Marriott plans £500m sale and management deals

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‘Today is wonderful’: Relief in Lagos as lockdown ends

first_imgFrom lockdown to curfew The stay-at-home order applied to Lagos, neighboring Ogun state and the Nigerian national capital Abuja.But in the face of mounting social distress and discontent, President Muhammadu Buhari last week ordered a “phased and gradual easing,” replacing the lockdown with an overnight curfew.The relaxation has triggered deep concern in some quarters, given how easily the coronavirus spread and the poor state of Nigeria’s health system.According to official figures, nearly 2,500 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Nigeria, leading to 87 deaths.But as elsewhere, the true scale of the epidemic could be much greater, given the paucity of testing.In the northern state of Kano, investigators determined that a spate of fatalities — previously described as “mysterious deaths” by the authorities — was largely caused by COVID-19.”Coronavirus is presently the major cause of the mass deaths in Kano,” Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, whose team carried out door-to-door research, said on Sunday.Gwarzo did not provide a figure for the fatalities, although gravediggers say they have been burying dozens of corpses per day.Kano had seen a series of high-profile deaths including academics, bureaucrats, businessmen and traditional leaders. Africa’s biggest city, Lagos, got back to work on Monday at the end of a five-week coronavirus lockdown.In the metropolis of 20 million, where exuberance and poverty live side by side, relief at being able to earn money once again was almost palpable, despite Nigeria’s mounting COVID-19 toll.All shops seemed to be open, car parks were full and hawkers selling cool drinks, grilled meat and vegetables were pitching their wares on street corners as before, AFP reporters said. Nigeria follows South Africa, the continent’s other economic giant, which returned to work on Friday. Rwanda, a fast-expanding economy in East Africa, partially ended a strict six-week-long lockdown on Monday. Adewale Oluwa reopened his fruit and vegetable stall, carefully setting out a fine array of tomatoes. By 10 am, his customers were out in force and laughter was in the air as old acquaintances spotted each other.”We were so impatient” for the confinement to end, Oluwa said. “Today is wonderful.”Minibus stations were as busy as before the lockdown, although touts wore masks as they called out to passengers.center_img ‘Month of hunger’ Many people said they were glad to be back earning money — upwards of 83 million of Nigeria’s nearly 200 million population live on the equivalent of less than $1 per day, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a report on Monday.For those without savings or working in the informal sector, the lockdown was a cruel blow. “It was really a big loss,” Oluwa said.”You know, we sell perishable [food], so we need to open every day. So to lock down for weeks was [a] big issue for us.”Bus driver Ganiyu Ayinla said: “It’s been over one month of hunger and suffering.”I can now make money to take care of my family,” he said, smiling as he braked at a busy stop to pick up passengers. From the Ajegunle Tollgate, an area bordering Ogun State, a long queue of passengers waited to board.Security agents and transport union officials were on hand to ensure drivers complied with directives requiring social distance, face masks, hand washing and use of hand sanitizers before boarding.”We will only allow passengers with a nose mask to enter. And only drivers that make provision for water, soap and hand sanitizers for their passengers can operate. Buses are also required to carry not more than 60 percent of their capacity,” a police officer who gave his name as George, told AFP.He said his team had prevented some 50 buses flouting the order on Monday morning.Huge numbers of people rushed to the reopened banks to get money — many did not have an ATM card to withdraw from a cash machine.”Look at this mess, there’s no social distancing,” said a driver, Anderson Kiagbodo, observing hundreds of people milling outside a branch of GT Bank, with security guards standing impotently nearby.”Don’t be surprised if the spread of the virus explodes after this.” Topics :last_img read more

Joseph Mariathasan: The problem with commodities

first_imgThe first is the changes in the headline spot prices of the commodities. The second is the return on the collateral used to back up investment in futures by an institutional investor that typically would not be leveraging its investment, so a $100m (€94m) investment via futures contracts would generate a Treasury bill rate of interest on the capital. The third is the so-called “roll yield” obtained through switching from a maturing futures contract to one of longer maturity.In the case of energy futures, the longer-dated contracts have often stood at a lower price than maturing contracts, giving rise to a ‘backwardation’ in prices, in contrast to the situation seen in financial futures markets and precious metals such as gold, where the longer-dated contracts are in ‘contango’ – i.e. priced above maturing contracts. The size of the contango or backwardation can change rapidly reflecting supply and demand but also interest rates, storage and borrowing costs.What this has meant is that a major source of returns for investors in energy contracts has been obtained through rolling the futures contracts. In 2006, when oil went from $35 to $50 a barrel, the S&P GSCI index had a negative return of 14% because the energy markets were in contango, whilst in 2007, with the markets in backwardation, the return was 32% when oil prices shifted from $50 to $80 a barrel. When the oil futures markets are in contango, as has been the case recently, investors in ETFs that are rolling futures will be making losses every time.Institutional investors that have made major investments into commodities, particularly energy, either exclusively or through tracking indices such as the S&P GSCI or Dow Jones, may need to think deeply about what role commodities play in their portfolios. Perhaps investors also need to be aware that, in every other asset class, capitalism works for them. Companies exist to make profits, so the value of ownership goes up, while bonds pay interest and capital back.Whether that is true for commodities is unclear. Gold may provide diversification, but its price can just as easily go down 50% as go up, and there is no reason why the price of a barrel of oil has to be worth more in 50 years’ time than it costs today. It can be useful to include commodities in a portfolio primarily for their correlation characteristics. A lot of assets don’t like inflation – bonds, for example, and even equities in the short term. Commodities in that sense are often seen as inflation hedges. But, on a pure return and volatility basis, their weight would be zero.The danger for institutional investors is that, whilst commodities can act as a powerful diversifier for institutions that need to reduce volatility, even by small amounts, the prospects for extraordinary gains are more suspect. Moreover, the timing, even for diversification benefits, may be unattractive if the lack of backwardation driven by the influx of investment by the institutions themselves means the opportunity for positive returns is greatly diminished.It is interesting to note that even proponents of risk parity acknowledge that commodities should not have the same risk weighting as equities and bonds. Long-term institutional investors should look to assets that can generate economic returns rather than serve as a volatile store of value. Joseph Mariathasan is a contributing editor at IPE Investors should look to assets that generate returns, not merely store value, argues Joseph Mariathasan“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil” is an oft-quoted comment by Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister. And whilst there is plenty of talk about alternatives to fossil fuels, and electric cars are coming into use, it is still difficult to see a complete transition from the petrol engine for possibly decades.But oil prices have collapsed since mid-2014. Perhaps that is why almost one-third of the most active oil futures contract, West Texas Intermediate, was held by ETFs at one stage. They were hoping to be in at the bottom when (and if) the oil price rebounds. Inflows into commodity baskets rose to a 16-month high in the first half of November, according to ETF Securities.But investors face a major problem with commodity investment often glossed over by intermediaries. Investment in via the futures markets – either directly or indirectly through use of indices based on futures contracts – generate returns through three different sources.last_img read more

Dutch APG finalises London acquisition with Delancey

first_img”As well as being a site of global importance and with great potential, we will be taking great care to ensure that a new vision emerges that is inclusive of the local community and is cutting edge in terms of its positive environmental and social impact, contributing to the quality and sustainability of the area in the interest of the community.” he said.The Earls Court site comprises more than 25 acres of land that formally housed the Earls Court Exhibition Centres. It sits within the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, and comprises London’s largest cleared Zone 1 development site. Dutch pension investor APG has completed the acquisition of Capital & Counties Properties interests in an Earls Court development site in London for £425m in a joint venture with real estate firm Delancey.An announcement stated that Transport for London’s interests in the project remain the same and it will work alongside the JV to deliver one of the most important mixed-use developments in London.Robert-Jan Foortse, head of European property investments at APG, said: “As a long-term responsible pension investor, we are continuously looking for attractive investments in property worldwide that help us realize stable returns for ABP and other pension fund clients we work for.” He added that the investment in the Earls Court development site in London fits the core of APG’s strategy as it represents an attractive opportunity to gain access to high quality property with promising long-term growth potential.last_img read more

New Event on Decarbonising Blue Economy

first_imgHeriot Watt University and Energy Technology Partnership are jointly hosting an event on decarbonising the blue economy.The event will take place on July 22, 2019, at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI).The event will provide more knowledge about understanding how we use combinations of new technologies, new industrial opportunities and new business models with a holistic approach to deliver a low carbon, Blue Economy.The event will see the attendance of industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as Scottish Universities with a stake in marine energy, transport, remote and off-grid business, automation and sensing, sustainable food, oil & gas and geothermal.last_img read more

National Party MP Alfred Ngaro says number of abortions in New Zealand is a ‘tragedy’

first_imgStuff 21 May 2019Family First Comment: Asking the questions which need to be asked“Ngaro said the Government was pushing for abortions to be made legal at 40 weeks – full term. “People are starting to say: Is this Government taking away the core values that this country was founded on? Do you accept that we should have abortions at 40 weeks? We are talking full term.”” #chooselifeNational MP and possible leader of a new breakaway party Alfred Ngaro says no woman has been made to feel like a criminal for seeking an abortion in New Zealand.Ngaro’s comments came when asked if he supported taking abortion out of the Crimes Act, where it currently sits in New Zealand.The National list MP is openly exploring the possibility of splitting off from National and starting a new Christian political party, saying a lot of Kiwis felt like their values were not being represented in Parliament.On Saturday, Ngaro shared a pro-life Facebook post describing abortion as a “holocaust in our nation”.Ngaro said on Tuesday that he had not read the whole post and a better word for situation was a “tragedy”.But he pushed back strongly on the Government’s proposed abortion reform, which would take the procedure out of the Crimes Act.READ MORE: read more

Lady Trojans Defeat Lady Golden Bears

first_imgEC traveled to Shelbyville on Saturday to take on the Golden Bears. JV lost in 2 but the Varsity took the win in 4.‘It was a tough win. Shelbyville is scrappy and can take you out of rhythm pretty quickly. We got down early in half the sets but managed to fight back each time. This team is resilient and can never be counted out of a game. It was a good win for us against a potential sectional opponent. ‘ Trojans Coach Cassie Laker.EC vs Shelbyville 9-29-18Varsity is now 23-2 on the season.Next: at Franklin County on Tuesday.last_img read more

Joshua lighter than Ruiz Jr at weigh-in, vows ‘bloodshed and knockouts’

first_imgRelatedPosts Tyson Fury to Anthony Joshua: Don’t risk fighting Usyk Anthony Joshua, Okolie plot world title double Anthony Joshua wants Tyson Fury, Wilder fight Anthony Joshua will cede more than three stone in his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jnr after weighing-in significantly lighter than when the two men met in New York in June.The British fighter, then an undefeated world champion, was stunned by the paunchy Mexican-American who slipped through his defences and knocked him down in round seven.Joshua has trimmed down ahead of the second WBA, IBF and WBO title showdown with an eye on taking the contest deep into the latter rounds, saying he expects a “marathon, not a sprint”.The 30-year-old, who weighed 17st 7lb for the first bout at Madison Square Garden, comes in at less than 17st for the rematch after ditching heavy weight-lifting and refocusing on his technique.His rival has added weight for this contest, adding 15 pounds since June.The Briton has been taking advice on his training regime and diet from former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in his bid to reclaim the title at the fight dubbed: “Clash on the Dunes.”“I may be less than 17 stone,” Joshua said. “I’m punching loose and heavy – rhythm and flow.“Before I was trying to bench-press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport. I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.”Ruiz, however, said he would not “underestimate” Joshua and that he had his own strategies to counter the former Olympic champion.“I know he lost weight and that he will try and box me around,” Ruiz added. “So it’s my job to prevent that.“[In the June bout] I was the one who had the strength, the one backing him up. When I jabbed I pushed him away.”Joshua believes this will not be the last time the two fight each other and predicted a third bout in the future if Ruiz was up for it.“This ain’t going to be the last time I see Ruiz in the ring,” Joshua said. “We make for good fights.“I think there’s definitely gonna be a knockout and that is what people want to see, bloodshed and knockouts.”Tags: Andy Ruiz JnrAnthony Joshualast_img read more

McDowell marches on, McIlroy out

first_imgGraeme McDowell produced another superb fightback, but Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose went out at extra holes at WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The world number seven won four out of five holes to lead by one after 16, but Harris, impressive winner over Lee Westwood in round one, replied to take the contest to sudden death. It was at the first extra hole that McIlroy’s touch deserted him as he failed to recover from a poor tee shot. He went wide to the left and could then only pitch into desert rough between a bush and a tree. From there he overshot the green and there was no way back. English said: “I had to bring my ‘A’ game to beat him. Rory really fought back hard, birdying 14 through 16. I knew I needed to make something happen on 17 and 18.” Reigning US Open champion Rose was beaten at the 20th by veteran Ernie Els after another tight contest. Rose’s undoing came as he failed to get his third shot to the par-five hole out of a bunker, while Els chipped superbly from just wide of the same sand to set up a birdie. There had been little between the two players throughout. Els eagled the third and birdied the fourth to take an early two-hole lead, but Rose won two of the next three to level and went ahead when the South African bogeyed the 12th. They were all square at the 18th tee after Rose bogeyed the 17th. Both players hit poor second shots as Rose found a bunker and Els saw his approach roll back off the green. Yet there were no nerves on display as both got up and down and then impressively birdied the 19th before the match concluded at the next. Top seed Henrik Stenson, the world number three, advanced no further as he was beaten 4&3 by Louis Oosthuizen. Defending champion Matt Kuchar came from one down with six to play to beat Ryan Moore one up. Sergio Garcia overcame Bill Haas 3&1 after winning four out of six holes in a strong sequence on the back nine. The Spaniard will next play Rickie Fowler, who won a high-quality match with this season’s form player Jimmy Walker one up. French Ryder Cup hopeful Victor Dubuisson saw an early three-hole lead wiped out, but recovered his poise to beat Peter Hanson 3&1. Bubba Watson, who led by three after just four holes, survived a late wobble before seeing off Jonas Blixt two up. Blixt threatened to make life difficult by winning the 12th and 14th, but short missed putts at the 15th and 16th and a penalty drop on the last ended his hopes. American youngster Jordan Spieth produced one of the day’s most impressive performances, beating Thomas Bjorn 5&4. Hunter Mahan, who will now play McDowell in a repeat of the decisive match at the 2010 Ryder Cup, beat Richard Sterne two up. But after coming from four down after seven – and three down with three holes remaining – against Gary Woodland on Wednesday, he was not fazed by a repeat scenario. He played steadily throughout and luck had been against him early on, most notably when Matsuyama chipped in from the rough at the second. Birdies at the eighth and ninth set up a tight back nine and Matsuyama eventually cracked when he missed a short putt at the 17th. The Japanese player compounded that error by putting his tee shot at the last into a bunker and McDowell parred to complete another fine fightback. “I was hoping to not expend as much emotion but that didn’t happen,” said McDowell. “It was another emotional day but I guess I am just happy to still be standing.” Fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy saw his bid ended by American Harris English at the 19th. McIlroy appeared to have victory within sight as he put aside earlier putting frustrations to hit form on the back nine. McDowell reprised his first-round heroics by coming from behind to reach the last 16 with victory over Hideki Matsuyama on the 18th hole at Dove Mountain. The Ulsterman had trailed by three after six holes and was still two down with four to play at the Arizona course. Press Associationlast_img read more

Grieving Keane may not feature

first_img The manager said: “It was obviously very bad news this morning, so he’s not feeling great, I must admit. Obviously he feels for the family and he is quite down at the moment. “I’m hoping that he’ll come round, but if he feels he wants to participate in the game tomorrow, it will be entirely his decision. “I don’t think you could ever question his professionalism, it’s how he’s feeling within himself, really, as much as anything else. “But as I say, it was obviously bad news this morning. He’s not great.” Defender John O’Shea, who stood in for Keane, expressed the players’ support for the LA Galaxy frontman and his family. O’Shea said: “Ah look, it’s one of those things. As the manager said, it’s very sad news and I echo the sentiments of the manager. Our thoughts are with the family. “But look, there’s obviously a good morale around him. We will look after Robbie, and if he needs whatever support, it will be there for him. “He’s a very good professional, but obviously sometimes football does take a back step when something like that happens.” Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill will leave record scorer Robbie Keane to decide if he is mentally ready to play in Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland after his family suffered a second tragedy. The 34-year-old, whose cousin Alan Harris died on Wednesday after being overcome by toxic fumes while working in a sewer in Portmarnock, learned on Friday morning that Alan’s brother Stephen, who was left fighting for his life after the incident, had lost his own battle. Keane trained, but did not attend the Republic’s pre-match press conference at Dublin Airport, and O’Neill revealed he had been deeply affected by the news. Keane missed the 1-0 defeat by Scotland in Glasgow in November when he was left out of the team for the first time in 13 years, and was touch and go to start at the Aviva Stadium after playing just one full game since the beginning of April because of a groin injury. However, the uncertainty over his presence is only one issue threatening to disrupt O’Neill’s preparations for a potentially crucial game. Paisley-born winger Aiden McGeady, who has been struggling with groin and back injuries in recent months, sat out training at Gannon Park on Friday morning, and O’Neill admitted he too would have the final say on whether or not he can play. The 63-year-old said: “He sat out training today. He’s a bit sore from a few things that he was doing. He felt not so bad on Sunday but he’s a little bit sore and we’ll see, we’ll see how he is. But he sat out today as a precaution as much as anything else.” Asked whether he would be prepared to take a gamble on McGeady, given it is the final game of the season, O’Neill added: “Taking the gamble would really be very much with Aiden, if that’s the case. “If he feels that he is ready to go and start a game, that’s something that we would look at, obviously. If he feels he can participate in some of the match, again because he has been a very important player for us in this qualifying campaign, I’ll give him as much time as he needs.” Should McGeady miss out, O’Neill at least has a ready-made replacement in the shape of Wigan winger James McClean, who he believes has matured into a genuine international player since he first surged to prominence under previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni during the run-up to the Euro 2012 finals. He said: “I know James very well indeed and he is a great character. He treats training sessions just like football matches themselves. “I think he has settled down a little bit, he has matured. It was all very new to him when he came into the side. “I think he felt at that time that maybe in Poland, maybe he thought he should be playing. I think he has re-thought that since then and he is absolutely fine.” Ireland would leapfrog the Scots, who currently sit in third place in Group D, with victory but defeat would represent a massive blow to their hopes of qualification. However, O’Neill rejected a suggestion that the campaign has rather stalled since the defeat at Celtic Park. He said: “We were beaten by Scotland with a goal scored in the 75th minute and we drew with Poland, and the game before that we drew with Germany in Germany. “They are world champions and they had won that about three months earlier, and we had won the first two games, one of which was away from home. “Do you know, I’m not so sure it’s been a real stalling.” Press Associationlast_img read more