Comcast Outbids Fox With $40B Offer for Sky

Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in the battle for Sky after offering 30.6 billion pounds ($40 billion) for the British broadcaster, in a dramatic auction to decide the fate of the pay-television group.

U.S. cable giant Comcast bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a  statement shortly after final bids were made Saturday.

Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bid going into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’s closing share price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.

Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, coveted Sky to expand its international presence as growth slows in its core U.S. market.

Owning Sky will make Comcast the world’s largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers.

“This is a great day for Comcast,” Roberts said on Saturday. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”

Comcast, which also owns the NBC network and movie studio Universal Pictures, encouraged Sky shareholders to accept its offer. It said it wanted to complete the deal by the end of October.

Comcast, which requires 50 percent plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.

A spokesman for Fox, which has a 39 percent holding in Sky, declined to comment.

The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to a protracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February, when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.

It is a blow to media mogul Murdoch, 87, and the U.S. media and entertainment group that he controls, which had been trying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.

It is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney, which agreed on a separate $71 billion deal to buy the bulk of Fox’s film and TV assets, including the Sky stake, in June and would have taken ownership of the British broadcaster following a successful Fox takeover.

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UK PM’s Team Makes Plans for Snap Election

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s aides have begun contingency planning for a snap election in November to save both Brexit and her job, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said that two senior members of May’s Downing Street political team began “war-gaming” an autumn vote to win public backing for a new plan, after her Brexit proposals were criticized at a summit in Salzburg last week.

Downing Street was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Meanwhile, opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday that his party would challenge May on any Brexit deal she could strike with Brussels, and he said there should be a national election if the deal fell short.

The British government said Saturday that it would not “capitulate” to European Union demands in Brexit talks and again urged the bloc to engage with its proposals after May said Brexit talks with the EU had hit an impasse.

“We will challenge this government on whatever deal it brings back on our six tests, on jobs, on living standards, on environmental protections,” Corbyn told a rally in Liverpool, northern England, on the eve of Labor’s annual conference.

“And if this government can’t deliver, then I simply say to Theresa May the best way to settle this is by having a general election.”

Labor’s six tests consist of whether a pact would provide for fair migration, a collaborative relationship with the EU, national security and cross-border crime safeguards, even treatment for all U.K. regions, protection of workers’ rights, and maintenance of single-market benefits.

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US-China Tensions Rise as Beijing Summons US Ambassador

Tensions between China and the United States escalated Saturday as China’s Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to issue a harsh protest against U.S. sanctions set for the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.

The move came hours after China canceled trade talks with the U.S. following Washington’s imposition of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

The statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website called the imposition of sanctions “a serious violation of the basic principles of international law” and a “hegemonic act.” The ministry also wrote, “Sino-Russian military cooperation is the normal cooperation of the two sovereign states, and the U.S. has no right to interfere.” The U.S. actions, it said, “have seriously damaged the relations” with China. 

China had earlier called on the U.S. to withdraw the sanctions, and speaking to reporters Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States.

China’s purchase of the weapons from Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport violated a 2017 U.S. law intended to punish the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in U.S. elections and other activities. The U.S. action set in motion a visa ban on China’s Equipment Development Department and director Li Shangfu, forbids transactions with the U.S. financial system, and blocks all property and interests in property involving the country within U.S. jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that China had planned to send Vice Premier Liu He to Washington next week for trade talks, but canceled his trip, along with that of a midlevel delegation that was to precede him.

Earlier Friday, a senior White House official had said the U.S. was optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China.

The official told reporters at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while there was no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official.

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States. 

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on Sept. 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

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На фінансування парламентських партій у проект бюджету-2019 заклали 565,6 мільйона гривень – #Точно

Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції наступного року планує виплатити 565,6 мільйона гривень парламентським партіям на статутну діяльність. Така інформація міститься в проекті державного бюджету на наступний рік, передає #Точно, проект Радіо Свобода.

Зокрема, у різних пропорціях гроші отримають «Народний фронт», «Блок Петра Порошенка», «Самопоміч», Радикальна партія Олега Ляшка, «Опозиційний блок» та «Батьківщина».

У 2015 році Верховна Рада ухвалила закон, який передбачає фінансування партій з держбюджету і вимагає від партій звітувати про надходження і використання коштів. Наразі державне фінансування отримують лише парламентські партії, а з наступних виборів до Верховної Ради – всі політичні сили, які пройдуть бар’єр у 2% від всіх голосів виборців. Тобто партія може не потрапити до парламенту, але матиме можливість отримувати на розвиток кошти з держбюджету.

Цього року стало відомо, що 900 мільйонів гривень виплатили партіям від початку державного фінансування.

За останніми дослідженнями Комітету виборців України, партії витрачають мільйони гривень платників податків на свою рекламу.

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Rising Oil Prices Haven’t Hurt US Economy

America’s rediscovered prowess in oil production is shaking up old notions about the impact of higher crude prices on the U.S. economy.

It has long been conventional wisdom that rising oil prices hurt the economy by forcing consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating their homes, leaving less for other things.

Presumably that kind of run-up would slow the U.S. economy. Instead, the economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly four years during the April-through-June quarter.

President Donald Trump appears plainly worried about rising oil prices just a few weeks before mid-term elections that will decide which party controls the House and Senate.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who account for about one-third of global oil supplies, are scheduled to meet this weekend with non-members including Russia.

The gathering isn’t expected to yield any big decisions — those typically come at major OPEC meetings like the one set for December. Oil markets, however, were roiled Friday by a report that attendees were considering a significant increase in production to offset declining output from Iran, where exports have fallen ahead of Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions.

OPEC and Russia have capped production since January 2017 to bolster prices. Output fell even below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply, although they didn’t give numbers.

Rising oil prices

Oil prices are up roughly 40 percent in the past year. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading around $71 a barrel, and the international standard, Brent, was closing in on $80.

The national average price for gasoline stood at $2.85 per gallon, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to auto club AAA. That increase likely would be greater were it not for a slump in gasoline demand that is typical for this time of year, when summer vacations are over.

The United States still imports about 6 million barrels of oil a day on average, but that is down from more than 10 million a decade ago. In the same period, U.S. production has doubled to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to government figures.

“Because the U.S. now is producing so much more than it used to, [the rise in oil prices] is not as big an impact as it would have been 20 years ago or 10 years ago,” said Michael Maher, an energy researcher at Rice University and a former Exxon Mobil economist.

The weakening link between oil and the overall economy was seen — in reverse — three years ago. Then, plunging oil prices were expected to boost the economy by leaving more money in consumers’ pocket, yet GDP growth slowed at the same time that lower oil prices took hold during 2015.

Other economists caution against minimizing the disruption caused by energy prices.

“Higher oil prices are unambiguously bad for the U.S. economy,” said Philip Verleger, an economist who has studied energy markets. “They force consumers to divert their income from spending on other items to spending on fuels.”

Since energy amounts to only about 3 percent of consumer spending, a cutback in that other 97 percent “causes losses for those who sell autos, restaurants, airlines, resorts and all parts of the economy,” Verleger said.

Pack leader

The federal Energy Information Administration said this month that the U.S. likely reclaimed the title of world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year by surpassing the output of Saudi Arabia in February and Russia over the summer. If the agency’s estimates are correct, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the oil-pumping pack.

And that has made the impact of oil prices on the economy a more complicated calculation.

When oil prices tumbled starting in mid-2014, U.S. energy producers cut back on drilling. They cut thousands of jobs and they spent less on rigs, steel pipes and railcars to ship crude to refineries. That softened the bounce that economists expected to see from cheaper oil.

Now, with oil prices rising, energy companies are boosting production, creating an economic stimulus that offsets some of the blow from higher prices on consumers. Oil- and gas-related investment accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in business investment in the April-June quarter this year.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that every penny increase at the pump reduces consumer spending by $1 billion over a year, and gasoline has jumped 24 cents in the past year, according to AAA. That is “a clear-cut negative,” but not deeply damaging, said Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s.

“Usually with gasoline prices, speed kills — a gradual increase [like the current one], consumers can absorb that,” Sweet said. Consumers have other factors in their favor, he added, including a tight job market, wage growth, better household balance sheets, and the recent tax cut.

Sweet said the boon that higher prices represent to the growing energy sector, which can invest in more wells, equipment and hiring, means that the run-up in crude has probably been “a small but net positive” for the economy.

“That could change if we get up to $3.50, $4,” he said.

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US Official ‘Optimistic’ About Resolving Trade Dispute with China 

The United States is optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China, but no date has yet been determined for further talks between the two countries, according to a senior White House official. 

The official told reporters Friday at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while there is no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official. 

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

“That changes the equation,” he told reporters.

China has threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs. However, China’s imports from the United States are $200 billion a year less than American imports from China, so it would run out of room to match U.S. sanctions.

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Мeй назвала неприйнятними пропозиції Євросоюзу щодо Brexit

Прем’єр-міністр Великобританії Тереза Мей вважає неприйнятними пропозиції Європейського союзу щодо Brexit, повідомляє прес-служба Даунінґ-стріт, 10.

Виступаючи з заявою в Лондоні 21 вересня, прем’єр зазначила, що непогодженими залишаються питання єдиного з Євросоюзом ринку та кордону між Північною Ірландією та Республікою Ірландія.

Як розповіла Мей, за результатами саміту в Зальцбурзі 19–20 вересня  Брюссель пропонує Лондону лише два варіанти.

За першим Великобританія залишається в Європейській економічній зоні та митному союзі. Другий варіант передбачає укладення угоди про вільну торгівлю між Сполученим Королівством і Євросоюзом з запровадженням прикордонного контролю.

За останнім сценарієм Північна Ірландія лишається в Європейській економічній зоні, тобто, фактично, з економічної точки зору буде відокремлена від решти країни, пояснила Мей.

В свою чергу Британія пропонує ЄС третій варіант, за яким між ними залишається «безконтрольна» торгівля.

«Вчора Дональд Туск зазначив, що наші пропозиції можуть підірвати єдиний ринок. Він не пояснив жодних деталей і не надав зустрічних пропозицій. Отже, ми перебуваємо в глухому куті», ­ – зазначила прем’єр-міністр.

Вона підкреслила, що Британія ніколи не погодиться на останні пропозиції Євросоюзу, які б могли нашкодити територіальній цілісності країни.

«Ми викладемо нашу альтернативу, яка збереже цілісність Великої Британії. І це буде відповідати зобов’язанням, прийнятим у грудні минулого року, включаючи зобов’язання про те, що між Північною Ірландією та іншою частиною Великої Британії не буде створено нових регуляторних бар’єрів», – сказала Мей.

Вона додала, що її уряд буде й далі працювати над підготовкою до можливого виходу з ЄС без угоди з Брюсселем.

20 вересня на саміті ЄС в австрійському Зальцбурзі лідери Євросоюзу зажадали від Мей якомога швидше викласти позицію з ключових пунктів переговорів про вихід країни з об’єднання, таких, як торговельні відносини з Євросоюзом і режим кордону між Ірландією і Північною Ірландією.

Офіційним днем виходу Великої Британії зі складу Євросоюзу є 29 березня 2019 року, після цього почнеться так званий «перехідний період», який триватиме до 2021 року. У липні британський уряд представив проект угоди про вихід з ЄС, згідно з яким країна продовжить слідувати стандартам ЄС в багатьох економічних питаннях і отримає право на необмежену торгівлю сільськогосподарськими товарами на Європейському єдиному ринку.

Євроскептики розкритикували цей проект як занадто «м’який» і невигідний для Лондона. Частина соратників Мей із Консервативної партії тепер, за повідомленнями ЗМІ, готують її відставку. З іншого боку, лунають голоси і про необхідність провести повторний референдум і переглянути рішення про вихід Британії з ЄС.

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