Page 1

Corporate DispatchPro

Issue No.22| July 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group


Issue No.22 | July 2021

Corporate DispatchPro The Journal of CI Group EDITORIAL TEAM Managing Editor - Jesmond Saliba Editor – Nathanael Muscat CONTRIBUTORS Denise Grech George Hay Jesmond Saliba Keith Zahra Kevin Azzopardi Liam Proud Robert Cyran PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Laura Grima Shirley Zammit DESIGN TEAM Matthew Borg Nicholas Azzopardi

CONTENTS The world’s Olympian moment


Month in pictures


Going for universal gold


New tracks for sport


The state of play


Malta Insights


Malta News Roundup


We must ensure financing of transport and energy projects


We can overcome the challenges our country faces together


Communiqeu 41 Intel might spend $30 bln to slim down


UBS’s Ralph Hamers is a CEO in search of a problem


Oil producers do themselves a favour



Published By


Design Produced


Corporate DispatchPro Cover Story

The world’s Olympian moment In July 2011, Japan announced its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Ten years later, the sporting events should have been a proud memory for the city of Tokyo; instead, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the plans, and the city will host a shrunken version of the Games. Country delegations have been reduced to essential representatives and the number of volunteers was kept to a bare minimum. Athletes are required to test daily for the virus, and many will leave the Olympic village within 48 hours of the end of their competitions. The traditional street parties have long been taken off the programme. Spectators from overseas are barred and thousands of domestic ticketholders are also expected to stay away from the stadia. The usual Olympic torch relay turned a bit into an obstacle race as one city after another shut down and congregations of any sort were forbidden. But the bumpy journey of the flame mirrored the travails of the organisation team. Soon after launching the official logo of the Games, in 2015, the design was called out for plagiarism. The committee pushed back against the accusations but eventually set out a fresh call for proposals with a two-week deadline. The organising committee faced harsher criticism when its head, Yoshiro Mori, was denounced for making inappropriate remarks about women. The former Prime Minister apologised publicly but resisted calls to step down. Pressure continued to pile as protests grew louder and main sponsor Toyota threatened to pull out. The octogenarian finally offered his resignation. Despite the difficult context, there is much anticipation for the Games. The festival of sports includes 339 events spread across 50 disciplines. Baseball and softball are making a comeback while 3


Corporate DispatchPro surfing, skateboarding, climbing, and karate will make their debut on the Olympic stage. Calls for the cancellation of this edition were mounting at par with the global Covid-19 cases, but proponents argued that the Games are needed more than ever amid the devastation of the pandemic. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga raised the topic on the agenda of the latest G7 meeting, extracting a commitment from the other members of the club to participate in the events. Worries about the health risks will likely still produce further headlines in the 200 countries that are sending contingents, particularly as alarm grows over the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus. But the excellence of athletes, the emotion of the competitions, and the unifying character of sport may bring the hope and optimism that the world desperately needs right now.


DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE HOMOPHOBIC KILLING OF SAMUEL LUIZ People attend a march after the killing of Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old young man who was beaten to death during an alleged homophobic attack in La Coruna, called at Puerta del Sol, in Madrid.

GOLD GAINS AS BOND YIELDS SLIP Gold prices rose helped by a drop in U.S. Treasury yields, while investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting for clues on policy outlook.


Corporate DispatchPro PAGAN HOLIDAY IVANA KUPALA IN KIEV Ukrainians jump over a bonfire as they celebrate the traditional pagan holiday of Ivana Kupala in Kiev. Ivana Kupala is celebrated on the shortest night of the year, marking the beginning of summer, and is observed in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Russia.

TWO SHIPS COLLIDE IN MANILA HARBOUR Cargo vessel MV Palawan Pearl collided with a dredger at the Manila South Harbour in the Philippines, spreading an ‘oil sheen’ around it.


HERODIAN ERA BUILDING FOUND IN JERUSALEM Parts of a Second Temple period public building was discovered in Jerusalem. The discovery comes after archaeological excavations were recently conducted in the Western Wall Tunnels.

ITALY BIDS EMOTIONAL FAREWELL TO RAFFAELLA CARRÀ Emotional scenes as famous personalists and ordinary folk bid farewell to Raffaella Carrà. The Italian TV icon and entertainment legend died at the age of 78.


Corporate DispatchPro ARGENTINA WIN COPA AMERICA Argentina won their first major title in 28 years and Lionel Messi finally won his first medal in a blue-and-white shirt when an Angel Di Maria goal gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil and a record-equaling 15th Copa America.

VIRGIN GALACTIC’S BRANSON SOARS TO SPACE British billionaire Richard Branson soared more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in the vehicle’s first fully crewed test flight to space.


POPE APPEARS IN PUBLIC AFTER SURGERY Pope Francis, seeming in good overall condition, appeared in public for the first time since undergoing intestinal surgery a week before and made a plea for free universal healthcare.

ONE DEAD DURING ITALY EURO CELEBRATIONS One person died and several were injured during sometimes wild celebrations in Italy after its football team’s triumph over England in the Euro 2020 final.


Corporate DispatchPro UEFA CHARGE ENGLAND FA AFTER EURO FINAL UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings and charged England’s Football Association (FA) for disturbances during theEuro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley.

DEATH TOLL RISES TO 11 IN GERMAN FLOODS, DOZENS MISSING At least 180 people have died and dozens were reported missing as record rainfall in western Germany caused rivers to burst their banks, sweeping away homes and inundating cellars.



Corporate DispatchPro Editorial

Going for universal gold The world looked a different place when sports events were suddenly banned at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, though, the fight against the virus became a global sporting competition in its own right. Laboratories and pharmaceutical companies were dropped into a race to develop vaccines, countries challenged for the top spot in the active case rankings, communities applauded and cheered medical professionals on in their attempt to beat back infections. Sporting contests are so ingrained into civilisations that the return of legendary competitions this year such as the Six Nations, America’s Cup, the French Open, the Copa America and the UEFA Euro, finally brought a sense of normalcy to fans and indifferent people alike. It is now persuasive to argue that sports competitions, whatever the discipline, are a social need. No tournament or championship is like another, and contrasts emerge even between one edition of a competition and the next. But certain typologies encompass all contests and disciplines from Formula 1 racing to hammer throw and from fencing to synchronised swimming. There are the winners and the losers, the David-versusGoliath moments, the lucky escapes and the emphatic results. If sporting events capture the collective imagination and engage individuals who do not necessarily follow the games, it is because sport reflects the deeper drivers that shape human narratives. Success relies on a combination of individual ability, dependable teamwork, and favourable conditions. Every sports contest is an expedition towards that perfect balance and no sooner has a competition come to its end that athletes begin rebuilding and preparing for the upcoming one. 13

unique readers


Corporate DispatchPro Competitions are a living metaphor of social life, recreating the basic conditions that stimulate self-development and interdependence, fairness and respect, struggle and endurance. Unlike everyday life, in sports, there is only one winner and challenges come one at a time. But the fundamental model of competitions frames the human state as a set of challenges – at times in the form of other persons – that can only be overcome through collaboration and combined effort. Beyond the satisfaction of winning and the emotional rollercoasters, sport reveals secrets about the character of society. By working together we can find solutions to bigger questions, by following the rules we can broaden opportunities for more people, by pursuing excellence we can discover more meaning. The paradoxical goal of sports is to ultimately make us all winners. JESMOND SALIBA



Corporate DispatchPro KEVIN AZZOPARDI

New tracks for sport Half a century ago, sport was generally considered a leisure activity pursued mainly for socialisation and recreation. Things have changed drastically since then, and virtually all disciplines today are moving rapidly towards professionalisation. Perhaps this fundamental transition is best illustrated in the transformation of the Olympic Games: originally, only amateur athletes were allowed to participate in events, but from 1986 onwards, the International Olympic Committee began opening the games to professional athletes too.

This change can also be observed at the level of community sport. The importance of sport to both individuals and societies has grown considerably in recent decades and, with this, athletes found new opportunities for development and specialisation. Policymakers, too, are increasingly taking a strategic approach to sport, positioning it as an investment in national health as well as in the national brand. More people are responding positively to campaigns promoting an active society and, although physical activity and sport are distinct spheres, the former usually reinforces the value of the latter. Meanwhile, sports are evolving away from formal championships and official leagues as global trends shift to unstructured models of performance. By adopting models that have proved successful in other areas, particularly the business sector, sports are finding new niches and firing up new fan bases. This is a welcome development because it is making sports accessible to more people while diversifying the range of disciplines. Importantly, forward-looking approaches to sports are creating new funding sources. Financing is crucial for the professionalisation of disciplines; however, we must be careful to protect the integrity 17



Corporate DispatchPro of athletes and events whilst simultaneously not allowing other goals to compromise the game. The value of sport remains the basic ambition to excel. Besides broader participation, a revolution is also happening in the form of activity with the rise of esports. For years now the big players behind this special category of gaming have been lobbying to introduce competitive events in the Olympic Games, and we might be awarding Olympic medals to esports champions before long. Analysts from many quarters expressed concerns about the effects of esports on the sporting culture, but the two remain separate domains and there is little to indicate that physical sport disciplines are going to be replaced by electronic simulations anytime soon. This is a trend that reflects the digital world we are living in. Same as tennis had given birth to table tennis and more recently to e-tennis. Simultaneously, sports, in general, are drifting away from the traditional disciplines and alternative activities such as skateboarding, adventure sports, flying disc or kite flying are becoming ever more popular. Indeed, many athletes practising non-traditional sports have nurtured a global cult following for their skills and accomplishments, but performers do not typically seek celebrity status the way that stand-out figures in other sectors do. Although sports have a deep communal value, it is an inherently individual undertaking. The purpose of sport is to improve one’s personal qualities and set higher standards. The disruption caused by the pandemic was a huge blow to athletes who could not perform to their usual levels. The suspension of tournaments and championships was mentally devastating on players who live to compete and become better at what they do. At the same time, the situation also served to demonstrate the importance of sports, professional or amateur. As restrictions slowly start to be lifted around the world, we can expect sports to burst out of the blocks. 19


Corporate DispatchPro

The state of play Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau actively promoted ice hockey as the country’s national sport in the 1970s and 1980s. His emphasis was more than a simple acknowledgement of a popular form of entertainment as the staunch federalist leader sought to forge a political identity uniting the relatively young nation.

Various states have historically instrumentalised sports disciplines to build a sense of collective identity that supports the idea of the nation. From rugby in Wales to archery in Mongolia to Rodeo in Chile, sports activities are steeped in symbolism that narrates the fundamental characteristics that a country sees in itself. Sports may be harmless forms of competition, but the level of intensity they evoke works to bind communities together in a manner that few other human systems can. The objective of all sporting events is to determine a winner: an athlete or team that bests all others in the contest. This rudimentary appraisal of personal worth invests the victors in prestige and the rest in misery, and both emotions spread fairly easily to others with a degree of attachment. Nation-building is essentially the exercise of establishing these connections, positioning sports into a strategic activity for architects of national identity. And, unlike other phenomena such as war or external threats, sports are wholesome endeavours. Nevertheless, George Orwell famously opined that international sport mimics warfare. Indeed, part of the identity-construction process involves differentiation from other countries and national athletes are seen as the embodiment of an entire population. Even international tournaments that are not country-based such as golf, moto GP, or equestrian are loaded with national overtones as South Korea’s 21


Corporate DispatchPro

Inbee Park, Italy’s Valentino Rossi, or New Zealand’s Sir Mark Todd witness, celebrated as heroes in their respective countries. The blurring of cultural borders makes that the need for distinction more explicit and urgent in the age of transnational values and lifestyles. As a result, countries will look for more opportunities to affirm the unique features that galvanize their populations and set them apart from others. In this scenario, international sports events may be one of the last living reminders of a pre-globalised world composed of a patchwork of nation-states.



Corporate DispatchPro

RETAIL REGISTERS ONE OF THE HIGHEST ANNUAL INCREASES IN THE EU Total retail trade grew by 22 per cent between May 2020 and May 2021, well above the 9.0 per cent average registered in the EU. Data by Eurostat shows that the highest increase was recorded by Bulgaria (23.9%) and Ireland (22.4%). Compared with the April 2021, the volume of trade in Malta went up by 2.6 per cent, below the EU average of 4.63 per cent. France recorded the highest growth (9.9%) followed by the Netherlands (9.3%) and Estonia (8.1%). On the other hand, Latvia, Finland, and Luxembourg registered a decrease month-on-month.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS BELOW TWO THOUSAND Youth unemployment stood at 1,944 in May, the first time it fell below 2,000 in a year. Figures by the National Statistics Office show a month-on-month decrease of 0.7 percentage points in the unemployment rate of people in the 18-24 age bracket. The rate stood at 7.4 per cent, the lowest in the twelve months under review. Total unemployment dropped to 10,105, down by 121 from April, registering a rate of 3.7 per cent. Registered unemployment fell by 0.1 percentage points among both women and men, settling at a total rate of 3.6 among the former and 3.7 per cent among the latter. In May 2020, unemployment stood at just over 12,000, a rate of 4.5 25

Passion. Reliability. Excellence.


ISLAND INSURANCE BROKERS LTD. Insurance House, 239 Psaila Street, Birkirkara BKR9078, Malta +356 2385 5555

Corporate DispatchPro per cent. The unemployment rate among women was 4.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent among men. Youth unemployment reached almost 3,200, equivalent to 10.9 per cent.

INDUSTRIAL PRICES UP BY A TENTH IN FOUR YEARS The industrial producer price index rose to its highest point in May 2021, an increase of 9.92 per cent from the same month in 2017. Figures by the National Statistics Office shows a total rise of 1.73 per cent year-onyear, with gains across all industrial groupings except for the energy sector which remained stable. Prices for the domestic market grew by 1.11 per cent. Intermediate goods and consumer goods increased by 4.33 per cent and 0.54 per cent, respectively. Capital goods, on the other hand, fell by 0.53 percent. For the non-domestic market, prices rose by 2.12 per cent in total, as all groupings registered increases. Compared with April 2021, indices grew by 0.55 per cent, with the biggest increase of 1.35 per cent observed in intermediate goods. Capital goods recorded a decrease of 0.04 per cent while non-durable consumer goods rose by 0.02 per cent. There was no change in either durable consumer goods or the energy sector.



Corporate DispatchPro PUBLIC DEBT SOARS IN FIRST QUARTER Total government debt grew to €7,478.2 million between January and March, up from €6,958.5 million in the preceding quarter. Figures by the National Statistics Office show an increase of €1.544.8 million compared with the same quarter in 2020. Central government debt made €7,474.8 million, a rise of €1,544.6 million from a year before. Short-term securities grew by two-thirds from the start of 2020, jumping to €710.3 million in the first quarter this year. Long-term securities registered an increase of 19.5 per cent reaching €5,629.2 million in 2021. Currency and deposits stood at €469.2 million, up by €90.7 million in a year. This includes the euro coins issued in the name of the Treasury, considered a liability of Central Government, and the 62+ Malta Government Savings Bond, the latter amounting to €379.5 million.

HOUSE PRICES DROP AT THE START OF THE YEAR The House Price Index fell by 1.6 per cent between January and March this year compared to the preceding quarter. Data by Eurostat shows that Malta was one of only three EU members to register a decrease in house prices over this period, along with Cyprus (-5.8%) and Slovakia (-1.2%). On average, prices rose by 1.7 per cent in the EU, led by increases in Estonia (+6.6%), Denmark (+5.8%) and Lithuania (+5.0%). Compared with the first quarter of 2020, the Index in Malta grew by 4.7 per cent, below the 6.1 per cent average across the EU. Luxembourg recorded the highest rise, ending the quarter at 17.0 per cent, ahead of Denmark (+15.3%) and Lithuania (+12.0%). Cyprus was the only EU state to experience a drop year-on-year, closing the quarter 5.8 per cent below the 2020 Index.



Corporate DispatchPro

Malta News ROUNDUP LANGUAGE SCHOOLS COUNT LOSSES OF SHUTDOWN English language schools had around 15,000 cancellations since the government ordered the sudden closure of the industry after a surge in Covid-19 cases. Schools estimate that the decision will cost them around €40 million in losses. MEDIA PLATFORM CEO PIVOTS TO POLITICS The founder of Chris Peregin has join the Nationalist Party. In a statement, the media platform CEO said that the country needs an alternative government that satisfies the aspirations of citizens. WOMAN CHARGED WITH KILLING HER PARTNER A 44-year-old woman has been charged with the murder of her partner in Mellieħa. The Filipino woman pleads not guilty to a series of charges but is being kept in custody after no request for bail was made. HUNDREDS OF MIGRANTS ADRIFT OFF THE ISLANDS A migrant rescue ship carrying almost 600 people was left stranded between Malta and Sicily for days before it was allowed into Italian ports. Migrants aboard were originally saved from six different boats in distress and included a baby of four months. LABOUR PARTY WITHDRAWS MINTOFF BIOGRAPHY The Labour Party removed all copies of Dom Mintoff’s biography written by Dominican priest Mark Montebello and published by its publishing arm. It is understood that the party received several complaints from supporters. 31

Every new day starts with Orange Every new day is Hope

Delivering your life’s essentials, every day. #WeAreOrange #WeAreHope #BuiltToServe 32

Corporate DispatchPro INMATE DIES DAYS AFTER SUICIDE ATTEMPT An inmate lost her life in hospital where she was being treated after attempting suicide in her cell. Activists said that the woman had asked to join a programme to beat substance abuse but her request was turned down. STANDARDS COMMISSIONER REPORT ON MP SET FOR PUBLICATION The members of the parliamentary committee for standards unanimously agreed to publish a report detailing MP Rosianne Cutajar’s conduct compiled by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. The Nationalist Party is calling for the MP’s resignation from the House. ENTERTAINERS PROTEST COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS Artists and performers vented their anger at restrictions on entertainment events in a protest held outside parliament. Protestors said they have been out of work for 15 months while other events are allowed to be held. GOVERNMENT TO REDRAW PLANS FOR AIR MALTA AID The EU Commission is set to reject a proposal by the government to inject €250 million into Air Malta on a five-year term. Sources close to the negotiations told the paper that the approved total will more likely be around €190 million. AGRICULTURAL SECTOR EXPERIENCING WATER SCARCITY Farmers report an increase in costs to cultivate trees and crops as water becomes a scarcer resource. Addressing the media, they said that the effects of climate change are threatening the agricultural sector in Malta.



Corporate DispatchPro

We must keep working to ensure the financing of Malta’s transport and energy projects Member of the European Parliament Josianne Cutajar, in a plenary meeting in Strasbourg earlier this month, said that geographic seclusion from the European continent makes it important for Malta to secure European funding for its transport and energy projects. In a debate that ended with a vote on the Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027 programme, which is a step closer to securing €30 billion for the funds that can be used in digital, transport or energy projects across Europe, the Maltese MEP recalled how projects such as the Marsa Junction would not have been possible had it not been for this programme. She reiterated that it is paramount that this programme continues to ensure such projects, as well as to continue working to cut red tape for these essential projects wherever possible. In related comments, Cutajar also spoke about the importance of these funds being used to ensure energy security for islands like Malta who are still not connected to the European Gas Network. “I am sure that these funds will continue improving the quality of life of our citizens every day. By continuing the work to ensure such funding programmes, we can bring Europe closer to our citizens and our families, including those in the European periphery such as Maltese and Gozitans” Dr Cutajar said.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.



Corporate DispatchPro

We can overcome the challenges our country faces together “There was a lot on my agenda during the past week as Parliament held the Plenary Session in Strasbourg,” MEP David Casa told this journal.

Speaking ahead a meeting of the Bureau’s Working Party on Information and Communication Policy, the Maltese MEP said he was looking forward to discuss the way forward for a number of EP initiatives such as Ekoskola, post the Covid-19 pandemic just before the Parliament’s lifts for the official summer break. “Every Plenary Session’s agenda is full of meetings in relation to my role as a Member of the Bureau, with various decisions taken at a Bureau level, as well as the monthly meeting of the College of Quaestors. During this Plenary Session, I also had the opportunity to address the online event in Malta themed ‘Trust in Malta’, also addressed by Opposition Leader Bernard Grech,” he added. During his address at the Nationalist party conference, Casa said it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or who you support, we should forgt our differences and unite behind the Maltese flag. “Together, we can fix the damage done to the flag, we can overcome the challenges that our country faces and together we can start a new page for our country,” he said. David Casa said trust in politicians is based on trust between politicians and the people they represent: “We need to look at the damage that was done to our country and look to those who were



Corporate DispatchPro

responsible for it.” In Malta, people argue about different things, but they always come together in support of their country, he said “People like Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela put their personal interests before that of the country and we cannot sweep this problem under the carpet,” he said. This is not a fight between Nationalist supporters and Labour supporters, but a fight between what is right and what is wrong, the MEP added.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.



Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA


EU report shows positive developments in Member States The European Commission has published the second EU-wide Report on the Rule of Law. The 2021 report looks at the new developments since last September, deepening the assessment of issues identified in the previous report and considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite notable improvements, concerns remain and in certain Member States these have increased, for instance when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and the situation in the media. The report also underlines the strong resilience of national systems during the Covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic also illustrated the importance of the ability to maintain a system of checks and balances, upholding the rule of law. The report has flagged concerns about Poland and Hungary, with the European Commission having already indicated that it could link access to its recovery fund of grants and loans worth a total €800 billion conditional on observing the rule of law. With regard to Malta, the EC highlighted improvements in ensuring judicial independence, while noting the need for additional efforts to ensure further media freedom.



Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA


Commission adopts new EU Forest Strategy The European Commission has adopted a New EU Forest Strategy for 2030, a flagship initiative of the European Green Deal that builds on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The strategy contributes to the package of measures proposed to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 55 per cent by 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050 in the EU. It also helps the EU deliver on its commitment to enhance carbon removals by natural sinks as per the Climate Law. By addressing the social, economic, and environmental aspects all together, the Forest Strategy aims at ensuring the multifunctionality of EU forests and highlights the pivotal role played by foresters. Forests are an essential ally in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. They function as carbon sinks and help us reduce the impacts of climate change, for example by cooling down cities, protecting us from heavy flooding, and reducing drought impact. Unfortunately, Europe’s forests suffer from many different pressures, including climate change.



Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA


Commission seeks public feedback on websites and apps The EU has launched a public consultation on the review of the Web Accessibility Directive. Since 23 June 2021, all public sector websites and mobile apps in the EU have the legal obligation to be accessible to people with disabilities. The consultation will gather feedback from citizens, especially those with disabilities, but also from businesses, online platforms, academics, public administrations, and all other interested parties. The online consultation will be itself accessible to screen readers, translated in all EU official languages, and available in a shorter easyto-read version for people with cognitive disabilities. The results of the consultation will feed into the review and will help improve the impact of the directive on making public sector websites and mobile apps accessible. The consultation remains open until 25 October 2021.



Corporate DispatchPro KEITH ZAHRA


New rules seek safe and compliant products on the EU market The EU Market Surveillance and Compliance Regulation came into force in July 2021. The new rules aim to ensure that products placed on the EU market comply with relevant EU legislation and meet public health and safety requirements. The legislation is key to ensuring a well-functioning Single Market and helps to put into place a better structure for checks on products exchanged on the EU market by improving cooperation among national authorities and customs officers. The Regulation, proposed by the Commission in June 2019, will now apply to a wide array of products covered by 73 pieces of EU legislation, from toys, electronics to cars. To boost businesses’ compliance with these rules, the Regulation will help to provide free of charge information on product rules to businesses via the Your Europe portal and Product contact points. The new rules will also better specify the powers of Market Surveillance authorities, giving them powers to perform on-site inspections and undertake undercover purchasing of products. The modernised framework for market surveillance will also help address the rising challenges of e-commerce and new supply chains, by ensuring that certain categories of products can only be placed on the EU market if an economic operator is present in the EU as interlocutor for authorities. To help businesses adjust to these requirements, the Commission has already issued dedicated Guidelines in March 2021. 47



Intel might spend $30 bln to slim down Intel may buy chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries for $30 billion, says a Wall Street Journal report. That seems logical in light of Intel’s production problems, and a global semiconductor shortage. But it might make most sense if any acquisition were followed by a bigger Intel divestment. Chipmaking is expensive and difficult, so most companies either design or produce. GlobalFoundries does the latter but Intel does both, and boss Pat Gelsinger has opened up its factories to rival semiconductor designers to spread costs. GlobalFoundries would bring customers and technology – though the company, owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala Investment, isn’t in talks, according to the Journal. The risk is that GlobalFoundries customers might not like seeing Intel inside. Besides, investors like specialization. Intel is valued at 3 times trailing revenue. Specialized rivals Advanced Micro Devices and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing are valued at 8 and 11 times. AMD figures in this story in another way too. It used to own GlobalFoundries and eventually spun the whole thing out deciding independence suited both better. Since then, AMD’s stock is up more than 30-fold. Maybe by buying, combining and then spinning off manufacturing operations, Intel can have it both ways.


Stay safe... Stay connected!



UBS’s Ralph Hamers is a CEO in search of a problem New bank chief executives often inherit messes. Credit Suisse’s Thomas Gottstein took over after a spying scandal, while Citigroup’s Jane Fraser and HSBC’s, Noel Quinn are pruning their global sprawls in search of a higher valuation. The new broom at Switzerland’s UBS, Ralph Hamers, has no glaring problems to fix, which may explain why his strategy looks a little underwhelming. Second-quarter results on Tuesday demonstrated a rare European bank that’s purring. Revenue rose by 21 per cent to $9 billion, helping the Zurich-based lender to a 15.4 per cent annualised return on tangible equity. At just over $50 billion, its market capitalisation is roughly the same as its assets minus liabilities. European banks on average trade at about two-thirds of forward tangible book value, according to Refinitiv. Perhaps understandably then, Hamers is holding off from shaking things up. Much of predecessor Sergio Ermotti’s executive team is still in place. Last quarter Hamers unveiled a renewed strategic focus on digitalisation and environmental, social and governance concerns. But investors will have to wait until the fourth quarter to find out exactly what he means by “reimagining the power of investing”, part of UBS’s new corporate purpose. For now, the key financial targets remain the same, and his targeted $1 billion of cost savings will be reinvested rather than handed to shareholders. Hamers could look at things in a different way. His bank is troublefree compared with European rivals. But relative to Wall Street competitors like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, it looks bloated. Operating costs will eat up about three-quarters of revenue next year, based on Refinitiv median estimates, compared with two-thirds on average for the Americans. Both peers fetch chunky premiums to book value, implying considerable upside if Hamers can slash costs and mimic their higher returns. 51



Oil producers do themselves a favour Saudi Arabia has wised up. The de facto leader of the 13-strong Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus 10 allies including Russia who collectively constitute “OPEC+”, agreed on Sunday to end output cuts in late 2022 instead of next April.

The quid pro quo for a deal that will help them to navigate the uncertain course of the pandemic: Riyadh reluctantly allowed an increase in Abu Dhabi’s production. This makes Saudi look a bit weak. But the kingdom and Russia will also be allowed to pump more, while Abu Dhabi didn’t get as much of an increase in its allocation as it wanted. The alternative to compromise was seeing the United Arab Emirates flounce out, the OPEC+ deal implode, and over 5 million barrels of daily production flood the market. That would have triggered a far bigger decline in oil prices than Monday’s 2.5% drop to below $72 a barrel, which may also reflect renewed fears over virus hits to demand. It was smarter for producers to slowly add 2 million barrels a day by the end of 2021, and enjoy the fact that green considerations are reducing non-OPEC producers’ scope to grab market share.



Corporate DispatchPro





Profile for CDE Publishing

CorporateDisptach Pro - Edition 22  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded