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Saudi Aramco: The world has its first $2 trillion company


The stock gained 10% for a second consecutive day, reaching 38.70 riyals ($10.32) per share before giving up some of its gains.

Saudi Aramco has gained roughly $300 billion in value since its shares debuted on the Riyadh stock exchange on Monday in the biggest initial public offering on record. It’s by far the most valuable company in the world, dwarfing runner up Apple, which is worth around $1.2 trillion.

The vast majority of buyers for the stock are in Saudi Arabia. Samba Capital, which managed the IPO, said Tuesday that 97% of retail investors who received shares were from the country. And more than 75% of shares sold to institutional investors went to Saudi companies, funds and government institutions.

The $2 trillion valuation was a priority for the crown prince ever since he first touted the partial privatization in 2016, but many analysts considered the figure a stretch despite Aramco’s monopoly on oil production in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude.

Analysts at Bernstein Research said Thursday that the $2 trillion valuation was “too much, too soon” given weak expected earnings growth and little upside for global oil prices. The company looks expensive, they said, compared to peers such as Exxon (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA).

“Aramco should trade at a discount rather than premium to international oil majors,” the analysts said. More than 98% of the company is still owned by the kingdom, they noted, suggesting that investors should be concerned about corporate governance. Bernstein reckons the company is worth as little as $1.4 trillion.

“Aramco could trade in a league of its own for some time, but the stock market is a weighing machine in the long term and the laws of economic gravity will eventually apply,” said the Bernstein analysts. They recommended that investors sell Aramco shares now.

The long road to an IPO

International skepticism over the valuation, combined with low oil prices, the climate crisis and geopolitical risk, forced Saudi Arabia to scale back its initial ambitions for the flotation.

The IPO was supposed to usher in a new era of economic liberalization and foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government discussed floating 5% of the company in 2018 in a deal that would raise as much as $100 billion. It was looking at international markets such as New York or London, as well as Riyadh.

 OPEC's plan to boost oil prices may not work

But the deal was hampered by concerns about the valuation and potential legal complications in the United States. It was shelved after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey sent a chill through business ties with the kingdom.

Yet the listing was revived earlier this year, and Aramco moved ahead despite receiving muted interest from international investors. Aramco ultimately raised $25.6 billion by selling 1.5% of the company at a valuation of $1.7 trillion.

Gianna Bern, an energy expert who teaches at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, said the local offering was able to attract a “friendly audience” of Saudi nationals. International investors will watch how the company handles disclosure and regulatory requirements before considering whether to buy into a potential future international listing.

“The real test will be a global offering, in another jurisdiction, such as London or Asia with more stringent regulatory requirements,” said Bern, who is also the founding principal of energy consultancy Brookshire Advisory and Research.



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PGA golfer arrested in Florida prostitution sting


A professional golfer was one of 124 people arrested in Florida in a prostitution and human-trafficking sting

BARTOW, Fla. —
A professional golfer was one of 124 people arrested in Florida in a prostitution and human-trafficking sting.

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, 44, was arrested Sunday and charged with first-degree misdemeanor solicitation, news outlets reported.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that Gainey was arrested in an undercover sting called “Operation Santa’s Naughty List,” which lasted six days. The investigation yielded 53 arrests for prostitution, 46 arrests for soliciting prostitution and five arrests for intent to sexually harm a child, according to the sheriff’s office.

County Sheriff Grady Judd said Gainey, a South Carolina native, was in Florida for a charity golf event.

“(Gainey) missed his tee time the next morning,” Judd said. “He was a scratch.”

Gainey turned pro in 1997 and joined the PGA Tour in 2008. He’s known for wearing gloves on both hands, hence the nickname, and has one career PGA Tour win at the McGladrey Classic in October 2012.

It’s unclear whether Gainey has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.



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Kim Jong Un’s Frustration and the Risk of Hybrid Warfare


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The post Kim Jong Un’s Frustration and the Risk of Hybrid Warfare appeared first on The Cipher Brief.



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Stream and TV channel as Greenwood and Garner start at Old Trafford – latest updates – The Sun


MAN UTD welcome AZ Alkmaar to Old Trafford looking for a third-straight victory in all competitions.

Both of these sides have already booked their place in the knockout stages, but top-spot in Group L is still up for grabs.

The visitors need to take all three points to snatch it from Ole’s men, whilst Utd only need to avoid defeat.

Follow all the action as it happens from Old Trafford below…

  • Kick-off time: 8pm
  • Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
  • TV/Live stream: BT Sport2/BT Sport app or free for EE customers
  • Man Utd XI: Romero, Young, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Williams, Matic, Garner, Andreas, Mata, Martial, Greenwood.
  • Alkmaar XI: Bizot, Svensson, Clasie, Wuytens, Midtsjo, Stengs, Wijndal, Koopmeiners, Idrissi, Sugawara, De Wit.





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Met Eireann issues weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ forecast this weekend



Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo
Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo

Met Eireann has issued a weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ and temperatures as low as -2C are forecast for this weekend.

A status yellow wind warning has been issued for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork and Kerry and will be valid from 6pm on Thursday to 9am on Friday. Mean wind speeds of 50 to 65km/h and gusts of 80 to 110km/h are expected.

Met Eireann has also warned that temperatures are forecast to drop to zero degrees on Friday night with wintry showers and frost.

On Saturday, temperatures are expected to further drop to -2C with brisk westerly winds and wintry showers. This will lead to a frosty start on Sunday morning with lingering ice in places.

Tom Cuddy, of Irish Water’s asset operations, said prolonged frost could lead to more water shortages in the Dublin area.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Cuddy appealed to people and businesses in the capital to conserve water coming up to the festive period.

It comes after 600,000 people were last month left with a boil water notice, on two separate occasions, resulting from problems with water quality at the plant.

While the semi-State works to address the issues at the plant, its capacity has been reduced, causing serious problems for the network.

“Essentially in the Greater Dublin area the supply and demand balance for drinking water is on the line.

“Our production capacity has reduced somewhat and there’s an inexorable increase in demand from households and from businesses as we come through the winter,” he said.

“This is a narrowing gap – the headroom between what we can produce and what’s demanded – and that has narrowed even further this year.

“In particular our production capacity has been reduced because we have constrictions at some of our treatment plants, in particular Leixlip.”

He said the semi-State was keen to raise people’s awareness about the issue.

“It’s very important that people are aware that they conserve water where they can, that they check their plumbing and that they report leaks,” he said.

The works at the Leixlip plant are not scheduled to be completed until next year.

Mr Cuddy said it was a rolling issue, “an enduring situation” that will go on for a number of months.

He said the other plants were at their maximum capacity to make up for the shortfall, while Irish Water was also repairing 1,500 leaks a month.

“There are the obvious winter challenges of cold weather. There’s also an increase in demand in customer use, particularly in businesses,” he said. He added the situation was “right on the line” but “stable” at the moment with no headroom in the event of sharp and prolonged frost.

According to Irish Water the current increase in demand is higher than any previous year and is 10 million litres a day, which, it said, was enough water to fill Liberty Hall and higher than this time last year.

It has appealed to people to conserve water through measures like turning off the tap while brushing teeth and shaving, which can save up to six litres of water per minute.

Irish Water has been upgrading the Vartry Water Supply Scheme by building a new treatment plant,

It has also upgraded the treated water reservoir at Stillorgan, representing an investment of approximately €200m.

“These upgrades are due to be completed in 2020,” it said, adding that at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant the old section of the plant is currently being upgraded on a phased basis.

The last boil water notice affected people in Dublin, Kildare and Meath for eight days.

It resulted from heavy rainfall washing amounts of organic matter into reservoirs.

This increased the turbidity (cloudiness) of the source water above acceptable levels.

Online Editors





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Judiciary Committee poised to approve articles of impeachment


Democrats have framed the committee vote as an urgent and necessary decision to protect democracy from a president exhibiting autocratic tendencies and trying to warp the institutions of government to his own personal benefit. Republicans, though, say Democrats’ case is based on a thin record of evidence, as well as conjecture and hearsay, and that impeaching Trump would pave the way for partisan impeachments of future presidents.

“After they did all this [investigating], this is all they could come up with?” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, said Wednesday night. “It’s been three years to get to here and this is all they got.”

Thursday’s markup began with some procedural jousting, as Democrats voted down a GOP effort to hold a “minority hearing day” to call their own set of witnesses before articles of impeachment were voted out of the committee.

Nadler said the Republicans’ demand for the hearing day could not be used to delay final consideration of the articles of impeachment, leading Collins to blast Nadler’s decision as “the death of minority rights” in the committee and a “crushing blow” that would resonate far into the future.

Democrats also offered a minor amendment to the articles of impeachment to refer to “Donald John Trump” rather than “Donald J. Trump.”

Trump himself appeared to be tuning into the committee’s marathon session Thursday morning. He wrote on Twitter that he was concerned about other nations sharing the burden of sending military aid Ukraine, appearing to justify his decision to place a temporary hold on U.S. security assistance to the besieged ally.

Much of the hearing was laden with a historical debate over the standards set in the last two presidential impeachment processes — those facing Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, who resigned just before the House voted on articles of impeachment.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who was a committee staffer during the Nixon impeachment and a Judiciary Committee member during the Clinton impeachment, said the bulk of witness testimony occurred outside of the Judiciary Committee, which primarily handled the constitutional arguments for impeachment.

The hearing also featured some tense moments behind the dais. After Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) approached the GOP side to chat with lawmakers, Nadler’s aides confronted him — likely because Meadows, a top ally of the president, is not a member of the Judiciary Committee. Meadows eventually left the dais.



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Home Mortgage Tips That Can Help You Out

Are you thinking about becoming a homeowner? Or perhaps you are looking to refinance your existing home? To do this, you will likely have to obtain a mortgage. The process can often be confusing, but it should go more smoothly with this information.

Begin getting ready for a home mortgage well in advance of your application. If you plan to buy a house, you have to get your finances ready as soon as possible. Build some savings and pay off your debts. Putting these things off too long can cause you to not get approved.

Don’t borrow the maximum amount you qualify for. The lender will inform you on how much you can borrow, but that does not mean this is the amount you should take out. Think about your other expenses and your lifestyle and make sure you can easily afford your monthly payment.

Prior to applying for a mortgage, you need to know what is in your credit report. In 2013 they have made it a lot harder to get credit and to measure up to their standards, so you have to get things in order with your credit so that you can get great mortgage terms.

Programs designed to make home ownership more affordable give you the possibility to apply for another mortgage, even if your assets cover the value of your home. After the introduction of this new program, some homeowners were finally able to refinance. Look into it and see how it can benefit your situation, by leading to lower mortgage payments and a better credit position.

Make sure that you avoid binge shopping trips when you are in the waiting period for a mortgage preapproval to formally close. Lenders recheck your credit in the days prior to finalizing your mortgage, and could change their mind if too much activity is noticed. Once you’ve signed the contract, then you can spend more.

Set a budget at the outset and stick to it to stay in good financial shape. Set a monthly payment ceiling based on your existing obligations. No matter how much you love the home, if it makes you unable to keep up with your bills, you will wind up in trouble.

Make sure that you do not go over budget and have to pay more than 30% of your total income on your house loan. Paying more than this can cause financial problems for you. When you keep payments manageable, you are able to keep your budgets in order

Ask loved ones for recommendations when it comes to a mortgage. You will likely learn a lot from their prior experience. You can avoid bad situations by learning from their negative experiences. When you talk to more people, you’re going to learn more.

If you have a small number of cards with low balances, your credit rating will be better and you will be a better candidate for a good home mortgage. If possible, keep all your balances under half of the limit on your credit. However it is best that you maintain a balance of 30% or lower on all cards.

Make sure you have done a little research on your chosen financier before you sign anything with them. Don’t trust just what the lender says. Ask people you trust. Search the Internet. Look up complaints on the BBB website. Save thousand of dollars by arming yourself with the right information before you negotiate your loan.

Work with mortgage brokers if you have trouble getting a loan from a credit union or bank. A lot of times, a broker can do a better job finding a mortgage suitable for your situation. They work with different lenders to get the best option for you.

In order to qualify for a mortgage with favorable terms, your credit score must be high. Monitor your credit rating carefully. If there are errors on your report, do what you can to fix them. If you have smaller debts, combine them into one account, with low interest, so you can pay it off quickly.

Yes, the interest rate that you can get is very important for a loan, but it’s not the sole thing to consider. There are a lot of fees that can additionally be charged to you depending on the person you’re getting the loan from. Think about points, type of loan on offer, and closing costs. Obtain quotes from a variety of lenders and banks before deciding.

You should compare several brokers before applying for a loan. A low interest rate is what you want. In addition, you need to evaluate all types of mortgage products. There are many other things to consider before deciding on a loan. These include the closing costs, down payment and lender commissions.

Once your loan is approved, you may be tempted to let your guard down. Until your loan actually closes, do not do anything to endanger your credit score. Most lenders check credit scores immediately before closing a loan. A loan can be denied if you take on more debt.

Don’t ever be worried to wait on things for a while in case a better offer on a loan comes up. You can often find variable terms based on certain seasons or months of the year. If there is a new lender or if the government passes a new law, you may have better options. Waiting is frequently in your own best interest.

Negotiate your interest rate with your lender by knowing the current interest rates offered by others. Online institutions offer great rates and terms. This is something you can point out to get a better deal.

There is no need to reword your paperwork if you are denied by one lender – just take it to the next. Maintain everything like it is now. Some lenders are pickier than others, so it probably isn’t your fault. A different lender may be more than willing to approve you.

You should now have a better understanding of the mortgage process. When you choose to start the mortgage application process, put this information to work for you. Owning your own home is wonderful and the mortgage process can go smoothly.

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Andrew Scheer is resigning as Conservative leader


OTTAWA —
Andrew Scheer is resigning as the Conservative leader, but will stay on until a replacement is named.

Scheer is speaking in the House of Commons about what he has called “one of the most difficult decisions” he has made, after meeting with his caucus on Parliament Hill on Thursday morning.

Because of the disappointing election loss for the party, Scheer was set to face a mandatory leadership review at the party convention in April, but in recent weeks there was mounting pressure from party insiders for Scheer to step aside sooner.

From not making gains in key electoral grounds like Ontario and Quebec, to his personal stance on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, Scheer was dogged with criticism that he would not be able to beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election.

Since the election, Scheer had embarked on a cross-Canada listening tour, fired some senior staff members, and has been awaiting a report from former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird who he tasked with conducting a Conservative campaign post-mortem.

More to come…



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Mississauga murder suspect has criminal history in Calgary


The man accused of killing a Mississauga man in October was due to appear in a Calgary courtroom two weeks after the deadly shooting.

Brandon Horatio Drakes-Simon, 24, was arrested by Peel Regional Police Dec. 6 in connection with the Oct. 22 shooting death of Mario Ibrahim outside of a Webb Dr. condo in Mississauga.

On Monday, members of the Calgary Police Service arrested 24-year-old Melnee Christian in connection with Ibrahim’s death, charging her also with first-degree murder.


Brandon Drakes-Simon, 24 of Mississauga, is charged with first-degree murder.

She was escorted on a commercial flight from Calgary to Toronto Pearson Airport in handcuffs by Peel police Tuesday evening.

Drakes-Simon, who has appeared on Calgary’s ‘most wanted’ lists from as far back as May. 14, 2015, was due to appear in Calgary court Nov 5. for robbery and failure to appear on recognizance charges.

Those proceedings were stayed.

Sources also tell the Sun Drakes-Simon had active warrants issued against him at the time of his arrest.

Two days prior to his Oct. 22 murder, Ibrahim narrowly escaped an attempt on his life when a dark-coloured SUV pulled up beside him on the eastbound lanes of the 401 near Hwy. 427 and opened fire.

Police are also working on linking Ibrahim’s murder with an earlier robbery and shooting at a Mississauga strip club.

Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Williams faces robbery and gun charges in connection with that crime, and a Canada-wide warrant was issued for 34-year-old Justin Malcolm of Brampton, who police describe as “armed and dangerous.”

The investigation continues.



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Seven injured as Swansea University bus hits railway bridge


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Media captionSwansea bus crash: ‘It was like a tin opener took the top off’

Seven people have been injured and a man has been arrested after a bus bound for Swansea University crashed into a railway bridge.

One person has been seriously injured and another has life-threatening injuries, South Wales Police said.

Emergency services are at the scene following the crash on Neath Road, Swansea, just before 09:40 GMT.

A 63-year-old man has been arrested and the bus company, First Cymru, said a full investigation had been launched.

Four people were taken to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital, one with serious injuries, two to Neath Port Talbot’s minor injuries unit and a number of other people were assessed at the scene. One person was airlifted to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff with life-threatening injuries.

The bus was travelling from Swansea University Singleton campus to its Swansea Bay campus when the crash happened but was off its normal route due to a temporary road closure, a First Cymru spokesman said.

Swansea University said its students were among the passengers and its welfare staff were offering help and support.

Image caption

The roof of the bus could be seen on the railway tracks

Image copyright
Alastair Hawkes

Image caption

Alastair Hawkes was on the top deck of the bus when the crash happened

Swansea Bay health board asked people to avoid attending Morriston A&E “unless you have a serious illness or injury”, saying the department was “extremely busy”.

The road remains closed and people have been asked to avoid the area.

Lines to Swansea railway were closed for a time but have since reopened. National Rail said trains at Swansea could still be cancelled, delayed by up to 20 minutes or revised.

‘There was a crunch and smashing glass and screaming’

Alastair Hawkes, 22, was on the top deck when the crash happened: “There was a lady who was cut out, she was bleeding heavily and flown to hospital in Cardiff.

“I think there were three injured – somebody else was bleeding badly and an older gentleman was shaken, in shock. We thought he passed out.”

Mr Hawkes, who got on the bus in the Uplands area, said it had taken a different route to normal, he believes because of a fallen tree.

“There was a crunch and smashing glass and screaming.

“Everyone was thinking ‘what just happened?’ as there was a bridge halfway up the bus.”

Image caption

Several lines to Swansea station closed after the crash

Image copyright
Dimitris Legakis

Image caption

Motorists are asked to avoid the area, and only visit Morriston A&E if they have a serious injury or illness

The student, originally from Kettering, said he dialled 999 while another passenger managed to hail down police.

He described the top half of the bus slicing off on to the train track above and passengers in shock.

“Those that were bleeding were taken to hospital and the rest brought here (Landore Social Club),” he said.

“Most are alright, but they’re just making sure.”

Image copyright
Tom Evans

Image caption

Seven people were taken to hospital and others were assessed at the scene

What is the bus company saying?

The managing director of First Cymru, Andrew Sherrington, said: “We can confirm one of our vehicles operating Service 10 between Swansea University Singleton campus and Swansea Bay university campus has been involved in a collision with a bridge, which has resulted in a number of passengers sustaining injuries.

“We’ve immediately dispatched a support team and launched a full investigation to establish the circumstances that has led to this collision, and are assisting South Wales Police with their enquiries.

“Everyone at First Cymru is shocked by this incident and our heartfelt sympathies go out to those injured.”

Image caption

A social club nearby has opened to offer tea and coffee to passengers

‘We heard an almighty bang’

Tom Evans, who works near to the scene of the crash, said it looked like “a tin opener had taken the top of the bus off”.

He arrived on the scene shortly after the crash and said he believed the bus driver had misjudged the height of a railway bridge and tried to drive under it.

He added: “I heard it and went out soon after. Police were there quickly, cordoning it off. It’s now a no-go area.”

A man who works nearby who did not wish to be identified, said the crash looked “really serious”.

He added: “We heard an almighty bang and all thought it was thunder because it’s raining, but then we saw an ambulance, we thought somebody’s crashed on the M4 but then, no, they’re outside.

“We ran outside and saw the bus and we could see anyone who would have been on the top deck at the front, well it would be really serious… it was destroyed.”

Secretary Terry Edkins opened up the nearby Landore Social Club at the request of police to offer tea and coffee to passengers.

“There are about 20 people at the social club having teas and coffees. The ones at the club are a bit shaken but OK,” he added.

Image copyright
Tom Evans

Image caption

Disruption to transport is expected to continue until 17:00

What about transport disruption?

Transport for Wales (TfW) were reporting delays. “Due to a road vehicle colliding with a bridge at #Swansea fewer trains are able to run on some lines. Services are running but will not call at Swansea Station,” it tweeted.

It said replacement buses were in operation and motorists have been asked to avoid the Neath Road and Hafod area.

TfW said coaches are being sourced to run between Swansea and Cardiff, and services between Carmarthen and Manchester are also disrupted and will not call at Swansea.

Image caption

A recovery vehicle is at the scene of the incident

National Rail said disruption was expected until 17:00 and the routes affected are Great Western Railway between Swansea and London Paddington and TfW’s service between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central.

Traffic analyst site Inrix said there was queuing traffic on the A483 Fabian Way, more than one mile away from the crash.

What do the emergency services say?

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said crews were in attendance and the Welsh Ambulance Service said it sent five ambulances, two rapid response cars and three ambulance officers to the scene.

South Wales Police said: “We and our fellow emergency services are currently in attendance at a road traffic collision involving a bus and a bridge in Neath Road, Swansea.

“We are asking motorists to avoid the area while this incident is ongoing.”



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