German railway to propose sale of Arriva subsidiary: source

BERLIN (Reuters) – German rail operator Deutsche Bahn wants to sell its Arriva international subsidiary to plug a 4 billion euro ($4.6 billion) financing gap, though Britain’s looming exit from the European Union is making it hard to value the business, a source close to the plans told Reuters on Sunday.

Deutsche Bahn management is holding a crisis meeting with Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer on Tuesday to discuss the situation at the state-owned rail company that has come under fire from passengers and politicians for falling punctuality.

However, the source said there were differences of opinion among politicians and the company’s supervisory board over the idea of selling Arriva and no decisions are expected on Tuesday.

Deutsche Bahn declined to comment.

Government officials who are members of the Deutsche Bahn board have repeatedly voiced scepticism about plans to privatize Arriva and its Schenker logistics arm.

The Handelsblatt newspaper, which first reported the plan, said that a complete sale of Arriva could raise between 4 billion and 4.5 billion euros.

Reuters’ source said that Arriva, which is headquartered in Britain and does most of its business there, was hard to value because of the country’s plan to leave the EU at the end of March.

Source: Read Full Article

German utility EWE to offer minority stake next month: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German regional utility EWE [LANDWE.UL] will offer investors a minority stake next month, three people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the whole group at up to 6.2 billion euros ($7.2 billion).

After advertising the offer of the 26 percent stake, probably in late February, prospective buyers would have four weeks to indicate their interest, one of the people said.

EWE, which also has a telecoms business, has said it wants to find a new strategic partner in 2019 to raise fresh funds for investments, including building glass-fiber networks with Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE).

Potential buyers included a group made up of infrastructure investor Macquarie (MQG.AX) and German insurer Allianz (ALVG.DE), the people said, as well as Canadian pension fund OMERS, Australian infrastructure fund IFM and Dutch pension fund PGGM.

Chinese firms might also show interest, one of the sources said, adding that they might channel any investment through a Western infrastructure fund rather than directly taking part in the auction due to Germany’s opposition to Chinese suitors.

Germany tightened rules last year to fend off unwanted takeovers by Chinese investors in strategic assets.

EWE’s 26 percent stake would be worth about 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion euros, the sources said, a value that would likely make it one of the biggest German utility deals in 2019.

Due to the size of the stake and limited influence that comes with it, the most likely bidders will be pension and infrastructure funds, which target low but stable returns.

“IRR (internal rate of return) expectations of some bidders are below 7 percent”, one of the sources said.

“EWE has a stable and defensive model,” another source said, adding any investor would need to be comfortable with EWE’s regional ownership and its long-term decision-making process.

Most of unlisted EWE, which has annual sales of 8.25 billion euros and an operating margin of 6.1 percent, is owned by cities and municipalities in northwest Germany. Peer EnBW (EBKG.DE) has a 6 percent, which it will relinquish as part of the 26 percent stake sale.

A spokesman for EWE said the sale has been agreed by the firm’s management, supervisory board and municipal owners. The transaction adviser was Citibank Group (C.N), he said.

Allianz, OMERS and PGGM declined to comment. IFM and Macquarie were not immediately available for comment.

Source: Read Full Article

Far-right MP badly hurt in German attack

German far-right politician Frank Magnitz has been beaten up and severely injured in an attack seen by police as politically motivated.

The leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Bremen was attacked by three people in the centre of the northern city on Monday.

Masked men knocked him unconscious with a piece of wood and kicked him in the head, AfD officials said.

They praised a construction worker for coming to his aid.

Mr Magnitz had just left a new year reception in Bremen’s Kunsthalle art museum when he was attacked.

AfD entered the national parliament (Bundestag) for the first time last year with 94 seats and now has representatives in every German state parliament.

Party spokesman Jörg Meuthen tweeted a photo of Mr Magnitz lying unconscious in his hospital bed and said he had been left “half-dead”.

He had a big gash on his forehead and severe bruising around his right eye.

Last week an AfD office in the eastern town of Döbeln was damaged by an explosion. No-one was hurt.

Source: Read Full Article

Far-right suspects held in German city

Six men have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to a far-right militant group in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

The men, aged 20 to 31, are accused of forming a group called “Revolution Chemnitz” to subvert democracy.

Prosecutors said the men had been planning attacks on foreigners, politicians and senior civil servants.

Tension has been running high in the city since a German man was allegedly killed by two migrants in August.

His death led to a series of protests by right-wing extremists.

Deep divisions

Five of the suspects attacked and injured foreign residents in Chemnitz on 14 September using glass bottles, steel knuckle gloves, and tasers, prosecutors said.

A further attack was also planned for 3 October, according to prosecutors.

A seventh suspect, believed to be the leader of the group, was detained on 14 September on charges of threatening public peace, the Reuters news agency says.

Chemnitz is in a region where the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the Pegida movement are particularly strong.

The protests in the city have exposed deep divisions in German society over the influx of more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing Middle East conflicts, after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to let them in.

Since then, policy changes have seen the number of people seeking asylum fall steeply.

Nonetheless, the AfD – which entered parliament for the first time in 2017 with 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats – continue to condemn Mrs Merkel’s immigration policy.

Source: Read Full Article

U.N. members adopt global migration pact rejected by U.S. and others

MARRAKESH, Morocco (Reuters) – U.N. members on Monday adopted a deal aimed at improving the way world copes with rising migration, but almost 30 countries stayed away from the ceremony in Morocco.

The pact, meant to foster cooperation on migration, was agreed in July by all 193 U.N. members except the United States, but only 164 formally signed it at the meeting on Monday.

Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out. Six more, among them Israel and Bulgaria, are debating whether to quit, a U.N. spokesman said after the pact was adopted. He did not say whether the rest of the countries absent from the conference in Marrakesh might also pull out.

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the United Nations began work on the non-binding pact after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, many fleeing civil war in Syria and poverty in Africa.

But President Donald Trump’s administration said the global approach to the issue was not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.

Since July, the accord, which addresses issues such as how to protect migrants, integrate them and send them home, has been criticized by mostly right-wing European politicians who say it could increase immigration from African and Arab countries.

Angela Merkel, accused by critics of worsening the refugee crisis by opening Germany’s borders in 2015, said cooperation was the only answer to tackle the world’s problems.

“The pact is worth fighting for,” the German chancellor, one of around a dozen national leaders in Marrakesh, told the forum. “It’s about time that we finally tackle migration together.”

Without naming Trump or his “America First” stance, she said multilateralism was the way “to make the world a better place”.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said migration needed better management and rich countries would benefit.

“In the many places where fertility is declining and life expectancy is rising, economies will stagnate and people will suffer without migration,” he said in his opening address.

“It is clear that most developed countries need migrants across a broad spectrum of vital roles, from caring for elderly people to preventing the collapse of health services,” he said.

On Sunday, Chile withdraw from the pact, while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel saw the biggest party in his coalition quit in a dispute over the accord.

In November, Austria’s right-wing government, which holds the EU presidency, said it would withdraw, saying the pact would blur the line between legal and illegal migration.

Australia said it would not sign up to a deal it said would compromise its hardline immigration policy.

Source: Read Full Article

Trade truce with China means big changes in Beijing policy: Trump

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and top U.S. officials said on Monday that a trade truce with China will lead to structural changes in Beijing’s economic policies, including lower tariffs, lower non-tariff barriers and more market access for U.S. companies.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on new tariffs during talks in Argentina on Saturday, declaring a truce following months of escalating tensions on trade and other issues. On Sunday, Trump tweeted that China had agreed to cut import levies on American-made cars.

“My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one. Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward! Very good things will happen,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Chinese regulators did not respond to requests for comment on Trump’s tweet on autos tariffs. Neither country had mentioned auto tariffs in their official read-outs of the Trump-Xi meeting.

At a dinner lasting two and a half hours, the United States agreed at the weekend not to raise tariffs further on Jan. 1, while China agreed to purchase more agricultural products from U.S. farmers immediately.

The two sides also agreed to negotiate over the next 90 days to resolve issues of concern raised by the United States including intellectual property protection, non-tariff trade barriers and cyber theft.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday there was a clear shift in tone at Buenos Aires from past discussions with Chinese officials, as Xi offered a clear commitment to open China’s markets to U.S. companies.

“This is the first time that we have a commitment from them that this will be a real agreement,” Mnuchin told CNBC television, adding that the administration would know “very quickly” whether a deal can be documented.

Related Coverage

  • German government welcomes U.S.-China truce halting new tariffs for 90 daysGerman government welcomes U.S.-China truce halting new tariffs for 90 days
  • Factbox: Contrasting Chinese, U.S. statements on trade war agreementFactbox: Contrasting Chinese, U.S. statements on trade war agreement

“We absolutely need something concrete over these 90 days,” Mnuchin added. “This is not going to be something where there’s just soft commitments that get kicked down the road.”

The truce boosted global markets on Monday with world stocks up nearly 1 percent. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.94 percent at the open and the S&P 500 by 1.10 percent.

Gold hit its highest level in a month, and industrial metals and other commodities such as cotton also gained.

Chinese shares, commodities and the yuan currency surged. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index closed 2.6 percent higher and the blue-chip CSI300 index jumped 2.8 percent to their biggest daily gains in a month. [SS]

Mnuchin said the negotiations with China would be led by Trump, with an “inclusive team” of administration officials, including himself and other cabinet officials.

White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said, however that the talks would be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – a shift from past practices where Mnuchin had a lead role.

The White House has said the existing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would be lifted to 25 percent if no deal was reached within 90 days, once again setting the clock ticking.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated comments from the government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi who said on Saturday the ultimate goal was the lifting of all tariffs.

“The consensus reached by the leaders of our two countries is to halt the imposition of new tariffs and at the same time the two sides’ leaders instructed the economics teams of both sides to intensify talks towards the removal of all tariffs that have been imposed,” Geng told a daily news briefing.

Mnuchin said China had agreed to make “big, long-term commitments” to purchase U.S. liquefied natural gas,” provided that the United States builds sufficient export terminals.

Source: Read Full Article

Brexit poses risk to German economy, warns Scholz

BERLIN (Reuters) – Finance Minister Olaf Scholz warned on Tuesday that the German economy faces several risks, including the effect of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, so caution was warranted for the coming years.

“One risk has to do with Britain’s exit from the European Union. I believe we should do all we can to ensure there is a good agreement,” Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

“We can hope that the British parliament accepts what is offered but that we also ensure that this development does not result in economic difficulties in Britain or in the rest of the European Union,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article

Germany has no place in WW1 ceremony for 'winners'- far-right leader

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel should not have taken part in a ceremony in France on Sunday marking the centenary of the Armistice as it is an event for the “winners” of World War One, said the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Germany lost the war and Merkel’s participation in a ceremony for the former allies amounted to an attempt to rewrite history, AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said.

“We can’t put ourselves in a historical situation that clearly favours the winner and walk alongside Mr. Macron through the Arc de Triomphe,” he said, referring to the famous Paris monument.

Gauland’s comments stood in marked contast to the themes of reconciliation and the need for vigilance against resurgent nationalism which characterised the official commemorations in London and Paris for the millions killed during World War One.

With U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting just a few feet away, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced those who evoke nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others, calling it a betrayal of patriotism and moral values. [nL8N1XM0SN]

In London, Britain’s royal family was joined by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who become the first German leader to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph war memorial in an historic act of reconciliation. [nL8N1XM0OP]

The anti-Islam AfD entered the German parliament for the first time last year, drawing support from a broad array of voters angry with Merkel’s decision in 2015 to welcome almost a million, mainly Muslim asylum seekers.

Its leaders have been rebuked for comments that appear to belittle the Nazi dictatorship or suggest that history books should be re-written to focus more on German victims.

In a rare public display of emotion, Macron and Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiegne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war, one of the bloodiest in history.

Source: Read Full Article

Stada, Angelini among final bidders for $1 billion Bristol-Myers' UPSA unit: sources

FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) – German drugmaker Stada (STAGn.DE) and Italian healthcare company Angelini are the only industry players to be shortlisted to make final bids for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY.N) French over-the-counter drugs business, four sources close to the deal said.

Two private equity firms, CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners, have also made it through to the final round of the auction for UPSA, the maker of Dafalgan and Efferalgan painkillers, the sources told Reuters.

The sale, which is handled by Jefferies and Deutsche Bank, is worth about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Stada, CVC and PAI declined to comment while Angelini was not immediately available for comment.

BMS has given bidders a deadline of late November to submit final proposals, the sources said.

The U.S. firm took full control of the unit, which also produces effervescent aspirin and vitamin C, 24 years ago.

It is now looking to concentrate on high-margin prescription drugs, particularly for cancer, and hopes to sell UPSA for a multiple of 7.5 to 8 times its core earnings of 120 million-130 million euros, the sources said.

Germany’s Stada, which is backed by private equity firms Bain Capital and Cinven, is widely seen as the frontrunner for the deal as it seeks to build scale through major acquisitions, the sources said.

Italy’s Angelini, which is advised by BNP Paribas, is also willing to embark on a big deal, two of the sources said.

The sale initially drew interest from other big industry players including U.S.-run drugmaker Mylan NV (MYL.O) and Japanese healthcare firm Taisho Pharmaceutical which subsequently walked away from the process, the sources said.

UPSA generated revenue of 425 million euros in 2017 and employs about 1,500 people in France.

The sale comes amid a series of high-profile deals in the consumer health industry including Procter & Gamble’s (PG.N) acquisition of Merck KGaA’s vitamin brands in April and GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) deal to buy Novartis (NOVN.S) out of their consumer healthcare joint venture for $13 billion.

Source: Read Full Article