Greek debt relief closer than ever but creditors must act, Greek


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Greek debt relief ‘closer than ever’ but creditors must act, Greek prime minister says

ATHENS Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras kept up his demand for debt relief from international lenders on Tuesday, saying Athens was close to securing a solution to ease its debt mountain but that creditors must meet there commitments.

Greece wants to wrap up negotiations with the lenders — the European Union and International Monetary Find — on reforms and on debt relief this month.

It needs another tranche of bailout money, wants to qualify for inclusion in the European Central Bank’s bond-buying program, and seeks to return to bond markets immediately afterwards.

“We are closer than ever to a substantial solution on debt relief,” said Tsipras reiterating that Greece had already agreed to apply more austerity after its current bailout expires and it was its lenders’ turn to fulfill their promises of discussions about debt relief.

“Τhe ball is no longer in our court,” he told reporters referring to lenders’ statements on debt relief in past years.

Despite Greece’s recent statements and a bailout review agreement at staff level, sources close to the lenders have been less optimistic seeing talks on debt relief lasting longer than May.

This is because of sharp differences between the IMF and Germany, Europe’s paymaster, over the Greece’s fiscal targets. The former says Greece’s target and debt are unsustainable; the latter, with an election coming, is less willing to drop its hard line.

After six months of tense talks, Athens and the lenders reached a deal last week on a set of additional reforms the country needs to implement in 2019-20, two years after its current, 86-billion euro bailout program expires.

Greece wants euro zone finance ministers to approve the reforms’ deal at a scheduled Eurogroup meeting on May 22 — a key condition for unlocking vital loans — but also agree on a formula to make its debt sustainable in the medium-term and long term.

Debt sustainability is key for the European Central Bank and the Washington-based IMF, which participated financially in the country’s first two rescue packages, but has yet to announce whether it will join Greece’s current program, the third since 2010.

Greek lawmakers are expected to vote on the new austerity package by May 18, before euro zone finance ministers assess the country’s progress.

Tsipras, who is sagging in opinion polls and whose term expires in 2019, controls 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament and he is expected to pass the bill.

But the delays in the negotiations have slowed projected economic growth and have exacerbated reform fatigue after seven years of austerity hurting the government’s popularity further.

Asked whether he was considering a cabinet reshuffle, Tsipras ruled it out.

“We are not considering it. Our aim now is to speed up work as much as we can,” he said during a visit at the education ministry, where he announced a planned education reform.

(Additional reporting Angeliki Koutantou Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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03/11/2017

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Asset sales plan secures EU backing for $130 billion Dow, DuPont


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Asset sales plan secures EU backing for $130 billion Dow, DuPont merger

The Dow logo is seen on a building in downtown Midland, Michigan, in this May 14, 2015 file photograph. Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) – Dow Chemical and DuPont won the blessing of the European Union for their $130 billion merger on Monday by agreeing to sell substantial assets including key research and development activities.

The European Commission had been concerned that the merger of two of the biggest and oldest U.S. chemical producers would leave few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future. The deal is one of a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the industry and consolidate six companies into three.

Asset sales would ensure competition in the sector and benefit European farmers and consumers, the Commission said.

“We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“Our decision today ensures that the merger between Dow and DuPont does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation for safer and better products in the future.”

The two other big deals in the industry are ChemChina’s [CNNCC.UL] $43 billion bid for Syngenta and Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto.

Dow and DuPont said they were still on target for $3 billion in cost synergies and $1 billion in growth benefits.

The deal is still to be approved by regulators in the United States, Brazil, China, Australia and Canada, but the companies said they were confident of clearance in all remaining jurisdictions.

“This regulatory milestone is a significant step toward closing the merger transaction, with the intention to subsequently spin into three independent publicly traded companies,” Dow spokeswoman Rachelle Schikorra said in an email.

The EU approval may be a sign that U.S. regulators would follow suit because the agencies have traditionally coordinated on reviews and remedies for large multinational mergers, said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute non-profit group.

However, any required asset sales would likely reflect antitrust concerns in the local marketplace.

“In the U.S. there are very high shares in corn and soybean seeds. We would expect those problems to be significant enough for enforcers in the U.S. to remedy them,” Moss said.

Weighty Decision

DuPont products are shown for sale in a hardware store in National City, California, December 9, 2015. Mike Blake/File Photo

The 1,000-page decision underlined the significance of the merger. In return for the EU green light, DuPont will divest large parts of its global pesticides business, including its global research and development organization.

The unit makes herbicides for cereals, oilseed rape, sunflower, rice and pasture and insecticides for insect control for fruits and vegetables.

Dow, in turn, will sell two acid co-polymer manufacturing facilities in Spain and the United States, as well as a contract with a third party through which it buys ionomers. The company has already found a buyer in South Korea’s SK Innovation.

“The main surprises here are the inclusion of the pesticides and the exclusion of any kind of seed assets,” Bernstein analysts wrote in a note. The analysts also said they had expected EU to be concerned about the concentration of seed sales, and that they would require Dow to divest its corn seeds business.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference after Dow Chemical gained conditional EU antitrust approval on Monday for their $130 billion merger by agreeing to significant asset sales, one of a trio of mega mergers that will redraw the agrochemicals industry, in Brussels, Belgium March 27, 2017. Yves Herman

“We see the required divestments here as smaller than we originally expected, due to the exclusion of seed assets”.

Antitrust experts said the regulator’s demand to sell large swathes of R editing by Robin Emmott/Keith Weir/Sriraj Kalluvila

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10/09/2017

Posted In: NEWS

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