Syrian court orders Syriatel placed under judicial custody

The decision to place Syriatel under judicial custody is to ‘guarantee the rights of the public treasury and the rights of the shareholders in the company,’ a Syrian court said. (AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Syrian court orders Syriatel placed under judicial custody

  • Syriatel owner Rami Makhlouf is a cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad and one of Syria’s richest men

BEIRUT: A Syrian court has ordered that Syriatel, owned by prominent businessman Rami Makhlouf, be placed under judicial custody amid a high-profile dispute over arrears, according to a document posted on the court’s Facebook page.
Makhlouf, the cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad and one of Syria’s richest men, had his assets ordered seized over alleged back payments to the country’s telecoms regulator which it put at 134 billion pounds, or around $77 million at the current exchange rate on the parallel market.
Once at the heart of Assad’s inner circle, Makhlouf has called the asset seizure illegal and an attempt by the government to take the company from him. The unprecedented public tussle has uncovered a rare rift in Syria’s ruling elite.
The decision to place Syriatel under judicial custody is to “guarantee the rights of the public treasury and the rights of the shareholders in the company” the administrative court wrote on Facebook.
Makhlouf has addressed the dispute in three video messages in which he has appealed to Assad himself to help save his firm. In his last appearance, Makhlouf said he had been told to quit as the head of Syriatel.
Last month, a court placed a temporary travel ban on Makhlouf pending settlement of the dispute.


Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

Updated 24 min 45 sec ago

Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

  • Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April

LONDON: The world’s five largest oil companies collectively cut the value of their assets by nearly $50 billion in the second quarter, and slashed production rates as the coronavirus pandemic caused a drastic fall in fuel prices and demand.

The dramatic reductions in asset valuations and decline in output show the depth of the pain in the second quarter. Fuel demand at one point was down by more than 30 percent worldwide.

Several executives said they took massive write-downs because they expect demand to remain impaired for several more quarters as people travel less and use less fuel due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Of those five companies, only Exxon Mobil did not book sizeable impairments. But an ongoing reevaluation of its plans could lead to a “significant portion” of its assets being impaired, it reported, and signal the elimination of 20 percent or 4.4 billion barrels of its oil and gas reserves.

By contrast, BP took a $17 billion hit. It said it plans to recenter its spending in coming years around renewables and less on oil and natural gas.

Weak demand means oil producers must revisit business plans, said Lee Maginniss, managing director at consultants Alarez & Marsal. He said the goal should be to pump only what generates cash in excess of overhead costs.

“It’s low-cost production mode through the end of 2021 for sure, and to 2022 to the extent there are new development plans being contemplated,” Maginniss said.

London-based BP has previously said it plans to cut its overall output by roughly 1 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOEPD) by the end of 2030 from its current 3.6 million BOEPD.

Of the five, Exxon is the largest producer, with daily output of 3.64 million BOEPD, but its production dropped 408,000 BOEPD between the first and second quarters. The five majors, which include Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA, also cut capital expenditures by a combined $25 billion between the quarters.

Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut output by nearly 10 million barrels a day to balance out supply and demand in the market.