British Steel collapse fears spark scrutiny of owners Greybull

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The reborn British Steel was supposed to herald a new era in an industry that has suffered from decades of closures and job cuts.

Instead, less than three years after it was founded, the company is becoming more like a reminder of some of the darkest days in the history of UK manufacturing.

The country’s second-largest steelmaker was plunged into turmoil last week after it emerged that it was seeking a £75m taxpayer bailout — just two weeks after ministers agreed to an emergency £120m loan to help it meet EU environmental payments.

With talks at an impasse and fears of collapse mounting, there were even whispers in Westminster of a possible nationalisation.

Then on Thursday British Steel appeared to have averted immediate crisis by securing new funding from its existing lenders, although it made clear this was only a stopgap.

Despite the reprieve, there are serious questions about what has gone so wrong at a company with 5,000 employees that returned to profit in its first 100 days of new-found independence — and whether it has a viable future.

At the same time, scrutiny is sharpening on the actions and motives of private equity group Greybull Capital, which bought the business it would rebrand as British Steel for £1 from India’s Tata Steel in 2016, saving thousands of jobs.

Negotiations with the government hit a wall because the investor was either unwilling or unable to put money on the table, a key condition for ministers, said people briefed on the situation. Greybull has said it “invested additional capital as recently as last month”.

Any wariness on the part of government might be down to the investment fund’s chequered record.

It was the owner of Monarch airlines that went bust in 2017, forcing the government to … Read More...

Theresa May plans ‘new and improved’ Brexit deal

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Theresa May has promised to set out a “new and improved” Brexit deal next month as she tries to stitch together a cross-party coalition of MPs to pass her EU withdrawal treaty at the fourth attempt.

The UK prime minister’s “bold offer” is expected to include new proposals to uphold EU standards of workers’ rights and environmental protection to win over some Labour MPs, even though formal cross-party talks collapsed without a deal last week.

Mrs May is also holding renewed talks with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party to see whether she can overcome their opposition to a Brexit deal.

Downing Street said the prime minister was looking to reassure the DUP — which notionally provides Mrs May with her majority in parliament — over elements of the treaty’s “backstop” plans to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. The DUP is fiercely opposed to the backstop, since it would treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

But the new proposals, to be set out when the Withdrawal Agreement bill is published, will not include a confirmatory referendum, demanded by scores of Labour MPs as the price for their support.

Mrs May has also — so far at least — refused to meet Labour’s demands for a permanent customs union, a policy which is opposed by many Eurosceptic members of her cabinet and a large number of Tory MPs.

The decisive second reading vote on the bill is scheduled for the week starting June 3 and is seen as the last throw of the dice for the prime minister; few MPs at Westminster expect the outgoing prime minister to succeed where she has failed three times before.

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Panic in Delta community as fire guts Trans-Forcados pipeline

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There is palpable fear within the Chamomi creeks in Yeye community, Burutu local government area of Delta State as the Trans- Forcados pipeline was gutted by fire on Sunday evening.

The pipeline is said to be operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited.

The Chairman of Yeye Community, Phillip Fianka, disclosed this in a text message to newsmen on Monday in Warri, noting that the incident occurred at the early hours of Monday.

According to Fianka, “There is a severe fire outbreak in Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP) Chanomi Axis Yeye Community.”

Confirming the incident, Sylvester Okoh, General Manager, Community Relations, Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited, said, “at about 11:00 pm on May 19, 2019, a fire incident was reported at the crude oil spill site along the Trans Forcados pipeline around Yeye Community.

“It was gathered that the fire occurred due to excessive heat from a pumping machine which was being used to transfer crude oil from the spill site into a barge.

“The fire was reported to have destroyed some equipment at the scene. The houseboat and gunboats were safely relocated from the scene of the fire incident,” Okoh said.

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Rivers ports are now safe, busy – Port Manager

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Seaports in Rivers State are now safe and busy, the Port Harcourt port manager, Abubakar Garuba Umar, has declared.
Umar, who assumed office in 2016, made the declaration when the Energy and Maritimes Reporters (EMR) corp paid him a visit in the Port Harcourt port complex. The port manager said complaints before then were that the ports were unsafe and full of danger and that nothing much was happening there.

On how the turnaround took place, Umar said upon resumption,his team embarked on sensitisation drive to importers in the region on the need to route their goods through the Port Harcourt port. “We created awareness on the viability of the Rivers port and we allayed their fears about insecurity and other matters.”

He said the stakeholders bought the idea. ”Now, the Port Harcourt port is busy and viable. Most of our berths are now occupied. Containers now come because two shipping lines now come to Port Harcourt and one more is about to join.

He revealed how the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) worked to decongest the port road (Barbour Road) which was rehabilitated by the Rivers State government in 2016. “Road congestion, which was a fact of the Harbour Road, is no more so. This is because we took proactive measures to keep that in check. We now insist that our road be free. We say, do not use port road for parking.”

Umar said insecurity was a big source of fear in the past, but that it is not anymore. “From 2017, Rivers ports operate on Step 1 security grade, not step 2 anymore.”

Responding to issues raised by the EMR leadership, Umar said the appeal for timely information to the media was a welcome one. He reminded journalists that there are listed bodies that … Read More...

Why you need to plan your retirement ahead

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Retirement is a must for every individual irrespective of his or her work status as an employee or self-employed. As a matter of fact, working each day is a day closer to your retirement, no matter how far it may seem at present. Like the English saying ‘Failing to plan tantamount to planning to fail”,…

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