Wednesday, May 22, 2019

‘Ronaldo Is More Than A Footballer, He’s A Multi-National Business’

With huge revenues, a colossal audience on social media sponsors queuing up, and his brand on products from hotels to underwear, Cristiano Ronaldo has long been more than just a football player.
But CR7’s global brand may be tarnished by an accusation of rape in the United States, a complaint that dates back to 2009.
Ronaldo, “is truly a business offering a product, a service and a digital arm,” Jean-Philippe Danglade, author of “Marketing and Celebrities”, told AFP, pointing out that, in the player’s native Madeira there is a Ronaldo museum and airport named after him.
“In terms of the collective imagination, it’s really impressive.”
Forbes magazine estimated that Ronaldo made $108 million (93.7 million euros) in 2017: $61 million in salary and $47 million from endorsements. While that’s a jump in $15 million from the previous year, Ronaldo still dropped from first place to third.
Ronaldo’s great rival Lionel Messi moved to second, on $111 million, after signing a new contract at Barcelona that increased his salary from an estimated $50 million a year to a reported $86 million.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather soared into first place with $275 million, almost all of which came from a single bout against mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.
At 33, Ronaldo reportedly accepted a slight wage cut in the summer when he moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, signing a contract worth a reported 30-31 million euros a year after tax.
Forbes calculated that this represents a drop in gross salary from the $66 million he would have earned, with bonuses, at Real, to $64 million at Juventus, where his contract reportedly includes no incentives and is entirely guaranteed.
Tax is another sensitive topic for Ronaldo, who agreed in June to pay 16.7 million euros in a legal settlement after he was caught neglecting to pay some Spanish taxes.
Beckham and Jordan
Ronaldo outstrips Messi in sponsorship, but the accusations against him have already made his main client anxious. His strongest links are with Nike, where he is in a “long-term partnership.”
He has made his name a logo — ‘CR7’ — following the “Jumpman” concept created by Nike in the late 1980S with another long-term partner Michael Jordan.
It is a template that has also worked for former Nike client Roger Federer, who is the top sponsorship earner on the Forbes list, and David Beckham.
Since the opening of his first underwear shop “CR7” in 2006 on Madeira, the man with perfect abs, who models his briefs in ads, has expanded the range with jeans, shoes and accessories.
At the end of 2015, he joined the hotel group Pestana to build five hotels (a sixth is planned in Paris) under the name “CR7”.
On arriving in Turin this summer, Ronaldo launched a new “CR7 Underwear” line with Italian garment company Yamamay.
“Because I’m rich, I’m beautiful, I’m a great player, people are jealous of me,” Ronaldo said in 2011.
For the sponsors, the five-time Ballon d’Or and top scorer in Champions League history, with 120 goals (and counting), is an attractive brand.
His 330 million total social media followers, more than any other sportsman, also helps draw sponsors.
Among his blue-chip backers have included French telecommunications company SFR, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer, game makers Konami and EA Sports, oil manufacturer Castrol and Emirates airline.
“His portfolio is very well-balanced with a dozen sectors and very different and complementary activities,” said Danglade.
But Ronaldo makes at least 20 million euros a year, and, perhaps much more, from his deal with Nike, which began in 2003.
CR7 has said  this partnership “is for life”.
“I am a member of this family,” said the Portuguese in a Nike video. “It’s the best deal I’ve had in my career.”
Nike seems suddenly less in love.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” a Nike spokesman told AFP.
Ronaldo is busy on social media and assiduous in promoting his main sponsor. Forbes counted 580 tweets in 2016 with a sponsor mention or logo, although as Forbes also pointed out, most photos of CR7 playing for Real Madrid also contained the logo of the club sponsor, Adidas.
Forbes calculates that the Ronaldo is way ahead of and the more reticent Messi, who is with Nike’s eternal rival Adidas, in generating money for sponsors from social networks, saying that in 2016 Ronaldo was worth $500 million to Nike on social media and Messi $53.3 million for Adidas.
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Banking Shares Slide On Italy Budget Fallout

File photo Italy flag
European stock markets slide on Friday, with Milan the biggest faller, after Italy’s new leaders pledged a budget overspend that triggered consternation from Brussels.
The trading of shares in some Italian banks was briefly suspended amid heavy price falls but Banco BPM remained on pause following a tumble of almost 11 percent.
Following the restart, BPER Banca was down a hefty 9.0 percent at 3.96 euros, UniCredit plunged 7.5 percent and Intesa Sanpaolo was down 7.2 percent.
Shares prices of major European banks outside Italy also slumped, with French lender Credit Agricole down 5.0 percent, Deutsche Bank sliding 4.0 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland losing 3.2 percent.
The euro also dropped heavily against the dollar.
“The Italian budget continued to cast a shadow over the markets on Friday, setting up a rocky end to a rocky month,” noted Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex trading group.
“Turning to this afternoon and at the moment the Dow Jones looks set to dodge the kind of losses seen in Europe, with the futures suggesting a milder… decline.”
Asian markets had earlier closed higher, tracking Thursday’s rally on Wall Street where investors were buoyed by the Federal Reserve’s positive outlook for the US economy.
Benchmark crude oil, Brent North Sea, extended gains amid predictions that it could again hit $100 per barrel.
While concerns over the China-US trade row hang in the air, US equities continue to be supported by optimism that the global economy and companies are in rude health generally.
That was reinforced by the Fed on Wednesday as it lifted interest rates and indicated more to come over the next year citing the strong labor market and playing down concerns about vulnerabilities in the financial system.
Prospects of more US rate hikes has lifted the dollar this week against the euro, which has slid also as Italy’s populist government agreed on a budget deficit target of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product for next year, fuelling fears of a bust-up with Brussels.
On Friday those fears looked to be coming to fruition when EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici hit out at the Italian move, which he called “beyond the limits of our shared rules”.
Crude prices extended gains on growing concerns about supplies following a decision not to increase output by key producers, just as Iran faces export sanctions and Venezuela continues to be dogged by political and economic crises.
Also, the US energy secretary this week ruled out using the country’s emergency stockpiles to ease prices.
Bloomberg News reported that the chief executive of oil and gas major Total, Patrick Pouyanne, saw prices swinging to the $100 levels last seen in mid-2014.
“Everyone’s worried about the tightness in supply at the moment and that’s continuing to push up prices,” said Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures.
“But volatility is coming as we’re still waiting for a further response from the US.”
 Key figures around 1045 GMT
Milan – FTSE MIB: DOWN 3.7 percent at 20,718.24 points
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,511.08
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.4 percent at 12,263.48
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 5,501.88
Madrid – IBEX 35: DOWN 1.5 percent at 9,384.80
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,408.13
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 24,120.04 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 27,788.52(close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.1 percent at 2,821.35 (close)
New York – Dow Jones: UP 0.2 percent at 26,439.93 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1591 from $1.1641 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3053 from $1.3078
Dollar/yen: FLAT at 113.39 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 33 cents at $82.05 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN one cent at $72.11 per barrel.
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Amazon Opens New ‘4-Star’ Retail Store In New York

Amazon opens a new retail store in New York on Thursday selling a range of products from the online colossus that gets top ratings from customers.
The brick-and-mortar outlet in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood will sell consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books, and games, and “chose only the products that customers have rated 4 stars and above, or are top sellers, or are new and trending,” Amazon said in a statement.
Amazon has previously opened physical stores that sell books and has had pop-up outlets in some locations, but Amazon 4-Star is a new concept that offers a variety of goods in different categories.
“We created Amazon 4-Star to be a place where customers can discover products they will love,” a company statement said.
“Amazon 4-Star’s selection is a direct reflection of our customers — what they’re buying and what they’re loving.”
Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies whose growth has made founder Jeff Bezos the world’s richest person, has been in recent years moving increasingly to physical stores.
It has opened more than a dozen Amazon Books stores that sell top-selling titles and some additional merchandise. And it has acquired the grocery chain Whole Foods, which has several hundred stores.
Amazon has also introduced a handful of concept Amazon Go grocery stores that operate without cashiers, with purchases automatically scanned and billed to customer accounts.
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Nigeria Adopts Softer Tone On MTN

Nigeria appears to have taken a softer stance on Africa’s leading mobile operator MTN, assuring stakeholders that a dispute over the repatriation of $8.13 in dividends will be “resolved”. 
Talking to reporters in Abuja following a monetary policy committee meeting on Tuesday, Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said: “we’ll resolve the matter.”
“Everyone will be happy,” Emefiele was quoted as saying by Bloomberg News.
In August, Nigeria shocked South Africa’s MTN and foreign investors when it ordered the telecoms giant to pay back $8.13 billion (6.96 billion euros) that it allegedly illegally took out of the country, and fined four banks involved in the transfer.
Days later, in early September, President Muhammadu Buhari’s attorney general followed up with another $2 billion tax fine.
With the economy still fragile after a deep recession in 2016 and elections looming early next year, many private sector players in Nigeria believe the move could dent investor sentiment.
It is not the first time MTN has been sanctioned by the Nigerian authorities.
In 2015, MTN was fined $5.2 billion by Nigeria’s telecoms regulator NCC for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards on its network.
The fine was later reduced to $1.7 billion after a series of negotiations with the Nigerian government.
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CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to retain the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14%.
Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made the announcement on Tuesday during a press briefing in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the Cash Reserve Ratio is at 22.5 %, Liquidity Ratio at 30%, Asymmetric Corridor at +200 and -500 basis point.
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FIRS Collects N13bn From Billionaires Owing Tax

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), says it has collected N12.66 in tax revenue, in less than a month after it went after bank accounts of defaulting taxpayers who are raking in billions in the country.
The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, disclosed this at the weekend when he received the new Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed during his spot visit to Revenue House, FIRS headquarters in Abuja.
Mrs Ahmed said, “The Ministry of Finance will continue to work collaboratively with FIRS to support all the efforts that you are doing. And as much as possible, we should interface frequently. For us, the directive I have is to increase the tax revenue and that is the most important task ahead of all of us. You have done well. And the reward for good work is more work”.
She urged the FIRS to “maintain the tempo” because literarily, the country depends on the work that FIRS does to shore-up the revenue collection to support the government.
She encouraged government agencies to work together to fish out all corrupt persons in the country, stating that this is President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
“The FIRS is a very important agency of government. I wanted to underscore this importance. FIRS is one of the first agencies in the Ministry of Finance that I am meeting. The Federal Government Medium Term Plan is hinged on diversifying the economy away from the oil revenues to non-oil sector. And the report that the Executive Chairman of FIRS has presented indicates that the diversification effort is working. This is reflected in the turn of the contribution of non-oil revenues over the last three years.
“I am happy that we have a team in FIRS that is not only expanding the revenue base but also significantly improving tax collection and taking tax offices closer to the people and making it easier for the people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures that you have undertaken. And I am sure that, from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.
“I am also glad that you are increasing cooperation with several agencies like the EFCC, ICPC and Nigeria Customs Service. This is important because the directive from the president for anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies. It makes a lot of sense to prioritise tax collection to larger categories: from the big ones to other ones. The effort you are doing in Abuja, Lagos and Osun –(on payment of taxes on the property using their turnover as the basis for assessment)- is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues”, she added.
According to her, the country needs to continue with the efforts to strengthen the non-oil sector, stating that the part that FIRS should play is to continue with its efforts so that the non-oil sector would generate larger part of the tax revenue on a sustainable basis.
About a month ago, “the FIRS and I commenced substitution of the bank accounts of High Networth billionaire tax defaulters”, She further stated.
Fowler told the minister that the initiative has pooled about N12. 66 billion into the government coffers.
“FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018, requesting for a list of Companies, Partnerships, and Enterprises with a banking turnover of N1 billion and above. This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are compliant with the Tax Laws and those that are not compliant. So far, non-compliant organization have paid about N12.66bn.
“The FIRS will continue to implement initiatives that will drive compliance and generate revenue by continuous taxpayer enlightenment, implementation of the Auto VAT Collect in other sectors of the economy, simplification of the tax processes especially for small taxpayers, strengthening collaborations with other agencies such as CAC, States Boards of Internal Revenue, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Nigeria Customs Service”, Fowler said.
The FIRS Chairman said that the Service realised the sum of N2.983 billion from payment on demand notices on property owners who are being assessed based on their turnover and that 653 of 2, 672 of such non-filers have starting filing now.
From enforcement, Fowler said the FIRS has collected a total of N47.5 billion from 2016 till date and $32.8 million dollars, £5.9 pounds, netted N225 billion from audit and has collected more than N1 trillion above its January to August collection last year (2017).
He said that FIRS’ collection of N4.03 trillion in 2017 has 62.25 percent as non-oil while oil is just 37.75 percent. It was 64.99 in favour of non-oil in 2016 and 35.01 for oil. In 2018, the FIRS has done 54.56 percent for non-oil and 45.44 percent for oil receipts.
He explained that Value Added Tax (VAT) receipt is on a steady increase. “So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected 773.49bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2015 (767.33bn) and is set to surpass 2016 (828.19bn), and 2017 (972.30bn) with four more collection months left in the year.
“E-stamp duties collection is on a steady increase. So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected 10.10bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2017 (10.9bn), 2016 (5.6bn), and 2015 (7.1bn)”, Fowler said.
Three weeks ago, the FIRS Chairman told stakeholders event in Lagos that substitution is allowed in the nation’s laws and empowers FIRS to appoint banks as collection agents for tax. “So, all these ones of TIN and no pay and no TIN and no pay, to the total of 6772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward.
First, “they refused to come forward in 2016, they refused to come forward under VAT and are still operating here. So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts.
“We looked at all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years. First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a corporate account, part of the opening documentation is the tax I.D. From the 23 banks, we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records, out of which effectively minus duplications we had 18,602.
“We broke those into three categories: Those that have TIN tax I.D, those that don’t have no TIN and of course no TIN no pay and those that have TIN and have not even paid anything. So, on a minimum, every company or business included here over the last three years have had a banking turnover of N3 billion and above. Some of them have had banking turnover of over N5 billion and have not paid one kobo in taxes. Now the total number of TIN and no pay is 6772.
“So, if someone is good in mathematics and you take the minimum level of N3 billion multiply by 409 and they are operating within our society and economy and do not remit or make any tax payment”, he further stated.
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Prosecutor’s Absence Stalls Trial Of Suspended SEC DG Gwarzo

A Federal Capital Territory High Court has adjourned the trial of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, after the lead prosecutor Ibrahim Adeshina failed to show up in court for the continuation of the trial.
At the resumed hearing, a representative of the prosecutor Agbili Ezenwa told the court that his principal is out of the country and urged the court to grant an adjournment to enable him to appear at the next adjourned date.
Counsel to the former SEC DG, Abdulrasheed Al-Mustapha, in responding to the application, asked the court to direct the prosecution to open its conclude its case at the next adjourned date tenable for his client to enter a defence.
Justice Hussein Yusuf adjourned the matter to the October 18 and 19 respectively for the continuation of the trial.
Gwarzo is being arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a five-count charge of misappropriating 115 million naira.
ICPC also accused him of using his position to confer corrupt advantages upon himself when he received N104.8m as severance benefit when he was yet to retire.
He is also accused of receiving N10.98m in excess car grant among others.
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FG Sells Its Shares In Nigerian Printing, Minting Company To CBN For N12bn

The Federal Government has sold its shares in the Nigerian Security, Printing and Minting Company (NSPM) to the Central Bank Of Nigeria at the cost of N12.4 billion.
Vice President Osibanjo while speaking at the official signing ceremony at the presidential villa on Tuesday explained that the sale will allow private sector participation in the company.
He added that this will bring the cutting-edge technology and innovation required for the company.
Professor Osinbajo also urged the Central Bank to ensure that Nigeria derives maximum benefit from the union.
The Chief Executive of the company, Joseph Ugbo appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to save resources by handing over the printing of all ballot papers and electoral materials for the 2019 elections to the company.
Ugbo said the NSPM has the capacity to handle it.
See photos from the official signing ceremony below…
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Nigeria Is Facing Serious Revenue Challenges, Says Zainab Ahmed

Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed
The supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said that Nigeria is facing serious revenue challenges and assured that the ministry will do everything possible to shore up the revenue base of the country.
The minister stated this on Monday when she assumed duties at the Ministry of Finance.
She said, “We have very serious revenue challenges and it is up to us to make sure we shore up the revenue base of the country.
“The President has a lot of confidence that we can do this if we work together. You are working for the President and at the end of the day, you’re working for the benefit of the citizens”.
She promised to work diligently to ensure that the country attains greater economic stability.
She charged the management staff of the Ministry to do all within their power to justify the confidence of the President in their ability to achieve a much needed economic turnaround in the country.
In a statement by the Director Information, Hassan Dodo, Ahmed expressed her readiness to ensure that there is “harmonious working relationship with the Permanent Secretary and management of the Ministry, whom she said are highly skilled”.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse assured that the management and staff of the Ministry will give her all the needed support in her duties.
Until her New role as the Supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed is the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.
She was directed to oversee the Ministry of Finance by President Muhammadu Buhari , after the resignation of former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Friday, September 14, 2018.
She is a Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), a member of the Nigerian Institute of Taxation and the Nigerian Institute of Management. (NIM)
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Brexit: IMF Warns Britain’s Economy Would Suffer ‘Substantial Costs’

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks at a press conference to mark the publication of 2018, Britain’s economy would suffer “substantial costs” should it leave the European Union in March with no divorce agreement, the International Monetary Fund warned Monday. John Stillwell / POOL / AFP
Britain’s economy would suffer “substantial costs” should it leave the European Union in March with no divorce agreement, the International Monetary Fund warned Monday.
Brussels and London have failed to resolve “fundamental” aspects of Brexit and this could leave London defaulting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs, the IMF said in its annual outlook on the UK economy.
“Fundamental questions — such as the future economic relationship between the two and the closely-related question of the status of the land border with Ireland — remain unanswered,” the institution noted in a statement.
“Resolving these questions is critical to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on WTO terms that would entail substantial costs for the UK economy — and to a lesser extent the EU economies — particularly if it were to occur in a disorderly fashion,” the IMF added.
The gloomy assessment contrasts with that of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who indicated last week that a no-deal Brexit would not be a disaster for Britain.
May remains confident of striking an acceptable deal with Brussels meanwhile.
The IMF forecast Monday that the British economy would grow by 1.5 percent in 2019, unchanged from its previous estimate.
However, the prediction is based on Britain sealing an EU divorce deal and transition period by the end of the year.
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Markets Hit By Fears Of Fresh Trump Tariffs On China

The closing numbers are displayed after the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on September 12, 2018, in New York DANIEL ROLAND / AFP
Asian markets sank on Monday following reports that Donald Trump is planning to hit China with another round of tariffs, dealing a blow to hopes for talks between the two economic giants.
Traders sent regional equities surging on Thursday and Friday as it emerged that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had offered to meet officials from Beijing to avert an all-out trade war.
However, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal said the president had decided to impose 10 percent levies on $200 billion of Chinese imports and could make an announcement in the coming days.
That would come on top of the $50 billion already announced over the summer and would account for about half of China’s exports to the United States. Beijing has threatened to retaliate against any measures.
“Whether this is little more than the president using this leverage as a negotiating tactic, China officials will continue to be frustrated,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.
“This good cop bad cop routine continues to undermine Mr. Mnuchin’s efforts as it’s still not clear if anyone other the Trump himself is commissioned to cut a deal. And not too unexpectedly, and quite ominously, China could cancel the meeting.”
– Timing important –
Hong Kong led losses Monday, dropping 1.3 percent while Shanghai ended 1.1 percent off. Seoul and Singapore each lost 0.7 percent, while Taipei, Jakarta, and Mumbai also saw deep losses. Sydney edged 0.3 percent higher.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
In early European trade London and Paris each fell 0.1 percent, while Frankfurt shed 0.5 percent.
But while investors were in a selling mood, some positives could be taken from reports that Trump was considering 10 percent tariffs instead of the feared 25 percent, said JP Morgan Asset Management global market strategist Kerry Craig.
“No more tariffs would still be the best outcome for the markets but with the US administration seemingly wanting to pursue its long-term strategic agenda against China, that’s unlikely to be the case, especially as there is little in the way of pain being felt by the US economy or equity market,” he said.
“Timing is also important when it comes to enacting any new tariffs. A staggered implementation is being the viewed as the best of a bad situation.”
On foreign exchanges, emerging market currencies continue to struggle as investors fret over a possible spillover from financial crises in Argentina, Turkey, and South Africa.
The Indian rupee was hovering around 72.53 to the dollar, near record lows, while the Indonesian rupiah is near a 20-year trough.
Other high-yielding units were also down, with South Korea’s won 0.9 percent lower and the Mexican peso shed 0.5 percent.
– Key figures around 0810 GMT –
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.3 percent at 26,932.85 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.1 percent at 2,651.79 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a public holiday
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,297.58
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1633 from $1.1627 at 2030 GMT on Friday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3083 from $1.3069
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.93 yen from 112.00 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 28 cents at $69.27 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 25 cents at $78.34 per barrel
New York – Dow Jones: FLAT at 26,154.67.
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How FG Is Ensuring Critical Projects Won’t Suffer From Lack Of Funds – Minister

The Federal Government remains focused on its plans and has taken steps to ensure that critical projects such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge do not suffer from lack of funds.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this on Friday when he visited the Headquarters of Channels Television in Lagos.
“The good news is that we put together the Presidential Infrastructure Fund which is being managed by the Sovereign Investment Authority with a seed fund of $1.3 billion to ensure that five critical projects will not suffer from funding,” he said.
“They are the East-West Road, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambila Hydroelectric Power and the Abuja-Kano Road.”
Beyond the critical projects, the minister believes the Federal Government deserves credit for what it is doing in terms of infrastructure and how it approached projects started by previous administrations.
“The important thing is for the government to remain focused and have a blueprint. And it is to the credit of this administration that we did not abandon any project that we inherited,” he said.
“Most of the commissioning that we are doing today are projects that we met and adopted, some at 16 percent completion, some at 20 percent completion.”
Some of the projects such as the Abuja-Kaduna rail have been completed and others are being worked on.
The Minister recently led a team to inspect ongoing projects in parts of the country and he is pleased with the progress being made.
He said, “I was at Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa road about three weeks ago. Those who are familiar with that road will tell you that, a year or two ago, it will take you four days, not hours, to travel from Ilorin to Jebba. Today, the 93 kilometre road has been completed and it takes you just under two hours to travel from Ilorin to Jebba and to Mokwa.
“I went with my team to visit the South-East and the South-South and the trip took us from Enugu to Onitsha where we went to inspect the 2nd Niger Bridge and the media saw that progress has been made since we came.
“Before we came in, only N200 million had been paid for that project. As of today, over N4.6 billion has been paid for that project.”
The second leg of the minister’s trip (inspecting projects) took him to the road from Enugu through Umuahia to Aba and from Aba to Port Harcourt.
“It is a 240 kilometre Road; and, averagely, we’ve been able to achieve about 38 to 40 percent completion,” he said, adding that funds secured by the government through the issuance of bonds would also be vital to the execution of projects.
“We secured a Sukuk bond of N100bn and we divided into six equal parts for each of the geopolitical zones to fund 25 critical roads and bridges in each zone.
“So, the government remains determined and focused on providing infrastructure, the government remains focused on providing power and our social investment programmes tries to ensure that no one is left behind.”
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Volkswagen To End Production Of Iconic ‘Beetle’ Cars In 2019

Vintage Volkswagen Beetle cars are parked in a row during a rally held as part of the 23rd anniversary of “World Wide VW Beetle Day”, in Bangalore on June 24, 2018. MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP
Volkswagen announced on Thursday it would end production of its iconic “Beetle” cars in 2019 after adding a pair of final editions of the insect-inspired vehicles.
The curvy-topped sedans, which shook off Nazi origins to become a global auto phenomenon, are being sidelined as Volkswagen emphasises electric cars and larger family-oriented vehicles.
But company officials, still trying to completely turn the page after 2015’s costly “dieselgate” scandal, opened the door to reviving the model at some point, alluding to the company’s 2017 decision to unveil a revamped Volkswagen Bus as a possible template.
“As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy…there are no immediate plans to replace it,” Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America said in a statement.
“But, I would also say, never say never,” he added.
“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” Woebcken said.
Volkswagen plans to offer the two final edition models in both coupe and convertible styles. The cars will include nods to earlier versions and be priced at $23,045 and up, the company said.
’60s icon
The vehicle’s history goes back to the Nazi era, having first been developed by Ferdinand Porsche with support from Adolf Hitler, who in 1937 formed the state-run Volkswagenwerk, or “The People’s Car Company.” After the war, the Allied countries eventually made Volkswagen a priority in an effort to revive the German auto industry.
The sedans made their US debut in the 1950s, but sales were weak, in part owing to the company’s Nazi origins.
The advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernback in 1959 rechristened the car the “Beetle,” and began touting the vehicle’s small size as an advantage to consumers, according to the History Channel.
The car attained further popularity with the 1968 Disney movie “The Love Bug,” the story of a racing Volkswagen with a mind of its own.
Andy Warhol did prints featuring the car and a Beetle was also the most prominent car in the background of “Abbey Road,” the final Beatles album to be recorded.
US sales ceased in 1979, but the vehicle continued to be produced in Mexico and Brazil, according to Car and Driver. VW revived the “New Beetle” in the United States 1997.
But sales of the Beetle slipped 3.2 percent to 15,667 in 2017 in the United States, a fraction of the sales for the Jetta and Passat sedans.
AFP Photo
At the Detroit Auto Show in January, the German automaker unveiled a revamped version of the Jetta and also touted the Atlas, a new mid-sized SUV.
VW continues to deal with fallout from the “dieselgate” scandal that broke in September 2015.
The company, having already paid out costly government settlements, is fighting billions of dollars in additional claims lodged by shareholders who saw their stock plummet in value after authorities cracked down on VW over the installation of so-called “defeat devices” into 11 million cars worldwide to fool regulatory emissions tests.
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FG Reiterates Commitment To Tackling Infrastructural Deficit With China Loan

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah
The Federal Government has reiterated its plans to address the infrastructural deficit in the country with the Chinese loan.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, during an appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, said the Federal Government is currently implementing various projects across the country.
“The projects have been there. They have been conceptualized in the past. But honestly, as far as I can tell, I haven’t seen the degree of commitment to implementation,” he said.
“If you look at the railways, the Kaduna-Abuja has been finished, the Lagos-Ibadan is going on.
“And that is why this relationship with China on those infrastructural projects that are demonstrably useful must be done. If you look at Mambilla (power project), it has been there for well over 10 years almost abandoned.
“But now, there has been a re-commitment by both China and Nigeria to develop it that will generate a lot of power that will add to our national grid and that will make a huge difference because we still have a power deficit,” he added.
Read Also: FG Will Sign More Agreements With China For Infrastructure Development – Presidency

Enelamah’s comments come two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing.
During the summit, the Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide $60 billion to finance Africa’s development over the next three years.
The financing will include $15 billion in “free assistance and interest-free loans”, he said, in remarks meant to ease growing concerns that China’s assistance to developing nations is putting them in debt.
Speaking about the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and German auto giant, Volkswagen, the minister explained that the car manufacturer believes Nigeria is a hub for the production of over two million vehicles.
According to him, the government needs to create an enabling environment for the deal to be effective by initiating certain policies.
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China Welcomes US Talks Amid Trade War

Chinese workers unload bags of chemicals at a port in Zhangjiagang in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. China’s trade surplus with the United States eased in July, when President Donald Trump imposed stiff tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods in a showdown between the world’s two biggest economies. Johannes EISELE / AFP
China said Thursday it welcomes the US offer to hold another round of trade talks, and the two sides are discussing the details as fresh tariffs loom large.
“The Chinese side believes that the escalation of the trade conflict is not in the interest of either party,” commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a regular news briefing.
Beijing “has indeed received an invitation from the US and holds a welcoming attitude to it”, said Gao, noting the “two sides are still communicating on the specific details”.
News that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited top Chinese officials for talks comes just under a week after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all $500 billion worth of imports from China.
Trump’s first round of tariffs this summer hit $50 billion in Chinese goods including high-end technology parts and manufactured goods, while Beijing fired back dollar-for-dollar at US soybeans, autos and other farm goods.
In Washington, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow sounded a cautious note about the talks possible outcome.
“Secretary Mnuchin who is the team leader with China has apparently issued an invitation,” Kudlow told Fox Business Network on Wednesday.
“Talking is better than not talking, so I regard this as a plus,” said Kudlow.
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