Economy

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A woman looks at items outside an outlet store at a shopping district in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO – A woman looks at items outside an outlet store at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

April 18, 2019

TOKYO, (Reuters) – Japan’s core consumer prices rose 0.8 percent in March from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.

The core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes fresh food prices, compared with economists’ median estimate for a 0.7 percent annual gain.

Stripping away the effect of fresh food and energy, consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in March from a year ago.

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

April 18, 2019

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – More than 60 percent of Japanese companies want authorities to go ahead with a sales tax hike in October, but feel that additional government spending is needed to cushion the blow on the economy, a Reuters monthly poll showed.

Speculation lingers that Japan will once again delay raising the tax to 10 percent from 8 percent, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said he will proceed with the increase unless there’s a major economic shock.

Abe has twice postponed the planned tax hike — needed to meet rising social welfare costs as the population ages — since the last increase to 8 percent from 5 percent in April 2014 hit consumer spending and triggered an economic slump.

To avoid a repeat of that, Abe’s government has earmarked 2 trillion yen ($17.9 billion) in various spending measures to try to temper any economic downturn.

About 80 percent of companies surveyed say authorities should go ahead with the hike, the poll showed.

Some 18 percent said no extra stimulus was needed, but 61 percent said additional steps are necessary.

“To prevent consumption from slumping after the tax hike, further tax breaks will be needed, such as increasing items subjected to lower tax rates,” a manager of a construction firm wrote in the survey.

Just 21 percent said the planned tax increase should be scrapped altogether, according to the April 3-15 survey.

GROWTH OR REFORM?

Some respondents said boosting government spending defeats the point of the tax hike.

“Raising the tax is meaningless if it involves stimulus to boost spending,” a service firm manager wrote in the survey.

Others expressed concern that the tax hike would undermine Japan’s economic growth, which is already weak.

“Even with higher taxes, government revenue won’t increase because consumer spending will decline and corporate profits will deteriorate,” a manager of an electric machinery maker wrote.

Some economists have warned that Japan could slide into a recession as companies are feeling the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war and global slowdown, chilling business investment and demand.

Yet Japan needs to shore up its finances as its population rapidly greys. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged Japan on Monday to raise the sales tax to as high as 26 percent.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted monthly for Reuters by Nikkei Research, polled 478 large and mid-sized firms with managers responding on condition of anonymity. About 230 firms answered the questions on the sales tax issue.

LONG HOLIDAY

Asked about their operational plans for the unprecedented 10-day holiday in late April and early May to mark the ascension of the new emperor, 47 percent of companies said they would partially halt operations and 38 percent said they would suspend business completely.

The remaining 15 percent said they don’t plan to stop operations at all.

Nearly half, or 47 percent, said they didn’t expect the long break to impact their business. Some 28 percent said they expected to see a drop in output or sales compared to a year earlier, while a quarter projected an increase.

Some reported seeing a bump up in demand as customers stock up on products to cope with the 10-day break as well as due to uncertainty about Brexit, the survey showed.

($1 = 111.8600 yen)

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Additional reporting by Izumi Nakagawa; Editing by Malcolm Foster & Shri Navaratnam)

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FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

April 18, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s markets regulator Bafin on Friday said its two-month ban on short-selling shares of payments company Wirecard had expired.

In February, Bafin initiated the ban due to volatility in Wirecard’s stock following reports in the Financial Times that became the subject of an investigation by German authorities.

Wirecard has denied wrongdoing and the FT has stood by its reporting.

The short-selling ban “has now expired”, Bafin said in a statement, without elaborating further. Short-selling is when an investor borrows shares to sell in the hope of being able to buy them back later at a lower price.

Earlier this week, Bafin filed a complaint with the Munich Prosecutor’s Office alleging market manipulation in the shares of Wirecard.

A series of reports run by the FT, citing a whistleblower’s claims of fraud and creative accounting at its Singapore office, have wiped billions off Wirecard’s market value and triggered a police investigation in the Asian state.

(Reporting by Tom Sims, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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FILE PHOTO: USMCA signing ceremony at the G20 in Buenos Aires
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto sign documents during the USMCA signing ceremony before the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By David Lawder and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The new North American free trade pact would modestly boost the U.S. economy, especially auto parts production, but may curb vehicle assembly and limit consumer choice in cars, a hotly anticipated analysis from the U.S. International Trade Commission showed on Thursday.

The ITC report is a crucial step in the push for Congress to consider ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which was signed by President Donald Trump and the leaders of the other two countries last year to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

The report estimates that annual U.S. real gross domestic product would increase by 0.35 percent, or $68.5 billion, on an annual basis compared to a NAFTA baseline, and would add 176,000 U.S. jobs, while raising U.S. exports.

The ITC’s estimates are for year six of the trade deal, once it is fully implemented.

The trade deal’s success or failure in Congress could be determined by how it is expected to affect the U.S. auto industry, a sector that steadily drained jobs to Mexico under NAFTA. The USMCA deal contains much tighter regional content rules, requiring that 75 percent of a vehicle’s value be sourced in North American versus 62.5 percent currently, and 40-45 percent produced in high-wage areas, namely the United States and Canada.

Auto industry employment would rise by 30,000 jobs for parts and engine production, but U.S. vehicle assembly would decline. U.S. vehicle prices would rise up to 1.6 percent, causing consumption to fall by 140,000 units per year, or about 1.25 percent of 2017 sales, the report said.

The report overall was more positive than initially anticipated by economists, who said the traditional economic models used by the ITC to measure previous trade deals would result in minimal gains for the United States.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told Reuters that he was pleasantly surprised by the results, which used different modeling methods that he called “accurate and well done.”

“Their estimate is a lot closer to what we think USMCA will do than I expected,” Hassett in a telephone interview. “This is very strong argument for passing the USMCA.”

CONCERNS NOT ALLEVIATED

But some key Democrats were not swayed from their demands for improvements to the enforcement of new labor standards before they consider USMCA. Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, chairman of the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee, said that he had already believed the trade deal needed changes before it could be considered by the House. “Nothing in this report alleviates those concerns,” he said.

Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee said, “The administration shouldn’t squander the opportunity to lock in real, enforceable labor standards in Mexico.”

The ITC report said Mexican union wages would rise by 17.2 percent if the labor provisions agreed in the USMCA are enforced. Even so, Mexican factory wages would remain far below those in the United States.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, praised the report for highlighting benefits beyond tariff reductions.

“Many of the significant improvements in USMCA are reducing non-tariff barriers and implementing rules and fair practices that will help U.S. workers, jobs and businesses tremendously over the coming years,” Grassley said in an emailed statement.

DUELING ANALYSES

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office had prepared a separate analysis of the USMCA’s automotive benefits that industry officials had described as a rosier alternative view of USMCA aimed at limiting any potential damage from the ITC report.

USTR estimated that the trade deal would create 76,000 automotive sector jobs within five years as automakers invest some $34 billion in new plants to comply with the regional content rules. The total includes about $15 billion in projects already announced.

USTR officials said their analysis was based on plans disclosed by automakers to the trade agency for compliance with the new agreement’s tighter rules of origin.

“They have verbally committed to us that they intend to comply with the rules,” a senior USTR official said. “And they have told us that this is not going to have significant upward pressure on vehicle prices.”

But the ITC report said some automakers may decide not to offer vehicles that would be too expensive to bring into compliance with the deal, reducing consumer choice in the U.S. auto market.

The trade group representing Detroit automakers Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler said it viewed the USTR analysis as more accurate than the ITC’s.

The ITC “underestimates the longer-term investments and increased U.S. auto parts sourcing that will be made in our sector as a result of the certainty and predictability the USMCA will deliver,” Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, said in a statement.

The USMCA deal will also lead to new access for U.S. exports of dairy, poultry and egg products to Canada and U.S. imports of sugar and sugar-containing products from Canada, the ITC said.

The ITC’s forecast estimated total U.S. dairy product output would increase by $226.8 million, or 0.1 percent. U.S. agriculture and food exports overall would increase by $435 million.

(Reporting by David Lawder and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting and writing by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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FILE PHOTO: Workers emerge from Bank underground station with the Bank of England and Royal Exchange building seen in the City of London financial district, London, Britain
FILE PHOTO: Workers emerge from Bank underground station with the Bank of England (L) and Royal Exchange building (R) in the City of London financial district, London, Britain, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Sinead Cruise, Josephine Mason and Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – The weeks before Easter are usually some of the busiest of the year for bankers, lawyers and consultants in the City of London, as clients rush to get deals done before a run of public holidays.

But this year comparatively little has been happening.

City workers had been hoping the torpor of the first quarter would be lifted if Britain left the European Union on March 29, or indeed, April 12.

But with Brexit on ice until as late as October 31 and the terms of the exit still to be agreed, fears are building that this could be one of the leanest years for the City since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The London Stock Exchange has had only one corporate listing in excess of 75 million pounds ($97.61 million) so far this year. Trading turnover on the London Stock Exchange in February and March was down a third from a year ago, and the lowest since August 2016.

Average daily turnover on London’s blue chip FTSE 100 stock index fell harder in those two months than all the main bourses in Europe except the DAX 30, according to a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv data.

European investment banking fees – the biggest chunk of which are earned in London – were down 25 percent in the first quarter, according to Refinitiv. And there were just 11 new UK-based hedge funds launched in the first quarter, compared to 35 in the same quarter in 2018, data from Prequin shows.

“There is going to be a long hiatus. Investors will need to see something far more positive in politics to be persuaded to move again,” Alastair Winter, economic adviser to Global Alliance Partners told Reuters.

“I can’t see how Labour and Conservatives can agree a deal. They are playing games to avoid blame. And until they figure it out, the City will be left to just twist in the wind.”

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley’s latest London Employment Monitor, which tracks financial services hiring trends from January to March, showed vacancies and job seekers dropping 9 percent and 15 percent respectively year-on-year. The number of job vacancies and job seekers in the first quarter were half the level they were in 2017.

Hakan Enver, Morgan McKinley Managing Director, said the figures showed confidence among City employers was flatlining.

“Even with all the uncertainty of the last few years, there was always an assumption that come March 29, we would have some answers. Yet here we are, still waiting,” Enver said.

Neil Robson, regulatory and compliance partner at law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman, said in the six weeks leading up to the end of March the “chargeable” work he had done was what he would usually do in a week-and-a-half.

“People are not setting up new funds, are not hiring, firing, they’re not doing new deals because they’re just waiting for what’s happening with Brexit,” he told Reuters.

Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, there is no sense of panic, just a pause pending greater clarity around Brexit, as well as other global issues like the U.S.-China trade dispute.

“We haven’t seen any panic-selling. There is resilience, and people have decided they need to just watch this play out,” one senior private banker said.

Robson said he had seen a small pick-up in activity since the Brexit extension was agreed, but it was still not at full capacity.

(Graphic: LSE turnover – https://tmsnrt.rs/2IrwrGg)

GETTING CREATIVE

The slowdown has forced firms to be more creative about how to make money.

Several large investment banks, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, have ramped up fundraising for private companies to fill an income void left by shallow capital markets activity. JPMorgan recently helped British banking start-up Starling raise 75 million pounds to fund expansion.

Banks are also spending more time taking companies off the stock market.

“I’m probably spending more of my time talking about take-private opportunities than I was a year ago. You will see more of that from now on. There are going to be more take privates if valuations continue to be depressed,” Indy Bhattacharyya, director at broker Peel Hunt, said.

The slowdown is not isolated to London – U.S. banks this week reported slides in their trading businesses globally.

But with Brexit uncertainty confounding the issue, UK-based finance houses in particular are finding it tough going.

“The bigger players will survive this, with some cuts here and there. Where there will be carnage is among the small-cap brokers, the boutique operators,” said Winter.

Canada’s Canaccord Genuity Group last month blamed Brexit and regulatory pressure for unacceptable returns in its UK capital markets business and the launch of a restructuring program expected to lead to significant job cuts.

As part of that plan, the company has put 48 jobs in London, more than a quarter of its City workforce, at risk of redundancy, according to an internal document seen by Reuters. It also plans to ax its mining and investment trust businesses, two sources familiar with the situation said.

Canaccord said in a statement that it was going through a consultation process and could not confirm details about the affected employees.

“This process, while difficult, is in connection with our previously stated strategy of better focusing our operations in the areas where we can be most relevant to our clients, while limiting our exposure in areas that are more sensitive to an unpredictable market backdrop,” the firm said.

With the threat of potential cuts, bankers say they are holding off booking extended holidays and doubling down on meeting clients and pitching ideas instead. But until there’s more Brexit clarity, few expect that to lead to much new business.

“There’s every chance this year that you’ll see more bankers doing the school run,” Peel Hunt’s Bhattacharyya said.

($1 = 0.7684 pounds)

(Additional reporting by Helen Reid, Maiya Keidan and Virginia Furness. Editing by Jane Merriman and Rachel Armstrong)

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Logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro
FILE PHOTO – A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

April 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp said on Thursday the U.S. oil major along with its partners have made an oil discovery offshore Guyana, which adds to the previously estimated 5.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent.

The discovery was in the Turbot area of Stabroek Block, which is expected to become a major development hub, Exxon said.

This is the thirteenth discovery on the block, which is part of one of the biggest oil discoveries in the world in the last decade.

Hess Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corporation are part of the consortium.

(Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

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Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston
FILE PHOTO: Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

April 18, 2019

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter after a false start.

The economy’s enduring strength was reinforced by other data on Thursday showing the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest in nearly 50 years last week. Fears of an abrupt slowdown in growth escalated at the turn of the year after a batch of weak economic reports.

They were also exacerbated by a brief inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve in late March. But those concerns have dissipated in recent weeks amid fairly upbeat data on trade, inventories and construction spending that have suggested growth last quarter could be better than the moderate pace logged in the final three months of 2018.

A report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday described economic activity as expanding at a “slight-to-moderate” pace in March and early April. The Fed’s “Beige Book” report of anecdotal information on business activity collected from contacts nationwide showed a “few” of the U.S. central bank’s districts reported “some strengthening.”

“The rebound in retail sales underscores that the domestic outlook remains favorable and well-supported by the labor market, and it dispels the misguided concerns that the U.S. economy is slipping into recession,” said Kathy Bostjancic, head of U.S. macro investor services at Oxford Economics in New York.

The Commerce Department said retail sales surged 1.6 percent in March, the biggest increase since September 2017, after dropping 0.2 percent in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales accelerating 0.9 percent last month.

With March’s rebound, retail sales have now erased the plunge in December that put consumer spending and the overall economy on a sharply lower growth trajectory. Retail sales last month were probably lifted by tax refunds, even though they have been smaller than in previous years, following the revamping of the U.S. tax code in January 2018.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rebounded 1.0 percent in March after declining 0.3 percent in February. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is being buoyed by a tightening labor market that is driving up wage growth.

STRONG LABOR MARKET

A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 192,000 for the week ended April 13, the lowest level since September 1969. Claims have now declined for five straight weeks. Economists had forecast claims rising to 205,000 in the latest week.

Though the trend in hiring has slowed, job gains remain above the roughly 100,000 needed per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

The reports boosted the dollar against a basket of currencies. Stocks on Wall Street were mixed, while U.S. Treasury prices rose.

As a result of March’s strong core retail sales, the Atlanta Fed raised its first-quarter GDP estimate by four-tenths of a percentage point to a 2.8 percent annualized rate.

Growth forecasts for the January-March quarter have been upgraded from as low as a 0.5 percent rate following the recent trade, inventories and construction spending data. The economy grew at a 2.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter.

Stronger growth in the first quarter will probably not change the view that the economy will slow this year as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package diminishes and the impact of interest rate hikes over the last few years lingers.

It also is unlikely to have any impact on monetary policy after the Fed recently suspended its three-year campaign to tighten monetary policy. The central bank dropped projections for any rate hikes this year after increasing borrowing costs four times in 2018.

“Key downside risks to U.S. growth are fading from view,” said Allison Nathan, an economist at Goldman Sachs in New York. “While we still think the next Fed move is much more likely to be a hike than a cut, we’ve pushed back our forecast for the next hike from the first quarter to the fourth of next year.”

Goldman Sachs has lifted its growth estimate for the second half of 2019 by 25 basis points to 2.5 percent. Despite the recent wave of relatively strong data, business surveys suggest pockets of weakness persist, especially in manufacturing.

A third report on Thursday from the Philadelphia Fed showed factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region slowed in April and manufacturers were less optimistic about business and labor market conditions over the next six months.

That was corroborated by a fourth report from data firm IHS Markit showing its measure of national factory activity was unchanged near a two-year low in early April, with the survey’s gauge of factory employment dropping to its lowest level since June 2017.

“Many of the ‘hard’ readings on activity suggest that the economy started picking up momentum late in the first quarter, but this is not evident in much of the recent survey data,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)

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The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

April 18, 2019

By Agamoni Ghosh

(Reuters) – European shares ended higher on Thursday as short covering kicked in ahead of a long Easter weekend and strong quarterly results including those from Unilever and Nestle tempered data showing euro zone businesses unexpectedly slowed this month.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose for a seventh straight session, its best winning streak since early February with Germany’s DAX closing at six-month highs, while London’s FTSE 100 fell, dragged by healthcare stocks.

Growth worries gripped equity markets in the early hours after surveys showed businesses across the euro zone stumbled into the second quarter as demand remained weak despite more modest price rises.

The data came on the heels of the German government lowering its forecast for 2019 economic growth on Wednesday, which was overshadowed by better-than-expected economic data out of China.

Markets however turned to end higher as a weaker euro and short covering ahead of Easter holidays benefited stocks.

“There is so much pessimism around Europe that the negative PMI data failed to find fresh sellers, triggering short-covering,” said Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager at Anthilia Capital in Milan.

A survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) found earlier this week that short positioning on European equities was the “most crowded trade” for the second straight month in April.

Earnings boosts from key industrial and consumer companies in the region also helped lifted STOXX with Schneider Electric providing the biggest impetus after the French company beat first-quarter sales forecasts.

Amsterdam-listed shares of Unilever hit a life-high after the consumer goods group reported stronger than expected quarterly underlying sales growth, helped by increased prices and volume.

Also boosting consumer stocks was Nestle on higher-than-expected sales growth in Q1. But Kering dropped 3.6 percent on signs of a slowdown at the French fashion company’s Gucci brand.

Sandvik led gains on the STOXX after reporting a better than forecast quarterly order intake and said demand remained strong across all its business areas, sending an upbeat signal for the Nordic industrial sector.

The grim PMI data had a negative impact on the euro and the German 10-year bund yields, which fell further. The banking index barely moved after five strong sessions.

Healthcare stocks were the biggest drag with Novo Nordisk, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline all sliding following a sell-off in U.S. healthcare stocks over regulatory worries on Wednesday.

The United States is among the biggest markets for European drugmakers.

Osram was the biggest percentage loser on the STOXX 600 after a German magazine reported that private equity groups Bain and Carlyle were losing confidence in their bid for the lighting group.

British American Tobacco shed 1.4 percent and Imperial Brands gave up 0.8 percent after U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he planned to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products.

(Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh, Medha Singh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru, Danilo Masoni in Milan; Editing by Gareth Jones, David Holmes/Mark Heinrich)

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FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers leave the Shoprite store in Daveyton, South Africa May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

April 18, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African grocer Shoprite is to buy back deferred shares held by its chairman Christo Wiese to simplify its voting structure but substantially curbing Wiese’s influence in the company he helped turn into an African powerhouse.

Besides ordinary shares, Shoprite’s capital structure includes deferred shares which carry about 32.3 percent of the voting rights at Shoprite. The deferred shares are held by Weise’s investment vehicle, Thibault Square Financial Services Proprietary Ltd.

Under the deal, Titan – another one of Wiese’s entities – will receive 20 million new ordinary shares from Shoprite, in exchange for deferred shares which Shoprite will buy for 265,000 rand ($18,836.41) and cancel, the retailer said in a statement.

The proposed deal will see Wiese’s voting interest reduced to 17.8 percent from 42.3 percent, while his direct shareholding will increase to 17.8 percent from 14.8 percent, Shoprite said.

Following the issuance of the new shares, the total voting interest of minority shareholders will increase from nearly 60 percent to more than 80 percent, while their shareholding will be diluted by 3.5 percent, it added.

Wiese has been instrumental in Shoprite’s transformation from just six outlets in South Africa in the 1970s to 2,800 shops across Africa, dwarfing rivals including Walmart Inc’s South African unit Massmart.

Shoprite, which also sells furniture and medicine, said the deal is expected to result in a potential once-off reduction in earnings and headline earnings of 3.3 billion rand, based on a 30-day-volume-weighted-average price of 165.35 rand per share as at April 17.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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A WTO logo is pictured on their headquarters in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: A World Trade Organization (WTO) logo is pictured on their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

April 18, 2019

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn, which it successfully argued limited market access for U.S. grain exports.

The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016, marked the second U.S. victory in as many months. It came amid U.S.-China trade talks and on the heels of Washington clinching a WTO ruling on China’s price support for grains in March.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Shields)

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