Saudi Aramco IPO Delayed
The world’s biggest flotation will probably take place in 2019.
Editor’s Remarks: A foreign listing for Saudi Aramco is unlikely to go ahead any time this year. British officials, who are expecting a listing in London, were told that it would have to be delayed as advisors had failed to achieve the $2trn. the valuation that the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, wants. Saudi Arabia is looking to sell a 5% stake in the state’s petroleum and natural gas company as part of a series of reforms being pushed through by the 32-year-old Prince. The company is also planning to list on the domestic Taduwal exchange and will be the biggest flotation to date. The news is not expected to affect the listing on the London Stock Exchange that had previously been arranged.
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Le Pen Rebrands National Front
France’s far-right party to be renamed the National Rally.
Editor’s Remarks: The leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, has decided to rename the party in order to reverse the party’s fortunes. Announced at the same party conference, where Le Pen was re-elected as leader, the move is an attempt to shed the party of its associations with her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Disinherited by his daughter in 2015, he has frequently been convicted for his pro-Nazi and anti-semitic rhetoric and his final tie with the party was cut yesterday when he was removed as the party’s honorary chairman. Following a disappointing Presidential election last year, the party has suffered from a collapse in support. On Sunday, Le Pen reaffirmed the party’s mission to defend French civilisation from a perceived attack from globalisation and multiculturalism.
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Russian TV Accuses UK of Spy Attack
A state-news anchor said the attack was meant to fuel “Russophobia”.
Editor’s Remarks: In a nationwide broadcast yesterday, the anchor for Russia 24 said the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal had been used to justify a boycott on the 2018 World Cup. Dmitry Kiselyov, who has sometimes been dubbed as “Putin’s chief propagandist”, cast doubt on why Russia would want to poison a former spy with little value. Yesterday, members of the UK’s National Security Council met yesterday to be debriefed with the latest intelligence following the attack which took place in Salisbury on the 4th of March. In May 2014, Kiselyov told viewers on live TV that Russia was the only country in the world that was capable of reducing the USA to “radioactive ash”. Following the annexation of Crimea, he was hit by sanctions from the EU.
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South Korea’s Elderly Overtake the Young
Over-60s are more economically active than people in their twenties.
Editor’s Remarks: A recently published government statistic highlights that more elderly people in the Asian nation are in work compared to people in their twenties. Forced into menial work to make ends meet, nearly half of people in their 60s face a life of poverty as South Korea’s elderly population continues to be the fastest growing age bracket and at current trends, is expected to form 40% by 2060. The country is also facing a declining population and in December reported that for the first time the number of deaths had outpaced the birth-rate. Ageing populations are a growing problem for many rich countries and are expected to trigger labour shortages as well as rising social welfare liabilities.
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Amex Plans Biggest Fee Cut in 20 Years
New CEO wants to increase revenues to rival Visa and MasterCard.
Editor’s Remarks: American Express is looking at its cutting transaction fees to increase its adoption across a wider variety of venues. In the US, 1.3m fewer locations accept Amex compared to its rivals, Visa and MasterCard, because it takes a bigger portion of fees at every purchase. The portion is even higher abroad. At a presentation for investors in New York last week, Amex said it would drop its global average of the fees it charges merchants, 5 or 6 basis points this year, to just over 2%. According to the company’s records, this would be the biggest decline since 1998. The company’s CEO Stephen Squeri is willing to forgo an estimated $585m from the cut as he pushes for more merchants to adopt Amex for their venues.
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