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

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* 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.

Democratic voter-intimidation cases falter in three U.S. states

WASHINGTON ( ) – Democrats fell short in three U.S. states on Monday in their legal battle to impose tighter restrictions on supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who plan to monitor Election Day voting for signs of fraud.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to reimpose new rules on partisan poll watchers in Ohio after an appeals court struck them down, while U.S. judges in Pennsylvania and North Carolina declined Democrats’ request to impose new rules that Democrats had sought.

Voter intimidation is prohibited under U.S. law, but Democrats worry that Trump’s warnings of a “rigged” election in his battle against Democrat Hillary Clinton might inspire supporters to 上海夜生活论坛harass minority voters and create Election Day chaos in big cities as they search for signs of vote manipulation.

Numerous studies have found that U.S. voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

Democrats have asked U.S. courts in six battleground states to impose greater restrictions on partisan poll watchers, arguing that the Trump campaign, state Republican parties and Republican operative Roger Stone are encouraging supporters to intimidate minority voters.

Trump’s campaign and Republican parties in the various states say their poll watchers are trained to bring evidence of any problems to the party and not confront voters directly.

“This was an attempt to intimidate Republican people engaging in lawful activity,” North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse told .

Stone says those working for his planned “exit poll” will be trained to use neutral, non-threatening language.

One day before the election, Democrats so far have failed to win any of their legal efforts.

A U.S. judge denied the Democrats’ case in Arizona on Friday. Monday’s rulings in North Carolina and Pennsylvania give Democrats little time for appeals, while the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling put to rest the case filed in Ohio.

The Supreme Court order, which only covers the Ohio case, included no noted dissents from the eight justices. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a brief statement noting that “Ohio law proscribes voter intimidation” and citing the relevant law.

U.S. judges in Michigan and Nevada have yet to issue opinions.

Democrats have waged a separate legal battle against the Republican National Committee, arguing in court that the RNC should be prevented from supporting the Trump campaign’s poll-watching effort. A U.S. judge in New Jersey denied that motion on Saturday.

Oil rebounds as Trump says letter revives China trade hopes

HOUSTON ( ) – Brent oil futures settled slightly higher on Thursday, rebounding from a drop after U.S. President Donald Trump revived investor hopes that the United States might not raise tariffs on Chinese imports, a step that could hit economic growth and crimp oil demand.

The trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies and a sharp drop in global equity markets has hit oil prices, outweighing geopolitical tensions and supply cuts that have lowered global supplies from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Brent settled 2 cents higher at $70.39 a barrel, rebounding from a session low of $69.40 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled down 42 cents at $61.70 per barrel.

Prices bounced off session lows after Trump said he received a “beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump quoted the letter as saying: “Let’s work together let’s see if we can get something done.”

The letter fed investor hopes Washington and Beijing might clinch a trade deal, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

The trade row has dragged economic growth in Asia and a breakdown in Sino-American negotiations could call global crude demand forecasts into question, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management LLC.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects global oil demand to rise by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) this year.

“It’s why OPEC is being a bit stingy with barrels,” Kilduff said, referring to output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia. “They don’t want to step into that situation if the trade talks go off the rails.”

OPEC’s top producer Saudi Arabia has been reluctant to add barrels to global supply because it fears a price crash, even as the organization is unsure of global supplies for the second half of the year, OPEC sources said.

U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, and threats to oil supplies in Nigeria in Libya have supported oil prices, mitigating the impact of the trade dispute, analysts said. Brent and WTI have risen more than 30 percent so far this year.

“The supply uncertainty is what’s holding the (U.S. oil) market above $60 a barrel,” said Phillip Streible, senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago. “The demand uncertainty is what has it in the red today. But we’re holding pretty good.”

Earlier this week, data showing a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories also buoyed prices.

The U.S. tariffs on $200 b上海夜生活论坛illion of Chinese goods would rise to 25 percent without a deal on Friday. China has threatened to retaliate, triggering a flight to safety among investors.

(Graphic: U.S. crude inventories, weekly changes since 2017 – tmsnrt.rs/2XfuQqn)

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.

Libya agrees $34 billion budget for 2019 after months of disputes

TRIPOLI ( ) – Libya’s U.N.-backed administration agreed with the central bank and other players on a 2019 budget worth 46.8 billion dinars ($33.83 billion), it said on Monday after months of arguments.

The “financial arrangements”, as the budget is called officially, mark an increase from last year’s 42 billion dinars.

Libya has no proper budget as authority is divided between the U.N.-backed Tripoli government and a parallel administration allied to the internationally recognized parliament in the east, part of a conflict since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The central bank therefore agrees with Tripoli – with the tacit agreement of authorities in the east mediated by Western powers and international institutions — on a budget mainly covering public salaries and fuel subsidies for the whole country.

The Tripoli government and the central bank had been arguing over how to use funds raised by a 183 per cent fees slapped on hard currency transactions since autumn. 

The fees are aimed at bridging a gap between official and black market rate by moving the official rate to effectively 3.9 versus one dollar. Before it was 1.4.

The上海夜网 black market rate has fallen since then to around 4.1 from 6.

“After extensive discussion a total value of the financial arrangements (of) 46.8 billion dinars was agreed upon,” the government said in a short statement. It gave no details.

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).

Zidane annoyed by Kepa’s situation

Zinedine Zidane, the Real Madrid head coach, spoke about his side’s failed transfer talks with Kepa Arrizabalaga as the young Spaniard decided to sign a new contract with Athletic Bilbao instead of moving to Madrid.

The Frenchman coach said that he is “annoyed” by the rumours saying that he won some kind of an internal battle and he decided not to sign this young and talented keeper. Arrizabalaga admitted that he was annoyed as well by the long negotiations and he decided to sign a new deal with his current club which will end in 2025.上海夜生活

The French coach spoke about this transfer saga as he said, according to ESPN: “In June any player can come to Madrid, if the club’s strategy is to change something, along with the coach. But my idea and that of the club too as we are all together here was to not change many things. I get annoyed when I hear comments saying I have won [an internal battle]. The important thing for me is to protect my squad, the players here are those who concern me. But I have nothing against Kepa or any other player.”Top 5 Real Madrid players who are succeeding on a loan Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – We need to talk about the Top 5 Real Madrid players who are currently succeeding away from the club and are currently on a…

He continued by adding that Ronaldo’s reaction after his facial injury was understandable: “Cristiano wanted to know whether the cut was very deep or not. I am saying exactly what he told us in the dressing room. The doctors stitched it up and today he was back. If he is training with us, with his eye like this [swollen] it shows how important it is for him to be on the pitch.”

In the end, Zinedine Zidane claimed that he is happy that he can rely on Isco: “Isco will always have an important role here, whether I am coach or not. I have always shown my confidence in him, he can be a decisive player. That will not change. He did not get any time [before Christmas] against Barcelona, although that was not the plan. Isco can play in many positions, in a 4-3-3 he can play up front, as he has done before, or in midfield. So there is no problem.”

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.”

Lingard wants to make sure that Manchester will be red

The Manchester United youngster, Jesse Lingard, tried to boost the confidence of his side before the upcoming derby clash against Manchester City by saying that the city has to be red after that fixture.

The young winger insisted that he can’t see any reason why his Red Devils can’t beat the league leaders at home and start chasing them – the Citizens are now eight points ahead of their rivals but the title race is still far from being over. Jesse Lingard seems to be highly motivated for that clash and he wants to do his best to help his side in their effo上海夜生活rt to minimize the deficit in the Premier League table.

The Englishman spoke about the upcoming game as he said, according to Goal: “I am confident. It’s two great teams going out there and you don’t know what the game is going to be like. It might be a battle; it might not be pretty. But if we come out on top, it’s always good for the city of Manchester. We need to make sure that Manchester is red at the end of the day. Like us, they have lots of big players.”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…

He added that Manchester City are very strong and he pointed out two specific key players: “When [Kevin] De Bruyne’s on the ball, he’s always got that eye for a killer pass that can put a player one-on-one with the keeper, and Raheem Sterling’s been popping up with the late goals.”

In the end, Jesse Lingard claimed that he will forget his friendships with the opposition players for these 90 minutes: “You know quite a lot of them [City’s Academy players] growing up, and through the England set-up as well. I’m good friends with Raheem [Sterling] off the pitch. But when you’re on the pitch, there are no friends and we’re there to do a job and win the game.”

Neymar’s bonus for Ballon d’Or

PSG have promised to reward Neymar in case the Brazilian manages to win the Ballon d’Or trophy.

The record transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG continues to impress with the numbers included in the deal. The Parisians paid the €222m release clause in the Brazilian’s contract and offered him wages of around €100k per day (€36,8m/year), making him the most expensive and the best paid player in the world.

In addition to that, Neymar also has a clause in his contract that will see him earn a bonus of €3m every time he manages to win the Ballon d’Or trophy, according to Le Parisien.

Since 2008, the Ballon d’Or award has only been won by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentinian took the trophy home 5 times, while the Portuguese is still one behind his rival. However, Ronaldo has big chances of equalling Messi’s number of trophies this year.Report: Icardi opens PSG account in 0-1 win over Gala George Patchias – Mauro Icardi opened上海夜网 his goal-scoring account for PSG in a 0-1 away victory over Galatasaray.While Thomas Tuchel has begun to integrate Mauro Icardi into…

Even though Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are again the favourites for the award this year, Neymar also has a chance. He has been included on the 30-men shortlist for the FIFA gala that will take place in December and that will announce the winner.

26 years have passed since the last time a player from the French league won the Ballon d’Or. In 1991, Jean-Pierre Papin was awarded the trophy. That year, Papin helped Olympique Marseille reach the Champions League final, where they eventually lost to Red Star Belgrade, 3-5 at penalties.

Muller continues the attacks on Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has left Bayern Munich after multiple players complained about his methods.

After the appointing of Jupp Heynckes, some of Bayern’s players are still hitting out at their former manager. Most recently, Thomas Muller stated that he is certain the arrival of Heynckes will bring a revival in the team’s playing style.

The German midfielder was, along with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, decisive for the departure of Carlo Ancelotti, after the 3-0 defeat to PSG in Champions League.Report: Ancelotti’s Napoli held by Genk George Patchias – Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli side was held to a scoreless draw by Belgian side Genk.This game was billed as a goal fest for the Italian…

Immediately after the appointing of Heynckes, one of the first reactions of Muller was: “Finally we will have good training sessions again”, hinting at the low quality of trainings under Ancelotti.

Speaking about the managerial change, Thomas Muller said: “Now we have no excuses. A change of manager always brings energy and we, the players, have to give everything. Both Jupp Heynckes and his staff came with a lot of energy to trainings from the beginning.” 

Bayern’s first match 上海夜网with Heynckes on the bench is to be played on Saturday, 15:30. The Bavarians will host Freiburg at Allianz Arena. Bayern are currently second in the standings, with 14 points after 7 rounds, five less than Bundesliga leaders, Borussia Dortmund.

Toshack uncertain of Bale’s future in Spain

The Wales international has been struggling with injuries ever since arriving at the Bernabéu.

Gareth Bale’s inconsistent fitness situation is making things really difficult for the club and could lead to a transfer, according to former Wales and Real Madrid boss John Toshack.

Bale is currently going through his 18th injury that has forced him on the sidelines since joining Real Madrid from Tottenham in 2013. The Welshman has certainly enjoyed successful times at his new club, securing three Champions League trophies and a La Liga trophy, but his inability to stay available for the first squad is proving to be a problem for Los Blancos. This has caused a lot of controversy regarding his future in Spain, with Manchester United considered a long-time admirer of the winger.

“His injuries are probably hindering him now.” Toshack told El Larguero regarding Bale’s situation.

“He has missed so many matches and despite Madrid winning so many matches and trophies, i上海夜生活t must be hugely frustrating.Juan Mata backs Solskjaer to end Man United’s trophy drought Andrew Smyth – Juan Mata is convinced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will end Manchester United’s trophy-drought sooner rather than later.

“Should he move to another club? Only people at Madrid will know about this but the demands at the Bernabéu are very, very high.

“If you are less than 100 per cent physically fit, it becomes even harder.

“He is now 28 and 11 years after making his debut with me at 17, these should be the best years of his life.

“The entire BBC [Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo] now has problems and for various reasons, such as others now coming through, I’m unsure we’ll see much more of them together from now on.”

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.

Batshuayi will finally get his chance, says Conte

The Belgium international will start for the Blues against Crystal Palace as he steps in for injured Alvaro Morata.

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has lauded Michy Batshuayi’s progress at the club as he intends to count on the striker in the forthcoming Premier League feature. Chelsea’s starting forward Morata suffered a hamstring injury against Manchester City, which leaves Batshuayi with a gre上海夜生活网at chance to prove he deserves a spot in the starting XI.

Despite his goal-scoring record of netting every 68 minutes, Michy has struggled to hold down a spot in Chelsea’s starters. Yet, Conte admits he is more impressed with the way the forward is moving on the pitch.Willian: Chelsea must become more clinical Andrew Smyth – Willian feels that Chelsea still have things to improve on after missing numerous chances during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton.

“I think if you compare Michy with last season he has improved a lot and he understood this league because it is not simple,” Conte stated as quoted by Goal. “He understood our style of football but he is another young player and he is working very hard to improve.

“This season he is finding many opportunities to play in the Champions League, in the league, to come on during the game, and to start the game. If you remember last season he had few opportunities to play but this season he is playing a lot and the most important thing is to show he is improving.

“Also don’t forget as a striker I can utilise Hazard. Last season we played two games with Hazard as a No.9, alongside Willian and Pedro. If I see a game where this is the solution I am ready to do that again but Michy is deserving to have opportunities to show he can play.”