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FCA-Renault deal hopes aid European shares

( ) – Strong Chinese export data and the U.S.-Mexico deal to avoid new import tariffs bolstered the mood on European stock markets on Monday, while car company shares also got a lift from signs of moves to revive Fiat-Chrysler and Renault’s merger.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 index rose 0.4% by 0805 GMT, with trading volumes thinned out by the Whit Monday holiday in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and most Nordic countries.

The auto sector gained 0.5% on signs that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Renault SA were looking for ways to resuscitate their collapsed merger plan and secure the approval of Nissan Motor Co.

Fiat Chrysler and Renault’s shares were both up about 2% after sources close to the companies told they were back in discussions on ways to revive the deal.

“We believe it is too early to talk about negotiations being re-opened,” Equita analyst Emanuele Gallazzi wrote in a note.

“Today’s news together with the hypotheses discussed in various press sources relating to alternative scenarios for FCA, including GM, Hyundai and Geely, keep high the speculative appeal of the stock.”

President Donald Trump on Friday retreated on last month’s shock threat of a 5% import tariff on all Mexican goods in exchange for moves on immigration, providing relief to investors worried that a second major U.S. trade dispute would drive the globa上海夜生活网l economy into recession.

“Markets are blowing small celebratory bubbles this morning,” Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China still lingered, with Group of 20 finance leaders saying that trade and geopolitical tensions have raised risks to improving global growth while stopping short of calling for a resolution of the conflict.

Adding to gains was some residual buying after weak U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday that spurred hopes of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates.

Concerns over the pace of growth in the world’s major economies drove a nearly 6% fall in European stock markets in May, their worst month in more than two years, but have been countered since by hopes of new stimulus from central banks to head off the threat.

Among other stocks, BAE Systems gained 1% on hopes of further deal making in the aerospace and defense space after United Technologies Corp agreed on Sunday to combine its aerospace business with U.S. contractor Raytheon Co, in what would be the sector’s biggest ever merger.

Thomas Cook’s shares jumped 15% after a report that Hong Kong’s Fosun Tourism was in talks to buy its tour operating business as the British group faces breakup after issuing three profit warnings in the past year.

Ferguson Plc fell 4% after the British plumbing products distributor’s third quarter revenue missed analysts’ estimates.

U.S. FCC chairman plans fast-track repeal of net neutrality: sources

WASHINGTON ( ) – The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is moving quickly to replace the Obama administration’s landmark net neutrality rules and wants internet service providers to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, three sources briefed on the meeting said Thursday.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, met on Tuesday with major telecommunications trade groups to discuss his preliminary plan to reverse the rules, the sources said.

The FCC declined to comment but Pai previously said he is committed to ensuring an open internet but feels net neutrality was a mistake.

The rules approved by the FCC under Democratic President Barack Obama in early 2015 prohibited broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a “fast lane”, to certain internet services over others. As part of that change, the FCC reclassified internet service providers much like utilities.

Pai wants to overturn that reclassification, but wants internet providers to voluntarily agree to not obstruct or slow consumer access to web content, two officials said late Tuesday.

The officials briefed on the meeting said Pai suggested companies commit in writing to open internet principles and including them in their terms of service, which would make them binding.

It is unclear if regulators could legally compel internet providers to adopt open internet principles without existing net neutrality rules.

As part of that move, the Federal Trade Commission would assume oversight of ensuring compliance.

Three sources said Pai plans to unveil his proposal to overturn the rules as early as late April and it could face an initial vote in May or June.

Internet providers like AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp have argued net neutrality rules would make it harder to manage internet traffic and investment in additional capacity less likely. Websites worry that without the rules they might lose access to customers.

AT&T and major trade groups sued the FCC in 2015 over the net neutrality rules.

Democrats and privacy advocates say net neutrality is crucial to keeping the internet open.

Pai in December predicted that net neutrality’s days were numbered. He told in February he believes “in a free and open internet and the only question is what regulatory framework best secures that.”

Pai and congressional Republicans have moved quickly to dismantle Obama-era telecommunications rules.

Trump on Monday signed a repeal of Obama-上海夜生活论坛era broadband privacy rules a victory for internet service providers and a blow to privacy advocates.

Politico Pro reported some details of the meeting with trade groups on Thursday.

High-yield junk market still attractive: top bond manager Margaret Patel

NEW YORK ( ) – The gains in high-yield junk bonds are not over, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s supportive stance on monetary policy, Margaret Patel, one of the mutual-fund industry’s longest tenured and most well-known bond managers, said on Tuesday.

“The risk-taker will be rewarded,” Patel, a senior portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management, said at the New York headquarters of . The ICE Merrill Lynch U.S. high-yield index has posted returns of 8.92% so fa上海夜生活论坛r this year. Patel’s Wells Fargo High Yield Bond fund is up 8.68% for the same period.

“I see a downward drift in yields in junk bonds,” she said.

Patel, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the business, said the Fed will not be cutting off liquidity and could, in fact, slash interest rates this year. The Fed’s potential cuts will trigger another wave of gains and access to credit for high-yield companies, which issue debt with less-than-stellar credit ratings called junk bonds.

“Why should junk bond spreads be 450 basis points over Treasuries if defaults are a needle in a haystack? Makes no sense,” Patel said.

The economy is slowing down but not to the point of recessionary levels, Patel said. She characterizes the economic backdrop as marked by “low inflation, modest growth, low interest rates and low volatility.”

As a result, junk bond returns will continue to be modest for a number of years, Patel said. She favors the industrial, healthcare and technology sectors.

For their part, U.S. equities “could definitely move higher,” she added.

After starting as an equities analyst, Patel eventually became a portfolio manager where her reputation rose primarily on the bond side. Before joining Pioneer Investments in 1999, Patel had started a bond fund for Third Avenue’s fund family. It was later acquired by the Boston asset manager.

RPT-Fear and fervour propel Shanghai’s tech board amid trade, Huawei tensions

(Repeats with no change to text)

* Huawei ban, trade war fuel patriotic support for the new board

* 120 firms seeking to list, aiming to raise total of $16 bln

* About 100 tech-focused funds awaiting regulatory approval

* Venture capitalists scrambling to grab share of pre-IPO funding

By Samuel Shen and Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI, June 11 ( ) – Chinese companies and investors are lining up in spades to take part in Shanghai’s new Nasdaq-style tech board, with a groundswell of patriotic support surging further after the U.S. blacklisting of telecom firm Huawei inflamed tr上海夜生活ade tensions.

In the two months since the application period began, 120 firms – many in industries such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence and biotech – have sought permission to list, aiming to raise a combined $16 billion.

By comparison, IPOs on Shanghai’s main bourse last year raised $11.7 billion while those on the Shenzhen exchange raised $8 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

On the investment side, there’s been a rush to launch tech-focused mutual funds, with about 100 currently seeking approval, data from the China Securities Regulatory Commission shows. Since late May, 12 such funds targeting the new board, each with a fundraising cap of 1 billion yuan ($145 million), have been launched.

The first mainland China exchange-run board to not make profitability a listing requirement, Shanghai’s Sci-tech Innovation Board was announced suddenly by President Xi Jinping in November and is widely seen as Beijing’s latest move to become self-sufficient in core technologies such as chips.

Those ambitions, highlighted by the government’s “Made in China 2025” campaign launched four years ago, have now taken on added urgency as the trade war with Washington and anxiety about its impact escalate.

“The trade war is no longer simply about China importing more soybeans, or reducing trade deficits,” Shi Donghui, director of the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Capital Market Institute told a financial forum last month after U.S-China trade talks collapsed.

“It’s essentially a tug of war around industry supply chains and core technologies,” he said, adding that as the two economic powers vie for tech supremacy, exchange staff were working day and night seven days a week to make the new board a success.

PATRIOTIC ENTHUSIASM

Washington’s ban in May on U.S. firms doing business with Huawei without government approval highlighted gaps in China’s tech prowess and has fuelled patriotic enthusiasm for the board.

If the new board can foster internationally competitive technologies, “Trump will no longer be able to choke us,” said Zhou Xiangyong, general manager of Guotai Asset Management, a Shanghai-based mutual fund house.

“China must turn external pressure into internal drive,” said Pan Jiang, CEO at private fund manager Shanghai V-Invest Co, which recently launched eight funds targeting the new board.

China Galaxy Securities estimates domestic mutual fund houses alone could pump more than $40 billion into the board, with about a third of that coming from new funds launching over the next six months.

In addition to allowing loss-making firms to list, the new board is doing away with paternalistic guidance from regulators on IPO pricing and timing – developments that have some bankers and investors calling it China’s boldest market reform yet.

A formal launch date has not been announced but investment bankers have said they expect it to start operating either late this month or in early July.

For Yuan Guowei, founder and CEO of big data startup Shanghai HyperS Data Technology Inc, being able to list while still loss-making is an opportunity not to be missed.

“We see U.S. companies which keep expanding aggressively despite losses. We couldn’t do that in the past, as we want to go public and struggled to balance expansion and making a profit,” he said.

Compared to the United States, stock market investment in China’s tech sector has been low, in part due to stricter listing requirements around profitability.

Tech companies account for roughly 11% of total market value in China’s stock markets, which are heavily weighted toward the financial sector, according to China Securities Index Co. In contrast, IT firms account for nearly 30% of the S&P 500’s market capitalisation, Refinitiv data shows.

Channeling investor money into homegrown technologies via the tech board could also help defuse U.S. criticism over the opaque shareholding structure of some Chinese firms and massive state subsidies for the tech sector, analysts said.

Foreign investors, however, are not expected to have much initial involvement in the new board. There are as yet no plans for it to be part of the cross-border Connect scheme, while overseas investors participating in the QFII investment scheme for mainland stocks tend to buy blue-chip shares due to their limited research capabilities in China.

VENTURE CAPITAL SCRAMBLE

The big unknown, however, is just how successful the new board will be in the long term.

China’s other startup boards have mostly languished despite a wellspring of excitement in their early days. Often speculation sent prices soaring, but those prices later collapsed spectacularly, souring investor sentiment to a point from which it never recovered.

The new tech board “is being propelled directly by China’s top decision-makers, so it has to succeed. It cannot afford to fail,” said Fu Ziheng, economist at China Fortune Securities.

“But there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead….and technology innovation does not happen overnight.”

High-profile companies planning to list on the new board include Beijing Kingsoft Office Software Inc, China’s biggest provider of officer software controlled by Xiaomi Corp founder Lei Jun, as well as chip sector firm Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc.

For a factbox on some of the companies planning to list please click.

Excitement surrounding prospective candidates is so high that venture capitalists interested in pre-IPO financing say they need to move quickly on due diligence or lose out to the competition, particularly in strategic industries such as chips.

“When companies conduct pre-IPO financing, you may have to make decisions in 1-2 weeks, which is very demanding for the investment team. Previously, such decisions were made over 1-2 months,” said Feng Sicheng, an investment manager at private equity firm GP Capital who specialises in the chip sector. ($1 = 6.9082 Chinese yuan)

Trump presidency to create high anxiety among Asian allies

TOKYO/SEOUL ( ) – Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election will deepen Asian allies’ anxiety about Washington’s commitment to post-war security arrangements in the face of a rising China and volatile North Korea, and could bolster calls from conservatives in Tokyo for a more robust defense policy.

Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and calls for allies to pay more of the cost for U.S. troops in the region or face their possible withdrawal have worried officials in some Asian capitals. So has his opposition to a 12-nation pan-Pacific trade pact that was a linchpin of Washington’s “pivot” to the region.

“We should expect dramatic changes in the security environment,” said South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party floor leader Chung Jin-suk in parliament on Wednesday.

But he added: “In any case, there should not be any wavering in the Korea-U.S. military alliance, which has been the foundation of prosperity of this country.”

A Japanese government official, speaking before Trump clinched the election, urged the new president to send a reassuring message.

“The new president-elect should as soon as possible issue a statement reassuring the rest of the world that the strong commitment of the United States to its allies … remains strong and reliable,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

“We are certainly concerned about the comments (Trump) has made to date about the alliance and the U.S. role in the Pacific, particularly Japan,” the Japanese official said, although he added Trump’s policies might not match his rhetoric.

Trump has made several comments that disturbed Washington’s Asian allies, from insisting they must foot more of the two-way defense bill to suggesting it might be alright for Tokyo and Seoul develop nuclear arms capability.

FOOTING THE BILL

In an article criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia as “talking loudly but carrying a small stick” two Trump advisors said he would beef up the U.S. Navy while asserting it was “only fair” that Seoul and Tokyo pay more for defense.

“There is no question of Trump’s commitment to America’s Asian alliances as bedrocks of stability in the region,” wrote University of California professor Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray, a former advisor to U.S. politician Randy Forbes, in the article, which appeared in the Nov. 7 edition of Foreign Policy.

The article also criticized the Obama administration for failing to halt China’s aggressive maritime activities in the East and South China Seas, where Beijing has territorial rows with several countries in the region.

Trump has called for more ships for the U.S. Navy. The “mere initiation of the Trump naval program will reassure our allies that the United States remains committed in the long term to its traditional role as guarantor of the liberal order in Asia”, the authors said.

Trump’s approach to the North Asia security alliances could spark calls in Japan for a more independent security stance, although serious talk of acquiring nuclear weapons is unlikely to emerge in the only nation to suffer atomic bombings.

“I think they will have more legitimacy,” said a Japanese diplomat, referring to those seeking a more robust security stance. “But the Japanese public is reluctant to go in that direction and we don’t have the capacity in terms of budget or (military) personnel.”

TPP NOT JUST TRADE

Asian allies who joined the 12-nation Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a linchpin of Obama’s Asia pivot, now fear the pact is dead, given Trump’s harsh opposition.

That has implications not only for trade, but security, since Washington and Tokyo had seen the TPP as way of creating a new regional rule-based architecture to counter China.

“TPP was not just a trade deal, it was the United States and Japan, together … these countries with shared values would create an advanced regional order with not just economic, but diplomatic and security implications,” said Toshihiro Nakayama, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

“It was a symbol of America being committed to the region.”

Singapore-based security expert Tim Huxley warned of a period of potentially destabilizing uncertainty ahead as the region waits for clearer strategic signs of precisely what a Trump presidency would mean for Asia.

“Unless Trump speaks reassuringly and soothingly about the continued U.S. presence and commitment to the region, I won’t be surprised to see long-held doubts awoken in the minds of many Asian leaders about the durability of the traditional U.S. role,” he said.

Policy-makers expect it will take considerable time for Trump to work out personnel appointments and get down to policy formation. Divisive U.S. politics could also slow things down. That could mean a worrisome vacuum, but also suggests no quick, dramatic changes are in store.

“It will take about half a year for Mr. Trump to firm up his foreign policies. He only has a transitio上海夜生活网n team of about 200 people and his first focus will be domestic policy,” said Masashi Adachi, head of the Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s foreign policy panel.

“I don’t think there will be a big change in his stance toward Japan. He has said the Japan-U.S. alliance is important. What he is talking about is details like increasing what Japan pays for U.S. troops in Japan,” Adachi added.

Billionaire Schwartz makes $2.6 billion bet on Canada’s WestJet Airlines

( ) – Billionaire Gerry Schwartz pounced on Canada’s WestJet Airlines on Monday as his private equity firm Onex Corp offered to buy the struggling airline for C$3.5 billion ($2.6 billion), betting it can turn around its recent decline by taking the company private.

The surprise offer for C$31 a share, a 67% premium to their closing price on Friday, sparked a surge in WestJet shares, which closed up 60% at $29.61. If completed, it would be the biggest private equity deal ever for an airline, according to Refinitiv data.

If Onex obtains shareholder and regulatory approvals, the deal would help Schwartz get his hands on an airline two decades after he missed out on buying Air Canada, WestJet’s bigger rival. Air Canada shares rose more than 5%.

WestJet shares, which touched a record high of C$34.95 in December 2014, have recently been trading at almost half that level. The airline has reported declining net profit for each of the last three years, hurt by rising fuel costs, pressure on ticket prices and other issues.

Even before the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets in March, WestJet’s earnings had slipped as it worked to contain costs as its workforce unionized and was spending money on bold growth plans to expand international travel, introduce first class cabins and launch a budget carrier called Swoop.

Up to Friday’s close, WestJet shares had fallen 5.5% in the last 12 months while Air Canada shares gained 58%. American rival United Continental Holdings, the company that owns United Airlines, rose 28% in the same period.

“The ‘why now?’ is valuation,” said AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray.

Onex, founded in 1984 by Schwartz who started out at Bear Stearns & Co in the 1970s, approached WestJet’s board in March. Neither Schwartz, nor any other Onex executive was available to comment.

WestJet Chief Executive Ed Sims said on BNN that the deal will allow the company to execute on its long-term growth strategy without the constraints of quarterly scrutiny. It is “a reaffirmation that the path we’re on is actually a path towards long-term profitability irrespective上海夜生活网 of the sort of headwinds that you refer to that we saw regularly in 2018.”

LONG HISTORY

With about $31 billion of assets under management, Onex is not new to investing in the aerospace industry. It bought Spirit AeroSystems from Boeing Co in 2005 and exited its investment in 2014 after making $3.2 billion.

Under Schwartz, who remains CEO, Onex tried to buy Air Canada in 1999 and merge it with now defunct Canadian Airlines, but that attempt failed. Onex shares closed up 4% in a broadly lower market.

Air Canada Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu declined to comment on the Onex deal, telling “it’s business as usual,” on the sidelines of the Air Transport Action Group conference in Montreal.

The Onex bid follows a deal last week where low-cost Latin American airline Viva Air received a $50 million investment from U.S. capital fund Cartesian Capital Group that it will direct toward expansion.

And the parent company of Montreal-based Air Transat has said it is in talks with more than one party regarding a potential transaction, although it is not yet clear what group might buy it.

Onex could “ultimately look” to also acquire Transat to “complement WestJet’s offering,” wrote Desjardins analyst Benoit Poirier in a note to clients. Transat AT stock was up 4 percent in afternoon trading.

The WestJet purchase will be led by Onex Partners, Onex’s private equity platform focused on larger investments. The airline’s board has urged shareholders to vote in favor.

The deal is subject to a number of conditions, including court and shareholder approval and receipt of certain regulatory approvals, including under the Canada Transportation Act.

In Ottawa, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said at first glance the proposed takeover looked fairly standard in terms of an acquisition.

“I am not going to prejudge until I see the details whether there are any regulatory obstacles – at first glance it doesn’t seem to be anything special,” he told reporters.

NO CHANGE TO ‘COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE’

Alberta’s Premier said on Monday that WestJet and Onex have assured him the carrier’s headquarters will remain in Calgary after the deal.

Chris Rauenbusch, president of the union local representing WestJet flight attendants, said he supports the deal after being informed by company executives that it would not lead to any layoffs among the carrier’s 14,000 employees, while permitting the continuation of its growth strategy.

“We do not believe this transaction dramatically alters the competitive landscape, at least negatively,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Doug Taylor said.

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines said the proposed transaction does not impact plans to implement a U.S-Canada trans-border joint venture with WestJet.

The deal, which has a value of $5 billion including debt, is expected to close in the latter part of this year or early next year.

CIBC Capital Markets and BofA Merrill Lynch were the financial advisers to WestJet, while Barclays, Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Markets advised Onex.

Private equity Sycamore says Chico’s declined to engage on buyout offer

May 10 ( ) – Sycamore Partners LP said on Friday struggling women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS Inc has declined to engage with the private equity firm on its cash offer to buy the company for $407.8 million.

In an SEC filing, Sycamore disclosed a 6.6% stake in the company, making it the fourth largest shareholder in Chico’s. The private equity had offered about $3.50 per Chico’s share, a discount of 5.4% to the company’s Thursday close.

Chico’s FAS, which is known for its Soma brand of women’s intimate apparels, operates more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Canada and also sells its merchandise online.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 36-year-old retailer has b上海夜网een struggling with sales dropping for at least the last three years and is in the middle of a search for a new chief executive officer after Shelley Broader abruptly resigned in April.

“Given the rate and severity of the deterioration of the company’s business, we believe that it is in the best interests of all stockholders for the board to create those options,” Sycamore said in a letter to Chico’s board, which was part of the filing.

Shares of the company, which have fallen nearly 62% in the last one year, were up 2% in early morning trade.

Wall Street weekahead: U.S. funds focus on media stocks, banks to find value as mid-caps rally

NEW YORK ( ) – The S&P 400 Mid-Cap index has surged to its best start to a year since 1991, both rewarding fund managers and forcing them to work harder to seek out bargains in a group that is now the most expensive part of the U.S. market based on their historical averages.

The rally in mid-cap stocks – companies with a market valuation between $2 billion and $10 billion – has come during a broad rally in global stock markets as investors price in a resolution in the trade talks between the United States and China and fewer interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Mid-caps are up 14 percent for the year to date and sport an average price-to-earnings ratio of 16.9 times forward earnings, for their highest valuation premiums to small-cap stocks since 2017, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch research.

Yet fund managers from Janus Henderson, Hotchkis & Wiley, and Fairpointe Capital are among those who are still finding values by concentrating on financial, energy and media stocks and eschewing the high-priced real estate investment trusts and utility companies that make up nearly a fifth of the benchmark index.

“The window for the big bargain bin was the fourth quarter and that was about it,” said Kevin Preloger, a portfolio manager of the $3.3 billion Janus Henderson Mid Cap Value fund. “We’re looking for companies that have good balance sheets and good cash flow, but the tough part is reasonable valuations.”

Preloger’s fund i上海夜生活网s finding them in financial companies such as M&T Bank Corp and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc that are increasing their stock buybacks at the same time they have been beating analysts’ earnings expectations. Shares of M&T, for instance, are up 20.8 percent since the start of the year and trade at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.8.

“Financials are the cheapest sector in the space, and their earnings are also growing,” Preloger said.

Stanley Majcher, a portfolio manager of the $1.4 billion Hotchkis & Wiley Mid-Cap Value fund, is buying into overlooked financial and energy stocks because he considers them less risky than utility companies or REITs with higher valuations.

“Energy is very out of favor and there’s a perception that it’s a risky business because oil prices are likely to be low for a long period of time because of the market share war between OPEC and the U.S.,” he said. “But we see low volatility of demand and more discipline on the supply side.”

Among its largest holdings, Majcher’s fund has several energy companies, including Whiting Petroleum Corp, Kosmos Energy Ltd and Ophir Energy PLC, according to Morningstar data, with mixed results for the year to date. Shares of Whiting are up 12.4 percent year-to-date, while shares of Ophir are up nearly 53 percent over the same time.

Thyra Zerhusen, a portfolio manager of the $2.6 billion AMG Managers Fairpointe Mid Cap fund, said her fund is finding opportunities in media stocks such as broadcast company Tegna Inc, which was spun off of Gannett Co, magazine and local broadcasting company Meredith Corp, and New York Times Co, all of which should see a significant boost in revenues from the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, she said.

“With everybody running for president, the political advertising goes to these smaller market stations. Newspapers are almost non-existent now,” except for the New York Times, which continues to grow its digital subscriptions, she said.

She is also adding opportunistic positions in companies such as Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp, which completed its merger with the transportation unit of General Electric Co on Feb. 25. Shares of the company are up 2.9 percent year-to-date, and remain 35 percent below where they were trading six months ago.

“We’re trying to add stocks where there may be a short-term problem hitting the share price but the long-term outlook looks okay,” she said.

Obama and Putin to meet; Syria and Ukraine vie for attention

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW ( ) – U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in New York next week at a time of high tension in Europe and the Middle East, but the Kremlin and the White House disagreed on Thursday over the top priority for the talks.

The White House insisted the meeting would focus on eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed forces are fighting the Kiev government, prompting tough sanctions that have damaged Russia’s economy.

Moscow, however, said the main focus would be on Syria, where Russia has built up its military forces in recent weeks with combat aircraft, tanks and other equipment in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters: “Of course, the primary topic will be Syria.” Asked whether Ukraine would be discussed, he said: “Well, if time allows.”

“There will be time,” Obama’s spokesman, Josh E上海夜网arnest, retorted during a briefing in Washington. Earnest, speaking at the White House, played down the possibility for any “major announcement” from the meeting.

Related CoverageObama to ask Putin for clarity on Russian involvement in Syria

The leaders will be in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly on Monday morning. Peskov said the meeting would take place after Putin’s speech, but Earnest declined to say when it would happen.

The two camps also differed over who called for the meeting. The Kremlin said it was organized “by mutual agreement,” but Earnest said it was being held at Putin’s request. He said the Russians were “more desperate” to talk to their American counterparts because of the economic sanctions’ impact.

Past meetings between the two leaders have been frosty. One encounter in June 2013, which also focused on Syria, resulted in a famous photo of the leaders looking distant and glum.

Earnest said Putin had used similar body language in a photo after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.

“President Putin was striking a now-familiar pose of less-than-perfect posture, an unbuttoned jacket, and knees spread far apart, to convey a particular image,” Earnest said.

The United States also hopes to advance political talks on Syria at other General Assembly meetings, Sheba Crocker, assistant secretary for international organization affairs, told a State Department briefing.

But Crocker said the United States would not back a U.N. Security Council statement on countering terrorism proposed by Russia because of fears it would send the wrong message to U.S. partners in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria.

PG&E close to reshaping leadership with investor backing: WSJ

( ) – PG&E Corp is close to naming a new chief executive officer and revamping its board backed by some of its largest investors, the Wall Street Journal said on Saturday, as the power utility restructures after filing for bankruptcy because of potential liabilities from California wildfires.

Bill Johnson, who is set to retire as the CEO of Tennessee Valley Authority in April, is the front-runner to get the top job at PG&E, the Journal reported.

PG&E has also made offers to 10 new independent board candidates and is expected to unveil the slate as soon as next week, saying it has significant shareholder support, according to the report.

Johnson’s new role, which could also be announced next week, has not yet been finalized and other candidates were still being interviewed, the newspaper added.

The utility filed for bankruptcy protection in January in anticipation of liabilities from the wildfires, including the catastrophic 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people.

PG&E declined to comment, while no one was available at U.S.-owned TVA to comment on Saturday.

A trio of activist investors, that together own nearly 10 percent of PG&E stock, has been working with the company to change its management, the Journal reported.

The three hedge funds, Abrams Capital Management LP, Knighthead Capital Management LLC and Redwood Capital Management LLC, said in a filing on Friday they had agreed with PG&E to work together to appoint a new CEO and refresh its board. bit.ly/2HqIxyM

The board slate 上海夜生活论坛they have helped PG&E assemble is expected to include experts on cyber security, nuclear security and restructurings, the Journal said.

PG&E’s previous CEO, Geisha Williams, stepped down in January after less than two years on the job.

Last month, the company said it expected only five of its current 10-strong board to stand for reelection at an annual shareholder meeting in May. It also said it expected the board to include 11 independent directors by the time of the meeting, without specifying how big the board would finally be.

The Journal said the efforts of the three investors are separate from those of another PG&E investor, BlueMountain Capital Management, which earlier in March named its own slate of 13 people it hopes to install as directors at the embattled power utility.

Preview: Bayern Munich – Hoffenheim

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Bayern Munich will host Hoffenheim in the 20th round of the Bundesliga. The Bavarians are on top of the table with 37 points, while Hoffenheim are 8 points behind, placed ninth.

Since the appointment of Jupp-Heynckes as the manager of the club, Bayern Munich have won 33 points in 12 games, while Hoffenheim have claimed just 13 points from the same number of games.

The Bundesliga champions have won their last five games, netting 20 goals in the process. Hoffenheim have won just one,上海夜生活网 drawn two and lost two.

While Bayern Munich’s boss Jupp Heynckes is the oldest in the league – 72, Hoffenheim’s boss is the youngest one – 30.

Players to watch: Thomas Muller netted his 100th goal for the club last week. A curious fact is that the Bavarians have not lost a game in which the German has scored. 78 games – 74 wins and 4 draws. Meanwhile, Sandro Wagner can make an appearance and punish his former team-mates, having joined Bayern Munich earlier in the January transfer window from Hoffenheim.Neuer & Ter Stegen to share Germany goalkeeping duties Andrew Smyth – Joachim Low has announced that he will select both goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Germany during this month’s international break.

Missing players:

Bayern Munich: Neuer M.(leg injury).

Under question:

Bayern Munich: Alcantara(thigh injury), Fruchtl(ankle injury), Hummels (groin injury).

Hoffenheim: Akpoguma (injury), Demirbay (thigh injury), Kobel G. (illness).

Preview: Southampton – Tottenham

The Sunday action from the Premier League will finish off with a match between two teams that going into this round of games are in different, but equally precarious positions just outside the relegation and the Champions League spots, respectively.

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

This season is turning out to be a nightmare for many of the Southampton faithful. The club finally gave in to ‘bigger money’ and let their best defender leave for Liverpool (Virgil van Dijk), and find themselves lacking on several fronts on the pitch: the team has not won once in their last ten PL games!

Tottenham are, together with Liverpool, the league’s in form outfit and have gained points on Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks as well as pulling five points clear of their eternal enemies Arsenal. If they are to further climb, they will need all three points here.

Son Heung-min has one explanation as to why the team are in great form – they’re striving to be like Harry Kane! He recently said: “I want more, like Harry Kane. He beats every record and I want to beat every record as well. I want to try to be a top player”.

Players to watch: Hurricane Kane needs no introduction. With 20 PL goals to his name already, Kane is aiming for yet another top scorer title.Top 5 Real Madrid players who are succeeding on a loan Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – We 上海夜网need to talk about the Top 5 Real Madrid players who are currently succeeding away from the club and are currently on a…

With Charlie Austin still out injured, Southampton fans will hope that Shane Long can rediscover his goalscoring form – and fast. Besides Austin, no Southampton player has more than three goals this season!

Stat attack: Since 2012, Tottenham have won four out of five games at St. Mary’s, scoring two goals or more on each of the five (one draw). In total, Southampton have only won one of the last ten head to head matches.

1-2? Tottenham average precisely 2.0 goals scored per game this season, Southampton precisely 1.0.

Missing players

Southampton: C. Austin (thigh injury), M. Yoshida (thigh injury)

Tottenham: T. Alderweireld (thigh injury), D. Rose (knee injury), H. Lloris (doubtful), H. Winks (doubtful).

Preview: RB Leipzig – Hamburger SV

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Hamburger will definitely look for the win, in order to have a good start under their new manager, Bernd Hollerbach.

RB Leipzig have been highly-inconsistent since the start of the new season, falling short of the high expectations they set up last year. Their disappointing 2-1 loss to Freiburg last weekend simply came to show the problems in the team, who have won just one out of their last six Bundesliga games ( W1, D2, L3 ).

Hamburger, however, are not in a bright spot either. They are deep in the relegation zone with just 15 points after 19 games. They have lost their last four Bundesliga games.

Hamburger’s last win came in November. Only bottom-placed Cologne have lost more league games than Hamburg so far (12).

Players to watch: Timo Werner has scored three goals in the last three games between the two sides. Will he be able to add more ?Four-goal hero Gnabry’s father banned him from joining Bayern Andrew Smyth – Bayern Munich’s four-goal hero Serge Gnabry revealed that his own father initially banned him from signing up for the club as a 10-year-old.

Missing players:

Hamburger: Ekdal A. (上海夜生活论坛ankle injury), Muller N.(knee injury).

Under question:

RB Leipzig: Coltorti F.(Muscle Injury), Forsberg E.(Injury), Halstenberg M.(Hand Injury), Keita N.(Thigh Injury).

Hamburger: Hunt A.(Injury), Thoelke B.(Injury).

Howe: “The key period is about to begin now”

Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth coach, knows very well that his team are about to enter the key period of the whole season as his Bournemouth are about to play a lot of matches in the upcoming weeks.

It was clear that Bournemouth were not about to gain something from their last match against Manchester City and Eddie Howe admitted that he was focusing more on the upcoming period that on that particular match. The Cherries were beaten 4-0 by the Premier League leaders and they were clearly the worse side for the majority of the fixture so this loss was deserved.

The talented British coach spoke about the upcoming series of matches as he said, according to Sky Sports: “Those games will take on even more significance. We came here trying to get something but we knew it would have been incredibly difficult and we have to look at these games [against United, Liverpo上海夜生活论坛ol and City] as one-offs because of the quality of opposition we were playing. We had an incredibly tough run but my hope is the players have come through it okay and we’re ready to go into an important spell for us.”Opinion: Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – Given how much he’s been rejected by Real Madrid, we are convinced that Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League.Martin Odegaard is finally…

He continued by adding that his side did well in the match against City: “I thought we did okay. It was a huge task for us today, not just the team we were facing but also the injuries we’ve got. We were okay in the game until we conceded the first goal, which was our own doing, and it was hugely frustrating with the game plan we had. From then on it is difficult.”

In the end, Howe admitted that the second goal meant that the match was over: “The second goal is the killer for us. We still had a go to try to chase it and then opened ourselves up to concede a couple more. I’ve not spoken to [Stanislas] but I think it’s his hamstring feeling tight. We had a patched up team anyway and to lose another important player for us made it very difficult. It was a difficult afternoon.”

P\u00e9rez believes Madrid move will boost Neymar’s Ballon d’Or chances

Los Blancos’ boss has hinted the Brazilian would have more possibility to flourish at the Bernabéu.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez believes Neymar will have a better shot at winning the Ballon d’Or award if he joins the reigning La Liga and Champions League champions.

The former Barca man moved to Paris Saint-Germain during the summer transfer window in a record-breaking move worth €222m. The main reason, according to a number of news outlets, is the fact that the Brazilian wanted to get out of the shadow of Lionel Messi, which would give him a better chance to establish himself as the best footballer in the world.Opinion: Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – Gi上海夜网ven how much he’s been rejected by Real Madrid, we are convinced that Martin Odegaard is perfect for the Premier League.Martin Odegaard is finally…

Even though Neymar has been tremendous on the pitch for the Parisians, various reports in France suggest that the Brazilian is not happy at Parc des Princes due to the way Unai Emery is operating. The Brazilian has also been tipped for a shocking Real Madrid move, which Pérez believes would be beneficial for the 25-year-old if he is to persue the Ballon d’Or award.

“Being in Madrid would make it easier to win the Ballon d’Or.” Pérez said, according to Goal.

“Real Madrid is a club which gives all you need as a big player, everyone knows that I already wanted to sign him at one point.”

Preview: Austria Vienna – AEK Athens

The last round of games in Europa League (EL) Group D sees a straight shootout between Austria Vienna (third) and AEK Athens (second) to see who will progress to the next phase as the second-placed team. For Vienna, nothing but a win will suffice which will give them the edge on AEK due a superior head-to-head, while AEK only need to avoid defeat.

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Both sides come into this game on the back of contrasting fortunes. Vienna are on a quite miserable run, winning just three games out of their last fourteen in all competitions and losing nine (two draws). The second most successful club (to Rapid) in the Austrian game find themselves in a mid-table position in their home league, a whopping 18 points off Salzburg in top spot.

AEK are in much better health and find themselves top of the Greek Super League after going on a run on five unbeaten games in the league and nine in all competitions. Striker Marko Livaja has scored five goals in his last four league games in that time and also notched two in the 2-2 draw between the sides on matchday two, including the last minute equalizer.

Vienna have lost both of their home ties in this year’s EL, and face a side in AEK who have so far gained more points on the road than at home (four as opposed to three). Indeed, Vienna are winless in their last seven European home games (D2, L5) and have one solitary victory to their name in 15 EL/UEFA Cup group games at home! AEK are yet to taste defeat in their last seven European games, drawing the last four, but have only scored in one away game in their last five EL away days!Solskjaer “very pleased” after another failure to win George Patchias – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was “very pleased,” even though United failed to win yet again.It is now ten games on the road since…

With AEK just needing a point and already managing to cancel out group winners AC Milan twice among their four draws, this might turn out to be a hard night for Vienna against a disciplined Greek defence. However, Vienna captain Raphael Holzhauser was upbeat ahead of the game, saying: “It’s time for a home win, there is no better way.” Only time will tell if his confidence was justified.

Missing players

Austria Vienna: R. Almer (knee injury), A. Grunwald (injury), F. Klein (injury), C. Martschinko (knee injury), H. Westermann (knee injury), A. Borkovic (doubtful),上海夜生活 V. Demaku (doubtful)

AEK Athens: J. Johansson (knee injury), P. Mantalos (knee injury), U. Cosic (doubtful), K. Lamropoulos (doubtful), A. Traustason (doubtful), A. Vlachomitros (doubtful).

Clattenburg talks about Premier League leave

The 42-year-old revealed what caused him to quit his job in England and go through a change of scenery.

Mark Clattenburg insists he made up his mind to give up on being a referee in England following a game between Stoke City and Manchester United. After the final whistle, the Red Devils’ boss went to the officials’ dressing room and questioned Clattenburg’s penalty decision, which got to the Englishman.

The 42-year-old referee is now working as head for refereeing at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation after a 13-year spell in England.

While on the Men in Blazers podcast, Clattenburg spoke about his decision to leave the Premier League and start over somewhere else.

“I was refereeing the game when Wayne Rooney broke Bobby Charlton’s record and Mourinho came into my dressing room and he was unhappy about a handball penalty that I didn’t give.Solskjaer “very pleased” after another failure to win George Patchias – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was “very pleased,” even though United failed to win yet again.It is now ten games on the road since…

“I’d walked off that pitch at Stoke, which was always the coldest stadium, it was always wet and miserable, and refereeing Man United was never an easy match.

“To come off that match it felt immense that I’d actuall上海夜网y had a good performance, and for him to come into my dressing room and criticise my performance for a handball that I’d seen, that had clearly come off his chest, I knew that I was right but he’d put a seed of doubt into my mind.

“I drove home 250 miles thinking I’d made a big error, my wife knew my attitude had changed, and I thought to myself, ‘Do I really want to be a part of this anymore? Do I really want to referee?’

“And I went soul-searching, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to and I had to get out.”

Preview: Inter – Atalanta

Inter are fourth in Serie A, five points behind leaders Napoli and they will be looking to close the gap today, as they host 10th-placed Atalanta.

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Sunday’s late game features 2 sides with different aspirations this season. Atalanta will be looking to improve on their current 10th place standing (16pts) in their quest to qualify for Europe again, w上海夜生活论坛hile 3rd placed Inter (30 pts) are having their best season in many years and can once again dream of Scudetto glory. These sides first met in Serie A in the 1937/38 season.

Inter are unbeaten in Serie A this season and have undoubtedly benefited from a lack of European football. Inter have scored at least 1 goal in all but one of their 12 games this season, and that game was a 0-0 away to league leaders Napoli.

Mauro Icardi has been in fine form for Inter this season, racking up 11 goals (joint 2nd in Serie A), although he has failed to score in his last 2 games. He actually scored a 10-minute hattrick last season against Atalanta in a 7-1 romp.

Inter drew their last game 1-1 at home to Torino, but the last time they drew 2 consecutive home games was back in April ’15 (part of a 3-game streak) – a run of 48 games.

The team from the San Siro top the corner charts in Serie A with an average of 12.83 corners per game, which is also the second highest in Europe’s major leagues.Report: Lukaku out of Barcelona game George Patchias – Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out of Inter Milan’s game against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.Inter Milan face Barcelona tomorrow evening at the Camp…

Atalanta are playing European football for the first time in 27 years this season and currently sit top of their Europa League group. They have an important game away at Everton on Thursday and their Serie A form (no win in the last 2) has undoubtedly suffered due to their focus on Europe.

Along with Chievo, Atalanta have a symmetrical record of 4 wins, 4 draws and 4 defeats this season. They are yet to win away this season (D2 L3) and have lost on their last 3 visits to Inter.

On balance, you are more likely to see second-half goals in this game. Both teams have scored 9 goals in the first half of their Serie A matches this season. Inter have gone on to score another 14 in the second half of their games while Atalanta have managed 10.

Missing players

Inter: Z. Vanheusden (knee injury), A. Pinamonti (doubtful).

Atalanta: R. Freuler (red card), L. Spinazzola (muscle injury), J. Schmidt (doubtful).

Bellerin: Arsenal silenced doubters

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin claims the Gunners have silenced their critics when they defeated Tottenham in the north London derby at Emirates

Thanks to the goals of Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi, Arsenal are now within one point of their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

Not only the result, but the manner the Gunners showed in their victory is what silenced the naysayers, according to Bellerin.

“There’s always a lot of talk but I think it was one of those games where we showed what we could do. We shut some mouth as well,” Bellerin told Arsenal’s official website.

上海夜生活

“There are people who talk a lot and now, after watching that game at home, they’ll be thinking that these guys have a chance.”

Arsenal need to keep up the intensity against Burnley as they meet in next weekend’s Premier League clash.Top 5 Premier League players in September’s last weekend Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – A fresh Premier League fixture just ended, which means we can talk about the Top 5 best players of September’s last weekend.After a fresh…

“That’s what we’re trying to do. Sometimes, for different reasons, we haven’t been able to do it, but this is how we set the bar and show what potential we have,” Bellerin said.

“That’s what we’ve got to work hard to do every single week, week in, week out.”

This was the first north London derby defeat of Mauricio Pochettino’s side and it resulted in Spurs now being 11 points behind league leaders Manchester City.

“It’s a low, it’s a big hit for us,” Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen told the club’s official website.

Defender Ben Davies added: “We know we can do so much better than that. When their goal came it was a bit of a sucker-punch and to concede another before half-time was a bit sloppy and killed us. We were confident in ourselves.”

Arsenal will get a chance to take over Tottenham in the next fixture of the English top-flight, but the Gunners will need to do their best if they want to defeat Burnley, who are in great form currently.

Robben wants Heynckes to stay

33-year-old Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben admitted he wants current head coach Jupp Heynckes to stay at the German club

The veteran coach was brought in as a stop-gap measure, but the Dutchman is keen the arrangement is made more permanent, GOAL understands.

The 72-year-old tactician was brought back as a temporary solution after the sacking of former head coach Carlo Ancelotti. However, Heynckes had done such a great job, that many suggest he should stay on for a longer period.

It’s not only Arjen Robben who thinks that way, as club legend Lothar Matthaus also praised Heynckes on Monday, saying there is “no better coach on the market.”

Robben was asked how he would feel if the 72-year-old manager were to stay with Bayern.

“It would be a pleasure! Anything is possible,” the Dutchman told Bild.

“It’s going very well. If anyone knows the club, then it’s him. He also knows what’s needed in football today. Everything is great.”Kovac cryptic about plans to stop Kane Nedim Maric – Bayern Munich will travel to North London in order to face Pochettino’s Tottenham in a Champions League derby.Bundesliga looks like it’s never been as…

However, even though Robben wants Heynckes to stay, it’s not up to him and the winger claimed he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

“I don’t know what he thinks or what the plan for the club is,” Robben explained.

Bayern’s chairman of the executive board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was also asked about the issue and he claimed he’ll stick to what the club and the manager have agreed on.

“When Jupp arrived, we made it clear his timetable with us and that has not changed. I stick to what we’ve agree interval,” he said.

“He’s undoubtedly had a great effect. The team is stable, playing well, and exudes fun. We’re doing well in three competitions. Not only are we winning, but we’re playing good football.”

上海夜生活论坛The Bundesliga giants are leading the German top-flight, while they managed to secure progress in the Champions League as well.