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Britain finds a buyer for one Tata steel plant, saving a third of jobs at risk

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Britain finds a buyer for one Tata steel plant, saving a third of jobs at risk | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Britain finds a buyer for one Tata steel plant, saving a third of jobs at risk
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


LONDON: Tata Steel (TISC.NS) agreed to sell one of its main British steelworks to investment firm Greybull Capital for 1 pound on Monday, saving a third of the 15,000 jobs placed in jeopardy by the Indian conglomerate’s decision to sell up in Britain.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been under pressure to keep the plants open to save jobs after Tata, one of the world’s biggest steelmakers, said on March 30 it would sell its loss-making British business.

As Tata formally appointed advisers for the sale of its steel assets in Britain, turnaround specialist Greybull Capital LLP said it would buy the Indian company’s Long Products Europe division in Scunthorpe, northern England, which employs 4,400.

It declined to rule out further purchases of Tata’s British steel assets, including its plant at Port Talbot in Wales, while British Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the government would consider jointly investing with a buyer to secure the sale of the Indian group’s other UK assets.

“I’ve been in contact with potential buyers, making clear that the government stands ready to help,” Javid told parliament. “This includes looking at the possibility of co-investing with a buyer on commercial terms.”

The sale to Greybull – for a nominal pound or 1 euro – includes a 400 million pound ($570 mln) investment and financing package for the Scunthorpe business, as well as agreements with suppliers and unions on cutting costs.

“We’re expecting no redundancies going forward, the business plan calls for no redundancies,” Greybull co-founder Marc Meyohas told reporters on a conference call.

The Greybull deal, which is subject to a ballot by union members, includes two additional mills, an engineering workshop and a design consultancy in Britain, plus a mill in Hayange, in northeast France.

The purchase will see the business renamed ‘British Steel’, in a revival of a historic name last used almost two decades ago.

Cameron, already grappling with a divided ruling party ahead of a June 23 referendum on membership of the European Union, has been scrambling to try to find buyers for Tata’s steel operations, to save jobs.

Britain’s eurosceptic media has blamed Brussels for preventing London from taking greater steps to protect the steel industry, while the opposition Labour Party has called on Cameron to do more to save the plants.

Tata, which owns iconic brands such as Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley Tea, is offloading its British steel operations, citing a global oversupply of steel and cheap imports from China, high costs and weak domestic demand.

BRITISH STEEL?

The deal for the Scunthorpe plant, which Tata had been trying to sell since 2014 before revealing talks with Greybull were underway in December, is expected to complete in eight weeks subject to certain conditions being met.

Greybull, which is not taking on pension liabilities, said about half of the 400 million pound package would come from shareholders of Greybull and half from banks and government loans.

“We’re expecting the company to be profitable in year one and that’s very much the management plan,” said Meyohas, who co-founded Greybull in 2008 after 12 years as CEO of technology services company Cityspace.

Though the deal is positive for the Scunthorpe workers, there is deep unease in Port Talbot, Britain’s biggest steel plant, where 4,000 people could be out of a job if Tata fails to find a buyer.

Tata appointed KPMG as adviser on the sale process for its UK assets while Slaughter and May was appointed its legal adviser on the sales.

“While very welcome it does not mean that we are out of the woods yet,” said Gareth Stace, director of trade association UK Steel.

“A long-term investor is needed, in the very short term, for the remainder of the whole of the Tata Steel UK business, including Port Talbot,” said Stace.

Javid said the government had appointed Ernst and Young to act as its financial advisers on any deal for Tata’s other British assets.

However, he said that despite government support, he couldn’t guarantee there would not be further job losses across the industry.

Scunthorpe produces steel mainly used in construction and infrastructure projects, whereas Port Talbot produces slab, hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanized coil which is used in products from cars to washing machines to food cans.

Finding buyers for Port Talbot and Tata’s other assets, could take some time given the complexity of any deal, including negotiations over everything from pensions liabilities to energy subsidies.

Greybull said to date it had been wholly focused on the Scunthorpe deal, but declined to rule out future interest in the Port Talbot plant.

“Whether it’s Tata or any other assets, we’ll review it as and when is appropriate,” Meyohas said.

Another potential bidder for the Port Talbot plant is Sanjeev Gupta, the boss of metals trader Liberty House Group.

“LOSS-MAKING”

Gupta told Reuters on Friday that he was serious about making an offer and had the backing of a group with $7 billion of revenues, hitting back at critics who have questioned his capacity to take on a business dragged down by heavy debt and weak sales.

However, much will depend on how much any potential investor is willing to pay to even hope of turning around the business.

“It’s a loss-making business and a loss-making business is not worth a lot in itself to buy,” Gupta said. “It’s more of a question of what are the resources required in turning it around.”

Tata, under former Chairman Ratan Tata, bought its UK steel operations in 2007 by purchasing Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for $12 billion as a way to access the European market.

But the Indian conglomerate, controlled by philanthropic trusts endowed by the Tata family, struggled to turn the steelmaker around.

Like competitors such as ArcelorMittal, the world’s top steel producer, Tata has been hit by plunging prices due to overcapacity in China, the world’s biggest market for the alloy.

China said on Monday it wants to work with the rest of the world to find an appropriate resolution to overcapacity in the steel sector, after Britain asked Beijing to hurry up and tackle the problem.

Tata Steel is the second-largest steel producer in Europe with a diversified presence across the continent. It has a crude steel production capacity of over 18 million tonnes per annum in Europe, but only 14 mtpa is operational.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Chiang Rai

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin

Greeley Pulitzer

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Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | The Thaiger

An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.

After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.

The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | News by The Thaiger

Photo: Australian Border Force

He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.

A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.

“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.

“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.

SOURCE: chiangraitimes.com

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World

Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

The Thaiger

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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios | The Thaiger

Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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