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Trade and Industry

Flour Mills to hold virtual AGM

By Moses Uwagbale 

Flour Mills of Nigeria has announced that its 60th Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for Sept. 10, would be by proxy and live streaming. 

Mr Joseph Umolu, the Company Secretary, disclosed in a notice posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos. 

Umolu said: “In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restrictions on mass gathering and in line with the guidelines issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission on holding AGMs using proxies, attendance at the AGM shall be by proxy. 

“Consequently, a member entitled to attend and vote at the AGM is advised to select from the listed proposed proxies to attend in his stead,” he said. 

The listed proxies are, Mr John Coumantaris; Dr Emmanuel Ukpabi; Mr Paul Gbedebo; Dr Salamatu Suleiman; Sir Sunny Nwosu; Mr Adesina Oladepo; Mr Boniface Okezie; Mrs Esther Augustine; Mr Nonah Awoh and Chief Timothy Adesiyan. 

Umolu informed shareholders that the proxy form was attached to the annual report of the company and also available on url:shorturl.at/mp349

He disclosed that dividends, if approved, would be paid on Sept. 14 to shareholders. 

The secretary also informed shareholders that some dividend warrants had been returned to the registrar as unclaimed. 

He urged shareholders to open bank accounts, stockbroking accounts and CSCS accounts for the purpose of e-dividend and bonus.  

Asaba film village, leisure park boost economy

By Anthony Areh 

Governor  Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta reports that Asaba Film Village and Leisure Park when completed, will boost the state’s economy and create jobs for unemployed youths. 

Okowa gave the assurance on Monday after an inspection tour of some ongoing projects in the state, including the film village, leisure park and the new technical college in Asaba. 

He said that the state government would continue to give priority attention to projects that would boost the economy and enhance the living conditions of the people. 

“The twin-project of film village and leisure park would serve as a community where people would go for entertainment, relaxation and watch movies. 

“The project, will on completion, also create employment opportunities for many persons, especially, during this period where the number of the unemployed is increasing,” he said. 

The governor said that Asaba had always been a “movie town’’, saying that the film village would positively impact on the economy of the state. 

Okowa, however, said that the project was billed for completion in 2021 given the circumstances of the nation. 

“The leisure park is of great importance to us because whatever you do, there is need for relaxation and we believe that the park will provide that relaxation for both our children and adults. 

“People need somewhere to go and relax in a fast-growing city like Asaba and I believe that the leisure park is going to be of great value to our people.  It is going to be a project that will generate quite a lot of funds with good management,” he said. 

The governor noted that the state, particularly Asaba, had been the hub of Nollywood actors and after, he had met with them, they made a request and “we find out that it was important to encourage them’’. 

“At the film village, we are going to have a lot of facilities that will encourage more and more of our Guild of Actors to come to Asaba to shoot their movies. 

“The village which is properly sited, will create a lot of economic activities and also create a recreation for our people,” Okowa said. 

The governor, who was impressed with the level work done at the new technical college, commended the contractor handling the project and urged him to sustain the pace of work to ensure timely delivery. 

He said that the state government was committed to building nine new technical colleges, which currently were at various levels of execution. 

“It was a proactive step to give the people opportunity to acquire technical education aimed at turning the youth into an army of entrepreneurs,” he said. 

Okowa promised to also visit the sites of the other eight technical colleges to ensure a steady progress on the projects. 

Oil prices fall as rising coronavirus cases soar

By Reuters 

Oil prices slid on Tuesday amid concerns that a nascent recovery in fuel demand could stall as a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections around the world sparks tighter lockdowns. 

This is just as major producers’ ramp up output. 

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 30 cents, or 0.7 per cent to $40.71 a barrel at 0414 GMT, while Brent crude futures fell 37 cents or 0.8 per cent to $43.78 a barrel. 

The slide comes after WTI rose 1.8 per cent and Brent climbed 1.5 per cent on Monday on better-than-expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States. 

The activity is showing factories were emerging from the worst of the early coronavirus pandemic impact. 

“On the demand side, we had quite encouraging global manufacturing (data) … but there’s still quite a bit of evidence of the oil demand recovery stalling in quite a few markets with a resurgence of COVID-19,’’ said Lachlan Shaw, Head of commodity research at National Australia Bank (NAB). 

Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm. 

In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate U.S. refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters’ poll ahead of data due from the American Petroleum Institute industry group later on Tuesday and the U.S. government on Wednesday. 

Five analysts estimated, on average, that U.S. inventories of gasoline rose by 600,000 barrels. 

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, likely grew by 800,000 barrels, while crude stocks fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week to July 31. 

At the same time producers in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are stepping up output this month, adding around 1.5 million barrels a day of supply. 

U.S. producers also plan to restart shut-in production and inventories remain near historical highs. 

“I think it is fair to say that most oil market participants expected more downward pressure on oil to start the week with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,’’ said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp, in a daily note.  

Nippon Steel to appeal South Korea’s ruling allowing seizure of assets

By Reuters 

Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp said on Tuesday it will appeal a South Korean court ruling that allows for a seizure of its assets. 

This is the latest development in a case that has inflamed tensions between Tokyo and Seoul. 

South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Nippon Steel to pay 100 million won ($83,800) each to four South Koreans as compensation for forced labour during World War II, angering Japan which says the issue of compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty and that the ruling violated international law. 

A subsequent ruling by a South Korean lower court allowed for the seizure of Nippon Steel assets. 

Starting midnight Tuesday, the Pohang branch of the Daegu District Court has gained the right to start procedures to auction off some of Nippon Steel’s stake in a joint venture with POSCO, South Korean media have reported. 

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, reiterated on Tuesday that the South Korean ruling was a “clear violation of international law”. 

Suga added that any asset seizure must be prevented to keep the situation from becoming more serious. 

Following the ruling, Japan last year said it would stop preferential treatment for shipments to South Korea of three materials whose production it dominates and which are used by firms such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. 

Seoul has filed a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the export curbs which remain in place for two of the three materials. 

The WTO, last month, set up a panel to rule on the complaint. 

Nippon Steel holds 81,075 shares in PNR, a Korea-based joint venture with steelmaker POSCO, which are worth about 400 million won at face value, according to Yonhap news agency.  

Russia’s Europe pipeline project spikes lobbying in Washington

By Reuters 

As U.S. lawmakers plot to stop one of Moscow’s most important projects in Europe, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, lobbyists supporting it are busier than ever but disclosing few details of their work, according to government filings and current and former U.S. officials. 

The pipeline linking Russian gas fields to Western Europe has become a lightning rod of contention in U.S.-Russia relations. 

This is as the Trump administration concerned it would dangerously expanding the region’s energy dependence on Moscow but backers, including in Europe, saying the gas is needed. 

U.S. President Donald Trump has already signed a sanctions bill that delayed construction on the $11 billion project, wholly-owned by Russia’s state-run Gazprom and headed by Alexei Miller, a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

But lawmakers fearful the measures are not enough to prevent the pipeline’s completion are contemplating further action. 

Nord Stream 2 AG has paid lobbyists at BGR Group, Roberti Global LLC, and Sweeney & Associates a combined $1.69 million during the first half of this year, according to Senate records. 

That is more than double the amount during the same period a year ago, and more than all of 2018, the first full year the project lobbied in Washington. 

But exactly who the lobbyists meet with is a mystery because they have not registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a law passed in 1938 to limit the influence of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia in U.S. politics. 

Under FARA, lobbyists must disclose every meeting with U.S. officials, along with the materials they distribute. 

Instead, the Nord Stream 2 lobbyists have registered under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act, a law that amended FARA by allowing lobbyists for foreign companies or individuals to report much less information as long as their work is not intended to benefit a foreign government. 

Representatives for Nord Stream 2 and the lobbying companies did not respond to requests for comment. 

But Nord Stream 2 has characterised itself as a commercial, not political, project. 

A senior Trump administration official took issue with that, saying the lobbyists are seeking to further Moscow’s national interests. 

“The fact that you’ve got people working for Gazprom, which is essentially the Russian state, you know to manipulate our processes … it’s crazy,’’ the official said, asking not to be named discussing the issue. 

Danielle Nichols, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which handles FARA registrations, said the department had no comment at this time. 

Lobbyists for Nord Stream 2’s foreign opponents, by contrast, have registered under FARA. 

Yorktown Solutions LLC, for example, which lobbies for Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz and its partner companies against the pipeline, is among them, according to FARA records. 

Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz’s Chief Executive told Reuters in an email that company representatives travel to Washington about once a month to provide updates on the status of Nord Stream 2 and discuss how to stop the pipeline. 

Nord Stream 2 will double the capacity of an existing line to Germany under the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic meters of gas per year, enough to supply 26 million households. 

It would circumvent U.S. ally Ukraine, depriving it of potentially billions of dollars in transit fees, and compete with U.S. efforts to sell liquefied natural gas into Europe. 

U.S. senators Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, are among the pipeline’s biggest opponents in Congress. 

Both are pushing new sanctions measures that would target insurers of Gazprom vessels that would lay the last 100 miles (160 km) of pipe in Danish waters, where unexploded bombs from World War II lie in the pipeline’s path. 

Neither senator responded to a request for comment. 

Nord Stream 2 backers say Germany and other European countries need Russian gas and Germany has threatened retaliatory action if U.S. sanctions stop the project. 

Austria’s OMV, German firms Uniper and Wintershall, Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Engie provide half the project’s long-term financing.