cancelled in the current economic climate.

Ms Werngren concluded: “While the UK oil and gas industry faces clear challenges as a result of the basin’s maturity, and more recently the oil price, it is now at a turning point. The positive news is that there is a clear consensus that the industry must accelerate its efforts to address the costs and efficiency of its operations across the UK. Alongside this, urgent government action on fiscal and regulatory reform is essential to help secure the next phase of development in the North Sea.”

China Oil Industry Set to Rebound in 2015
CommoditiesMarkets

China Oil Industry Set to Rebound in 2015

The report also reveals that rising demand may not be enough to pull some parts of the country’s struggling refining industry out of trouble, and international market participants hoping that Chinese demand will rescue falling oil prices are likely to be disappointed.

The authoritative ICIS China Petroleum Annual Report forecasts that 2015 will see a jump in China’s oil demand growth to 4.1% over the next 12 months, a major leap upwards from 2014’s 1.1% growth. Surging imports of petrochemicals feedstocks naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) look set to be the primary drivers of this growth, however, with demand for automotive and industrial fuels still in the doldrums. ICIS forecasts that the exports of gasoil will continue to grow, as China shifts its development focus to urbanisation (avoiding, for now, the use of diesel cars) and the country’s service industries.

ICIS China is the largest energy and petrochemicals market analyst business in China – a part of the global ICIS business, and a division of UK-based Reed Elsevier. With a vast array of data and information at its disposal, the company’s newly launched ICIS China Petroleum Annual Report is the go-to reference work for Chinese market participants both in and outside the country.

2015 will also see strong growth in Chinese crude oil imports, ICIS predicts in the newly-published report, with net imports up by 7% for the year The jump, however, is being driven in large measure by a need to fill strategic stocks, and does not reflect underlying actual demand growth. Opportunistically, as international prices fell in late 2014, China has already begun buying large quantities of crude, and will likely complete its Strategic Reserve programme ahead of schedule.

Short Term Job Cuts Threaten the Future of North Sea Oil and Gas Warns Unite
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Short Term Job Cuts Threaten the Future of North Sea Oil and Gas Warns Unite

Accusing the major oil companies and government of failing to prepare for falling oil prices, the union warned that short term job cuts would lead to a loss of skills that could undermine health and safety and the future of the industry in the North Sea.

Commenting, Pat Rafferty Unite Scottish secretary said: “This latest announcement on job cuts from BP is part of a deeply worrying trend across an industry which is central to the Scottish and wider UK economy.

“People are paying with their livelihoods, because of a failure by the oil majors and the Westminster government to prepare for a fall in oil prices. They’ve made hay while the sun shone, but put aside little for a rainy day.

“Over time oil prices will recover. There is a real danger that knee jerk job cuts will undermine health and safety and the future of the industry in the long term.

“The UK government needs to intervene urgently to support the industry and the taskforces set up by the Scottish government and local authority in Aberdeen need to turn words into urgent action.”

Grown Diamonds Key to Unlocking Future for Diamond Industry
CommoditiesMarkets

Grown Diamonds Key to Unlocking Future for Diamond Industry, Finds Frost & Sullivan

The mined diamond supply has seen a constant decline in the past decade driven by the fact that key diamond mines have passed their peak production levels. Moreover, the diamond mining process has become tougher as the mines age and new mines that are discovered often have shorter life spans and tougher mining conditions. This occurs in light of the rising demand from various markets such as the US, India and China which is likely to widen the demand and supply gap.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Grown Diamonds – Unlocking Future of Diamond Industry by 2050 indicates how Grown Diamonds can represent a potential solution to the issue of global shortage of rough diamond supplies. The breakthrough in technology has made it possible to grow rare quality colorless IIa quality diamonds by creating diamond-growing conditions in semiconductor grade facilities, above the earth’s surface.

Even with all the technological advancement and developments in the field of exploration and mining, the future of rough diamond production from mines looks bleak. A decline in mined diamond production and diamond processing capacities also has a direct impact on the millions of people who are employed within these industry sectors.

This report analyses the supply of diamonds from mined sources till 2050. Various mines across the globe and their lifetime production values were studied to estimate the supply of diamonds from mines. In comparison, the demand was also analyzed to understand the growth in demand till 2050 considering various factors such as growing jewelry sales and expected surge in demand from new regions.

There are other effects associated with a declining supply such as those on the cutting and processing industries in various countries including India. The shortage in supply is likely to impact the employment strongly in these countries. The trend of declining supply has also led to beneficiation with rough diamond producing countries looking for ways to derive more value from the diamonds coming out of their mines by looking to carry out the cutting and polishing within the country.

Moreover, other factors such as vertical integration across the value chain are surfacing with diamond producing companies trying to integrate their production with their downstream retail operations, thus bypassing intermediary traders from the value chain. Leading branded retail chains are trying to bypass intermediaries as well by sourcing directly from the mining companies.

Recent advancements in technology and years of dedicated research on diamond growing techniques have made it possible to grow high-quality diamonds. A significant achievement in grown diamond technology is the ability to grow colorless Type IIa diamonds which are the purest diamonds found below the earth and constitute only 2% of the total global mined diamond production.

Over the next 30 years, grown diamonds will become a dominant player in high technology applications and can prove to be a very significant diamond source for the luxury world.

Moreover, they also offer new high skilled opportunities for employment as these technology-driven innovation centers employ high-skilled engineers, graduates, researchers and scientists as their principal staff. This is apart from the ancillary industries such as manufacturing, instrumentation, semiconductors and so on.

At a time when the earth mined diamond supply is consistently depleting every year, the emergence of Grown Diamonds could serve as a security blanket for the industry. They can help to meet the supply-demand gap for rough diamonds globally and can also expand the market to new application areas and new profile of consumers.

Major Tax Change Needed Urgently to Counter Falling Oil Price and Save Investment and Jobs
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Major Tax Change Needed Urgently to Counter Falling Oil Price and Save Investment and Jobs


Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “Evidence of the threat from the falling oil price to UK investment and jobs is mounting daily with oil and gas companies cutting exploration and capital budgets and reviewing headcounts.

“The Treasury’s promise in last year’s Autumn Statement of a simplified tax allowance to encourage new investment must be delivered by Budget 2015 if it is to have any impact. However, with the continued falling and potentially sustained low oil price, this is no longer enough.

“We are encouraged to see a growing political and industry consensus around the now pressing need for more fundamental and urgent changes to the tax regime.With a significant amount of UK oil and gas production not even covering costs at a $50 oil price, the industry cannot carry the burden of a tax rate between 60 and 80 per cent.

“The credible and reasonable response for the Chancellor in his upcoming Budget, assuming the oil price has not recovered by then, is the abolition of the 30 per cent supplementary charge on corporation tax, which was introduced and then increased in direct response to rising oil prices, most recently in 2011. This would still leave oil and gas producers paying corporation tax at 30 per cent, a tax rate 50 per cent higher than the rest of British industry.

“In parallel, the Oil and Gas Authority must be rapidly resourced with the right capability and capacity to swiftly implement the recommendations of the Wood Review. The industry is resolutely focused on tackling the cost and efficiency challenge it faces to improve the competitiveness of North Sea operations. Oil & Gas UK is committed to playing a constructive part in this important process of reform and looks forward to working with governments and stakeholders to that end.”

Path for Sustainable Future Laid Out in
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Path for Sustainable Future Laid Out in

The English edition of China’s New Energy Revolution by renewable energy advocate and Hanergy Chairman Li Hejun is now available for purchase in bookstores across the U.S. as well as in e-book format.

Last month, representatives from more than 190 nations met in Lima, Peru, in an attempt to hammer out a global framework towards a sustainable future. Mr. Li offers in his book a promising way forward: Thin-film solar power, the zero-emissions renewable energy form that can revolutionize how China, the U.S., and everywhere else produces and consumes energy.

Speaking about the book, economic and social theorist and bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin said, “Li Hejun spells out clearly and convincingly why clean energy is poised to drive the third industrial revolution. Solar technology is going to play an increasingly critical role in the transition to a global economy powered by renewable energy. His vision, once a far-stretch of the imagination, is rapidly becoming a reality. The ideas presented in this book will affect not only China, but the globe.”

Twenty years after founding Hanergy, Li has leveraged core strengths in R&D and technological integration to help grow the company into the world’s largest thin-film solar enterprise, with 3GW of thin-film production capacity and industry-leading technical expertise.

In his book, published by McGraw-Hill Education, he explains why thin-film solar technology, with its superior flexibility, exceptional performance under weak sunlight conditions, and wide market adaptability is poised to become the energy of choice. He points out that in addition to conventional applications like rooftop installations, thin-film can be integrated into building components and its ease of portability and resilience to environmental factors makes it ideal for powering our daily lives on everything from mobiles and automobiles to jackets and camping gear.

Mr. Li goes on to show how every industrial revolution has in fact been an energy replacement – first with coal for wood, then oil for coal – and now, he believes we are on the brink of a third industrial revolution that will be powered by clean energy, with thin-film solar at the forefront.

The United States is experiencing a historic boom in solar installations and PV power generation, with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research reporting[1] that in the second half of 2014, more than half a million U.S. homes and business were generating solar power. According to the SEIA, the solar industry in America employs roughly 143,000 Americans and generates $15 billion annually.

With the price of solar plunging 99 percent over the past 25 years, the power it generates is now cost competitive with fossil-fuel burning power plants in many markets across the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Li’s book describes in plain language how this cheap, clean solar power can be scaled up, distributed, and optimized to meet the growing energy demands of our world.

The book and e-book are available for purchase wherever books/e-books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, independent book stores, and direct from McGraw-Hill. For more information about the book, its author, and Hanergy download the China’s New Energy Revolution App from Apple’s App Store or on Google Play.

 

Oil & Gas UK responds to Scottish Government’s Oil and Gas Discussion Paper
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Oil & Gas UK responds to Scottish Government’s Oil and Gas Discussion Paper

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, responded to the Scottish Government’s announcement regarding the UK oil and gas tax regime, saying:

“Sharply falling oil prices are now adding to the significant challenges the UK offshore oil and gas industry was already facing. The current tax regime is one such challenge and a key factor for companies making decisions on investment and activity. All helpful insights on that issue are welcome, so we will certainly respond to the Scottish Government’s request for views and information.

“We would hope this exercise will complement the crucial work already well underway between the UK Treasury and the industry to make urgent changes to the UKCS tax regime in order to both sustain and encourage further investment. If the Treasury’s new Investment Allowance is to have any impact it must be implemented by Budget 2015 at the very latest. However, with the oil price now at around $50 per barrel, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this measure is not enough and a significant reduction in the headline rate is required.

“We are encouraged to see a growing political and industry consensus around the now pressing need for yet more fundamental and urgent changes to the tax regime. Oil & Gas UK is committed to playing a fully engaged and constructive part in this important process of reform and looks forward to working with both the UK and Scottish governments and all other stakeholders to that end.”

Spice Market Worth $10 Billion by 2019
CommoditiesMarkets

Spice Market Worth $10 Billion by 2019


The report “Spice Market by Type (Pepper, Turmeric, Nutmeg, Ginger, Coriander, Cinnamon, Cumin, Clove, Cardamom, Garlic) Application (Bakery, Confectionery, Frozen Food, Soup, Sauces, Beverage, Meat, Snacks, Convenience Food) & Region – Global Trends & Forecast to 2019” defines and segments the Spice Market with analyses and projections of the market size in terms of value. It also identifies the driving and restraining factors of the market with analysis of trends, opportunities, restraints, challenges, and burning issues. The size of the market in key geographical regions such as North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World (ROW) has been estimated and projected.

The Spice Market is driven by the rise in consumption of processed food products in developed and developing countries. Investments & expansions formed the most preferred strategy among the key players to attract and retain new customers, globally. These key players also focused on acquiring local players of emerging markets to expand their business on a global scale and sustain the competition prevailing in the market. New product launches also helped key players in strengthening their product portfolio.

The market for Spice is projected to exceed $10 Billion by 2019 at a CAGR of about 5%. In 2013, the North American region was the largest market for spices, wherein the U.S. dominated.

The report includes development strategies and product portfolio of leading companies such as McCormick & Company (U.S.), Olam International Limited (Singapore), Ariake Japan Company Limited (Japan), Associated British Foods plc (U.K.), Sensient Technologies Corporation (U.S.), and Kerry Group plc (Ireland).Food Coating Ingredients Market by Type (Cocoa, Chocolate, Fat, Oil, Salt, Spices, Flour, Batter, Starch, Hydrocolloid, Sugar), Application (Bakery, Confectionery, Cereal, Dairy, Snacks, Fruit, Vegetable, Meat) & Region – Global Trend & Forecast to 2019 http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/food-coating-ingredients-market-168532529.html

 

Global Isosorbide Market Growing at 19% CAGR for Next 4 Years
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Global Isosorbide Market Growing at 19% CAGR for Next 4 Years

ReportsnReports.com adds “Global Isosorbide Market 2015-2019”, a 58 pages Isosorbide business intelligence report, talking about Archer-Daniels-Midland, Jinan Hongbaifeng Industry and Trade as well as Roquette Frèreson in the chemicals industry, to its online market research and data library.

New growth opportunities for Isosorbide market discussed in this research include technological advances along with increased investment in R&D activities that propel product innovation. Isosorbide market is gaining attention on a global level because of its ability to create sustainable polymers with enhanced technical performance.

The sustainability of isosorbide-based products in various end-use applications is opening new growth avenues for the market. Complete report is available at http://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/322432-global-isosorbide-market-2015-2019.html .

Isosorbide, a white heterocyclic solid derived from starch and glucose, provides additive geometry and chemical functionality without conflicting with existing commercial plastics and plastic additives. It is used widely in medical applications and also used as a bio-feedstock for the production of bioplastics.

Global Isosorbide market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 19.78% over the period 2014-2019.According to the report, the global demand for isosorbide is expected to increase because of the growing demand for isosorbide from the polymer industry. Isosorbide can reduce dependence on petroleum feedstock, and this has resulted in increased demand for isosorbide in the Global Isosorbide market.

Report states that one of the major challenges faced by the market is the potential side effects of isosorbide in medical applications. Headache, dizziness, chest pain, flu, nausea, and blurred vision are the side effects that can be caused by isosorbide.

Key Global Isosorbide Market Players discussed in this research are Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Jinan Hongbaifeng Industry and Trade Co. Ltd. and Roquette Frères SA. Other Prominent Vendors in the market are Alfa Aesar, Beijing Dtftchem Technology, BeiJing Hwrk Chemicals, Cargill, Energy Chemical, J & K Scientific, Linyi Shengxin Pharmaceutical R&D, Meryer (Shanghai) Chemical Technology, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Novaphene, SK Chemicals and TCI (Shanghai) Development. Order a copy of this report at (Prices start at US $ 2500 for a single user PDF) http://www.reportsnreports.com/Purchase.aspx?name=322432 .

This report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the Global Isosorbide market for the period 2015-2019. The report provides data on the Global Isosorbide market based on the following: application (PEIT, polycarbonate, polyesters poly isosorbide succinate, polyurethane, and others), end-user (polymers and resins, additives, and others), and geography (APAC, EMEA, and Americas).

Global Isosorbide Market 2015-2019 has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the Americas, and the APAC and EMEA regions; it also covers the Global Isosorbide market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

Global Coal Demand 9 Billion Tonnes p.a. By 2019
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Global Coal Demand 9 Billion Tonnes p.a. By 2019

Global demand for coal over the next five years will continue marching higher, breaking the 9-billion-tonne level by 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report released today. The report notes that despite China’s efforts to moderate its coal consumption, it will still account for three-fifths of demand growth during the outlook period. Moreover, China will be joined by India, ASEAN countries and other countries in Asia as the main engines of growth in coal consumption, offsetting declines in Europe and the United States.

“We have heard many pledges and policies aimed at mitigating climate change, but over the next five years they will mostly fail to arrest the growth in coal demand,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said at the launch of the book. “Although the contribution that coal makes to energy security and access to energy is undeniable, I must emphasise once again that coal use in its current form is simply unsustainable. For this to change, we need to radically accelerate deployment of carbon capture and sequestration.”

The Executive Director also called for more investment in high-efficiency coal-fired power plants, especially in emerging economies. “New plants are being built, in an arc running from South Africa to Southeast Asia, but too many of these are based on decades-old technology,” she said. “Regrettably, they will be burning coal inefficiently for many years to come.”

Global coal demand growth has been slowing in recent years, and the report sees that trend continuing. Coal demand will grow at an average rate of 2.1% per year through 2019, the report said. This compares to the 2013 report’s forecast of 2.3% for the five years through 2018 and the actual growth rate of 3.3% per year between 2010 and 2013.

As has been the case for more than a decade, the fate of the global coal market will be determined by China. The world’s biggest coal user, producer and importer has embarked on a campaign to diversify its energy supply and reduce its energy intensity, and the resulting increase in gas, nuclear and renewables will be staggering. However, the IEA report shows that despite these efforts, and under normal macroeconomic circumstances, Chinese coal consumption will not peak during the five-year outlook period.

The report’s forecasts come with considerable uncertainties, especially regarding the prospect of new policies affecting coal. Authorities in China as well as in key markets like Indonesia, Korea, Germany and India, have announced policy changes that could sharply affect coal market fundamentals. The possibility of these policy changes becoming reality is compounding uncertainty resulting from the current economic climate.

The issue of low prices remains a hot topic among coal market participants. Last year’s report emphasised that many coal producers were running at losses, largely driven by take-or-pay infrastructure contracts or financial liabilities. Coal prices have declined even more since last year, but several factors have helped producers withstand further economic pain.

“Our analysis shows that the price floor provided by production costs has decreased significantly, not only because producers reduced costs by gaining economies of scale, better management and budget discipline, but also due to external factors,” said Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy Markets and Security. “Depreciation of local currencies in the main exporting countries has been significant and low oil prices also help, as oil represents a significant share of coal costs, especially in open-pit operations.”

Coal use in OECD member countries is projected to decline in the outlook period, as growth in Turkey, Korea and Japan fails to offset declines in Europe and America. In the United States, retirement of coal capacity and competition from shale gas will lead to a 1.7% decline per year on average during the forecast period. Australia is set to account for the largest growth in exports as Indonesia, driven by higher domestic demand and government policies, slows shipments abroad.

Onyx Renewable Partners Appoints New CFO
CommoditiesMarkets

Onyx Renewable Partners Appoints New CFO

Onyx Renewable Partners, a leader in flexible, creative solutions for the development, finance, construction and operation of large-scale renewable energy projects, today announced the appointment of Leanne M. Bell as chief financial officer. Bell brings over 30 years of experience to Onyx, with expertise in deal analysis and negotiations, risk management policies and investor relationships.

“We are thrilled to welcome Leanne to our team,” said Matt Rosenblum, CEO of Onyx Renewable Partners. “Her extensive experience in energy financing will serve as a tremendous asset to Onyx’s proven ability to implement creative financial structuring in the development of successful renewable energy projects.”

Prior to joining Onyx, Bell served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer at Synergy Renewables, a global power development company. She previously served as managing director at both Tiger Infrastructure Partners and Lehman Brothers. Bell also led the Energy Financial Services Power Team as managing director at General Electric Co., where she originated $5 billion of equity volume from the utility and independent power sectors. As vice president at Prudential Power Funding Associates, Bell originated $1 billion of debt and lease volume.

“Onyx’s unique ability to find financing solutions to seemingly insurmountable barriers in the implementation of renewable energy projects is unmatched in the industry,” said Bell. “This reputation of Onyx’s leadership team made my acceptance of this position a natural choice, as I eagerly join a world-class team of renewable energy experts.”

Bell received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College in Massachusetts.

Scotch Whisky Association Announces New Chairman
CommoditiesMarkets

Scotch Whisky Association Announces New Chairman

Pierre Pringuet, chief executive and vice chairman of Pernod Ricard, owner of the Chivas Brothers Scotch Whisky company, has been appointed as the new chairman of The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Mr Pringuet succeeds Ian Curle, Edrington chief executive, who was chair of the trade body for three years. Mr Curle will remain on the SWA’s governing council. Peter Gordon, director at William Grant & Sons, replaces Mr Pringuet as vice chairman of the SWA.

The SWA aims to sustain Scotch Whisky’s position as the leading high-quality spirit drink and to drive its long-term growth worldwide in an increasingly competitive environment.

The appointment of Mr Pringuet shows the “auld alliance” between Scotland and France remains strong and reflects the international nature of Scotch Whisky.

Mr Pringuet will work closely with SWA chief executive David Frost and the rest of the Association council to guide the Scotch Whisky industry to further success. The Association’s priorities will be to secure a competitive business environment, the industry’s social responsibility agenda, fair access to export markets, and the legal protection of Scotch Whisky world-wide.

With a UK Budget only three months away, there will also be an immediate focus on the high taxation of Scotch Whisky, where nearly 80% of the average price of a bottle goes straight to the UK government.

Mr Pringuet joined Pernod Ricard in 1987 as development director. In 2000 he became a joint CEO of the company. He was appointed sole CEO in 2008 and vice chairman of the board of directors in 2012.

Mr Curle said he is confident that Mr Pringuet will continue the good work of the Association, adding: “I have enjoyed my three years as chairman of such a well-respected organisation which does an excellent job in representing the interests of the Scotch Whisky industry globally.”

Pierre Pringuet, new SWA chairman, said: “I feel privileged to take over as chairman of the SWA and I’m committed to ensuring Scotch Whisky retains its position as an iconic product around the world. With its great brands and committed people, as well as the support of governments at home and abroad, the Scotch Whisky industry will go from strength to strength.”

In other senior appointments, Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, the largest producer of Scotch Whisky, and Richard Burn, global policy and public affairs director of Diageo, join the SWA council.

The SWA also announced that Julie Hesketh-Laird has been appointed as its new deputy chief executive. Ms Hesketh-Laird joined the SWA in 2005 as director of operational & technical affairs and she will continue in this role alongside her new position.

Finally, the Association also announced it intends to sell its Atholl Crescent office and move to modern premises in Edinburgh during 2015, and to open a small permanent office in London to strengthen its impact there.

David Frost, SWA chief executive, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Pierre Pringuet as chairman and to announce other changes at the Association which further strengthen our ability to represent the industry effectively.

“This is an exciting time for the SWA and the entire Scotch Whisky industry. The industry supports around 40,000 jobs across the UK and exports about £4 billion annually, but its success cannot be taken for granted. Economic headwinds and challenges, both domestically and in overseas markets, mean the work of the Association on behalf of the industry is of vital importance.”

Papa John's Takes a Slice of South India
CommoditiesMarkets

Papa John’s Takes a Slice of South India

Papa John’s, Avan Projects and Global Franchise Architects (GFA) has announced the acquisition of Pizza Corner stores in South India. Papa John’s will convert the existing Pizza Corner stores to Papa John’s branded restaurants through Q1 2015. The announcement reinforces Papa John’s commitment to expand its presence in India, specifically in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Pizza Corner, part of the GFA brands, is the third largest pizza chain in Southern India. The city of Chennai has proven to be the most successful market for the Pizza Corner chain, a success that Papa John’s plans to replicate in all three major South Indian cities. Papa John’s currently has fifteen operating restaurants across India through its Master Franchisee for the region, Om Pizza and Eats. Through this merger, Papa John’s will significantly expand its presence by a minimum of 40 stores with conversions beginning in late 2014 and continuing into 2015.

The QSR segment in India is a $2.5 Billion industry, accounting for 43 percent of the overall Food Services business in India and growing at a rate of approximately 25 percent; it’s the fastest growing segment within the food industry. There is tremendous growth opportunity with the Pizza segment.

“We are energized about this accelerated International expansion for Papa John’s in Southern India,” said John Schnatter, Founder and CEO of Papa John’s. “The merger provides us the opportunity to penetrate the market at a much more rapid pace, and increase our scale in a shorter period.”

Joseph Cherian, CEO of GFA Global said “The Indian fast-food market is valued at $50 billion from Rs$35 billion last year according to a latest ASSOCHAM survey. This consolidation is a unique opportunity for Papa John’s to take a major pie in the market share in the Indian pizza segment. Owing to a majority of younger population under 30 with a liking for international food gives us the right opportunity to address the need gap for true international brands. Through this merger with a leading brand such as Papa John’s, we have a phenomenal opportunity to meet growing demands by combining Papa John’s world class pedigree with Pizza Corner’s local expertise. We are confident that both the brands can complement each other and implement their expertise.”