A worker smiles as she shows cannabis plants at the Tilray factory in Cantanhede, Portugal April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
April 25, 2019
By Catarina Demony and Rafael Marchante
CANTANHEDE, Portugal (Reuters) – Famous for its roasted suckling pig and wines, the Portuguese city of Cantanhede now hosts the country’s first medical cannabis production farm – a budding European hub of efforts to meet growing demand for the flowering herb.
Portugal’s California-like weather caught the eye of Canada-based Tilray as its CEO Brendan Kennedy roved around Europe from 2015 to 2017 in search of the perfect spot for a new production site.
Kennedy said Portugal had the ideal climate for cannabis cultivation and the country’s young, educated workforce and its major agricultural sector were further attractions.
Covering 2.4 hectares (5.9 acres) in a biotechnology park just outside Cantanhede, Tilray’s site was given the green light by Portugal’s regulator Infarmed in 2017. The company then rushed to import its first baby plants and recently reported its first two successful cannabis harvests.Kennedy opened the site to visitors for the first time at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.
“Some of our competitors are located in Denmark and northern Germany, where there isn’t that much sun – so we think we can produce a more environmentally-friendly product here,” he told Reuters.
Portugal also offers tariff-free entry to the rest of the European Union, a market Tilray wants to explore further at a time when an increasing number of governments are legalising medical marijuana.
FROM PROHIBITION TO LEGALISATION
“The paradigm is shifting from prohibition to legalisation,” Kennedy said, with demand for the product growing. “I’m fairly optimistic that over the next two years we will see every country in Europe legalising it.”
Last year Portugal’s parliament approved a bill to legalise marijuana-based medicines, following in the footsteps of EU countries such as Italy and Germany as well as Canada and parts of the United States. Britain made a similar move in July 2018.
Tilray’s 20-million-euro ($22.29 million) facility includes indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation sites, as well as research labs, processing, packaging and distribution sites for medical cannabis and cannabinoid-derived products.
Tilray supplies medical cannabis products with CBD and THC to patients in a number of countries, through subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, Germany and Latin American, and through agreements with pharmaceutical distributors.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament called for an EU-wide policy on medical cannabis and properly funded scientific research.
“We are at point where almost every doctor around the world recognises the medical benefits of cannabis,” Kennedy said.
The World Health Organization has stated that several studies have demonstrated cannabinoids provide therapeutic effects for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.
Moreover, a handful of regulated pharmaceuticals use chemicals derived from cannabis, such as GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex which is approved for treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
From Canada, where Tilray has six facilities, the company already sells medical cannabis products to 13 countries. Portugal will help Tilray boost exports further, Kennedy said.
“Our business plan for this facility is focused on exporting products from Portugal to other countries around the world.”
In Europe, Tilray products are already available in Germany, Croatia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic but it expects to start exporting to the United Kingdom – and potentially to France, Italy and Greece – in the next 12 months.
Kennedy said Tilray hopes this summer to expand exports to countries such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
According to analysis firm Prohibition Partners, the EU cannabis market will be worth 123 billion euros by 2028.
Kennedy did not confirm how much medical marijuana Tilray plans to produce.
($1 = 0.8973 euros)
(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Rafael Marchante; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar and Euro notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration
April 25, 2019
By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) – The euro nursed losses against the dollar on Thursday after dipping to a 22-month low on a surprise drop in a leading indicator for economic activity in Germany, amplifying worries of a growth slowdown in Europe’s largest economy.
German business morale deteriorated in April, bucking expectations for a small improvement, a business index by the Munich-based Ifo economic institute showed on Wednesday, as trade tensions weighed on the German economy, leaving domestic demand to support slowing growth.
The greenback rallied to a 23-month high of 98.189 against a basket of key rivals overnight after gaining more than half a percent, largely propelled by the euro’s weakness. The index last traded slightly lower at 98.096.
“Yesterday’s strength of the dollar was exaggerated by the weakness in countries other than the U.S.,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities.
“A big question is if the weakness in Australia and the euro area are temporary or not,” he said. “The main scenario is (for) a recovery in the second half of this year in the euro area and other regions.”
The euro sat at $1.1153, having suffered its biggest one-day loss against the dollar since early March when the European Central Bank pushed back plans for its first post-crisis interest rate hike.
The single currency also shed nearly 0.4 percent against the yen overnight and was last trading at 125.125 yen.
The Japanese currency slipped to a 2019 low of 112.40 yen per dollar on its own during the previous session, with traders eyeing a Bank of Japan policy decision later on Thursday for trading cues.
The BOJ is expected to keep monetary policy steady on Thursday and predict that inflation will fall short of its 2 percent target for three more years, signaling that its massive stimulus will stay in place for the foreseeable future.
The dollar was last a shade lower on the yen, changing hands at 112.12 yen.
The Australian dollar was largely unchanged at $0.7017.
The Aussie had given up nearly 1.3 percent during the previous session after weaker-than-expected Australian inflation numbers heightened the prospect of an interest rate cut.
The Canadian dollar was flat at $1.3495 after hitting a four-month low overnight, as investors raised bets on a Bank of Canada interest rate cut this year after the central bank slashed its economic growth outlook.
Market participants awaited policy decisions by the Swedish and Turkish central banks later on Thursday.
Sweden’s Riksbank is likely to keep its benchmark rate unchanged and may be forced to delay plans to tighten policy later in 2019, a Reuters poll of analysts published on Tuesday showed.
“The Riksbank may push further out the timing of the next rate hike, and also the market may speculate it’s too early for a rate cut by the Turkish central bank,” said Mizuho’s Yamamoto.
“That could be a negative for these currencies and positive for the dollar.”
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sign is seen on the podium at EPA headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ting Shen/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Jarrett Renshaw
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. biofuels trade group asked a federal court on Wednesday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from giving refiners new waivers from the country’s biofuels law until the agency reverts to the tougher criteria it used to assess applications before Donald Trump’s presidency, according to court papers.
The waivers can exempt small refineries — those with a production capacity of 75,000 barrels per day or less – from the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates U.S. refiners blend biofuels into the fuel pool or buy compliance credits from those who do.
Trump’s EPA has vastly expanded the biofuel waiver program to save the oil industry money, angering Midwest farmers who say the policy destroys demand for corn-based ethanol and other biofuels at a time they are already struggling – putting the administration in the center of a fight between two key constituencies.
“We want to return to normalcy,” Michael McAdams, head of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), which filed the injunction in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, said in an interview on Wednesday. “My members will continue to suffer irreparable harm unless the EPA changes its ways.”
The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard is meant to help farmers by requiring refiners to blend certain volumes of biofuels into their fuel each year or purchase credits from those that do. But the RFS also allows small refineries to apply for exemptions to the regulation if they can prove that compliance would cause them financial harm.
For 2017, the Trump administration’s EPA granted 35 exemptions to small refineries without denying any applications, up from seven exemptions issued in the last year of the Obama administration, according to EPA data.
That has reduced the costs of credits some refiners such as Valero Energy Corp, PBF Energy Inc and HollyFrontier Corp must buy in order to comply with the RFS, saving them hundreds of millions of dollars.
The EPA has argued it was forced to use a more liberal assessment process for waiver applications after a U.S. Appeals Court said in 2017 that the agency had been too strict in granting waivers during the Obama administration.
But ABFA has argued the agency illegally changed its process of assessing applications, making it possible for refineries owned by major oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp to secure them.
The EPA, which typically does not comment on pending litigation, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
ABFA asked the court to stop the EPA from granting the next round of exemptions for the year 2018 – due to come any day now – until its case challenging the 2017 waivers is resolved or the agency decides to go back to its old way of assessing applications.
“We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube if the 2018 exemptions are approved using an illegal scoring system,” said McAdams.
According to ABFA’s complaint, the Trump administration’s EPA stopped considering whether a refinery could remain profitable while complying with the RFS, and instead began considering only whether compliance would cause a “disproportionate” financial impact, an easier hurdle to clear.
In 24 out of 48 recent cases, the EPA granted waivers to refiners that the government believed would have remained competitive and profitable if they had been forced to comply with the RFS, ABFA alleged in the court documents, citing EPA documents outlining their decisions.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
FILE PHOTO: Cutouts depicting images of oil operations are seen outside a building of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA in Caracas, Venezuela January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Mayela Armas
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly on Wednesday took a key step toward authorizing a $71 million interest payment on state-owned oil company PDVSA’s 2020 bond, which is backed by shares in its crown jewel asset, U.S. refiner Citgo.
The assembly’s finance committee backed the payment, clearing the way for a full parliament vote expected next week.
Failure to make the payment could pave the way for creditors to attempt to seize up to half of Citgo’s shares as compensation.
President Nicolas Maduro’s cash-strapped government has remained current on the PDVSA 2020 bond payments even as it defaulted on some $8 billion in other debt.
But recent U.S. sanctions on PDVSA, intended to force Maduro to resign to allow opposition leader Juan Guaido to call elections, could prevent any Maduro-linked entity from making the payment.
The National Assembly, led by Guaido and recognized by the United States as Venezuela’s legitimate democratic body, authorized a parallel ad-hoc PDVSA board to negotiate the company’s debt earlier this month. It was unclear what funds the board planned to use to make payments.
Some $1.7 billion remains outstanding on the bond, issued in 2016 at an 8.5 percent coupon. It last traded at 87.5 cents on the dollar, more than triple the value of other bonds issued by PDVSA. The interest payment is due on April 27, but there is a 30-day grace period.
The payment would likely take place during that period, opposition lawmaker Juan Andres Mejia said, adding that the transaction would require a waiver from the U.S. Treasury, which enforces sanctions.
“We want to preserve the asset,” Mejia told reporters, referring to Citgo. “Maduro should not be making these payments. He does not have legitimacy.”
It would mark the first payment undertaken by Guaido’s interim government, a symbolic victory given that Maduro still controls the day-to-day business of government within Venezuela.
Guaido in January invoked the country’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Maduro calls him a U.S. puppet seeking to oust him in a coup and has accused the opposition of trying to “steal” Citgo.
PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
FILE PHOTO: The Tereos logo is displayed at a sugar beet processing plant in Chevrieres, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
April 24, 2019
PARIS/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – French sugar processing group Tereos has appointed a raft of new executives as part of a global reorganization to weather an industry-wide slump.
Effective immediately, Alex Leite will be executive director of its sugar trading division Tereos Commodities Sugar, it said in a statement on Wednesday, while two new executives will be appointed under a new corporate structure that will entail “a clear distinction between the raw and white sugar books,” the company said.
Tereos, the world’s second-largest sugar producer, said Omar Al-Dahhan will lead raw sugar and Pat Dean the white sugar unit.
Tereos Commodities Sugar “had reached a size and stage in its growth requiring additional focus to optimize its presence and results,” it said.
Tereos, which is forecasting falling profit this year due to a slump in global prices for sugar, has been carrying out an extensive reshuffle in recent weeks that saw its chief financial officer departing, among others.
It said on Wednesday that Marcelo Escorel Filho, who had been appointed as head of the Brazilian branch of Tereos Commodities in July 2018, would leave the company, with Leite assuming his responsibilities.
Leite, formerly head of international business development and M&A, will report to Philippe Huet, who was recently named head of trade, marketing activities and chief of Tereos Commodities.
In Brazil, which accounts for most of Tereos’ international revenues, both the CFO and the agricultural director were also leaving, Tereos said last month.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and José Roberto Gomes in São Paulo; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Tom Brown and Rosalba O’Brien)
FILE PHOTO: Alexandre Arnault, CEO of Rimowa, attends the 3rd edition of the Vogue Fashion Festival in Paris, France, November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
April 24, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – French billionaire Bernard Arnault’s son Alexandre will replace his father on the board of Carrefour, Europe’s largest food retailer said on Wednesday.
Luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault, whose Groupe Arnault owns a 5.46 percent stake in Carrefour, resigned from the board on April 15, the statement said.
Alexandre will serve the remainder of his father’s term until the end of the general shareholders’ assembly in 2020.
Carrefour did not say why Bernard Arnault had decided to resign from the board.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Editing by Dominique Vidalon)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump makes brief remarks to the press as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., after returning from a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
April 24, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said ongoing trade talks between the United States and China were going well, as the world’s two largest economies continue to try to hammer out a final deal.
“We’re doing well on trade, we’re doing well with China,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he departed for an event in Florida.
The next round of talks are slated to begin April 30 in Beijing, followed by further discussions starting May 8 in Washington.
U.S. administration officials in recent weeks have said that negotiations are progressing but few details have emerged.
Trump had earlier set a March 1 deadline for an agreement, but later extended the timeline and said he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods, citing productive talks.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks during the Gulf Intelligence Saudi Arabia Energy Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
April 24, 2019
By Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, will remain active in the debt markets after its debut $12 billion bond earlier this month, which was “only the beginning”, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday.
Falih, speaking at a financial conference in Riyadh, also said Aramco would access the equity markets earlier than expected after the company gained exposure among investors through the bond sale.
Many saw the debt deal as a relationship-building exercise with international investors ahead of Aramco’s planned initial public offering, aimed at raising money for the government as Saudi Arabia looks to cut its budget deficit and diversify its economy.
Saudi officials have said the new planned listing date is 2021, but Falih told the conference on Wednesday that the share sale “could slip or come forward a little bit”.
Aramco received more than $100 billion in orders by April 9 for its debut bond – even after its prospectus said the kingdom would not guarantee Aramco’s notes – but chose to sell only $12 billion.
The bond came on the heels of Aramco’s planned $69.1 billion acquisition of a 70 percent stake in petrochemicals firm Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Citi, Goldman Sachs and National Commercial Bank were the bonds’ bookrunners.
JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, along with other banks, worked on the planned stock market listing of Aramco before the move was postponed last year.
(Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Dale Hudson)
FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso attends the G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting in Tokyo, Japan January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
April 24, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso will meet U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington on Thursday, the Japanese ministry said.
Aso will brief reporters after the meeting, at around 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), the ministry said.
Aso and Mnuchin are expected to discuss currency issues on the sidelines of bilateral trade talks, although the ministry made no mention of the purpose of the meeting.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Robert Birsel)
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Staff
April 24, 2019
By Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh
(Reuters) – European shares edged lower on Wednesday as signals that China has put broader stimulus on hold overshadowed strong earnings from the likes of SAP and Credit Suisse.
The pan-regional STOXX 600 index was down 0.1 percent by 0920 GMT – though the benchmark index has notched gains in the past eight consecutive sessions, and shown a tendency to rebound from a weaker open.
“The market is taking some cue from the slowing of stimulus in China,” said Stefan Koopman, Market Economist, Eurozone, Rabobank.
“For the European markets to get some traction in the upcoming months we really need to depend on what’s happening in China.”
Most major regional bourses were in the red though the slew of upbeat earnings helping German and Swiss indexes advance.
Business software company SAP soared to an all-time high and boosted the DAX after the company set ambitious new mid-term targets and as activist investor Elliott Management disclosed a 1.2 billion euro ($1.35 billion) stake in the company.
Top performer was Wirecard which climbed 8 percent after the payments company confirmed Japan’s Softbank Group Corp will buy a 5.6 percent stake in the firm.
STMicro shrugged off a gloomy prediction by bigger rival Texas Instruments and posted a broadly inline update, which sent its shares up more than 3 percent.
SAP and STMicro drove the tech sector up 2.5 percent to its highest since July 2018.
Kicking off the first-quarter balance sheet assessment for banks in the region, Swiss lender Credit Suisse rose 2.5 percent after posting a surprise profit and saying it was cautiously optimistic about the second-quarter following a challenging start to the year.
Results from Credit Suisse will be followed by UBS Group AG and Barclays on Thursday and Deutsche Bank on Friday.
Healthcare stocks got a boost from Novartis’ gains as the Swiss drugmaker raised its 2019 guidance after a first-quarter earnings and sales beat.
Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo rose after reporting a better-than-expected first-quarter operating profit on the back of stronger pricing and easing supply chain constraints.
Auto stocks dropped 0.7 percent, led by Renault after its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co slashed its full-year profit forecast to its lowest in nearly a decade due to weakness in the United States.
Also weighing on the benchmark was the oil and gas sector which pulled back after a 2 percent jump in the prior session as crude prices retreated from 2019 highs. [O/R]
Online gaming company Kindred Group plc landed at the bottom of STOXX 600 after profits for the first-quarter were significantly impacted by a new local license in Sweden.
(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens)