Bank of England’s Carney: Business must come clean quickly on climate

Bank of England’s Carney: Business must come clean quickly on climate
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, believes that major companies need to p
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Updated 15 February 2020

Bank of England’s Carney: Business must come clean quickly on climate

Bank of England’s Carney: Business must come clean quickly on climate

LONDON: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney called on the world’s businesses to publish strategies for cutting carbon emissions and adopting cleaner power sources by November, when world leaders meet in Scotland for UN-led climate talks.

“It’s not just green assets and divestment campaigns or certain things are so brown or black. Every company ultimately has to have a plan for a transition and what the opportunities are and where the risks are,” Carney said.

“For Glasgow that must be well on the path. That that is the norm. That the question doesn’t even have to be asked because companies are answering that question as part of their strategy.

“And the answer is, it’s the transition, stupid,” he said, referencing a phrase coined by former US President Bill Clinton’s election strategist in reference to the US economy.

Carney was speaking to Reuters a month before he leaves his nearly seven-year posting at the helm of the UK’s central bank to take a new role as the UN envoy for climate.

The Canadian banker, who disarmed the British insurance industry in 2015 when, in a speech called “Tragedy of the Horizon,” he warned of their exposure to climate-related events, has been one of the most vocal public figures to push for better supervision and disclosure of climate risk.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which he launched in 2015, has become a global standard that more than 1,000 companies, financial firms, governments and other organizations have adhered to.

But it remains voluntary, and it can be hard to compare and verify the claims of disclosures.

Hammering out a common set of global reference points on climate-related disclosures is seen by many as a crucial step to helping investors allocate capital more effectively.

Money would flow to those companies managing the risks — and therefore likely to perform better in the transition to a low-carbon economy — and away from those in danger of being impacted more severely.

Carney said November’s COP26 climate talks would also be a good deadline for regulators to map out how to make the TCFD framework compulsory.

“One of the things we will look at ahead at for the COP26 is ‘should we have pathways to make the TCFD mandatory?’ Not overnight, but through listing requirements or securities regulation disclosure standards,” he said.

Such an effort needs to be global, Carney added, encompassing regions laying out their own plans for cutting emissions. The EU recently announced a 1 trillion euro ($1.08 trillion) effort become carbon neutral by 2050, a strategy that includes introducing a new climate law by next month.

“It would be productive if other jurisdictions that potentially will have mandatory disclosure standards ... used more conventional routes than legislation, such as securities regulations or listing standards. Let’s have that conversation,” Carney said.

Carney could play an outsized role at November’s summit, especially in view of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government reshuffle on Thursday, which saw Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resign.

Those who lost their job included energy minister Claire O’Neill, who had been named to lead the November talks in Glasgow. Alok Sharma was appointed to the position as her replacement.

Efforts by businesses, investors and financial institutions to disclose climate risk are gathering pace.

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager with nearly $7 trillion in assets under management, said this month that it would take a tougher view of companies that were not properly disclosing their climate risk.

This week, BP set out one of the oil sector’s most ambitious targets for curbing carbon emissions, saying it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The fossil fuel giant plans to give more details about the plan later this year.

“Last week, very few people would have said BP was Paris-aligned,” said Carney, referring to the 2015 global climate agreement, signed in the French capital. “They’ve jumped from toward back of the queue to the front of the queue.”


Mouwasat Medical Services announces cash dividends

Mouwasat Medical Services announces cash dividends
Updated 10 min 24 sec ago

Mouwasat Medical Services announces cash dividends

Mouwasat Medical Services announces cash dividends
  • The company distributes dividends of $66.6 million to shareholders for 2020

RIYADH: Mouwasat Medical Services’ board of directors recommended the distribution of cash dividends to the shareholders of the company for the fiscal year 2020, with a total amount of SR 250 million ($66.6 million), for 100 million shares, the company announced on Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) on Thursday.

Mouwasat’s net profit has increased, after Zakat and taxes, by 73.15 percent in the third quarter of 2020, reaching SR 161.1 million, compared to SR 93.04 million in the same quarter of 2019.

The company’s net profit during first nine months of 2020 jumped 32.45 percent to SR 384.86 million, compared to SR 290.56 million in the same period of the 2019.


Big banks see more than half of staff in office in Q3

Big banks see more than half of staff in office in Q3
Updated 26 February 2021

Big banks see more than half of staff in office in Q3

Big banks see more than half of staff in office in Q3

COPENHAGEN: Global financial institutions plan to have more than half of staff back in offices during the third quarter, up from 10 percent-15 percent now, but none are envisaging a full return anytime soon, the head of Danish services group ISS said on Thursday.

ISS provides services ranging from call centers to office cleaning, catering and security to more than 200,000 companies in 60 countries, including UBS and Deutsche Telekom.

“Many of our customers in banking, consulting and service industries are now very eager to get employees back to the office,” Chief Executive Jacob Aarup-Andersen said in an interview.

“They tell us about lack of innovation, less engagement among employees working from home and the corporate culture suffering,” he said.

But while global banking customers in general expect to have more than 50 percent of employees back on site during the third quarter, none of ISS’ customers are yet speaking about returning 100 percent of the workforce to offices, Aarup-Andersen said.

HSBC said this week it planned to nearly halve its office space globally in a sign the pandemic could mean permanent changes to working patterns, as companies prepare to reduce office space and allow employees more flexibility in working from home.

Aarup-Andersen said earlier he expected office space globally to shrink by 10 percent-15 percent over the next three years.

ISS on Thursday said sales fell 10 percent last year to 69.8 billion Danish crowns ($11.5 billion), hit by weakness in catering, retail and hotel services.


Aston Martin says it is back on the road to profitability

Aston Martin says it is back on the road to profitability
Updated 26 February 2021

Aston Martin says it is back on the road to profitability

Aston Martin says it is back on the road to profitability
  • British carmaker expects ‘to see the first steps toward improved profitability’

LONDON: Aston Martin expects to almost double sales and move back toward profitability this year after sinking deeper into the red in 2020, when the luxury carmaker was hit by the pandemic, changed its boss and was forced to raise cash.

The British company’s shares jumped 9 percent in early Thursday trading after it kept a forecast for around 6,000 sales to dealers this year as new management turns around its performance.

The carmaker of choice for fictional secret agent James Bond has had a tough time since floating in 2018, as it failed to meet expectations and burned through cash, prompting it to seek fresh investment from billionaire Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll.

The firm made a 466-million pound ($660 million) loss last year, compared with a 120 million pound loss in 2019, as sales to dealers fell by 42 percent to 3,394 vehicles, hit by the closure of showrooms and factories due to COVID-19.

FASTFACT

Aston said demand for its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, which rolled off the production line at its Welsh plant in 2020, was strong in a lucrative segment of the market it entered to widen its appeal.

For 2021, it expects “to see the first steps toward improved profitability” but is still likely to post a pre-tax loss, the carmaker said.

“I am extremely pleased with the progress to date despite operating in these most challenging of times,” Stroll said.

Aston said demand for its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, which rolled off the production line at its Welsh plant in 2020, was strong in a lucrative segment of the market it entered to widen its appeal.

The model accounted for 1,516 of deliveries to dealers last year and the company expects further growth in its first full-year of sales, including in the key market of China, where rivals such as Bentley are also seeing high demand.

“We had not even a half-year DBX production in wholesome so probably we are going to see over-proportional growth in China,” Chief Executive Tobias Moers, who took over in August, told Reuters.


Diamond tycoon Modi loses bid to avoid extradition to India

Diamond tycoon Modi loses bid to avoid extradition to India
Updated 26 February 2021

Diamond tycoon Modi loses bid to avoid extradition to India

Diamond tycoon Modi loses bid to avoid extradition to India
  • District Judge Samuel Goozee ruled in London that the fugitive jeweler has a case to answer before the Indian courts

LONDON: Diamond tycoon Nirav Modi lost his bid Thursday to avoid extradition from Britain to India to face allegations he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud.

District Judge Samuel Goozee ruled in London that the fugitive jeweler has a case to answer before the Indian courts. Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood, has been held without bail in London since he was arrested in the capital in 2019.

Goozee ruled that there was enough evidence to prosecute him in his homeland, and dismissed Modi’s argument that he would not be treated fairly in India.

Indian authorities have sought Modi’s arrest since February 2018, when they alleged companies he controlled defrauded the state-owned Punjab National Bank by using fake financial documents to get loans to buy and import jewels.

Modi is also accused of witness intimidation and destroying evidence. Police in India later raided the homes and offices of Modi and business partner Mehul Choksi, seizing nearly $800 million in jewels and gold.

Modi, 49, has refused to submit to extradition to India and denies the fraud allegations. He sought political asylum in the UK

The extradition matter now goes to the UK Home Office, which will make the final decision. Modi has 14 days from that decision to appeal.

Modi, who wore a dark suit for Thursday’s hearing, showed little emotion as he appeared by video link from Wandsworth Prison in southwest London.

Amit Malviya, a spokesman for India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, said Thursday’s ruling was “a shot in the arm for the agencies pursuing the fugitive,” adding that the Indian government is committed to “bring all economic offenders to book.”

The son of a diamond merchant, Modi built an international jewelry empire that stretched from India to New York and Hong Kong. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra became the face of his eponymous brand and Hollywood actress Naomi Watts appeared with Modi at the opening of his first US boutique in 2015.

Forbes magazine estimated Modi’s wealth at $1.8 billion in 2017, but he was removed from the publication’s billionaires’ list after the fraud allegations.


Oil hovers near 13-month highs as storm dents US output

Oil hovers near 13-month  highs as storm dents US output
Updated 26 February 2021

Oil hovers near 13-month highs as storm dents US output

Oil hovers near 13-month  highs as storm dents US output
  • Severe winter storm in Texas caused US crude production to drop by more than 10 percent

LONDON: Oil prices extended gains for a fourth session on Thursday to reach the highest levels in more than 13 months, underpinned by an assurance that US interest rates will stay low, and a sharp drop in US crude output last week due to the storm in Texas.

Brent crude futures for April gained 33 cents, 0.49 percent, to $67.37 a barrel by 0925 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude for April was at $63.45 a barrel, up 23 cents, 0.36 percent.

Both contracts hit their highest since Jan. 8, 2020, earlier in the session with Brent at $67.70 and WTI at $63.79. The April Brent contract expires on Friday.

An assurance from the US Federal Reserve that interest rates would stay low for a while weakened the US dollar, while boosting investors’ risk appetite and global equity markets.

A severe winter storm in Texas has caused US crude production to drop by more than 10 percent, or 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“Combined with a dovish Jerome Powell and an already tight physical market, oil prices exploded higher,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA said.

Combined with a dovish Jerome Powell and an already tight physical market, oil prices exploded higher.

Jeffrey Halle, senior market analyst at OANDA

Fuel supplies in the world’s largest oil consumer could also tighten as its refinery crude inputs had dropped to the lowest since September 2008, EIA’s data showed.

ING analysts said US crude stocks could rise in weeks ahead as production has recovered fairly quickly while refinery capacity is expected to take longer to return to normal.

Barclays, which raised its oil price forecasts on Thursday, said it is seeing staying power in the recent oil price rally on a weaker-than-expected supply response by US tight oil operators to higher prices.

“However, we remain cautious over the near term on easing OPEC+ support, risks from more transmissible COVID-19 variants and elevated positioning,” Barclays said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, is due to meet on March 4.

The group will discuss a modest easing of oil supply curbs from April given a recovery in prices, OPEC+ sources said, although some suggest holding steady for now given the risk of new setbacks in the battle against the pandemic.

Extra voluntary cuts by Saudi Arabia in February and March have tightened global supplies and supported prices.