Author Archives: Blanco

Sea Trade Financial is investing in COLOMBIA

19 Mar 19
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Sea Trade Financial is financing a project called “Sociedad Portuaria de Turbo Pisisí S.A”, a massive endeavor to build a port in Turbo Bay, Uraba, Colombia.

3D models demonstrating the size of the port

This will bring big commercial benefits to the zone, and the construction of this port will also create thousands of jobs in Uraba, Colombia.

Sea Trade Financial’s CEO Enrique Perez in a meeting in Colombia.

Our goal is to give to the community of Uraba the means and tools to achieve financial success.

U.S. bank regulator fines Citigroup $25 million for violating fair lending rules

19 Mar 19
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By Michelle Price



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said on Tuesday it had fined Citigroup $25 million for violating the Fair Housing Act by denying some borrowers preferential rates on the basis of their race, color or other factors.

In 2012, Citi implemented a program that provided reduced pricing for mortgage borrowers that kept certain levels of assets with the bank, typically referred to as relationship pricing. The bank later identified some errors with the program which resulted in some mortgage customers failing to receive the benefit for which they were eligible, the OCC said.

The errors affected borrowers across gender, race and ethnicity, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the OCC found. Reuters previously reported that the OCC had been investigating Citi over the problem and initially decided to issue the bank with a written reprimand.

“Citi has no tolerance for discrimination in any form,” the bank said in a statement.

“Citi self-reported the issue to the appropriate regulators, conducted a comprehensive review, strengthened processes and controls to help ensure correct implementation going forward and has largely completed reimbursements to the identified customers.”

Brexit: Less than half of trusted trader applications approved

19 Mar 19
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By Ben Chu



Less than half of the applications from UK firms for “trusted trader” status have been approved by HMRC since 2016, Newsnight has learned.

The status is a quality marker, which the government says allows firms to fast-track their shipments through customs.

This could be crucial if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

HMRC said businesses must “meet strict compliance standards” to be granted the status.

Between June 2016 and January of this year, 749 applications for the so-called Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) trading quality mark were submitted, according to data obtained by Newsnight.

But only 365 authorisations were made in the same period.

HMRC said these figures may include multiple applications for a single business.

“HMRC work with businesses to help them correct any errors in their applications and provide guidance on actions they can take to meet the required standards,” said a HMRC spokesman.


The status has been cited by Brexit supporters, including the former Brexit Secretary David Davis, as something could help to solve the problem of a hard border in Ireland or the Channel ports.

But confusingly, the European Commission issued a notice on 30 January 2018 warning that in a no-deal Brexit, UK firms with the status would no longer be recognised by EU customs authorities, limiting its usefulness.

However, some UK firms still believe AEO status – which is an EU-wide scheme – will benefit them in the event of the UK falling out of the EU with no agreement as early as 29 March.

One of those is supermarket chain Morrisons.

Last year, it’s managing director Lee Steward said: “It involved a heavy financial investment, but we felt it was important and necessary and obtaining AEO status will certainly be a benefit to ourselves and our clients.”

Thousands unprepared

Since February, the government has been pushing a UK-only no-deal customs facilitation scheme – instead of the AEO – called Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP).

“AEO status will only suit traders that regularly interact with customs and carry out high volumes of customs transactions. For most UK firms TSP will be the most practical system to import into the UK from the EU if we leave without a deal,” said a HMRC spokesman.

Up to 15 March 2019, there have been 7,980 TSP registrations.

That’s out of 145,000 VAT-registered UK businesses that trade with the EU, who have been written to by HMRC to encourage them to apply.

There is growing concern among business lobby groups about the readiness of UK firms for the possibility of the customs checks that would follow a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

Earlier this month representatives from HMRC told the Public Accounts Committee that its own survey research showed that around 40 per cent of the companies it hoped to see preparing for the possibility a no-deal Brexit, have no plans to do so.

To apply for either AEO status or TSP status, trading firms first need to acquire an economic operator registration and identification (EORI) number from HMRC.

HMRC said that as of 8 March there had been around 57,000 registrations for an EORI number, out of an estimated 240,000 firms that need one.

Wall Street rises; Boeing up despite U.S. grounding of 737 MAX jets

13 Mar 19
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By Caroline Valetkevitch


NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, led by gains in healthcare shares, and Boeing edged upward even as the United States joined other nations in grounding the company’s 737 MAX jets.

Boeing Co shares ended up 0.5 percent at $377.14, recovering from a more than 3 percent fall in the afternoon, when the United States announced it was grounding Boeing’s 737 MAX jets following Sunday’s fatal crash in Ethiopia.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cited new satellite data and evidence from the scene of Sunday’s crash, the second disaster involving the 737 MAX in less than five months. Boeing shares are still down about 11 percent since Friday’s close.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York, said the grounding gives Boeing time to address any problems and not face another potential disaster.

“It seems like the worst is over for Boeing,” he said. “The fact that (the stock) appears to be stabilizing means the market appreciates that.”

The world’s largest planemaker had been the best-performing Dow component this year.

Also helping stocks Wednesday, fresh economic data strengthened the Federal Reserve’s patient stance on future interest rate hikes.

CVS Health Corp rose 3.5 percent after Bernstein started coverage of the pharmacy benefit manager with an “outperform” rating. The S&P 500 healthcare index rose 1.1 percent. UnitedHealth Group shares rose 2.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 148.23 points, or 0.58 percent, to 25,702.89, the S&P 500 gained 19.4 points, or 0.69 percent, to 2,810.92 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.37 points, or 0.69 percent, to 7,643.41.

Also gaining were energy shares, with the S&P 500 energy index finishing up 1.09 percent.

Adding to the upbeat mood was a vote in which British lawmakers rejected leaving the European Union without a deal in any scenario.

Fueling some volatility in afternoon trading, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was in no rush to complete a trade deal with China that Washington wants to include structural reforms by Beijing, including how it treats U.S. intellectual property.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2.43-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 61 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 65 new highs and 30 new lows.

Trump says he is in no rush to complete China trade deal

13 Mar 19
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By  Steve HollandJeff Mason



Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had been expected to hold a summit at the president’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida later this month, but no date has been set for a meeting and no in-person talks between their trade teams have been held in more than two weeks.

The president, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he thought there was a good chance a deal would be made, in part because China wanted one after suffering from U.S. tariffs on its goods.

But he acknowledged Xi may be wary of coming to a summit without an agreement in hand after seeing Trump end a separate summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without a peace deal.

“I think President Xi saw that I’m somebody that believes in walking when the deal is not done, and you know there’s always a chance it could happen and he probably wouldn’t want that,” Trump said.

The president, who likes to emphasize his own deal-making abilities, said an agreement to end a months-long trade war could be finished ahead of a presidential meeting or completed in-person with his counterpart.

“We could do it either way. We could have the deal completed and come and sign, or we could get the deal almost completed and negotiate some of the final points. I would prefer that,” he said.

Trump decided last month not to increase tariffs on Chinese goods at the beginning of March, giving a nod to the success of negotiations so far.

But hurdles remain, and intellectual property is one of them. Washington accuses Beijing of forcing U.S. companies to share their intellectual property and transfer their technology to local partners in order to do business in China. Beijing denies it engages in such practices.

Asked on Wednesday if intellectual property had to be included in a trade deal, Trump said: “Yes it does.”

He indicated that from his perspective, a meeting with Xi was still likely.

“I think things are going along very well – we’ll just see what the date is,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I’m in no rush. I want the deal to be right. … I am not in a rush whatsoever. It’s got to be the right deal. It’s got to be a good deal for us and if it’s not, we’re not going to make that deal.”

Though Trump said he is not in a hurry, a trade deal this spring would give him a win to cite as an economic accomplishment as he advances his 2020 re-election campaign. The trade war has hurt the global economy and hung over stock markets, which would likely benefit from an end to the tensions.

In addition to smoothing over sticking points on content, the United States is eager to include a strong enforcement mechanism in a deal to ensure that Beijing can be held accountable if it breaks any of its terms.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has spearheaded the talks from the American side, said on Tuesday that U.S. officials hoped they were in the final weeks of their talks with China but that major issues remained to be resolved.

Trump puts off new China tariffs again, cites progress in talks with Xi

25 Feb 19
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By Jonathan Allen



HONG KONG — President Donald Trump is again postponing a planned escalation of tariffs on China, a move sure to please American farmers and businesses that have been hurt by a long-running trade war with Beijing.

Tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese good were due to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent in March, but Trump said Sunday that progress in a set of negotiations launched from his meeting with President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires in December led him to forestall the heavier duties.

“As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs,” he wrote in a tweet. “Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement.”

Trump pointed to advancements in bilateral talks on a wide range of issues, including trade in agricultural goods, intellectual property protection and technology transfer issues, and the treatment of currency, but he did not announce any concrete concessions on the part of Beijing.

Trump already had delayed the new round of tariffs once, putting off a Jan. 1 start date after he and Xi agreed to negotiate over a variety of issues during a meeting on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in December. At that time, Trump said China had promised to buy certain U.S. agricultural products and to list fentanyl as a controlled substance.

But beyond the policy implications of the trade war, there’s a political angle for Trump as he heads into his re-election campaign. China’s retaliation against American tariffs has hit parts of the country that supported him particularly hard.

Last year — in a move at odds with conservative economic orthodoxy — Trump initiated a subsidy program to aid U.S. farmers trapped in the trade crossfire. Already, that program has pumped out nearly $8 billion in subsidies to farmers to offset their losses. And a group called “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” estimated that retaliatory Chinese duties cost American businesses $2.7 billion in November 2018 alone.

Thomas Cook India Group announces acquisition of Digiphoto Entertainment Imaging (DEI)

25 Feb 19
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By Anumeha Chaturvedi


Thomas Cook India Group announced its acquisition of a 51% stake in Digiphoto Entertainment Imaging (DEI) at an enterprise value of $40.6 million (Rs 289 crore). Thomas Cook said the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

The company said the acquisition is both PAT and free cash accretive from day one.

Established in 2004, Digiphoto Entertainment Imaging has offices in Singapore, Dubai, Mumbai, Orlando, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. DEI is present at more than 250 venues spanning over 14 countries (Singapore, UAE, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, China, USA, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Mauritius, Maldives, Egypt, India and Kuwait), and completed 3.6 million transactions in 2018.

DEI’s partner attractions include waterparks, theme parks, aquariums, towers and resorts, including iconic attractions in Singapore (Universal Studios Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Zoo), Hong Kong (Ngong Ping 360), Macau (Macau Tower, The Venetian, Macao), the UAE (At The Top Burj Khalifa, Ski Dubai, Wild Wadi Waterpark, Warner Brothers, Ferrari World), Malaysia (Petronas Twin Towers, Resorts World Genting), China (Atlantis Sanya, Chimelong Safari Park), India (Ramoji Film City, Imagica, Wonderla Holidays Ltd.), and Maldives (Taj Exotica, W Retreat & Spa, Shangri-La Villingili).

In 2017, DEI launched KlassAkt, its school photography arm, and has partnered with more than 90 schools across the UAE and India, including the GEMS group of schools in the UAE, the Oberoi International School, Jamnabai Narsee International School and Aditya Birla World Academy in Mumbai, India.

“We have taken a 51% stake in the company. We bought out the original promoters and we value the company at an enterprise value of $ 40.6 million and the price we have paid is an EBITDA multiple of 6.8x,” said Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director at Thomas Cook India.

Bank of America drops ‘Merrill Lynch’ name in rebranding effort

25 Feb 19
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(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp is dropping the “Merrill Lynch” name from most of its businesses including its investment bank unit, the lender said on Monday.

The bank will rename its wealth management business as “Merrill,” while the global markets, investment banking, and capital markets business will be known as “BofA Securities.”

Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch at the height of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

CVS shares drop on mixed results, disappointing forecast

20 Feb 19
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CVS Health on Wednesday reported mixed fourth-quarter results and gave its forecast for the year, which fell shy of Wall Street’s expectations.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.14, adjusted, vs. $2.05 expected
  • Revenue: $54.42 billion vs. $54.58 billion expected

For the full year of 2019, CVS forecasts adjusted earnings between $6.68 and $6.88 per share, below the $7.41 per share analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected. The company expects revenue in the range of $249.86 billion and $254.29 billion, according to slides from CVS’ conference call with analysts. The Street had expected $247.61 billion for the year.

Shares of CVS fell 6 percent Wednesday in premarket trading.

“2019 will be a year of transition as we integrate Aetna and focus on key pillars of our growth strategy,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

CVS reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $421 million, or 37 cents per share, down from a profit of $3.29 billion, or $3.22 per share, a year earlier. This included a $2.22 billion, or loss of $1.99 per share, goodwill impairment charge related to CVS’ long-term care business.

On an adjusted basis, CVS earned $2.14 per share, above the $2.05 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose 12 percent to $54.42 billion, shy of the $54.58 billion analysts had anticipated.

Same-store sales increased 5.7 percent from the year-ago quarter, when they grew just 0.1 percent. Pharmacy drove the overall gain, with same-store sales up 7.4 percent against weak sales growth a year ago. Front-store sales, which include items like toilet paper and shampoo, grew 0.5 percent.

CVS closed its $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna in November. In addition to the price CVS paid to buy the company, it will need to spend money integrating the insurer and bringing its vision for the combined company to life.

Executives warned investors at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January that CVS would face more headwinds than tailwinds this year, such as pricing and reimbursement pressures and the need for increased investment.

Merlo in a statement Wednesday said the company is “fully aware” it will need to address challenges that will affect its financial results this year.

“We understand acutely the importance of balancing near-term execution with longer-term vision, and we are confident that our actions will position us well in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

Last week, CVS unveiled its HealthHUBs, or concept stores that contain fewer traditional drugstore items like greeting cards and more health services like blood draws and health screenings. CVS has said the combined company has a capital expenditure of about $2.6 billion annually it can use to remodel stores.

Billionaire Ambani risks jail over missed Ericsson payments

20 Feb 19
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Indian billionaire businessman Anil Ambani is facing a prison sentence after a deal between his cash-strapped firm Reliance Communications (RCom) and telecoms giant Ericsson collapsed.

Ericsson is owed 5.5bn rupees (£59.3m) by RCom under the terms of an agreement to manage and operate its network.

RCom failed to comply with India’s Supreme Court’s order to pay the money by 15 December last year.

Now the court says Mr Ambani will be jailed for three months unless he pays.

It found him guilty of contempt, giving him another four weeks to pay or else go to prison.

Both sides have said they respect the ruling.

Ericsson signed the deal in 2014 and began proceedings against RCom last year.

The court also found Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel chairperson Chhaya Virani breached the orders.

But all three can avoid punishment if the money is paid with interest, it said.

Separately, Reliance Industries, controlled by Anil’s brother Mukesh Ambani, is in talks with Saudi Aramco about possible investments for it in India.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco signed an agreement in April with Indian refiners to join in a $44bn (£33.7bn) refinery project on the country’s west coast.

“We are looking at additional investment in India, so we are in discussions with other companies as well, including Reliance and others,” Saudi Aramco chief executive officer Amin Nassar said in a panel discussion in Delhi.