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Showing posts from July 23, 2014

UK watchdog says suspicious share moves rise slightly

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the level of suspicious share price moves ahead of the announcement of takeover bids or mergers rose slightly to 15.1 percent in the last financial year, up from 14.9 percent in the prior period. _0"> The FCA, launched in 2013 to take a harder line on financial crime, said on Thursday this was still well down on the nearly 30 percent level seen back in 2010. Unexplained moves are defined as anything outside a stock's normal movement, which usually refers to volume and frequency of trading. The FCA published its update on "market cleanliness" in its annual report. (Reporting by Huw Jones ; Editing by David Holmes )

Libya's oil industry remains vulnerable to protests

Libya's oil industry hopes life will return to normal now that a wave of protests has ebbed, but it will take months to ramp up production and more unrest is in prospect as political chaos spreads in the North African country. A group of eastern rebels agreed last week to clear two major ports they had seized almost a year ago in a drive for regional autonomy. Together with the freeing of the southern El Sharara oilfield, where a separate group has ended a blockade of its own, the ports' reopening could boost oil exports by 650,000 barrels a day in the next few weeks - helping to restore much of the 1.4 million bpd Libya used to pump before protests paralysed the sector. The rebels agreed to end their blockades after Libyans voted for a new parliamentary assembly last month in which candidates campaigning for a federal state that would share oil wealth between all regions scored well in the neglected east, according to preliminary results. But more protests can erupt at a

Research shows Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused lesions in fish -scientists

Oil that matches the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been found in the bodies of sickened fish, according to a team of Florida scientists who studied the oil's chemical composition. "We matched up the oil in the livers and flesh with Deepwater Horizon like a fingerprint," lead researcher Steven Murawski, a professor at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science in Tampa, told Reuters. He said the findings debunk arguments that fish abnormalities could have been caused by other factors including oil in coastal runoff and oil from naturally occurring seeps in the Gulf. BP, whose oil rig caused the spill, rejected the research, stating in an emailed response that it was "not possible to accurately identify the source of oil based on chemical traces found in fish livers or tissue." BP's statement added, "vertebrates such as fish very quickly metabolize and eliminate oil compounds. Once metabolized, the sourc

U.S. oil group pens 'good neighbor' standards for fracking

An oil industry lobbying group on Wednesday unveiled voluntary standards aimed at tamping down concerns about the oil and gas production process known as horizontal drilling, or fracking, in communities around the United States. _0"> The American Petroleum Institute said it published standards for how to engage with communities that host shale drilling sites, based on the "best practices" of industry participants who have been involved in such projects for 65 years. "The energy revolution is now occurring in areas of the country where oil and natural gas exploration doesn't have the same history as Texas or Oklahoma," API director of standards David Miller said of the move. The "good neighbor" standards include a list of steps oil and gas companies should take to "help local leaders and residents prepare for energy exploration, minimize interruption to the community, and manage resources." The guidelines do not address common l

Australian Senate delays carbon tax repeal

The Australian Senate rejected legislation to repeal the country's carbon tax on Thursday because it did not guarantee savings would be passed onto consumers, but amended legislation could still pass as early as next week. Mining magnate Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party (PUP), which holds the balance of power in the Senate, had said it would pass the legislation but withdrew support at the last minute. "We're very clear: we support the removal of the carbon tax, but we don't support the removal of the carbon tax if it means it won't flow on to normal people," Palmer told reporters. Australia has among the world's highest carbon emissions per capita due mainly to its reliance on coal-fired power stations. Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, once a climate-change sceptic, made the abolition of the carbon tax a centrepiece of his 2013 election, arguing it financially burdened industry and consumers and did little to cut emissions. The last m

China June daily crude oil imports down 7.8 pct on month

China's crude oil imports in June were at 23.28 million tonnes, or 5.66 million barrels per day, customs data showed on Thursday. _0"> On a daily basis, June imports fell 7.8 percent from 6.14 million bpd in May. (Reporting by Judy Hua and Fayen Wong ; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

UPDATE 2-Suedzucker profit falls on weak EU sugar sales

Operating profit at Europe's largest sugar producer Suedzucker fell by more than half in its fiscal first quarter, due to sinking sales inside the European Union's protected sugar quota system. European sugar prices have fallen sharply in the past year, hurting producers and refiners, because the European Union has allowed more imports and also plans to end the EU's sugar output quotas in 2017, part of moves to liberalise production. Sudzucker had warned in April it expected revenue and profit to decrease in its current financial year due to the difficult environment on the European sugar and bioethanol markets. The company said on Thursday it expected operating profit to come in significantly below the year-earlier level in the second quarter as well. "Export prices for non-quota sugar were less than last year as world market prices retreated," Suedzucker added. "In the sugar segment we expect a significant drop in revenues in fiscal 2014-15." The

UPDATE 1-Dutch marine services company Fugro warns will disappoint in first half

Dutch marine services company Fugro NV has warned that weakness in the oil and gas industry, combined with technical difficulties, meant its results for the first half would fall short of expectations, hammering its shares. Fugro, involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370, said it would make a one-off writedown of up to 350 million euros ($477.4 million) as a result of slowing growth in capital spending in the oil and gas industry, which accounts for three quarters of group revenue. It said it would report a "low single-digit" margin, on the basis of earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), for the first six months of the year, but strong growth in the second half would partly compensate for the setback. The full-year margin will still be down on last year. "For sure we are in a dip," said Chief Executive Paul van Riel in an analyst call. "But we really are looking at a much better second half ahead of us and also circumstances

Malaysia's Hibiscus Petroleum hires UBS, Maybank to advise on fundraising

Malaysia's Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd, an oil and gas production company, has hired UBS AG and Maybank Investment Bank Bhd to explore fundraising opportunities locally and abroad. _0"> The company is seeking funds to meet future expansion plans, it said in an announcement to the stock exchange on Thursday. The announcement was made the same day that Hibiscus Petroleum called off plans for a private placement to raise 500 million ringgit ($157.2 million), which was first announced in Oct 2013 and had Hong Leong Investment Bank as an advisor. Hibiscus Petroleum operates small to medium sized oil and gas fields in the Middle East, Norway, Southeast Asia and Oceania. ($1 = 3.1800 Malaysian Ringgits) (Reporting By Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Editing By Miral Fahmy)

UPDATE 1-Indonesian shares, rupiah rise as markets bet on Jokowi presidency

Indonesian shares and the rupiah rose on Thursday on the prospect of a presidential election victory for Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, widely seen as more business-friendly than his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto. Both claimed victory after Wednesday's vote and analysts warned there could be a drawn-out constitutional battle to decide who will lead the world's third-largest democracy and Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Even so, the Jakarta stock exchange rose as much as 2.8 percent to 5,165.42, the highest since May 30 last year, before ending up 1.5 percent. The rupiah hit a seven-week high. Both candidates favour a nationalist agenda, underpinned by popular perceptions the economy has for too long depended on selling off its vast natural resources cheaply to foreign buyers. But Prabowo is seen as more fiercely nationalistic, while Jokowi is seen as a more capable, hands-on administrator. "Investors are buying on the hope that some s

Bangladesh exports up 11 pct in 2013/14 as garment sales surge

Bangladesh's exports in the 2013/14 financial year that ended in June rose 11.65 percent from a year earlier to nearly $30.18 billion, boosted by stronger clothing sales, the Export Promotion Bureau said on Thursday. _0"> Garments are a vital sector for the South Asian nation, whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world's largest apparel exporter after China. Garment exports surged 14 percent to $24.5 billion in 2013/14 from a year earlier. The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart WMT.N, Tesco TSCO.L and H&M HMb.ST, has been under the spotlight after a string of fatal factory accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April 2013 that killed more than 1,130 people. (Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Kim Coghill)

UPDATE 1-Bangladesh exports up 11 pct in 2013/14 as garment sales surge

Bangladesh's exports in the 2013/14 financial year that ended in June rose 11.65 percent from a year earlier to nearly $30.18 billion, boosted by stronger clothing sales, the Export Promotion Bureau said on Thursday. Garments are a vital sector for the South Asian nation, whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world's largest apparel exporter after China. Garment exports surged 14 percent to $24.5 billion in 2013/14 from a year earlier. But the total exports were 1 percent below the target of $30.5 billion, partly because of political violence leading up to an election in January that crippled the economy. The readymade garment industry employs four million people, and the industry generates 80 percent of the country's export earnings. Bangladesh has to do more to improve factory conditions and workers rights in order to have U.S. trade benefits restored, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said earlier this month. Pres

Britain says to pass emergency phone and email data law

Britain said on Thursday it would rush through emergency legislation to force telecoms companies to retain the data of users for a year, saying the move was vital to protect national security following a decision by Europe's top court. _0"> Communication companies had been required to retain data for 12 months under a 2006 European Union directive which was thrown out by the European Court of Justice in April. The scrapping of the directive could deprive police and intelligence agencies of access to information about who customers contacted by phone, text or email, and where and when, the British government said. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the emergency legislation would restore this capability and enshrine it in law, ensuring investigations would not be hampered and giving protection to the telecom firms from possible legal challenges. However, he stated the measure would not give the authorities any new powers to access Britons' personal data or t

Club Med suitor Bonomi meets unions amid job fears

Club Mediterranee suitor Andrea Bonomi met trade unions on Thursday morning to outline his plan for the French holidays group amid fears of possible job cuts in its home market, where it has been underperforming. Bonomi is now Club Med's largest shareholder in the company that pioneered all-inclusive holidays after building a stake of nearly 11 percent this year. He is offering 21 euros a share for Club Med or 790 million euros ($1.08 billion). The Italian tycoon's offer tops a one year-old 557 million euros offer by China's Fosun International and French private equity group Ardian. That offer was priced at 17.50 euros a share but became mired in legal challenges and shareholder opposition to it as too low. Bonomi must convince Club Med shareholders, staff and the French establishment his offer is best for Club Med's future. Part of his strategy to win support has been to promise accelerated expansion in the country. Unions are unconvinced. "Bonomi's

UPDATE 2-Burberry beats sales forecasts, warns of forex hit

British luxury brand Burberry reported faster than expected sales growth in its financial first quarter but warned a strong pound would hit this year's profits. Burberry reported retail revenue of 370 million pounds ($629.6 million) for the three months to June 30, which beat analyst forecasts of around 350 million pounds. Sales growth reached 12 percent on a like-for-like basis, compared to an 8 percent consensus analyst forecast. Bigger luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci have seen retail sales growth collapse to below 5 percent from above 10 percent three years ago as consumers tired of global brands they saw as too ubiquitous. Burberry, known for its camel trenchcoats, has kept sales growing in China, unlike rivals that suffered more from a crackdown on corruption and conspicuous spending. But sterling's strength is taking its toll on the company's earnings power. Burberry's fixed costs are in pounds and its revenue comes in a variety of currencies.

Metro keen to hold on to Media-Saturn despite fight with founder

German retailer Metro AG said it wants to hold on to Europe's biggest electronics chain Media-Saturn despite a fight for control with Erich Kellerhals, the founder and minority owner. "Media-Saturn has great potential to grow. On the board, we are all of the opinion that we should not part with it," Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch told journalists at an event late on Wednesday. Metro is majority owner of Media-Saturn, the world's second-biggest consumer electronics chain after Best Buy Co Inc . It has been fighting for control for years with Kellerhals, who still owns a 22 percent stake and who said in May he wanted to buy back the business. Metro lifted its holding in Media-Saturn to 78 percent last year when it bought an extra 3 percent stake from co-founder Leopold Stiefel for about 230 million euros. That valued the whole company, which accounts for about a third of Metro's sales, at more than 7 billion euros ($9.55 billion). Industry sources told Reuter

UPDATE 2-Fast Retailing cuts net profit forecast on high-end denim woes

Japanese apparel supplier Fast Retailing Co cut its full-year net profit forecast more than 10 percent to account for losses at a premium denim brand, even as strong sales in its flagship Uniqlo stores helped third-quarter operating profit grow 21 percent, in line with forecasts. Asia's biggest fashion retailer cut its full-year net profit target on Thursday to 78 billion yen ($768 million), down from 88 billion yen, to account for a possible 10 billion yen impairment loss on its J Brand U.S. jeans operation. Fast Retailing paid $290 million to buy an 80 percent stake in J Brand late in 2012, with label managers holding on to the remaining stake. "We weren't effective enough in competing in the increasingly tough premium denim market," Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki told a news conference in Tokyo. The persistent loss at J Brand highlights the potential risks of scooping up non-homegrown brands for Fast Retailing in its drive for international growth. Amb

Hidden Chinese tin stocks, weak demand head off expected deficit

The export of hidden Chinese tin stocks is likely to be behind a puzzling rise in London Metal Exchange (LME) inventories that has frustrated investors who expected to see shortages this year. At the start of the year, tight supply-demand fundamentals led to numerous forecasts that tin prices would rise. But prices are down half a percent so far this year and have shed nearly 7 percent since touching a peak in April, weighed down partly by rising inventories. Full data are not available, but analysts say that the apparently well supplied market is due to hidden stocks in China that are making their way onto the international market, while demand has been weaker than forecast. Analysts polled by Reuters in April expected the cash LME tin price to average $23,360 a tonne this year, compared with the current price of $22,200. But instead of a scarcity of tin, stocks in warehouses monitored by the LME MSNSTX-TOTAL have surged by nearly 50 percent since Feb. 27, confounding investors

As silver fix decision nears, LME ties up with Autilla

The London Metal Exchange and technology firm Autilla joined forces on Wednesday to propose an electronic system for setting the global silver price benchmark as the deadline neared for replacing London's century-old silver fix. The 117-year-old price benchmark, or fix, will come to an end on Aug. 14, operator London Silver Market Fixing Limited said in May, as regulatory scrutiny of price-setting intensifies across markets. The silver fix is set every day at noon by three banks via a conference call, working out a price at which their customers are willing to buy and sell the metal. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) has consulted with market participants since May with the aim of producing a transparent electronic alternative to the conference call that complies with toughened regulatory standards. "Throughout the LBMA's process, the market has consistently indicated that Autilla's technology and the LME's compliance and price discovery systems ar

UPDATE 2-Russia's VEB bank says will not help bail out miner Mechel

Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) said on Wednesday it would not take part in a bailout of indebted miner Mechel, extinguishing hopes for a convertible bond scheme that was seen as its most likely lifeline. The loss-making coal to steel group, hit by weak prices for its products, is in critical need of government support. With debts of $8.6 billion, Mechel, co-owned by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, has already gone through several debt restructurings with creditor banks. Russia nursed its oligarch-owned conglomerates through the 2008-09 global crisis, avoiding a wave of defaults. Mechel piled on more debt to pay for acquisitions, only to be hit by an industry slump that left it with a devalued asset portfolio. In June Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the government was considering implementing a 180-billion rouble ($5.3 billion) scheme that would involve a convertible bond, which could be purchased by state development bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB. Howev

Swann's SSP prices London float at lower end of revised range -Telegraph

SSP Group has priced its London float at 210 pence per share, the bottom of its revised range, giving the owner of Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza a market valuation of just under 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), the Telegraph reported on Wednesday. _0"> The price range for SSP's IPO-SSPG.L initial public listing had be narrowed twice, with the final refined range being between 210 pence per share to 215 pence per share, the daily said, without naming sources. ( bit.ly/1zpIKWK ) The paper had earlier on Tuesday reported that the food and beverage company's price range had been narrowed to between 210 pence per share and 230 pence per share, from between 200 pence per share and 240 pence per share. SSP, which is headed by retail veteran Kate Swann, could not immediately be reached for a comment outside of regular business hours in the UK. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bangalore, editing by Louise Heavens)

UPDATE 1-Swann's SSP prices London float at lower end of revised range -Telegraph

SSP Group has priced its London float at 210 pence per share, the bottom of its revised range, giving the owner of Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza a market valuation of just under 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), the Telegraph reported on Wednesday. The price range for SSP's IPO-SSPG.L initial public listing was narrowed twice, with the final refined range between 210 to 215 pence per share, the daily said, without naming sources. ( bit.ly/1zpIKWK. ) The company is headed by retail veteran Kate Swann. The paper had earlier on Tuesday reported that the food and beverage company's price range had been narrowed to between 210 pence per share and 230 pence per share, from between 200 pence per share and 240 pence per share. A spokesman for the company declined to comment. SSP operates food and drink outlets in airports and railway stations in 29 countries. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bangalore, editing by Louise Heavens and Cynthia Osterman )

UPDATE 1-As silver fix decision nears, LME ties up with Autilla

The London Metal Exchange and technology firm Autilla teamed up on Wednesday to launch a last-minute bid to run the new global silver price benchmark in the closely fought contest to replace the 117-year old London "fix." The Autilla/LME camp's proposal for an electronic system will likely challenge a joint proposal from exchange operator CME Group Inc and Thomson Reuters Corp, who are also in the final running, sources who were not competing in the process have told Reuters. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the industry body coordinating the search for a new mechanism, said on Wednesday the results of the high-profile process are likely by the end of the week. It had been due earlier this week. The winner will operate a new daily silver pricing benchmark to replace London's century-old silver fix when it ends on Aug. 14 as regulatory scrutiny of price-setting intensifies across markets. The LBMA has been consulting with market participants since May

Russian minister says supports saving Mechel with bankruptcy law one option

Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov said on Thursday he supported returning indebted miner Mechel to financial health within the framework of bankruptcy law or by creating a managing company, RIA Novosti news agency reported. _0"> On Wednesday state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) said it would not take part in a bailout of Mechel, extinguishing hopes for a convertible bond scheme that was seen as its most likely lifeline. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Alessandra Prentice)

Symantec in talks with Chinese government after software ban report

U.S. security software maker Symantec Corp said it is holding discussions with authorities in Beijing after a state-controlled Chinese newspaper reported that the Ministry of Public Security had banned the use of one of its products. _0"> The China Daily reported on July 4 that the ministry had issued an order to branches across the nation telling them to uninstall Symantec's data loss prevention, or DLP, products from their systems, saying the software "could pose information risks." The newspaper also said Chinese news site Sohu.com had reported that the public security bureau had banned Symantec's DLP products from future procurement projects. ( bit.ly/1okVF3v ) Symantec spokeswoman Colleen Lacter told Reuters that her company was in discussions with the Chinese government about the matter, though she declined to confirm or deny the newspaper's account of what had happened. "The discussions are ongoing and it's premature to go into detail

GLOBAL MARKETS-Still shaky despite Fed assurance

European shares were back in negative territory on Thursday, a brief lift from U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes proving short-lived as investors worried whether markets could go it alone without the U.S. central bank's emergency support. Faith in a rally in share prices dating back almost three years has more shaky over the past month than for some time, as the Fed nears what looks like a definitive end to its programme of new money-printing. The minutes from the U.S. central bank's last meeting, published after European markets had closed on Wednesday, offered no sign it was any closer to following that with a swift rise in official interest rates to cool the economy. That boosted U.S. and Asian markets overnight. But the dominant concern at the European open was over companies' results and the economy's ability to survive without the new funds which the Fed's bond-buying has forced into the system every month. Norway's largest bank DNB added to an ina

BoE says fines tally for banks makes its work harder

Growing fines for banks for misconduct is making it harder for regulators to work out how much capital lenders should be holding, Bank of England Deputy Governor Andrew Bailey said on Thursday. _0"> Bailey said regulators such as the BoE have to look at the direction of travel of fines, particularly in the United States, to see what potential fines are in the pipeline. Banks have been fined millions of pounds for rigging the Libor interest rate benchmark and allegations are now emerging that the foreign exchange market has been manipulated as well. "This is a considerable dent in rebuilding bank capital," Bailey told a Bloomberg event. "So far this has not caused a major financial stability issue. These are things on a scale that have to be handled very closely to deal with the issues around them." (Reporting by Huw Jones ; editing by Jason Neely )

Fiscal deficit control, manufacturing revival India's top challenges

Containing the fiscal deficit and a revival of manufacturing are the biggest challenges for the Indian government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after presenting the federal budget on Thursday. (Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Ratnajyoti Dutta ) _0">

UPDATE 1-Bankruptcy law is option for Russia's Mechel, minister says

Indebted miner Mechel may be allowed to declare bankruptcy to sort out its finances, a Russian minister said, suggesting for the first time that the company might not be bailed out. Russia has been nursing its oligarch-owned conglomerates through a prolonged downturn in the commodities cycle, seeking to avoid a wave of defaults that would lead to mass job losses at a time when the economy is at near standstill. However, Industry Minister Denis Manturov said on Thursday bankruptcy might help Mechel, a coal-to-steel group with $8.6 billion in debt and which employs 70,000 workers, a day after state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) said it did not want to take part in any bailout. While Manturov's comments could signal a change in policy, the final decision on what to do with Mechel, controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin, will most probably rest with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We need to talk about financial recovery either via bankruptcy law, or by strengthen

Boeing sees $5.2 trln jet market, win vs Airbus on twin-aisles

Boeing Co made its most bullish 20-year forecast for jetliner demand since 2011, saying on Thursday the world will need 36,770 new planes worth $5.2 trillion by 2033. The company's annual projection is up 4.2 percent from its 2013 forecast, and it predicted beating rival Airbus Group NV in the lucrative market for twin-aisle planes as the planes are built and delivered over the next two decades. "If Airbus doesn't do something with their product strategy, they're headed to 30-35 percent market share" in deliveries of next-generation twin-aisle aircraft, Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president of marketing, told reporters in a briefing. Boeing's 787 and 777X jets already make up 65 percent of all current orders, with the Airbus A350 accounting for the rest, and that gap will widen unless Airbus develops another jet as a competitor, he said. Planes are delivered years after orders are placed, so the final numbers may change as airlines change their pla

UPDATE 1-Britain moves to keep email, phone data for security

Britain said on Thursday it would rush through emergency legislation to force telecoms firms to retain customer data for a year, calling the move vital for national security following a decision by Europe's top court. Communication companies had been required to retain data for 12 months under a 2006 European Union directive but this was thrown out in April by the European Court of Justice on the grounds that it infringed human rights. Britain's coalition government said the scrapping of that directive could deprive police and intelligence agencies of access to information about who customers contacted by phone, text or email, and where and when. Prime Minister David Cameron said it was vital these powers were not compromised at a time of growing concern over Britons travelling to Iraq and Syria to join militant Islamist groups. Those concerns prompted the government to take the unusual step of announcing fast-track legislation which, under a deal brokered behind closed do

UPDATE 1-Collision halts Statoil Oseberg East platform, restart seen Thurs

Statoil shut its oil platform at the Oseberg East field offshore Norway after a collision with a supply vessel but production was expected to restart later the same day, a spokesman said. The collision took place at 0140 CET (1140 GMT on Wednesday), forcing a shutdown and preparations to evacuate workers. The situation was normalised a few hours later, and the inspection showed small damage on the platform. "The production was stopped, but we are preparing to restart it later today," said Lars Kindingstad, a spokesman for Statoil. During the first four months of the year, Oseberg East produced 961,189 barrels of oil or about 8,000 barrels of oil per day, data from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate showed. Statoil, the operator of the field, has a 49.3 percent stake in the production licence. The other partners are Norway's state-owned Petoro with 33.6 percent, France's Total with 14.7 and U.S. major ConocoPhillips with 2.4 percent. (Reporting by Nerijus Ado

UPDATE 2-Pork producer WH Group seeking up to $3bln in revised Hong Kong IPO-IFR

Chinese pork producer WH Group Ltd is seeking to raise up to $3 billion as early as this month in a revived Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) which saw the deal size cut by nearly two-thirds, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported on Thursday. The offer would be the second attempt this year by the world's biggest pork company to go public, as it seeks funds to repay part of the debt it took to foot last year's $7.1 billion purchase of U.S. pork producer Smithfield International. In April, WH Group pulled an Hong Kong IPO it had hoped would raise up to $5.3 billion after investors baulked at the high valuation. The 29 banks - a record number - hired to manage the offer also sent confusing signals to institutional investors, while the negative publicity surrounding sky-high executive compensation raised corporate governance issues. The new IPO would only comprise primary shares, meaning existing shareholders including CDH Investments, New Horizon, Goldman Sachs and Te

India raises military spending, eases foreign investment limit in arms industry

India boosted defence spending by 12 percent in 2014-15 over the previous year in a budget presented on Thursday and further opened the domestic weapons industry to foreign investment to help rebuild the military and narrow the gap with China. India has been the world's top arms buyer for the last three years, trying to replace an ageing Soviet-era military with modern weapons as a deterrent to a rising China, with which it fought a war more than half a century ago. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set the military budget at 2.29 trillion Indian rupees ($38.35 billion) for 2014-15, 50 billion rupees more than what the previous government agreed in an interim budget earlier this year. Defence expenditure for 2013/14 was kept at 2.04 trillion rupees. "Modernisation of the armed forces is critical to enable them to play their role effectively in the defence of India's strategic interests," he said to the thumping of desks in the lower house of parliament, where he pre

Ukraine threatens to retake territory from defiant rebels

Ukrainian government forces on Wednesday warned separatists in the eastern town of Donetsk that a plan was now in place to take back the territory they occupy, but defiant rebels reported a steady flow of new recruits who were ready to fight. The Ukrainian military pushed the rebels out of their best-fortified stronghold in the town of Slaviansk on Saturday, but they have regrouped for a stand in Donetsk, a city of nearly a million people. Rebels also still control strategic buildings in Luhansk near the Russian border. Separatists said on Tuesday that Igor Strelkov, a Russian military officer from Moscow who until the weekend led rebels in Slaviansk, had assumed command of the "defense of Donetsk". President Petro Poroshenko has ruled out using air strikes and artillery that might endanger civilians and said on Tuesday night: "There will be no street fighting in Donetsk." But the government says it has a plan to retake Donetsk and Luhansk and deliver a "

Fifty-three blindfolded bodies found in Iraq as political leaders bicker

Iraqi security forces found 53 corpses, blindfolded and handcuffed, south of Baghdad on Wednesday as Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders traded accusations over an Islamist insurgency raging in the country's Sunni provinces. Officials said dozens of bodies were discovered near the mainly Shi'ite Muslim village of Khamissiya, with bullets to the chest and head, the latest mass killing since Sunni insurgents swept through northern Iraq. "Fifty-three unidentified corpses were found, all of them blindfolded and handcuffed," Sadeq Madloul, governor of the mainly Shi'ite southern province of Babil, told reporters. He said the victims appeared to have been killed overnight after being brought by car to an area near the main highway running from Baghdad to the southern provinces, about 25 km (15 miles) southeast of the city of Hilla. The identity and sectarian affiliation of the dead people was not immediately clear, he said. Sunni militants have been carrying out att