Ace Finance News

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BRUSSELS: Landmark Ruling Against Mastercard After 20-Years of Payment Fees ‘

#AceFinanceNews – BRUSSELS – September 12 – Mastercard has lost its legal battle with the European Commission over payment fees following a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Master Card loses 20 Year Battle over Payment Fees - 2014-09-11T115146Z_1_LYNXMPEA8A0JJ_RTROPTP_3_MASTERCARD_original

The verdict on Thursday (11 September) threw out the firm’s appeal against a commission decision dating back to 2007, in which the EU executive ordered Mastercard to repeal its cross-border card fees.

The fees – known as “multilateral interchange fees (MIFs)” – are paid between the banks of a retailer and customer every time someone pays for items by card. The fee is charged to the retailer’s bank who, in turn, normally factors it into the price paid by consumers.

At present, average fees range from around 0.2 percent in Denmark and the Netherlands, to over 1 percent in Germany, Hungary, and Poland, raking in around €6 billion per year to credit card giants across the bloc.

In its judgement, the EU court found that the fee structure could not be described as being “objectively necessary” as the system was “still capable of functioning without those fees.”

There was also an “absence of … appreciable objective advantages” to either retailers or consumers from the system.

The court ruling comes more than 20 years after the commission originally launched proceedings against Mastercard in 1992.

Antoine Colombini, the Commission competition spokesman, described the ruling as “a big win for European consumers who for too long have been paying unjustifiably hidden fees”.

Javier Perez, the president of Mastercard Europe said it would have “little or no impact on how MasterCard operates,” although he conceded that it was “disappointing”.

But the ruling was welcomed by consumer and retail groups.



JAPAN: ‘ Cost of Dying Puts One Man Out of Business Making Tombstone’s ‘

#AceFinanceNews – JAPAN (Tokyo) – September 12 – Jianxing An can see he is in a dying business.

 An Jianxing, a 50 year old gravestone business owner and designer, closes the gate of his company showroom in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo September 10, 2014.  CREDIT: REUTERS/YUYA SHINO

An Jianxing, a 50 year old gravestone business owner and designer, closes the gate of his company showroom in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo September 10, 2014.

The gravestone designer, who takes pride in works featuring musical instruments and heavenly gates, says years of shrinking

sales are driving him to close up shop in Japan and move back to his native China.

“It hasn’t been easy running a Japanese company these 18 years and I want to keep it going,” An said at his spartan office in suburban Tokyo, where the computers had already been packed up. “But the Japanese market is in decline and I’ve decided to shut down my business here and return home.”

Japan’s aging society should be a boon for Chinese craftsmen, such as An, who dominate the tombstone trade. The number of deaths each year is expected to increase by 30 percent over the next quarter century.

But more Japanese are choosing to have their ashes scattered at sea or planted under a tree, as these options are cheaper than a gravestone, which is usually the last big splurge for many people at a time of intense caution over the economy.

About 40 percent of Japanese already have a spot waiting in an ancestral grave, a survey by a tombstone industry group shows, limiting the scope for potential sales.

At the same time, a fifth or more of Japanese would consider alternative, natural burials. Price is one concern.



MOSCOW: ‘ Russia and China Sign Contract in October for Airliner Design’

#AceFinanceNews – MOSCOW (Gorki) – September 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and China will sign a contract in October for drawing up an engineering design for a long-haul wide-bodied airliner, Russia’s Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin announced on Monday.

When speaking at a Vice-Premiers’ meeting held by Head of Government Dmitry Medvedev, Rogozin said, “In October, we must reach out to signing already an engineering design together with our Chinese counterparts through the channels of the United Aircraft-building Corporation for a long-haul wide-bodied passenger airliner. The market in China (in this respect) is rather vast, and this renders this kind of production profitable in principle”.

Considering that almost 80% of long-haul civil airliners in Russia are imported, the implementation of a joint project with China must be started immediately, Rogozin pointed out.

“On the whole, the potential of Russia’s aircraft building industry is considerable enough,” the Vice-Premier said.


LIBYA: ‘ Libya’s Central Bank Denies Rumours of Sparing Egypt Repayment of $2 Billion Deposit ‘

#AceFinanceNews – LIBYA (Tripoli) – September 06 – A Statement by Libya’s Central Bank denies sparing Egypt repayment of a $2 Billion deposit placed at Central Bank of Egypt.

Libya’s Central Bank denied on Saturday sparing Egypt the repayment of a US$2 billion deposit placed at the Central Bank of Egypt.

A statement by the Libyan bank denied "rumors" circulated across social media networks claiming that the Libyan parliament decided to spare Egypt the repayment of the deposit.

Libya’s central bank chief had earlier told the Libyan News Agency that the deposit is repayable within five years.

Egypt relied on loans from several Arab states to embolden an economy weakened by the political instability since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsy.

The conditions of Egyptians in Libya over the past months have been worsening with Egyptian drivers occasionally held hostage and thousands deported to escape infighting in Libya.

Egypt has been recently accused of staging air strikes in association with the United Arab Emirates targeting Islamist militants strongholds in Libya, though the government has officially denied it.

Source: (Edited translation from DPA)


UNITED STATES: ‘ President Obama’s Man in Brussels Warns EU-US Trade Deal Under Threat ‘

#AceFinanceNews – UNITED STATES – September 04 – A landmark EU-US trade deal is under threat due to “scaremongering”, the US ambassador to Brussels has warned MEPs.

In a combative debate with deputies on the European Parliament’s international trade committee on Wednesday (3 September), Anthony Gardner said that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) had “triggered a wave of criticism that can only be described as scaremongering”.

Gardner was making his first appearance in the parliament since his appointment as President Obama’s man in Brussels in February.

EU and US trade negotiators have now been working for over a year on a trade deal which the European Commission claims could be worth 0.5 percent of extra GDP to the bloc.

The talks were “the single most important economic issue” facing lawmakers and was the “biggest debt free stimulus available,” Gardner claimed.


UNITED STATES: ‘ Attorney for Detroit City’s Bankruptcy Trial Begins With His Opening Statement Discussing Debt-Restructuring Program Without Discrimination Against Creditors’

#AceFinanceNews – UNITED STATES (Detroit) – September 03 – An attorney for Detroit concluded his opening statement Wednesday in the city’s bankruptcy trial by saying the debt-restructuring plan focused first on resolving a dire financial situation and does not discriminate against creditors.

​But an attorney for the most vocal of the opposing creditors said the plan of adjustment – Detroit’s blueprint for emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history – is unfair for financial creditors.

The trial’s second day began with attorney Bruce Bennett telling federal Judge Steven Rhodes that the plan, put together by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr and his restructuring team, has to be followed in order for Detroit to be stronger and viable.

"The city did all of this with the proper purpose of restructuring its financial affairs," Bennett said, adding, "The facts will show Detroit has earned this court help."

Detroit wants to cut $12 billion in unsecured debt to about $5 billion through its plan of adjustment, which must be approved by Rhodes. Most creditors, including more than 30,000 retirees and city employees, have endorsed the plan of adjustment.

Syncora Guarantee is not one of those creditors. The New York-based bond insurer’s attorney, Marc Kieselstein, said the city’s plan is "so flawed in its structure, so dismissive of basic fiduciary duties and so lacking in evidentiary support that it cannot be confirmed without doing serious mayhem to the rule of law."


Here we go. The long-awaited bankruptcy trial in federal court to decide on the validity of the city’s plan to correct its disastrous financial situation and right the ship begins today at the courthouse in downtown Detroit.

Chad Livengood of The Detroit News reports that a key component to the city’s plan is the "grand bargain." Livengood describes it as "the linchpin of the city’s plan to dump $7 billion in debt in bankruptcy court — will be put to the test in a long-awaited trial set to begin today in federal court."

He notes that two very disgruntled financial insurance companies, Syncora Guarantee Inc. and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., the backers of $1.4 billion in troubled pension debt the city wants to expunge from its books, could be ruined if the plan goes through as is. The News reported over the weekend that Syncora was in talks with the city attorneys about possibly taking Detroit real estate, including the city airport, to satisfy its debt.



BRUSSELS: ‘ German Minister Warns EU Farmers Not to Expect Full Compensation Over Russian Import Ban ‘

#AceFinanceNews – BRUSSELS – September 03 – German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt warned Tuesday that European farmers hit by a Russian import ban should not expect full compensation for their losses EUobserver reported.

The German spoke to press ahead of meeting his French and Polish colleagues in preparation of an EU agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday.


BRUSSELS: ‘ Either OR Situation – Letter to UK’s Treasury Minister States Scottish Governments Plan to Keep Sterling Would be Incompatible with EU Membership ‘

#AceFinanceNews – BRUSSELS – September 03 – An independent Scotland would have to choose between using the pound and joining the EU, the bloc’s former economic affairs commissioner has said quoted in EUobserver today.

In a letter to the UK’s treasury minister Danny Alexander released on Tuesday night (2 September), two weeks before Scotland’s four million voters decide whether to leave the UK, Olli Rehn stated that the Scottish government’s plan to keep sterling without a formal currency union with London would be incompatible with EU membership.

"As to the question of whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this simply would not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its one, and thus no necessary instruments for EMU," he wrote.

The question of whether Scotland could continue to use the British pound as its currency has been one of the key arguments during the campaign.


MOSCOW: ‘ Gazprom Neft Commences Commercial Oil Production and Supply From Iraq ‘

#AceFinanceNews – MOSCOW – September 01 – Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom, has started commercial oil production and supplies from the Badra field in south-eastern Iraq, Gazprom Neft said on Monday Itar-Tass reported.

​“Gazprom Neft, the operator of the Badra oilfield in Iraq, announces that first oil from the field is now being delivered to Iraq’s main pipeline system for transfer to the export terminal in Basra (the Persian Gulf),” Gazprom Neft said in a statement.

Current deliveries from Badra to the pipeline amount to over 15,000 barrels of oil per day and this level will be maintained until the end of 2014.

Under the service contract signed with the Iraqi government, the consortium of investor companies will begin receiving a share of the oil produced at the field after a period of 90 days following the launch of commercial supplies.

All the oil produced in southern Iraq, including at Badra, is Basrah Light oil. The Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) is responsible for oil sales and each quarter will be delivering a share of oil to the investor companies to compensate for their initial project costs, Gazprom Neft said.

In late 2009 a consortium of Gazprom Neft, Kogas (Korea), Petronas (Malaysia) and TPAO (Turkey) was pronounced the winner of the Iraqi Government tender for the development of the Badra field located in the Wasit Province located in the eastern part of the country.

Gazprom Neft, as the project operator, holds a 30 per cent stake in the project, Kogas – 22.5 per cent, Petronas – 15 per cent and TPAO – 7.5 per cent. The Iraqi government represented in the project by the Iraqi Oil Exploration Company holds a 25 per cent stake.

In February 2012 Gazprom Neft received approval from the Iraqi Government to enter into the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement to build a central oil gathering and processing facility at Badra.


WASHINGTON DC: ‘ SEC Charges Two Executives at Dallas-Based IT Company with Mischaracterizing to Inflate Company’s Reported Revenue Stream ‘

#AceFinanceNews – UNITED STATES (Washington D.C) August 28 2014 –

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two executives at a Dallas-based information technology company with mischaracterizing an arrangement with an equipment manufacturer to purport that it was conducting so-called “resale transactions” to inflate the company’s reported revenue.

An SEC investigation found that then-CEO Lynn R. Blodgett and then-CFO Kevin R. Kyser caused the disclosure failures at Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), which has since been acquired by Xerox Corporation. ACS provided business process outsourcing and information technology services. Shortly before the end of its first quarter in fiscal year 2009, ACS faced a scenario where the company’s revenue was set to fall short of company guidance and consensus analyst expectations, so ACS arranged for an equipment manufacturer to re-direct through ACS pre-existing orders that the manufacturer already had received from one of its customers.

This gave the appearance that ACS was involved in resale transactions, but ACS in fact had no such involvement. ACS went on to report $124.5 million in fiscal year 2009 revenue from these transactions as though it had resold the equipment itself.

Blodgett and Kyser have agreed to pay nearly $675,000 to settle the SEC’s charges that they and ACS did not adequately describe the arrangement in its financial reporting, and the purported revenue in turn allowed ACS to publicly report inflated internal revenue growth (IRG). Blodgett and Kyser emphasized the inflated IRG as a key metric in earnings releases and other public statements to investors, and a portion of their annual bonuses was linked to IRG.

“ACS positioned itself in the middle of pre-existing transactions without adding value, but still improperly reported the revenue. Blodgett and Kyser knew the truth about these deals, and they were responsible for ensuring that ACS accurately disclosed the full story to investors,” said David R. Woodcock, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office and chair of the agency’s Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force.

“This enforcement action holds them accountable for failing to uphold that responsibility.”

Read More on this Press Release


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