luni, 20 martie 2017

Exclusive: Toshiba's Westinghouse seeks U.S. bankruptcy financing

Westinghouse Electrical Co LLC, the nuclear energy plant developer owned by Japanese electronics firm Toshiba Corp (6502.T), is taking gives for a financing bundle to assist it undergo U.S. chapter, individuals accustomed to the matter mentioned on Monday.

Toshiba is reviewing proposals from monetary establishments and funding companies a couple of so-called debtor-in-possession mortgage, which might carry the corporate by means of a possible chapter, mentioned two individuals accustomed to the state of affairs. The scale of this financing bundle is anticipated to exceed $500 million, the individuals added.

Ought to it file for chapter, the cash would enable Westinghouse to proceed to pay staff and construct 4 nuclear energy vegetation in Georgia and South Carolina, commissioned by native utility firms. These could be the primary nuclear energy vegetation in-built america in additional than 30 years.

The sources cautioned that the transfer is preparatory and that no resolution has but been made for Westinghouse to file for chapter. They requested to not be recognized as a result of the deliberations are confidential.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Westinghouse was working with chapter attorneys and a turnaround knowledgeable.

Toshiba has up to now mentioned it was contemplating a number of choices for Westinghouse, together with promoting the unit.

Toshiba and Westinghouse didn't instantly reply to requests for remark.

Toshiba has mentioned it could take a $6.three billion writedown associated to Westinghouse, and gained an extension from Japanese regulators till April 11 to submit monetary outcomes or face having its public shares delisted from the Tokyo Inventory Alternate.

The ability vegetation Westinghouse is constructing are known as the Virgil C. Summer time Nuclear Producing Station in Fairfield County, South Carolina and the Vogtle Electrical Producing Plant in Burke County, Georgia. Scana Corp (SCG.N) and Santee Cooper personal the vegetation in South Carolina, and Georgia Energy leads a consortium that commissioned the Georgia vegetation.

"We are going to proceed to carry (Westinghouse) accountable for his or her tasks underneath our settlement," Georgia Energy mentioned in an announcement. "Work continues to progress on the Vogtle web site, we're monitoring the state of affairs and ready for any potential end result."

A spokeswoman for Scana mentioned that "with roughly 5,700 contractor and subcontractor personnel on web site at the moment, we proceed to make progress with development of those new models."

In a possible Westinghouse chapter, the utility firms could be among the many largest collectors of the developer, owed the work that has but to be accomplished and potential penalties, in line with the sources.

The exploding inhabitants within the southeastern United States spurred the event of the vegetation, which have been first accepted by regulators in 2012.

Nuclear energy fell out of favor in america after a partial nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in central Pennsylvania within the late 1970s.

Toshiba's acquisition of Westinghouse about 10 years in the past for $5.four billion represented a significant guess on a renaissance of the gasoline. However the tasks now face lengthy development delays and billions of in price overruns.

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Extra reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Clara Ferreira-Marques in Singapore; Modifying by Lisa Shumaker)

vineri, 3 martie 2017

North Korean murder suspect says Malaysia in conspiracy to damage Pyongyang's honor | Reuters

BEIJING Ri Jong Chol, a suspect within the homicide of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's chief, mentioned in Beijing that he was a sufferer of a conspiracy by Malaysian authorities trying to break the dignity of North Korea.

Ri, a North Korean, accused Malaysia of utilizing coercion to attempt to extract a confession from him, he informed reporters outdoors the North Korea embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

Kim Jong Nam was murdered on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur Worldwide Airport, after being assaulted by two ladies who Malaysian police imagine smeared his face with VX, a chemical labeled by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

The homicide of Kim Jong Nam has soured relations between Malaysia and North Korea, which had maintained pleasant ties for many years.

Ri mentioned he was not on the airport on the day of the killing, and knew nothing concerning the accusation that his automotive was used within the case.

Ri was in Beijing en route again to North Korea after Malaysia deported him.

His arrival on the Beijing worldwide airport early on Saturday was greeted by a swarm of South Korean and Japanese reporters, however Ri was whisked away from the chaotic scene by Chinese language police earlier than he was in a position to make any assertion.

Exterior the embassy, Ri informed reporters that he was offered with false proof in Malaysia, and police confirmed him footage of his household in detention.

"I noticed that it is a conspiracy, plot, to attempt to harm the standing and honor of the republic," Ri mentioned.

South Korean intelligence and U.S. officers say the homicide was an assassination organized by North Korean brokers.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Joseph Campbell; Further reporting by Jack Kim in SEOUL; Writing by Ryan Woo; Modifying by Alison Williams)

luni, 27 februarie 2017

Cuban cigar sales rise, defying flat luxury goods market | Reuters

HAVANA Sales of Cuba's legendary cigars rose 5 percent last year to $445 million, defying stagnation in the global luxury goods market, manufacturer Habanos S.A. said on Monday at the opening of the Caribbean island's annual cigar festival.

Habanos, which makes brands including Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Romeo y Julieta, said it expects moderate sales growth this year as it continues to tap the Middle East, Asia and other new markets.

"We are quite happy we were able to grow during a year that was in truth quite challenging," Vice President of Development Javier Terrés told Reuters after holding a news conference hazy with smoke as journalists puffed on complimentary cigars.

Cuba's monopoly cigar company was kicking off the festival that attracts wealthy tobacco aficionados and retailers from around the world for five days of extravagant parties and tours of plantations and factories.

Habanos dominates the global market for hand-rolled, premium cigars except in the United States due to Washington's half-century trade embargo against Cuba. The United States is the world's biggest cigar market.

American enthusiasts have had slightly better access to Cuban cigars since former President Barack Obama two years ago unveiled a Cuba policy aiming to normalize relations.

Last October, the Obama administration removed limits on the amount of cigars American travelers could bring home.

Terrés said this made little difference to overall sales but it would help brand recognition in the United States.

Wholesale shipments there would require the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo, a move that looks uncertain under President Donald Trump, who has threatened to reverse the detente.

Still, better U.S.-Cuban relations have helped stoke a boom in tourism, which in turn has lifted cigar sales in Cuba, according to Habanos. The number of visitors to the island rose 13 percent last year.

"Our sales in Cuba are directly related to tourism, and in effect, sales in Cuba have grown," Terrés said.

Habanos said its traditional European markets had remained stable last year, while there was growth in emerging markets like the Middle East and Pacific Asia.

Meanwhile, female smokers remain a largely untapped market for Habanos, Terrés said. The company is working on it but has learned that producing smaller, milder versions of its classic cigars is not the answer.

"Actually, women want to smoke big cigars and enjoy them like a man," he said, adding it was important to draw in women with specific promotional events.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

marți, 21 februarie 2017

Ski resort razed by the Taliban lifts Pakistan's domestic tourism | Reuters

By Drazen Jorgic
| MALAM JABBA, Pakistan

MALAM JABBA, Pakistan Atop the piste of Malam Jabba in Pakistan's once dangerous Swat Valley skiers schuss downhill, a new Chinese-built chairlift ferries tourists to the peak, and a luxury hotel is under construction to replace one torched by the Taliban.

The Taliban declared skiing "un-Islamic" during their 2007-2009 reign of terror over Swat, but improved security in recent years has allowed ski tourism to re-emerge on Malam Jabba, a hill station in the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Locals tout Swat as "the Switzerland of Pakistan", with an international ski tournament held there in January.

But the experience is uniquely Pakistani. Army checkpoints abound, while gun-toting policemen riding up the mountain flout chairlift signs warning: "No Smoking, No Weapons".

There is no apres-ski boozing as alcohol is banned, nor Swiss Raclette cheese, but lentil curry and deep-fried kebab patties make ample fuel for skiers.

"I have never seen snow before. I am very excited," said Usman Shaukat, a 22-year-old student from the sweltering Punjab in the south after his first ski lesson.

Shaukat, who traveled some 600 km (373 miles) and braved pot-holed mountain roads by public bus to reach the ski slopes, is part of a new wave of domestic tourists emerging as security improves, the middle-class prospers and social media sites like Facebook reveal a Pakistan many never knew existed.

It is also easier for Pakistanis to explore their own country than holiday abroad.

Regional road trips are difficult, with war-torn Afghanistan and arch-foe India next door, while the United States and many European countries have tightened visa restrictions as part of tougher security measures.

Part-time travel blogger Saira Ali, 27, began exploring her own nation after the United States denied her a visa in 2013.

"If my visa had not been rejected, I wouldn't have seen Pakistan," said Ali, who charts her travels on Instagram.

Growing car ownership and freshly-paved roads have cut journey times to remote holiday destinations, swelling the number of adventure seekers in a nation of 200 million people.

Hotel owners say Pakistan's isolation has been a blessing for business. Last summer, visitors to cool northern areas slept in cars as budget hotels sold out, say tourist guides.

Guesthouses are now popping up along roads to Pakistan's northern mountains, which until 1970s were a stop-off for Westerners on the "Hippie Trail".

Outside Swat's main city of Mingora, where the Taliban once hanged opponents from electricity pylons, one businessman is ploughing $1.5 million into a 13-floor hotel with 60 rooms and a miniature zoo.

"In the future, Swat will prosper, as security here is now very good," said Khan, sitting near two caged monkeys.


Islamist militants have lost a lot of territory, but the Taliban and others, including Islamic State, still carry out periodic large-scale bombings.

A series of attacks last week hit all four of Pakistan's provinces and two major cities, killing nearly 100 people and shaking a nascent sense that the worst of the country's militant violence may be in the past.

Before the 9/11 attacks in the United States foreigners accounted for the majority of Pakistan’s tourists. Today, Western embassies advise against visiting much of Pakistan.

The actual scale of domestic tourism is hard to judge, as scant nationwide data exists since the government dissolved the federal tourism ministry in 2011.

In Gilgit-Baltistan province, home to the Himalayas and the world's second highest mountain K2, domestic tourist numbers rocketed to nearly 700,000 last year, from 250,000 in 2014. Foreign tourists accounted for less than 2 percent of all visitors, the Gilgit-Baltistan tourism department said.

"Because of the larger numbers of local tourists, no one is really feeling the pinch of not having the foreigners," said Siraj Ulmulk, a hotel owner in Chitral, a region bordering Swat.

But the surge in tourists has a price. In Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, visitors to mud volcanoes dotting the lunar landscape of Hingol National Park are welcomed by a carpet of plastic bottles and cigarette wrappers.

"The downside of local tourists is that they throw thrash everywhere and have no respect for nature," said Muqeem Baig, owner of tour company Climax Adventure Pakistan.

At Swat's Malam Jabba, which originally opened in 2000, locals remember well-heeled businessmen and Western diplomats sojourning on weekends.

That changed when the Pakistani Taliban overran Swat in 2007, imposing their harsh interpretation of Islamic law for two years before the army drove them out.

Samsons, a private company that acquired the state-owned resort in 2013, hopes Pakistanis will now return, seeking a taste of the Alps on a shoestring budget.

Returning to the resort for the first time since 2010, retired Malam Jabba engineer Akbar Ali had thought he would never ski again.

Clad in traditional shalwar-kameez robes, Ali, 67, eyed the piste and wedged his feet into ski boots.

"I'm very happy," he said, and headed up the powdery slope.

(Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Drazen Jorgic)

Israeli soldier gets 18 months' jail for killing wounded Palestinian attacker

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A young Israeli soldier who killed a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on Tuesday, in a show of leniency that drew Palestinian outrage after one of the most divisive trials in Israel's history.

joi, 5 ianuarie 2017

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