News Column

TOP NEWS: HSBC Sells Swiss Private Banking Portfolio To LGT

June 24, 2014



LONDON (Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Tuesday.

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COMPANIES

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HSBC Holdings PLC said its Swiss private banking unit has agreed to sell a portfolio of its private banking assets in Switzerland to a subsidiary of LGT Group, the private banking and asset management group fully controlled by the Liechtenstein princely family, as the bank holding company looks to concentrate its growth on fewer markets. The assets it has agreed to sell represented USD12.5 billion in assets under management at the end of 2013. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, is expected to complete in the final quarter of 2014.

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BG Group PLC subsidiary QGC Pty Ltd said it has started operating a network of natural gas processing facilities in Queensland, a key step towards BG Group's goal of producing liquefied natural gas from its Curtis Island plant in the fourth quarter of 2014. QGC is focused on establishing the world's first project, Queensland Curtis LNG, to convert gas from coal seams into liquefied natural gas. The company said the seven facilities comprise six compression stations feeding gas drawn from hundreds of wells into the larger Ruby Jo Central processing plant, which will send gas through a 540 kilometre underground pipeline network to the QCLNG export facility.

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The president of South Africa'sAssociation of Mineworkers and Construction Union Monday declared the end of platinum miners strikes which have crippled the industry, exactly five months after they began, according to Reuters. AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa addressed thousands of miners at a mass meeting at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, saying that they would accept wage offers from the producers on Tuesday and the striking workers should return to work on Wednesday. On June 12, Lonmin PLC, along with Anglo American Platinum PLC, a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC, and Impala Platinum Holding Ltd, had said that the two sides had reached "informal undertakings" in principle on a potential deal.

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Tullow Oil PLC said it has made a further oil find in northern Kenya during exploration drilling, which may have identified a new fault block in the developing Ngamia field area. The FTSE 100 oil and gas exploration company said its Ngamia-2 appraisal well found up to 39 metres of net oil pay and 11 metres of net gas pay, appearing to represent a new fault block area, north of its previous Ngamia-1 discovery. The company said the reservoirs were of high quality, with over 200 metres of net reservoir sands and good permeability.

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Petrofac Ltd said it has seen good performance at its Engineering, Construction, Operations & Maintenance division in the first six months of 2014 and has not been significantly impacted by the ongoing destabilisation in Iraq. The oil and gas services company said it continues to expect net profit for the full year to be in the range of USD580 million to USD600 million after having to put out a profit warning in May due to lower-than-expected earnings from its Integrated Energy Services operations, partly from delays in the development of is major Greater Stella Area project in the North Sea.

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Land SecuritiesGroup PLC said it has exchanged contracts to sell The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland to clients of AEW Europe for GBP152 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.9%. The Bridges totals 550,000 square foot and is anchored by department store Debenhams. It has a further 100 shops including Foot Locker, Superdry and TopShop. Land Securities bought The Bridges in 1993 and extended the centre in 2000.

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Speciality chemicals company Croda International PLC warned it now expects to report lower pretax profit than previously hoped in both its second quarter and in 2014 as a whole, due to the strength of the pound and weakness in its industrial chemicals business. In April, the company had said it expected its performance in the second quarter to end-June to be similar to that of the first quarter when it reported a pretax profit of GBP65.2 million. However, it now expects the second quarter figure to be about 8% below that.

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Tate & Lyle PLC said it has appointed Nick Hampton as chief financial officer, with effect from September 1. The sweeteners and starch company said that Tim Lodge, who has been the company's CFO since 2008, will remain in the role until August 31. Hampton joins Tate & Lyle from US soft drink giant PepsiCo, where he held the role of president of West Europe and senior vice president of commercial Europe.

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Carpet and floor coverings retailer Carpetright PLC reported a drop in revenue and a wider loss in the financial year just ended, hit by continued weakness in its Dutch business. Carpetright posted a pretax loss of GBP7.2 million for the year ended April 26, compared with a GBP5.1 million loss the prior year. "While indicators point to an overall improvement in UK economic performance over the past twelve months, it has been a challenging time for the group with our markets remaining highly competitive and deal-driven," said Executive Chairman Lord Harris in a statement.

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MARKETS

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The UK stock indices trade lower, amid a disappointing drop in business confidence in Europe's largest economy, and as market attention focuses on comments from Mark Carney and other members of the Bank of England'sMonetary Policy Committee, who are facing questions from the Treasury Select Committee.

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FTSE 100: down 0.3% at 6779.26

FTSE 250: down 0.6% at 15583.37

AIM ALL-SHARE: down 0.2% at 784.21

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The pound lost ground against the dollar, touching USD1.6969, as Carney said there remains unabsorbed slack in the UK economy which should be used up before normalizing bank's monetary policy.

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GBP-USD: down at USD1.7000

EUR-USD: up at USD1.3621



GOLD: up at USD1324.26 per ounce

OIL (Brent): up at USD114.05 a barrel



(changes since end of previous GMT day)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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UK mortgage approvals declined to the lowest since August 2013 as new mortgage rules started to take effect, the British Bankers' Association said. Mortgage approvals fell to 41,757 in May, a nine-month low, from 41,934 in April. But it was above the expected level of 41,000. Approvals including re-mortgage and other secured borrowing decreased to 65,132 from 70,294 in April. The value of mortgages approved for house purchases slid to GBP 6.7 billion from GBP 6.8 billion and the total mortgage approvals totaled GBP 9.7 billion compared to GBP 10.3 billion in April.

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The UK's Labour party will mount an assault on big outsourcing companies if it wins the election, reducing their role in delivering the government's back-to-work programme and exploring a plan to force them to pay all workers above the minimum wage in exchange for Whitehall contracts, the Financial Times reports Tuesday citing an interview with Rachel Reeves, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary. Reeves told the newspaper that the Labour party would do away with the current system of big centrally commissioned contracts when the current tranche expired in 2015-16. Instead services would be bought at a more local level, perhaps by local authorities or local enterprise partnerships, which she said would understand the specific barriers to work facing people in their areas and already have strong links with local businesses, she said.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq's northern autonomous region of Kurdistan on Tuesday, the second unannounced visit to the country in two days, to urge regional leaders to participate in Baghdad's next government, Al Arabiya broadcaster reported. His visit comes after he met with officials in Baghdad on Monday, in what he called "a moment of great urgency" as insurgents expanded their control across Iraq. The US has pushed for an inclusive government, citing charges by minority Kurds and Sunnis that Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has marginalized them during eight years of rule.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said he will not interfere in court rulings against a group of Al Jazeera reporters on terrorism charges, a day after a seven-year sentence for the reporters sparked international outrage. "Egypt's judiciary is independent...We must respect court rulings," he said as he attended a military graduation ceremony in Cairo. An Egyptian court on Monday jailed three Al Jazeera International journalists for seven years each on charges of collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Human rights and press freedom organizations, as well as foreign governments, reacted with outrage Monday, while the Netherlands, Britain and Belgium called in Egyptian envoys for talks.

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The EU has issued new sanctions against 12 Syrian government ministers, including Finance Minister Ismael Ismael and Oil Minister Suleiman Al Abbas, bringing the total number on the sanctions list to 191. These people share "responsibility for the regime's violent repression against the civilian population," the EU wrote in its Official Journal. The publication of the names follows a decision taken by EU foreign ministers on Monday.

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to bolster security cooperation amid China's increasing assertiveness in the East and South China seas. The two leaders vowed in Tokyo to promote the rule of law to ensure maritime security amid China's military buildup and expansion of activities in the region, the Kyodo News agency reported, citing a Japanese government official. Aquino thanked Abefor backing Manila's efforts to seek a peaceful solution to its territorial spats with Beijing and other neighbouring countries in the South China Sea, Kyodo said.

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Five people have been killed and one injured in a Kenyan coastal village outside Witu town near Mpeketoni, where about 60 people were killed last week, a Red Cross representative said. The victims were taken from their homes and shot at close range late on Monday, the representative told dpa. Two of the bodies had deep machete cuts. "A number of armed bandits raided the village," police chief David Kimaiyo was quoted as saying by The Standard newspaper.

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More than 70 suspected militants of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram have been killed in a Nigerian air raid, the daily Vanguard reported. The raid followed a Boko Haram attack on several villages near Chibok, the town where the group abducted more than 200 schoolgirls mid-April. The weekend attack killed more than 40 people, according to Vanguard. The attackers razed houses, shops and vehicles, and looted foodstuff and livestock. The army caught up with the attackers as they were fleeing the area on Sunday, the newspaper quoted "reliable sources" as saying.

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Source: Alliance News


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